Democrats call Trump's proposal to end shutdown 'inadequate'

US president offers temporary protection for DACA, TPS recipients in exchange for $5.7bn in funding for border wall.

    Democrats have called for a path to citizenship for undocumented migrants brought to the US as children, a sticking point with Republicans [Alex Brandon/AP]
    Democrats have called for a path to citizenship for undocumented migrants brought to the US as children, a sticking point with Republicans [Alex Brandon/AP]

    US President Donald Trump sought to break the government shutdown impasse on Saturday, offering to extend protections for young undocumented people brought to the country as children, if Democrats give him $5.7bn for his long-promised border wall, which he referred to as a "steel-barrier". But Democrats dismissed the offer as non-starter, calling on Trump to re-open the government first.

    Speaking from the White House, Trump said he was offering a "common-sense compromise both parties should embrace".

    In advance of Trump's remarks, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the expected proposal for ending the 29-day partial government shutdown was "a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable". The California Democrat said Trump's expected offer was "not a good-faith effort" to help the immigrants and could not pass the House. 

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    Republicans called Trump's proposal "fantastic" and "reasonable". 

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has so far this year refused to bring any legislation to the floor that Trump won't sign, said he plans Senate action this week on Trump's plan. 

    But it would be difficult for the measure to get 60 votes needed to survive in the Senate, and it seems certain to die in the House. 

    'Tepid fixes'

    Since the shutdown began on December 22, some 800,000 federal workers have either been furloughed or required to work without pay. The shutdown, the longest of its kind, affects about one-quarter of the US government programmes. 

    Earlier on Saturday, Dick Durbin, the No 2 Senate Democrat, said he could not support such an offer. “First, President Trump and Senate majority leader McConnell must open the government today,” Durbin said in a statement.

    “Second, I cannot support the proposed offer as reported and do not believe it can pass the Senate. Third, I am ready to sit down at any time after the government is opened and work to resolve all outstanding issues,” Durbin said.

    Trump's plan would give beneficiaries, often called "Dreamers", of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme temporary protection. DACA provides about 700,000 immigrants with work permits, but no path to citizenship. The plan would also provide limited protections to holders of temporary protected status (TPS). 

    Former Democratic President Barack Obama put DACA in place in 2012 through an executive order. The Trump administration announced in September 2017 it would rescind DACA, but the policy remains in effect under a court order.

    Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is given to nationals from designated countries affected by armed conflict, natural disaster, or other strife. TPS holders are permitted to work and live in the United States for limited times.

    The Trump administration has shown a deep scepticism towards the TPS programme and has moved to revoke the special status for immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras and other nations.

    The American Civil Liberties Union called Trump's proposal "too limited". 

    In a tweet the rights organisation said, "You don't get a 'get out of a shutdown for free' card by offering such tepid fixes for Dreamers and TPS Recipients."

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    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies