Republicans prepare bill allowing migrant children to be detained more than twenty days
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Republican lawmakers are preparing to vote on a more narrow immigration bill that would allow immigrant children to stay in detention facilities with their parents for more than 20 days, senior White House and Hill officials tell ABC News.
The bill would correct an issue with President Trump’s executive order to stop the separation of children from parents who entered the country illegally. The existing law requires that children be released from detention after 20 days.
The House is scheduled to vote on a larger “compromise” immigration bill early next week that would include Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, border security and visas. But the bill is not expected to get enough votes to pass in Congress. Sources tell ABC News that Hill leaders are expected to then vote on the narrower bill.
The Trump administration filed a motion in a California federal court on Thursday to change the so-called Flores settlement so that children can remain in detention with their parents as they await immigration proceedings. The status of that case is in limbo.
Two White House officials told ABC News that the president would be inclined to sign an immigration bill even if it only fixes the issue of the detention period for children.
“We’ve always said there needs to be a legislative fix,” White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short told ABC News.
“I don’t think we’re going to talk about hypotheticals until we see that the Democrats won’t partner with us to solve a bigger problem.”
If there isn’t legislative or judicial action to change the period of detention for children, the families could be separated again if the children are released from the detention centers and the parents remain until they are processed.
Amid confusion over how to implement the executive order that was crafted within a matter of hours on Wednesday, the administration designated Homeland Security Advisor Doug Fears on Thursday to coordinate the interagency response to the executive order, ABC News has learned.
Senior White House aide Stephen Miller has been blamed by his colleagues for pushing the zero-tolerance policy that created the crisis at the border, according to White House officials.
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