WASHINGTON (AP) - Top House Republicans are discussing legislation aimed at curbing the separation of migrant families at the border, GOP aides said Monday. The election-year response to public uproar over the Trump administration policy comes as a broader immigration package heads toward likely House defeat this week.
As showdown votes approached, President Donald Trump called anew for an end to the judicial process that currently awaits unauthorized immigrants entering the U.S. He also criticized the idea of hiring additional immigration judges to handle the huge backlogs of such cases - even though congressional Republicans have proposed just that.
“Hiring manythousands of judges, and going through a long and complicated legal process, is not the way to go - will always be disfunctional. People must simply be stopped at the Border and told they cannot come into the U.S. illegally, Trump said in a tweet Monday with typos and misspelling of dysfunctional.
“If this is done, illegal immigration will be stopped in it’s tracks - and at very little, by comparison, cost. This is the only real answer - and we must continue to BUILD THE WALL!” he tweeted.
Amid public and bipartisan pressure, Trump last week reversed his policy of separating children from detained migrant parents. It has already resulted in up to 2,300 children being taken from parents, though the government has said 522 have already been reunited with their families.
The broad Republican immigration bill contains language curbing those separations. It would also provide money for Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico and give immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children a chance at eventually becoming citizens.
But that bill faces opposition from Democrats and many Republicans and seems likely to fail.
With the plucking of migrant children from families receiving relentless press coverage, GOP lawmakers are eager to pass something that addresses the issue. Many Republicans - especially those from competitive swing districts - view the separation of families as a political albatross, though the policy has been backed by some conservatives.
The Republican aides did not provide detail of what the narrow legislation would do. But it is expected to address a federal court settlement that has forbidden the government from keeping children and families in custody for more than 20 days....The staffers described the discussions on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak on the record about private conversations.A bill proposed by Republican senators would require the Homeland Security Department to keep immigrant families together during legal proceedings and take first steps for hiring 225 new immigration judges and providing more family detention centers.Rep. Mark Meadows, leader of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, told Fox on Monday that Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., was working on legislation to “keep those families together” if the broader immigration bill fails. McMorris-Rodgers, a member of the House GOP leadership, faces a potentially competitive re-election bid this fall.“Some of the things that a