President Donald Trump's "major announcement" Saturday was a proposed deal to reopen the federal government by extending protections for some immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, in exchange for the $5.7 billion wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
During the Saturday afternoon speech, Trump said there is a "humanitarian crisis" at the border.
"The lack of border control provides a gateway - and a very wide and open gateway — to allow illegal criminal and aliens to get into the United States," Trump said, reports CBS News. He added that he will keep his promise to "fix this crisis."
Then, Trump presented the plan, which he hoped would "break the logjam."
According to NPR, the proposal includes requests $800 million for humanitarian assistance, $805 million for drug-protection technology at ports of entry, 2,750 new border agents, 75 new teams of immigration judges to handle the case backlog, to allow Central American minors to apply for asylum in their native countries and for the $5.7 billion for the physical barrier along the border.
Trump said the wall will not be a "concrete barrier from sea to shining sea," but instead made of "steel barriers" and built along 230 miles of the border.
In exchange, Trump will grant three years of protections for the 700,000 recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was instituted by President Barack Obama to protect some immigrants brought to the U.S. as children illegally. Trump also endorsed a three-year extension of those protections to around 300,000 who are facing expiration.
Before Trump's speech, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the deal a "non-starter," noting that it falls short of giving a permanent solution for DACA recipients, known as "Dreamers." Pelosi said Democrats do support advanced drug-finding technology, more customs personnel and more judges and "increased infrastructure investments at our ports of entry including additional ports and roads."
"Next week, Democrats will pass a package of six bills agreed to by House and Senate negotiators and other legislation to reopen government so that we can fully negotiate on border security proposals," Pelosi continued. "The President must sign these bills to reopen government immediately and stop holding the American people hostage with this senseless shutdown."
The House of Representatives has passed legislation to reopen the government, but these bills have not been taken up by the Senate. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he will put Trump's proposal up for a vote this week.
"This bill takes a bipartisan approach to reopening the closed portions of the federal government," McConnell said in a statement. "It pairs the border security investment that our nation needs with additional immigration measures that both Democrat and Republican members of Congress believe are necessary. Unlike the bills that have come from the House over the past few weeks, this proposal could actually resolve this impasse. It has the full support of the President and could be signed into law to quickly reopen the government."
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said he does not believe the bill will pass and argued for the government to be reopened before immigration talks resume.
"First, President Trump and Senate Majority Leader McConnell must open the government today. Second, I cannot support the proposed offer as reported and do not believe it can pass the Senate," Durbin said. "Third, I am ready to sit down at any time after the government is opened and work to resolve all outstanding issues."0comments
The ongoing partial government shutdown is now the longest in U.S. history. It began on Dec. 22, when Republicans still controlled both the House and Senate. About 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed, and 420,000 of them have been forced to work without paychecks.
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