President Donald Trump’s aides are urging him to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the country as kids, McClatchy DC reported Tuesday, in exchange for harsher policies that aim to make life difficult for immigrants.
Trump’s aides are hoping the president could offer a legal pathway to citizenship to so-called DREAMers, as he negotiates with Congress for an immigration plan that would provide border wall funding, add more detention centers, cut legal immigration, and enforce E-Verify, a tool used by employers to check for legal status, according to a half-dozen people who spoke with McClatchy DC Bureau reporter Anita Kumar.
The reporter pointed out that the group of aides who spoke to the president on cutting this deal include “former and current White House chiefs of staff, Reince Priebus and John Kelly, the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner, who both serve as presidential advisers.” But people in Trump’s circle who oppose any protection for DREAMers include Attorney General Jeff Sessions, senior policy advisor Stephen Miller, and White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Dearborn.
“He [is] getting conflicting advice inside, and that’s caused hesitation,” Rosemary Jenks, director of Numbers USA, an immigration-restrictionist policy group, told McClatchy. (NumbersUSA’s founder John Tanton once called for American culture to remain “a European-American majority.”) “Obviously [the] president doesn’t want to make a decision but he has to.”
Trump could use a proposal to protect DREAMers as it teeters closer to the September 5 deadline set by ten state officials who have threatened to sue the government if it does not end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. That program has provided temporary deportation relief and work authorization to upwards of 800,000 people who were brought to the United States before they were 16 years old and have fulfilled certain requirements.
The plan being floated faces criticism from immigrant advocates and some Democratic lawmakers, who are opposed to saving DACA beneficiaries in exchange for immigration enforcement measures that could put their families at risk of detention.
“My brother has DACA and my parents are undocumented,” Cristina Jiménez, the executive director and co-founder of the undocumented activist group United We Dream, said in an emailed statement. “I ask Members of Congress and all people to think of their own families before considering this latest ‘deal’ from Trump to use my brother’s welfare to put a hit out on my parents. Would you cut a deal which would result in your own mother being chased down and locked into a detention camp to be tormented and abused? The deal is morally wrong and must be rejected.”
Esther Yu Hsi Lee is a reporter at ThinkProgress.org focusing on domestic and international migration policies.