House Republican factions hunt for immigration deal
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republican leaders brought opposing GOP factions into a closed-door meeting today to consider the outline of a compromise on immigration, as they try frantically to resolve an issue that has divided the party for decades.
Party leadership is under mounting pressure from rebellious GOP moderates to produce an immigration bill by a Tuesday deadline and set a date for a vote.
Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., a leader of the moderates, headed into the midday meeting with an open mind, saying his faction had compromised a lot. "Now that we've got an outline on paper, we've got specific issues we can discuss and see if we can come together," he said.
Denham said the top priority for moderates remains the same as from beginning: to produce a "permanent" way to protect the young immigrant "Dreamers" – those who have been living in the U.S. illegally since childhood – from deportation and allow them eventually to apply for citizenship.
Lawmakers said after the meeting they were making progress but it was unlikely they could produce legislation by Tuesday.
"There's no agreement right now," said Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., the GOP Whip, as he exited the meeting.
Without an agreement with conservatives and party leaders, the centrists warn they will have enough signatures by Tuesday on a petition to force House votes later this month on bills for the young immigrants. Many conservatives have opposed a pathway to citizenship, and leaders say the votes, which would surely draw Democratic support, would be divisive and damage the party's electoral prospects among GOP voters in November.