Democrats pan Trump's immigration framework

Democrats pan Trump's immigration framework
© Greg Nash
 
The White House's proposal would provide a pathway to citizenship for up to 1.8 million "Dreamers" in exchange for $25 billion for the U.S.-Mexico border wall and other security measures, as well as make sweeping changes to the legal immigration system.
 
But progressive Democrats and their allies are ripping the suggested framework, arguing the administration is trying to hold Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients "hostage" for changes to legal immigration.
 
Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) called the proposal a "ransom" that "doesn't pass the laugh test." 
 
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"It would be far cheaper to erect a 50-foot concrete statue of a middle finger and point it towards Latin America. Both a wall and the statue would be equally offensive and equally ineffective and both would express Trump’s deeply held suspicion of Latinos," he said in a series of tweets on Thursday.
 
 
"President Trump is not just trying to shake down Congressional Democrats; he is trying to shake down the American people," she said. 
 
The Trump administration announced last year that it was ending DACA, an Obama-era program that allows certain immigrants brought into the country illegally as children to work and go to school here.
 
Congress is now racing to jump-start negotiations ahead of a March 5 deadline. Without legislative action, hundreds of thousands of immigrants are at risk of being deported.
 
House Democrats, who are in the minority, don't have the ability to block legislation on their own. But in the Senate, Republicans will need the help of at least nine Democrats — not to mention the herculean task of keeping their own caucus together.
 
Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate Dems petition Saudi king to release dissidents, US citizen GOP moves to rein in president's emergency powers Senate votes to confirm Neomi Rao to appeals court MORE (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said the proposal puts a "hard-line immigration agenda ... on the backs of these young people."
 
"Dreamers should not be held hostage to President Trump’s crusade to tear families apart and waste billions of American tax dollars on an ineffective wall," he said. 
 
Several progressive Democratic senators were also quick to shoot down the White House plan on Thursday as unworkable as a starting point for an agreement. 
 
Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Manafort sentenced to total of 7.5 years in prison Acting Defense chief calls Graham an 'ally' after tense exchange William Barr is right man for the times MORE (D-N.J.) called it a "compromise between the far right and the alt-right" that is "dead on arrival." 
 
Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump on 2020 Dems skipping AIPAC: 'I think they're anti-Jewish' The Hill's Morning Report — Washington readies for Mueller end game 2020 Dems avoid this year's AIPAC conference MORE (D-Mass.), considered a potential 2020 White House contender, said Trump is trying to hold immigrants "hostage to Steven [sic] Miller’s anti-immigrant wish list." 
 
Stephen Miller, a conservative White House aide known for his hard-line immigration views, has been at the center of the debate. He's drawn the frustration of Democrats, as well as some Republicans, who view him as a stumbling block to any bipartisan deal. 
 
Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis Schumer4 in 5 Americans say they support net neutrality: poll GOP senator: Trump's criticism of McCain 'deplorable' Schumer to introduce bill naming Senate office building after McCain amid Trump uproar MORE (D-N.Y.) and several red- and purple-state senators up for reelection this year in states won by Trump have yet to weigh in on the White House's proposal. 
 
 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump: Green New Deal 'the most preposterous thing' and 'easy to beat' 2020 Dems avoid this year's AIPAC conference GOP eager to exploit Dem court-packing fight MORE (R-Ky.) has promised to bring an immigration bill up for debate after Feb. 8 if senators aren't able to reach a compromise, and assuming Democrats don't shut down the government. 
 
 
But Trump also received backlash from GOP outside groups. 
 
Michael Needham, the CEO of Heritage Action for America, said the bill would increase "amnesty" and "should be a non-starter." Breitbart News, a conservative website overseen until recently by Trump's former chief strategist Stephen Bannon, called it an "amnesty bonanza." 
 
Outside liberal and progressive groups also panned the framework. 
 
Credo Action called it a "white supremacist’s wish list," while MoveOn.org said it was a "bill of cruelty." 
 
"His proposal today isn’t a bill of love; it’s a bill of cruelty that is no basis for a deal and should be dead on arrival in Congress," said Anna Galland, MoveOn.org's civic action executive director.