Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo walked into House Speaker Paul Ryan's office on Tuesday, intent on solving 20 years of immigration inaction in 70 minutes.
They got close.
An effort by the Miami Republicans to force a series of immigration votes in defiance of Ryan came up short, and a faction of Republicans including Diaz-Balart and Curbelo who want to find a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million young immigrants known as Dreamers were forced to compromise with conservative Republicans.
"There are things that I really dislike in the bill but I think there has been a very good-faith effort to do something that can hopefully pass," Diaz-Balart said. "My ideal, preferred option is to do a bipartisan bill on this, but we don't have that option."
Diaz-Balart is a veteran of past immigration negotiations, but Curbelo wasn't in Congress when the House decided not to vote on a comprehensive immigration bill passed by the U.S. Senate in 2013. Curbelo initiated a petition last month that would have forced a series of votes on four immigration bills, a gambit that put the immigration issue back on the front burner after the lack of a court decision on the fate of Dreamers in March pushed the immigration issue to second-tier status.
"Think about where we were a month ago," Curbelo said. "We're about to get major immigration legislation to the floor."
The immigration legislation, which doesn't exist as a bill yet, is a compromise among Republicans. Democrats aren't likely to support the bill even though a small group of far-right Republicans will likely vote against the compromise legislation.
"It’s now clear the only way Republicans will consider miserly relief for some Dreamers is if the proposal guts legal immigration, turbocharges deportations, builds a wasteful and unnecessary wall, and intensifies the torture of asylum seekers at the border," said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a left-leaning immigration group. "Any member of Congress who says they stand for Dreamers cannot in good conscience support these bills."
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