U.S. President Donald Trump commended the president of the National Border Patrol Council Saturday for expressing his support in a televised interview for the latest White House immigration reform proposal.
"Thank you to Brandon Judd of the National Border Patrol Council for his strong statement on @foxandfriends that we very badly NEED THE WALL. Must also end loophole of “catch & release” and clean up the legal and other procedures at the border NOW for Safety & Security reasons," Trump said in a posting on Twitter.
As president of the council, Judd represents about 18,000 unionized Border Patrol agents and support staff. Judd explained during the interview why he supports Trump's plan to fund a border wall along the Mexican border.
"All you have to do is look at history," Judd said. "Where we built physical barriers, it's dropped the number of illegal entries exponentially."
The plan would establish a $25 billion “trust fund” for a wall, providing funding for the president's core campaign promise. That money would also be for other ports of entry and exit and enhancements to the northern border with Canada.
"We have to have the physical barriers, which is going to be expensive. We know that," Judd said.
In addition to funding for a wall, the plan would eliminate a system where immigrants can sponsor family members who can later sponsor other family members to join them in the United States.
The proposal also calls for ending the visa lottery system for certain countries.
Late Saturday Trump tweeted about his immigration plan, saying “I have offered DACA a wonderful deal, including a doubling in the number of recipients & a twelve year pathway to citizenship, for two reasons: (1) Because the Republicans want to fix a long time terrible problem. (2) To show that Democrats do not want to solve DACA, only use it!”
The White House on Thursday released the details of its Framework on Immigration Reform and Border Security, four days earlier than had been scheduled. It characterized the plan as a framework for compromise.
For the 1.8 million young immigrants living in the United States known as "Dreamers" -- who were brought to the country by their families when they were still minors – there would be a long path to citizenship and with conditions.
For those recipients who have been allowed to stay in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, as well as other who met the same criteria, there would be a “10- to 12-year path to citizenship with requirements for work, education and good moral character.”
But on Friday, as the day before, opponents of the plan spoke out.
At a speech in support of the plan by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Norfolk, Virginia, dozens of protesters gathered outside the library hosting the closed-door speech. Many held signs indicating their opposition to the plan: "Immigrants and refugees welcome" and "Deport racists, not dreamers."
The group chanted: "Lies, hate and fear. One stinking year," presumably referring to the one year that Trump has been in office.
A statement from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Friday read, "The Administration's anti-immigrant framework is an act of staggering cowardice which attempts to hold the Dreamers hostage to a hateful anti-immigrant scheme."
The No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin, has been closely involved with the immigration talks. His statement said, "The White House claims to be compromising because the President now agrees with the overwhelming majority of Americans that Dreamers should have a pathway to citizenship. But his plan would put the Administration's entire hardline immigration agenda -- including massive cuts to legal immigration -- on the backs of these young people."
Trump's plan drew praise from some Republican lawmakers, although no promises to follow it to the letter.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement Thursday evening saying, "I am hopeful that as discussions continue in the Senate on the subject of immigration, members on both sides of the aisle will look to this framework for guidance as they work towards an agreement."
Some Republican hard-liners were displeased that the plan offered a concession to young immigrants.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz said, "I do not believe we should be granting a path to citizenship to anybody here illegally. ... Doing so is inconsistent with the promises we made to the men and women who elected us."
David Milliband, the president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee said that already, based on current trends, the U.S. is "on track to cut by three quarters the number of refugees allowed into the country for resettlement," in Fiscal year 2018, what he called "an unprecedented assault on U.S. global leadership in this area."
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"It is no exaggeration that the future of America as a home for refugees is now on the line," Milliband said. "The administration's determination to squeeze the life out of the refugee resettlement program will harm the lives, and life chances, of some of the most vulnerable people on the planet, and it sets a terrible moral example to the rest of the world."
The IRC resettlement assessment also found that only 13 percent of refugee arrivals in FY 2018 identify as Muslim, compared to 48 percent in FY 2017.
Pushing for vote
The White House is hoping the Senate will be able to vote on the plan early next month, before the February 8 deadline for lawmakers to approve a spending bill to keep the U.S. government operating.
Many opposition Democratic Party lawmakers, as well as some from the president’s Republican party, are opposed to voting for a long-term budget bill without a deal on immigration.
If there’s no legislation to deal with the DACA recipients by March 5, administration officials warned on Thursday that they will be considered “illegal immigrants” and those who come into contact with immigration officers will be processed for deportation.
Steve Herman at the White House contributed to this story.