Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) said Thursday he’ll attempt to force a vote on a bill that would extend protections for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as minors.
When he returns to Washington next week, Coffman said he’ll file what’s known as a “discharge petition” to force action on his proposal, known as the BRIDGE Act. If he can convince a majority of the House — 218 members — to join him, the House will be required to take up the measure later in September.
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Coffman’s rarely used gambit comes amid reports that President Donald Trump may roll back an Obama-era program meant to protect undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as minors. The program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, has shielded about 800,000 immigrants from deportation and provided work permits.
“#DACA participants grew up here, went to school here, and should be allowed to stay here. The time has come to take action,” Coffman tweeted.
The bill already has 12 Republican cosponsors in the House, in addition to Coffman. In the Senate, a companion measure was introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and it has support from GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)
The measure extends protection — similar to that afforded under DACA — to those born after June 15, 1981, were brought to the United States before their 16th birthday and have lived in the United States since June 15, 2007. Applicants for protection must also be enrolled in school, have graduated from high school or have served honorably in the military. And those convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors would be barred from the program.
Coffman’s call is likely to draw support from Democrats, as well as other Republicans who have previously backed measures to protect those undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as minors. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump called for eliminating the program, but he backed off shortly after winning the election. This week, his administration indicated he was reviewing the program and hadn’t yet decided what to do.
Trump said in February that he intended to deal with DACA enrollees “with heart.”
Coffman is also one of the more vulnerable Republicans in the House. Democrat Hillary Clinton won his district by a 50-41 margin.