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Showered in boos, Republicans feed Democratic immigration reform fears

House Republicans on Thursday voted to strip administrative protection from the young undocumented immigrants whom President Obama sought to shield from deportation last year. The move played to Democratic concerns that the GOP isn't serious about immigration reform.

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Upon passage of the amendment Thursday, Democrats filled the House chamber with boos. They then revolted against the final funding bill, with 172 members voting against the measure versus only 25 in favor. (Republicans easily passed the bill with 225 "aye" votes of their own.)

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“The House majority,” said Rep. Nita Lowey (D) of New York, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, “simply cannot help themselves.”

Ana Avedano, a leading immigration negotiator with the AFL-CIO, called it “not only abhorrent policy, but suicidal politics.”

Republicans, for their part, contend that using executive discretion to protect a certain population of people is effectively lawmaking by presidential whim.

“How can we take an oath to uphold this Constitution and excuse that behavior? Whether or not we approve of the policy, let’s have the debate on the policy [in Congress] where it belongs,” said King on the House floor Wednesday night.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R) of South Carolina, the chairman of the House subcommittee specifically charged with immigration, offered a more circumspect rebuke of the White House. He introduced less explosive legislation on Thursday that would have asked the Department of Homeland Security to create an annual report detailing how many people were spared immigration enforcement because of DACA's prosecutorial discretion.

Despite the flareup Thursday, lawmakers working on immigration say that work continues apace. Representative Gowdy and Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R) of Virginia continue to plug away at individual bills handling pieces of the immigration puzzle, while a bipartisan House group, despite losing one if its most high-profile conservative members on Wednesday, plans to introduce a comprehensive immigration fix before the month is out.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada told reporters the Senate would move to its comprehensive reform bill next week.

And House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio, who committed his party to an attempt at immigration reform just after the party took a beating from Hispanic voters in the 2012 elections, said the work would go on.

“We're working closely with the committee and the members of the committee. I met with members from both sides of the aisle yesterday on this subject. This is a very difficult issue,” Speaker Boehner told reporters Thursday. “But we're continuing to have these conversations. I'm hopeful that the Judiciary Committee will have some vehicles available to us by the end of the month.”


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