The House Judiciary Committee late Tuesday approved its first immigration bill, advancing on a party-line vote a proposal to boost interior enforcement and border security.

After a daylong markup, the Republican-led panel cleared the SAFE Act on a 20-15 vote shortly before 11 p.m. It is one of several bills that Chairman Bob GoodlatteBob GoodlatteWarning: Lawsuit ads may be harmful to the health of Americans Black Dem accuses Steve King of 'white privilege' in heated exchange Act now on No Regulation Without Representation MORE (R-Va.) says the committee plans to send to the House floor in the coming weeks.

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“The SAFE Act maintains the integrity of our immigration system by granting states and local governments the authority to enforce federal immigration laws,” Goodlatte said in a statement after the vote. “The bill also strengthens national security and protects our communities from those who wish to cause us harm.”

“While more work has yet to be done, today’s approval of the SAFE Act brings us one step closer to solving the immigration puzzle,” he added. “We have, and will continue, to take a step by step approach to immigration reform, thoroughly examining each piece in detail and working to find consensus on the other issues we need to fix.”


The committee will meet again Wednesday to consider legislation to create an agricultural guest-worker program.

Democrats on the panel assailed the SAFE Act. Rep. John Conyers Jr. (Mich.), the ranking member, said it would criminalize immigrants and result in “widespread racial profiling.”

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (Calif.), a senior Democrat who has been negotiating a separate bipartisan immigration bill, said Rep. Trey GowdyTrey GowdyGowdy won't use Oversight gavel to probe Russia GOP rep Gowdy on healthcare bill: ‘I try really hard not to give the Senate advice’ Overnight Cybersecurity: Obama DHS chief defends Russian hack response | Trump huddles on grid security | Lawmakers warned about cyber threat to election systems MORE’s (R-S.C.) bill “takes us back in time to an approach that has long been rejected by the American people.”

“I hope that the committee’s consideration of this bill is merely a bump in the road because I believe that we’ve been making solid progress up to this point,” Lofgren said. “This bill puts in doubt that shared belief that we can come together and solve the problem of our broken immigration system together on a bipartisan basis.”