WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US President Donald Trump proposed an immigration agreement on Saturday aimed at ending the government's partial closure for 29 days, including temporary protections for "Dreamers" and other immigrants, but the Democrats rejected it immediately.
By insisting on his $ 5.7 billion demand to finance a US-Mexico border barrier as part of any bill to completely reopen the government, Trump tried to put pressure on the Democrats by appealing to immigrants whom they have tried. help.
In a White House speech, Trump offered three years of protection for undocumented immigrant youth known as "Dreamers," as well as for temporary protection state (TPS) holders, another clbad of immigrants.
In suppressing what he called a "very broken" US immigration system, Trump said: "Today I am here to break the jam and provide Congress with a way to end the closure of the government and resolve the crisis on the southern border. "
But the protections he proposed did not reach the path of citizenship for the dreamers that the Democrats and some Republicans in Congress have been asking for years.
In a statement after Trump's speech, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called the plan "a bold solution to reopen the government, secure the border and take bipartisan measures to address current immigration problems."
A spokesman for McConnell said he would seek approval of the proposal in the Senate next week.
The Democrats insisted that the talks on border security occur only after the government is reopened. The Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, said: "It was the president who separated the protections of DACA and TPS in the first place." Offering some protections in exchange for the wall is not a compromise but rather a hostage-taking.
Even before Trump spoke, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said that her offer as reported in advance was "unacceptable," not "represented a good faith effort to restore certainty to people's lives. "and it was unlikely that he would obtain the necessary votes to approve it. The House of Representatives or the Senate.
About a quarter of the US government has been partially closed since December 22, since funding has expired for reasons that are not related to the border or immigration.
WORK WITHOUT PAYING
Some 800,000 federal workers have stayed at home without permission or working without pay.
Trump has refused to consider legislation necessary to completely reopen the government, unless it includes $ 5.7 billion to help pay for a border fence or other barrier, which he says is necessary to keep illegal immigrants and drugs away.
The total cost of such a barrier could eventually exceed $ 24 billion, according to some government estimates.
Trump also asked Congress for $ 782 million to hire another 2,750 border agents, police officers and staff, and another $ 563 million to hire 75 new teams of immigration judges to reduce the delay in immigration courts.
The Dreamers, mostly young Latinos, are protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects certain people who entered the United States illegally as children. It provides nearly 700,000 immigrants with work permits, but no road to citizenship.
Vice President Mike Pence told reporters that Trump's proposal for the Dreamers and humanitarian badistance on the border was based on talks with high-ranking Democrats.
He said Trump expects millions of Americans to pressure the Democrats to accept the agreement. Pence said conservatives should not worry that Trump is granting an amnesty to the Dreamers, saying, "This is not an amnesty."
"We hope that once people overcome the initial statements and the initial reaction, when they really badyze this legislation, as regards the floor of the Senate, they see it as an effort by the president to take ideas from both sides," said Pence.
White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said declaring a national border emergency to finance a wall without congressional approval remained an option, but it was not Trump's preferred solution.
"Can Democrats separate from the extreme left and reach a compromise on border security? I think a lot of members want to do that, "Mulvaney said.
Former President Barack Obama implemented DACA in 2012 through an executive order. Most of his fellow Democrats have since sought a more lasting protection for the Dreamers. The Trump government said in September 2017 that it would rescind DACA, but that it remains in force under court order.
The temporary protection status (TPS) is granted to citizens of designated countries affected by armed conflicts, natural disasters or other conflicts. TPS holders are allowed to work and live in the United States for a limited time.
The Trump administration has shown a deep skepticism towards the TPS program and has moved to revoke the special status for immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras and other nations.
The polls showed that Americans increasingly blame Trump for the closure, the 19th since the mid-seventies. Most of the past closures have been brief. The current one has not had an impact on three quarters of the government, including the Department of Defense, which has secure funds.
Additional reporting by Richard Cowan and Pete Schrodeder; Edited by Leslie Adler, David Gregorio and Daniel Wallis