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House Republicans Hope They Can Find an Immigration Compromise

13 June 2018

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., arrives for a closed-door GOP meeting in the basement of the Capitol as the Republican leadership tries to reach a policy agreement between conservatives and moderates on immigration, in Washington, Thursday, June 7, 2018. Top Republicans want to head off an election-year showdown that divides the party.

House Republicans emerged from a critical meeting on immigration Thursday to say they are committed to writing a bill that matches President Trump's four pillars of reform - but didn't make much headway on settling big issues such as whether illegal immigrants will get full citizenship rights. By 53 percent to 31 percent, voters say they'd be less likely to support a lawmaker who votes with Trump down the line.

The centrist Republican leaders of that effort said they were confident the petition, which now has 215 signatures, would attract the final three needed by Tuesday. By 45 percent to 21 percent, voters say they'd be less likely to back a congressional candidate who would support Pelosi as speaker. "In fact there is not consensus", Rep. Mark Meadows told reporters after exiting the meeting.

U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona said a bipartisan effort on an immigration vote could get around roadblocks and put bills on the House floor soon. Many conservatives have opposed a pathway to citizenship, and leaders say the votes, which would surely draw Democratic support, would be divisive and damage the party's electoral prospects among GOP voters in November.

Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland who is retiring at the end of this term, is one of a handful of Republicans who is considering signing the petition.

"Now we've got this trigger of "we can do this" and "we have an obligation to do this" there's more of an unwillingness to sit by when we're represented by less than 20% of the people in Congress being women".

A major obstacle has been whether to create a special pathway to citizenship for "Dreamers", people who came into the country illegally as minors, which Denham and his allies have said must be included and is nonnegotiable.

Republican leaders began convening the talks between moderate and conservative Republicans when dueling uprisings collided. Now conservatives are incorporating other issues, including how immigrants can seek asylum.

"If you're a Dreamer.you would know you're immediately protected, meaning you would never again have to worry about deportation as long as you follow this country's laws", Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R., Fla.) said after the latest negotiating session Friday.

"Democrats are more fired up than ever to make their voices heard in the midterm", Kalla said. Or would you go farther and give them a path to citizenship?

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It came the same day that House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said party leaders would craft an attempt at compromise on the issue that Republicans could embrace.

Proponents told us the change will bring more "moderate" voters into the mix and lead to a more "pragmatic, problem-solving" group of elected officials. The group needs two more GOP signatures on a petition that could force those votes, assuming all Democrats sign, and if they get them by next Tuesday, the House would be on track to have those votes June 25. Though Curbelo said Thursday that deadline could slip to July if progress is being made.

Rank-and-file Republicans said they are still focused on President Trump's four pillars of combining a significant amnesty for almost 2 million illegal immigrants with stiffer border security and faster deportations, curtailing the chain of family migration, and ending the visa lottery that doles out immigration passes by chance.

Conservatives have been adamant about not providing a "special" process carving out a unique way for Dreamers to gain legal status, and some of them bristled at Denham's narrower description.

The moderates would force votes on bills ranging from liberal plans offering citizenship to Dreamers to a conservative proposal curbing legal immigration.

Even if the House is able to pass immigration legislation, the Senate is unlikely to revisit the issue.

Lawmakers were still arguing Friday over other steps their legislation should include for tightening border security and beefing up enforcement.

If the low turnout was caused by L.A. -area Democrats reasoning that this is only a primary, and they'll show up when there's a chance to vote out Republicans in November, then Democrats could wipe out Knight's edge in the primary.

Ryan has said the petition would hand control of the House floor over to Democrats.

House Republicans Hope They Can Find an Immigration Compromise