Trump immigration plan unites all sides in opposition
Two young "dreamer" immigrants were joined by Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas outside the Capitol building on Friday to urge lawmakers for their support. (Jan. 19) AP
President Trump has finally united Republicans and Democrats — but not in the way he wants.
This week's release of a new White House immigration overhaul plan brought Democrats, Republicans, immigration advocates, immigration opponents and moderates searching for a compromise together on one thing: strong opposition.
The plan, laid out by Trump's senior policy adviser, Stephen Miller, would provide a path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million undocumented "DREAMers" brought to the U.S. as children in exchange for $25 billion to expand a wall on the Mexican border and a nearly 25% reduction in legal immigration.
Allowing DREAMers to become citizens has enraged conservatives. Breitbart, the web site previously run by Trump's former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, ran a headline blasting "Amnesty Don." The Center for Immigration Studies, which has advised the White House on ways to reduce immigration, dubbed the proposal "The Art of the Choke."
"This #Amnesty deal negotiates away American Sovereignty," Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, a leading immigration critic, complained on Twitter.
Liberals were equally upset by the idea of a sharp cut in family-based legal immigration, or what Trump refers to as "chain migration." Democrats in Congress have expressed a willingness to negotiate a reduction in the roughly 1 million permanent residency visas the country grants each year, but not as sharply as Trump proposes.
The White House would limit U.S. citizen sponsorship to spouses and minor children allowed to enter the U.S., eliminating the long-standing practice of sponsoring extended families — parents, adult children, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and grandchildren. That would cut about 260,000 visas a year, according an analysis of Department of Homeland Security data.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., said Hispanics would be hardest hit by that change. Instead of building a wall, "it would be far cheaper to erect a 50-foot concrete statue of a middle finger and point it towards Latin America," Gutierrez tweeted.
The uproar comes at a critical time in the negotiations over the future of DREAMers.
Last September, Trump began phasing out President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which has protected nearly 800,000 DREAMers from deportation and granted them work permits. DACA ends March 5.
Democrats and some Republicans in Congress are trying to find a long-term solution for those DREAMers before the March deadline, but negotiations have been so contentious that they prompted to a three-day government shutdown last weekend. Another shutdown looms if the two sides can't agree on a spending bill and a DREAMer compromise by Feb. 8, when a short-term budget to keep the government operating runs out of money.