WASHINGTON -- House Republicans voted on Friday to strip protections from undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers, putting more than a half-million young people at risk for deportation despite their longstanding ties to the United States.
The bill was approved 216 to 192, largely along party lines. Four Democrats -- Reps. John Barrow (D-Ga.), Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) -- voted with Republicans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, making more than 550,000 undocumented young people vulnerable to deportation. A larger group of 11 Republicans broke ranks to vote with Democrats against the bill: Reps. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), David Valadao (R-Calif.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Mario Diaz Balart (R-Fla.), Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), Joe Heck (R-Nev.), Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.).
The measure has no chance of becoming law. It's dead on arrival in the Democratic-led Senate, and there's no way President Barack Obama would sign legislation to kill one of his key immigration policies. But the House bill will likely be brought up repeatedly, possibly for years, as Democrats hammer the GOP for its hard-line immigration policies.
The attack ads against Republicans practically write themselves and were foreshadowed in statements by Democrats before the vote.
"Only cowards scapegoat children and only those who are ashamed of themselves do it after hours on a Friday night," Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said on the House floor. "In the end, the Republican position on immigration can be summed up as 'deport 'em all,'" he added later.
The vote shows how low the congressional immigration debate has sunk after more than 57,500 unaccompanied minors have been apprehended after crossing the border illegally since October. The measure to end DACA, introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), was added to attract support from conservative Republicans who said they would not vote for a funding bill to address the border crisis.
It worked. A $694 million funding bill, which included policy measures most Democrats strongly opposed, passed the House earlier Friday evening in a 223 to 189 vote. That legislation is similarly doomed.
President Barack Obama called that bill "extreme and unworkable," and White House press secretary Josh Earnest had similarly harsh words for the measure to end DACA.
"It is extraordinary that House Republicans are demanding that we reverse that prioritization as a price for getting the resources needed to deal with the urgent humanitarian situation at the border, reduce the immigration court backlog, and address the root cause of child migration," Earnest said in a statement Friday evening.
Most Republicans called DACA executive overreach from the start, and the House approved an amendment in June 2013 that would have ended policies such as DACA that allowed the administration to shield some undocumented immigrants from deportation.
But now, criticism of DACA has reached a fever pitch, as Republicans say the policy caused unaccompanied minors to come to the country illegally because it gave the impression they could stay.
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) said Democrats should stop encouraging minors to cross the border illegally if they "truly care about these kids."
"Many of these children that are coming to the border don't make it across the river," Labrador said on the House floor. "There are reports of discoveries of small, lifeless bodies washed up along the river banks. Many of these children are abused, they're victimized and they're raped. We must understand that the president is responsible because of his failure to fully comply with the law."
Ultimately, the vote was about limiting Obama's power, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said. She said the language would prevent Obama from taking further action to suspend deportations, a move he is considering.
"In other words, Mr. Speaker, we will put a handcuff on one of the president's hands," Bachmann said on the House floor.
This article has been updated with vote details.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misstated the dollar amount of the House funding bill. It would provide $694 million, not $694.
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