House Republicans look to unite party on plan for immigration reform

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Republicans tried to build support Wednesday for their compromise immigration plan, saying they’ve come up with something that can unite the GOP and get President Trump’s signature.

Preparing for the first major House immigration floor debate in eight years, Speaker Paul D. Ryan was hashing out final details on the compromise, which he will put up for votes next week.

“This has a chance of going into law,” Mr. Ryan said after a party caucus meeting Wednesday.

According to a draft outline, the plan the GOP is working on would allow “Dreamers,” those who illegally crossed into the U.S. as children, to get in line for citizenship.

The plan would also authorize and fund Mr. Trump’s border wall, raise the burden of proof on asylum claims, allow faster deportation of some illegal immigrants including children, limit the chain of family migration and eliminate the diversity visa lottery that doles out 55,000 immigration passes each year.

And the bill would explicitly prevent separation of children from their parents at the border, according to the draft.

Still to be decided is the size and details of the pathway to citizenship. One option would only cover Dreamers, while another option would cover children whose parents came on temporary legal visas.

The White House signaled its support for the plan, though many rank-and-file Republicans were waiting to see the final bill.

Rep. Mark Meadows, the head of the conservative Freedom Caucus, said the president could sway members.

“Could he move 100 people because he says he likes it? The answer is ‘No,’” Mr. Meadows said. “Can he move a dozen or so? The answer is ‘Yes.’”

GOP leaders dodged a bullet this week after a renegade group of moderate Republicans failed to muster enough support for a petition drive that would have forced voted on a series of bills, including a Democrat-backed option with a more generous amnesty and far less enforcement.

Instead, the GOP will allow two votes: one on the compromise still being worked out, and the other on an enforcement-heavy bill authored by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte.

Mr. Goodlatte’s bill would write President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program into law, granting Dreamers a firmer legal footing but without the new pathway to citizenship that many have demanded.

That bill is not expected to win a majority.

Instead, the attention is on the compromise, which Mr. Ryan says matches the four pillars of reform Mr. Trump laid out earlier this year.

“We’ve been working hand-in-glove with the administration on this, to make sure that we’re bringing a bill that represents the president’s four pillars so that we can come together, have the votes that everybody’s looking for,” he said.

Mr. Trump’s “four pillars” blueprint called for a pathway to citizenship for up to 1.8 million illegal immigrants, combined with his border wall, elimination of the visa lottery and limits to the number of family members a legal immigrant could sponsor.

Rep. Scott Perry, Pennsylvania Republican and member of the Freedom Caucus, said the “devil is in the details” of the compromise — in particular when it comes to security. “We all just need to take a breath and see what we’ve got before we get too excited about it one way or the other,” Mr. Perry said.

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