Trump plan to offer citizenship to 1.8m undocumented immigrants


Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionUndocumented immigrants: “Life in the US is like a rollercoaster”

The White House has outlined an immigration plan for nearly two million people to become US citizens in exchange for border wall funding.

The framework was described by a senior Trump aide in a conference call to Republicans ahead of legislative negotiations with Democrats.

The proposed bill, to be unveiled on Monday, requests $25bn (£17.6bn) in funds for a wall on the Mexican border.

A top Democrat this week vowed to oppose funding a wall.

What is the plan?

The details emerged in a call on Thursday between White House policy chief Stephen Miller and Republican congressional aides, according to US media.

Mr Miller reportedly described the White House plan as a “dramatic concession”.

The blueprint sets out a 10-12-year path to citizenship for 1.8 million people.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionCan US border agents lawfully search you?

This includes some 700,000 so-called Dreamers, immigrants who illegally entered the US as children and were protected from deportation under an Obama-era programme, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca).

The other 1.1 million would be immigrants who did not apply for Daca but are eligible for the scheme.

The White House framework also seeks to end two other initiatives often criticised by President Donald Trump.

It proposes to curtail so-called chain migration, permitting US residents only to get visas for their spouse and children, not for extended family members.

The White House also wants to scrap the diversity visa lottery, under which 50,000 people from around the world every year win Green Cards at random.

What is the diversity green card lottery?

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionAm I American yet?

Why is Daca important?

Mr Trump cancelled the programme in September and gave Congress a March deadline to come up with a new plan.

The president has so far rejected bipartisan proposals that have been presented to him.

Congress’ failure to secure a deal on immigration triggered a brief shutdown of the federal government over the weekend.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionThe missing – consequences of Trump’s immigration crackdown

On Wednesday, Mr Trump said he was optimistic that a deal on immigration would be reached that included keeping the so-called Dreamers in the country.

He added that it was an “incentive” for so-called Dreamers to work hard and “do a great job”.

The Republican president has made it clear that in exchange for making a concession to help accomplish a Democratic priority, he wants the party’s backing for his signature campaign promise to deliver a border wall.

However, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer this week withdrew an offer of funding for Mr Trump’s proposed border barrier.

The other ‘Dreamers’ facing uncertain future

What’s the reaction?

Republican US Senator Tom Cotton, one of the most conservative voices on immigration policy, welcomed Mr Trump’s plan.

“The president’s framework is generous and humane, while also being responsible,” the Arkansas senator said in a statement.

But United We Dream, a young immigrants’ organisation that has been crying out for a Daca deal, opposes the White House plan.

“Let’s call this proposal for what it is: a white supremacist ransom note,” said the group’s statement.

It added: “Our fear, our pain, and our lives must not be used to shackle our parents and ban those seeking refuge; we must not be used to tear apart the moral fabric of this country.”

Clock is ticking

Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

There’s a quote from Mark Twain that if you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait five minutes. The same could be said of Donald Trump’s position on immigration.

One day he’ll accept – and take the heat for – any bipartisan deal Congress might strike. Later, he insists any agreement must include funding for his border wall and sweeping changes to legal immigration.

During the shutdown, he painted Democratic efforts to get a Daca vote as support for “unchecked illegal immigration”. On Wednesday, he expressed an openness to giving Daca recipients a path to citizenship – something many of his supporters deride as amnesty for lawbreakers.

This could be part of some grand “art of the deal” presidential strategy, of which will only be revealed in hindsight. Or perhaps congressional parties should focus on people like chief of staff John Kelly, who stayed in Washington to negotiate while the president hob-nobs with the global elite in Davos.

Either way, the clock is ticking toward another budget showdown. If the immigration impasse is to be surmounted, a solution needs to emerge quickly.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here