UPDATE: White House says Democrats responsible for immigration laws

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Congress and immigration legislation (all times local):

Photo: DHS

3:45 p.m.

The White House says Democrats are responsible for changing the nation's immigration laws.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says President Donald Trump wants to see Congress pass laws to solve the humanitarian crisis at the border. But she is laying responsibility at the feet of Democrats, even though Republicans hold the majorities of the House and Senate.

She told reporters at a contentious White House briefing Thursday that Democrats "have refused to come to the table and be part of a solution."

Instead, she says, "they're playing political games and attacking the president."

The administration is pushing a "zero tolerance" policy that is separating more children from parents who are arrested for illegally crossing the border. Democrats have called the policy "barbaric," and House Speaker Paul Ryan says he doesn't want kids separated from parents.

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11:30 a.m.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi says a Trump administration policy that separates children from their parents at the southern border is "barbaric" and has to stop.

Pelosi said Thursday that separating families as parents are being detained after crossing the southern border illegally "is not what America is, but this is the policy of the Trump administration."

She adds, "This is not normal. It's barbaric. It has to stop."

She says the Trump administration could "stop the practice on a dime," adding "I don't know why there aren't uprisings across the country."

Earlier, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Republicans "don't want kids to be separated from their parents," but said the policy is being dictated by a recent court ruling. He says legislation is needed to fix the problem.

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11:08 a.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says he's not comfortable with a Trump administration policy that separates children from their parents as they are being detained after crossing the southern border illegally.

Ryan says, "We don't want kids to be separated from their parents," but adds that the policy is being dictated by a recent court ruling. He says legislation is needed to fix the problem.

House Republicans are considering next steps on two immigration bills. Ryan and other GOP leaders persuaded moderate Republicans to drop a renegade effort to force votes on legislation that would have protected young "Dreamer" immigrants with a path to citizenship.

Votes on immigration bills could be held as soon as next week, although Ryan said Thursday he "won't guarantee passage" of any measure.

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1 a.m.

Republicans are considering a new merit-based visa category that would assign points to applicants based on various factors, such as education or military service. It would be available to the young "Dreamer" immigrants as well as other immigrants.

The Dreamers number up to 1.8 million young people living in the U.S. illegally since childhood. Some 700,000 participate in the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. Those who don't participate in the program never signed up for DACA or didn't qualify at the time because of their age or other factors, including when they arrived in the U.S.

The measure is a work in progress, though leaders hope to unveil it soon. So far, it's hewing close enough to President Donald Trump's immigration agenda that Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., says the president is supportive of the approach.

A range of other ideas remain in flux including provisions that would make it easier to deport immigrants who commit crimes and to end to the practice of releasing those immigrants who are here illegally but commit smaller or misdemeanor offenses.



 
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