The White House is trying to implement sweeping restrictions on immigration while Democrats in Congress continue to fight for principles of inclusion
It appears that US President Donald Trump will go into his first State of the Union address Tuesday without having solved the ongoing immigration debate, which has caused uproar in Congress, a brief government shutdown and numerous protests.
Much of the debate centers on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which grants a path of citizenship to people who were brought to the US at a young age by their illegal immigrant parents. The program affects nearly 700,000 people, all of whom would theoretically have to be deported if it comes to an end.
Over the last week, President Trump has shifted his stance on DACA considerably, even going so far as to say he wants to help “Dreamers” with a “bill of love.” Furthermore, Trump said that Dreamers have nothing to worry about. Democrats are weary of promises coming from the White House.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, of New York, said working with Trump on immigration is like “negotiating with Jell-O”. Moreover, other Democrats have publically lamented the influence of White House aide Stephen Miller and his hardline immigration beliefs, which seem to be influencing Trump.
What is Trump proposing?
President Trump met with Senator Schumer late last week to propose a deal that would give 1.8 million undocumented young people a 10- to-12 year path to citizenship. In exchange, the White House wants to impose steep restrictions on the country’s current immigration system by stepping up the arrest and removal of “criminal aliens, gang members, violent offenders, and aggravated felons,” as well as expanding the work force in anti-immigration agencies.
The White House also requested $25 billion in funding for the construction of a wall along the border with Mexico. Officials clarified that the project would not actually cost that much, but rather allow for additional anti-immigration funding once it was completed.
The more extreme members of President Trump’s own party have expressed disapproval of the plan, accusing the White House of granting amnesty to illegal immigrants and breaking campaign promises to President Trump’s central base. Many Democrats have called the plan hateful.
“Unfortunately, this plan flies in the face of what most Americans believe,” Senator Schumer tweeted on Friday. “While (Trump) finally acknowledged that the Dreamers should be allowed to stay here and become citizens, he uses them as a tool to tear apart our legal immigration system and adopt the wish list that anti-immigration hardliners have advocated for years.”
Congress only managed to end a three-day government shutdown last Monday because Republicans agreed to discuss DACA in early February, when Congress will have to try and vote on a long-term funding bill again. As that date approaches, it’s unclear whether Democrats will accept the deal or force Republicans to backtrack on some of their more hardline immigration beliefs.
Pro-immigration activists on the left have been organizing protests calling on Congress to shut down the government again should no deal be reached come February 8.
President Trump, with record-low approval ratings and few legislative accomplishments, would prefer to avoid a shutdown if possible. He is reportedly expected to use Tuesday’s State of the Union to call for unity and bipartisanship. However, the mandatary is also expected to push for the same funding for his wall that Democrats have already rejected.
LatinAmerican Post | Max Radwin
Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza