The Republican-controlled House of Representatives late Friday night finally passed a two-fold plan to address the crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border. The plan drew a strong condemnation from the White House, where President Barack Obama vowed to “act alone.”
House Republicans first passed a $US694 million border-security plan. Then, in a more controversial move, they passed legislation to effectively end Obama’s deportation-relief program for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, which many Republicans have cited as a factor for thousands of unaccompanied minors flowing over the border already this year.
The votes Friday night — completed after 1o p.m. ET in Washington — served as a big, albeit delayed, win for House leadership, including House Speaker John Boehner, new House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and new House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.
House leadership revived the bills Friday after shelving their initial plan on Thursday, an original embarrassment for House Republican leadership. House Republicans left town Friday for a five-week recess slamming the Democratic-controlled Senate, where a bill to address the crisis went up in flames amid mostly Republican opposition Thursday night.
“The House has just passed a responsible bill to address the humanitarian crisis at our southern border,” Boehner said in a statement after the border bill passed by a 223-189 vote.
“It will help secure our border and ensure the safe and swift return of these children to their home countries. If President Obama needs these resources, he will urge Senate Democrats to put politics aside, come back to work, and approve our bill.”
The revised House border-security plan provides $US694 million in funding through the end of the 2014 fiscal year in September. It’s far less than the $US3.7 billion Obama requested.
The bill includes include changes to a 2008 tracking law that would speed up deportations of unaccompanied minors from Central America, which has served as the key sticking point between Republicans and Democrats on the border debate. The House legislation also sends money to deploy National Guard troops on the border directly to governors.
Both of the House bills have little to no chance of passing the Senate. The White House has threatened a veto of the border-security bill, and a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suggested Reid would throw the DACA legislation in the trash.
“We will not deport kids who have been here all their lives as a ransom for aiding the border crisis,” Adam Jentleson, Reid’s spokesman, said in an email earlier this week.
The DACA legislation was added to the package by leadership to increase conservative support. It’s a beefed-up version of a bill written by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). It legislation would halt the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a unilateral 2012 directive from Obama that shields hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation.
The legislation would put the status of 700,000 immigrants who have been granted work permits in jeopardy — and possibly line them up for deportation.
The White House blasted the vote, and Press Secretary Josh Earnest called it “extraordinary” that House Republicans would vote to end the DACA program.
“The legislation put forward tonight by House Republicans does not responsibly address the problem of unaccompanied children apprehended at the border, and could result in the deportation of hundreds of thousands of DREAMers, young people who were brought to this country as children and are Americans in every way but on paper,” Earnest said in a statement Friday night.
“The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program prioritizes the limited resources of the Department of Homeland Security to deport dangerous criminals rather than DREAMers. It is extraordinary that House Republicans are demanding that we reverse that prioritization as a price for getting the resources needed to deal with the urgent humanitarian situation at the border, reduce the immigration court backlog, and address the root cause of child migration.”
Earlier in the day, at a press conference, Obama ripped House Republicans and said he would have to act alone to fix the border crisis immediately.
“Well, I’m going to have to act alone because we don’t have enough resources. We’ve already been very clear — we’ve run out of money,” Obama said.
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