Political News

In Bid to Keep Migrant Families Together, House GOP Presses Ahead with Broad Immigration Plan

Posted June 20, 2018 11:14 a.m. EDT

WASHINGTON — Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday that the House would press ahead with a vote on a broad immigration bill that includes language to curb the Trump administration’s practice of separating families on the border.

“We don’t think families should be separated, period,” Ryan, R-Wis., said. “We’ve seen the videos, heard the audio.”

But doubts persisted about the bill’s chances of passage when it comes up for a vote Thursday and Senate Republicans were pursuing a different strategy. In that chamber, lawmakers were working to develop narrow legislation that would address the issue of separating families on the border.

For now, at least, Ryan declined to entertain the possibility of considering a narrower measure aimed at stopping the separation of migrant families.

“Right now, we’re focused on passing this legislation that’s coming to the floor tomorrow,” Ryan said.

The House measure, a compromise negotiated by conservatives and moderates, was not originally conceived to address the issue of children being separated from parents who come into the United States illegally. It would provide a path to citizenship for young immigrants in the country illegally while making significant changes to the immigration system and providing billions of dollars for President Donald Trump’s promised wall along the southwest border with Mexico.

In light of the family separation issue, though, House Republicans added new language to the bill in an effort to address that matter.

The legislation would keep families together when people are being prosecuted under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy for illegally crossing the border, Ryan told reporters. The speaker said that families would remain together in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security while legal proceedings play out.

“We can enforce our immigration laws without breaking families apart,” Ryan said. “The administration says it wants Congress to act and we are.”

It is highly questionable whether the compromise bill will be able to pass the House. The bill was negotiated as House leaders tried to head off a rebellion from moderate members eager for action to address the fate of the young immigrants. Critics on the right have already labeled it as “amnesty.”