Trump expected to float DACA deal in order to reopen government

Move would follow talks with McConnell and work by Pence, Kushner

Vice President Mike Pence and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, have been working on crafting the president’s proposed compromise. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Vice President Mike Pence and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, have been working on crafting the president’s proposed compromise. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted January 19, 2019 at 12:29pm

UPDATED 2:19 p.m. | President Donald Trump is expected to announce Saturday afternoon that he would sign legislation to extend protections to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients and individuals with Temporary Protected Status in exchange for the $5.7 billion for border security money that he has wanted for a southern border wall, a source involved in planning the announcement confirmed.

As always, however, nothing is official until the president himself actually makes the public commitment. Trump is now scheduled to make his border security-shutdown announcement at 4 p.m., Eastern time, Saturday. 

The legislation would contain a version of the so-called Bridge Act, which protects undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, also known as “Dreamers.” The stalemate over funding for the border wall has resulted in a partial government shutdown that’s now in its 29th day.

Democrats on Capitol Hill panned the Trump proposal, with a senior House Democratic aide saying that it could not pass in either chamber.

“Democrats were not consulted on this proposal. Similar inadequate offers from the Administration were already rejected by Democrats. The BRIDGE Act does not fully protect Dreamers and is not a permanent solution,” the aide said in a statement. “This is not a compromise as it includes the same wasteful, ineffective $5.7 billion wall demand that shut down the government in the first place.”

A separate Democratic aide called the expect measure a, “non-serious product of negotiations amongst WH staff to try to clean up messes the president created in the first place.”

Trump did not get into specifics as he was leaving the White House for Dover Air Force Base Saturday morning to receive the bodies of American service members killed in Syria.

“I think it will be an important statement, having to do with — as you know, caravans are coming up, they have a big one coming up now. I’m disappointed that Mexico is not stopping them. I mean, Mexico seems unfortunately powerless to stop them,” the president said. “Many got through, they broke through the Mexican area, where, in theory, they were guarded, and they weren’t so well guarded.”

After Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent Trump the letter requesting a postponement of his State of the Union address, the source said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell came to believe that the California Democrat would not be in a position to negotiate. In conversations with the president, the Kentucky Republican encouraged him to propose a deal that Democrats could be enticed to support to end the partial government shutdown.

“I hope that Speaker Pelosi can come along and realize what everybody knows, that no matter who it is, they know that walls work. And we need walls. And whether it’s personal or not, it’s not personal for me,” Trump said Saturday morning. “And you know, she’s under total control of the radical left. I think that’s a very bad thing for her. I think it’s a very bad thing for the Democrats.”

When Vice President Mike Pence and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner visited McConnell in the Capitol late Thursday, they briefed him on their work to develop such a plan (which, the source emphasized, originated from the White House after calls between Trump and McConnell on Wednesday night and Thursday).

On Friday, Kushner was said to have called McConnell to say that the president intended to move forward with the Saturday announcement.

If all goes according to plan, McConnell would likely call up one of the House-passed fiscal 2019 appropriations bills to use as a vehicle for a spending package that would include the president’s proposed deal as well as the pre-conferenced spending bills for the remainder of the fiscal year.

The Bridge Act, first proposed in 2016 by Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, now the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, would grant three years of temporary legal status and work authorization for Dreamers enrolled in the DACA program as well as those currently qualified but not enrolled.

The bill does not address TPS recipients, though Democrats have authored similar legislation addressing that population.

A House version of the Bridge Act, introduced in early 2017 by Colorado GOP Rep. Mike Coffman (who lost re-election last November), won bipartisan support but was never called up for a vote by Republican leaders.

Durbin and Graham introduced the bill in an attempt to bring stability to the lives of Dreamers while lawmakers worked through an issue that has confounded Congress for years.

Support for the their proposal or something like it would represent a shift for Trump, who has torpedoed past compromises that paired Dreamer protections and wall money.

Immigration hawks have typically opposed any deal that could be considered “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants, while some liberal Democrats have opposed any deal including wall funding, insisting instead on a “clean DREAM Act,” legislation that would offer Dreamers a path to citizenship rather than temporary legal status.

Dean DeChiaro and John T. Bennett contributed to this report.

 

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Correction 1:07 p.m. | An earlier version of this story misstated the name of the Temporary Protected Status program.