On Friday, Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) denounced the White House immigration proposal just a day after he had endorsed building a border. On Twitter, Schumer wrote: "As we have been urging him to do for months, the President has finally put pen to paper to show us where he stands on immigration. Unfortunately, this plan flies in the face of what most Americans believe." Schumer continued, "While Donald 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 hardliners have advocated for for years." 

Schumer thus joined fellow Democrats, but also groups that favor limited immigration, in criticizing the outline that the White House released on Thursday. The White House has promised a complete package on Monday.

Conservatives respond

Daniel Horowitz of the Conservative Review was among non-Democrats who were critical of the White House proposal. Referring to its provisions as an effective "amnesty" for more than one million illegal aliens, Horowitz wrote on Thursday:

  • "Hasn’t the time come for an American president who finally recognizes that, while some illegals have come here of no fault of their own, it is certainly of no fault of the American taxpayers who must suffer from the fiscal, cultural, and criminal harm in their communities, schools, and public programs? The best way to honor his commitment to the American people and also to ensure that no new illegals are brought here “of no fault of their own” is to finally end the vicious cycle of amnesty."

Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies -- which advocates for limiting immigration -- wrote on Friday:

  • "The White House immigration outline was released today and it's not good. It could change tomorrow, for all we know, but as it stands now, this is a preemptive surrender on several issues.
  • "The enforcement component is fine, as far as it goes – there's no E-Verify, but the White House decided months ago not to push that, thinking it would be a bridge too far for Democrats, since it impacts illegals who are already here.
  • "But the amnesty and chain migration components are fatally flawed. The fact that the amnesty would include a path to citizenship (i.e., the beneficiaries would eventually get green cards like regular immigrants) is fine with me – if you're going to amnesty illegal aliens, just rip off the band-aid and get it over with."

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

Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA -- which advocates for restricting immigration -- prefers the immigration proposal by House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). Goodlatte's includes a path to legalization for nearly 800,000 DACA recipients — the first time since 1986 that NumbersUSA has supported any such proposal along those lines. However, the White House proposal is too much for Beck. "NumbersUSA has no choice but to oppose what is being suggested as the White House 'framework' for a mass amnesty," Beck said.

While DACA recipients are often called "Dreamers" -- illegal aliens who entered the U.S. as minors -- the Center for Immigration Studies estimates that they may number as many as 3.5 million.

The border wall will never pass

As for Sen. Schumer, he told the New York Times in a podcast on Thursday of a promise he made to Trump to fund a border wall in exchange for an amnesty for 1.5 million illegals. “I thought the balance was quite positive” to get gains for “these wonderful kids,” he said in reference to DACA recipients and others contemplated by the White House proposal. Schumer said he made a good trade with Trump because the wall will not be built:

  • "It is frankly my belief that it is going to be next to impossible for them to actually build the wall. And I told this to the president. I said Secretary [Ryan] Zinke, you know his Secretary of the Interior, said ‘I don’t know where you build the wall along the Rio Grande because you can’t build it on the Mexican side.’ They won’t build it. If you build it on the America side it cuts us off from the river. You can’t build it in the middle of the river. So my view was they would have a very difficult time actually getting it built."

As for the White House offer of amnesty in exchange for ending chain migration, Schumer vowed: “That will never pass.”

While chain-migration would be formally ended under the White House plan, the four million immigrants currently sponsored for chain migration would enter the U.S. over the next two decades.

On Friday, President Trump criticized Schumer for being “unable to act,” even though it is the White House that has made recent concessions. Trump tweeted: "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!"

Other Democrats are joining Schumer in rejecting the White House plan. Newly-elected Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) tweeted on Thursday, "The immigration plan announced by the White House tonight is a complete nonstarter. Pitting young Dreamers against immigrant families runs counter to the values of our country." Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote: "By ending DACA, Trump subjected 800k Dreamers to deportation. Now he wants to hold them hostage to Steven Miller’s anti-immigrant wish list. It’s insulting. We already have a bipartisan solution to the Trump-created crisis: it’s called the Dream Act."

Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), who joined with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC) earlier this month to offer a bipartisan immigration plan to the president, wrote: "Dreamers should not be held hostage to President Trump's crusade to tear families apart and waste billions of American tax dollars on an ineffective wall. After four and a half months, his administration finally says it has a plan to solve the crisis he created when he ended DACA. The White House claims to be compromising because the President now agrees with the overwhelming majority of Americans that Dreamers should have a pathway to citizenship. But his plan would put the Admnistrations's entire hardline immigration agenda -- including massive cuts to legal immigraiton -- on the backs of these young people."

Republicans dreaming

While many Republicans have gotten on board with Trump's proposal, their caucus does not have enough votes to turn it into law. With just 51 votes in the Senate, Republicans need to convince at least nine Democrats to back Trump's plan for it to pass. Because of Schumer's expressed opposition, votes from Democrats are nearly impossible. 

There was hope among Republicans that the pathway to citizenship to the Dreamers contained in the proposal could win support among Democrats. “The more information we have about what he’s thinking, the better," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Some conservatives came out in support, despite opposition from Heritage Action and other conservative groups. Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia expressed support, for example. “I appreciate the president putting forth a clear framework on immigration that includes many of my key concerns — ending chain migration and the Diversity Visa lottery, as well as increasing border security," said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) on Friday morning.

Michael Barone wrote in the Washington Examiner on Thursday that by avoiding the use of euphemisms in his remarks about immigration, President Trump has been able to frame the discussion over the issue to his benefit. Barone cited as an example Trump's use of the term 'chain migration,' which has incensed Democrats and progressives. Barone suggested that Trump also won leverage by showing that his thinking about DACA recipients had evolved. Barone wrote:

  • "Trump won the 69-hour shutdown fight with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., because he was willing to frame the issue as a choice between funding the government, including the military, and helping illegal immigrants. Democratic senators might wince at the noneuphemism, but they didn’t want to defend their party’s position. Trump continues to have leverage on immigration so long as he keeps emphasizing the specific provisions he is demanding, in noneuphemistic language if necessary. Of course this could still explode in his face. But for now, the only way to get DACA legalization is, if he insists on it, Trump’s way."



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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