The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on Wednesday on a broad-based immigration bill that would bar the separation of migrant children from their parents at the southern border, Republican Speaker Paul Ryan said on Tuesday.
“We address this in the bill we’re bringing to the floor Wednesday. We’ve made it extremely clear we want to keep families together and we want to secure the border and enforce our laws,” Ryan told a news conference.
He said he would not rule out the possibility of bringing a vote on a narrower bill addressing only the detention of immigrant families, if the broader bill did not pass.
President Donald Trump has faced a global outcry over the separation of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, which began because of the administration’s policy of seeking to prosecute all people who cross the border illegally. He bowed to pressure last week and issued an executive order to end the family separations.
The Trump administration, however, has called on Congress to enact a permanent fix.
The government has yet to reunite more than 2,000 children with their parents.
It is also not clear how it will house thousands of families while parents are prosecuted. Although the administration has said the “zero tolerance” policy remains in place, officials said on Monday that parents who cross illegally with their children will not face prosecution for the time being because the government is running short of space to house them.
Although Trump’s fellow Republicans control both chambers in Congress, disagreements between moderates and conservatives in the party over immigration matters have hit prospects for a speedy legislative fix to the border crisis. A conservative-backed bill failed to pass the House last week.
Ryan described the broader bill as one that sought to mend the “broken immigration system” by resolving the issue of young adults who were brought to the United States illegally as children; focusing on a merit-based immigration system; and securing U.S. borders and the rule of law.
Reporting by Amanda Becker and Susan Cornwell; Writing by Eric Walsh and Frances Kerry