White House Reveals What It Wants In Exchange For Keeping "Dreamers"

On Sunday night, the White House revealed that it is seeking more funds from Congress to fund Trump's wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, more resources to hire thousands more immigration officers, cutting the number of new legal immigrants and generally demanding a steep price for legislation under consideration to help so-called Dreamers. According to the WSJ, "the White House documents, sent to congressional leaders in both parties on Sunday, amount to a lengthy wish list of longstanding conservative immigration goals." While White House officials told reporters that they want these to be included in any immigration deal, they stopped short of saying the White House will insist on them.

As The Hill adds, Trump's new "immigration principles and policies" call for a crackdown on border security, more resources to catch individuals residing in the country illegally, as well as a merit-based system that limits chain migration to spouses and children.

Border patrol agents stand next to a border fence used for training
at the U.S. Border Patrol Academy in Artesia, New Mexico

Claiming that in order to properly protect the nation's borders, the White House said Congress must also approve of the construction of a border wall to deter human trafficking, drug trafficking and other cartels. "Success of border walls are undeniable from the perspective of their operators," U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Deputy Commissioner Ronald Vitiello said Sunday. The plan also takes a hardline stance against unaccompanied minors who enter the country.

Trump also went after sanctuary cities, calling on Congress to cut funding from certain grants and agreements to punish the "states and localities that refuse to cooperate with Federal authorities."   Additionally, the administration is advocating for a "refugee ceiling" that caps how many are let into the country to an unspecified "appropriate level."

"[T]he refugee ceiling needs to be realigned with American priorities," according to a press release that points to the nation's historically high average of resettling refugees compared to "the rest of the world combined."

The plan also suggests measures that allow for a swift deportation process once ICE or other authorities detect and catch those residing in the country illegally.

But the most notable feature was the return of demands for a border wall. The Trump White House had previously called for border security measures as part of a Dreamer deal but had agreed to take the wall off the table. Now the administration is again insisting on it.

"These findings outline reforms that must be included as part of any legislation addressing the status of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients," President Trump said in a statement following the announcement of the proposal on Sunday. "Without these reforms, illegal immigration and chain migration, which severely and unfairly burden American workers and taxpayers, will continue without end."

The just released proposed plan is meant to guide the administration's discussions with Congress to replace Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era program that shielded nearly 800,000 so-called “Dreamers” from deportation and also allowed them to secure work permits. The administration said many agencies weighed in to give policy recommendations in order to improve the immigration system including the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, ICE, and U.S. Customs and Border Control.

The principles also lay out changes to the legal immigration system that Mr. Trump has already endorsed, including large cuts to green cards issued for family members and shifting existing employment-based green cards to a skills-based system.

It is no surprise that Democrats are opposed to most of these ideas outright and don’t support others unless they are part of a comprehensive package that includes a path to citizenship for almost all of the estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally. They will certainly throw up Trump's renewed attempt to push through "the wall."

“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,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said in a joint statement Sunday.

This may be a problem because suddenly it appears that all the goodwill that Trump had built up with the Democrats last month, when in exchange for avoiding a government shutdown he caved on his DACA executive order, may have vaporized:

Last month, Mr. Trump met with the pair for dinner and, afterward, it seemed that a deal to legalize Dreamers might be at hand. All three of them suggested that they had agreed to pair protections for the young migrants with border security provisions that didn’t include the controversial proposal for a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.


But immediately after that, many congressional Republicans said they would seek to extract more significant enforcement provisions as part of any deal. And on Sunday, a White House official said that the only agreement was that dealing with Dreamers was a priority and that they would try to come to a resolution as quickly as possible.

As the WSJ adds, many of the proposals outlined are included in legislation that has passed the GOP-controlled House but wasn’t considered in the Senate, in part because they likely don’t have support from the 60 senators that would be needed to pass them.

As for the Dreamers, there was some additional confusion, because a White House official said that the administration wasn’t interested in providing these people with a path to citizenship, as the Dream Act provides. But last week, two administration officials told a Senate committee young people should have the opportunity for citizenship.

Finally, should this proposal indeed sour the tentative ceasefire that had emerged between Trump and the Democrats last month, suddenly not only is tax reform before year end looking impossible shaky, but if Trump has just made the DACA legislation impossible, then not only is the threat of a government shutdown again back on the table, but it may be time to start worrying about the next debt ceiling hike which is due exactly two months from today.