Republican Congress members attempt to expedite vote on several bills designed to protect DACA recipients
On Thursday, May 9, House Speaker Paul Ryan rejected an attempted bypass of his leadership by his party to force a vote on legislation that would protect young undocumented immigrants who arrived to the U.S. as children.
On Wednesday, Republican members of Congress challenged congressional leadership in order to thrust a vote on a series of bills to protect undocumented youth under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
In a rare move, the small group of Republicans signed a discharge petition, a maneuver that, if signed by a majority of House members, would bring legislation to a vote without needing approval from the speaker of the house or any congressional committee.
If the petition would garner enough co-signers, it would bring four different immigration measures to the House floor as early as June. The group of centrist Republicans said they are sick of waiting for a solution and want to get DACA recipients out of the limbo they’ve been living in since President Donald Trump first terminated DACA in 2017.
“There are million-plus men and women who don’t have certainty,” said Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas). “These are men and women who have contributed to our economy…to our history…These are people who are Americans and they need a permanent legislative fix.”
As of press time, 17 Republicans have signed the petition. In order to take effect and have the bills head to the floor for votes, the petition needs 218 signatories; so, 25 more Republicans and every Democrat need to sign to trigger the votes.
However, Ryan has publicly rejected the move and predicts that the effort will fail, saying that he doesn’t want to see a maneuver that turns “the floor over to the minority” and ends up with a “veto.”
He emphasized the importance of including the White House in any discussions on immigration legislation regarding DACA, adding that bypassing Republican leadership would likely be rejected.
“I would like to have an immigration vote before the midterms, but I want to have a vote on something that can make it into law. I don’t want to have, you know, show ponies,” Ryan said to reporters on Thursday.
This week’s efforts in the ongoing political battle for DACA is the latest in a long game of legislative tug-o-war. Since January, the Senate has rejected many of the White House frameworks for DACA that includes funding for Trump’s massive border wall.
In the meantime, DACA recipients are still able to renew after several federal judges ruled against the Trump administration, calling its efforts to terminate the program “arbitrary and capricious.”
Signed into law in 2012, DACA provides a host of benefits to young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. Benefits depend on each state, but DACA recipients are guaranteed work authorization and protection from deportation.
Estimates vary, but there are approximately 650,000-750,000 current DACA recipients, a vast majority of whom have reported better career and educational opportunities since enrolling in DACA.