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US immigration

Democrats turn down bill that would offer 30-month ‘Dreamer’ extension for US$25b in funding for Trump’s border wall

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 March, 2018, 3:15am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 March, 2018, 3:57am

Congressional Democrats have rejected a White House bid to extend protections for so-called Dreamer immigrants in exchange for US$25 billion in funding for US President Donald Trump’s long-sought US-Mexico border wall.

The development came as talks continued on a massive US$1.3 trillion catchall spending bill that is required to avoid another government shutdown on Friday.

Aides said efforts to use the measure as a vehicle to extend protections for young immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, or DACA, appeared likely to fail.

Trump killed the Obama-era programme in September, theoretically meaning the immigrants - known as ‘Dreamers’ - could be deported this month, but a court decision has essentially left it in place, for now.

The White House made its offer for a 30-month extension of DACA protections in exchange for US$25 billion for the wall on Sunday, but Democrats demanded protections for a broader pool of immigrants.

Also standing in the way of an accord are disputes over immigration, abortion and a massive New York-New Jersey rail project that pits Trump against his most powerful Democratic adversary, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Protesters amass in Mexico and US as Trump sees border wall prototypes

A House vote, contingent on an agreement, could take place on Wednesday. Action is needed by midnight Friday to avert another government shutdown.

The measure carries political and policy victories for both sides. Republicans and Trump are winning a long-sought budget increase for the Pentagon while Democrats obtain funding for infrastructure, the opioid crisis and a wide swathe of domestic programmes.

Coupled with last year’s tax cut measure, it heralds the return of trillion-dollar budget deficits.