It seems like the worst fears of some immigration hardliners may soon come to pass. On Thursday, the White House sent one of Trump’s closest advisers, Stephen Miller, to deliver some unhappy news to the Republican congressional caucus.
Miller seems to have been chosen because he’s long been seen as the administration’s most “hard-lined” anti-immigration member. But on Thursday, he was informing Republicans in Congress that the President was preparing to offer a deal that would grant amnesty (and a path to citizenship) for the 800,000 or so DACA DREAMers but would also offer the same opportunity to the 1 million + illegals who met the criteria to be a DREAMer but never registered.
A White House immigration framework set to be introduced next week includes a path to citizenship for roughtly 1.8 million younger illegal immigrants, a top administration official said Thursday.
The plan outlines the Trump administration’s wish list for a bill to replace the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era executive amnesty act that protected roughly 790,000 illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
In exchange for a path to citizenship — what immigration hawks would call amnesty — the White House is asking for $25 billion to fully fund the border wall, an end to chain migration and ending the visa lottery system. The provisions were outlined in a conference call between a top White House aide and House Republican staff, according to Politico.
The White House framework is based on previously released administration demands for a DACA compromise bill. But the number of younger illegal immigrants to be covered by the proposal is new, and far higher than the number that received DACA protections.
White House officials said Thursday the new proposal is “a compromise position that we believe … will get 60 votes in the Senate” and “a framework that ultimately will lead to passage of a law.”
Democrats have been seeking a bill that covers DACA recipients, and as many as 2 million similarly situated illegal immigrants who did not apply or did not qualify for the Obama amnesty.
The White House proposals appears to be an effort to split the difference between the Democratic demand and a conservative immigration reform bill from House Republicans, which was limited to roughly 700,000 existing DACA beneficiaries.
This news was first reported yesterday by CBS News, but has now also been independently verified by the Washington Post, Bloomberg, and the Daily Beast, and Republicans have already been coming down on one side or the other of the deal.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) was quick to blast the deal and explain that this DACA amnesty was even further to the left of President Obama’s planned amnesty which didn’t offer a path to citizenship!
“I do not believe we should be granting a path to citizenship to anybody here illegally,” the Texas Republican said in the Capitol. “Doing so is inconsistent with the promises we made to the men and women who elected us”…
Cruz said that President Barack Obama’s 2012 creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which included included temporary work permits and deportation relief for young people that met certain criteria, didn’t provide a path to citizenship.
“For some reason that to me is utterly inexplicable, we see Republicans falling all over themselves to gallop to the left of Obama in a way that is contrary to the promises made to the voters who elected us,” Cruz said. “We need to honor the promises we made. And that is what I am energetically urging my colleagues to do.”
Even Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) who has been hammered as weak on illegal immigration in the past, wondered if the deal didn’t give far too much to the Democrats. Rubio argued that now that the GOP had control of all three chambers they had the leverage to get a better deal done, and he signaled that he was not ready to support the White House’s amnesty deal.
“I don’t believe that what we’re going to end up doing here can be a product of a gang,” Rubio said. “There won’t be a 12-person gang. What we do here cannot be a product of a group of people that come out of a room and say: ‘This is a direction we’re going.’”
In fact, other senators say Rubio prefers a more conservative approach than the bipartisan group…
“The difference between now and ‘13 is that there’s a Republican in the White House and a Republican majority in the Senate,” Rubio said. “The 2013 bill was designed through the context of a Democratic Senate and a Democratic president. Now we have a Republican Senate, a Republican House and a Republican president.”
However, the plan does have at least one fan in the GOP… Lindsay Graham (or should I say “Grahamnesty”).
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) January 25, 2018
The backlash from the Congressional GOP that seemed willing to negotiate on DACA should be worrisome for the White House, but their plan may well have been to entice the Democrat caucus to vote for this deal and then try to snag a few GOP members into the fold as well. If that is the path they choose it may work, but the President may have to give more than he expected to get the Democrats to go along because they are already hand-wringing about seeing the WALL get built.
Leading Democrats and their activist supporters have responded to the White House immigration framework with near-unanimous scorn, calling it a betrayal of American values cooked up by a “white supremacist” cabal in the administration.
Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, who for nearly two decades has sought a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, accused President Donald Trump of waging a “crusade to tear families apart” and declared the plan a nonstarter.
Durbin’s rhetoric was exceeded by fellow Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus firebrand who has been arrested multiple times while leading protests agitating for ‘Dreamer’ amnesty. Gutierrez said Trump’s request for $25 billion to build a border wall amounted to a “ransom” for DACA recipients and a personal insult to future Hispanic immigrants.
It would be far cheaper to erect a 50-foot concrete statue of a middle finger and point it towards Latin America. Both a wall and the statue would be equally offensive and equally ineffective and both would express Trump’s deeply held suspicion of Latinos. https://t.co/R8g4iRHzYX
— Luis V. Gutierrez (@RepGutierrez) January 25, 2018
Not to be outdone, United We Dream, the largest “immigrant youth network” in the country, managed to synthesize a number of talking points into a single scathing response to the White House plan.
“Let’s call this proposal for what it is: a white supremacist ransom note,” the group said in a statement. “Trump and [White House aide] Stephen Miller killed DACA and created the crisis that immigrant youth are facing. They have taken immigrant youth hostage, pitting us against our own parents, Black immigrants and our communities in exchange for our dignity.”
While both the mass of the GOP and the Democrats seem to be uneasy about this deal, the most recent polls show that most Americans (on the right and left) support all of the major planks that have been announced.
The White House immigration plan, teased Thursday as a DACA compromise that could meet a 60-vote threshold in the Senate, consists of four pillars. It would end the diversity visa lottery, pare down family visas to spouses and minor children, and set up a $25 billion trust fund to build the border wall. In exchange, about 1.8 million younger illegal immigrants — the number of people eligible for DACA under the program’s original guidelines — would be offered a path to citizenship.
Polling shows widespread support for nearly all of the provisions in the White House framework. A Harvard-Harris poll released earlier this week found that 81 percent of voters support reducing annual immigration from its current level of more than 1 million per year, including 63 percent who want it cut by at least half.
Nearly 70 percent of all voters think the green card lottery, which randomly allots 50,000 immigrant visas to people from countries with low immigration to the U.S., is a bad idea. That figure includes 62 percent of Democratic voters, 61 percent of Hispanic voters, and 57 percent of black voters, according to the Harvard-Harris Poll.
As for border security, the administration’s proposal to build a physical wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border has struggled to crack 50 percent support among all voters. But a majority of voters — 54 percent — support building a “combination of physical and electronic barriers” across the southwest border. That description lines up with the public statements of top administration officials, including Trump himself, who have conceded that a contiguous border wall is not necessary.
Finally, rolling all of the border security and immigration reforms into a deal that gives DACA recipients a path to citizenship, as the White House immigration framework does, is an overwhelmingly popular plan. The Harvard-Harris poll found that two-thirds of all voters favor such a deal, including 68 percent of Hispanic voters and 64 percent of black voters.
While the deal may eventually be accepted and the DACA DREAMers may eventually be amnestied and given their path to citizenship, one wonders how this deal could affect the President’s standing with his base. He was nominated on the back of his promises to fight illegal immigration and to take a hard-line stance on the issue, yet here he is, one year later, offering to amnesty the DACA DREAMers.
I guess the question is, does this change your view of President Trump?