Trump offers a deal on immigration and shutdown, and it hits a wall
On day 29 of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, President Trump took to the White House Diplomatic Room to deliver a proposal that, he promised, would “break the logjam and provide Congress with a path forward to end the government shutdown.”
Based on the reaction from Democrats, it did no such thing.
Trump, who regularly demonizes undocumented immigrants and has proposed drastic changes to the legal immigration system, presided over a well-publicized naturalization ceremony for five new Americans from the Britain, South Korea, Jamaica, Iraq and Bolivia hours before the speech, in which he struck a notably softer and more inclusive tone than usual. He spoke sympathetically of the very real dangers faced by Central American migrants, particularly women and children, along the journey to the U.S.-Mexico border, and praised “our nation’s proud history of welcoming legal immigrants from all over the world into our national family.”
The president coupled his non-negotiable demand for $5.7 billion for the construction of new physical barriers along the southern border, the major sticking point with Congress, with an offer to relax some of his opposition to programs important to Democrats.
Although he described his offer as a “common sense compromise that both parties should embrace,” it was immediately criticized from both sides: by Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who rejected it even before Trump’s speech was delivered, and by immigration hardliners among Republicans, including Iowa Rep. Steve King, who earlier in the week had been stripped of his committee assignments over racist remarks.
A Big Beautiful Concrete Border Wall will be a monument to the Rule of Law, the sovereignty of the USA, & @RealDonaldTrump. If DACA Amnesty is traded for $5.7 billion(1/5 of a wall), wouldn’t be enough illegals left in America to trade for the remaining 4/5. NO AMNESTY 4 a wall!
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) January 19, 2019
In October, a federal judge in California issued a preliminary injunction against the administration’s intention to stop renewing legal status of 300,000 TPS holders from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan. On Friday, the Supreme Court indicated that it will likely not consider the Trump Administration’s appeals of lower court rulings keeping DACA in place.’ data-reactid=”35″>Trump’s new offer includes extensions of legal protections for Temporary Protected Status holders — refugees living in the U.S. who face persecution or other dangers in their home countries — and the 700,000 beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, sometimes called “Dreamers.” The Trump Administration’s efforts to dismantle DACA and end TPS for several countries have been derailed by a number of legal challenges. In October, a federal judge in California issued a preliminary injunction against the administration’s intention to stop renewing legal status of 300,000 TPS holders from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan. On Friday, the Supreme Court indicated that it will likely not consider the Trump Administration’s appeals of lower court rulings keeping DACA in place.
But his proposed extension of the two programs came with a time limit: three years. Congress could, of course, write DACA into law, but he made no commitment to sign such a bill. Even so, his proposal was denounced as “amnesty” by conservative commentator Ann Coulter, who bestowed on Trump the grave insult of comparing him to his defeated primary opponent Jeb Bush:
Trump proposes amnesty. We voted for Trump and got Jeb!
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) January 19, 2019
But he won support from Senate Republicans including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and newly elected Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah.
.@POTUS has put forth a reasonable, good faith proposal that will reopen the government and help secure the border. I look forward to voting for it and will work to encourage my Republican and Democratic colleagues to do the same.
— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) January 19, 2019
Yahoo News reported on Jan. 10 that Trump’s adviser Jared Kushner and Vice President Mike Pence were working on a “DACA for the wall” deal to present to Democrats.’ data-reactid=”58″>Yahoo News reported on Jan. 10 that Trump’s adviser Jared Kushner and Vice President Mike Pence were working on a “DACA for the wall” deal to present to Democrats.
In a statement following the president’s address on Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he intends to bring the president’s proposal to the floor, though key Democrats have already made clear that they are not interested.
Pelosi, who has repeatedly refused to accept a deal that includes any amount of money for a border wall, and insisted that she won’t negotiate an immigration bill until Trump agrees to reopen the government, called Saturday’s offer “a non-starter.”
“Democrats were hopeful that the President was finally willing to re-open government and proceed with a much-need discussion to protect the border,” Pelosi said in a statement issued ahead of the President’s speech on Saturday. “Unfortunately, initial reports make clear that his proposal is a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable and in total, do not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people’s lives.”
“The President must sign these bills to re-open government immediately and stop holding the American people hostage with this senseless shutdown,” she said.
Other Democrats joined in dismissing the proposal.
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