The White House on Sunday said it would seek more funds from Congress to finance building a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as the resources to hire thousands more immigration officers.
The Trump administration's new "immigration principles and policies" call for a crackdown on border security, more resources to catch individuals residing in the country illegally and a merit-based system that limits chain migration to spouses and children.
The new demands would have to be met for President Trump to agree to legislation that would protect from deportation young immigrants who entered the country illegally as children. These recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, often called "Dreamers," have been the focal point of recent talks between Trump and Democratic leaders of Congress.
Trump announced the winding down of the DACA program last month but has expressed interest in a legislative fix.
The tough demands on enforcement may make it harder for the two sides to reach a deal, however, as Democrats were quick to criticize the White House announcement on Sunday.
The White House said in order to properly protect the nation's borders, Congress must approve of the construction of a border wall to deter human and drug trafficking.
"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 hard-line stance against unaccompanied minors who enter the country, advocating for the removal of the legal limitations, or what it calls “loopholes,” currently in place that prevent “unaccompanied alien children” from being deported from the U.S.
"These loopholes in current law create a dramatic pull factor for additional illegal immigration and in recent years, there has been a significant increase in the apprehensions of [unaccompanied alien children] at our southern border. Therefore, the Administration proposes amending current law to ensure the expeditious return of UACs and family units," a press release stated.
Trump is also calling on Congress to reduce funding for so-called sanctuary cities that do not cooperate with federal authorities in enforcing immigration law. The proposal calls 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."
"The refugee ceiling needs to be realigned with American priorities," the press release continued, pointing to the nation's historically high average of resettling refugees compared to "the rest of the world combined."
The plan suggests measures that allow for a swift deportation process once Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or other authorities detect and catch those residing in the country illegally.
Administration officials also emphasized the need to change the immigration system from family-based to merit-based, a proposal made by Sens. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Senate Democrats ding Biden energy proposal MORE (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) in August.
That idea was panned by Democrats and many Republicans, because it also mandated a drastic cut in total immigration numbers.
The new demands represent a shift for the administration in that officials previously had signaled a willingness to not demand money for the wall, but money for border security instead. Now the administration is insisting on money for the wall.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke said the new principles aim to "enforce our immigration laws, secure our border, and protect American communities across this country."
"[Department of Homeland Security] frontline personnel identified many of the principles outlined today, including closing loopholes in our ability to enforce immigration laws and eliminating the magnets for illegal immigration," Duke said in a statement Sunday night, adding that she looks "forward to working with Congress" on the legislation and possible reforms.
Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program MORE strongly praised Trump's proposed measure, saying it will "restore the rule of law to our immigration system, prioritize America's safety and security, and end the lawlessness."
"This plan will work. If followed it will produce an immigration system with integrity and one in which we can take pride. Perhaps the best result will be that unlawful attempts to enter will continue their dramatic decline," Sessions said in a statement.
Trump's legislative director, Marc Short, stressed that DACA recipients are full-grown adults who are at a working age.
The White House sent a letter with the president's immigration wish list to congressional leadership including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLindsey Graham: Police need 'to take a firm line' with Sept. 18 rally attendees Manchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' MORE (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden MORE (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan researched narcissistic personality disorder after Trump win: book Paul Ryan says it's 'really clear' Biden won election: 'It was not rigged. It was not stolen' Democrats fret over Trump-district retirements ahead of midterms MORE (R-Wis.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as well as committee chairmen.
Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan called on Congress to address public safety threats affecting the U.S. and to honor the president's request for funds to hire additional ICE officers.
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.