WASHINGTON — President Trump on Saturday made an offer to extend temporary protections to those brought to the United States by their undocumented parents, saying that it was a way to “break the logjam” that has led to a protracted government shutdown, now in its 29th day.
But Democrats appear ready to reject the deal, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it a “non-starter.”
In a speech at the White House on Saturday, Trump said, “This is a common sense compromise both parties should embrace.”
The offer also includes extending protections for refugees who came to the U.S. because of war or disaster. Their status would be extended an additional three years, as would those of the children of undocumented immigrants, often referred to as “Dreamers.”
But the proposal continues to include money for a physical barrier at the border. Trump campaigned on the promise of a southern border wall and insisted that Mexico would pay for it, and ultimately insisted that the latest government appropriation include $5.7 billion funding for the barrier.
“These are steel barriers in high priority locations,” Trump said in his speech, adding that it was not a complete barrier on the border “from sea to sea.”
Pelosi noted that Trump’s immigration proposals for Dreamers are only temporary.
Democrats in early 2018 offered a $25 billion package that included permanent protections for Dreamers in exchange for border wall funding, but Trump rejected it.
Pelosi said, “Unfortunately, initial reports make clear that his proposal is a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable and in total, do not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people’s lives.”
She added, “It is unlikely that any one of these provisions alone would pass the House, and taken together, they are a non-starter. For one thing, this proposal does not include the permanent solution for the Dreamers and TPS recipients that our country needs and supports.”
The Trump administration has sought to end an Obama-era program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, to offer a temporary protection for Dreamers, but that action is being challenged in court.
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said that he “cannot support the proposed [Trump] offer as reported and do not think it can pass the Senate.”
Top Democrats have said that they will only negotiate on immigration proposals when the government is opened.
Trump sought to use the bully pulpit to sway public opinion, as polls show he is being blamed for the shutdown. By making the offer, he is putting Democrats on the spot, in the position of rejecting the offer and further extending the impasse.
In an event scheduled just before the speech to emphasize that he was not anti-immigrant, Trump participated in a naturalization ceremony in the Oval Office.
But in his remarks, he also sounded similar themes that he made in a primetime Oval Office address earlier this month, characterizing the situation at the border as a “humanitarian crisis.”
Trump also said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will bring the latest proposal to the floor next week, something that the White House hopes will move moderate Democrats.
“Everyone has made their point,” he said in a statement. “Now it is time to make a law. I intend to move to this legislation this week.”
Trump said that once the government reopens, he plans to have weekly, bipartisan meetings at the White House for comprehensive immigration reform.