The Trump Administration on Friday urged Congress to approve a series of immigration enforcement measures, along with $18 billion to build a wall along the Mexican border, as part of any agreement with Democrats to shield illegal immigrant “Dreamers” from being deported in the future, a move that Democrats said could derail talks on the DACA program.
“I am appalled by this report that President Trump wants to waste $18 billion of taxpayer money on an ill-considered border wall,” said Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA).
The White House plans were sent Friday to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who promptly released the details to reporters, and denounced the administration’s move.
“It’s outrageous that the White House would undercut months of bipartisan efforts by again trying to put its entire wish-list of hardline anti-immigrant bills — plus an additional $18 billion in wall funding—on the backs of these young people,” Durbin said, referring to the Dreamers.
On Friday, Durbin released a document given to him by the Trump Administration, which outlined not only the extra money for the border wall, but a series of other plans that would tighten controls on illegal immigration.
“Effective border security will not be successful unless we close dangerous legal loopholes that enable illegal immigration and visa overstays,” wrote Benjamin Cassidy, a top legislative affairs official in the Department of Homeland Security, in a letter to Durbin.
But while Democrats don’t like the effort by the President to add in money for the border wall, Mr. Trump has some leverage, as GOP leaders openly say if Democrats want a deal on the DACA program and “Dreamers,” then Republicans need to get something in return on immigration enforcement.
“We need protection, we need the wall,” the President said earlier this week. “And frankly, I think a lot of Democrats agree with us.”
The seven page document sent up by the Trump Administration goes over a series of immigration priorities, including border security, immigration enforcement away from the border, and moving to a merit-based immigration system.
Along with the $18 billion in money for the border wall, the plan includes $15 billion in spending over ten years on other immigration enforcement efforts.
A temporary budget runs out on January 19, which could theoretically result in a shutdown showdown that involves a battle over money for the border wall – but it’s not yet clear if that is really going to happen or not.
Democrats and Republicans in the Congress have been negotiating for weeks, but haven’t seemed to be moving closer to an agreement.
For Democrats, the idea of cutting a deal on Dreamers which involves money for the border wall is especially distasteful, as they point out the President routinely boasted during his 2016 campaign that such a wall would be paid for by Mexico.
Back in September, Mr. Trump ended the DACA program put in place by President Barack Obama, which allowed young people brought into the country illegally to stay in the U.S. for several years, without the threat of deportation.
It’s estimated that around 800,000 people are impacted by that program – the President set a deadline for action in March – it’s still not clear if Congress will wait until that date, or try to fix the plan in negotiations over a funding for the federal government.