DACA debate
June 13, 2018

Late Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) office announced that "the House will consider two bills next week that will avert the discharge petition and resolve the border security and immigration issues," signaling defeat for a group of moderate Republicans who had worked with Democrats to force a vote on a bipartisan immigration measure that would easily pass in the House. The discharge petition to force consideration of a bill that would reinstate legal protections for DREAMers — young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children — got 216 signatures, two short of the 218 needed, after GOP leaders pressured supportive Republicans to abstain from signing the petition.

Neither of the rival bills the House will vote on next week — a hard-line conservative bill that focuses on enforcement and restricting all sorts of immigration while offering a narrow path to permanent residence for DREAMers, and an as-yet unwritten bill that Ryan says will be a "compromise" measure — have much of a chance. The hard-line bill almost certainly won't pass the House and the other one, even if it does pass, won't pass in the Senate. Democrats have signaled they will support neither. "If Republicans plan to use Dreamers as a way to advance [Trump's] xenophobic, anti-immigrant agenda, they will get a fight from House Democrats," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tweeted.

Paul and other House leaders fought against the discharge petition on the grounds that forcing a vote on a bill that would protect DREAMers could depress turnout among conservatives in the 2018 midterms. The moderates have one more shot to execute the discharge petition before the midterms, on July 23. Peter Weber

May 10, 2018

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Thursday shut down attempts by members of his party to force a vote on bipartisan immigration legislation. "Going down a path having some spectacle on the floor that just results in a veto doesn't solve the problem," Ryan said, as reported by Politico. He explained that "the White House will need to be a part of this and we'll need a bill the president will sign."

Ryan has been working to halt a petition by five centrist Republicans that would force a floor vote against his wishes in order to address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects young undocumented children from deportation. President Trump ordered last year that DACA be dismantled, although a number of court rulings have blocked it from ending.

The centrists' petition requires the signatures of 218 lawmakers, or every Democrat and 25 Republicans. Politico writes that "within just a few hours of filing, 17 Republicans had signed on or were about to do so."

Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), one of the Republicans supporting the vote, explained that "there are million-plus men and women who don't have certainty." Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) said: "This is a way to force a vote ... to add fire. This issue can't continue to linger." Jeva Lange

March 20, 2018

On Sunday, the White House asked congressional Democrats to accept two and a half years of legal protections for DREAMers, or young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, in return for $25 billion for President Trump's border wall, Politico reports. Democrats countered with $25 billion for the wall and border security in return for permanent protection for 1.8 million DREAMers, not just through September 2020, and the White House balked. The omnibus spending package that must pass this week might be Trump's last best chance to get funding for his border wall this year, or ever if Democrats take control of Congress — and on Monday, three organizations supported by conservative megadonors Charles and David Koch urged Trump to take the offer.

Brent Gardner at Americans for Prosperity called the Democrats' proposal "an offer all parties should immediately accept," and Daniel Garza at the LIBRE Initiative said "Congress and the White House should seize this chance." Nathan Nascimento, an executive vice president at the Freedom Partners chamber of commerce, said that "if a deal was on the table that offered both security at the border and permanent status for DREAMers, that's a deal that Republicans, Democrats, and President Trump should support. We cannot continue to allow politics to stand in the way of finding a solution to this problem."

Trump did not seem to be interested late Monday, however.

Trump ended the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program last fall, setting March 5 as the end of the temporary protection for DREAMers, but federal courts have stayed his order for now. Peter Weber

February 13, 2018

The Senate begins debate on immigration legislation this week, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announcing he supports President Trump's "fair compromise" for 1.8 million immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, known colloquially as DREAMers. The "compassionate resolution" would give DREAMers legal protections but limit other forms of legal immigration, a nonstarter for Democrats, CNBC reports.

The Secure and Succeed Act of 2018, introduced by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), perhaps is the closest proposal to what has been requested by Trump. The bill would "provide a path to citizenship for ... [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] beneficiaries, but also allocate $25 billion for border security, eliminate the diversity visa lottery, and drastically curtail so-called 'chain migration,' limiting family-based immigrant visas to spouses and unmarried children younger than 18," Time writes.

"Republicans want to make a deal and Democrats say they want to make a deal," Trump tweeted Tuesday, adding: "This will be our last chance, there will never be another opportunity! March 5th." As Politico notes: "March 5 is not the deadline anymore, as a federal judge has blocked the termination of DACA" an injunction that likely won't get lifted until late spring. Jeva Lange

February 7, 2018

House rules limit members to 1 minute of speaking time, but nevertheless, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) persisted on Wednesday, using a loophole for congressional leaders to talk uninterrupted for 8 hours and 10 minutes. That crushed the previous House record, a 5 hour, 15 minute harangue against tariff legislation by Rep. James Beauchamp "Champ" Clark (D-Mo.) in 1909.

And Clark fell short in other ways, too, Georgetown University congressional rules expert Joshua Huder tells The Washington Post. "It's important to note that although Clark held the floor for the duration, he was repeatedly interrupted during his remarks." Pelosi, the Post notes, "barely took time to unwrap a mint several hours in and was not interrupted once."

Pelosi spoke about DREAMers — young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children — from stories she collected starting Wednesday morning, and she threw in Bible verses and demands for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to allow debate on legislation to protect DREAMers, just as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has committed to. "Why should we in the House be treated in such a humiliating way when the Republican Senate leader has given that opportunity in a bipartisan way to his membership?" Pelosi asked. "There's something wrong with this picture." She said she won't support a budget deal that doesn't deal with the DREAMer issue.

Pelosi, 77, had to stand for the duration of her speech and could not use the restroom, and she wasn't wearing comfortable shoes:

It wasn't a filibuster, as the House banned those in the 1890s, The Washington Post recounts. Senate filibusters can go quite long — the record for a one-person filibuster is still held by the late Strom Thrumond, who spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes to (unsuccessfully) try to block the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Peter Weber

January 12, 2018

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) believed they secured a meeting with President Trump on Thursday to go over their bipartisan immigration plan with the four other senators negotiating the deal, two Democrats and two Republicans. But when they arrived, immigration hardliners like Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) were in the Oval Office, because White House adviser Stephen Miller "was concerned there could be a deal proposed that was too liberal and made sure conservative lawmakers were present," The Washington Post reports.

"Trump had seemed amenable to a deal earlier in the day during phone calls with lawmakers," the Post says, citing aides, but he "shifted his position in the meeting and did not seem interested in the bipartisan compromise." Most infamously, Trump rejected the idea of protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and several African countries, calling them "shithole countries" and specifically nixing Haiti. "Why do we need more Haitians?" Trump reportedly said. "Take them out." The meeting got "salty" on all sides, a White House official told the Post. "It did not go well."

One of the main pillars of the bipartisan plan, and its impetus, was a replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The plan offers a 12-year path to citizenship for DREAMers, young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally when they were children. Protecting DREAMers is really popular — 86 percent of U.S. voters, including 76 percent of Republicans, want the DREAMers to stay in the U.S., according to a new Quinnipiac poll.

Other parts of the bipartisan plan are more contentions, with liberals opposed to the $1.6 billion for planning and building Trump's border wall and conservatives opposed to any path to citizenship. It "has been viewed as the legislation that has the best chance of success on Capitol Hill," Politico reports, though another bipartisan group of four top lawmakers is focusing more narrowly on the DREAMers issue. Peter Weber

January 9, 2018

President Trump meets Tuesday with Republicans and Democrats to discuss the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which increasingly appears to be the make-or-break piece of this month's must-pass spending deal, CNN reports.

Republicans say Democrats won't budge on a budget unless the 800,000 "DREAMers" brought to the United States illegally as children are protected from deportation. "Why won't Democratic leadership negotiate with us?" Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Monday, as reported by Politico. "Because we refuse to simply pass the DREAM Act, as is, with no proportional border security and interior enforcement measures."

Democrats, on the other hand, accuse Republicans of using DREAMers as a bargaining chip to advance their agenda to build a border wall and curb immigration. Insiders are pessimistic about the possibilities of reaching a long-term budget deal, and a government shutdown looms just 10 days away. "It's a mess," said one person involved in the negotiations. Jeva Lange

October 25, 2017

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has privately told colleagues that he is planning to loop a solution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program into the December spending bill, HuffPost reports. The Trump administration announced in September that it was ending DACA, which protects individuals who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, but he first allowed a six-month reprieve so Congress could attempt to solve the issue with legislation.

Ryan "did make reference that [DACA provisions] would be something that might be part of the whole ball of wax," Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Mark Walker (R-N.C.) told HuffPost. The decision could mean a huge legislative win for Democrats, especially since Republicans do not have the votes to pass the December omnibus bill all on their own. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has additionally said that she would consider voting against a spending deal in order to negotiate a DACA decision.

Several of Trump's biggest supporters have expressed public displeasure with the idea that the president is willing to protect immigrants after all. On Wednesday, the Stephen Bannon-led Breitbart News criticized Ryan for his potential willingness to work with Democrats on immigration. Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) warned simply that Ryan "better not."

Still, "there is some risk in taking Ryan's comments too seriously," HuffPost cautions. "What he means by DACA could differ greatly from what Democrats want or believe is an acceptable solution." Read why Damon Linker doesn't believe Congress will save DACA here at The Week. Jeva Lange

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