US & Canada

US House votes to block Obama migrant plan

Immigrant near US-Mexico border Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption An estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States

The House of Representatives has voted to pass a bill that would effectively roll back President Obama's recent immigration initiatives.

The bill still needs to go to the Senate for approval and the White House has said the president will veto it.

Mr Obama announced in November that he would use his executive authorities to enact sweeping immigration changes.

Republicans in the House say that the president's actions overreach his authority and are unconstitutional.

It is the Republican's latest attempt to challenge the White House, after taking control of both chambers of Congress in November.

In the wake of the elections, President Obama announced he would unilaterally reform immigration policies.

His executive order aimed at providing temporary relief from deportation to four million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Obama urged immigrants to "come out of the shadows"

Wednesday's immigration votes were on two amendments attached to a broader bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security - the agency that oversees immigration enforcement.

"This executive overreach is an affront to the rule of law and to the Constitution itself," Speaker of the House John Boehner said after the vote.

"The people made clear that they wanted more accountability from this president, and by our votes here today we will heed their will and we will keep our oath to protect and defend the Constitution.''

Analysis: Thomas Sparrow, BBC Mundo

Despite the fact that the president would likely veto the bill, this move carries significant weight because it signals the extent to which Republicans are willing to go in order to show their opposition to president Obama, who they think has overreached his authority.

Even though the bill is unlikely to pass the Senate, Democrats may be worried that debate over the bill could scare away immigrants from signing up for Mr Obama's recent immigration programmes.

This is just the beginning of this latest immigration battle between Republicans, who since January control both chambers of Congress, and administration officials who are determined to carry out the president's unilateral actions.

Republicans, nevertheless, are also trying to tread carefully, because they know that they can't alienate Hispanic voters even more - especially at a time when many are thinking about the 2016 general election.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Republicans say the president has overstepped his authority by enacting reforms unilaterally

Senate Democrat Robert Menendez accused Republicans of "playing Russian roulette with our nation's security".

Funding for the department will expire in late February.

It is not clear when a vote on the bill would take place in the Senate.

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