Back in September, President Trump and congressional Democrats announced that they were close to a deal that would allow “Dreamers,” illegal aliens who were brought to the US as children, to stay in the country. Now a new framework issued by the White House may kill the budding agreement before it is finalized and sent to Congress.
The Trump Administration delivered a list of “principles” to congressional leaders Sunday night that included funding for Trump’s border wall, an item that Democrats say was specifically excluded from the deal in their earlier negotiations.
In a joint statement quoted by Reuters, Minority Leaders Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.). said, “The administration can’t be serious about compromise or helping the Dreamers if they begin with a list that is anathema to the Dreamers, to the immigrant community and to the vast majority of Americans.” They continued, “The list includes the wall, which was explicitly ruled out of the negotiations. If the president was serious about protecting the Dreamers, his staff has not made a good faith effort to do so.”
In September, President Trump gave Congress six months to find a legislative solution to continue President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. A short time later, President Trump and Democrats announced that they were close to a deal on extending the program.
In addition to funding for the wall, the list also includes verification of immigration status for workers, revising the criminal code to increase penalties for immigration violations, increasing the ability of the government to deport illegal aliens, streamlining the legal process for deportations and limiting protections for asylum-seekers and unaccompanied minors.
A White House official denied that the list violates the terms of the agreement with Schumer and Pelosi. “There was a deal to work on a deal as fast as possible, that’s what the deal was,” the senior administration official told CNN.
The official also said that the Administration still opposes a pathway to citizenship. “As we look to legalize the status of DACA recipients, we are not interested in granting citizenship,” he said.
It is not clear how firm the White House is in demanding the items on its wish list. Many of the items on the list would almost certainly scuttle any agreement between congressional Republicans and Democrats.
“It reads like a laundry list for comprehensive immigration reform, and if Congress has proven an extraordinary ability to do anything, it’s to fail at comprehensive immigration reform,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).
In September, a Morning Consult poll found that 58 percent of registered voters believe that Dreamers should be allowed to stay and be given the opportunity to become citizens. A further 18 percent said that they should be allowed to stay, but not be allowed to become citizens while 15 percent favor deportation.