President Donald Trump late Friday dangled the prospect of a compromise offer that would break a logjam with Democrats over funding for his border wall, and possibly bring an end to a month-long government shutdown. In the end, his new offer was pretty much like the old one.
In televised remarks delivered at the White House on Saturday, Trump presented what he called a “common sense compromise” that was really just reiteration of his demand of $5.7 billion for his border wall.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), in a statement issued before Trump delivered his remarks, rejected Trump’s proposal, calling it a “non-starter.”
— Rebecca Kaplan (@RebeccaRKaplan) January 19, 2019
In exchange for border wall funding, Trump offered Democrats a three-year reprieve for immigrants living in the United States under two programs that give them the right to live here temporarily: DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and TPS (Temporary Protective Status). Democrats have insisted that immigrants here under those programs be given permanent residency status.
There had been some speculation that the president might declare a national emergency to build his border wall or make a concession that would move him a bit closer to the position held by Democrats, and possibly allow parts of the federal government that have now been closed for nearly a month to finally reopen.
Shortly before delivering his remarks, Trump presided over a naturalization ceremony for five immigrants gaining American citizenship, a bit of stagecraft meant to show that he is, at heart, not at all opposed to new migrants — his policy on immigration issues not withstanding.
His remarks largely reprised comments made during a prime-time Oval Office address earlier this month, offering little of new substance.
The president touted “our nation’s proud history of welcoming legal immigrants from all over the world,” even though his administration has attacked legal immigration — such as birthright citizenship and family reunification.
Trump claimed his plan would contain “critical measures to protect migrant children from exploitation and abuse,” as his government engages in the abusive policy of separating migrant children from their families.
He also repeated shopworn talking points about crimes committed by undocumented immigrants — even though undocumented immigrants are far less likely to commit crimes than native-born U.S. citizens.
And he spoke about drugs flowing into the country — even though Trump’s own administration has admitted that the overwhelming majority of illegal narcotics cross the border at legal ports of entry — before declaring “these are not talking points.”
Trump said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “has pledged to bring this bill to a vote this week in the United States Senate.”
McConnell has refused to consider any of the several bills passed by the House to re-open the government even though they closely resemble legislation that he supported previously.
Trump, who has billed himself as a master negotiator, failed to accept a proposal from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) last year that would have provided $25 billion in wall funding in return for protecting DREAMers.
After telling Democratic leadership at the White House last month that he would take the blame, Trump has pointed the finger at Democrats for the longest government shutdown in U.S. history — even though his party still controlled both branches of Congress when it began.
Trump admitted that his plan doesn’t actually include “a 2,000-mile concrete structure from sea to sea” as he had promised previously, but would be a “physical barriers or a wall.”
And the president’s address made no mention of Mexico, which Trump famously had vowed would foot the bill for a border wall with the United States.