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Trump proposes 3-year DACA extension in exchange for $5.7B for border wall to end shutdown

President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, addresses his remarks at the Pentagon Thursday, January 17, 2019, announcing the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Review. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)
January 19, 2019

In a rare Saturday address from the White House, President Donald Trump addressed what he called a “humanitarian and security crisis” at the southern U.S. border, and he proposed a compromise to Congressional Democrats in order to end the partial government shutdown that is now in its 29th day – the longest lapse of federal funding in history.

Trump outlined his latest proposal that he says Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will bring forth this week. His proposal includes allowing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and temporary protected status (TPS) programs for some immigrants to temporarily continue, in exchange for the nearly $6 billion he wants for border security.

The proposal includes $5.7 billion for strategic deployment of physical barriers, or steel slats, along key points of the U.S. borer with Mexico; $800 million in “urgent humanitarian assistance;” $805 million for drug detection technology; an additional 2,750 border agents and law enforcement officials; and 75 new immigration judge teams in order to reduce the court backlog of nearly 900,000 immigration cases, Trump said.

In exchange for that, the proposal includes three years of legislative relief for 700,000 DACA recipients, or “dreamers,” “brought here unlawfully by their parents many years ago,” Trump said, which would mean they would have access to apply for work permits, Social Security numbers and be temporarily protected from deportation.

It also provides a three-year extension of TPS, meaning “300,000 immigrants whose protected status is facing expiration will now have three more years of certainty so Congress can work on an immigration deal,” Trump explained.

“This is a common sense compromise both parties should embrace,” the President pointed out. “The radical left can never control our borders. I will never let it happen. Walls are not immoral. In fact, they are the opposite – they will save many lives.”

Trump said the plan – which provides for border security, DACA, TPS and “many other things” – is “straightforward, fair, reasonable and common sense.”

“Whatever we do, I can promise you this: I will never forget that my first duty and loyalty is to you, the American people,” the President added. “Any reforms we make to our immigration system will be designed to improve your lives.”

It had been reported prior to the President’s speech that Democrats were calling the proposal a “non-starter.”

Trump last year around this time said DACA would not be restored if a border wall wasn’t funded.

Trump then last March signed a $1.3 billion appropriations bill that did not include funding for a border wall or DACA; he said he considered vetoing the bill but signed it in order to fund the government.

This year, Trump has not budged on his promise of better border security, something he also campaigned on.

“As a candidate, I promised I would fix this crisis. I intend to keep that promise one way or the other,” Trump said Saturday. “Our immigration system should be the subject of pride, not a source of shame that it is all over the world.”

“It can be solved – but only if we have the political courage to do what is just and right,” the President stressed, adding that both sides need to “come together and listen, reach across the aisle and find solutions.”

The government remains partially shut down because Congress cannot pass a bipartisan appropriations act that would fund the entire government, a bill that Trump says must include nearly $6 billion to fund a southern border wall. Trump and Congressional Democrats remain in a standoff over the wall – Trump wants one and won’t budge on his position, while Democrats refuse to fund a border wall.

There are roughly 800,000 federal workers affected by the partial shutdown; 420,000 of those employees are working without pay while others are furloughed.

The main obstacle in garnering bipartisan approval for a federal appropriations bill has been the $5.7 billion Trump insists must be included to secure the southern border.

The government has remained partially shut down since Dec. 22, 2018. In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of federal workers aren’t being paid, and many federal services aren’t being offered. The FDA isn’t offering some inspections, many national parks are closed, immigration courts aren’t open, and many museums are also closed.