Sunday, September 19, 2021

US lower house rejects latest immigration bill

Washington, Jun 27 (EFE).- The House of Representatives on Wednesday rejected a bill that would have provided a path to citizenship for an estimated 1.8 million so-called “Dreamers,” limited legal immigration and provided funding for a wall on the United States’ border with Mexico.

The bill was defeated by a tally of 301-121, with all 189 Democrats and 112 Republicans opposed.

Among other provisions, the legislation would have given legal status (renewable every six years) to Dreamers, people eligible for former head of state Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, created in 2012.

President Donald Trump announced an end to the DACA program last September, saying Obama’s executive order was unconstitutional and that he was providing a six-month window for Congress to enact a legislative solution.

Many conservative Republicans refused to back the bill because it would not have prevented Dreamers from sponsoring their parents for visas after they became citizens.

The bill rejected on Wednesday also would have appropriated $25 billion for border security, ended the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program and put an end to the forced separation of migrant families under a recently adopted Trump administration policy.

More than 2,500 children have been separated from their parents and placed in Health and Human Services shelters under Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, which mandates criminal charges against people who illegally cross the southern border.

The immigration bill voted down on Wednesday would have overruled the Flores Settlement, a 1997 accord between the government and immigrant rights groups that limited to 20 days the length of time that migrant children can be detained.

A more hardline bill, which would have funded the border wall, eliminated the visa lottery, cut back on family-unification visas and offered Dreamers legal residence but not citizenship, was defeated by the House last week by a vote of 231-193.

Trump backed both bills, tweeting Wednesday about the more moderate proposal that “even though the Dems won’t let it pass in the Senate, passage will show that we want strong borders & security while the Dems want open borders.”

With the latest defeat of a comprehensive immigration bill, it is now possible that the House will put to a vote a standalone bill to end family separation at the border.