WASHINGTON (AP) — 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.”
Seeking to cast the plan as a bipartisan way forward, Trump said Saturday he was incorporating ideas 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.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer described the proposal as simply “more hostage taking.”
The proposal was met with immediate criticism by some conservative corners, including NumbersUSA, which seeks to reduce legal and illegal immigration. “The offer the President announced today is a loser for the forgotten American workers who were central to his campaign promises,” said Roy Beck, the group’s president.
At the other end of the political spectrum, Trump’s offer was panned by progressive groups, with Anthony Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, calling it a “one-sided proposal.”
Trump embraced the shutdown in December in large part because of angry warnings from his most ardent supporters that he was passing up on his last, best shot to build the wall before Democrat took control of the House. After his announcement Saturday, some supporters appeared unhappy with his effort to bridge the divide with Democrats.
“Trump proposes amnesty,” tweeted conservative firebrand Ann Coulter. “We voted for Trump and got Jeb!”
White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney insisted that declaring a national emergency to circumvent Congress — Trump has threatened to do so — remains on the table, but said the “best way to fix this is through legislation.”
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 disasters or violence.
Trump previously dismissed a deal involving those young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, saying he would prefer to see first whether the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, survived a court challenge.