The Trump administration released a list of hardline immigration priorities on Sunday that threaten to derail efforts to protect from deportation hundreds of thousands of young immigrants, many of whom were brought into the U.S. illegally as children.
The demands include overhauling the country’s green card system, hiring 10,000 more immigration officers and building President Donald Trump’s promised wall along the southern border. Many are policies Democrats have explicitly said are off the table.
But Trump administration officials said the president will insist on their passage in exchange for supporting legislation that would extend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.
“These priorities are essential to mitigate the legal and economic consequences of any grants or status to DACA recipients,” White House legislative affairs director Marc Short told reporters. “We’re asking that these reforms be included in any legislation concerning the status of DACA recipients.”
Initiated under president Barack Obama, DACA protected hundreds of thousands of young people from deportation and allowed them to continue working legally in the U.S. Trump announced a phase-out of the program last month, but he has given Congress six months to come up with a legislative fix.
Included on the list of demands: limiting family-based green cards to spouses and the minor children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents and creating a point-based system.
The White House also said it wants to boost fees at border crossings, make it easier to deport gang members and unaccompanied children, and overhaul the asylum system. And it wants new measures to crack down on “sanctuary cities,” which don’t share information with federal immigration authorities, among other proposals.
‘Far beyond what is reasonable’
Democrats vehemently oppose many of the demands laid out in the administration list.
In a joint statement, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the list “goes so far beyond what is reasonable” and “fails to represent any attempt at compromise.”
“The Administration can’t be serious about compromise or helping the Dreamers [DACA recipients] if they begin with a list that is anathema to the Dreamers, to the immigrant community and to the vast majority of Americans,” they wrote.
“If the President was serious about protecting the Dreamers, his staff has not made a good faith effort to do so,” they said.
Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, accused the administration of trying to “use Dreamers as bargaining chips to achieve the administration’s deportation and detention goals.”
“Congress should reject this warped, anti-immigrant policy wish list,” he said, adding: “Immigrants are humans; we should craft policies that treat them as such.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan’s spokesman Doug Andres said the House immigration working group will review the list and consult with Republican members and the administration.