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Schumer rejects Trump’s immigration proposal

“This plan flies in the face of what most Americans believe,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said via social media. | Andrew Harnik/AP Photo

The White House plan to win over Democrats by providing citizenship for Dreamers in exchange for sharp restrictions on legal immigration isn’t working.

Updated

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer opposes the immigration framework released by the White House — a potentially fatal blow for the prospective legislation in the closely divided Senate.

The New York Democrat on Friday accused President Donald Trump of using a proposed path for citizenship for young undocumented immigrants as cover for making sweeping — and damaging — changes to the legal immigration system.

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“This plan flies in the face of what most Americans believe,” Schumer said on Twitter. While Trump “finally acknowledged that the Dreamers should be allowed to stay here and become citizens, he uses them as a tool to tear apart our legal immigration system and adopt the wish list that anti-immigration hard-liners have advocated for for years.”

The one-page proposal released by the White House on Thursday would allow as many as 1.8 million young immigrants to become citizens, while also calling for $ 25 billion in spending on a border wall and security as well as sharply restricting family-based immigration and eliminating a visa lottery system. White House officials are hoping the Senate will put it up for a vote, but it appears doomed to fail.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders quickly shot back, tweeting that Schumer prefers “open borders & sanctuary cities over law & order and popular, common sense reforms.”

Soon after, Trump himself piled on with a personal insult aimed at Schumer.

“DACA has been made increasingly difficult by the fact that Cryin’ Chuck Schumer took such a beating over the shutdown that he is unable to act on immigration!” Trump tweeted.

Schumer’s remarks further cement the Democratic opposition, leaving little clarity on how Congress will clinch an agreement to preserve expiring legal protections for the Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals program. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called it “anti-immigrant,” and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Trump’s plan would institute Trump’s “hard-line immigration agenda — including massive cuts to legal immigration — on the backs of these young people.”

“President Trump and Republicans cannot be allowed to use Dreamers as a bargaining chip for their wish list of anti-immigrant policies,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

A bipartisan group of senators plans to continue meeting over the next two weeks to try to strike a deal that can pass the Senate with overwhelming support, with hopes that would force the House to swallow it and Trump to sign it. But Republican and Democratic lawmakers are also meeting separately in partisan groups, making the prospects of an aisle-crossing deal murky at best given the political tensions in the Capitol following a three-day government shutdown.

In the Senate, “there’s probably 50 groups right now,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). “Next week could be a very pivotal point in time where we start looking at a specific baseline bill and build on it.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has committed to an immigration debate in February, but lawmakers have no idea where they will start. It could even be a blank bill that is constructed through the amendment process.

“The word that the majority leader used is neutral,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). “I don’t know if that means there’s nothing in it or it’s yet to be determined by the majority leader.”

President Donald Trump is pictured. | Getty Images

Though many Republicans have coalesced behind Trump’s framework over the past day, that won’t be enough to make it law. The GOP controls just 51 votes in the Senate and would need to get at least nine Democrats behind Trump’s plan for it to pass, a near-impossibility given Schumer’s opposition.

Still, Republicans hoped that Trump’s offer to provide a pathway to citizenship to the Dreamers could unlock gridlock on Capitol Hill.

“The more information we have about what he’s thinking, the better,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

Trump’s willingness to provide citizenship to undocumented immigrants has received some criticism on the right from groups like Heritage Action for America. But the plan did receive support from key conservative barometers in the Senate, including GOP Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia.

“I appreciate the president putting forth a clear framework on immigration that includes many of my key concerns — ending chain migration and the Diversity Visa lottery, as well as increasing border security,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), another border hawk, on Friday morning.

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Source: POLITICO – TOP Stories

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