President Donald Trump on Wednesday highlighted what he called the dangers posed by illegal immigrants ahead of an important House vote on two bills aimed at cracking down on those who commit crimes and cities that refuse to help deport them.
Appearing with families that were victimized by immigrants, Trump called on lawmakers to “honor grieving American families” by sending the “lifesaving measures” to his desk quickly. The House action marks the first major legislative test of tougher immigration laws under Trump, who has tried to impose sweeping executive orders to limit immigration and ramp up enforcement.
“You lost the people that you love because our government refused to enforce our nation’s immigration laws,” Trump told the families in the Cabinet Room. “For years, the pundits, journalists, politicians in Washington refused to hear your voices but on Election Day 2016 your voices were heard all across the entire world. No one died in vain I can tell you that.”
The president’s focus on immigration, a day after Republican leaders in the Senate postponed efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, illustrated the White House’s eagerness to get back onto comfortable footing. Trump has consistently employed strong rhetoric to paint immigrants – both those in the country illegally and some who arrive through legal channels – as potentially dangerous.
“The president’s involvement has brought the pace of this up, and we’re doing it this week because he wants it to happen,” said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, a fierce advocate for strict immigration laws who co-sponsored the bills set to be passed Thursday. “The members are ready for it, too.”
The House votes – coming six months into Trump’s presidency – are also highlighting the limits of congressional action and the frustrations of conservatives who expected much more to have been done already.
Trump’s executive actions have had limited success. His travel ban on refugees and immigrants from several majority-Muslim countries was held up in federal court until the Supreme Court ruled this week that some of the provisions could be enacted while the Justices prepare for a hearing on the ban in the fall.
By Mike Debonis and David Nakamura
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