GOP immigration bill sketches battle lines for 2024

House Republicans on Monday unveiled a 130-page immigration bill packed with President Trump-era immigration proposals that is poised to set battle lines within the GOP and between the two parties.

Among other proposals, the bill includes severe restrictions on asylum-seekers, an issue that’s caused a rift in the party and led to a public feud between Texas Republican Reps. Tony Gonzales and Chip Roy.

Although the new proposal, introduced by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), does not include word-for-word the provisions in Roy’s asylum bill that elicited opposition from Gonzales, it would aggressively reduce the number of people eligible for asylum.

The bill also includes a long wish list of immigration restrictionist proposals, including mandating detention for family units crossing the border without prior authorization, mandating asylum requests be conducted at ports of entry, and raising penalties for visa overstays.

It’s scheduled to go Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee, where the GOP majority could approve the bill with few changes on a party-line vote.

Gonzales, who co-leads the Congressional Hispanic Conference with Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.), is scheduled to speak at a press conference on the issue Tuesday.

If opposition from Gonzales and his allies continues, the bill could become a headache for Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who may face pressure to hold a floor vote with uncertain prospects.

In its current form, the bill almost certainly would receive little to no consideration from Senate Democrats or the White House. That’s in part because the bill would reinstate many of the immigration provisions and proposals made during President Trump’s administration that Democrats openly campaigned against.

It would, for instance, reinstate family detention, including detention for minors, and mandate asylum-seeking families be detained for the duration of their legal process.

On family detention, the bill includes language that could preempt court challenges like those that blocked some of the Trump administration’s more hawkish proposals.

“There is no presumption that an alien child who is not an unaccompanied alien child should not be detained,” reads the bill.

Although the asylum and detention provisions are the most politically fraught issues in the bill, other proposals — like a crackdown on immigrant workers — could spark more tension.

But the plethora of proposed expansions to immigration law could become a powerful tool for Republicans on the campaign trail.

In rewriting asylum eligibility provisions, for instance, the bill’s authors listed a series of felonies and misdemeanors that would make asylum seekers ineligible for asylum protections. While the current immigration statute lists six general exceptions from asylum eligibility, the GOP proposal would expand that list to 15, many of which specifically describe criminal behaviors that would exclude people from asylum eligibility.

The detailed list likely will be referenced in Wednesday’s markup in the Judiciary Committee, which has become a venue for Republicans and Democrats to trade political barbs and zingers.

The committee’s Democrats are expected to voice stiff opposition to the bill, with the understanding that the panel, led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), is all but certain to approve any bill the chairman puts up for a vote.

The back-and-forth exchange, though, will preview either side’s rallying cries on immigration that will resonate into 2024.

Rebecca Beitsch contributed. 

Tags Chip Roy immigration Kevin McCarthy Mario Diaz-Balart Tom McClintock Tony Gonzales Tony Gonzales

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