One day after their Republican colleagues delayed a vote on an immigration compromise bill that they helped draft, Miami Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo watched Donald Trump undermine their efforts to create a path to citizenship for 1.8 million young immigrants known as Dreamers with a single tweet.
"Republicans should stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November," the president tweeted Friday morning.
By then, Curbelo and Diaz-Balart could be out of the picture.
Both Republicans have been key figures in the push for a new U.S. immigration policy, but both face tough reelection challenges in heavily Hispanic districts where immigration remains a top issue among their constituents.
The Cuban-American lawmakers were part of a group of about a dozen legislators who spent the past month negotiating an immigration bill that was released last week. They aligned with the more conservative wing of their party and were willing to swallow ideas—such as decreasing the number of immigrants who are legally allowed to enter the country every year and $25 billion for President Donald Trump's border wall—in exchange for helping Dreamers.
But conservatives have been unwilling to vote for a bill that provides a pathway to legal status—described by the right as "amnesty"— to immigrants who once entered the country illegally with their parents as young children. And after appearing so close to getting their bill to a vote Thursday, Diaz-Balart and Curbelo have watched their progress backslide amid continued controversy over the separation of immigrant families at the border.
“We’re doing everything we can to make sure our colleagues know and fully understand what's in the bill given its importance," Curbelo said Friday morning, remaining optimistic. "Many of our colleagues have never worked on immigration policy and have many questions. Regarding the President, the bottom line is that he will sign the bill into law. That's critical considering our goal is to improve our country's immigration laws - not simply to have a vote.”
The turn of events late this week came after much maneuvering by Curbelo and Diaz-Balart, who were among a group of congressman pushing to procedurally force votes in the House on a series of immigration bills. They changed gears this month and got behind compromise legislation that appeared to be headed for a vote Thursday after a more conservative bill was, as expected, voted down.
Instead, it was postponed twice, at first until Friday and then until next week, after House Republicans met to discuss the legislation late in the afternoon. Trump's derision of those efforts Friday morning only complicates matters for the Miami Republicans, and leaves them less likely to have a legislative accomplishment back home as their Democratic challengers continue to criticize.
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