President Donald Trump has proposed extending protection for some illegal immigrants in the U.S. in exchange for wall funding along the Mexican border. The offer, which was announced Saturday after 4:00 p.m. ET, presents Congress with a new pathway to ending the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
A Presidential Compromise
Speaking live from the White House, President Trump provided “a path forward to end the government shutdown.” In a “common sense compromise, both sides can embrace,” Trump said he is willing to grant three-year extended protection for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients if House Democrats approve the $5.7 billion “see-through steel barrier” with Mexico. The proposal also extends to immigrants with Temporary Protected Status, all of whom will be able to remain in the country if a new deal is reached.
Some of the concrete proposals include:
- $800 million in urgent humanitarian assistance;
- $805 million in drug protection technology to secure ports of entry;
- More than 2,000 additional border agents;
- 75 immigration judge teams to clear the backlog of 900,000 cases.
The president’s address was presented via a live stream on YouTube:
Trump’s offer to protect the children of illegal immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” is seen as a major concession for an administration that has vowed to stem the flow of illegal aliens from across the southern border. It also reflects Trump’s long-standing commitment to negotiate in the face of new political obstacles.
Anticipation leading up to the announcement led to speculation that Trump was prepared to declare a national emergency in order to unlock funding for his proposed border wall. A national emergency, if declared, would reallocate funds from the Department of Defense to the construction of the proposed steel barrier. Last week, Trump said he would utilize his executive powers if Congress refused to make a deal.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi caught wind of Trump’s proposal before it was made public Saturday afternoon. In an advanced statement, Pelosi said Democrats will reject Trump’s proposal on grounds that it is merely “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 in people’s lives.”
She added: “It is unlikely that any one of these provisions alone would pass the House, and taken together, they are a non-starter.”
Democrats were hopeful that @realDonaldTrump was finally willing to re-open government & proceed with a much-needed discussion to protect the border. Unfortunately, reports make clear that his proposal is a compilation of previously rejected initiatives. https://t.co/MFwebWSevG pic.twitter.com/yMTm4iP27h
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) January 19, 2019
Build That Wall
The partial government shutdown affecting 800,000 federal workers entered its 29th day on Saturday. Disagreement over border-wall funding has prevented the formation of a new budget that would re-open the government. Trump’s latest proposal has been in development for at least a week and follows several failed attempts at breaking the impasse.
On Jan. 8, Trump delivered his first prime-time address from the Oval Office, where he spoke to the American people about the need for increased border protection. The speech was delivered mere hours after Senate Democrats prevented the chamber from reviewing bipartisan legislation in an effort to pressure Republican lawmakers to reopen the government.
Talks have broken down several times in the interim, with Democrats unwilling to budge on the issue of a border wall.
The Trump White House is prepared for a “very long” shutdown and has taken measures to mitigate the impact. This includes allowing the Internal Revenue Agency (IRS) to process tax refunds once filing season begins, enabling hundreds of billions of dollars to flow to households.