Axios reports Wednesday that the White House is considering offering a "path to permanent residency" for the more than 700,000 "DREAMers," in return for extending funding on the border wall and an end to the partial government shutdown.
Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner reportedly came up with the idea as a way to break the "congressional deadlock," but the idea appears to have been circling for some time among more moderate congressional Republicans looking to pass a comprehensive immigration reform package rather than simple funding for President Donald Trump's signature anti-illegal immigration method, the border wall.
The idea may not be that novel, either: the White House has already expressed an interest in extending protections to those who benefitted from former President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (or DACA) executive order. Trump has suggested allowing DACA to hang around for at least three more years as a condition of border wall funding, giving Congress time to find a more permanent solution for illegal immigrants who made the journey to the United States as minors, along with their parents.
The Trump administration has also offered to help revise the rules of the "Temporary Protected Status," giving more seasonal and guest workers the ability to avoid deportation while they hold down a job for a federally recognized employer.
Extending "greencards" to DACA recipients would be a little different. It doesn't give them a "path to citizenship," which Democrats desperately want, but it does grant a sort-of permanent residency that they could eventually transition into American citizenship.
But as Hot Air points out, this may not be the time for the type of "big gesture" a path to permanent residency for 700,000 currently illegal immigrants seems to be. The Democrats aren't interested in offering any funding for Trump's border wall, let alone the $5 billion the administration has requested — a request that pales in comparison to Democratic pork and entitlement spending contained in the same temporary funding bill.
And the last time an "amnesty" for DREAMers was on the table, the administration was asking for $25 billion for the full wall project, making the greencards-for-partial funding deal akin to a $20 billion dollar cave.
That's precisely what one Republican told Axios. "If you throw green cards onto the table, this whole coalition will fall over on the right," an unnamed senator said. "If you start putting citizenship on the table in any meaningful way, Democrats will have to give more, and they’re not ready to give more."
The problem for the Trump administration, though, is that the Democrats aren't interested in coming to the bargaining table, because a lengthy government shutdown seems to be benefitting the Democratic coalition. As Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) noted on Twitter, Democrats have even avoided simple shutdown relief bills — including bills to restore a single paycheck to federal workers — to keep the shutdown painful.
Big deal that never got reported:— Rep. Dan Crenshaw (@RepDanCrenshaw) January 23, 2019
Last week, House GOP voted to pay federal employees their 1st paycheck of 2019, despite shutdown. Only 6 Dems voted with us. It failed.
Dem priority is not paying workers or opening gov't. It is opposing Trump. https://t.co/i9TKGIjRnY
Talks are expected to resume on the shutdown later this week. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said over the weekend that he plans to bring at least one bill to the Senate floor this week for consideration.