The Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. President Donald Trump’s long list of immigration demands has landed with a thud among lawmakers hopeful for a deal to protect hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation.
The list of demands released late Sunday includes funding for a southern border wall and a crackdown on so-called sanctuary cities — items that are cheered by the president’s most loyal supporters, but are non-starters among Democrats and could divide Republicans, who will have to come together on any deal.
The demands have left pro-immigration activists alarmed. And some are scratching their heads, given that the president appeared to sign off on a more palatable deal with Democrats just weeks ago.
“To stall the progress that Democrats and Republicans have been fostering in giving permanent relief to more than 800,000 DREAMers is sabotage,” said U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat and frequent Trump critic.
House and Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle have said they want to find a legislative solution to extend protections first granted under former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. Trump announced last month that he was phasing out DACA, but gave Congress six months to act before recipients’ work permits begin to expire.
Trump suggested at the time that he was eager for a deal, telling reporters, “I have a love for these people and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly.”
Days later, he appeared to reach the broad outlines of an agreement with the House and Senate’s top Democrats, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, in which the president would be open to extended DACA protections in exchange for a package of border security measures. While Trump made clear that he still expected funding for his border wall, he said repeatedly that the funding could come later, in separate legislation.
In a joint statement Sunday night, Pelosi and Schumer said Trump could not “be serious about” the plan the White House had unveiled, which includes not only the wall, but dozens of other controversial measures, including a crackdown on unaccompanied immigrant minors and a complete overhaul of the legal immigration system.
Some of those who hope to see DACA protections extended said they remain optimistic the president will show flexibility, treating the priorities as a policy wish-list and starting point for negotiation.
Others see the demands as part of a plot orchestrated by Trump’s chief policy adviser, Stephen Miller, an immigration hardliner, to derail any chance of a DACA deal.
“I don’t think President Trump wants to be the president who deports 700,000 young people,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, who described the list as a “big torpedo” to bipartisan negotiations already under way.