House Republicans resurrected their border bill Friday, powering it through on a late-evening near party-line vote and sending it over to a Senate that’s already gone home for a five-week summer vacation, leaving the border chaos unsolved.
A day after they appeared gridlocked, GOP lawmakers went back and rewrote the bill with more conservative input, closing several loopholes Republicans feared President Obama could have used to avoid enforcing the new provisions designed to make it easier to deport the illegal immigrant children and families surging across the border. The bill also reimburses governors who deploy their National Guard troops to the border, and includes money to boost enforcement.
In an emotional debate, that saw one lawmaker ruled out of order and another accuse the GOP of being “cowards,” the House also passed another bill halting Mr. Obama’s nondeportation policy for so-called dreamers, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that has granted about 600,000 young adult illegal immigrants tentative legal status and work permits.
Republicans said the nondeportation policy was the “magnet” that enticed Central Americans to try to cross the border illegally and that undoing it was critical to getting a handle on the situation.
“We have got to stop this kind of message going out,” said Rep. Steve Scalise, the third-ranking Republican in the House.
But Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, Illinois Democrat, said the late-Friday vote was the act of “cowards” and that attacking the nondeportation policy was anti-immigrant and anti-child.
“The Republican position on immigration can be summed up as deport ‘em all,” Mr. Gutierrez said.
The bill to halt the nondeportation passed on a 216-192 vote.
The border bill passed on a 223-189 vote with one Democrat joining most Republicans in backing it. Four Republicans opposed the measure along with 185 Democrats.
“We have a humanitarian crisis at the border exacerbated by an administration that has signaled that if you come to this country illegally, you can stay indefinitely. We are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
The bill now goes into limbo, however, since the Senate isn’t around to receive it. Senators went home for their summer vacation Thursday after failing to pass Democrats’ bill, which which included money to house and care for the children but didn’t include any changes to a 2008 law that makes it difficult to deport the kids from Central America.
Mr. Obama blasted the House legislation, saying he would never have signed the bill anyway. And he said with Congress failing to pass a final compromise, he’ll have to use executive authority to shift money around and try to handle the surge of children himself.
“We’ve run out of money,” he said. “We are going to have to reallocate resources in order to just make sure that some of the basic functions that have to take place down there — whether it’s making sure that these children are properly housed, or making sure we’ve got enough immigration judges to process their cases — that those things get done.”
Mr. Obama did not mention, however, what he would do about the 2008 law. Previously the White House had said he had flexibility under that law to speed up deportations, and both Senate and House leaders have agreed with him.
In early July he and his Homeland Security secretary had said they supported changes that would allow them to deport illegal immigrant children from Central America as quickly as they can deport those from Mexico.