Donald Trump

Trump pushes plan to give 1.8m ‘Dreamers’ US citizenship but vastly change immigration policy

Trump has loudly backed a Republican-sponsored bill that will end chain migration and the immigration lottery - both backed by Democrats 

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 February, 2018, 12:31am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 February, 2018, 2:17am

US President Donald Trump has promoted a Republican plan to legalise 1.8 million undocumented young immigrants while spending billions on US-Mexico border security and significantly change decades of current policy.

In a White House statement, Trump urged the Senate to back the proposal, saying it accomplishes his vision for immigration, and rejected the Democrat-led approach that focuses on the young immigrants and borders while leaving current policy in place.

The full-throated endorsement of the plan comes as a group of bipartisan senators worked on a possible solution to the intractable issue that could earn enough support in the closely divided Senate.

The immigrants, who were brought into the US as children and are known as “Dreamers,” currently face potential deportation after March 25, when the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme ends.

Trump, promoting the Republican plan sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley of Iowa, said it “accomplishes the four pillars of the White House framework”.

Those pillars are, he said, “a lasting solution on DACA, ending chain migration, cancelling the visa lottery, and securing the border through building the wall and closing legal loopholes.”

“I am asking all senators, in both parties, to support the Grassley bill and to oppose any legislation that fails to fulfil these four pillars – that includes opposing any short-term ‘Band-Aid’ approach.”

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Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky also backed the plan, and most Republicans on Tuesday appeared to be rallying behind the proposal by Grassley and six other Republican senators.

It fulfils Trump’s calls to legalise 1.8 million dreamers, immediately authorises spending at least US$25 billion to bolster defences along the US-Mexico border.

However, in moves sure to upset Democrats, it also makes changes to “chain” immigration programmes that allow relatives of US citizens to gain citizenship, and ends a diversity lottery system used to promote immigration from smaller countries.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York said the Grassley plan unfairly targets family-based immigration.

The Democrat also argued that making such broad changes as part of a plan to legalise just a few million people “makes no sense.”

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Meanwhile, Trump said he is “encouraged” by ongoing attempts to build support for a more conservative immigration reform plan introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, a Republican. 

Republican House leaders planned to spend Wednesday whipping potential support for the bill, which is opposed by Democrats and several Republicans because of its aggressive border security policy and changes to family-based immigration.