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District's Latest Immigration News Comes at Key Time for Congress

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Gray said he intends to push legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for driverís licenses in D.C. Even though the D.C. proposal taps on the hot-button issue of immigration, members of Congress donít seem likely to invest themselves in defeating it.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., is the chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and has cited Congressí ďconstitutional authorityĒ over the District in cases where he has sought to curb abortion practices in D.C.

In the 112th Congress, he introduced legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks in D.C. It failed to get the two-thirds majority required to pass on the House floor under suspension of the rules, and he said he plans to push for the billís consideration again this year.

He suggested, however, that his interest in D.C. affairs ended at the abortion debate: ďIím the Constitution chairman, so I gotta pay attention to these sort of things, but otherwise I donít have any specific focus on D.C. at all,Ē Franks told CQ Roll Call after describing his concern with the Districtís lack of restrictions on when abortion can be performed. As for driverís licenses for undocumented immigrants, he said only that he generally was unsupportive.

On the opposite side of the issue, a handful of House Democrats who support the initiative in D.C. and in the other five states said they donít expect the issue to come up in any prominent way when discussions about an immigration overhaul begin on the House side.

ďGiven the positive nature of the discussion and the uplifting debate that weíre having, I donít think thatís gonna happen,Ē said Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Ill., one of the chamberís key players in drafting the chamberís immigration proposal. ďI donít foresee it as a problem.Ē

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