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 HurdThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump visits a ventilator plant in a battleground state The Hill to interview Mnuchin today and many other speakers The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga says supporting small business single most important thing we should do now; Teva's Brendan O'Grady says U.S. should stockpile strategic reserve in drugs like Strategic Oil Reserve MORE (R-Texas) and Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarDozens of Democrats plan to vote remotely in a first for the House Biden rolls out over a dozen congressional endorsements after latest primary wins Biden rise calms Democratic jitters 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 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 McCaulHouse passes bill that would sanction Chinese officials over Xinjiang camps The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga says supporting small business single most important thing we should do now; Teva's Brendan O'Grady says U.S. should stockpile strategic reserve in drugs like Strategic Oil Reserve House GOP to launch China probes beyond COVID-19 MORE (Texas) and Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyPence names new press secretary Bossie, Lewandowski warned Trump he was in trouble in 2020: report The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Cuomo rings the first opening bell since March 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 CurbeloTrump, GOP go all-in on anti-China strategy Republicans can't exploit the left's climate extremism without a better idea Progressive Latino group launches first incumbent protection campaign 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 GrahamThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - US virus deaths exceed 100,000; Pelosi pulls FISA bill Frustration builds in key committee ahead of Graham subpoena vote  GOP senators urge Trump not to restrict guest worker visas MORE (R-S.C.) and Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinFrustration builds in key committee ahead of Graham subpoena vote  Senate Democrat introduces bill to protect food supply Democratic unity starts to crack in coronavirus liability reform fight 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 Flake'Never Trump' Republicans: Fringe, or force to be reckoned with? The Memo: Can the Never Trumpers succeed? Former GOP Sen. Jeff Flake says he will not vote for Trump 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 GrishamPress: Susan Rice would be ready to step in as POTUS Top New Mexico tourism official says mass gatherings may not be possible for 18 months The Memo: Activists press Biden on VP choice 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.