Pelosi, Dems hammer GOP for ‘derailing’ DACA debate

Pelosi, Dems hammer GOP for ‘derailing’ DACA debate
© Greg Nash

House Democrats are hammering GOP leaders for scuttling the bipartisan effort to protect immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children.

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“If Republicans plan to use Dreamers as a way to advance @realDonaldTrump⁩’s xenophobic, anti-immigrant agenda, they will get a fight from House Democrats,” House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDC argues it is shortchanged by coronavirus relief bill Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — US coronavirus cases hit 100,000 | Trump signs T stimulus package | Trump employs defense powers to force GM to make ventilators | New concerns over virus testing Hillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike MORE (D-Calif.) tweeted late Tuesday.

After a series of last-minute negotiations Tuesday, Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanWho should be the Democratic vice presidential candidate? The Pelosi administration It's not populism that's killing America's democracy MORE (R-Wis.) cut an immigration deal with his conservative wing to bring a vote next week on two Republican bills designed to bolster enforcement of immigration laws and provide legal protections to so-called Dreamers.

The strategy effectively extinguished a bid by centrist Republicans to force action on a series of proposals to rescue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, including two bipartisan bills deemed to have the best chance of moving through the lower chamber.

The plan mitigates the potential for a damaging internal fight among Republicans over immigration — an issue that’s divided the party for years — heading into the pivotal midterm elections. But it’s also lowered the chances that a DACA bill will reach President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump orders US troops back to active duty for coronavirus response Trump asserts power to decide info inspector general for stimulus gives Congress Fighting a virus with the wrong tools MORE’s desk — or even the Senate — this year. 

Democrats wasted no time accusing Republican leaders of undermining the DACA debate to protect GOP lawmakers from taking tough votes — a cynical strategy, the Democrats charge, that will leave the Dreamers in limbo for months or years to come.

“Instead of allowing the House to work its will and vote on a bipartisan compromise bill to end these families’ uncertainty Speaker Ryan continues to dissemble and delay,” Rep. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerDC argues it is shortchanged by coronavirus relief bill Lysol, disinfecting wipes and face masks mark coronavirus vote in House The Hill's 12:30 Report: House to vote on .2T stimulus after mad dash to Washington MORE (Md.), the Democratic whip, said in a statement.

“This is a pretend attempt to appear that he is addressing the DACA crisis when he is not.”

The first proposal to receive a vote next week is a hard-line bill, sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteUSCIS chief Cuccinelli blames Paul Ryan for immigration inaction Immigrant advocacy groups shouldn't be opposing Trump's raids Top Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview MORE (R-Va.). That bill is favored by conservatives but doesn’t currently have the support, even among Republicans, to pass through the House.

The second proposal is a more moderate compromise, designed to attract more centrist Republicans, that would extend further benefits to the Dreamers, including an eventual pathway to citizenship. But that bill is still in the works, and its enforcement provisions are sure to be opposed by virtually every Democrat. It remains unclear if it can win the votes needed to move to the Senate.

Rep. Michelle Lujan GrishamMichelle Lynn Lujan GrishamStates urge citizens to stay at home, businesses to suspend in-person operations Governors plead with Trump for more coronavirus supplies, testing Five Latinas who could be Biden's running mate MORE (D-N.M.), who heads the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, called the Republicans’ strategy “reckless and political,” warning that it puts thousands of Dreamers — including workers and students — at risk of deportation. 

“The fact is that not having a solution that protects Dreamers affects every cross-section of American society,” she said late Tuesday. 

Ryan’s announcement to address immigration next week arrived just as centrist Republicans were on the verge of securing the necessary support for their DACA discharge petition — a procedural gambit to force bills to the floor against the wishes of the majority party’s leadership.

Sponsored by Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloRepublicans can't exploit the left's climate extremism without a better idea Progressive Latino group launches first incumbent protection campaign The Memo: Bad polls for Trump shake GOP MORE (R), who’s facing a tough reelection bid in South Florida, the petition had been endorsed by 216 lawmakers, including 23 Republicans, by Tuesday night.

If two more lawmakers had signed on, it would have forced votes on June 25 on four separate DACA bills: the conservative Goodlatte proposal; the liberal Dream Act; a bill of Ryan’s choosing; and a bipartisan compromise, sponsored by Reps. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdGarth Brooks accepts Library of Congress's Gershwin Prize for Popular Song Texas kicks off critical battle for House control Gun control group plans to spend million in Texas in 2020 MORE (R-Texas) and Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarBiden rolls out over a dozen congressional endorsements after latest primary wins Biden rise calms Democratic jitters Vulnerable Democrats brace for Sanders atop ticket MORE (D-Calif.), that combines the Dreamer protections with enhancements to border security.  

The Hurd-Aguilar bill, endorsed by almost 250 lawmakers from both parties, was thought to have the best chance of winning the “queen-of-the-hill” contest promoted by Curbelo’s discharge petition. But conservatives were up in arms at the thought that a Republican-led House would advance a bill that provides “amnesty” to immigrants here illegally.

After weeks of closed-door negotiations between the centrists and conservatives, members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus huddled Tuesday night to weigh their options. Following the meeting, the leaders of the group — including Reps. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Senators clinch deal on T stimulus package White House, Senate reach deal on trillion stimulus package The Hill's 12:30 Report: Lawmakers near deal on stimulus MORE (R-N.C.) and Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanTrump, privacy hawks upend surveillance brawl Top GOP post on Oversight draws stiff competition McConnell, top GOP senators throw support behind surveillance deal as deadline looms MORE (R-Ohio) — met again with Ryan in the Speaker’s office to lay out their demands. Ryan’s announcement on next week’s votes came shortly afterward. 

None of the centrists appeared to be present at the meeting, and some were quick to grumble that Ryan’s strategy is sure to fail if the aim is to protect the Dreamers.

Hurd, a leading supporter of the discharge petition, said his proposal with Aguilar is “the only bipartisan piece of legislation in solving border security and committing to solve the [DACA] problem.“ He took to the House floor to blast the Republicans’ prioritization of a border wall and lament the breakdown of bipartisanship.

“We’re not going to solve this problem with a 30-foot-high concrete structure that takes four hours to penetrate,” said Hurd, who represents a district boasting 820 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, more than any other House lawmaker.

“If we’re going to get anything done to solve real big problems in this country, we’ve got to do it in a bipartisan fashion.”