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House Rejects Conservative Immigration Bill, Delays Vote

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The House killed a conservative immigration bill Thursday, and Republican leaders delayed a planned vote on a compromise GOP package.

The measure was defeated 231-193, with 41 Republicans — mostly moderates — joining Democrats in voting against it.

Thursday’s vote set the stage for debate on the second bill, this one crafted by Republican leaders in hopes of finding an accord between the party’s sparring moderate and conservative wings. That compromise was considered too lenient by some conservatives and seemed likely to fail, too, and aides said the final roll call would wait until Friday.

At the White House, Trump defended his administration’s “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting all migrants caught illegally entering the country. He said without it, “you would have a run on this country the likes of which nobody has ever seen.”

He said he was inviting the two top Democrats in Congress, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, to the White House for immigration bargaining. He called them “extremist open-border Democrats.”

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Trump issued an executive order Wednesday aimed at keeping children with their detained parents.

“I was welcomed here,” a tearful Rep. Norma Torres, D-Calif., said during House debate, describing her journey to the U.S. as a child from Guatemala. “I was not put in a freezing cell.”

The rejected bill would have granted no pathway to citizenship for young people who arrived in the country illegally as children, curbed legal immigration and bolstered border security.

The second bill was a compromise between GOP moderates and the party’s conservatives that included an opportunity for citizenship for the young immigrants. It provides $25 billion for Trump’s wall, restrictions on legal immigration and language requiring the Homeland Security Department to keep migrant families together while they’re being processed for illegal entry to the U.S.

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Democrats oppose both measures as harsh.

“It is not a compromise,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters. “It may be a compromise with the devil, but it is not a compromise with the Democrats.”

“What is the purpose of the House doing good immigration bills when you need 9 votes by Democrats in the Senate, and the Dems are only looking to Obstruct (which they feel is good for them in the Mid-Terms),” Trump wrote in a Twitter post. “Republicans must get rid of the stupid Filibuster Rule-it is killing you!”

In the event that the House approved the GOP compromise, it seemed certain to go nowhere in the GOP-run Senate. Democrats there have enough votes to use procedural delays to kill it. Sixty votes are needed to end filibusters.

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On Wednesday, Trump took executive action aimed at curbing the separation of families. His order seemed to stem some of the urgency for Congress to act.

But GOP leaders were eager to hold the votes anyway.

“Our members wanted to express themselves on an issue they care a great deal about,” Speaker Paul Ryan said.

Even though Trump has acted unilaterally to stem the family separations, lawmakers still prefer a legislative fix. The administration is not ending its “zero tolerance” approach to border prosecutions. If the new policy is rejected by the courts, which the administration acknowledges is a possibility, the debate could move back to square one.

Senate Republicans have unveiled their own legislation to keep detained immigrant families together.

In the House, moderate Republicans forced the immigration debate to the fore by threatening to use a rare procedure to demand a vote. Led by Curbelo and Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., many are from states with large populations of young immigrants who now face deportation threats under Trump’s decision to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. A federal court challenge has kept the DACA program running for now.

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

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