Newstalk
Newstalk

10.33 20 Jan 2019


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Democrats in the US have rejected a proposal from President Donald Trump aimed at ending the Federal Government shutdown.

In a televised address last night, President Trump offered temporary protection to around a million immigrants in exchange for billions of dollars in funding for his border wall.

He offered the immigrants – including 700,000 so-called ‘Dreamers,’ brought to the US illegally as children – three years protection.

They are currently protected from deportation under a programme that allows them to work but not get citizenship - a programme President Trump has been trying to rescind.

He also offered three-year visa extension for holders of Temporary Protection Status – meaning more than 300,000 people who arrived in the US from countries affected by war or disaster would be allowed to continue to work.

President Trump said the concessions could "build the trust and goodwill necessary to begin real immigration reform."

"I'm here today to break the logjam and provide Congress with a path forward to end the government shutdown and solve the crisis on the southern border," he said.

He began by noting that the US has a proud history of welcoming migrants – but insisted the system had been "badly broken for a very long time."

Shutdown

The dispute centres on US President Donald Trump’s demand for nearly €6m in federal funding to build his wall along the southern border with Mexico.

Democrats have refused to agree any spending bill that includes funding for the wall – while President Trump won't sign any bill without it.

The shutdown, now in its fifth week, is the longest in US history and has left 800,000 federal workers unpaid.

“Non-starter”

Democrats described the offer as a “non-starter” and said the plan was a “compilation of several previously rejected initiatives.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer labelled the proposals "more hostage-taking."

“It’s clear President Donald Trump realizes that by closing the government and hurting so many American workers and their families, he has put himself and the country in an untenable position,” he said.

“Unfortunately he keeps putting forward one-sided and ineffective remedies.

“There’s only way out: Open up the government Mr President - and then Democrats and Republicans can have a civil discussion and come up with bipartisan solutions.”

“Hostage taking”

He noted that it was President Trump who threatened ‘Dreamer’ and TPS protections in the first place and said, “Offering some protections back in exchange for the wall is not a compromise but more hostage taking.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: "[Mr Trump's] proposal is a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable and in total, do not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people's lives.

"They are a non-starter."

President Trump said he was offering a "common sense compromise both parties should embrace."

He said his border wall would not be a concrete structure "from sea to shining sea" but rather "steel barriers in high-priority locations."

His new proposals also included €906m in humanitarian aid, €912m in funding for drug detection technology and an additional 2,750 border agents.

He said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will bring his proposal for a vote in the Senate this week.


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