President Trump spoke to the American public today to formally offer a formal package on border security and immigration to end the government shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pledged to bring the compromise bill to the Senate floor this week.
In his remarks, President trump was clear that the negotiating team had spoken with dozens of rank and file Democrats to understand what priorities could be addressed that would satisfy their immediate concerns.
He was also clear that the specific items related to border security were the priorities of Customs and Border Patrol professionals and DHS staff. The plan proposed includes the following items:
- $800M for urgent humanitarian needs
- $805M for advanced drug detection systems
- 2750 new Border Patrol agents
- 75 new immigration judges to address the nearly 900,000 case backlog
- Funding for critical measures to protect children that are focused on asylum application in their home country and family reunification for unaccompanied minors
- $5.7B for strategic deployment of physical barries with a total of 230 miles in critical areas to be built this year. He emphasized this would be the steel see-through barrier preferred by CBP
- 3 years of legislative protection for 700,000 DACA recipients. This would include work visas and protection from deportation
- 3-year extension of Temporary Protective Status affecting approximately 300,000 people.
The President said the legislative relief for those currently in the country would allow for bi-partisan negotiations on a comprehensive immigration reform. If this bill passes both the House and the Senate, government would be reopened immediately.
Following the reopening of government, the President stated a bi-partisan task force will be established. Required to meet weekly, the group will work solely on remaking our immigration system for the 21st century.
In the course of the speech, he outlined the impact of illegal immigration, the horrors of human trafficking and scourge of addiction and death that stems from drug trafficking. He also noted the potential for gang members and cartels to exploit the weaknesses in our border and spoke about Angel families.
He closed by saying:
Whatever we do I can promise you this. I will never forget my first duty and ultimate loyalty is to you, the American people. Any reforms we make to our immigration system will be designed to improve your lives, make your communities safer, and make our nation more propserous and secure for generations to come.
In the course of the speech, President trump referred to Democrats past support for border security including physical barriers. He added that walls are not immoral and in this case a barrier will help save lives on both sides of the border.
The speech itself was grounded and gave specific data points to support the need for increased border security. It is also clear that humanitarian tragedies like human trafficking are at the forefront of items to be addressed. It was not radical, anti-immigrant or focused on just a wall. It was also a much better option than declaring a national security emergency as many feared.
If Democratic leadership remains intractable on the issue, it has the very real possibility of backfiring on them with those not on the radical Left. And the President was clear he will not allow the far Left to govern the process.
Hopefully, with the additional protections for DACA recipients and clarity around the other items to address humanitarian crises and the processing of cases in the backlog, Democratic leadership can find their way to the table to sign on. If they don’t, some of the Conservative Democrats who were successful in suburban districts may have problems at home.
Nancy, the ball is in your court.