February 21, 2018

Trump says he's open to citizenship for 'Dreamers'

26 January 2018, 01:21 | Christie Tate

Greg Nash

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The official said a path to citizenship was only a discussion point and would only be available to about 690,000 young immigrants who signed up for legal protections under an Obama-era program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

The announcement, delivered by top Trump adviser Stephen Miller during a White House conference call, will likely be lauded by Democrats, who have said they will not support any immigration deal that doesn't provide citizenship for the so-called Dreamers.

- Expand protections from deportation to 1.8 million immigrants who were brought illegally to the country as children, up from the 700,000 people now signed up for the program.

The White House has outlined an immigration plan that would allow 1.8 million people to become USA citizens in exchange for funding for a border wall. Senior White House officials cast the proposal as one that offers compromises that could help it pass the Senate, but possibly find resistance from some of Trump's more conservative allies.

"After decades of inaction by Congress, it's time we work together to solve this issue once and for all", Huckabee Sanders said at the daily White House briefing.

And a Democratic lawmaker who has been a forceful advocate for the cause of those enrolled in DACA suggested that meeting the White House's demands would come at too high a price.

Senior White House officials who briefed reporters Thursday on the framework also expressed a pointed rejection of the Durbin-Graham bill that the White House rejected in recent weeks.

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In September Mr Trump announced he was ending DACA, but gave Congress until March to come up with another plan to protect the Dreamers.

The plan may put Democrats and immigrant advocates in a tough spot.

Just hours before the Trump administration reportedly announced their plans to Republicans in Congress, a top Senator signalled that any path to citizenship for any immigrants in the U.S. would make a deal dead on arrival. "Some Republicans will, too", said Frank Sharry, the executive director of America's Voice, a pro-immigration group.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who said he had offered and then rescinded border wall funding in exchange for Dreamer protections, said Wednesday he was looking for a reset.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., also praised Trump's move, saying it "represents presidential leadership on immigration that will allow us to solve a hard problem".

He said he wants US$25 billion (S$33 billion) to build a border wall and is open to granting citizenship to "Dreamers", undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. That would affect Central American migrants who often arrive at the USA border after crossing through Mexico. "The president wants to lead on this issue and that's exactly what we're going to do". "We have no doubt that if this legislation were brought to the floor, it would easily garner 60 votes", an official said on condition of anonymity.

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