The Miami lawmakers who spent weeks trying to craft an all-Republican immigration solution settled for a messaging vote on Wednesday on an immigration bill that wasn't conservative enough for Republicans and wasn't liberal enough for Democrats.
Republican Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo failed to navigate the third rail of GOP politics that has tripped up lawmakers like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in the past. A compromise immigration bill that included a solution for giving young immigrants known as Dreamers a path to citizenship in exchange for $25 billion for President Donald Trump's border wall and limiting legal immigration failed by a vote of 121 to 301.
Every Democrat and 112 Republicans voted against the plan.
The bill also included a provision that would have allowed families to be detained together at the border if they cross illegally together.
Trump endorsed the bill hours before the vote in an all-caps tweet, following days of mixed messaging as conservatives blasted the bill as "amnesty" for undocumented immigrants.
“HOUSE REPUBLICANS SHOULD PASS THE STRONG BUT FAIR IMMIGRATION BILL, KNOWN AS GOODLATTE II, IN THEIR AFTERNOON VOTE TODAY, EVEN THOUGH THE DEMS WON’T LET IT PASS IN THE SENATE,” Trump tweeted. “PASSAGE WILL SHOW THAT WE WANT STRONG BORDERS & SECURITY WHILE THE DEMS WANT OPEN BORDERS = CRIME. WIN!”
But Trump's tweet wasn't enough, and the failure of Republican leaders to get any immigration bill passed effectively ends the prospect of further congressional action on the issue before the 2018 election.
Diaz-Balart and other Repubilcan lawmakers met with the president on Tuesday, one day before the vote on the immigration bill. Instead of talking about the effort, Diaz-Balart asked Trump about infrastructure, according to a pool report.
The immigration bill did not come up during the part of the with lawmakers that was open to the press.
“We have the worst immigration law in the history of the world. It’s a joke,” Trump said during the meeting, blasting a proposal to hire more immigration judges to speed up deportation hearings.
Curbelo and Diaz-Balart's inability to pass a bill hurts Republicans' ability to deliver a message to voters in their competitive Miami-Dade districts that GOP members in Congress are capable of working working with Trump to solve issues such as what to do with 690,000 young immigrants who could face deportation. Without congressional action, the fate of the young immigrants known as Dreamers rests with the courts.
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