House GOP Takes Broad Aim At Obama Immigration Policies

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans plan to take broad aim at President Barack Obama's immigration policies next week, including votes to overturn protections for immigrants brought illegally to this country as kids.

         The plan emerging Friday satisfies demands from the most conservative lawmakers and goes further than the approach initially discussed by some House Republicans. That approach would have taken aim just at executive actions Obama announced in November that provided deportation protections for millions of immigrants in the country illegally.

         Conservatives in the GOP caucus pressed leadership to go further, and also shut down an earlier 2012 program that has granted work permits to more than 500,000 immigrants brought here illegally as kids. Other changes would undo Obama directives to immigration agents that had sought to limit deportations of people with no significant criminal record.

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         "The American people were expecting the leadership to step up to the plate and not just make some symbolic gesture in trying to address what the president did back in November, but try to go a step further," said Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala. "That's what our language does and that's what at the end of the day I think will garner a lot of support among our colleagues when the leadership brings this bill forward."

         But the outcome won't have the support of a handful of moderates in the caucus, including lawmakers representing heavily Latino districts.

         "Just picking on the children that came here through no fault of the own I think is the wrong way to start," said Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif. "I know that there are a number that feel the same concerns that I do. … I am certainly not happy with the current status of the bill."

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         The vote will come as the House considers legislation to keep the Department of Homeland Security running past February. Lawmakers said the goal is to keep the agency running on full funding — an especially critical goal in the wake of the Paris terror attacks — while at the same time blocking Obama's administrative moves on immigration.

         Obama's directives in November gave temporary relief from deportation to about 4 million immigrants in the country illegally, along with permits allowing them to work legally in the U.S. They applied mostly to immigrants who'd been in the country more than five years and have kids who are citizens or legal permanent residents.

         The earlier program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, applied to immigrants brought here illegally as kids. Ending the program would eventually expose those young people to deportation.

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         The developments come in the first week that Congress was back in session under full Republican control. Yet there's no guarantee that the Senate, where minority Democrats still exercise considerable sway, would accept the House legislation. And Obama could very well threaten to veto it.

         At the same time, Democrats say Republicans are courting electoral disaster in the 2016 presidential election by passing legislation that could alienate many Latino voters.

         Many of the same House conservatives who voted against Boehner for speaker earlier this week in a failed overthrow attempt were declaring victory Friday at the shape the immigration legislation was taking.

         "I liked what I heard," said Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, after a closed-door meeting of House Republicans to discuss the legislation.

         "I really appreciate the process of allowing all of us to have some input," said Gohmert, a frequent critic of House Republican leaders. "One of the things that has really been lacking for the last eight years is having more input like we've finally gotten in this bill, so this is a good thing."

         – by AP Reporter Erica Werner



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