A top Senate Democrat trying to hammer out a deal to protect hundreds of thousands of Dreamers trashed a White House border security plan on Friday, while warning that Washington is headed toward a government shutdown over the issue.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the second-ranking Senate Democrat, called the Trump administration’s proposed new security measures an effort to undermine bipartisan negotiations on Capitol Hill — talks that have plodded along so far with no resolution in sight.
“President Trump has said he may need a good government shutdown to get his wall. With this demand, he seems to be heading in that direction,” Durbin said in a statement. “It’s outrageous that the White House would undercut months of bipartisan efforts by again trying to put its entire wish list of hardline anti-immigrant bills — plus an additional $18 billion in wall funding — on the backs of these young people.”
Republicans who have been working on the issue have just as furiously pushed back against Democrats.
“The only thing that's not serious is the Gang of Amnesty's ridiculous proposal: amnesty in the millions, no end to chain migration, use diversity-lottery green cards for TPS aliens (T = temporary!), & pittance for phony border security,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) tweeted Friday afternoon. “Get real!”
The White House and the Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Durbin’s remarks.
The administration is asking for $18 billion of funding for a “border wall system” over a decade, according to a five-page document obtained by POLITICO from multiple sources. The document is dated Dec. 27, 2017, although members of a bipartisan group of Senate negotiators received it on Friday.
The document also stresses that it doesn’t include the Trump administration’s other top immigration priorities, such as overhauls of the diversity visa lottery and family-based immigration laws. Those are outlined in a separate set of principles drafted primarily by White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller.
The initial $18 billion request includes 722 miles of border wall, including 316 miles of a new barrier and 407 miles of “replacement and secondary wall,” the document says. The overall border wall system requirements total 2,026 miles, which includes 864 miles of a new main wall and 1,163 of a replacement or secondary barrier.
“Border wall system is a critical capability that provides ‘impedance and denial’ giving the Border Patrol the ability to slow and stop illegal cross border activity,” the document says.
In addition to the $18 billion wall system, it also proposes $5.7 billion over a five-year period for new technology to secure the border, such as drones and sensors; $1.025 billion over five years for improving and building new roads; and $8.5 billion over seven years for additional security personnel.
The $8.5 billion for personnel would include 5,000 border patrol agents; 540 Air and Marine Operations agents; 2,516 CBP officers and 785 “mission support personnel,” according to the plan. Customs and Border Protection also seeks legislation that would “allow for immediate access to federal lands for border security activities.”
Though the document is meant to discuss primarily border security measures, it also discusses other enforcement provisions. It notes that a “strong immigration enforcement system” would require detention facilities for adults and family units; ICE officers to aid in deportation efforts, immigration court judges and resources for the Justice Department, and centers to hold unaccompanied migrant children who show up at the border.
The document also notes that Trump’s “immigration priorities” plan proposes allowing DHS to raise visa and border crossing fees to help pay for these investments, but that funds for border security measures would also need to be appropriated by Congress.
Ted Hesson contributed to this report.