May 23 (UPI) -- A bipartisan group in the U.S. House of Representatives is close to forcing a series of immigration votes to override the will of the top two Republicans in Congress.
The movement aims to address multiple immigration issues, including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that President Donald Trump is ending. To spur action, the bipartisan group is circulating a discharge petition that needs 218 signatures to work around GOP leadership and hold a series of votes on immigration matters.
As of late Tuesday, the group needed just 15 more signatures. More than 200 have already signed, including 20 Republicans. Proponents said just five more GOP votes are needed, in addition to the Democratic support, for the petition to succeed.
The fight for and against the petition rages as Trump travels to New York Wednesday to participate in a roundtable discussion on immigration. That event will begin at 2 p.m. EDT and will be streamed live by the White House.
Rep. Jeff Dunham of California, who's leading the insurgent effort with Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, said on Twitter the petition may be the "last real shot" at finding a fix for DACA, which Trump and GOP leadership have demanded.
Trump set a March 5 deadline for DACA to be amended satisfactorily, but federal courts blocked his termination order.
"America has never punished children for the actions of their parents, and we shouldn't start now," Dunham said.
Dunham told the Hill centrist Republican supporters have a strategy to find the remaining votes needed.
"We're having more and more members sign on. ... We've always been confident we have the votes, so it's just signing more members up this week," he said.
Republican opponents in Congress have been working to kill the petition -- including House Speaker Paul Ryan, who cut short a trip to Wisconsin Tuesday to stem the movement.
In a closed-door meeting with Republicans Tuesday, Ryan urged them to unite -- saying the only way Republicans will keep their congressional majorities this fall is to work in solidarity.
"He said we need to start acting like we're in charge of the place, and being divided doesn't help," Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., said. "He was frustrated ... I think he used the word 'crap' once. For Paul Ryan, 'crap' is pretty blue language."
Other conservatives like Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry say the petition's success or failure will be seen as a choice from GOP leadership -- who didn't use their power to stop it.
"If you don't want the tyranny of the minority to take over, and you're in leadership, there are methods to make sure that policy that the American people didn't ask for doesn't come to the floor," Perry said, adding "all options" are on the table with Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy if the petition succeeds.
"If leadership doesn't stop it, they would be violating their own word, which was ... majority of the majority," Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., said, referring to an unofficial Republican policy of not holding votes on matters that aren't supported by more than half of the conference.