Friday 20 July 2018

Republican immigration bill suffers resounding defeat in US congress

Half of Republicans opposed the plan despite Donald Trump’s endorsement.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (AP)
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (AP)

By Alan Fram and Lisa Mascaro

The Republican-led US congress has rejected a far-ranging immigration bill despite its 11th-hour endorsement by President Donald Trump.

The vote was 301-121, with nearly half of Republicans opposing the measure.

The depth of Republican opposition was an embarrassing showing for Mr Trump and a rebuff of House Republican leaders, who postponed the vote twice and proposed changes in hopes of driving up support for a measure that seemed doomed from the start.

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Federal agents stand at the main gate at the port-of-entry along the international border in Fabens, Texas (AP)

Speaker Paul Ryan had labelled the legislation “a great consensus bill” and tried putting the best face on the likely outcome.

He told reporters: “What we have here is the seeds of consensus that will be gotten to, hopefully now but if not, later.”

The vote capped months of futile Republican party efforts to pass wide-ranging legislation on an issue that could affect scores of congressional races in this autumn’s contest for House and perhaps Senate control.

The US senate rejected three proposals in February, including one reflecting Mr Trump’s hard-line policies and two bipartisan plans.

Democrats and centrist Republicans from swing districts say the party could suffer because Mr Trump’s anti-immigrant harangues could be alienating pivotal moderate voters.

However, conservatives relish such tough stances and rather than achieving middle ground, leaders’ efforts have largely underscored how irreconcilably divided the Republicans are on the topic.

The Republican compromise would have provided a shot at citizenship for hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought illegally to the US as children.

It would have provided 25 billion dollars (£19 billion) for Mr Trump to build his coveted border wall with Mexico, restricted family-based immigration and barred the American Homeland Security Department from taking migrant children from parents seized crossing into the country without authorisation.

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People gather outside the Millennium Biltmore Hotel to protest against US attorney general Jeff Sessions in Los Angeles (AP)

The House rejected a more conservative bill last week clamping down on legal immigration and lacking a way for the young immigrants to become citizens.

With television and social media awash with images of crying young children torn from migrant families, Republicans want to pass a narrower measure addressing those separations should the broader bill fail.

Mr Trump has issued an executive order reversing his own family separation policy, but around 2,000 children remain removed from relatives. Republican senators have rallied behind legislation ending the 20-day court-imposed limit on detaining families – along with steps aimed at speeding their prosecutions — and House Republicans are considering something similar.

Many want to pass it by week’s end, when US congress starts a week-long July 4 recess.

Press Association

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