- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 14, 2018

House Republican leaders said Wednesday they will finally put their muscle behind a strict immigration plan that would grant a legal status to “Dreamers” while also taking the largest steps in 20 years toward stiffer enforcement.

The move amounts to a major ante in the ongoing immigration debate, and serves as a counter across the Capitol, where senators were working on more generous amnesties for Dreamers, coupled with far less border security and enforcement.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise announced the move, saying they will be “whipping” — or rallying support — for a proposal led by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte. That plan would enshrine the Obama-era DACA program into law, giving Dreamers a chance to live and work legally but without a new pathway to citizenship, in exchange for a crackdown on sanctuary cities, requiring businesses to use E-Verify to check their workers, and a whole series of other get-tough measures.

“It ends chain migration, ends this lottery system that everybody agrees makes no sense,” Mr. Scalise said.

Conservatives had complained that the House was in danger of being sidelined by letting the Senate take the lead — and one influential GOP lawmaker said House Speaker Paul D. Ryan could lose his post if he bungles the debate.

But GOP leaders had been wary of moving ahead on their own, particularly with a large number of centrist Republicans looking to embrace a bill that would include a full pathway to citizenship for perhaps 3 million illegal immigrants, with only minimal border security.

One such bill, written by Rep. Will Hurd, Texas Republican, and Rep. Pete Aguilar, California Democrat, has about two-dozen GOP co-sponsors. It’s also become the chief plan for Senate Democrats.

Conservatives fear that if such a plan passed the Senate their leaders would feel pressure to pass it through the House, undercutting their efforts to win stiffer enforcement and a less generous amnesty.

Even as GOP leaders worked to build support for their own bill, Mr. Ryan said they’re looking to see what the Senate can do.

“We want to find a solution. Our hope: that our Democratic colleagues are more interested in finding a solution than preserving an issue for campaigns,” Mr. Ryan said.

He has also said he will not bring to the floor a bill that Mr. Trump can’t sign. That would rule out the Hurd-Aguilar bill, which the White House announced opposition to on Wednesday.

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