GOP lawmaker calls for vote on DREAM Act
© Greg Nash

A centrist House Republican on Thursday called for a vote on legislation known as the DREAM Act to grant work permits and a path to citizenship for young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) noted in a House floor speech that only 21 more legislative days remain before Congress is scheduled to adjourn for the year.

“Let’s do what’s right for these young immigrants because they are already Americans in their hearts and minds. Let’s bring the DREAM Act for a vote so that these young professionals can make their American dream a reality. The clock is ticking,” Ros-Lehtinen said.

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The Trump administration announced in September that it would phase out the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which authorized work permits for certain young undocumented immigrants. Congress has until March to make a legislative fix for DACA recipients, who would otherwise face deportation.

Ros-Lehtinen’s call for a vote on the DREAM Act came on the same day that President Trump and GOP senators agreed during a meeting at the White House that they would not include a fix for DACA recipients in a year-end spending bill to keep the government open.

That would be problematic for expected bipartisan negotiations with Democrats, who will likely be needed to make up for GOP defections on a spending package.

Ros-Lehtinen is the co-sponsor of the House version of the DREAM Act, which she introduced with Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) in July.

Their legislation currently has 199 other co-sponsors, most of which are Democrats. Apart from Ros-Lehtinen, four other Republicans have signed on to the bill: Reps. Mike CoffmanMichael (Mike) Howard CoffmanKoch-backed group to target some Republicans over spending vote in new ad campaign Overnight Defense: Doubts grow over Trump, Kim summit | Lawmakers want floor debate on war measure | New cell phone policy at Pentagon Lawmakers push for House floor debate on war authorization MORE (Colo.), Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamGOP nearing end game on immigration votes Centrists on cusp of forcing immigration votes as petition grows Jim Jordan as Speaker is change America needs to move forward MORE (Calif.), David Valadao (Calif.) and Joe BartonJoe Linus BartonHillicon Valley: Judge rules Trump can't block Twitter users | ISIS content finds a home on Google Plus | Rubio rips ZTE demands as 'terrible deal' | Bill would protect kids' data Lawmakers roll out bill to protect children from online data collection GOP dissidents on cusp of forcing immigration votes MORE (Texas).

Another centrist Florida Republican, Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloGOP nearing end game on immigration votes GOP donor threatens to cut off support for Republicans who don't back DACA Three House Dems say they'll oppose immigration floor vote over possible wall funding MORE, has introduced a more conservative version of the DREAM Act that provides a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

Curbelo’s bill has 34 co-sponsors, all of whom are Republicans with the exception of Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who is running for the Senate.

Under the DREAM Act, qualifying young immigrants would need to enter the U.S. before the age of 18 and live in the country at least four years before the bill’s enactment. Curbelo’s proposal, meanwhile, would require such immigrants to establish they came to the U.S. before the age of 16 and lived there continuously since at least 2012.