Democrats re­buff Trump on ‘Dream­ers’ for wall money


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 so-called “Dream­ers,” the young peo­ple brought to the U.S. il­le­gally as chil­dren. But while Trump cast the move as a “com­mon­sense com­pro­mise,” Democrats were quick to dis­miss it at a “non-starter.”

Trump de­clared from the White House that “both sides in Wash­ing­ton must sim­ply come to­gether,” adding that he was there “to break the log­jam and pro­vide Con­gress with a path for­ward to end the govern­ment shut­down and solve the cri­sis on the south­ern bor­der.”

Hop­ing to put pres­sure on Democrats, the White House billed the an­nounce­ment as a ma­jor step for­ward. But Trump did not budge on his $5.7 bil­lion de­mand for the wall and, in essence, of­fered to tem­po­rar­ily roll-back some of his own hawk­ish im­mi­gra­tion ac­tions – ac­tions that have been blocked by fed­eral courts.

Fol­low­ing a week marked by his pointed clashes with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it was not clear whether Trump’s of­fer would lead to se­ri­ous steps to re­open the govern­ment, shut for a record 29 days. Trump’s move came as hun­dreds of thou­sands of fed­eral work­ers go with­out pay­checks, with many en­dur­ing fi­nan­cial hard­ship.

Democrats dis­missed Trump’s pro­posal even be­fore

his for­mal re­marks. Pelosi said ear­lier in the day that the ex­pected pro­posal was “a com­pi­la­tion of sev­eral pre­vi­ously re­jected ini­tia­tives, each of which is un­ac­cept­able.” The Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat said the ef­fort could not pass the House and again called on Trump to re­open the govern­ment.

Democrats made their own move late Fri­day to break the im­passe when they pledged to pro­vide hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars more for bor­der se­cu­rity.

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.”

Trump’s re­marks from the Diplo­matic Room marked the sec­ond time he has ad­dressed the na­tion as the par­tial shut­down drags on. On this oc­ca­sion, he sought to strike a diplo­matic tone, em­pha­siz­ing trust and the need to work across the aisle. But he still main­tained that a bor­der bar­rier was needed to block what he de­scribes as the flow of drugs and crime into the coun­try.

The pro­posal was met with im­me­di­ate crit­i­cism by some con­ser­va­tive corners, in­clud­ing Num­ber­sUSA, which seeks to re­duce both le­gal and il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion to the U.S. “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 “onesided 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 in the new year.

In a brief­ing with re­porters, Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence de­fended the pro­posal from crit­i­cism from the right.

White House act­ing chief of staff Mick Mul­vaney in­sisted that declar­ing a na­tional emer­gency to cir­cum­vent Con­gress re­mains on the ta­ble, but added that the “best way to fix this is through leg­is­la­tion.”

Mul­vaney also sought to in­crease the pres­sure on con­gres­sional Democrats in ad­vance of Tues­day, the dead­line for the next fed­eral pay pe­riod.

Trump’s son-in-law and se­nior aide, Jared Kush­ner, has led the work on the pro­pos­als, said three peo­ple fa­mil­iar with White House think­ing who were not au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly. Some said Pence and Mul­vaney and Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary Kirst­jen Nielsen were in­volved, too.

To en­sure wall fund­ing, Trump said he would ex­tend pro­tec­tions for “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.


Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump speaks about the par­tial govern­ment shut­down, im­mi­gra­tion and bor­der se­cu­rity in the Diplo­matic Re­cep­tion Room of the White House on Satur­day.

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