Republican leaders have delayed a vote on a compromise immigration reform bill until next week, hoping to rally more support for the measure even as President Donald Trump casts doubt on its chances of success.
Update 4 p.m. EDT June 22: Officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a notice Friday that said it might seek as many as 15,000 beds to detain immigrant families.
The notice came days after Trump signed an executive order that ended his administration’s policy of separating migrant children from parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Hundreds of children have been separated from their parents as a result of the administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which prompted authorities to separate children from adults who were being prosecuted for illegally coming into the country.
The agency has about 3,300 beds for immigrant parents and their children in family detention facilities. The notice came amid a scramble by federal agencies to find space for immigrants. Official with the Pentagon said officials were also drawing up plans to house up to 20,000 unaccompanied children on military bases.
Update 12:05 p.m. EDT June 22: Experts with the United Nations’ Human Rights Office said Friday that the executive order signed this week by Trump is inadequate to address the separation of migrant children and parents at the border.
Officials with the U.N. called for the U.S. “to release these children from immigration detention and to reunite them with their families based on the best interests of the child and the rights of the child to liberty and family unity.”
The Trump administration in April directed prosecutors to pursue cases against all people suspected of entering the country illegally. The enforcement plan led authorities to separate children from adults who were detained as part of immigration proceedings.
The executive order signed Wednesday by the president ended his administration’s family separation policy, but U.N. officials noted that no mention was made of the fate of children already separated from their parents as a result of the enforcement push.
Authorities have said efforts are being made to reunite parents and children, although details about those efforts were not immediately available.
Update 10:00 a.m. EDT June 22: President Donald Trump on Friday morning accused the Democrats of telling “phony stories of sadness and grief” and wielding the immigration issue for political gain in a series of tweets calling for immigration reform.
“We must maintain a Strong Southern Border,” Trump wrote.
Earlier Friday he said America “has pathetically weak and ineffective Immigration Laws” and accused the Democrats once more of obstructing efforts to address immigration.
The House is set to vote next week on a Republican immigration reform bill after a more conservative measure failed Thursday. It was unclear whether the bill would be successful.
Update 7:34 a.m. EDT June 22: A senior Trump administration official told the Associated Press that approximately 500 of the more than 2,300 children separated from families at the border have been reunited since May. But the official did not specify if the children remained detained with their families or if they have been released, the AP reported.
The official, who spoke with AP on the condition of anonymity, said that many parents and children were reunited after a few days. But some parents have told reporters that they don’t know where their children are and can’t get answers from officials. Some say mothers were deported without their children, the AP reported.
After Republicans delayed the vote on immigration reform plans, President Donald Trump posted on Twitter Friday morning, telling lawmakers to wait until November to take on the bill, Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree reported.
Trump also called Democrats obstructionists who won’t give the bill the 10 votes needed to pass.
Update 9:30 p.m. EDT June 21: Despite President Donald Trump’s executive order on Wednesday rescinding his own policy of separating migrant children from their families during illegal border crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border, multiple states are suing the Trump administration over the policy, according to The Hill.
The states involved in the lawsuit contend the executive order does not solve the problems created by the separation of families, The Hill reported.
Democratic attorneys general from Washington state, Maryland and Massachusetts, among others, contend the administration “violated the due process rights of parents and children who were separated.” The lawsuit was expected to be filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Washington state.
Some 2,300 children have been separated from their families during the past six weeks the administration has been enforcing its “zero tolerance” policy.
Update 7:30 p.m. EDT June 21: President Donald Trump is criticizing Democrats for their opposition to the hard-line Goodlatte immigration bill, which was defeated in the U.S. House Thursday.
Tweeting that “they won’t vote for anything,” the president complained that Democrats are blocking reform.
“You cannot pass legislation on immigration whether it be for safety and security or any other reason including “heart,” without getting Dem votes. Problem is, they don’t care about security and R’s do,” Trump tweeted Thursday night.
Update 7:00 p.m. EDT June 21: House Republicans are delaying a vote on a so-called compromise immigration measure until next week, according to The Associated Press.
A vote on the legislation was first rescheduled from Thursday until Friday after another, more severe immigration measure was defeated.
Republican leaders reportedly hope they can get more support for the compromise measure by delaying the vote.
Update 5:00 p.m. EDT June 21: The more conservative of two immigration bills in the U.S. House of Representatives went down in defeat Thursday as 41 Republicans joined the Democrats in a 231-193 vote against the measure, according to Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree.
The hard-line measure called for extreme limits on legal immigration and only temporary protections for “Dreamers,” who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children by their parents.
The second bill is seen as more of a compromise measure, but it’s unclear if Republican leadership can manage to get the votes needed to pass it on Friday, and even if they do, it faces an even bigger hurdle in the Senate, where Republicans don’t have the votes to pass an immigration bill on their own. They’ll need Democrats’ support to get it done.
The Washington Post is reporting an important House moderate in the immigration debate, Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) has said he won’t support the compromise measure.
Hurd has said he opposes the measure because it includes funding for a border wall, a campaign promise Trump made to supporters during the 2016 presidential campaign.
He called the proposed wall “an expensive and ineffective 4th century border security tool that takes private property away from hundreds of Texans,” according to the Post.
Update 2:45 p.m. EDT June 21: The Justice Department has asked a federal judge to change the rules around the detention of child migrants one day after the president ended his administration’s policy of separating children from parents at the border, The Associated Press reported.
Officials aim to change rules governed by the Flores settlement, which requires the government to release children from custody after 20 days to their parents, adult relatives or other caretakers, in order of preference.
The move is aimed at stopping the separation of children from their families amid a new policy where anyone caught crossing the border is charged criminally.
Update 2:25 p.m. EDT June 21: The House of Representatives on Thursday rejected one of two proposed GOP immigration reform bills, according to Cox Media Group's Jamie Dupree.
Meanwhile, aides said the House will wait until Friday to vote on a second immigration bill, The Associated Press reported.
Update 1:18 p.m. EDT June 21: Trump discussed the need for immigration reform during a cabinet meeting Thursday, citing national security concerns.
Update 12:20 p.m. EDT June 21: First lady Melania Trump is making an unannounced visit to the U.S.-Mexico border Thursday.
Melania Trump was in Texas on Thursday morning and planned to tour two facilities holding child immigrants, CNN reported.
She previously spoke out against the policy of separating migrant children and parents at the border.
"Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform," said her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, according to CNN. "She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart."
The Trump administration policy was ended Wednesday by an executive order from the president.
Update 12:10 p.m. EDT June 21: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday called a pair of proposed Republican immigration reform bills a “compromise with the devil.”
She said that the bills make Republicans complicit in Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. The policy, which directs prosecutors to pursue cases against any person suspected of coming to the country illegally, resulted in the separation of hundreds of children from their parents at the border.
Update 11:55 a.m. EDT June 21: House Speaker Paul Ryan said officials are working on reuniting families that have been separated in recent weeks at the border.
“I believe (the Department of Homeland Security) is working on that,” Ryan said Thursday at a news briefing. “We obviously want to have families reunited.”
He said DHS officials are working with the Department of Health and Human Services to bring the families back together.
“What we’re trying to do is put the families at the head of the queue so they can be adjudicated faster,” he said.
The Trump administration in April directed prosecutors to pursue cases against all people suspected of crossing the border illegally as part of a “zero tolerance” immigration enforcement policy. Parents were separated from their children as they faced prosecution. Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Trump ended the policy Wednesday with an executive order days after he first started calling on Congress to stop the separations through legislation.
The House is set to vote Thursday on a pair of Republican immigration reform bills, although neither appeared likely to succeed.
Original report: “The Border has been a big mess and problem for many years,” Trump wrote. “At some point (Senate Minority Leader Chuck) Schumer and (House Minority Leader Nancy) Pelosi, who are weak on Crime and Border security, will be forced to do a real deal, so easy, that solves this long time problem.”
The president’s tweet comes one day after he ended his administration’s much-derided policy of separating migrant children from parents at the border and as the House readies to debate and vote on a pair of Republican immigration reform bills.
It was not immediately clear whether the bills would be successful. House Republican leaders were still trying Thursday morning to build support for one negotiated among conservative and moderate factions of the GOP, although the measure is unlikely to pick up much, if any, Democratic support.
Ahead of the planned vote, the president accused Democrats of “only looking to Obstruct” the immigration bills in order to gain political clout ahead of the mid-term elections.
“What is the purpose of the House doing good immigration bills when you need 9 votes by Democrats in the Senate, and the Dems are only looking to Obstruct (which they feel is good for them in the Mid-Terms),” Trump wrote Thursday morning in a tweet. “Republicans must get rid of the stupid Filibuster Rule-it is killing you!”
Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to end his administration’s policy of separating migrant children from parents suspected of coming to the country illegally at the border. The controversial policy was a result of Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration enforcement push announced in April.
Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.