WASHINGTON, Jan 19 (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump proposed an immigration deal on Saturday in a bid to end a 29-day partial government shutdown, after House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other leading Democrats had already said they rejected the plan.
Trump stuck to his demand that $5.7 billion for this year to fund a U.S.-Mexico border wall be part of any bill to fully reopen the government, an ultimatum Democrats oppose. But the president had hoped that offering new protections for some undocumented immigrants could end a month long impasse with Congress.
In a speech from the White House, Trump offered to extend support for legislation to protect young undocumented immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” as well as holders of temporary protected status (TPS).
Describing a U.S. immigration system that he called “badly broken,” Trump said, “I am here today to break the logjam and provide Congress with a path forward to end the government shutdown and solve the crisis along the southern border.”
He said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would seek quick passage of his proposal.
Paulina, 26, a DACA recipient, is comforted after watching U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on a projection screen at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) headquarters in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 5, 2017. Paulina, a graduate of UCLA, arrived in the U.S. when she was 6 years old. She said the decision was really upsetting but she was going to continue to work to push members of Congress to enact a law to protect their rights. “We are not going to give up”, she said. REUTERS/Monica Almeida
LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 15: Mitzi Pena, 19, (R) her sister Yaretzi Pena, 5, and her cousin Karina Terriquez, 20, (L) wait in line to receive assitance in filing up their application for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program at Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles on August 15, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Under a new program established by the Obama administration undocumented youth who qualify for the program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, can file applications from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website to avoid deportation and obtain the right to work. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Paulina, 26, a DACA recipient during U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, on a projection screen at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) headquarters in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 5, 2017. Paulina, a graduate of UCLA, arrived in the U.S. when she was 6 years old. She said the decision was really upsetting but she was going to continue to work to push members of Congress to enact a law to protect their rights. “We are not going to give up”, she said. REUTERS/Monica Almeida
Shortly before he spoke, Pelosi, the top U.S. Democrat, in a statement said the offer was “unacceptable” and did not “represent a good-faith effort to restore certainty to people’s lives.” She said the president’s offer was unlikely to gain the votes needed to pass the House or Senate.
About one-quarter of U.S. government programs have been partially shut down due to a lack of funding as the president has held out for the $5.7 billion he wants just for this year to build a wall on the southwestern U.S. border to keep out illegal immigrants and drugs.
That partial shutdown has meant that 800,000 federal workers were either furloughed or working without pay since Dec. 22.
Earlier on Saturday, Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said he could not support such an offer. “First, President Trump and Senate majority leader McConnell must open the government today,” Durbin said in a statement.
“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.
(Reporting by Steve Holland, Jan Wolfe, Richard Cowan and Pete Schrodeder; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Leslie Adler and David Gregorio)