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'No Wall. No Deals.' Rights Groups Urge Congress to Reject Trump Plan for Trump-Created Crisis

In Saturday afternoon address, president still pushes "border wall" that people don't want to end shutdown he's caused and again makes immigrants bargaining chips

Andrea Germanos

President Donald Trump stops to speak to reporters as he prepared to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on January 19, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
Update: Confirming earlier reports, President Donald Trump on Saturday announced a proposal to end his shutdown that includes $5.7 billion for his "border wall" in exchange for temporary protections for DACA and TPS recipients—a proposal one advocacy group deemed a "cynical ploy" issued by "a president who makes false claims about violence at the border and demonizes immigrants, regardless of status, at every opportunity."

In his address from the White House, which began just after 4pm ET, Trump said the nearly $6 billion would allow for "steel barriers" in "high priority areas," and asserted that "walls are the opposite of immoral." In addition to the three-year reprieve for TPS recipients and uncertainty extension for Dreamers,  his proposal includes over $800 million in "drug detection technology" and over 2,700 agents to further militarize the southern border.

"Trump's cynical ploy to get his $5.7 billion for his vanity wall in exchange for temporary relief for DACA and TPS recipients is a non-starter and should be immediately rejected by congressional leaders," Richard Morales, policy and program director for Faith in Action's immigrant rights campaign.

The partial government shutdown, Morales argued, "exists because of Trump's white supremacist agenda." Moreover, "Even if the shutdown were to suddenly end, the deeper crises created by Trump at the border and in the interior would still need to be addressed by Congress."

"This week," he continued, "we received proof the administration planned months in advance to separate thousands of children from their parents and jail them as a deterrence to stop immigrants from seeking refuge in the U.S. Children have died while in U.S. custody; some have been tear-gassed by U.S. border agents; asylum seekers are being denied access to the legal system to apply."

Trump said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would bring the proposal to Congress this week, but Morales says the response from lawmakers should be a resounding "no."

 "No wall. No deals. Congress must not take the bait from a president who makes false claims about violence at the border and demonizes immigrants, regardless of status, at every opportunity."

Ahead of the speech, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had called the reported plan "a non-starter."

Amnesty International was also dismissive of the plan.

"People on both sides of the border continue to be caught in a crisis of the administration's own making," said Joanne Lin, national director of advocacy and government affairs at the human rights organization. "While the president continues his political posturing, thousands of children and families are being forced to wait in dangerous conditions in Mexico. It's time to get the government back to working order and pass a spending bill that protects the human rights of children and families along the southern border."

Earlier: Immigrant rights activists on Saturday expressed concern that President Donald Trump is about to propose a "deal" to end his government shutdown—and fund his border wall obsession—that would be merely "another trick to hurt even more immigrant families."

Trump is expected to make the announcement from the White House in a 4pm ET address.

According to Axios, which first reported on the proposal, the main crafters of the deal were Trump's son-in-law and White House advisor Jared Kushner and Vice President Mike Pence.  The proposal, Axios reported,

is expected to include Trump's $5.7 billion demand for wall money in exchange for the BRIDGE Act—which would extend protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)—and also legislation to extend the legal status of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, according to a source with direct knowledge.

As multiple news outlets noted, the compromise mirrors one floated in December by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

"As for the timing," CNN adds,

the White House wants it to look like they had a valid reason for canceling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip to Afghanistan, and feared that if there was no movement this weekend—no meetings, no negotiations, or no speeches—they would look bad, two people familiar with the schedule told CNN.

In a Twitter thread, advocacy group United We Dream rebuked the reported proposal. It noted that the administration has put "millions of once protected immigrants in danger" with its attacks on TPS and DACA, and argued that the White House should instead move to create permanent protections for those groups and end the disastrous shutdown immediately.

The shutdown, now in its 29th day, has left hundreds of thousands federal workers suffering.

A new Pew Research Center poll, meanwhile, shows that the majority of Americans—58 percent—oppose expanding the wall on the southern border, and of that group, 88 percent said a bill to end the shutdown that includes the president's request for wall funding is unacceptable.

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