SUNDAY TIMES WEB DESK:Insisting on his demand for $5.7 billion to fund a U.S.-Mexico border barrier as part of any bill to fully reopen the government, Trump sought to pile pressure on Democrats by appealing to immigrants they have tried to help.
In a speech from the White House, Trump offered three years of protections for young undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers,” as well as for holders of temporary protected status (TPS), another class of immigrants.
Decrying what he called a “badly broken” U.S. immigration system, Trump said, “I am here today to break the logjam and provide Congress with a path forward to end the government shutdown and solve the crisis along the southern border.”
But the protections he proposed fell far short of the path to citizenship for Dreamers that Democrats and some Republicans in Congress have been urging for years.
In a statement after Trump’s speech, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called the plan a “bold solution to reopen the government, secure the border, and take bipartisan steps toward addressing current immigration issues.”
A spokesman for McConnell said he would seek Senate passage of the proposal next week.
Democrats insisted talks on border security occur only after the government is reopened. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said, “It was the president who singled-handedly took away DACA and TPS protections in the first place. Offering some protections back in exchange for the wall is not a compromise but more hostage taking.”
Even before Trump spoke, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said his offer as reported in advance was “unacceptable,” did not “represent a good-faith effort to restore certainty to people’s lives,” and was unlikely to gain the votes needed to pass the House or the Senate.
About a quarter of the U.S. government has been partially shut down since Dec. 22, as funding has expired for reasons mostly unrelated to the border or immigration.