Trump Puts Citizenship for 1.8 Million Illegals on DACA Table
Hard-liners on both sides of the immigration debate are thrown into angry confusion about the chief executive's newest gambit
President Donald Trump is thinking of a grand bargain on illegal immigration and border security, with a larger amnesty than previously imagined.
To get to compromise with the Democrats, the president is thinking of offering up to 1.8 million illegal aliens the grand prize of citizenship over time, in 10 to 12 years after they are given green cards.
The plan was shared by White House aide Stephen Miller, Trump's point man on immigration, to Republican allies in Congress. A reporter from Axios listened in on the conference call Thursday afternoon.
The 1.8 million number is new, as previous signs from Trump indicated he might support citizenship for illegal immigrants brought here as children — largely seen, politically, as the most deserving of any kind of amnesty.
Up to 800,000 adults might qualify for that amnesty, given under former President Barack Obama in the form of the executive order Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), signed in 2012.
Trump withdrew the Obama order and ended DACA in September, forcing the Democrats to come to the bargaining table. The first wave of DACA expirations begins in March.
Even a path to citizenship for DACA recipients was controversial. Now a higher number of amnesty waivers, with citizenship granted in time, is roiling the waters of Trump's base.
"This is the beginning of the end of the GOP majority in the House," an unidentified conservative House member told Rachel Bade of Politico. "In a year, when the Democrats impeach Trump, we can point to this moment."
But Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), an immigration hard-liner who wants a reduction in annual legal immigration, called the proposal "generous and humane."
In exchange for the large concession, Trump appears to expect a lot.
Axios reported Miller said the White House wants an end to the visa lottery program and chain migration; a $25 billion trust fund for border wall construction; new northern border security measures; an appropriation for filling personnel deficiencies in the border patrol; and the closing of loopholes in the system that "make it almost impossible to deport illegal immigrants," such as the catch-and-release policy.
Miller also said the White House wants all illegal aliens treated the same in courts of law, regardless of "country of origin."
Immigration critics, including Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), did not immediately return a message from LifeZette. But Krikorian expressed extreme displeasure in a tweet at 8:03 p.m., saying: "Time to start burning your
#MAGA hats. Send pictures and I'll retweet."
Miller reportedly held a new conference call with immigration hard-liners late Thursday afternoon, and heard fervent complaints of too large an amnesty, according to Fox News panelist Jonathan Swan of Axios.
On the conservative media front, Breitbart called it "Don's Amnesty Bonanza."
Despite the amnesty offer, the Left and loose-immigration advocates cried foul immediately and did so to CNN. Jim Acosta of CNN tweeted that "immigration advocates" hammered the Trump proposal, calling it a "legislative burning cross."
(photo credit, article image: Central American Migrants Find Quarter in Southern Mexico, CC BY 2.0, by Peter Haden)