Trump administration's immigration policy wish list could derail deal to protect 'dreamers'

By on
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the violence, injuries and deaths at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville as he talks to the media in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., August 15, 2017. Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

The Trump administration has sent an immigration policy wish-list to Congress that could threaten to derail efforts to allow young undocumented immigrants to remain legally in the United States. It includes the funding of a wall along the US-Mexico border.

The demands were sent to lawmakers on Sunday. It also called for limiting family-based green cards to spouses and the minor children of US citizens and lawful residents.

The White House said it wants to make it easier to deport unaccompanied children and gang members, boost fees at border crossings, overhaul the asylum system and employ 10,000 more immigration officers. It was unclear whether the principles were intended as particular demands the White House expects implemented in exchange for legislation that would protect the “dreamers” or a comprehensive outline of goals.

US President Donald Trump has given Congress six months to find a replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, CBS News reports. The program, which was initiated by former US President Barack Obama, protected young people from deportation and allowed them to continue to work legally in the US.

Democrats have contested several demands presented in the administration list. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi released a joint statement to argue that the list "goes so far beyond what is reasonable.” The statement reads, "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."

White House aides told reporters the proposals were necessary to protect public safety and jobs for American-born workers. They also emphasized that they expect Congress to include the principles in any package deal, The Washington Post reports.

White House legislative director Marc Short reportedly said in a conference call that they ask for the priorities included in any deal for DACA. Immigration hard-liners also expressed support for Trump administration's immigration proposals.

Trump has moved to tense up border security through executive orders. These included curbs on immigration and refugees from majority-Muslim countries and a rise in deportations.

A spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan said the House immigration working group will review the list. It will also consult with Republican members and the administration.

Around 690,000 immigrants are enrolled in the DACA program. Their work permits are expected to start expiring in March.

PBS NewsHour/YouTube