Republicans’ efforts to overhaul immigration isn’t going as smoothly as they hoped. After a vote on the more conservative of two GOP proposals failed Thursday, a vote on the more moderate "compromise" bill was pushed off to Friday — and then possibly to next week.
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., told reporters Thursday evening that more issues need to be worked out before the House takes up a vote, after House Republicans met to discuss the matter Thursday afternoon. Asked if the House will take up a vote on the compromise bill Friday, Scalise said, "right now we’re going to keep working with our members."
While both bills were originated by Republicans, one is generally considered the more "conservative" bill, authored by retiring Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. The other bill, the "compromise" or "moderate" bill, comes from Republican leadership. President Trump has, through White House officials, expressed his support for both pieces of legislation.
Asked Thursday what happens if both immigration votes fail, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said, "We’ll cross that bridge if we get to it."
In a press conference on Thursday, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the compromise bill a "compromise with the devil."
"It’s not a compromise," Pelosi said. "It may be a compromise with the devil, but it’s not a compromise with the Democrats in terms of what they have in their bill. Their bills are anti-family, perpetuate child detention, undermine existing protections, cut off many people who have been waiting lawfully to enter the country."
On Capitol Hill Thursday, a wave of protests against the "zero tolerance" policy broke out, with dozens of children, parents and religious leaders gathered in the Russell Rotunda to speak out against the separation of children from their parents.
The children wrapped themselves in Mylar blankets and sat in the center of a large prayer circle, and clergy and parents prayed over them. Richard Morales, the director of Faith in Action’s immigration campaign, also placed cages stuffed with Mylar blankets in the circle to symbolize migrant children held in facilities near the border. Morales said the blankets serve to represent "the children that have been separated and the children that will be separated by the ‘zero tolerance’ policy."
Morales said that Mr. Trump’s executive order Wednesday fell short. "What’s going to the more than two thousand children that have been separated already?" Morales said.
Key differences between the two bills:
On the matter of family separation — which the Trump administration is halting for now — the conservative bill allows children to be detained with their parents in Department of Homeland Security custody for longer than 20 days by giving DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen "discretion" to do so. The compromise bill goes a step further, by allowing children to be detained with their parents, and mandating that DHS house families who are going through criminal proceedings for first-time border crossings rather than turn them over to the Justice Department, as is current policy, CBS News’ Rebecca Kaplan reports. The compromise bill would also provide funding for detention centers.
On DACA — The conservative bill allows for current recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to apply for a three-year renewable legal status allowing them to work and travel overseas. DACA recipients must use existing pathways to get green cards. The compromise bill allows those who qualified for DACA under the 2012 standards to apply for a six-year, indefinitely renewable legal status. They can also apply for the merit-based visa program without going to their home country first.
Visas — The conservative bill eliminates the diversity lottery and family visas for relatives other than spouses and minor children. It would also increase visas for skilled workers. The compromise bill creates a new, merit-based green card system with points for education, employment, English proficiency and military service by eliminating the diversity lottery and family visas for married children of U.S. citizens, and for siblings of adult U.S. citizens. It also eliminates per-country caps for employment-based immigration.
Border security — The conservative bill authorizes construction of the border wall, technology and other infrastructure. It also adds 5,000 border patrol agents and 5,000 Customs and Border Protection officers, and a biometric entry-exit system. The compromise bill appropriates $25 billion in advance for border security funding for the wall, access and roads, and also includes the addition of a biometric entry-exist system.
Overall immigration levels — The conservative bill would reduce overall immigration levels by about 25 percent per year. The compromise bill would keep immigration bills level.