House Negotiating Immigration and the DACA Program

NALP is closely monitoring House negotiations related to immigration and the status of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides legal status to so-called dreamers, kids who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

House Republican leaders have been meeting with competing factions within the party in an effort to find a path forward on immigration.  The entire Republican Caucus is expected to meet Thursday to discuss potential options.   There are two central issues in the debate – a moderate discharge petition and a conservative promise to hold the Farm Bill hostage until border security is addressed.

A discharge petition is a House procedure that allows a bill to bypass committee and come straight to the House floor without leadership’s approval.  To be successful a discharge petition requires 218 signatures.  A discharge petition led by Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Jeff Denham (R-CA), and Will Hurd (R-TX) would force a vote on four immigration measures, with the one getting the most votes above the required simple majority threshold prevailing. The process is likely to produce a bill that would provide a path to citizenship for the dreamers, which is supported by a majority of Democrats and a minority of Republicans.

The discharge petition has currently garnered 213 signatures including those of 190 Democrats and 23 Republicans.  Reps. Curbelo, Denham and Hurd say that that they can easily get remaining 5 signatures but are holding off on adding them to see if Thursday’s meeting can produce a compromise they and the majority of Republicans can support.

Conservative members of the Republican Caucus generally oppose a path to citizenship for the dreamers and want to see stricter border security measures enacted including the construction of a wall along America’s southern border.

Late last month, a House vote on the farm bill failed after a group of conservative Republicans said that they would not support the farm bill unless Congress first passes stricter border security legislation.  The farm bill failed on the House Floor by a 198 to 213 vote.  All House Democrats voted against the bill, along with 30 Republican members of the conservative Freedom Caucus.

Prior to the farm bill vote, the Freedom Caucus rejected an offer from House leadership to hold votes on a conservative immigration bill (HR 4760) from Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), while also allowing moderate Republicans the opportunity to hold a vote on more moderate legislation to address DACA.

Republican leaders are hopeful that an agreement can be reached on border security and legal status for DACA recipients.  No one yet knows what will come out of the Thursday meeting. If the DACA issue is resolved, it would easier to bring up other immigration measures such as H-2B cap relief. It would also pave the way for a new vote on the farm bill, which is currently slated for the last week in June.

The farm bill includes NALP-supported language related to state pesticide preemption and cooperative federalism, Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act endangered species consultations, funding for EPA’s pesticide registration program and a clarification that Clean Water Act permits are not needed for pesticide application to or near water.

We are following this week’s negotiations closely and will keep you updated.

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