Hoping to take the lead on the emotionally-charged issue of immigration, the Trump administration is to unveil next Monday an outline for lawmakers “that represents a compromise that members of both parties can support.”
The reforms “were assembled in coordination with front-line law enforcement officers and career public servants who know what is necessary to keep America safe,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters during Wednesday’s daily press briefing.
The administration declined to provide details, but says the proposal is based on four fundamental issues: Securing the border and closing legal loopholes; ending extended-family chain migration; canceling the visa lottery; and providing a permanent solution on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which has allowed some who illegally entered the United States as minors to avoid deportation and be eligible for a work permit.
The framework, according to the press secretary, takes into account conversations “with dozens” of House and Senate members from both parties.
President Donald Trump, speaking Wednesday to mayors in the White House East Room, assailed those who decided, just hours before, not to attend the meeting. The boycott was in response to the Justice Department demanding new proof from 23 states and cities that they are cooperating with federal immigration authorities to provide information about undocumented immigrants they have jailed for various alleged crimes.
“The mayors who choose to boycott this event have put the needs of criminal illegal immigrants over law-abiding Americans,” said the president, noting the “vast majority” showed up who “believe in safety for your city.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Twitter he would not attend because the Justice Department “decided to renew their racist assault on our immigrant communities. It doesn’t make us safer and it violates America’s core values.”
The White House press secretary said earlier, “if mayors have a problem with that they should talk to Congress, the people that pass the laws. The Department of Justice enforces them, and as long as that is the law, the Department of Justice is going to strongly enforce it.”
The White House spokesperson added, “We cannot allow people to pick and choose what laws they want to follow.”
The Justice Department action aims to eliminate so-called “sanctuary cities,” which provide safe havens for immigrants who have illegally entered the country.
“Sanctuary cities are the best friend of gangs and cartels,” Trump told the mayors.
The Justice Department is demanding proof from three states — Illinois, Oregon and California — that they are cooperating with immigration authorities, along with five major cities — New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Denver.
DACA, border wall
The political debate over U.S. immigration policies was at the center of the three-day partial government shutdown that ended Monday.
The White House and lawmakers have so far been unable to agree on how to protect against deportation about 800,000 young immigrants who years ago were brought illegally to the U.S. by their parents.
In exchange for protecting the DACA recipients and other “Dreamers” from being returned to their native countries, Trump wants funding for his most prominent campaign promise — construction of a wall along the 3,200-kilometer southern U.S. border with Mexico to thwart further illegal immigration — and stiffer restrictions on other immigration policies.
Trump last year ended the deportation protection program for the DACA recipients, but he gave Congress until March 5 to weigh in on the issue.
According to a Pew Research Center survey taken this month, 74 percent of Americans favor granting permanent legal status to immigrants brought to the United States illegally when they were children, while 60 percent oppose the president’s pledge to substantially expand the wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.