Moderate House Republicans are plying their more conservative counterparts with a new deal to shield Dreamers from deportation.
Discussions are set to take place in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office throughout Tuesday night. Some two-dozen Republicans are expected to be in attendance, most from swing districts with immigrant-heavy constituencies.
The potential defectors have already threatened to breakaway from the party line and sign aboard a discharge petition that’d trigger voting on a series of bipartisan immigration bills—few of which have the backing of President Donald Trump or the Republicans’ congressional leadership.
POLITICO suggests that negotiations between the two Republican camps could be terse—representatives further to the right are unlikely to support any initiative that doesn’t increase enforcement.
“We have bill text,” said Rep. Jeff Dunham (R-AZ), who supports the discharge petition initiative. “I’m waiting to see if we all come together on it.”
Offering an increase in enforcement won’t necessarily garner the support of the House’s conservative Freedom Caucus. According to POLITICO, group leader Mark Meadows (R-NC) and panel immigration expert Raul Labrador (R-ID) want a bipartisan deal incorporating E-verify. They’re also backing U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ effort to tighten restrictions on asylum-seekers.
Moderates, writes POLITICO, appear open to overwriting extant asylum policy but have concerns about E-verify, which mandates employers check the immigration status of prospective hires. Some Republicans centrists say implementing E-very would require an enhanced guest worker program, allowing seasonal laborers to take jobs Americans often aren’t willing to work.
Earlier in the week, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) told Talking Points Memo “there’s pressure on our guys not to sign on,” but noted the discharge petition camp has almost reached ‘critical mass.’
“It’s just a mystery still whether we’ll be able to get the signatures or they’ll bring back proposals to the floor,” said Ros-Lehtinen last week. “But some of us are really frustrated to not be able to have a vote […] we want a permanent legislative fix.
“It’s just like the last two minutes of a football game,” she said. “It just goes on forever.”
At least last week, House Speak Paul Ryan seemed optimistic—outwardly, anyway.
“We are now presenting people with an opportunity to get something on the floor,” he said. “Our members are talking to each other, having very productive conversations with each other.”
Ryan, along with other top Republicans, fears a discharge petition could place immigration policy in the hands of congressional Democrats, despite them being a minority in both chambers. It also seems unlikely that President Trump will approve any of the more passable bills which could crop up on the House floor.