Trump demands upend immigration debate

The White House’s hard-line enforcement demands have altered the immigration debate on Capitol Hill, raising real questions about the prospects of a bipartisan deal to protect hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children.
 
The new demands from President Trump, crafted by immigration hawks in the White House, have Democrats questioning the administration’s commitment to securing a bipartisan deal to help the young immigrants, commonly known as "Dreamers."
 
 
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Democrats responded with shock to the new set of immigration principles, released Sunday night, which includes proposals Democrats had previously labeled as non-starters, but also new ideas that are anathema to progressive views on immigration.
 
Among the previously known non-starters were border wall funding and increased interior enforcement. But the White House also asked for a drastic reduction in legal migration and changes to asylum law that could have would-be asylum seekers returned to their home countries without staking their claim.
 
Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), which House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has tasked with "taking the lead" on immigration, said the values reflected in the policy document were those of senior White House adviser Stephen Miller, a hard-liner on immigration policy who has long opposed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. 
 
They’re voicing concerns that Miller, 32, and other conservatives within the administration want to sink any new DACA protections even as Trump urges Congress to safeguard enrollees.
 
"Who’s in charge, is it President Stephen Miller or is it the American people and their values?" asked Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.).
 
Democrats have long been critical of Miller for his views on immigration and his ties to both Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRosenstein, Sessions discussed firing Comey in late 2016 or early 2017: FBI notes Justice Dept releases another round of summaries from Mueller probe Iowa GOP lawmaker calls flying of trans flag above Capitol an act of the 'Rainbow Jihad' MORE and former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News and vocal champion of a nationalist agenda.
 
Castro, the CHC vice chairman, called Miller a "30-year-old zealot," and said the White House document is "a Breitbart Christmas list of anti-immigrant policies."
 
He added that the policy document is a "non-starter in Congress" that's "dead on arrival" and said the White House "hasn’t been able to pass significant legislation in Trump’s term because they aren’t willing to work with anyone."
 
The proposal puts at risk Democratic cooperation with Trump on any number of issues, including a spending bill due in December.
 
Progressives in the CHC have been vocal about their demand for Democrats to tie their support of any spending bill to a "clean" DREAM Act. That bill would provide permanent legal status, work permits and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, without including any sort of quid pro quo. 
 
Trump’s fellow Republicans in Congress were slow to embrace the principles. Many oppose the border wall and the move to a merit-based immigration system.
Still, Rep. Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteUSCIS chief Cuccinelli blames Paul Ryan for immigration inaction Immigrant advocacy groups shouldn't be opposing Trump's raids Top Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview MORE (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, called the principles "a serious proposal to address the enforcement of our immigration laws and border security."
 
The White House document contains many policies enshrined in Goodlatte's Davis-Oliver Act, a sweeping immigration proposal, parts of which have been passed by the House, including Kate's Law and the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act.
 
Goodlatte, a member of Ryan's task force on immigration, added that Congress "cannot fix the DACA problem without fixing all of the issues that led to the underlying problem of illegal immigration in the first place.”
 
That runs counter to the idea of a "clean" DREAM Act and to the principles discussed by Democratic leaders and Trump weeks ago.
 
 
Schumer and Pelosi made clear they would reject any package that included new funding to expand Trump’s promised border wall.
 
Since that meeting, both Democrats and the White House have staked out more partisan positions, with both sides jockeying for leverage and sending messages to their respective bases.
 
It all points to a hard-fought battle over the future of the DACA population, a fight that will likely accompany December’s debate over must-pass budget legislation.
 
Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), head of the CHC, decried the White House’s opening bid on Monday.
 
“They push you to a place you’ve already said publicly you won’t go,” she said, warning that Democrats won’t support any budget measures without DACA protections.
 
“We’re making clear that they are not going to have Democrats to get them over the finish line on anything they need,” she told reporters on a press call Monday. “We’re going to use every leverage point we have at our disposal to protect theses Dreamers.”
 
There’s plenty of pressure on Democratic leaders to adopt the CHC’s aggressive strategy, even if it risks a government shutdown in December.
 
A number of Hispanic Democrats were up in arms last month after Pelosi forged a budget deal with Trump that excluded any help for DACA recipients. Those critics will now be pressing their leadership even harder to ensure the issue is not overlooked in the next budget fight.
 
And Pelosi herself felt pressure last month as pro-Dreamer activists, demanding more stringent Democratic action on immigration, interrupted a DACA event she was hosting in San Francisco.
 
Pelosi told The Washington Post Monday she "fully intend[s] to use every possibility" to ensure the protection of Dreamers.
 
Still, Pelosi said it's not yet time to talk about a government shutdown over Dreamers, because "right now, we’re trying to get Republicans to vote on what we believe.”