Twenty-nine days into the partial government shutdown, President Donald Trump is offering protections for certain immigrants, including Dreamers, in exchange for funding for the border wall — but Democratic leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have already turned down the proposal, calling it a “non-starter.”
Trump announced a plan on Saturday afternoon, calling for 2,750 new Border Patrol officers and law enforcement agents, 75 new federal immigration judge teams, $805 million (£626m) for drug detection technology, and $800 million (£622m) for what he calls “urgent humanitarian assistance” (he did not clarify what this money will specifically be used for). His demand for $5.7 billion (£4.5bn) in funding for a border wall — which he described as “steel barriers in high priority locations,” rather than a concrete structure — remains unchanged.
Trump’s proposal offers a three-year extension of temporary protected status for 300,000 immigrants in the United States and three years of proposed “legislative relief” for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, which will include allowing work permits and protection from deportation. The proposal also allows asylum seekers who are minors to apply from their home countries. Trump said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he expects to introduce the legislation to Congress next week.
In a statement ahead of Saturday’s announcement, Pelosi said Trump’s proposed initiatives are “unacceptable” and “do not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people’s lives.” She said that his plan is unlikely to pass through either the House or the Senate.
An estimated 800,000 government employees remain without pay as Trump and Congress fail to reach an agreement over funding a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. The New York Times reports that House Democrats added over $1 billion in border-related spending to a bill package on January 18 that would reopen most of the federal government if passed.
The funds in the Democratic bill package would not go towards building a wall, as Trump has demanded, but instead reportedly aims at funding existing border security and federal immigration courts. That legislation is also expected to go up for a vote next week.
An anonymous source told the Times that roughly half of the proposed funding would go towards “additional infrastructure” at ports of entry at the southern border. The other half would be allotted to fund 75 immigration judges who would hear migrants’ asylum cases and help expedite a massive backlog of pending cases.
Pelosi said Democrats also support technology to scan for drugs, weapons, and contraband at the border, and more personnel to fill over 3,000 “customs and border patrol vacancies.”
Relations between Republicans and Democrats have been tense since the shutdown began. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been leading efforts to hold Republican leaders accountable for the impasse (her latest attempt to track McConnell down went viral under the hashtag #WheresMitch), and Pelosi asked Trump to call off his annual State of the Union address until the government reopens.
Meanwhile, just hours before Saturday’s announcement, Trump claimed Pelosi is “being controlled by the radical left.” On Friday, in response to Pelosi’s request to postpone the SOTU, Trump also tweeted his criticism of her plan to visit troops abroad in Afghanistan this coming week and would not allow her to use a military plane for the trip. Pelosi has since postponed her visit, per the Times.