House votes to resume deporting young immigrants
The partisan divide over immigration policy was exposed Thursday as House Republicans voted to stop funding the Obama administration program that has halted deportation of immigrants who are in high school or college, or have served in the military.
Tribune Washington Bureau
The day in D.C.
Student loans: The Senate deadlocked Thursday over federal student-loan interest rates. Unless Congress intervenes, rates for new subsidized student loans for about 7 million borrowers will rise July 1 from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. These Stafford loans are aimed at undergraduates who demonstrate financial need. They do not accrue interest while the students are in college.
Senate temp: New Jersery Gov. Chris Christie appointed Jeffrey Chiesa, the state’s attorney general, to temporarily fill the Senate seat left vacant by the death of Frank Lautenberg.
A special election to fill the seat for the remainder of Lautenberg’s term will be held in October. Chiesa, a Republican, does not plan to seek the seat himself, Christie said, opening up the field for others in the party.
Promotion blocked: U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said she will continue to block the promotion of Lt. Gen. Susan Helms for granting clemency to a sex offender, a move that is likely to end the commander’s military career. Helms has been nominated to become vice commander of the Air Force’s Space Command. McCaskill cited the general’s decision last year to erase the sexual-assault conviction of an Air Force captain, an action that emerged as a flash point in the national debate about sex crimes in the military.
Seattle Times news services
WASHINGTON — The partisan divide over immigration policy was exposed Thursday as House Republicans voted to stop funding the Obama administration program that has halted deportation of immigrants who are in high school or college, or have served in the military.
The largely party-line vote in the Republican-led House comes as a bipartisan immigration proposal moves forward in the Senate. A vote to proceed to debate on the bill is set for next week.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has tried to nudge his majority to consider an immigration overhaul. He wrote an opinion piece published Thursday in a Spanish-language newspaper that touched on the issue. But rank-and-file Republicans have been cool to the effort.
The measure, approved 224-201, was sponsored by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who is one of the House’s most outspoken opponents of a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million people in the country without legal status. It would prohibit funding for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which temporarily halts deportation of young immigrants who have completed military service, or are in high school or college.
The young people call themselves Dreamers, after the DREAM Act, which has been included in the Senate bill. That provision would provide a path to citizenship for those who entered the United States as children and are now adults without legal status.
King has called Obama’s deferral program the DREAM Act “light.” His measure would prevent funding for the Department of Homeland Security to use discretion in deportations.
The White House suggested that President Obama would veto the bill that includes King’s measure. “It’s wrong. It’s not who we are. And it will not become law,” press secretary Jay Carney said in a written statement.
Three Democrats joined Republicans in approving the amendment, which is tacked onto a must-pass bill to fund the Pentagon and other defense accounts. A half-dozen Republicans, including a few from districts in California, New York and Florida — some with large Latino populations — voted against it.
The House vote serves as a warning about the challenge of bringing House Republicans on board as senators begin to amend the immigration bill to attract GOP votes.
The Senate immigration bill would provide a path to citizenship for those here without legal status, while bolstering border security and launching new guest-worker and employee-verification programs.
A similar effort to draft bipartisan legislation in the House has struggled. House Republicans prefer a piecemeal approach that avoids the path to citizenship and focuses on border security.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., introduced a bill Thursday that would increase immigration enforcement. The measure would increase penalties for crossing the border illegally, add 5,000 deportation officers and 700 immigration support staff, and require that immigration agents be issued body armor, rifles, handguns and Tasers.
“One reason why our immigration system is broken today is because past and present administrations have largely ignored the enforcement of our immigration laws,” Goodlatte argued in a written statement.