Top Democrat Retracts $25 Billion Offer to Trump for Border Wall Funding

By Alfonso Serrano Jan 24, 2018

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced on Tuesday (January 23) that he withdrew a $25 billion offer to fund President Donald Trump’s southern border wall in exchange for legal protections for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, commonly referred to as “Dreamers.”

Schumer first made the offer on Friday (January 19), as the deadline for passing a stopgap spending measure loomed. Now, he is facing criticism from progressive Democrats for ending a spending bill impasse on Monday (January 22) without guarantees for immigrants who are slated to lose protected status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on March 5.

According to USA Today, Schumer told press that "the wall offer is off the table." He went on to say, "It was the first thing the president and I talked about. The thought was we could come to an agreement that afternoon, the president would announce his support, and then the Senate and the House would get it done and it would be on the president’s desk. He didn’t do that, so we’re going to have to start on a new basis."

The temporary spending bill approved on Monday ended the three-day government shutdown and gave lawmakers until February 8 to strike a long-term deal. In return, Republican leaders agreed to address Democratic demands that the spending measure restore protections for some 800,000 DACA receipients.

In a tweet late Tuesday, Trump restated that he is unwilling to strike a deal for unless it includes funding for a border wall.

In September, the Trump administration rescinded the Obama-era DACA program that protected recipients from deportation and allowed them to work and study. It was a decision that was immediately challenged by several state attorneys general. Trump called on Congress to find a legislative solution for these young immigrants before the March deadline.

Earlier this month, a federal judge temporarily barred the Trump administration from ending DACA until litigation over the administration’s position is resolved. The White House called the ruling "outrageous."

Despite Trump’s border wall avowals and Schumer’s funding retraction, some moderate Republicans still believe they can strike a deal on immigration with Democrats before the February 8 deadline. “I think the Democrats are willing to do quite a bit on border security,” Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) told The Washington Post, adding that there are about 30 Republicans in the Senate who would vote for a path to citizenship for Dreamers.

Some Democrats, however, remain doubtful of the GOP’s willingness to provide DACA recipients with a pathway to citizenship. Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus worry that House Republicans will aggressively pursue a measure that would renew legal status for Dreamers for three years, but won’t provide a path to citizenship. The measure, written by Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), would eliminate visa programs, increase interior deportation efforts, and hire 10,000 more agents to monitor U.S. borders.