Immigration bill suffers overwhelming defeat in House; Donald Trump says he was never 'overly excited' about it

US president Donald Trump has brushed off the failure of the Republican-led House to pass a far-ranging immigration bill. The bill was rejected by a wide margin on Wednesday despite an eleventh-hour endorsement from Trump.

Speaking to reporters later in the Oval Office, Trump said he told Republicans to "do what you want and ultimately we'll come to something, and perhaps it will be after the election, maybe it will be before".

Trump said he hadn't gotten "overly excited" about the House bill because it wouldn't pass the Senate.

Trump was asked about a federal judge ordering thousands of migrant children and parents to be reunited within 30 days. He said, "we believe the families should be together also".

File image of Donald Trump. AP

File image of Donald Trump. AP

The bill was killed 301-121, with nearly half of Republicans opposing the measure. The depth of GOP opposition was an embarrassing showing for Trump and a rebuff of House leaders, who'd postponed the vote twice and proposed changes in hopes of driving up the tally for a measure that seemed doomed from the start.

The roll call seemed to empower GOP conservatives on the fraught issue. Last week a harder-right package was defeated but 193 Republicans voted for it, 72 more than Wednesday's total. In Wednesday's vote, 112 Republicans voted 'No', including many of the party's most conservative members.

Even if it passed, the bill rejected on Wednesday would have been dead on arrival in the closely divided Senate, where Democrats have enough votes to kill it. House Democrats voted unanimously against it.

"Show some compassion," said Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-NY, who came to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic with his parents at age 9. "Will we step up to be the country that allowed me, as a young boy, to find safety with my mother and father?"

GOP leaders have been considering a Plan B: A bill focused narrowly on barring the government from wresting children from migrant families caught entering the country without authorisation. With television and social media awash with images and wails of young children torn from parents, many Republicans have wanted to pass a narrower measure addressing those separations before Congress leaves at week's end for its 4 July break.

But that seemed unlikely. GOP aides said Republicans had yet to agree on bill language, and the effort was complicated by a federal judge who ordered that divided families be reunited with 30 days. Republicans have been working on legislation that would keep migrant families together by lifting a court-ordered, 20-day limit on how long families can be detained.

Senators are trying craft a bipartisan plan. Trump has issued an executive order reversing his own family separation policy, but around 2,000 children remain removed from relatives and are generating damaging daily stories that Republicans would love to halt.

Besides creating a pathway to citizenship for some young immigrants, the defeated bill would provide $25 billion for Trump to build his coveted wall on the border with Mexico. It would restrict family-based immigration and bar the Homeland Security department from taking migrant children from parents seized while crossing into the country without authorisation.


Updated Date: Jun 29, 2018 07:26 AM

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