Speaker Ryan Plans Immigration Votes Amid Doubts That Bills Can Pass


House GOP leaders are revising their legislation amid a public outcry over the administration's "zero tolerance" approach to illegal crossings.

At the same time, the Justice Department went to court in an attempt to overturn a decades-old settlement that limits to 20 days the amount of time migrant children can be locked up with their families.

Trump issued an executive order Wednesday aimed at reversing his own policy of taking immigrant children from their detained parents, but emotions remained high.

Trump, speaking from the White House, lamented that he could not lure a sufficient number of Democratic senators to support a sweeping, GOP immigration bill.

Republicans were scrambling to update their approach ahead of a visit from Trump, who called earlier in the day for Congress to approve what he called a third option to address the family separations.

"We can't have folks doing the right thing only when they realize they are in a vulnerable seat", she said.

An audio recording said to capture the sounds of immigrant children crying in a detention facility was circulating online.

The issue boiled over Tuesday at a House hearing on an unrelated subject when protesters with babies briefly shut down proceedings.

The House of Representatives narrowly approved a massive, five-year farm bill Thursday, a little more than a month after conservatives helped tank the bill out of frustration over a separate fight on immigration. They were trying to persuade colleagues to seize the moment and tackle immigration problems by approving the bill, which includes $25 billion for Trump's border wall and a path to citizenship for young immigrants who have lived in the USA illegally since childhood.

It was a dramatic turnaround for Trump, who has been insisting, wrongly, that his administration had no choice but to separate families apprehended at the border because of federal law and a court decision.

More than 2,300 minors were separated from their children at the border from May 5 through June 9, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, on Thursday accused Trump of putting the children of undocumented immigrants in cages and Republicans of being complicit in his atrocities after Trump lit into the California Democrat on Twitter.

Top conservatives, including key Trump allies, have introduced bills to keep the migrant families together.

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"While cases are pending, families should stay together", tweeted Cruz, who is in an unexpectedly tough re-election battle.

Cruz's bill would double the number of federal immigration judges, authorize new temporary shelters to house migrant families and limit the processing of asylum cases to no more than 14 days - a goal immigrant advocates say would be hard to meet.

Almost 2,000 minors have been separated from their families since Sessions announced the policy in April.

Both bills would leave the major commodity support programs for grain, cotton and oilseeds largely intact, the Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage, but the bills differ on payment eligibility rules. "But now that he's finally admitted that his administration does have the power to take action, I urge him to address these serious, unresolved issues". "It should do so now".

Once again, the Trump administration has embarrassed its cult followers. Randy Weber, R-Texas, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, said, "I'm thinking we're banging our head against the wall and it's not even built yet".

Led by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, 21 top state prosecutors from California to MA sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Tuesday, calling the policy inhumane and draconian.

President Donald Trump is accusing Democrats of circulating "phony stories of sadness and grief", amid a global uproar over his "zero tolerance" policy for illegal border crossings.

Speaker Paul Ryan says the House will vote Thursday on GOP immigration bills, but he offered no back-up plan to bring an end to family separations at the border if the measure fails to pass.

"Even if we get 100% Republican votes in the Senate, we need 10 Democrat votes to get a much needed Immigration Bill", Trump said.

The compromise bill in the House shifts away from the nation's longtime preference for family immigration to a new system that prioritizes entry based on merits and skills. And House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte says he will "absolutely" keep pushing the legislation because GOP lawmakers want to continue. Ryan said that President Barack Obama had 60 votes in the Senate and a large majority in the House "and did nothing" to solve immigration reform. Prior procedure had limited prosecution for many family entrants, in part because regulations prohibit detaining children with their parents since the children are not charged with a crime and the parents are.

The administration is hoping to force Democrats to vote for the bills or bear some of the political cost in November's midterm elections.

Speaking at the small business event in Washington, the President said the separation policy is "a result of Democrat supported loopholes in our federal laws" that he said could be easily changed. "He can fix it tomorrow if he wants to, and if he doesn't want to, he should own up to the fact that he's doing it", said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of NY.