Updated at 4:31 p.m. ET
With negotiations over re-opening the government at a standstill, President Trump offered to back temporary protections for some immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, many of whom are now adults, in exchange for funding for a wall on the southern border.
Trump also offered to extend the Temporary Protected Status program that blocks deportation of certain immigrants fleeing civil unrest or natural disasters.
The deal included more points, including:
- $800 million for urgent humanitarian assistance;
- $805 million for drug-detection technology to secure ports of entry;
- Add 2,750 border agents;
- 75 new immigration judge teams for a court backlog of 900,000 cases; wants to change the lengthy trials for someone who steps one foot;
- Allow Central American minors to apply for asylum in their home countries;
- $5.7 billion for strategic deployment of physical barriers or a wall, not a 2,000-mile concrete structure. He wants to add 230 miles this year and claims the crime rate and drug problem “would be quickly and greatly reduced” … “some say it would be cut in half.”
In exchange for:
- Three years of legislative relief for some 700,000 DACA recipients, an extension of legal status and protection from deportation;
- Three-year extension of temporary protected status for some 300,000 facing expiration. Trump said that would offer three more years of certainty to work on a larger immigration deal.
Even before he spoke, however, the deal appeared to be a non-starter for Democrats. Leaders insisted Trump needs to open the government before beginning any negotiations over border security or barrier funding. Trump is seeking $5.7 billion for border-wall funding.
Before the speech, based on initial reports, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump’s demands “a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable.” She added that Trump’s proposal does not “represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people’s lives.”
Some 800,000 federal workers throughout the country have either been furloughed or made to work without pay. Workers have now missed one paycheck and will miss another if the shutdown is not resolved in the next week. Trump has signed legislation to give back pay to federal workers once the government is reopened.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged to put Trump’s proposal up for a vote in the Senate this week.
“Everyone has made their point—now it’s time to make a law,” McConnell said in a statement shortly after the speech. “I intend to move to this legislation this week. With bipartisan cooperation, the Senate can send a bill to the House quickly so that they can take action as well. The situation for furloughed employees isn’t getting any brighter and the crisis at the border isn’t improved by show votes. But the president’s plan is a path toward addressing both issues quickly.”
The Trump administration had moved to end an Obama-era initiative known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which protects some immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children from being deported. But, the decision was challenged in court and is currently held up in legal proceedings.
Trump’s offer is based, in part, on bipartisan legislation, known as the BRIDGE Act, which would give three years of protections to Dreamers. This is the latest move by the White House in the midst of it’s showdown with Democrats, who have balked at providing the money for construction of a border wall. Democrats contend that Trump’s push for the wall is immoral and that it is an ineffective way to stop illegal crossings.
Trump argues a wall is necessary for national security. He has refused to sign any spending bill without the funding. The president has dug in on wall funding, resulting in a government shutdown beginning in late December. The president had indicated he would sign temporary funding measures to keep the government open, but then he faced a backlash in conservative media over it.
The government has been partially shut down for weeks during this standoff. It’s currently the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
Until now, the White House had said it would be open to negotiating on the amount of money it will accept for a wall, but has been noncommittal about offering other concessions to Democrats.
Almost a year ago, Democrats offered some $25 billion in exchange for a path to citizenship for those almost 700,000 DACA recipients. Democrats say Trump balked at the offer, demanding more after Democrats thought they had a deal.
Democrats have passed several bills out of the House to fund and reopen agencies that are currently shutdown. McConnell has not brought them to the floor of the Senate, deferring instead to the need for negotiations between Trump and Democrats.