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 HurdGOP struggles with retirement wave Here are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 Pelosi: GOP retirements indicate they'll be in the minority, with Democrat in the White House MORE (R-Texas) and Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarDemocratic leaders seek balance amid liberal push to go big on immigration Katherine Clark quietly eyes leadership ascent The Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck 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.

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.

Rep. 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.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, introduced a proposal last week with fellow Republican Reps. Raúl Labrador (Idaho), Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulTexas Republicans sound alarm about rapidly evolving state Overnight Defense: GOP grumbles after Trump delays military projects for wall | House panel hints at subpoena for Afghanistan envoy | Kabul bombing raises doubts about Taliban talks House panel calls for Afghanistan envoy to testify about deal with Taliban, hints at subpoena MORE (Texas) and Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyArizona Democratic Party will hold vote to censure Sinema Democrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation 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 CurbeloPelosi: GOP retirements indicate they'll be in the minority, with Democrat in the White House The Hill's Morning Report - Congress returns: What to expect Wave of GOP retirements threatens 2020 comeback 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 GrahamTrump fires back at Graham over Iran criticism Overnight Defense: GOP wary of action on Iran | Pence says US 'locked and loaded' to defend allies | Iran's leader rules out talks with US Republicans wary of US action on Iran MORE (R-S.C.) and Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinKavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw Democrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' Pressley on Kavanaugh impeachment: 'Deeply disturbing' that a justice 'could have this many allegations' 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 FlakeFlake donates to Democratic sheriff being challenged by Arpaio in Arizona The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says US-China trade talks to resume, hails potential trade with Japan, UK Joe Arpaio to run for Maricopa County sheriff in 2020  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 GrishamThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico Democratic governors call on Trump, McConnell to support gun control measures New Mexico says EPA abandoned state in fight against toxic 'forever chemicals' 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.