Donald Trump has tied any new deal to help “Dreamers” in the US to a fierce clampdown on illegal immigration and funds to build a physical border wall with Mexico.
Last month, Trump used his executive privilege to end protections for “Dreamers”, the name given to around 690,000 immigrants in the US that had been brought into the country illegally by their parents whilst they were young children.
His decision was met be protests across the US, with many arguing that these young men and women had been brought up in the US since childhood, and now aged in their twenties and early thirties the US is the only country they know – to send them “back” to Mexico or other Latin American countries would be unfair.
Trump is now calling on Congress to give him funds to construct a border wall with Mexico, and hire an additional 10,000 immigration and customs enforcement officers, 1,000 extra lawyers for the border agency, 370 more immigration judges, and 300 new federal prosecutors to clampdown on immigration.
Marc Short, Trump’s legislative affairs director, said the wall and additional personnel were “essential to mitigate the legal and economic consequences of any grant of status to [Dreamers]”.
Leading Democrats have rejected the latest proposals and accused Trump of backtracking on his earlier promise not to tie the future of these young people to the border wall.
Trump campaigned on implementing tough new immigration laws and getting Mexico to pay for a border wall between the two countries. However, Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto has made clear on numerous occasions he did not agree with the wall and Mexico would offer no funds towards its construction. The US president is now looking to Congress for billions of dollars to pay for its construction.
The US Congress is dominated by Republican lawmakers, but Trump has still failed to pass any major legislation in his first eight months in office. Recent public spats with leading Republican figures like John McCain and Bob Corker may further add to his problems in governing the country, with it unclear who will still support his legislative agenda.