A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House are unveiling Monday their proposal to resolve the immigration standoff in Washington, even as the White House has offered a more conservative plan.
The group of 48 lawmakers, split evenly by party, are calling for their immigration-border security outline to be included in a budget deal that has evaded congressional leadership for months because of the impasse on immigration and other issues.
The Problem Solvers Caucus has worked since last fall to come up with a solution on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protected young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation and which President Donald Trump decided in September to terminate by March 5.
The Problem Solvers proposal resembles an offer from a bipartisan Senate group led by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, and Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, which was rejected by Trump and has been declared dead in the Senate by GOP leadership.
The White House, meanwhile, last week unveiled its own proposal that would offer a pathway to citizenship for nearly 2 million undocumented immigrants but contains a number of other sweeping immigration changes that met instant resistance from the left.
It’s unclear why the Problem Solvers Caucus proposal would have more success than the Durbin-Graham proposal, but the bipartisan group has been negotiating for months in the hope that if enough rank-and-file members can show consensus across the aisle, it could pick up steam with leadership as an option as funding talks continue without success, and provide a counterpoint to hardline bills pushed by more conservative House Republicans.
The latest short-term government funding runs out February 8, a week from Thursday.
“I am frustrated that there are so many partisan extremists that are more interested in achieving political victories than in actually solving these important issues,” Republican New York Rep. Tom Reed, who co-chairs the caucus, said in a statement.
“No one got everything they wanted, and that’s the reality of governing - and I didn’t feel the (DACA recipients) could wait any longer,” added New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer, the Democratic co-chairman.
In the deal, qualifying young undocumented immigrants would have a 10- to 12-year pathway to citizenship, provided they have a clean criminal record and have paid taxes.
The border security piece of the deal would appropriate the President’s request for this coming fiscal year: $1.6 billion for physical barriers, such as wall and fencing, and $1.1 billion for technology and other measures. It would also appropriate money for drug screening, border access roads and personnel and authorize a study on adding fees to related activities – like crossing the border – that can then be spent on border security.
To answer the other two “pillars” of what the White House has demanded, ending the diversity lottery and curtailing family migration, the bill would eliminate the diversity visa but create a new merit-based visa for underrepresented countries with education, work and language requirements. Half of the visas would also go initially toward allowing recipients of Temporary Protected Status to stay in the US after the Trump administration ended their protections.
The bill would prevent parents who brought their children illegally to the US from being sponsored for citizenship by those children once they become citizens, but would give them three-year legal work permits to stay in the US without citizenship.