Republicans push migrant crackdown through US House

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 August, 2014, 6:53am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 August, 2014, 6:53am

Republicans in the US House of Representatives voted to crack down on Central American migrants, including unaccompanied children, who are flooding to the US border with Mexico, as lawmakers passed a US$694 million border-security bill.

The 223-189 vote came one day after conservative Republicans balked at an earlier version, exposing a deep rift between "tea party" activists and more mainstream Republicans.

In passing the retooled bill, the Republican-led House ignored a veto threat from the White House.

But with the Senate already on a five-week summer recess, this measure will advance no further at least until next month.

"We couldn't go home [for recess] and not have a decision," said Republican congresswoman Kay Granger, who helped draft the original bill.

Granger said the measure would serve as a marker for negotiations next month to resolve the humanitarian crisis that has seen nearly 60,000 children from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala arrive illegally since October to escape criminal drug gangs and poverty.

House Democrats complained that the legislation would too speedily return children to dangerous conditions in their home countries.

President Barack Obama called the Republican bill "extreme" and "unworkable".

Later on Friday, the House also passed a bill reversing Obama's 2012 policy suspending deportations of some undocumented residents who were brought to the US as children years ago by their parents.

The measure also would bar Obama from expanding this policy, possibly to parents of children who already qualify.

The tougher language in the twin bills would make it easier to deport migrant children and add money to deploy National Guard troops at the border with Mexico.

The changes were intended to satisfy conservative House Republican lawmakers.