“I stand with those children at the border and I stand for due process,” Rep. Al Green (D-TX) said on the House floor Friday morning, evoking the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “I don’t stand for a fast track adjudication that mimics due process and makes a mockery of justice. I stand with the DREAMers. They have been given hope by our president. I will not vote for a bill that will destroy hope for those DREAMers. We must keep their hope alive.”
One by one, Green and about 29 other House Democrats took to the House floor in a show of solidarity with the migrant children affected by the legislation that they were opposing. They requested, “I ask unanimous consent to bring H.R. 15, a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill, to properly address the humanitarian crisis at the border.” Each time, Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) refused to yield to the request and “reiterated that all time yielded is for the debate.”
The Democrats vented their frustration in what amounted to an orderly protest on the House floor since the House was set to vote on a border supplemental request that would likely expedite the deportation process of Central American children by changing a 2008 human trafficking law. House Republicans are also voting to cease expansion of a 2012 presidential initiative that granted work authorization and temporary deportation reprieve to some undocumented immigrants known as DREAMers, who were brought to the country as young children by their parents.
The bill Democrats sought to introduce Friday is H.R. 15, the House Democrats’ version of a Senate comprehensive immigration bill passed last year. That bill would grant an earned pathway to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants who came to the country before December 2011. Those immigrants must also undergo a background check and pay back taxes and fines. Ever since the House Democrats’ bill came out, House Republican leaders promised that they would not bring the bill to a vote because they claim that it provides amnesty. Although three Republicans expressed support for the bill, not a single Republican has yet signed a discharge petition that bring the immigration bill to the House floor. Instead, Republican leaders introduced a set of principles that outline a piecemeal approach with strong border security components, but haven’t followed through with legislation that mirrors those principles.
Republicans have defeated House Democrats’ efforts to bring up immigration reform at least 6 times in the past, including in the House Budget Committee and as the “previous question” to a national monuments bill. They also balked when Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) introduced a limited bill that would have granted some undocumented immigrants the ability to serve in the military in the House Rules Committee.
Just the night before, the Senate failed to advance a $2.6 billion border supplemental request bill that would help fund the President’s request to help with the border situation. That bill failed 50-44, but needed 60 votes.