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Trump Makes Offer to Democrats to Protect 'Dreamers' in Exchange for Border Wall

01-19-2019
President Donald Trump delivers remarks to the nation on the government shutdown and border security.  Screenshot courtesy: WhiteHouse.gov
President Donald Trump delivers remarks to the nation on the government shutdown and border security. Screenshot courtesy: WhiteHouse.gov

Watch President Trump's address to the nation.  Click the player above.

Trying to find a solution to the shutdown standoff on its 29th day, President Donald Trump offered a new proposal to Democrats Saturday afternoon.  In exchange for his $5.7 billion southern border wall, he's offering protections for "Dreamers" -- young people brought into the country illegally by their parents over the next three years.

The proposal is an effort by the White House to bring Democrats back to the negotiating table to bring an end to the shutdown.

Speaking from the White House Diplomatic Room in a televised address to the nation, Trump said his proposal is "a common sense compromise that both parties can embrace." 

Blaming previous administrations and congressional lawmakers for the immigration mess America faces today, Trump said as a candidate for president he promised to fix this crisis and he intends on keeping that promise "one way or the other."

"Our immigration system should be the subject of pride," the president said. "Not a source of shame as it is all over the world. Our immigration system should be the envy of the world. Not a symbol of disunity and dysfunction."

The Trump proposal includes:

  • $800 million in humanitarian assistance. 
  • $805 million in drug detection technology to help secure ports of entry
  • Additional 2,750 border agents and law enforcement professionals
  • 75 new immigration judge teams to reduce court backlog of 900,000 cases
  • Critical plan to help protect migrant children from exploitation and abuse
  • $5.7 billion for strategic deployment of physical steel barriers in several high priority locations. This will add 230 miles of barrier this year.

The president's proposal would also give legislative relief to approximately 700,000 DACA recipients brought to the U.S. illegally as children and protection from being deported.  It would also give three years of protection for 300,000 immigrants with Temporary Protected Status, a program that allows people from certain countries affected by natural disasters or violence to remain in the U.S. 

Vice President Mike Pence, along with Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney have been working "non-stop" on the proposal, according to The Associated Press.

Meanwhile, Democrats are proposing $563 million to hire 75 more immigration judges and $524 million in order to beef up security at ports of entry from Mexico, but nothing for a border wall, according to the AP. The money will be added to spending bills, which the House plans to vote on next week.

Many Democrats want citizenship for Dreamers and have said they will not vote to construct a wall on the US -Mexico border.

Issuing a statement before the president's address, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the president's 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."

"For one thing, this proposal does not include the permanent solution for the Dreamers and TPS recipients that our country needs and supports," the statement read.

Pelosi also wants the president to re-open government immediately and "stop holding the American people hostage with this senseless shutdown.  Each day he prolongs this needless crisis, Coast Guardsmen, FBI agents, border patrol officers, TSA agents, and hundreds of thousands more workers are forced to live without knowing how they can feed their families or pay their bills."

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, responded to President Trump's proposal issuing the following statement:

“While we commend the spirit of the president’s latest effort to end the government shutdown, we at the NHCLC must continue to insist upon a permanent DACA solution for a permanent wall. A temporary fix will only prolong an already untenable situation and kick the can still further down the road. A practice that has proved counterproductive, ineffective and inhumane for more than three decades, and in fact, led to the current crisis in the first place. We can and we must do better," the statement read. 

“While this offer falls short, we also applaud the president and recognize that it represents progress and forward momentum. We strongly urge the Democratic leadership in Congress to swiftly propose a counteroffer that both secures the futures of America’s Dreamers and secures our southern border at the same time," the statement continued. 

“As we’ve already publicly declared during this shutdown: Fund the wall and give us DACA," the statement concluded. 

In a video posted to Twitter late Friday, Trump said both sides should  "take the politics out of it" and "get to work" to "make a deal." But he also repeated his warnings, saying: "We have to secure our southern border. If we don't do that, we're a very, very sad and foolish lot."

Approximately 800,000 federal employees have gone without paychecks during the partial government shutdown, the longest in US history. Many public services available to Americans have also been canceled during the closure.

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