By Robert A. Vella
In a move that has received little national exposure, moderate Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are defying both their party leadership and conservative anti-immigration sentiment by circulating a discharge petition which would force a floor vote regarding the legal status of undocumented children. The Trump Administration rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program last year which had allowed some of these individuals to avoid deportation since 2012.
In addition to being an imminent political concern for vulnerable Republicans seeking reelection this November, like Florida congressman Carlos Curbelo who sponsored the discharge petition, the issue of deportation raises humanitarian concerns. Many of these undocumented children – commonly referred to as “Dreamers” – had fled their native countries to escape the ravages of extreme poverty, political persecution, drug violence, human trafficking, and other deadly threats.
The discharge petition, which is also being supported by most Democrats, is nearing the 218 vote threshold necessary to force a vote on the House floor (i.e. a full vote by all members). Lame-duck Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is scrambling to find a compromise solution because President Trump has said he won’t sign any bill on this issue that doesn’t include funding for his “border wall” plan, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to take up any such bill that Trump won’t sign.
Further reading: GOP leaders scramble to contain immigration rebellion