House Republicans unveiled a draft immigration bill Thursday that includes a pathway to citizenship for young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children as well as border security measures sought by President Donald Trump, according to multiple reports.
The 293-page legislation circulated to Republican members of Congress would notably try to bar the separation of undocumented children and parents at U.S. borders. The practice has embroiled the Trump administration in a political uproar in recent weeks.
The proposal aims to assuage concerns of two flanks of the GOP, which controls the House. Centrist Republicans seek a solution for young undocumented immigrants stuck in legal limbo. Conservatives want to boost border security to crack down on illegal border crossings.
The House plans to consider the bill as well as a more conservative proposal next week. Passage is far from guaranteed. It is unclear now whether the bill unveiled Thursday has enough votes to clear the chamber, and GOP leaders will gauge support for it Friday. It also may not pass in the narrowly divided Senate.
The White House could also complicate matters. Trump has set out specific demands for a bill, including money for his proposed border wall, an end to the diversity visa “lottery” system and limits on family visa sponsorships. The Republican proposal appears to largely meet those goals.
The bill would authorize roughly $25 billion for Trump’s proposed physical barrier and enforcement technology, according to reports. It would offer legal status to the young immigrants, including an eventual path to permanent residency and then citizenship. It would tie the issuance of some visas to sustained border wall funding.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders would not explicitly endorse the House deal earlier Thursday, before the bill’s wider release. She said the Trump administration would support legislation that would “create a permanent solution” to problems with the immigration system.
The Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program protected the young immigrants from deportation and allowed them to temporarily work or study in the U.S. Trump attempted to end DACA, but his decision has been held up in court. Congress has tried and failed to strike bipartisan deals to shield the undocumented immigrants, known as “Dreamers” because of “DREAM Act” legislation that fell short of passing Congress.
The compromise Republican bill came about following talks between disparate pockets of the House GOP caucus. Centrist Republican lawmakers rebelled against leadership in an attempt to force votes on a variety of immigration measures, some of which could have received Democratic support. The bill unveiled Thursday would allocate visas to a merit-based system.
The Republican compromise came with centrists just two signatures short of the 218 needed to compel votes. Democrats joined the Republicans in trying to force consideration of immigration measures.