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US House rejects compromise bill on border family separations

  • Published at 01:43 am June 29th, 2018
Maria Inga whose husband is a detained immigrant cries while people participate in a protest against recent US immigration policy of separating children from their families in front of a Homeland Security facility in New Jersey on June 17 REUTERS
Maria Inga whose husband is a detained immigrant cries while people participate in a protest against recent US immigration policy of separating children from their families in front of a Homeland Security facility in New Jersey on June 17 REUTERS

The House could vote next month on a narrower measure that is being developed and would focus specifically on the family separations issue, although prospects for its passage are uncertain.

The US House of Representatives rejected a “compromise” immigration bill on Wednesday, as expected, that would have addressed the crisis of families being separated at the US-Mexico border.

The House could vote next month on a narrower measure that is being developed and would focus specifically on the family separations issue, although prospects for its passage are uncertain.

By a 301-121 vote, the Republican-controlled House rejected a bill that addressed family separations but also gave long-term protections to young “Dreamer” immigrants brought to the country years ago illegally as children, and provided funding for President Donald Trump’s proposed US-Mexico border wall.

Trump has demanded that Congress resolve the family separations with legislation, in the face of an uproar at home and abroad over the separation of more than 2,300 children from their parents as a result of his administration’s policy of “zero tolerance” toward illegal immigration.

Late on Tuesday, US District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego blocked the administration from separating families at the border, and ordered that those who were separated be reunited within 30 days, a decision the American Civil Liberties Union hailed as a “complete victory.”

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on whether the administration would appeal, and Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that “we’re going to see” whether it would fight the court order.

He also said he instructed House Republican leaders struggling for an immigration compromise to “get something you want,” but he was uncertain if anything could pass the Senate, where Republicans only have a two-seat majority and Democratic votes are needed to pass legislation.

“That’s why I don’t get overly excited with the House bill right now because it’s not going to pass in the Senate,” he said.

Democrats left out of negotiations

The Republican-led House has struggled to find a successful immigration approach. After weeks of negotiations between warring factions of the party, the so-called compromise bill received 72 fewer Republican votes than a more conservative version, which lost on a 231-193 vote last week.

Democrats never were included in the negotiations that led to the legislation and none of them voted for it. Instead, the measure was designed to be a compromise between conservative and centrist Republicans who have been battling each other over immigration for years.

A House Republican aide said the focus now would be to draft a bill prohibiting the separation of children from their parents at the border. That would probably not be voted on until after a week-long recess next week for the Fourth of July holiday, the aide said.

Republican Representative Mark Meadows, the head of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, told reporters after the vote that while two immigration bills failed over the past week, he held out a hope a third, narrow immigration measure could pass the House.