Trump Immigration Plan Hits Wall of Opposition

Scott Wong and Rafael Bernal, The Hill, January 26, 2018

President Trump’s immigration plan is running into heavy opposition on and off Capitol Hill, suggesting the much-anticipated framework has failed to move the needle as a bipartisan group of senators try to negotiate a deal.

Trump’s one-page framework calls for granting a pathway to citizenship for nearly 2 million young  immigrants in exchange for tens of billions of dollars for his border wall and other policies that would dramatically restrict legal immigration in the coming years.

The president wants the Senate to draft legislation based on his blueprint and introduce it by Feb. 5, just three days before funding for the government runs out.

But the day-old plan is already taking heavy fire from both the right and the left.

For the bipartisan gang of 20 senators trying to hammer out an agreement to protect the “Dreamers,” it’s clear the Trump outline—intended as an olive branch to Democrats—gets them no closer to a deal. One of the key negotiators of the group, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), warned that Trump’s plan places the White House’s “hardline immigration agenda . . . on the backs of these young people.”

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But for the most part, conservative outside groups, members of the House Freedom Caucus and other vocal immigration hard-liners all panned the White House plan, saying providing a path to citizenship for 1.8 million “Dreamers” amounted to “mass amnesty” for law breakers.

“Illegals have No Right to be here & have ALL violated our laws. This #Amnesty deal negotiates away American Sovereignty,” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), an immigration hawk, tweeted Friday.

Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, a group that advocates for reduced immigration, had embraced an immigration proposal by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). That bill includes a path to legalization for nearly 700,000 DACA recipients—the first time since 1986 that NumbersUSA has supported any proposal along those lines.

But the White House proposal goes too far for Beck.

“NumbersUSA has no choice but to oppose what is being suggested as the White House ‘framework’ for a mass amnesty,” Beck said.

“The plan seems eerily similar to the blueprint used for the 2007 Bush-Kennedy amnesty, which appeared to end chain migration, but wouldn’t actually end it for 17 years. NumbersUSA mobilized our huge grass-roots army to defeat the 2007 amnesty, and we will do the same if this plan is proposed next week,” he added.

The outside conservative group Heritage Action described Trump’s plan as a “nonstarter” because it “expands the amnesty-eligible population,” while the head of the Center for Immigration Studies, an immigration restrictionist group, suggested Trump had betrayed the conservative base that had propelled him to the presidency.

“Time to start burning your #MAGA hats. Send pictures and I’ll retweet,” Mark Krikorian tweeted.

The House Freedom Caucus, the group of roughly 30 conservative hard-liners, has yet to meet to discuss Trump’s proposal. The group’s chairman, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), was traveling with the president in Davos, Switzerland, and has yet to weigh in. But other members of the group were cool to the Trump plan.

“There should be no amnesty for anyone who broke the law to come here,” one Freedom Caucus member, Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), told The Hill. “It’s a slap in the face to those who follow the law.”

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The plan calls for a $25 billion trust fund for border security—many times more than what Durbin and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) had entertained in their bipartisan negotiations. It also would scrap the visa lottery system and severely limit family-based immigration, which Republicans call “chain migration.”

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