Schumer rejects White House immigration plan
Stung by criticism from the Democratic base following his cave in to Republicans on the funding bill, Senate Minority Leader Chuc Schumer rejected the immigration proposal released by the White House earlier this week, accusing the president of using DREAMers as a "tool to tear apart our legal immigration system."
Trump had proposed giving 1.8 million children of illegal immigrants a path to citizenship in exchange for a big boost in immigration enforcement spending and an end to "chain immigration" and the visa lottery system.
But Schumer is in no mood to compromise after being raked over the coals by activists in his own party who were enraged by the Senator's surrender to Republicans on the budget without securing protections for DREAMers.
"This plan flies in the face of what most Americans believe," Schumer said on Twitter. While Trump "finally acknowledged that the Dreamers should be allowed to stay here and become citizens, he uses them as a tool to tear apart our legal immigration system and adopt the wish list that anti-immigration hard-liners have advocated for for years."
The one-page proposal released by the White House on Thursday would allow as many as 1.8 million young immigrants to become citizens, while also calling for $25 billion in spending on a border wall and security as well as sharply restricting family-based immigration and eliminating a visa lottery system. White House officials are hoping the Senate will put it up for a vote, but it appears doomed to fail.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders quickly shot back, tweeting that Schumer prefers "open borders & sanctuary cities over law & order and popular, common sense reforms."
Soon after, Trump himself piled on with a personal insult aimed at Schumer.
“DACA has been made increasingly difficult by the fact that Cryin’ Chuck Schumer took such a beating over the shutdown that he is unable to act on immigration!” Trump tweeted.
Schumer's remarks further cement the Democratic opposition, leaving little clarity on how Congress will clinch an agreement to preserve expiring legal protections for the Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals program. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called it "anti-immigrant," and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Trump's plan would institute Trump's "hard-line immigration agenda — including massive cuts to legal immigration — on the backs of these young people."
“President Trump and Republicans cannot be allowed to use Dreamers as a bargaining chip for their wish list of anti-immigrant policies," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).
Was Trump serious about giving 1.8 million illegals a path to citizenship? If Schumer had given in, Trump probably would have been happy with the deal because he basically got everything else he wanted out of an immigration bill. But I think Trump expected Schumer to reject the deal, which will now place even more pressure on the Democrats to get a deal done that includes the DREAMers.
Part of that $25 billion proposal for immigration enforcement included funding for the wall - something Democrats have been saying from the beginning that they would never approve. But Trump's initial negotiating gambit has established the link between DREAMers and the wall. For Democrats, this means they can only pick their poison: risk the wrath of their base by not securing protections for DREAMers or giving in and approving funds to build the wall.
Senator McConnell's deadline to reach a deal is February 8. It appears that time frame is unrealistic. But as the deadline nears, the pressure will be all on the Democrats to get something done. Republicans don't really need immigration reform this year. That scenario could lead to compromise, which in this case, would be a victory for Trump and the Republicans.