WASHINGTON – A sweeping immigration bill designed to bring hard-line and moderate Republicans together on the divisive issue of immigration failed in the U.S. House on Wednesday, with all Democrats and nearly half of all Republicans voting against the legislation.
The bill went down 301-121, despite a last-minute push via Twitter to pass it from President Donald Trump. The president told Congress last week to put the issue off until after November’s midterm elections. The bill was certain to be defeated in the narrowly controlled Senate even if it had passed the House.
The vote leaves the perpetually thorny issue of immigration unresolved as November’s midterm elections approach, with no clear path to resolution.
Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat who is chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., voted against the bill. Rep. Steve Pearce, a New Mexico Republican who represents southern New Mexico, including the Mexican border, voted for it.
“We just can’t stay static,” Pearce told the Journal after the vote. “We keep saying the system is broken, yet we’re not willing to do anything. It’s not the bill I would have written … but we just can’t keep going without some kind of attempt to secure the border and fix illegal immigration.”
The legislation would have provided $25 billion for Trump to build his coveted wall on the border – a major impediment for Democrats, restrict family-based immigration and bar the Homeland Security Department from taking migrant children from parents caught crossing into the country illegally. The bill also would have provided a chance at citizenship for hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children.
Lujan Grisham, who will square off against Pearce in New Mexico’s gubernatorial election in November, called the bill “extreme.”
“I voted with the overwhelming majority of House members against a partisan and extreme bill that failed to enact permanent, meaningful protections for Dreamers while prioritizing billions upon billions of dollars on a wasteful border wall and enacting changes to our legal immigration system that would devastate New Mexico’s economic future,” she said.
GOP leaders were considering crafting a narrower a bill focused on barring the government from wresting children from migrant families caught entering the country illegally.
With television and social media awash with images and wails of young children torn from parents, many Republicans want to pass a narrower measure addressing those separations before Congress leaves at the end of the week for its July Fourth break.