Trump offers protection for immigrants in US in exchange for wall funds
MANDEL NGAN (AFP)
US President Donald Trump on Saturday offered to temporarily shield a million immigrants from deportation if Congress authorizes funding for his Mexican border wall -- an idea Democrats rejected, making the US government shutdown likely to continue.
His bargain, announced in a televised White House address, held out the carrot of protection from deportation for two categories of immigrants.
These include 700,000 so-called "Dreamers," children of people who settled illegally in the United States, and who have become a favorite cause of the Democrats, as well as 300,000 other immigrants whose protected status is expiring, Trump said.
The president said these concessions would "build the trust and goodwill necessary to begin real immigration reform."
Trump attempted to seize the initiative in ending the 29-day partial shutdown, a funding freeze that has left many important government departments relying on unpaid or highly reduced staff.
Trump reiterated his demand for $5.7 billion to fortify the country’s southern border wall in exchange for a new compromise --- including the Administration’s support for the BRIDGE Act, intended to give further protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
The Trump administration has, in the past, attempted to cancel the DACA program.
Trump also proposed to extend the legal status for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders for a period of three additional years.
The administration's plan also includes $800 million in humanitarian assistance, $805 million for drug detection technology at ports of entry, 2750 additional customs and border patrol agents, and hundreds more judges to assuage a growing backlog of immigration cases.
In addition, Trump declared that a "new system" will allow central American minors to apply for asylum in their home countries and a reform to promote family reunification for unaccompanied migrant children.
"Walls are not immoral," Trump said. "In fact, they are the opposite of immoral because they will save innocent lives."
Trump further explained that his proposed wall will not be "a concrete barrier" across the entire southern border between the US and Mexico. Instead, the president said it would require "steel barriers in high priority locations."
According to an Axios report published several hours before Trump was set to speak, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell believes Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has planned not to move from her position on Trump’s immigration demands without support from her Democratic caucus, which she is unlikely to have anytime soon.
McConnell reportedly told Trump’s team to give an offer attractive to a significant amount of Democrats and not only Republican lawmakers.
The partial shutdown -- which began when Trump refused to sign off on budget legislation that did not include funding for his planned border wall -- enters its fifth week on Saturday.
"I will be making a major announcement concerning the Humanitarian Crisis on our Southern Border, and the Shutdown, tomorrow afternoon at 3 P.M., live from the @WhiteHouse," Trump tweeted without providing further details.
According to the Axios report, a meeting between Vice President Mike Pence and Special Advisor Jared Kushner following a number of talks with Democratic officials and an “inventory of proposals” they received.
Trump’s advisors are reportedly hoping the overture will make him appear willing to compromise while Pelosi remains steadfast, effectively keeping the country and its civil functions in deadlock.
Trump has mulled declaring a state of emergency on the southern border in a bid to secure funding for the wall without congressional approval -- a move that would almost certainly lead to a challenge in the courts.
The shutdown -- the longest in US history -- has paralyzed Washington and resulted in 800,000 federal employees being furloughed or working without pay.
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The Democrats will not accept any new deal offered by the Oval Office. This has now become personal. They are seeking the impeachment of Pres. Trump. The partial shutdown will continue.
They will ATTEMPT to impeach. But they r dreaming
It was fabulous negotiation point.speaker Nancy , no faith compromiser is the loser. I say now, remove allDACA from our shore and start using sling shot at people on the wall. Knock them off. If the tried this crap in Russia, they would be shot.
shame on democrats