Bipartisan group to introduce DACA bill in House

Bipartisan group to introduce DACA bill in House
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan group of House members on Tuesday will introduce a long-rumored bill to replace an Obama-era program shielding certain immigrants who came to the United States as young people from deportation.

The bill, which would also bolster border security, is backed by a group of lawmakers led by Reps. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdFirst Democrat jumps into key Texas House race to challenge Gonzales Will the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Congress drawn into pipeline cyberattack, violence in Israel MORE (R-Texas) and Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarFive takeaways from a bracing day of Jan. 6 testimony Pelosi weighing GOP picks for Jan. 6 probe Clyburn: Trump could be called to testify before Jan. 6 panel MORE (D-Calif.). They claim to have more than 40 members from both parties backing their bill.

The United and Securing America (USA) Act would provide a pathway to citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipients “while achieving operational control of the border,” said Hurd.

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Some of the DACA’s 690,000 recipients, those unable to renew their permits before an October deadline, have already started losing their status. If Congress fails to act before March, the attrition rate will increase from an average of 120 recipients a day to thousands per day, until the last permits expire in late 2019 or early 2020.

“We must act immediately. We must provide them with certainty,” said Aguilar.

The group’s sponsors said they'd be open to amendments and putting the bill through regular order, but said they have 80 hours — until government funding runs out on Friday — to introduce the bill and run it through Congress.

“Many of us believe that a narrow, bipartisan approach is the way to solve this problem,” said Hurd.

The bill will face challenges from the right and left, and competition from rival measures supported by influential leaders in the House and Senate.

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Rep. Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteBottom line No documents? Hoping for legalization? Be wary of Joe Biden Press: Trump's final presidential pardon: himself MORE (R-Va.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, introduced a proposal last week with fellow Republican Reps. Raúl Labrador (Idaho), Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulAfghan evacuees to be housed at Virginia base Passport backlog threatens to upend travel plans for millions of Americans US lawmakers express shock at Haitian president's assassination MORE (Texas) and Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallySchumer, Tim Scott lead as Senate fundraising pace heats up GOP group launches million ad campaign pressing Kelly on filibuster Democrats facing tough reelections back bipartisan infrastructure deal MORE (Ariz.) that would grant fewer and temporary protections only to DACA recipients, in exchange for a wide range of border security and immigration enforcement provisions.

While Democrats and some Republicans, including Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloDirect air capture is a crucial bipartisan climate policy Biden's corporate tax hike is bad for growth — try a carbon tax instead Cheney fight stokes cries of GOP double standard for women MORE (R-Fla.), an outspoken GOP proponent of immigration reform, labeled the Goodlatte bill a “non-starter,” its powerful list of sponsors all but guarantees it'll be prioritized by Republican leadership.

But the Goodlatte bill seems unlikely to win a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

The USA Act also faces competition from a bipartisan Senate bill crafted by Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamEight Republicans join Democrats to confirm head of DOJ environmental division GOP sees debt ceiling as its leverage against Biden DACA court ruling puts weight of immigration reform on Democrats MORE (R-S.C.) and Dick DurbinDick DurbinBiden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on Senators scramble to save infrastructure deal Senate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines MORE (D-Ill.), which was shot down by Trump Thursday.

Durbin pledged to keep pushing his bill with the hope of forcing Trump to sign a bipartisan agreement.

Durbin and Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeBiden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Biden to nominate Jane Hartley as UK ambassador: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Voting rights will be on '22, '24 ballots MORE (R-Ariz.), a supporter of the Senate measure, have called it “the only game in town.”

But Hurd disputed that assessment, saying, “It’s not the only game in town because you have more than 40 Republicans and Democrats with a thoughtful, smart approach."

More and more Democrats are pledging to withhold their vote on any spending measure unless a DACA fix is passed, forcing leadership to work on another temporary spending bill rather than funding the government for an entire year.

That’s increased the chances of a shutdown, and the possibility that Republicans might need Democratic votes in the House to pass even a temporary measure.

Rep. Michelle Lujan GrishamMichelle Lynn Lujan GrishamNew Mexico launching vaccine sweepstakes with M in prizes The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting Biden vows to get 'more aggressive' on lifestyle benefits of vaccines MORE (D-N.M.), chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said her group would stick to its pledge to vote against any spending measure unless DACA was resolved. She also signaled some openness to negotiate if a hard-line strategy put at risk the immigration benefits sought under a DACA fix. 

“If we don't get a vote, I think that strategy will stay. But we also don't want any strategies to keep us from prevailing, though there's been nothing to change the caucus's strategy to date,” she said.