June 27 (UPI) — Republican House leaders are trying to shore up last-minute support for an immigration bill that is expected to receive a full-chamber vote Wednesday.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said the bill headed to the floor Wednesday addresses keeping detained migrant families together at the U.S.-Mexico border, while still enforcing the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy.
Under the proposal, children who cross illegally with parents or adult guardians would no longer be separated — an issue that stirred significant controversy last week and led to a presidential order and federal court ruling.
The bill would require children to be released after 20 days, still apart from parents who continue to be detained. Children crossing the border without their parents or legal guardians would be returned to their home countries.
Included in the bill is nearly $25 billion for the U.S.-Mexico border wall, a project sharply opposed by Democrats but required by President Donald Trump, he says, for his signature.
The bill would also allow a path to citizenship for 3.6 million Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients, or “Dreamers.” Democrats, though, say the bill makes that path difficult.
The Cato Institute, a Libertarian think tank, estimated eligibility restrictions in the bill would only result in about 12 percent of Dreamers becoming U.S. citizens.
A group of bipartisan senators is also working on a compromise bill to address family separations. The group includes Republicans, Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Dick Durbin, D-Il.
Last week, Republican leaders in the House rescheduled the vote on the Ryan’s moderate version after rejecting a more conservative proposal.
A day later, Trump asked Congress to postpone immigration legislation until after November’s midterm elections, to ride what he called a “red wave” of new Republican lawmakers.