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GOP Congressmen Hope to Force Immigration Vote (1)

May 9, 2018, 3:02 PMUpdated: May 9, 2018, 8:48 PM

Three Republican congressmen want to force a vote on four immigration bills that would provide legal status to undocumented immigrants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The discharge petition, filed May 9 by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), would require the bills to be voted on by the full House without the approval of committees or leadership. The bill with the highest number of votes exceeding 218 would then move on to the Senate.

Curbelo originally was joined on the petition by Reps. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) and Will Hurd (R-Texas). The petition had 15 signatures, all Republicans, by the time supporters held a news conference mid-afternoon the day of the filing.

The “discharge petition” would force the House to take up Denham’s H.Res. 774. That resolution, which currently has 248 co-sponsors, would require the full House to vote on the four immigration bills.

The congressmen hope that will happen before the end of the summer.

Three Bills Diverge, Ryan’s a Question Mark

The four bills that would be considered include House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s (R-Va.) Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760), Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard’s (D-Calif.) Dream Act (H.R. 3440), any immigration bill offered by Ryan, and Hurd’s (R-Texas) USA Act (H.R. 4796).

Of the three known bills, only Goodlatte’s wouldn’t provide permanent immigration status to Dreamers. H.R. 4760 would provide temporary, renewable status without a path to citizenship.

Denham said a few weeks earlier that he wasn’t ready for a discharge petition to force a vote and was instead focused on continuing to build support for an immigration vote in the House.

Since then, however, the fate of the DACA program has become more unclear with a new lawsuit filed by a group of states seeking to end it once and for all. The Trump administration in September ended DACA, which provides deportation protection and work permits to young, undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. But the program has remained alive as a result of federal court orders.

The filing of the discharge petition was spurred by the uncertainty over the fate of the program as well as the need for additional border security, Hurd said at the May 9 press conference.

“I understand what it’s like for dreamers to be in limbo,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who also signed the discharge petition. Ros-Lehtinen came to the U.S. from Cuba when she was eight, but was granted special immigration status for Cuban refugees.

First Time Rep Signed Discharge Petition

This is “the first time that I have signed a discharge petition while the Republican party, my party, has been in control,” she said. That’s an indicator of the “urgency” of the immigration issue, she said.

The discharge petition needs 218 signatures to force the vote, Curbelo said at the press conference. Getting 15 signatures the same day it was filed “exceeds our expectations,” and “we think we can get” to 218, he said.

“We continue to work with our members to find a solution that can both pass the House and get the president’s signature,” AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), said in a statement provided to Bloomberg Law May 9.

(Updated with additional reporting throughout.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Laura D. Francis in Washington at lfrancis@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Terence Hyland at thyland@bloomberglaw.com

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