Updated 11:51 p.m. | House Republicans voted to prohibit President Barack Obama from granting what they consider to be an unconstitutional amnesty to illegal immigrants Friday.
The bill would effectively end Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA — a program that has allowed hundreds of thousands of “Dreamers” brought to the United States illegally by their parents to get work permits and avoid deportation. And it would prohibit the president from expanding the program, as he has been reportedly considering doing for as many as five million additional immigrants.
The 216-192 vote included four Democrats voting “yes” — Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, John Barrow of Georgia, and Nick J. Rahall II of West Virginia.
Eleven Republicans broke ranks to oppose it — Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, Jeff Denham of California, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Mike Coffman of Colorado, David Valadao of California, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, David Reichert of Washington, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Joe Heck of Nevada, Mark Amodei of Nevada, and Fred Upton of Michigan.
The bill won’t get taken up any time soon by the Democrat-controlled Senate, which already left for August recess. And it’s unlikely to be signed into law by Obama, who started DACA through an executive action in 2012 and vowed to veto the bill earlier Friday.
Still, the measure, brought to the House floor as a reward for conservative members who agreed to help pass a $694 million appropriations bill to address the child migrant border surge just an hour earlier, will be an important messaging vote for both parties heading into the November midterm elections.
Republicans who voted “yes” will be able to tell their base they voted against Obama’s executive overreach, which they argue helped spur the record influx of unaccompanied minors at the U.S.-Mexico border that has overwhelmed enforcement agencies.
“It sends a vitally important message that minors wanting to come here in the future will . . . have absolutely no opportunity to receive DACA benefits,” said Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., during floor debate Friday evening.
It also fits into the recent vote allowing House Republicans to file a lawsuit against Obama for acting without the consent of Congress.
The measure sparked one of the most vitriolic debates in recent memory. Democrats hurled accusations of xenophobia, cowardice and racism against Republicans. At times, they sat back in their seats on their side of the aisle in the House chamber and smirked, sarcastically applauding some of their biggest foes like Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. During other moments, they booed.