President Donald Trump on Saturday offered temporary support for some immigration policies favored by Democrats on the condition that Congress would appropriate $5.7 billion in border wall money and line up behind other priorities of his.
Ahead of the announcement, many Democrats responded with a similar refrain: First, open the government, which is in the 29th day of a record-breaking partial shutdown.
In an address from the White House, Trump went through a proposal he called “a commonsense compromise both sides should embrace”: $800 million for “urgent humanitarian assistance,” $805 million for “drug detection technology” at ports of entry, an additional 2,750 “border agents and law enforcement professionals” and “75 new immigration judge teams” to reduce the backlog of immigration cases, though he asserted Congress should change “the whole concept of having lengthy trials” for undocumented people.
In addition, the President added later, he would be willing to support “three years of legislative relief for 700,000 DACA recipients” and a “three-year extension of Temporary Protected Status” for the hundreds of thousands individuals with the designation that the Trump administration has said it would like to kick out of the country.
The proposals were meant to be sweeteners for Democrats, though many in Congress have called for permanent solutions on both issues.
In exchange, the President said, he wanted $5.7 billion for “steel barriers in high-priority locations” — his desired wall.
Left unsaid in the remarks from the White House: it was the Trump administration that attempted to terminate DACA in the first place, and the Trump administration that has aggressively sought to end Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, for the vast majority of foreign nationals currently living legally in the United States with the designation. The administration’s DACA and TPS actions have been held up in court, at least so far.
Trump on Saturday also outlined “a new system to allow Central American minors to apply for asylum in their home countries” — as opposed, presumably, to applying for asylum after stepping foot in the United States, as is currently the law — “and reform to promote family reunification for unaccompanied children.” The important details of those proposals are still fuzzy.
“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has pledged to bring this bill to a vote this week in the United States Senate,” Trump noted.
Democrats responded to Trump’s offer by declaring it, essentially, dead on arrival. They accuse Trump of holding hostage the paychecks of 800,000 federal employees who are either not working or working without pay as a result of the shutdown.
“It’s clear the President realizes that by closing the government and hurting so many American workers and their families, he has put himself and the country in an untenable position,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a statement following Trump’s remarks. “Unfortunately, he keeps putting forward one-sided and ineffective remedies.”
Schumer added: “It was the President who singled-handedly took away DACA and TPS protections in the first place – offering some protections back in exchange for the wall is not a compromise but more hostage taking.”
“Democrats were hopeful that the President was finally willing to re-open government and proceed with a much-need discussion to protect the border,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement released shortly before Trump’s remarks. “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.”
“It is unlikely that any one of these provisions alone would pass the House, and taken together, they are a non-starter,” Pelosi continued. “For one thing, this proposal does not include the permanent solution for the Dreamers and TPS recipients that our country needs and supports.”