Washington • In a bid to break the shutdown impasse and fund his long-promised border wall, President Donald Trump on Saturday offered to extend temporary protection for young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children. But while Trump cast the move as a “common-sense compromise,” Democrats were quick to dismiss it at a “non-starter.”
Trump declared in a statement from the White House that he was "here today to break the logjam and provide Congress with a path forward to end the government shutdown and solve the crisis on the southern border."
In advance of Trump's remarks, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the expected proposal for ending the 29-day partial government shutdown was "a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable." The California Democrat said Trump's expected offer was "not a good-faith effort" to help the immigrants and could not pass the House.
Seeking to cast the plan as a bipartisan way forward, Trump said he had support from "rank-and-file" Democrats, as top Democrats made clear they had not been consulted. He also said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would bring the legislation to a vote this week, though Democrats appeared likely to block it. McConnell had previously stated that no vote should be held in the Senate until Trump and Democrats agreed on a bill.
Trump listed a series of White House immigration funding demands, including $5.7 billion for the wall he argues is needed on humanitarian and security grounds. He said it would not be a concrete structure "from sea to shining sea," but rather "steel barriers in high-priority locations."
To ensure wall funding, Trump said he would extend protections for young people brought to the country illegally as children, known as "Dreamers," as well as for those with temporary protected status after fleeing countries affected by natural disasters or violence.
Administration officials said the protections would apply only to those currently in the Obama-era program shielding them from deportation, and the temporary protected status would apply to those who currently have it and have been in the U.S. since 2011. That means people from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Haiti — countries that saw the status revoked since Trump took office — would get a reprieve.
Democrats criticized Trump’s proposal because it didn’t seem to be a permanent solution for those immigrants and because it includes money for the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which the party strongly opposes. Democrats also want Trump to reopen government before talks can start.