Published Thursday, June 6, 2013 | 10:45 a.m.
Updated Thursday, June 6, 2013 | 12:30 p.m.
Starting Friday, Congress will debate the comprehensive immigration reform bill that lawmakers hope will finally settle questions of status for millions of immigrants who lack documentation.
But not without a parting shot from the House.
The House of Representatives voted Thursday morning to defund the program that allows young immigrants who were brought to the country as children and lack documentation to avoid deportation and gain work authorization for renewable two-year periods.
The program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is almost 10 months old, having been announced in mid-June 2012 and launched in mid-August 2012.
The House voted 224 to 201 for an amendment to the annual homeland security bill that would prevent the administration from spending any money to facilitate the program. Nevada Republican Reps. Mark Amodei and Joe Heck voted for the measure, while Democratic Reps. Steven Horsford and Dina Titus voted against it.
The House vote is mostly a statement against the policy implemented by the Obama administration. Unless the Senate were to agree with the House, the program will continue as planned.
As of April 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services had received over half a million applications for DACA status, approved almost 300,000 applications, and rejected only 2,352.
President Barack Obama highlighted the program on a visit to Las Vegas earlier this year, in which he also recognized some of the first local recipients of DACA status.
The DACA program was introduced in lieu of the Dream Act, a proposal that would put the same cohort of immigrants lacking documentation on a pathway to citizenship, provided they enrolled in college or served in the military. The Dream Act is a component of the Senate’s Gang of 8 immigration bill that the Senate begins debating Friday morning.
The House has not yet outlined its strategy for debating immigration reform this year, nor has a group of House members that were meeting to hash out a bipartisan House approach released a proposal.