Donald Trump offers protection for ‘Dreamers’ in exchange for his wall in bid to end government shutdown

President Donald Trump last night offered to extend temporary deportation protections for people illegally brought to the US as children in exchange for funding for his border wall with Mexico.

In a rare weekend address, Mr Trump outlined a series of proposals in the hope of ending the federal government shutdown which has left 800,000 workers furloughed or forced to work unpaid.

The proposal includes legislation to allow around 700,000 immigrants who came to the US illegally as children, known as Dreamers, to keep their work permits and be protected from deportation for three years.

It also extends protections for immigrants from some Latin American and African countries who currently hold temporary protected status (TPS).

The president has previously shied away from offering protections for both groups – a key concern of Democrats and some moderate Republicans – fearing a backlash from the most conservative wing of his base.

The president framed the proposal as "common sense with lots of compromise" as he sought to shift the pressure onto Democrats to reach a funding deal that can end the shutdown.

However Mr Trump reiterated his demand for $5.7bn in funding for a border wall with Mexico – a key 2016 campaign pledge – something Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, has previously pledged to reject.

Ahead of Mr Trump’s address the Democratic leader said she considered his proposal a “nonstarter,” in part because it offered no permanent pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.

“His 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. It is unlikely that any one of these provisions alone would pass the House, and taken together, they are a non-starter," she said.  

Mr Trump has been at logger heads with the Democratic leadership over a funding package for weeks, making this the longest shutdown in US history.

Seeking to cast the plan as a bipartisan way forward, Mr Trump said he had support from "rank-and-file" Democrats, as top Democrats made clear they had not been consulted.

He also said Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, would bring the legislation to a vote this week, though Democrats appeared likely to block it. Mr McConnell had previously stated that no vote should be held in the Senate until Mr Trump and Democrats agreed on a bill.

Mr Trump even toned down the rhetoric on the wall, which he has previously described as "beautiful barbed wire", saying: “This is not a 2,000-mile concrete structure from sea to shining sea. These are steel barriers in high priority locations. Much of the border is already protected by natural barriers such as mountains and water.”

The president also pledged $800 million dollars in humanitarian assistance, medical support, and new temporary housing as well as $782 million to hire an additional 2,750 border agents, law enforcement officers, and staff.

The unusually conciliatory tone is thought to be the result of discussions that Mike Pence, the Vice President, and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and adviser, have had with lawmakers on Capitol Hill in recent days.

The Republicans hope the proposal could persuade a handful of moderate Democrats anxious to re-open the government to lend their support.

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