GOP leaders agree to drop provision on schooling of illegal immigrants


WASHINGTON -- In a move that will help the election campaigns of many House Republicans, but was opposed by Bob Dole, the party's congressional leaders have agreed to drop from a stalled immigration bill a divisive provision that would allow states to bar illegal-immigrant children from school.

Under the new plan, expected to be announced today, House and Senate Republicans will strip that provision from the broader bill and schedule it for a vote as a separate measure. And in a compromise on that provision, any illegal-immigrant children enrolled in any grade as of Jan. 1, 1997, would be permitted to stay through high school.

The separate votes may solve a political problem for California Republicans, who feel they need to stand tough against the high costs of educating illegal immigrants.

But it is a setback for Dole, who sent his campaign manager to Capitol Hill earlier this month to argue that a tougher stand could put President Clinton on the defensive over the failure of a generally popular bill, and could also deny him another bill-signing photo opportunity in the Rose Garden.

Any bill containing the schools provision faced a bipartisan Senate filibuster led by Democrats and a veto threat from Clinton.

Under the latest plan the House would probably pass the revised education ban and the Senate would block it. The overall bill would likely pass, but backers of the provision from California and other states with large numbers of illegal immigrants would at least have a vote to campaign on.

This would seem to add up to a big political victory for Clinton. But in the past few days, top administration aides have raised new objections to the bill and suggested that he might not sign it.

Pub Date: 9/24/96

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