WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans distanced themselves Thursday from the Trump administration’s aggressive policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border even as the White House cited the Bible in defending its “zero tolerance” approach to illegal border crossings.

“I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law. That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible,” said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. “It’s a moral policy to follow and enforce the law.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions also cited the Bible in his defense of the border policy that has resulted in hundreds of children being separated from their parents.

But their comments came as House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republicans said they were not comfortable with family separations, which spiked dramatically after the Justice Department adopted a policy in April of referring all illegal border crossers for prosecution.

“We don’t want kids to be separated from their parents,” Ryan said Thursday.

Ryan and other Republican lawmakers said they are seeking to resolve the problem in a compromise immigration bill. A draft of that House bill was released late Thursday afternoon and is set to receive a vote next week.

The “discussion draft” of the sweeping immigration bill includes a path to citizenship for young immigrants, $25 billion in border security – including advance funds for President Trump’s wall with Mexico – and cuts to family-based visas in favor of those for immigrants with skills.

Ryan wants to hold a vote as soon as next week to put the issue to rest before the midterm election. He called it a “very good compromise.”

The 293-page bill represents the kind of ambitious overhaul of the immigration system Republicans have long considered but have been unable to turn into law. It shifts away from the U.S.’ longtime preference for family immigration to a system that prioritizes entry based on skills.

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