Thursday 5 December 2019

Trump plan offers path to citizenship for 1.8 million immigrants

The proposals are likely to find resistance from some of Mr Trump’s conservative allies.

The proposal represents a reversal for the president (Matt Cardy/PA)
The proposal represents a reversal for the president (Matt Cardy/PA)

By Zeke Miller, Jill Colvin and Alan Fram, Associated Press

US President Donald Trump is proposing a plan that provides a path to citizenship for 1.8 million of the so-called “Dreamer” immigrants, the White House said.

The proposals, which are likely to find resistance from some of Mr Trump’s conservative allies, also include tighter restrictions on legal immigration and 25 billion US dollars (£18 billion) in border security.

Senior White House officials offered a preview of Mr Trump’s immigration framework on Thursday, casting it as a compromise that could pass the Senate.

The proposal represents a reversal for the president, who once promised to eliminate an Obama-era programme protecting immigrants brought to the US as children and now in the country illegally.

He later urged lawmakers to extend the programme, but maintained he was not considering citizenship.

The Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) programme currently covers roughly 690,000 of those younger immigrants, about half the number who qualified for the programme, according to independent estimates.

Mr Trump’s plan would expand this further by adjusting some of the requirements, officials said, but they did not offer specific details.

It would not allow parents of those immigrants to seek lawful status, the officials said.

On Wednesday, Mr Trump said he was open to a pathway to citizenship for younger immigrants brought illegally to the US as children.

“We’re going to morph into it,” he told reporters.

“It’s going to happen, at some point in the future, over a period of 10 to 12 years.”

Mr Trump ended the Daca programme in September, setting a March 5 deadline for Congress to provide legal protections or the programme’s recipients would once again be subject to deportation.

The officials said Mr Trump would only sign legislation providing those protections if the other immigration changes he is proposing are implemented.

Mr Trump had previously ruled out the idea of citizenship for the Dreamers, saying in September: “We’re not looking at citizenship. We’re not looking at amnesty. We’re looking at allowing people to stay here.”

He had deferred to a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers to craft an immigration proposal, saying he would sign whatever they passed.

However, as talks on Capitol Hill broke down – in part because of a controversy Mr Trump created using vulgar language to describe other countries – the White House decided to offer its own framework.

The release follows on concerns raised by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that the president had not sufficiently laid out his priorities.

One official said the Thursday release represents a plan for the Senate, with the administration expecting a different bill to pass the House.

Democrats said they were heartened by Mr Trump’s support, while Republicans were more cautious.

Moderate Senator Joe Manchin said he was “very encouraged” by Mr Trump’s surprising words, which the president made late on Wednesday in impromptu comments to reporters.

Among Republicans, Oklahoma Senator James Lankford said he supports the citizenship pathway Mr Trump described.

Senator Mike Rounds called Mr Trump’s words “positive” and said his description “gives us a better sense” of his views, but added: “We have a long way to go yet.”

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