Always the deal-maker, President Donald Trump signaled that in exchange for a sharp cut in legal immigration and a significant funding increase for enforcement, he would be willing to support legislation to help so-called Dreamers.
Trump also called for “complete construction” of the Southern border wall.
The White House Sunday sent Congress an exhaustive list of principles and priorities that have aligned with conservative immigration goals, The Wall Street Journal reports. The documents arrive just as lawmakers begin a heated debate over whether to legalize minors brought to this country – referred to as “Dreamers.”
Beginning in March, these 800,000-or so will lose their work permits and deportation protection if Congress doesn’t act. President Trump effectively ended Barack Obama’s “DACA” program
“Without these reforms, illegal immigration and chain migration, which severely and unfairly burden American workers and taxpayers, will continue without end,” Mr. Trump said in a letter to congressional leaders that outlined some 70 separate principles.
Some of the 70 measures will be immediately opposed by all Democrats – and even some Republicans – and if Trump sticks to his guns – they jeopardize the status of the young immigrants.
A White House official said the president isn’t issuing any veto threats, but declined to detail which of the ideas were the highest priority, saying the administration didn’t care to negotiate with itself.
Among the demands is sufficient funding for “complete construction” of a U.S.-Mexico border wall and an end to legal protections for unaccompanied minors who arrive without authorization and are allowed to wait inside the US while their case is considered.
The administration also wants to make it harder for people to qualify for asylum and detain asylum applicants while their cases are being considered. In most cases applicants currently are allowed to live freely inside the U.S. during what can be a lengthy wait for a decision on their status.
The document also calls for punishing jurisdictions that don’t cooperate with federal immigration enforcement—so-called “sanctuary cities”—by withholding federal grant money. And it wants Congress to mandate the use of E-Verify by employers to check the immigration status of prospective workers. The system is currently voluntary.
Democrats are staunchly opposed to some of these ideas outright and won’t support others unless they’re part of a broad and comprehensive package that includes eventual amnesty for almost all of the 11 million illegal immigrants currently living in the country.
“The administration can’t be serious about compromise or helping the Dreamers if they begin with a list that is anathema to the Dreamers, to the immigrant community and to the vast majority of Americans,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a joint statement Sunday.
The goals outlined in the proposal are not shocking. What has surprised many, The Wall Street Journal reports, is that the White House would demand such a comprehensive list of restrictions in exchange for support of a relatively small segment of the illegal population.
But that’s President Trump – master negotiator, right?
What do you think? Is this the start of a big bargain or will each side stick to their guns? Sound off below!