The House Republicans’ Kids Act — a path to citizenship for undocumented youth brought here as children — has hit a stumbling block over whether those “kids” would be able to sponsor their undocumented parents for green cards after they become citizens themselves, according to people close to the negotiations. How the GOP sponsors, led by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, come down on the question could affect whether the legislation is taken seriously by Democrats and the immigrant community.
The Kids Act is viewed by many lawmakers involved in immigration talks as the fulcrum on which the entire House negotiation turns. The bill addresses the dicey question of legalization for at least one group of undocumented immigrants, and it has Republican support from rank-and-file members and party leaders. The Kids Act, combined with a border security/enforcement measure and a narrow work-visa proposal, could form the three pillars of an immigration package that would signal to Latino voters in particular that House Republicans aren’t ignoring the issue.
The problem comes when lawmakers start asking what happens to the children who eventually become citizens under the bill. Under current law, they would be allowed to sponsor family members, including parents, for green cards. That worries some Republicans who have long questioned the utility of family-based immigration in the United States. It also is of concern to any member who justifies support by saying that unauthorized immigrants brought here as children were not at fault, their parents were.
Democrats are angered by this line of reasoning, pointing out that Republicans repeatedly say they support a path to citizenship for people without papers if those people become citizens using existing law. Yet they would be changing existing law by including a provision in the Kids Act that bars these particular citizens from sponsoring their family members. What’s more, advocates say the provision would codify a basic unfairness into the concept of citizenship. Some citizens — i.e., the “kids” — would have fewer rights than others.
Some Democrats and immigrant-advocacy groups have privately told Republicans that they would happily support Cantor’s legislation if it did not touch citizenship rules. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., a leader in the bipartisan efforts to pass immigration overhaul in the House, is watching the back-and-forth on the Kids Act carefully, hoping that it could jump-start a stalled conversation on immigration. But even for Gutierrez, tinkering with existing citizen-sponsorship rights is a deal breaker. “The congressman would support the Kids Act if it is serious and the reform elements are good enough and doesn’t contain poison pills, like a prohibition on citizens sponsoring family members for legal immigration,” his spokesman, Douglas Rivlin, said in a statement.
A Kids Act that is supported only by Republicans would signal that bipartisan negotiations on immigration are essentially over for the current Congress. It is the only House bill being worked on by Republicans that addresses Democrats’ core issue on immigration, the status of undocumented immigrants. Without it, it’s hard to see anything happening.
The bipartisan opportunities for immigration reform are breaking down anyway, but a few lawmakers on both sides of the aisle don’t want to slam the door completely. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., is one of them. She declined until last week to cosponsor House Democrats’ broad immigration bill mirroring a Senate-passed measure because she wanted to keep open the possibility of bipartisan negotiations.
She says the Democrat-sponsored bill won’t make a “material difference” in the immigration debate. The bill is widely viewed as Democrats’ political tool to pressure Republicans on immigration. That narrative was put into sharper focus when the bill was unveiled by the figure who is least trustworthy to House Republicans, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
What We're Following See More »
"According to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, the first national post-debate survey, 43 percent of registered voters said the Democratic candidate won, compared with 26 percent who opted for the Republican Party’s standard bearer. Her 6-point lead over Trump among likely voters is unchanged from our previous survey: Clinton still leads Trump 42 percent to 36 percent in the race for the White House, with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson taking 9 percent of the vote."
After a lighthearted beginning, Donald Trump's appearance at the Al Smith charity dinner in New York "took a tough turn as the crowd repeatedly booed the GOP nominee for his sharp-edged jokes about his rival Hillary Clinton."
Evan McMullin came out on top in a Emerson College poll of Utah with 31% of the vote. Donald Trump came in second with 27%, while Hillary Clinton took third with 24%. Gary Johnson received 5% of the vote in the survey.
A new Quinnipiac University poll finds Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by seven percentage points, 47%-40%. Trump’s “lead among men and white voters all but” vanished from the university’s early October poll. A new PPRI/Brookings survey shows a much bigger lead, with Clinton up 51%-36%. And an IBD/TIPP poll leans the other way, showing a virtual dead heat, with Trump taking 41% of the vote to Clinton’s 40% in a four-way matchup.