Home > NewsRelease > DREAMERS Dream of Legalization Via Queen of the Hill
DREAMERS Dream of Legalization Via Queen of the Hill
Peggy Sands Orchowski -- Immigration Expert Peggy Sands Orchowski -- Immigration Expert
Washington , DC
Monday, May 14, 2018


DREAMERS Hope For Legalization Via Rare

Queen-of-the-Hill Discharge Procedure 

By Peggy Sands Orchowski

DREAMER supporters have new hopes to pass a bill that would give permanent legal status to up to 4 million illegal immigrants by using two rare legislative procedures: a "discharge petition" that also includes a "Queen of the Hill" series of proposals.


The petition was introduced Wednesday May 9 by three moderate Republican Reps. Jeff Denham of California, Will Hurd of Texas and Carlos Curbelo of Florida. Their plan is to openly defy House Speaker Paul Ryan and the GOP leadership by attempting to force a vote legalizing DACA/DREAMERS that they have blocked for months.


A majority of congressional representatives (218 of the 435 total) would first have to sign a petition that would "discharge bill deadlocked in a congressional committee directly onto the House floor for debate and a vote.  It would allow petitioners to go around the Rules Committee that requires bills to go through a committee approval process


But this time, the most unusual "Queen of the Hill" procedure would discharge not the usual one, but rather four competing proposals dealing with DACA/DREAMERS.  Of the four, two would grant green cards to between 1.8 to 4 million millennials who met differing definitions of DREAMERS, including parents and extended family members. A third would give only temporary status to DACA recipients and a fourth is up to the Speaker to choose. 


1.     The DREAM Act of 2017 (S1615) would give a pathway to citizenship for applicants who came into the country before the age of 18 and had been here four years, beginning with the date of enactment. There is no upper age limit and would include some extended family members. Some 4 million "DREAMERS" could be eligible for green cards under this proposal by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY),

2.     the U.S.A. Act, sponsored by Hurd and Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar, would grant a green card to current DREAMERS described as having entered the country before the age of 16 by June 2007.  It would place limits on sponsorship of parents once the DREAMERS became citizens in some five years.  Some border provisions wold be funded but not "the wall".

3.     The Securing America's Future Act, aka the Goodlatte Bill, would grant a three-year renewable temporary legal status for only the 690,000 DACAs -- recipients of former President Obama's "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" temporary protection from deportation memo. The SAF Act would also institute stronger border protection and enforcement measures, as well as reduce legal immigration numbers. The proposal is strongly opposed by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC); Chairwoman Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham called it the "Mass Deportation Act"

4.     Empty slot for a (more Republican conservative establishment) bill, left to Speaker Ryan to decide.


If the discharge petition introduced on May 9 garners enough support, it could see a floor debate on the four immigration proposals after June 25.  Sponsors say they have more than 240 Congressional representatives who have indicated they would sign it. 


But no one is holding their breaths.  If history is any lesson, the petition won't succeed.  The politics of risk will take hold: how much do Republican moderates in purple states want to openly defy the Speaker for an issue involving illegal immigrants that Democrats are obsessed by.  That will depend on their assessment of a blue wave that may or may not sweep the House in the midterm elections in November and change its majority to Democrats.


But even if a bill does pass the House through the "Queen of the Hill" process and a full House vote, it then faces almost two insurmountable obstacles: 

1.     a highly unlikely vote of approval in the Republican dominated Senate; and

2.     an almost inevitable veto by President Trump.


"Why waste precious floor time – before an election – on a bill that will most likely be vetoed in the end?" Speaker Ryan retorted on Monday May 14. 


But it's interesting to watch the Congressional show of rare procedures.


For a fun way for you and your kids to learn about discharge petitions, watch the movie "Legally Blonde II".  And check out the history of the civil rights act of 1964.  It never would have gotten to the floor just months after President John Kennedy was assassinated, without the threat of a discharge petition's likely passage.

 # # # # #

“We can’t know where we’re going if we don’t know where we’ve been”. Vice President of the Brookings Institution Darrell West wrote in recommending Peggy Sands Orchowski’s books   "The Law That Changed The Face of America: The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965" and  "Immigration and the American Dream: Battling the Political Hype and Hysteria" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015 and 2008 respectively).  Peggy is a credentialed Senior Congressional journalist in Washington DC. She is available for interviews, article assignments and speaking engagements about immigration   porchowski@hotmail.com

Peggy Sands Orchowski
Senior Congressional Correspondent
Washington, DC
Other experts on these topics