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." 
"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.
"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) MenendezSchumer says Senate will vote on repealing 2002 war authorization The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week Sanders drops bid to block Biden's Israel arms sale MORE (D-N.J.) called it a "compromise between the far right and the alt-right" that is "dead on arrival." 
Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Hill's Morning Report - Dems to go-it-alone on infrastructure as bipartisan plan falters Democratic patience runs out on bipartisan talks NYC progressives anxiously watch Maya Wiley's ascent 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 Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLoeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run Manchin opens door to supporting scaled-down election reform bill Pelosi, Schumer must appoint new commissioners to the CARES Act oversight panel 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. 
Several GOP senators — including Sens. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonCourt fines baker 0 for refusing to make gender transition cake Nikki Haley warns Republicans on China: 'If they take Taiwan, it's all over' Cotton warns of China collecting athletes' DNA at 2022 Olympics MORE (Ark.) and David Perdue (Ga.) — who have been in close discussions with Trump on immigration quickly backed the framework. 
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.