Since Tuesday, 168 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed a discharge petition to outflank House leadership and force a vote on H.R. 4088, the Secure America with Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act.
According to supporters, who summarize the SAVE Act as "attrition through enforcement," it would, within 4 years, remove nearly all illegal aliens from the U.S. job market, and greatly increase funding for the border fences and for personnel to patrol the borders. The Act would, supporters say, "turn off the job magnet for illegal immigration."
According to the Numbers USA website, the Democratic leadership has not threatened Democratic Congressmen who sign the discharge petition.
"They have made it clear they oppose bringing the SAVE Act to a vote. But they haven't said they will punish Democrats who sign the discharge petition. Democrats are free to follow their conscience and the will of the voters in their district."
The leadership had asked Democrats to wait on signing the discharge petition so it could bring the SAVE Act to a vote through other channels. But negotiations between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Heath Shuler broke off after the Speaker insisted on some form of amnesty in the bill. As a result, there will be no vote on SAVE unless the discharge petition succeeds.
The Americans for Better Immigration website suggests that several House members are trying to have it both ways - they have signed on as co-sponsors in order to have bragging rights back in their home districts, but they haven't signed the discharge petition that would actually bring their bill to a vote.
Immigration reform activists are anxious to keep the momentum by adding more signatures to the discharge petition, and have mounted a grass-roots campaign in the Congressional districts to urge House members to sign it before they leave Washington for a two-week recess.