House Republicans failed Thursday to unite behind a hard-line immigration bill — one day after a frustrated President Trump reversed course on his administration’s contentious policy of separating families at the border.
The President’s rough week could get worse Friday when a postponed vote on a second “compromise” bill proposed by party leadership will likely also be defeated.
The GOP’s immigration implosion comes less than 24 hours after Trump made a stunning about-face and signed off on an executive order calling for an end to his own administration’s practice of separating children from their parents at the border.
More than 2,300 kids have been torn away from their families since the Trump administration instituted its “zero tolerance” policy regarding illegal border crossings two months ago. The approach has drawn a firestorm of criticism as heartbreaking images and audio from detention centers became public in recent days.
The conservative bill sought funding for Trump’s long-promised border wall and backed the President’s calls for curbs on legal immigration and increases spending on border security. It also denied a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
The failure of his party to pass an immigration bill is an embarrassing loss for a President who touts his deal-making prowess and has painted Democrats as obstructionists holding up the process.
Republicans have 246 seats in the House, but have struggled to secure the 218 votes needed to give an immigration bill the green light.
The second bill is considered a “compromise” bill that secures the fate of the so-called Dreamers, but still calls for strict restrictions on legal immigration and cracks down on asylum seekers.
Conservative groups, including NumbersUSA and Heritage Action, have blasted the compromise bill as “amnesty” for providing a path to citizenship for Dreamers.
Trump, following his retreat, continued to rage against his political opponents on Thursday, dubbing lawmakers who disagree with him “extremist, open-border Democrats.”
“They don’t care about the children. They don’t care about the injury. They don’t care about the problems,” Trump said during a Cabinet meeting. “They don’t care about anything.”
The President also railed against Mexico, accusing America’s southern neighbor of allowing migrants to make the arduous trek through the country from Central America as if they were walking through Central Park.
“Mexico is doing nothing for us except taking our money and giving us drugs,” he said.
Administration officials scrambled Thursday to carry out the President’s executive order, which calls for kids to be detained with their parents after being caught crossing the border.
The Justice Department sought to modify a federal court order that limits the ability of US officials to detain children. Trump also directed the DOJ to prioritize the prosecution of cases involving families.
Meanwhile, top Democrats called on the President to present a plan to quickly reunite children who have already been ripped away from their parents.
“It seems that the administration lacks a plan, intention, and a sense of urgency to begin reuniting these children — many of whom have suffered serious emotional anguish — with their parents,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D- Calif) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote in a letter to Trump.