House Rejects Immigration Overhaul Despite Trump’s Late Plea

On Wednesday, President Trump used Twitter to implore House Republicans to pass immigration legislation that would toughen border security. The vote failed 121 to 301.

WASHINGTON — The House resoundingly rejected a far-reaching immigration overhaul on Wednesday, despite a last-minute plea from President Trump, as internal divisions in the Republican ranks continued to hobble legislative efforts to protect the young unauthorized immigrants known as Dreamers.

The 121-to-301 vote was an embarrassment both to Mr. Trump and to House Republican leaders, who had spent weeks trying to bring together conservatives and Republicans with moderate views on immigration — and ended up with little to show for the effort.

In the end, nearly as many Republicans voted against the bill, 112, as for it, 121.

The defeat provided the latest display of the Republican Party’s disunity in Congress on immigration. And it highlighted the continuing inability of both the House and the Senate to resolve the fate of the Dreamers, who were brought to the country illegally as children. Many of those undocumented immigrants have been shielded from deportation under an Obama-era program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which Mr. Trump moved last year to end.

Republicans in the House are now likely to turn their focus to narrower legislation that would seek to keep migrant families together at the border, an issue that senators are also looking to address. But with the Fourth of July approaching and lawmakers close to returning home for a recess, it was not clear how quickly a narrower measure might move forward.

The House is scheduled to finish its work for the week on Thursday and not return until July 10. A Republican aide said the chamber would not take action on the family separation issue until after the recess.

The frustrations over immigration in Congress are matched by the confusion in the Trump administration. A federal judge in California issued a nationwide injunction on Tuesday stopping the administration from separating children from their parents at the border and ordering that all families already separated be reunited within 30 days.

The Justice Department responded by putting pressure on lawmakers, saying in a statement that the judge’s order “makes it even more imperative that Congress finally act to give federal law enforcement the ability to simultaneously enforce the law and keep families together.”

“Without this action by Congress, lawlessness at the border will continue,” the department said.

But the House vote demonstrated the difficulty of developing any kind of broad immigration legislation that can clear even a single chamber of Congress.

This year, the Senate rejected a series of immigration measures, and last week, the House rejected a hard-line immigration bill favored by conservatives in that chamber.

For their part, Democrats have offered their support for legislation to provide Dreamers with a path to citizenship while beefing up border security. But they have been unwilling to support legislation that fulfills Mr. Trump’s wider demands on immigration, including making cuts to legal immigration.

All 189 Democrats who voted on Wednesday opposed the bill.

“Once again, Republican leaders put a partisan immigration bill on the floor, and it failed overwhelmingly,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the Democratic whip. “When will they realize that the path forward on immigration and asylum reform must be a bipartisan one?”

Hours before the vote, Mr. Trump used Twitter to implore Republicans — in all capital letters — to pass the bill, which would have provided more than $23 billion for border security, including for his promised wall, while keeping migrant families together at the border and providing a path to citizenship for Dreamers.

But coming days after Mr. Trump had told Republicans in Congress to forget about immigration until after the midterm elections, his last-minute change of mind did not prove persuasive.

In the end, the lack of consensus within the party on immigration was glaring.

“We attempted to bridge the divide,” Representative Patrick T. McHenry, Republican of North Carolina and the chief deputy whip, said after the vote.

“What’s clear is there’s no Republican-only DACA fix,” Mr. McHenry said. “There are certainly Republican votes for border security, but the problems that President Obama left for us with DACA will not be easily remedied simply with Republican votes.”

The bill rejected Wednesday would have made significant changes to the immigration system, and it generally adhered to Mr. Trump’s stated requirements for any overhaul. It would have limited family-based immigration, and it would have eliminated the diversity visa lottery, which admits immigrants from countries that do not send many people to the United States.

But despite the painstaking negotiations among Republicans to try to arrive at a broad immigration overhaul that would be acceptable to different ideological factions within their conference, the resulting compromise still ran into trouble with conservatives. It was derided on the right as “amnesty” for offering a pathway to citizenship for the Dreamers.

“This bill was not the sort of bold immigration reform that America supported when it elected Donald Trump to be president, nor does it reflect the priorities of a conservative-led legislature,” said Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida.

The vote on Wednesday followed a push by moderate Republicans, many facing difficult re-election bids, to compel the House to take action protect the Dreamers. They used a parliamentary maneuver known as a discharge petition in an attempt to force a series of votes on immigration, but fell two signatures short of what they needed.

Representative Carlos Curbelo, Republican of Florida, a leader of the moderates who pushed for action on immigration, did not hide his frustration with the outcome of the vote. “Today,” he said, “a coalition of shortsighted House members shamefully came together to preserve the broken, inefficient, unfair immigration system that misgoverns our country.”

For now, the DACA program has been kept alive by the courts, but the failure of Congress to agree on a legislative fix means that hundreds of thousands of Dreamers will continue to face an uncertain future.

Democrats were quick to assign blame.

“Republicans maintain full control of Washington,” said Tyler Law, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, “and their failure to deliver on immigration reform is both a reflection of the Republican Party’s antipathy towards immigrant families and their inability to govern.”

House Republican leaders twice delayed a vote on the immigration overhaul last week to give themselves more time to build support. But by Wednesday, their last-ditch efforts had failed to produce any outpouring of enthusiasm.

Mr. Trump did not help matters.

Last Friday, he tweeted that Republicans in Congress “should stop wasting their time” on immigration legislation until after the midterm elections in November — a message directly at odds with the effort in the House to build support for the bill.

The president could have been a valuable salesman in persuading wavering Republicans to get behind the legislation. Instead, his conflicting messages only added to the discombobulation that Republicans have not been able to escape on the politically delicate subject of immigration.

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