The White House released a set of principles late Sunday that could threaten a deal currently in Congress which would allow hundreds of thousands of young, undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released a joint statement denouncing the administration's proposed list of compromises. “The administration can't be serious about compromise or helping the Dreamers if they begin with a list that is anathema to the Dreamers, to the immigrant community and to the vast majority of Americans,” they said in their response. “We told the President at our meeting that we were open to reasonable border security measures...but this list goes so far beyond what is reasonable. This proposal fails to represent any attempt at compromise.”
With list items including funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall, restrictions on federal grants to sanctuary cities, and cuts to legal immigration as well, the list represents a significant stricture of immigration laws as reported by The Washington Post.
Last month, President Trump announced plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Obama-era program, which has roughly 690,000 people currently enrolled, provides a two-year work permit enabling young, undocumented immigrants to remain in the country.
Early on, Trump made tightening border security one of his main objectives alongside the centerpiece of his campaign which was to protect public safety and jobs for American-born workers. So far he has done this through a series of executive orders, including numerous revisions of a travel ban and an increase in deportations. Repealing DACA is one of many ways he has attempted to realize this goal.
In a press release accompanying the list of principles, Trump also called on Congress to cut funding from specific grants and agreements in order to punish sanctuary cities "that refuse to cooperate with Federal authorities," according to The Hill.
Democrats had hoped that Trump would be open drafting an adapted legislative deal to protect Dreamers as he has said publicly that he did not expect a DACA deal to include funding for a border wall. However, ensuring funding for the wall – which is estimated to cost more than $25 billion – is the first priority listed in the newly released set of principles. Though Trump had threatened to end DACA since his presidential campaign, he held off for months after taking office, saying that the decision was among the most difficult he faced. It wasn't until several states including Texas announced a plan to sue the administration over the program that Trump made a move to end it.
This is a major step back in the negotiations for reinstituting a version of DACA. How steadfastly the White House will push for the items on this list remains to be seen.