The White House presented a plan to Congress on Thursday offering a path to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, many of whom are currently in the U.S. with temporary Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protection. The offer is part of an immigration deal that also includes $25 million for a "border wall system," an end to the visa lottery system and restrictions on family-based migration.
Senior administration officials gathered in the West Wing to brief reporters on a legislative proposal for the Senate that puts forth "a compassionate solution for the DACA immigrants -- and one that the president can sign and have bipartisan support and should be able to pass both chambers of Congress."
"It is an extraordinarily generous concession to get us to 60 votes, and it again rejects the historically failed model that defined the Graham-Durbin approach to immigration, which is very large increases of low skilled immigration combined with very generous grants of legalization and no enforcement," a senior administration official said. The plan presented by Senators Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin "compounds all of the worst features of the immigration system," the official added.
On Wednesday night, Mr. Trump held an impromptu press conference with reporters in Chief of Staff John Kelly's office in which he said that he was open to a pathway to citizenship after ten to twelve years for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). A senior administration official specified that this included the 690,000 people who are currently registered under DACA.
But by Thursday, that number had increased to include 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who the administration believes will meet the requirements for a pathway to citizenship, but never got around to registering for DACA under the Obama administration.
"This status can be revoked in light of criminal conduct, public safety concerns, national security concerns, fraud or a public charge," a senior official added.
Another senior administration official pronounced the Graham-Durbin immigration proposal dead on arrival.
"I think an awful lot of the certain members of Congress used this as perpetual excuse: 'We don't know where the president is at,'" a senior administration official said. "Well here it is, so this is the president's position. It goes over to the Hill, they digest it, develop a bill they think they can passed. But this is the bottom line of the president."
It's hard to say yet how this proposal will play out in Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said members can "look to this framework for guidance."
"I want to thank President Trump and his administration for their work on this important issue," McConnell said in a statement. "This framework builds upon the four pillars for reform that the president has consistently put forth, and indicates what is necessary for the president to sign a bill into law. I am hopeful that as discussions continue in the Senate on the subject of immigration, Members on both sides of the aisle will look to this framework for guidance as they work towards an agreement."
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, did not comment on the substance of the proposal.
"We're grateful for the president showing leadership on this issue and believe his ideas will help us ultimately reach a balanced solution," said Doug Andres, spokesman for Ryan.
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