New GOP Immigration Bill Would Prevent Separation Of Families At Border

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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A compromise immigration bill being drawn up in the House GOP caucus would block a much criticized Trump administration policy — separating migrant families who are arrested crossing the border illegally.

The yet-to-be-released bill is one of two Republican proposals that aim to provide legal status to so-called “Dreamers” — illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children — in exchange for stronger border enforcement and new limits on family and diversity green cards.

Backed by Republican House leadership and moderates in the GOP caucus, it is being offered as an alternative to a much tougher bill sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia. One key difference between the two proposals is that the compromise bill includes a provision that migrant children will not be separated from their parents at the border.

Rep. Jeff Denham of California, one of the moderate Republicans involved in negotiations, told reporters on Wednesday that the provision will be included in legislative text set to be released by Friday. Additionally, Speaker Paul Ryan briefed House Republicans last week that the provision would be part of any compromise bill, NBC News reported Wednesday, citing a senior GOP aide.

Details of the leadership bill come as House Republicans gear up for a floor vote on the competing proposals next week. Ryan has touted the leadership proposal as the only alternative that can pass the House and still meet President Donald Trump’s four requirements for an immigration reform bill — funding a border wall, eliminating the diversity visa lottery, cutting back on family-based visas, and creating a path to citizenship for Dreamers. (RELATED: What’s Up With Immigration In Congress?)

The Goodlate bill, on the other hand, is unlikely to win any moderate GOP votes because it does not give Dreamers a path to citizenship, only a three-year renewable status. Though it has previously endorsed Goodlatte’s proposal, the White House appears willing to support the leadership bill if it satisfies Trump’s immigration pillars.

“I think both the bills are being finalized right now but we strongly support what they’re doing,” Miller told reporters Wednesday, according to The Hill. “The White House supports the effort to arrive at a bill that will get 218 votes.”

In addition to the family separation provision, the leadership bill would legalize up to 1.8 million Dreamers, far more than the roughly 700,000 recipients of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) amnesty. In exchange, the bill would set aside $25 billion for border security, end the green card lottery, and cut two chain migration categories: siblings and adult children of U.S. citizens.

The bill also seeks to appease pro-business moderates by reallocating family-based green cards to the employment visa categories and giving resident alien status to the children of foreign tech workers in the U.S. on H-1B visas. Those provisions are likely to put off immigration hawks in the Republican caucus, but neither the White House nor House leadership have objected to them.

“I said before, the last thing I want to do is bring a bill out of here that I know the president won’t support,” Ryan said at a press conference on Wednesday. “Well, we have been working hand in glove with the administration on this to make sure we are bringing a bill that represents the president’s four pillars so that we can come together.”

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