Leading Democrats and their activist supporters have responded to the White House immigration framework with near-unanimous scorn, calling it a betrayal of American values cooked up by a “white supremacist” cabal in the administration.
Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, who for nearly two decades has sought a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, accused President Donald Trump of waging a “crusade to tear families apart” and declared the plan a nonstarter.
Durbin’s rhetoric was exceeded by fellow Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus firebrand who has been arrested multiple times while leading protests agitating for ‘Dreamer’ amnesty. Gutierrez said Trump’s request for $25 billion to build a border wall amounted to a “ransom” for DACA recipients and a personal insult to future Hispanic immigrants.
“It would be far cheaper to erect a 50-foot concrete statue of a middle finger and point it towards Latin America,” he tweeted Thursday afternoon. “Both a wall and the statue would be equally offensive and equally ineffective and both would express Trump’s deeply held suspicion of Latinos.”
Not to be outdone, United We Dream, the largest “immigrant youth network” in the country, managed to synthesize a number of talking points into a single scathing response to the White House plan.
“Let’s call this proposal for what it is: a white supremacist ransom note,” the group said in a statement. “Trump and [White House aide] Stephen Miller killed DACA and created the crisis that immigrant youth are facing. They have taken immigrant youth hostage, pitting us against our own parents, Black immigrants and our communities in exchange for our dignity.”
It was a unified message, but also one that American voters reject by a wide margin.
The White House immigration plan, teased Thursday as a DACA compromise that could meet a 60-vote threshold in the Senate, consists of four pillars. It would end the diversity visa lottery, pare down family visas to spouses and minor children, and set up a $25 billion trust fund to build the border wall. In exchange, about 1.8 million younger illegal immigrants — the number of people eligible for DACA under the program’s original guidelines — would be offered a path to citizenship.
Polling shows widespread support for nearly all of the provisions in the White House framework. A Harvard-Harris poll released earlier this week found that 81 percent of voters support reducing annual immigration from its current level of more than 1 million per year, including 63 percent who want it cut by at least half.
Nearly 70 percent of all voters think the green card lottery, which randomly allots 50,000 immigrant visas to people from countries with low immigration to the U.S., is a bad idea. That figure includes 62 percent of Democratic voters, 61 percent of Hispanic voters, and 57 percent of black voters, according to the Harvard-Harris Poll.
As for border security, the administration’s proposal to build a physical wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border has struggled to crack 50 percent support among all voters. But a majority of voters — 54 percent — support building a “combination of physical and electronic barriers” across the southwest border. That description lines up with the public statements of top administration officials, including Trump himself, who have conceded that a contiguous border wall is not necessary.
Finally, rolling all of the border security and immigration reforms into a deal that gives DACA recipients a path to citizenship, as the White House immigration framework does, is an overwhelmingly popular plan. The Harvard-Harris poll found that two-thirds of all voters favor such a deal, including 68 percent of Hispanic voters and 64 percent of black voters.
In rejecting the White House framework out of hand, immigration activists and their Democratic allies appear to be speaking for a noisy, but narrow, slice of the electorate.
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