House Rejects Hard-Line Immigration Bill and Delays Vote on Compromise

 In U.S.

WASHINGTON — The House rejected a hard-line immigration bill on Thursday and Republican leaders delayed a vote on a compromise measure that seemed destined to fail, then delayed it again, in the latest show of their party’s disarray over immigration.

The compromise, a broad immigration overhaul negotiated by moderate and conservative Republicans, was supposed to be voted on early Thursday evening. It would provide a path to citizenship for young unauthorized immigrants while keeping migrant families together at the border, in addition to funding President Trump’s border wall.

But with its prospects seeming dim, Republican leaders pushed the vote to Friday and huddled with their members in a last-ditch effort to stave off what would have been an embarrassing defeat. Then they delayed the vote again, to next week, as lawmakers discussed making additions to the legislation.

The turbulent day in the House offered yet another reminder of the deep divisions over immigration vexing Republicans, with no easy solutions in sight. Looming in the background throughout was Mr. Trump, who attacked Democrats and complained on Twitter that they “don’t care about security” and “won’t vote for anything!”

The compromise bill, meanwhile, is facing trouble with conservatives, who would be taking a political risk by supporting a bill that has been derided as offering “amnesty” to young undocumented immigrants. Republican leaders appear to be hoping that with a bit more time, the legislation can be modified to win over reluctant members, with the addition of an E-Verify provision as one possible change.

Republicans in the Senate are backing narrow legislation to ensure that children are not taken from their parents at the border. But they were in disagreement with Democrats over how to do it, and senators from both parties tried Thursday to tamp down expectations that the chamber would pass a solution that would make it into law quickly.

In the House, Republican leaders were trying to keep the compromise bill alive after it had appeared headed toward defeat.

“I am a big fat no — capital letters,” Representative Lou Barletta, Republican of Pennsylvania, said before the vote was delayed until next week. “I’m going to encourage other people to vote no because it doesn’t stop amnesty.”

Early in the day, Mr. Trump did not appear to help matters, venting his frustration on Twitter that even if the House passed immigration legislation, it would require Democratic support to clear the Senate. In effect, the president suggested that voting for the bill might be a pointless exercise — not exactly a persuasive message for conservatives on the fence about whether to support a measure that could rile up their party’s right flank.

Like the Goodlatte legislation, the compromise measure is a wide-ranging bill that would make significant changes to the immigration system. Among other things, it would provide billions of dollars for Mr. Trump’s promised wall along the southwest border with Mexico.

It would offer a six-year renewable legal status to Dreamers, and it would create a new visa program through which they could eventually receive green cards based on factors like education, employment and English proficiency. In turn, they could become citizens.

To respond to children being separated from their parents at the border, House Republicans added language to the bill intended to keep families together when parents are prosecuted for crossing illegally. Before Mr. Trump signed his executive order on Wednesday, Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin had promoted the compromise bill as providing a fix to the crisis, saying it would keep families together in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security as legal proceedings played out.

Democrats have condemned the bill, which generally aligns with Mr. Trump’s stated requirements for any immigration overhaul.

“It is not a compromise,” said Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader. “It may be a compromise with the devil, but it’s not a compromise with the Democrats, in terms of what they have in their bill.”

House Republican leaders did find one bright spot on Thursday: The House narrowly passed its version of the farm bill, which failed last month after it became caught up in the Republican discord over immigration.

The House’s farm bill, which would impose new work requirements on food stamp recipients, passed with only Republican votes. The Senate did not include those contentious changes in its version of the bill, which has bipartisan support but still needs to clear that chamber. The Senate is set to act on its legislation next week.

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