US President Donald Trump has launched a new “compromise” plan to end a prolonged and crippling government shutdown by offering protection from deportations for some 700,000 undocumented immigrants in exchange for a whopping USD 5.7 billion for constructing a controversial wall on the US-Mexico border.
The Democrats, however, rejected the deal as a “non-starter” and called on Trump to open the federal government departments that have been shut for nearly a month before negotiations on immigration could start.
Trump, who made his offer during a televised speech from the White House, offered that he would give protection for some 700,000 young people brought to the country illegally as children — also known as ‘Dreamers’ — and also extend it to some 300,000 with temporary protected status after fleeing countries affected by natural disasters or violence.
The president also called for USD 800 million in “urgent humanitarian assistance” and USD 805 million for drug detection technology to help secure US ports of entry. Trump also proposed a slew of measures to increase border security, including an increase in law enforcement, saying he was offering a “commonsense compromise both parties (Republicans and Democrats) should embrace.”
The president said these concessions would “build the trust and goodwill necessary to begin real immigration reform.” The divide between the Trump-led Republican Party and the Democratic Party led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the border wall led to the partial shutdown, which has rendered 800,000 federal government workers without work and crippled key departments. The shutdown — the longest in the US history– entered its 29th day, as Trump Saturday made the announcements. “Both sides in Washington must simply come together,” Trump said in a White House speech, adding he is trying to “break the logjam.” “It is time to reclaim our future from the extreme voices who fear compromise and demand open borders, which means drugs pouring in, human trafficking and a lot of crime,” he said.
Trump said he is here today to “break the logjam” and provide Congress with a path forward to end the shutdown and solve the crisis on the border. The president said his proposals were “reasonable with lots of compromise” and would “build trust and goodwill”. Defending his plan for the border wall, he said, “The radical left can never control our borders. Walls are not immoral, in fact, they are the opposite of immoral because they will save many lives.”
Trump said he proposes “three years of legislative relief for 700,000 DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients brought here unlawfully by their parents at a young age many years ago”. The Dreamers are currently protected from deportation under a programme that allows them to work but not get citizenship. It is a programme Trump has been trying to rescind. But he said he would extend protection for Dreamers for another three years, allowing them continued access to work permits, social security numbers and protection from deportation.
The DACA allows such people to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and become eligible for a work permit.
“Our proposal provides a three-year extension of Temporary Protected Status. This means, 300,000 immigrants whose protected status is facing expiration will now have three more years of certainty so that Congress can work on a larger immigration deal, which everybody wants — Republicans and Democrats,” Trump said. He said farmers and vineyards will not be affected because lawful and regulated entry into the country will be easy and consistent.
The president pushed for the USD 5.7 billion to fund the “strategic deployment” of a barrier system or wall on the US’ southern border, saying this is not a 2,000-mile concrete structure from sea to sea. “These are steel barriers in high priority locations” and much of the border is already protected by mountains and water,” Trump said. Trump said that once the government is open, he will hold weekly bipartisan meetings to reform the immigration system.
The divide between the Republicans and Democrats and the shutdown are fallouts of Trump refusing to sign spending bills without the USD 5.7 billion to start constructing the border wall. The Democrats appeared unimpressed by his proposal and dismissed it. “The president has taken pride in shutting down the government. Now, he must take action to open up government,” Pelosi said. Trump’s proposal is a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable and in total, do not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people’s lives, she said.
“It is unlikely that any one of these provisions alone would pass the House, and taken together, they are a non-starter. For one thing, this proposal does not include the permanent solution for the Dreamers and TPS recipients that our country needs and supports,” Pelosi said.
Senate Minority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer said it’s clear the president realizes that by closing the government and hurting so many American workers and their families, he has put himself and the country in an untenable position. Trump’s remarks failed to acknowledge the pain and suffering he has caused to federal workers, contractors, and millions of US citizens, Democratic senators Mark R Warner and Tim Kaine said