House GOP moderates are defying Speaker Paul Ryan and trying to force a vote codifying Obama-era protections for young undocumented immigrants on the House floor.
Reps. Carlos Curbelo of Florida,Will Hurd of Texas, and Jeff Denham and David Valadao of California filed a discharge petition Wednesday that would trigger a series of votes on different immigration bills if 218 members sign on. If every Democrat supports the idea, which sources said is likely, 20 Republicans would have to break ranks and join them to trigger the votes.
Two sources intimately involved in the effort say at least 15 Republicans are ready to join. This week they picked up a significant GOP voice on immigration, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, who had been working hand-in-hand with Ryan and the White House on immigration.
Diaz-Balart has wanted Congress to codify Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals but had been unwilling to go against the speaker until now. His support is likely to sway other centrist Republicans frustrated by the lack of action on Dreamers to sign the petition.
GOP leaders, meanwhile, are working behind the scenes to shut it down. Ryan has personally spoken with many of the centrist Republicans involved in the matter, according to one GOP leadership source. Staff have also made calls.
GOP leaders say now is not the time to get caught up in a controversial immigration fight that divides the party and the nation in the middle of an election year. They would prefer that the courts rule on DACA before Congress takes action.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule this fall on President Donald Trump’s decision to end the program earlier this year.
The discharge petition would trigger votes on Democratic, Republican and bipartisan fixes to DACA, with a “queen-of-the-Hill” approach. That means the proposal getting the highest number of votes over 218 would be adopted by the House. If there is a tie, the last legislation voted on would be adopted.
One of the proposals receiving a vote would be House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s (R-Va.) conservative DACA fix that would curb legal immigration and crack down on sanctuary cities and child migrants, in addition to building a border wall and beefing up enforcement. The plan, which would also require employers to verify the legal status of employees, is more restrictive than the White House plan, and some Republicans would oppose it.
Other bills that would receive a vote include the Democrats’ favored Dream Act, which would codify the program and provide a pathway to citizenship for young adults who migrated to the United States as children. In addition, two bipartisan bills that include additional border security in exchange for DACA protections would also be taken up.