Trump offers deportation protection - for wall funds

Protesters in "wall" outfits demonstrating in Washington last Saturday during the third annual women's march. In his first public offer to the Democrats since the government shutdown, US President Donald Trump has offered temporary protections for 70
Protesters in "wall" outfits demonstrating in Washington last Saturday during the third annual women's march. In his first public offer to the Democrats since the government shutdown, US President Donald Trump has offered temporary protections for 700,000 young immigrants in the country without authorisation in exchange for funding for a wall along the southern border.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump, facing a growing public backlash over the partial government shutdown, has shifted course and offered Democrats a deal: temporary protections for roughly 700,000 young immigrants in the country without authorisation in exchange for US$5.7 billion (S$7.7 billion) in funding for a wall along the country's southern border.

But the proposal, which Mr Trump unveiled in a 13-minute address from the White House last Saturday, appeared dead on arrival in the Capitol.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected it even before Mr Trump spoke, and Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, denounced the offer as "not a compromise but more hostage taking".

With the government shutdown entering its fifth week and polls showing a majority of the public blaming Mr Trump, the President's advisers have been searching for an exit strategy.

Saturday's speech grew out of talks that Vice-President Mike Pence and the President's son-in-law and senior adviser, Mr Jared Kushner, have had in recent days with lawmakers including Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader.

The proposal was Mr Trump's first public offer to Democrats since the partial shutdown began nearly a month ago.

It came after an acrimonious week, in which Ms Pelosi told the President he could not deliver his State of the Union address in the Capitol until the shutdown was over, and Mr Trump retaliated by grounding a plane that was supposed to take Ms Pelosi on a fact-finding mission to Afghanistan.

 
 
 

In casting the plan as a compromise, Mr Trump sought to shift pressure to the Democrats to end the shutdown.

But Democrats continued to insist they will not negotiate with Mr Trump over border security until the government reopens.

Over the course of his administration, Mr Trump has repeatedly sought to curb both legal and illegal immigration. He has already revoked Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which offers crucial protection for immigrants, for people from some Latin American and African countries.

He has also moved to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or Daca, an Obama-era programme that shielded the young immigrants known as "Dreamers" from deportation.

In the deal he outlined over the weekend, Mr Trump offered to restore TPS protection for 300,000 people and said he would allow 700,000 Dreamers to keep their protections for three more years in exchange for US$5.7 billion for a border barrier.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2019, with the headline 'Trump offers deportation protection - for wall funds'. Print Edition | Subscribe