Trump warns Pelosi as Democrats dump his truce offer on immigrants
21 January 2019
US President Donald Trump turned ire on top Democrat Nancy Pelosi on Sunday after she refused to take the bait of a temporary reprieve for a million immigrants if the Democrats agree to budget provision of $5.7 billon funding for a wall along the Mexican border to end the government shutdown.
Pelosi rejected Trump's deal on immigration and the Mexico border wall as condition for ending the government shutdown and insisted that he lift the lock-down before any border security talks can begin.
Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, dismissed as a "non-starter" his offer to extend temporary protection to about a million immigrants in return for $5.7 billion for the wall he wants on the Mexican border to fulfill a signature campaign promise.
"Reopen the government, let workers get their paychecks and then we can discuss how we can come together to protect the border. #EndTheShutdown," she tweeted.
"Nancy Pelosi has behaved so irrationally & has gone so far to the left that she has now officially become a Radical Democrat," the president tweeted. "She is so petrified of the 'lefties' in her party that she has lost control."
Anti-immigrant voices attacked Trump's offer as tantamount to amnesty for the undocumented -- a toxic concept for many conservatives.
"No, Amnesty is not a part of my offer. It is a 3 year extension of DACA," Trump said in another tweet. DACA was former president Barack Obama's program to shield undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children.
Trump said that there would be "no big push" to remove the 11 million people in the country illegally, before warning: 'but be careful, Nancy!"
His immigration crackdown has not deterred the influx of migrants, and a new group of about 400 Hondurans - the fourth since 13 October - headed north on Saturday, officials said.
Still, as the costs of the US shutdown mounted, both sides in the government appeared to be casting about cautiously for a road ahead.
"The vote this week (in the Senate) is not to pass the bill," said Senator James Lankford, a Republican, "It's to open up and say, can we debate this? Can we amend it? Can we make changes? Let's find a way to get the government open."
President Trump on Saturday offered a temporary truce on deportation of a million immigrants in return for opposition Democrats backing a budget deal that includes funding for wall on the Mexican border – an idea that Democrats rejected outright.
Trump made the offer to temporarily shield the “illegal” immigrants from imminent deportation in a bid to seize the initiative in ending the 29-day partial government shutdown that has left many government departments with unpaid or reduced staff.
A rejection of Trump’s plan, announced in a televised White House address, meant that the partial shutdown of the US government will drag on.
Trump’s bargain offer of protection from immediate deportation for two categories of immigrants include 700,000 children of people who settled illegally in the United States, the so-called "Dreamers," who are the bone of contention in the immigrant row, as well as 300,000 other immigrants whose protected status is expiring.
The president, however, made it clear that the concessions are conditional on the House passing the $5.7 billion funding needed for the proposed wall along the Mexican border, are meant to "build the trust and goodwill necessary to begin real immigration reform."
But, with the Democrats stubborn in their opposition to Trump’s border wall idea, refused to take the bait of temporary protections to the million-odd immigrants.
The president also called for $800 million in "urgent humanitarian assistance" and $805 million for drug detection technology to help secure US ports of entry.
"I'm here today to break the logjam and provide Congress with a path forward to end the government shutdown and solve the crisis on the southern border," Trump said in his address.
Trump describes the US-Mexico border — for decades a magnet for migrants and asylum seekers, as well as a major drug smuggling route — as overwhelmed, posing a threat to US national security.
Democrats, who accuse Trump of using his illegal immigration crackdown to score political points with his right-wing base, spurned the latest negotiating offer as soon as it was leaked in the media prior to the speech.
"His proposal is a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable and in total, do not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people’s lives," said Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives and the face of Democratic opposition to Trump. "They are a non-starter."
And Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the US Senate, noted that Trump himself had scrapped previously existing protection for the immigrants whom he is now offering to shield.
"Offering some protections back in exchange for the wall is not a compromise but more hostage taking," Schumer tweeted.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell meanwhile hailed Trump's proposal as a "bold solution to reopen the government, secure the border, and take bipartisan steps toward addressing current immigration issues," saying he planned to bring it to a vote.
The stand-off between the republicans and the Democrats has bought misery to some 800,000 federal employees, who are now forced to wait for paycheques indefinitely. They include members of the Coast Guard, FBI and airport security staff.
All are expected to receive back wages once the shutdown ends, but in the meantime, many have had difficulty paying bills or even feeding their families.
Meanwhile, the number of unauthorised immigrants living in the United States came down in 2016, hitting the lowest since 2004, mainly due to a large drop in the number of new unauthorised immigrants, especially Mexicans, coming into the country. However, there was a shift in the origin countries of unauthorised immigrants with the number rising from Central America, according to the latest Pew Research estimates.
According to Pew Research, there were some 10.7 million unauthorised immigrants in the US in 2016, representing 3.3 per cent of the total US population that year. The 2016 unauthorized immigrant total is a 13 per cent decline from the peak of 12.2 million in 2007, when this group was 4 per cent of the US population.
Mexicans made up half of all unauthorised immigrants in 2016, according to the center’s estimate, compared with 57 per cent in 2007. Their numbers (and share of the total) have been declining in recent years: There were 5.4 million Mexican unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. in 2016, down from 6.9 million in 2007.
The number of immigrants from other nations to the US stood at 5.2 million in 2016 against 5.3 million in 2007. The number of unauthorized immigrants from Central America, especially from the Northern Triangle nations of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, has grown since 2007.
The totals also went down over the 2007-2016 period from South America and the combined region of Europe plus Canada. The remaining regions (the Caribbean, Asia, Middle East-North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the world) did not change significantly in that time, according to Pew Research.