U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he would not consider reinstating an immigration program that protected young people from deportation without a commitment from Democrats to help build a wall on the border with Mexico and end certain immigration programs. The debate on immigration will be a pivotal issue in Washington in early 2018 ahead of midterm congressional elections in November.
In September, Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protected young people from deportation who had been brought to the United States illegally as children, and gave Congress until March to devise a long-term solution.
Democrats have pushed for DACA to continue, but Trump, a Republican, has said that will not happen without the end to various visa programs and the construction of a wall along the southern U.S. border.
“The Democrats have been told, and fully understand, that there can be no DACA without the desperately needed WALL at the Southern Border and an END to the horrible Chain Migration & ridiculous Lottery System of Immigration etc,” Trump posted on Twitter on Friday.
Representatives for Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said they would not negotiate the issue in the media but looked forward to serious talks after lawmakers return to work in Washington early next month.
The Senate is set to resume its work Jan. 3 while the U.S. House of Representatives restarts its session Jan. 8.
Trump promised to build a border wall as a presidential candidate and has continued to press for it publicly.
He has also called for an additional “merit based” assessment for U.S. visa recipients.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Robbins, the executive director of New American Economy, a bipartisan coalition that supports immigration reform said:
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is set to expire in March, creating an urgency in Congress to pass a law protecting the 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought here as children through no choice of their own. The new law aims to give these so-called “Dreamers” protection from deportation and the ability to work here legally and pay taxes. Whether as teachers or nurses, or as entrepreneurs and homebuyers, Dreamers make a huge, positive impact on the U.S. economy.
President Trump ended 2017 with a win on taxes. Protecting Dreamers presents him the opportunity to start 2018 with an equally headline-grabbing victory, a Nixon-goes-to-China moment. As a hardliner on immigration (just as Nixon was on communism) protecting Dreamers could show Trump has both heart and an ability to succeed where efforts on immigration reform have failed over and over again since 2001. Plus, unlike the party-line vote on taxes, the vote for Dreamers promises to be bipartisan.
Key indicators show the economy is humming. But growing the pie will take more – more talent, more students and workers, more entrepreneurs and innovators. That’s where the Dreamers come in. Most are bilingual and well educated. Their skills are in high demand, and they help power an already strong economy.
Firing and deporting such talented young people makes no business, practical, or political sense. The stars have aligned, and after tax reform, the time is right for an encore piece of landmark legislation.
Without delay, Congress should end the uncertainty, shore up the economy, and keep Dreamers hard at work here in the country they love.
It’s been 18 years since Yuritza and Kristal Sanchez saw their family. The sisters came to the United States when they were one and two years old.
“It was so abruptly taken. You don’t even know how to react. You don’t know whether to cry or to be mad,” Kristal said about the changes.
“We haven’t seen our grandparents since we left Mexico. We don’t remember what they look like,” Yuritza said.
“People our age, like, they’re worrying about which college they’re going to…how much their salary is. Are they going out with friends?” Kristal said. “But we’re here worrying about, are we even going to make it another day or not.”
The Sanchez girls remain steadfast in their dedication to the place they call home.
“It has just been a beacon of hope for many people,” Kristal said about living in the U.S. “Whether you come here for religious purposes, or you come here for educational purposes, And I just think it’s such a great country to be in.”
The Sanchez sisters are “dreamers,” or DACA recipients.