Reaction among conservatives to President Donald Trump’s proposal for amnesty for 1.8 million young illegal immigrants in exchange for increased border security and immigration restrictions is mixed on Capitol Hill, lawmakers say.
“The White House framework is something that both Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate should be eager to support,” Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., said in a tweet Thursday night. “We all want a good deal, and here it is.”
But a Republican Senate aide told The Daily Signal in an email that some conservative lawmakers have concerns.
“There is some worry that the White House immigration plan gives away too much as an opening offer, but on pure policy grounds, it is a solid effort,” the aide said. “Ending chain migration would be a true, lasting, significant accomplishment.”
Trump announced Thursday that as part of a deal, the administration wants $25 billion for the construction of a wall along the U.S. southern border, more funding for border security personnel, an end to chain migration, and an end to the Diversity Visa Lottery system, as The Daily Signal previously reported.
The number of illegal immigrants that the plan would grant amnesty to is more than double the estimated 800,000 illegal immigrants brought to the country as minors who were protected from deportation under President Barack Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The 1.8 million illegal immigrants specified in Trump’s framework would be put on a path to citizenship that the administration says would take about 10 to 12 years, and would involve work, education, and character requirements.
Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., told The Daily Signal in a phone interview that he is concerned about the framework.
“I think it was probably largely written by White House and Senate staff, who are looking at a compromise deal instead of looking at policy solutions that are thoughtful, and one immediate problem is that it gives amnesty not only to DACA, but people who didn’t even sign up to be DACA, and didn’t take advantage of that opportunity,” Brat said.
He thinks a bill proposed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., which would give renewable legal status to DACA recipients for three years, is a good starting place.
“The Senate has been steering this ship, and they’re just way off course, and so it’s time to get back to the Goodlatte proposal, and pass that through the House, and then compromise after you’ve got good policy in place,” Brat said.
The bill would end the Diversity Visa Lottery and require employers to use E-Verify to check the immigration status of workers and job applicants, as well as authorize a wall, and other efforts designed to increase border security.
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., endorsed Trump’s plan in a statement.
“The framework proposes solutions supported by both parties and the American people: securing our borders, providing long-term certainty for DACA-eligible youth, and making our immigration system more merit-based,” Tillis said.
But Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told reporters at the Capitol that amnesty is the wrong route to take.
“I do not believe we should be granting a path to citizenship to anybody here illegally,” Cruz said. “Doing so is inconsistent with the promises we made to the men and women who elected us.”
However, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., agrees with Tillis.
“The president’s framework is generous and humane, while also being responsible,” Cotton said in a statement released Thursday. “It protects those eligible for DACA, who are here through no fault of their own. But it also will prevent us from ending up back here in five years by securing the border and putting an end to extended-family chain migration.”
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who has been critical of Trump, appeared to support the framework, ahead of its official announcement on Monday.
"Trump open to path to citizenship for some dreamers in immigration deal" This is a good move, Mr. President https://t.co/tNfqMfJsEu
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) January 25, 2018