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Trump’s Latest Deal for Dreamers Fizzles

— March 16, 2018

A scaled-back proposal from the White House offers temporary protections for Dreamers in exchange for border wall funding. The offer, floated out by aides at the behest of President Trump, does away with some of the heavier demands the commander-in-chief made during February’s failed immigration debate.

Despite relinquishing demands to decrease legal immigration, politicians are skeptical of any coming compromise. According to, the endeavor is unpopular with Republican legislators. Moreover, write Burgess Everett and Rachel Bade of POLITICO, the administration itself seems to be stepping back.

“I don’t get the sense it’s getting serious traction,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), who said the subject wasn’t broached during a Wednesday meeting.

Cynicism appears to be the party line, and its underpinnings are twofold.

First, the House already has plans for a more conservative, more demanding immigration bill. House Speaker Paul Ryan is purportedly under pressure to pass legislation sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).

And others aren’t sure whether fitting immigration into next week’s ‘must-pass’ spending bill is a good sell. Sources reporting to POLITICO said the additions won’t appear unless Trump makes a ‘prominent push’ for their inclusion.

In February, the president demanded tens of billions of dollars in border wall funding, as well as an increased budget for border security and patrols. Certain legal migration tactics – such as participation in the ‘Green Card Lottery’ – would be scrapped, alongside some family-based visa programs.

New Yorkers in favor of restoring protections for DACA recipients gather in Columbus Square in September 2017. Image via Rhododendrites/Wikimedia Commons. (CCA-BY-4.0)

The reward would have been amnesty for nearly two million illegal immigrants – Dreamers, as well as young adults who’d have qualified for DACA under different circumstances.

Trump’s latest long-shot would secure several years of border wall funding in exchange for several years of continued protection for Dreamers. Neither dilemma – not the president’s fantasy nor a future for Dreamers – would be presented as a permanent solution.

Nevertheless, some top-ranking Republicans said they’re receptive to the idea.

“I’d be open,” said Sen. John Thune, a South Dakota conservative and the chamber’s third-ranked Republican. But he urged caution, adding, “I suspect at this point it’s a pretty heavy left.”

White House spokesman Raj Shah said the administration isn’t actively pushing to add DACA as a rider on the spending bill.

“The White House has never stopped negotiating an immigration package,” Shah told a group of reporters Wednesday. “If there were a deal cut and that could be added to the omnibus, we would welcome that.”

POLITICO writes that Republicans may have little impetus to speed toward any fix. A recent series of judicial actions mooted a March deadline to amend DACA while ordering U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to resume processing application renewals for Dreamers.

Passing Trump’s proposal wouldn’t be good for Democrats, either – they’d lose the opportunity to negotiate a pathway toward citizenship or permanent residency for Dreamers, doing little but to delay the immigration debate for another three years.


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