U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan holds a press conference on the immigration bill on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., the United States, on June 21, 2018. Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday delayed a vote on a "moderate" immigration bill amid chaos over the White House practice of separating families who illegally cross the U.S. border. (Xinhua/Ting Shen)
WASHINGTON, June 21 (Xinhua) -- Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday were forced to twice delay a vote on a "moderate" immigration bill amid chaos over the White House practice of separating families who illegally cross the U.S. border.
Following the failure of a voting on a "hardline" immigration bill with 193 votes in favor and 231 against earlier on the day, House Speaker Paul Ryan told the lawmakers that the second voting for a "moderate" bill on immigration would be postponed until Friday.
However, after a two-hour behind-door meeting of House Republicans on Thursday afternoon, Ryan said the voting will not happen until next week, in the hope that Republicans, given more time, can modify the bill again so as to secure 218 votes to pass the legislation.
The failed "hardline" bill would have provided funding for a border wall, ended the diversity visa lottery program, limited family-based visas, created an agriculture guest worker program requiring employers to use the E-Verify program and allowed the federal government to cut funding for sanctuary cities. Every Democrat and 41 Republicans voted against it.
Under the so-called "moderate" or "compromise" bill, the Donald Trump government will stop the forced migrant family separation, get 25 billion dollars to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and allow up to 1.8 million Dreamers, the recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, to apply for U.S. citizenship.
Both bills were backed by the White House, whose "zero tolerance" policy against illegal immigration has come under fire both at home and abroad over the forced separation of children from their parents entering the United States illegally.
Earlier on Thursday, Ryan defended his decision to bring both the hardline and moderate bills to the floor.
"We're giving the members the ability to vote for the policy of their preference," Ryan said Thursday morning. "The bills that are coming to the floor today are bills that if it got to (Trump's) desk he would sign it into law. Therefore it is a legitimate exercise."
"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 tweeted Thursday morning.
The president on Wednesday signed an executive order under which the parents prosecuted for entering the United States illegally would no longer be separated from their children. Instead, the families would remain together in the custody for the length of legal proceedings against them.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families after illegally crossing the U.S. border in April and May.