Republicans Tell Democrats: 'We'll Give you DACA if You Fund Trump's Border Wall'

Senior Congressional Republicans are willing to work with Democrats to keep a program allowing young people who came to America illegally with their parents to stay in the U.S. But Democrats will in return have to give President Donald Trump funding for his border wall.  

Early Tuesday Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected to announce an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that grants two-year U.S. work permits to 800,000 young illegal immigrants known as “Dreamers.”

President Trump said last Friday: “We think the Dreamers are terrific,” but by Sunday he decided to cancel the program with a six month grace period.

Ending the program means that young undocumented immigrants—nearly half of whom came to the U.S. before the age of six—could be deported.  

A number of Senior House Republican sources told Politico Monday that they are willing to make the DACA program law, but only in exchange for initial funding in 2018 for Trump’s plan to build a border wall.

The DACA program could be made law through the bipartisan Dream Act already before Congress.

In July the House approved $1.6 billion in spending to improve and expand the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border in the 2018 budget. Exactly $38 million of that money would be set aside for future wall planning.

During the 2016 campaign Trump repeatedly said Mexico would pay for a concrete barrier he imagined stretching from one end of the border to another. The cost was estimated to be more than $20 billion. Administration officials, however, have said a concrete barrier is impractical and a virtual wall can be achieved through sensor and monitoring technology.

Read more: What is DACA—the program for young illegal immigrants Trump wants to end?

RTX3EDWR2 Supporters of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipient during a rally outside the Federal Building in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 1, 2017. REUTERS/Kyle Grillot

As Congress reconvenes this week, the wall spending is at play in a separate debate over a budget package to fund the government through the end of the year. The deadline to pass it is September 30 or there will be a government shutdown. But Republicans need Democratic support.

“There’s no path forward for [border wall funding],” wrote Matt Dennis, a spokesman for Representative Nita Lowey, Ranking Member House Appropriations Committee, in an email to Newsweek last week.

The 2018 spending “can’t be enacted into law because it can’t gain Democratic votes in the Senate, and I don’t have any indication that the Senate is even planning on taking it up,” Dennis said.

Preserving the DACA program, however, gives Republicans leverage to get funding next year for the president’s plan to expand the border wall.

But there is already push back to the idea of making a trade by some Democrats. California Democrat House Representative Eric Swalwell‏ wrote on Twitter late Monday that he rejects the idea. “I will not give you a pass to be a slight racist on Monday so you can be fully racist on Tuesday,” he said.

Republicans are divided on the idea and some say they are behind the plan to make the DACA program law without tying it to whether or not they can fund Trump’s border wall project.

“We as Americans do not hold children legally accountable for the actions of their parents,” said Senator James Lankford in a statement Monday.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has also supported the idea of making the program law. “These are kids who know no other country, who are brought here by their parents and don't know another home. And so I really do believe that there needs to be a legislative solution,” Ryan said during a radio interview on Wisconsin radio station WCLO Friday.

Senator Lindsey Graham who is behind the bipartisan Dream Act said Monday that he is also behind the idea of making the DACA program law with no strings attached.

“If President Trump makes this decision,” Graham reassured Dreamers Monday, “we will work to find a legislative solution to their dilemma.”

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