Trump Offers 'Breakthrough' on Immigration Deal

A protest against the abolition of DACA in New York in September 2017

Ted Cruz opposed the plan, telling reporters at the Capitol that "I do not believe we should be granting a path to citizenship to anybody here illegally".

Trump said his proposal would include a request for $25 billion for the border wall, $5 billion for other border security programs, measures to curb family sponsorship of immigrants, and an overhaul of or end to the visa lottery system. Three White House officials previewed the framework on the condition of anonymity ahead of a formal announcement. "Some Republicans will, too", said Frank Sharry, the executive director of Americas Voice, a pro-immigration group.

The president's willingness to sign a bill that includes a pathway to citizenship is a shift from his campaign promise to end all "amnesty" for undocumented immigrants.

But immediately after Trump spoke, a senior White House official stressed the idea of a pathway to citizenship so-called Dreamers was just a "discussion point" in the plan that the White House meant to preview to the House and Senate later Wednesday.

Even if Republicans and Democrats in the Senate - newly emboldened to work together after a government shutdown - can find a resolution, there's no guarantee the President would embrace their plan.

"The president's framework is generous and humane, while also being responsible", Sen. Republicans narrowly control the chamber by 51-49 and need Democratic votes to pass legislation.

The fight over protections for Dreamers, which are set to expire in March, was part of the standoff between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate that resulted in a three-day government shutdown that ended on Monday. The officials said Trump would only sign legislation providing those protections if the other immigration changes he is proposing are implemented. "If you don't have a wall, you don't have DACA", Trump said.

The White House plan comes as Congress negotiates the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

Trump expressed confidence a deal can be reached on the issue, and said he'd like to see one hammered out by the time he returns from Davos, Switzerland, on Friday.


Immigrants would no longer be able to sponsor their parents, siblings or adult children to join them in the U.S. Sponsorship would be limited to spouses and minor children, dramatically limiting immigration categories. Just two weeks ago, the President had said he'd accept any bipartisan immigration deal in a highly publicized meeting, only to skewer a major bipartisan proposal brought to him two days later.

The plan would give provisional status to the 690,000 young people covered by the "DACA" today, and that group would eventually qualify for citizenship, according to Trump. Legal status could be revoked in the event of criminal conduct, public safety or national security concerns, fraud, or if the person becomes financially dependent on the government.

"You'll have wives and husbands and you'll have sons and daughters, and you'll talk about parents, the parents is a tricky situation because they came here illegally", Trump said. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who has championed the cause of the Dreamers, said the plan put Trump's "entire hardline immigration agenda - including massive cuts to legal immigration - on the backs of these young people".

Democrats are also watching Trump closely. He said the time frame would be over 10 to 12 years.

Trump had previously ruled out the idea of citizenship for the immigrants known as Dreamers, saying last September: "We're not looking at citizenship".

The Durbin-Graham proposal would have reallocated the diversity lottery visas to some of the hundreds of thousands of immigrants already in the United States who have temporary protected status allowing them to remain because it is deemed too unsafe for them to return to their home countries.

Sanctuary cities, which generally refuse to hold people on immigration agents' behalf without a warrant from a judge, have pushed back hard over the past year on the administration's attempts to force them to abandon their stance by cutting off federal funding to them.

Many Republicans, especially in the House, oppose any legalization proposals as "amnesty", while Democrats resist many of Trump's proposed restrictions on legal immigration programs and a southern border wall. Instead, the visas would be allocated for family-based and high-skilled employment visas, both of which are considered to have a backlog.

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