Colorado’s U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman will sign a “discharge petition” to force four immigration bills to the floor of the House for a vote via a parliamentary maneuver known as “queen of the hill,” his office announced Wednesday.
“These immigration bills deserve a vote, and Republican leadership has been wrong in holding them up,” Coffman said in a statement. “The time to get this process moving is now.”
Last month the Aurora Republican announced that he had the pieces in place for the maneuver — a way to force a vote without the consent of House leadership — after working with Democrat Pete Aguilar and Republican Jeff Denham of California, Democrat Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, and Republican Will Hurd of Texas.
In April the group had secured commitments from 240 House members to use the rule, which requires signatures from 218 members.
If the maneuver is successful, the bill with the highest number of votes goes to the Senate.
“Democrats failed to make immigration reform a priority when they had control of the U.S. House, and Republican leaders have not made any progress to date,” Coffman said in the Wednesday statement. “I’m proud to be a part of this bipartisan effort to finally bring these important immigration reform bills to a vote.”
At stake is the fate of more than 17,000 undocumented Colorado residents who were brought to the U.S. as children and shielded from deportation by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. The bill was called the Dream Act, and those who benefit from it are called Dreamers.
President Trump ended the program last year (although the courts have held up his order) and told Congress to send him a better proposal.
“I strongly believe that these young people, who were taken into this country illegally as children but who grew up here, went to school here, and often know of no other country, should be allowed to stay in this country and be given a path to citizenship based on their work history, education or through military service,” Coffman said in Wednesday’s statement.
President Trump, though mercurial on the issue, is eager to get the border wall with Mexico that he promised his voters during the campaign two years ago.
Of the four bills, the USA Act has bipartisan support. The bill provides a permanent answer for DACA recipients and border security measures that combines technology and some “physical barriers.”
The quarter of bills also would include the Republican Securing America’s Future Act and the Democrats’ so-called clean Dream Act, and an immigration bill chosen by the House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Whichever bill makes it to the Senate has at least a fighting chance. The Senate is where Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet had success with the Gang of Eight in 2013 to pass a bipartisan immigration reform bill, only to watch it wither away in the House.
Colorado Politics’ Joey Bunch contributed to this report.