House rejects hard-right immigration bill, baring GOP divide


WASHINGTON (AP) — The House killed a hard-right immigration bill today, and Republican leaders delayed a planned vote on a compromise GOP package with the party's lawmakers fiercely divided over an issue that has long confounded the party.

The conservative measure's 231-193 defeat set the stage for debate on the second bill, this one crafted by Republican leaders in hopes of finding an accord between the party's sparring moderate and conservative wings.

That bill was considered too lenient by some conservatives and seemed likely to fall, too, and aides said the final roll call would wait till Friday.

Rejection of both would represent an embarrassment for President Donald Trump, who had embraced them. The battle over immigration has been intensified by heartbreaking images of migrant children separated from families and complicated by opaque statements by Trump.

At the White House, Trump defended his administration's "zero-tolerance" policy of prosecuting all migrants caught illegally entering the country, a change that has caused thousands of families to be divided while the parents are detained. He said without it, "you would have a run on this country the likes of which nobody has ever seen."

He said he was inviting Congress' top two Democrats, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, to the White House for immigration bargaining. He called them "extremist open-border Democrats."

In a tweet that seemed to undermine House leaders' efforts to round up votes, he questioned the purpose of their legislation by suggesting it was doomed in the Senate anyway.

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

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