WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The House of Representatives will vote on Thursday on immigration legislation designed to end the U.S. government’s practice of separating families who cross the U.S. border illegally, House Speaker Paul Ryan said.
President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans in Congress have been scrambling to craft legislation as videos of youngsters in cages and an audiotape of wailing children have sparked anger at home from groups ranging from clergy to influential business leaders, as well as condemnation abroad.
“Tomorrow the House will vote on legislation to keep families together,” Ryan told reporters on Wednesday. “Under this bill, when people are being prosecuted for illegally crossing the border, families will remain together under DHS (Department of Homeland Security) custody throughout the length of their legal proceedings.”
The House is considering two bills.
Trump has fiercely defended his administration’s actions and blamed Democrats for the family separations, even though his fellow Republicans control both chambers in Congress and his own administration implemented the current policy.
A Reuters/Ipsos national opinion poll released on Tuesday showed fewer than one in three American adults supporting the policy.
Trump, who has made a tough stance on immigration a centerpiece of his presidency, has sought to link an end to the family separations to passage of a wider bill on immigration that would include funding for his long-sought border wall with Mexico.
He told House Republicans on Tuesday night he would support either of the immigration bills under consideration, but did not give a preference. Many Republican lawmakers face tough re-election bids in November’s midterm elections.
Reporting by Susan Cornwell and Mohammad Zargham; Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Will Dunham