Trump Offers Temporary DACA Protection In Exchange For Wall Funding

President Trump put an offer on the table to end the shutdown, the question is whether it will actually lead anywhere.

As expected, in a speech from the White House today, the President offered what he contends is a deal that would reopen the government, deal with the issue of border wall funding and at least appears to offer Democrats a bone on two issues that have been outstanding since the start of the shutdown, which is now in its twenty-ninth day:

WASHINGTON — President Trump announced on Saturday that he would extend deportation protections for some undocumented immigrants in exchange for $5.7 billion in funding for a wall along the border with Mexico.

In casting the proposal as a compromise, Mr. Trump sought to shift pressure to Democrats to end the government shutdown.

The president, delivering a 13-minute address from the White House, said he would extend the legal status of those facing deportation and support bipartisan legislation that would allow some immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children, known as Dreamers, to keep their work permits and be protected from deportation for three more years if they are revoked.

“That is our plan,” Mr. Trump said. “Straightforward, fair, reasonable and common sense with lots of compromise.” The proposal, Mr. Trump said, was intended to “break the logjam and provide Congress with a path forward.”

But he reiterated his demand for $5.7 billion in funding for a border barrier, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi said ahead of his remarks that she considered his proposal a “nonstarter,” in part because it offered no permanent pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.

It was the second time during the shutdown that the president addressed the nation about what he has called an immigration crisis.

This time, Mr. Trump made the speech standing behind a lectern, under an oil portrait of George Washington, a setting aides said he preferred to the seated, direct-to-camera Oval Office address he delivered earlier this month when he highlighted what he described as a growing “security crisis” at the border.

He tried to weave in the concessions to Democrats with a hard-line appeal to his base, opening his remarks with the same kinds of warnings of exploited children and rape that he said confront undocumented immigrants at the border.

But over all, the remarks stood in contrast to that prime-time address, in which the president sought to reframe the debate by outlining examples of grisly violence at the border. That address, which Mr. Trump was reluctant to make, failed to turn public opinion to his side. This time, Mr. Trump struck a more inclusive tone, calling his proposal a “common-sense compromise both parties should embrace” and noting that his was a “compassionate response.”

More from The Washington Post:

President Trump on Saturday offered Democrats three years of deportation protections for some immigrants in exchange for $5.7 billion in border wall funding, a proposal immediately rejected by Democrats and derided by conservatives as amnesty.

Aiming to end the 29-day partial government shutdown, Trump outlined his plan in a White House address as he sought to revive negotiations with Democrats after weeks of a standoff.

Trump proposed offering a reprieve on his attempts to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and temporary protected status (TPS) for immigrants from some Latin American and African nations, along with building hundreds of miles of barriers on the U.S. southern border and hiring thousands of new law enforcement agents to be deployed there.

Trump said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will put the legislation on the Senate floor for a vote next week. Trump heralded the package as a bipartisan “compassionate response” that would offer humanitarian relief on the border and curb illegal immigration, and allow the government to reopen.

“This is a common-sense compromise both parties should embrace,” Trump said. He then added: “The radical left can never control our borders. I will never let it happen.”

It’s not clear whether the offer would be enough to break an impasse that has resulted in 800,000 federal workers to be furloughed or forced to work without pay and numerous government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, to operate at minimal staffing levels.

The shutdown is now the longest in U.S. government history.

The ongoing shutdown of some 25 percent of the federal government was triggered by Trump’s demands for $5.7 billion to build more than 200 miles of new wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Pelosi calls the wall “immoral,” and Democrats are refusing to offer more than $1.3 billion to extend existing funding levels for border barriers and fences. Democrats also frequently point out that Trump long claimed Mexico would pay for the wall.


Trump called his proposal one he hopes “rank-and-file” Democrats will support though many issued statements moments after his 13-minute speech rejecting the plan. The White House has unsuccessfully tried to peel off Democrats with overtures, including inviting some to the White House last week.

This proposal is basically what Axios reported earlier today, and which Steven Taylor posted about. Based on those early reports Democrats were not exactly reacting positively to the idea. Just prior to the President’s speech, Democratic aides were telling Axios that the deal was a non-starter as was Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Saturday called reports of a deal to be proposed by President Trump to end a record-long partial government shutdown a “non-starter.”

“Democrats were hopeful that the President was finally willing to re-open government and proceed with a much-need discussion to protect the border. Unfortunately, initial reports make clear that 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,” she said in a statement.

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

Reports surfaced Saturday that Trump would propose a deal that would temporarily extend protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program recipients and introduce legislation extending the legal status of Temporary Protected Status holders in exchange for his requested $5.7 billion for a border wall.

Pelosi slammed the deal for not including “the permanent solution for the Dreamers and TPS recipients that our country needs and supports.”

The White House and congressional Democrats are at an impasse in negotiations to end a partial government shutdown that entered its 29th day Saturday, extending its record as the longest shutdown in U.S. history.

Trump has not changed his demand for border wall money despite multiple declarations from Democrats that such funds should be separated from discussions on a spending bill.

The House speaker included several border security measures her party would support, including increased infrastructure investments at ports of entry, advanced technology to detect drugs and other contraband and increased customs personnel and immigration judges.

“Next week, Democrats will pass a package of six bills agreed to by House and Senate negotiators and other legislation to re-open government so that we can fully negotiate on border security proposals. The President must sign these bills to re-open government immediately and stop holding the American people hostage with this senseless shutdown,” Pelosi said.

Here is Pelosi’s statement:

On it’s face, Trump’s proposal does seem as if it’s somewhat of concession to the extent that it adds sweeteners such as temporary extensions for the protections for beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protective Status programs, both of which are issues that Democrats have been pushing for action on for the better part of a year now. The proposal falls short of Democratic aspirations, though, to the extent that it only involves extending the protections for the two programs for a period of three years. Additionally, the fact that the proposal still insists on funding for the border wall is likely to remain a problem for Democrats. Indeed, I suspect that the reaction of most if not all Democrats to this proposal will be the same as Pelosi’s, a rejection of the President’s proposals for the reasons stated and because they believe that they have public opinion on their side. Additionally, the odds are that this matter won’t make it past a cloture vote in the Senate unless there are at least seven Democratic crossover votes and, of course, no Republican defections.

The biggest problem with this proposal, and indeed with the entire government shutdown, is the same one that made the October 2013 shutdown unacceptable. In both cases, the government was shut down not because of spending issues per se, or over taxes, the budget deficit, or the national debt. Instead, this is a shutdown where one side, specifically the President, is holding a significant portion of the government hostage to gain a policy advantage. In 2013, it was a quixotic attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. This time its an equally quixotic attempt to get money for a border wall that is never going to be built, that isn’t needed, and that Mexico isn’t going to pay for. In an effort to gain a political advantage, the President has added in DACA and TPS. While these are both important policy issues, they are, in the end, policy issues. No President should be permitted to hold government funding hostage over a policy position. Today it’s a Republican refusing to reopen the government if he doesn’t get his way on immigration. How will the GOP react if a Democrat did the same thing over a policy idea they oppose? If the President wants to negotiate an immigration deal that includes border security, then he can do so after the government has been reopened. Given the reality of the situation, this isn’t where we find ourselves but it’s certainly where we should be.

Going forward, though, there are really two questions that this proposal raises.

The first is whether or not it ends up leading toward a reopening of negotiations that have, for the most part, been shut down for at least the past week. This will largely be up to Democrats, who right now seem intent on moving forward with their own strategy of passing bills in the House to reopen the majority of the government in the House while daring the Senate to bring those bills to the floor for a vote, which of course will not happen. On the Republican side, we’ll see the Senate bring up a bill more or less resembling the President’s proposal for a vote next week. That vote will most likely not pass a cloture motion, meaning that we’ll be somewhere toward the end of next week in the same position we’re in right now, with the difference that the impact of the shutdown will continue to grow. Given that, the most logical thing to do would be for both sides to use this as an opportunity to reopen negotiations and see if they can’t reach a deal that, while imperfect, would be enough to reopen the government which, in the end, is the ultimately the goal here.

The second question is what the political impact of all of this might be assuming that it doesn’t lead to a quick reopening of the government, which seems unlikely. Up until this point, the shutdown has been entirely in the President’s lap due to his insistence that any bill to reopen the government include at least $5 billion in funding for his border wall. He’s still insisting on that, but he has added some sweeteners into the package that Democrats should arguably be in favor of, specifically the admittedly temporary protections for DACA and TPS beneficiaries. Going forward, Democrats will need to be careful that they don’t end up turning public opinion around to the point where they start getting blamed for the shutdown as much as, or more than, the President. Of course, at the same time, the President has proven several times over the past two years that he cannot be trusted to keep his word so it’s only natural to ask whether he can be trusted to keep his word this time, especially since Ann Coulter is already reacting negatively to his proposal. In any case, we’ll see where things go from here but I’m not optimistic.

Update: Senate Majority Leader has issued a statement on Trump’s proposal:

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Congress, Deficit and Debt, Science & Technology, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Teve says:
  2. Teve says:

    Patton Oswalt

    It’s good that Ann Coulter is crying over Trump’s DACA compromise but those tears will eat right through the hull of the Nostromo if we’re not careful

    5:56 PM · Jan 19, 2019 · Twitter for iPhone

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Trump Offers Temporary DACA Protection In Exchange For Wall Funding

    Fuck that sh1t. I knew this was the kind of deal they were gonna offer when he and Kushner met with McConnell. trump has broken damn near every deal he’s ever made. He wouldn’t even wait for the ink to be dry on this one.

    They aren’t even trying to end the shutdown. Just trying to shift the polls.

    “We offered them a compromise and they said, ‘No.’ ”

    Wrong. We said “Hell no.”

  4. Teve says:

    Chuck Schumer
    Replying to
    keeps putting forward one-sided and ineffective remedies.

    There’s only way out: open up the government, Mr. President, and then Democrats and Republicans can have a civil discussion and come up with bipartisan solutions.

    Chuck Schumer
    It was President
    who single-handedly took away DACA and TPS protections in the first place—offering some protections back in exchange for the wall is not a compromise but more hostage taking.

  5. Teve says:

    They aren’t even trying to end the shutdown. Just trying to shift the polls.

    exactly. And now we have to wait three or four days for polls to reveal the American public didn’t suddenly take a bunch of stupid pills, and they still blame Trump and the Republicans, and then what are they going to do?

  6. Teve says:

    Coulter’s swinging hard against this already.

    Trump proposes amnesty. We voted for Trump and got Jeb!

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: I’m pretty sure Nancy and Chuck are gonna grab this “offer” by the throat and choke it into something much more to their liking. McConnell and trump will reject it outright and in 3 or 4 days….

    Negotiations, actual honest to dog negotiations where both parties sit at the same table have to begin at some point. I have to think N & C are going to try and get McConnell out on his own. Make sure he knows his majority is at risk. He’s an SOB but one they know how to make a deal with.

  8. gVOR08 says:

    Apparently SCOTUS yesterday declined a DACA case, likely leaving it in place for maybe a year anyway. So Trump offered basically nothing.

  9. Gustopher says:

    Is this a temporary wall? Does it deflate after three years?

    Once he reopens the government, we should have a comprehensive discussion of border security — including where extending existing walls might make sense. Until then, why bother listening to him?

  10. Teve says:

    Breitbart is not happy with Trump

    Reformers Worry DACA Work Permit Amnesty-for-Wall Funding will Encourage More Caravans

    19 Jan 2019457
    Pro-American immigration reformers say President Trump’s plan to offer a work permit amnesty to about a million illegal aliens and foreign nationals could encourage more caravans of Central Americans to come to the United States at the U.S-Mexico border.
    In a weekend announcement, Trump offered Republicans and Democrats a plan to give amnesty in the form of three-year work permits to a little more than 700,000 illegal aliens who are enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

  11. Kathy says:

    Maybe we have it all wrong, and it’s the shut down, not the wall, that is the goal.

  12. JohnMcC says:

    @Kathy: You mean, ‘the obstruction WAS the collusion’?

  13. Teve says:

    Anybody else notice this the other day

    “Everybody knows that walls work. You look at different places they put up a wall, no problem. You look at San Antonio. You look at so many different places. They go from one of the most unsafe cities in the country to one of the safest cities, immediately, immediately.”

    can snorting Adderall cause dementia? Because none of this is true. I used to live right outside San Antonio. San Antonio doesn’t have a wall, San Antonio has never had a wall, San Antonio is a hundred and fifty miles from the border.

  14. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Huffington Post had an article on that yesterday.

  15. Mikey says:

    @Teve: It’s possible he meant to say El Paso. He’s said that about El Paso in the past.

    It’s a complete lie, of course, regardless. El Paso has been one of the safest large American cities for decades, with crime rates below the national average, and the construction of a border wall there made little difference.

  16. Matt says:

    @Mikey: Yeah that was my guess too. It’s really telling he that he can’t even keep a city name straight even after having mentioned it several times prior..

    Also I can confirm from a first hand perspective everything Mikey said about El Paso..