WASHINGTON – The White House requested on Friday $18 billion from Congress to fund the construction and expansion of the wall along the southwestern border with Mexico as one of the conditions in negotiations to resolve the future of migrants who were brought into the country as children illegally.
These migrants, known as “Dreamers,” had been protected under an Obama-era policy called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
President Donald Trump’s administration ended DACA in October 2017, and gave Congress until March 5, 2018 to provide an alternative solution.
US Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin called the request “outrageous” in a press release on Friday, accusing the administration of “undercutting months of bipartisan efforts by again trying to put its entire wish-list of hardline anti-immigration bills – plus an additional $18 billion in wall funding – on the backs of these young people.”
“President Trump has said he may need a good government shutdown to get his wall. With this demand, he seems to be heading in that direction,” Durbin said, adding that Democrats would consider “reasonable border security measures” in order to protect the so-called “dreamers” from deportation.
In a meeting with Senate Republicans on Thursday, Trump reiterated his administration’s belief in the need for a physical wall in order to “keep out deadly drug dealers, dangerous traffickers and violent cartel criminals,” and that “any legislation on DACA must secure the border with a wall.”
DACA was a policy enacted by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama in 2012 that protected from deportation young migrants who had entered or remained in the US illegally as minors and allowed them to work legally.
Democrats in Congress want to approve a law protecting the 690,000 young people in question from deportation, but Trump has insisted on linking any such deal to receiving funding for the border wall and his other immigration priorities.
Trump made the construction of a barrier along the border with Mexico a key campaign pledge.