Friday, May 24, 2019

Democrats want to tackle DACA and TPS first, then a comprehensive immigration bill

Latino Democrats are charging ahead with plans to move a comprehensive immigration reform bill this year, bolstered by recently secured support from some of the party’s top brass.

Leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) are drafting a measure that some Democratic leaders say they are ready to bring to the floor after the chamber tackles legislation that would both create a path to citizenship for DREAMers and temporary protected status (TPS) beneficiaries. “We need to move forward first on the DACA and the TPS — people who have been here making America better, creating jobs,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said this month during the Democrats’ retreat in Northern Virginia.

Whether the comprehensive package ends up getting a floor vote is uncertain, especially heading into a crucial 2020 election cycle when Democratic leaders may want to avoid an issue that’s likely to divide the diverse caucus. But the CHC Immigration and Border Issues Task Force, led by Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), a former CHC chairwoman, is nevertheless putting together such a bill.

“We’re essentially starting from scratch,” said Sánchez, dismissing the idea that a comprehensive package needs to follow the framework of a failed 2013 bill that passed what at the time was a Democratic-controlled Senate but never got a vote in the GOP-led House. “Because we have so many people to work with, it’s an ongoing process and we think it’s better to take our time and do this the right way,” said Sánchez.

Legislation addressing DACA and TPS has already been introduced in the House and is awaiting action in the Judiciary Committee. Some CHC leaders are warning that there could be dire consequences for the party if House Democrats don’t have a comprehensive immigration bill to show Latino voters in November 2020.

The group’s sense of urgency is driven in part by President Trump’s incendiary rhetoric on immigration, but also by what they view as inaction by Democrats including former President Obama. Democrats are also encouraged by recent comments from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who expressed an interest in moving on a comprehensive reform bill as an antidote to the border crisis.

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