President Trump gave what he called a “major announcement” about the southern border and the partial government shutdown on Saturday. In his speech, Mr. Trump cited the “humanitarian crisis” at the border, where he said young children were being “exploited” by coyotes and women were being sexual assaulted. He did not distinguish between illegal migration and asylum seekers.
“The lack of border control provides a gateway — and a very wide and open gateway — to allow illegal criminal and aliens to get into the United States,” Mr. Trump said, adding that he would keep to the promise he made as a candidate to “fix this crisis.”
Mr. Trump then presented what the White House believes could be a deal to end the shutdown, saying he was speaking to “break the logjam.”
“It is a compassionate response to the ongoing tragedy at our southern border,” Mr. Trump said about his planned deal, said he hoped “Democrat lawmakers” would provide “their enthusiastic support.”
“The radical left can never control our borders. I will not let it happen. Walls are not immoral, in fact it is the opposite of immoral,” Mr. Trump said.
The deal Mr. Trump laid out included $800 million in immediate humanitarian aid, $805 million for improved drug detection technology at legal ports of entry, hiring 2,750 new border agents and 75 new immigration judge teams to reduce court backlogs — all of which Democrats support. The deal also includes new system to allow Central American minors to apply for asylum in their home countries.
However, it still contained the $5.7 billion demand for the wall, which he said would not be a “concrete barrier from sea to shining sea,” but would instead be “steel barriers.” He said that a wall would be built along 230 miles of the border.
He also said that he would extend protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for three years, as well as an extension of the legal status of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders. Mr. Trump announced that he planned to hold weekly bipartisan meetings at the White House to discuss immigration reform.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he would bring this legislation to the floor this week. The Senate reconvenes on Tuesday. GOP Sen. Marco Rubio also said that it sounded like a “reasonable deal.”
However, Democrats seem unlikely to take the deal. A senior House Democratic aide told CBS News that Democrats do not truly consider this a compromise, as Mr. Trump still wants full funding for the wall. They also believe that the deal does not offer full protection to Dreamers and is a temporary fix.
Pelosi said in a statement before the speech that based on reports of the deal, she would not support it, calling it a “nonstarter” which was unlikely to pass the House.
“Unfortunately, initial reports make clear that his proposal is a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable and in total, do not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people’s lives,” Pelosi said. “For one thing, this proposal does not include the permanent solution for the Dreamers and TPS recipients that our country needs and supports.”
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin also said in a statement that he would not support the rumored deal before the speech.
“First, President Trump and Senate Majority Leader McConnell must open the government today. Second, I cannot support the proposed offer as reported and do not believe it can pass the Senate. Third, I am ready to sit down at any time after the government is opened and work to resolve all outstanding issues,” Durbin said.
Some conservatives also voiced their opposition to the deal. Right-wing commentator Ann Coulter tweeted: “Trump proposes amnesty. We voted for Trump and got Jeb!”
Mr. Trump announced that he would be making the speech on Twitter Friday evening.
“I will be making a major announcement concerning the Humanitarian Crisis on our Southern Border, and the Shutdown,” Mr. Trump tweeted Friday evening. He had originally said it would be at 3 p.m. but his schedule later noted it would take place an hour later. He is giving the speech after presiding over a naturalization ceremony for immigrants at the White House.
Saturday marks the 29th day of the longest government shutdown in history. Mr. Trump and congressional Democrats are currently deadlocked over funding for a border wall. Mr. Trump refuses to sign any government funding bill that does not include money for a wall, and Democrats are refusing to negotiate while the government is shut down. Around 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed or working without pay since the shutdown began.
In recent weeks, Mr. Trump has considered declaring a national emergency, which would enable him to build the wall without congressional approval. Mr. Trump said earlier this month that “I can do it if I want.” So far, he has not. “I think we might work a deal,” he has said. But Mr. Trump went on to threaten, “And if we don’t, I may go that route. I have the absolute right to do national emergency if I want.”
Mr. Trump’s announcement will coincide with women’s marches across the country that both protest Trump administration policies and try to draw attention to other policy priorities for women.