After President Donald Trump announced that he was going to give Congress six months to come to a DACA arrangement, many in the media (and even government) assumed that he intended to stay out of the whole affair. It seems that the President has had a plan all along.
The White House has released a statement offering legal citizenship to around 800,000 young people who are presently living under DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (or Dreamers, as they are often called), but it comes with a price tag.
Apparently, in return for granting citizenship, the President is demanding:
- The full construction (and presumably funding) of a southern border wall between the United States and Mexico.
- Funds and approval to hire 10,000 new immigration agents (to be divided between border patrol, ICE, and other areas).
- Tougher laws and regulation for those seeking asylum in the U.S.
- The denial of Federal grants to cities that choose “Sanctuary status.”
- The use of E-Verify program to cut-down on illegal workers.
All of which appear to be a wholesale reform of American immigration policy; but how far are the House Democrats willing to go to get citizenship for the Dreamers?
As reported in the NY Times:
“In a letter to lawmakers, Mr. Trump said his demands would address ‘dangerous loopholes, outdated laws and easily exploited vulnerabilities’ in the immigration system, asserting that they were ‘reforms that must be included’ in any deal to address the Dreamers.’”
Senators Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi issued a joint statement to address the demands:
“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 said that the demands did not “represent any attempt at compromise,” and that it was not in any way a real offer.
Some members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus signaled they would consider withholding support for must-pass spending bills in December unless the DACA recipients are granted legal status with a path to citizenship.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said, “I’m not saying we should shut down the government, but if you want a budget with Democratic votes, then it’s got to have some Democratic priorities.” Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), who chairs the Hispanic Caucus, said withholding votes for spending legislation “is definitely on the table.”
Supporters of the President see this as a “masterstroke” in fixing the immigration issue once and for all; they see it as a “deal” that the Democrats can either take or leave based on the question: Do you want to support DACA kids in the country (Dreamers) or people who may come illegally in the future?
While many see it as unlikely that the full list of demands will be met, lawmakers are faced with a fast-approaching deadline. They must come up with a counter offer that is acceptable not only to the President, but also to the voting public.