Immigration Vote Urged by Bipartisan Majority of House Members

(Bloomberg) -- A bipartisan group of 240 U.S. House members have signed on to an effort to persuade Speaker Paul Ryan to let lawmakers debate four competing immigration bills and see which one can get the most votes.

Representative Jeff Denham, the California Republican leading the effort, said getting 190 Democrats and about 50 Republicans together on anything related to immigration should show Ryan and President Donald Trump that most lawmakers and Americans are demanding legislative action on the stalled immigration debate.

“The point of this is: it’s time for a full debate,” Denham told reporters Wednesday at a news conference with a bipartisan groups of co-sponsors.

But Ryan has final say on whether to pursue the plan. He’s said publicly that he doesn’t think this vote procedure is the best way to handle immigration because it gives the majority party -- and congressional leaders -- less control over the outcome. Trump continues to tweet about the wall he wants to build on the border with Mexico, as well as the need for legislation to address the immigrant status of people brought to the U.S. illegally as children, known as dreamers.

Denham’s plan would put four immigration proposals on the House floor, and the one that gets the most support would move on to the Senate. All of them include some elements of enhanced border security and protections for the dreamers:

  • Securing America’s Future Act, H.R. 4760, a conservative bill backed by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia
  • The DREAM Act, H.R. 3440, a version of the bill backed by California Democrat Lucille Roybal-Allard that would give broader protection to young undocumented immigrants
  • An immigration bill of Ryan’s choice
  • The USA Act, H.R. 4796, a more narrow bipartisan measure proposed by Texas Republican Will Hurd

Trump sought to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which let some young immigrants get protected status allowing them to work and study without fear of deportation. He gave Congress until March 5 to come up with a legislative fix, but a court order has at least temporarily blocked Trump’s move to cancel the program.

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