President Donald Trump made it loud and clear that he has no intention of working with Democrats on their progressive policies regarding the illegal immigration of youth – if he does not receive adequate funding and endorsement for his border wall spanning the United States’ southern border with Mexico.
The president’s maneuver was intended to set up smooth negotiations when lawmakers reconvene in Washington, D.C., after the New Year – giving Democrats the message that if they want any chance of pushing their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program forward, he must receive the funding he needs for the border wall, which expected in the budget that must pass January 19.
Wall or bust
The warning was issued by Trump when he made a proclamation to Democratic leaders in Congress on Friday that no legislative solution protecting DACA beneficiaries – or Dreamers, illegal aliens who entered the U.S. as children – would be put on the table without the 2,000-mile wall from Southern California’s Pacific Cost to southern Texas’ Gulf Coast.
"The Democrats have been told, and fully understand, that there can be no DACA without the desperately needed WALL at the Southern Border and an END to the horrible Chain Migration & ridiculous Lottery System of Immigration etc.," Trump tweeted. "We must protect our Country at all cost!"
Dems under the gun
Pro-immigration activists and other left-leaning groups have harshly criticized Democrats in Congress for not demanding their desired legal protections for Dreamers in the year-end government funding bill – even after key leaders, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), made bold promises in recent weeks that she and her leftist colleagues would not leave the nation’s capital for the holidays if they did not have a deal for their Dreamers.
“We will not leave here without a DACA fix,” Pelosi insisted earlier this month, according to The Hill.
Pelosi and her progressive backing have limited time – if they want to see their Obama-era DACA protections stick around much longer.
“Current protections for DACA recipients end in March – unless Congress comes up with a fix,” Townhall reported.
Democracy for America, Credo Mobile, and other leftist groups were quick to send out a statement blasting Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) for not coming up with the Dreamers’ protective provision in the spending bill that was reached at year’s end.
“For months, Democratic leaders insisted they would use their leverage in year-end spending bill negotiations to protect Dreamers and reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, but at the end of the day they let us down and refused to even put up a fight," Credo Mobile Political Director Murshed Zaheed declared in the statement, according to The Hill.
Sticking to his guns
After eight years of former President Barack Obama’s liberal policies on immigration, Trump’s tough-on-immigration plan – to ensure national security along the border that is also geared to protect the economy from excessive illegal immigrant costs – has been a top priority, but he realizes that there has to be some give-and-take in order for it to work.
“Dreamers had been protected from deportation under the Obama administration by a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which Trump rescinded, with a six-month delay, earlier this year,” Politico explained. “Trump said publicly that he hoped Congress would use the six months to codify protections for Dreamers into law, promising that ‘if they can't, I will revisit this issue!’”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions ended the DACA program earlier this year so that children entering the U.S. illegally are no longer protected from deportation.
Trump stressed months ago that DACA was not going to be dealt with by pen in the Oval Office, but through a legislative process – insisting that all the specifics of a deal in Congress were on the table, but that it would only come to fruition in exchange for his border wall.
"We're working on a plan – subject to getting massive border controls,” Trump stipulated in September, according to Townhall. “We're working on a plan for DACA. People want to see that happen. You have 800,000 young people, brought here, no fault of their own. So, we're working on a plan. We'll see how it works out. We're going to get massive border security as part of that. And I think something can happen. We'll see what happens, but something will happen."
However, things did not exactly turn out according to Republicans’ and Democrats’ expectations.
“Last September, Trump nearly struck a deal with Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to protect Dreamers that included beefed-up border security, but not funding for the wall, which the president had promised his supporters,” Politico’s Louis Nelson recounted. “But that agreement quickly fell through though, with the White House insisting on getting more from Democrats in exchange for a DACA deal.”
Trump – who is slated to look over a series of border wall prototypes being built in San Diego, California, early next year – impressed that the massive building project is not a matter of “if,” but “when,” noting that key Democrats are on board with his plans.
"The wall will come later – we're right now renovating large sections of wall, massive sections, making it brand new,” the president added. “We want to get massive border security. And I think that both Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, I think they agree with it. I think we're fairly close, but we have to get past the border security."
Moving forward and looking back
In anticipation of next month’s negotiations, key Democrats said they will refuse to sign a bill to keep the government funded if they do not secure a deal to keep Dreamers in the U.S.
At the White House this coming Wednesday, Pelosi and Schumer will meet with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other congressional leaders to iron out the DACA deal to avoid an all-out government shutdown early in the year.
“We're not going to negotiate through the press and look forward to a serious negotiation at Wednesday’s meeting when we come back,” Pelosi’s spokesman Drew Hammill proclaimed in a statement, according to Politico.
Making good on promises?
Even though Trump is going to have to make some concessions to get his border wall and other strict measures to tighten down on illegal immigration, he has managed to stay on course with his campaign promises so far.
“Reforming the nation’s immigration system has been a priority of Trump’s that dates to the earliest days of his presidential campaign, when he made curtailing illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border a bedrock principle of his candidacy,” Nelson noted. “During the GOP primary, he pledged to deport every single undocumented immigrant from the U.S. – a position he drifted away from during the general election.”
Trump has been extremely critical of many left-leaning immigration policies that characterized the two terms of the Obama administration.
“Trump has mostly stuck to his hard line on immigration as president, calling specifically for an end to the practice of chain migration, by which one immigrant can sponsor family members to come to the U.S., and the Diversity Visa Lottery – a program that awards visas to screened individuals from nations with lower levels of immigration into the U.S,” Nelson continued. “The president has been critical of the Diversity Visa Lottery program since a 29-year-old immigrant from Uzbekistan who arrived in the U.S. via the program killed eight people in October by driving a truck along a crowded bike path in New York City.”