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House guts funding for Dreamers executive order; Senate likely to put it back

Two undocumented students hug as they are about to graduate from UCLA last year
Two undocumented students hug as they are about to graduate from UCLA last year
Roberto (Bear) Guerra

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The House of Representatives has voted to cut funding to President Obama's initiative allowing undocumented immigrants or "Dreamers" to stay in the United States. 

The GOP-led House voted 224-201 in favor of an amendment to the Homeland Security appropriations bill that forbids spending on the policy that exercises "prosecutorial discretion with respect to individuals who came to this country as children." 

Last June, President Obama issued an executive order that postpones for two years the deportation of undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. before they were 16 years old, are currently younger than 31, without criminal records, and are high school graduates or in school or the military. 

Riverside Democrat Mark Takano compared the amendment to California's Proposition 187  - the 1994 voter-approved measure that denied many state services to undocumented immigrants. He said Prop 187 turned many California Latinos away from the Republican Party for more than a generation.

"Republicans are setting themselves up for the same thing by doing such an inhumane thing—voting against innocent kids brought here through no fault of their own," said Takano.

The funding amendment was proposed by Iowa Republican Steve King, an outspoken opponent of immigration reform.

"We cannot allow the executive branch to usurp the legislative authority of the United States  Congress," said King.

King's amendment has little chance of surviving in the Democratic-led Senate. 

The vote came less than 24 hours after the "Gang of Eight" leading the negotiations over a comprehensive immigration bill in the House shrank to a "Gang of Seven."

Idaho Republican Congressman Raul Labrador dropped out of the bipartisan House group after a dispute over who foots the health care bill for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants on the path to citizenship.

Hardliners don't want federal dollars to be spent. Los Angeles County and other local governments are concerned they'll be left picking up the tab for those who end up in emergency rooms.

Illinois Democrat Raul Gutierrez of Illinois—one of the remaining seven House members negotiating the immigration bill—says health care is no longer on the table.

"We took it off," said Gutierrez. "It is set aside."

But a source close to the negotiations disputes Gutierrez’ claim, saying there will be health care language in the bill, and members “were able to find a path forward by working through the contentious issues on health care, satisfying seven out of eight in the working group.”

House Speaker John Boehner said he met with both Democrats and Republicans this week, calling immigration a "very difficult issue." He said the American people won't accept comprehensive reform until there is "real border security" and the ability to enforce immigration laws within this country.

The Senate takes up its immigration bill next week. Gutierrez said the House bill is coming, just not that soon. Speaker Boehner said he expects the House Judiciary Committee to have legislation ready by the end of the month.