White House Immigration Demands Imperil Bipartisan Talks

President Trump spoke to reporters on Friday, then headed for Camp David to meet with Republican leaders. He seemed to take a hard line on immigration. Credit Tom Brenner/The New York Times
WASHINGTON — The White House on Friday presented Congress with an expansive list of hard-line immigration measures, including an $18 billion request to build a wall at the Mexican border, that President Trump is demanding in exchange for protecting young undocumented immigrants.

The request, which totals $33 billion over a period of 10 years for border security measures including the wall, could jeopardize bipartisan talks aimed at getting an immigration deal. Among the items on Mr. Trump’s immigration wish-list: money to hire 10,000 additional immigration officers, tougher laws for those seeking asylum, and denial of federal grants to so-called “sanctuary cities.”
The list, delivered to Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, who has been leading the talks related to young immigrants without documentation, is identical to one Democrats declared a nonstarter when the White House issued it in October.

“President Trump has said he may need a good government shutdown to get his wall,” a furious Mr. Durbin said in an emailed statement Friday afternoon. “With this demand, he seems to be heading in that direction.”

The senator went on: “It’s outrageous that the White House would undercut months of bipartisan efforts by again trying to put its entire wish-list of hard-line anti-immigrant bills — plus an additional $18 billion in wall funding — on the backs of these young people.”
An estimated 780,000 young people brought to this country illegally were shielded from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, a program instituted by former President Barack Obama in 2012. But in September, Mr. Trump rescinded the program, known by its acronym, DACA, and gave Congress six months to come up with a replacement.

Since then, immigration advocates say, 14,000 young people have lost their protected status because they could not renew two-year work permits issued under the program.

Mr. Durbin and four other senators — including three Republicans — have been meeting nearly every day for the past two months to negotiate a deal that would protect the DACA recipients while beefing up border security, a key Republican demand. Senators said they were making progress but were stalled while awaiting a “punch list” from the White House that would set forth the president’s conditions.
The White House documents include a list of “critical physical border security requirements,” including the $18 billion for a “border wall system,” first reported Friday by The Wall Street Journal. The money would be used to construct more than 2,000 miles of new or replacement barriers along the border with Mexico.

Mr. Durbin, who said he would continue the bipartisan talks with his Senate colleagues “in good faith,” made the documents public late Friday afternoon, setting off an intense reaction from his fellow Democrats. Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic House leader, wrote on Twitter, “@realDonald Trump, that border wall funding you are asking for (again) could do so much more good in other places .... #NoWall”

The White House issued the demands as Mr. Trump departed for Camp David, where he was meeting with Republican congressional leaders to address a series of issues — including keeping the government open past Jan. 19.
But part of the discussions were also expected to center on how to reach an accord with Democrats over protections for the undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, those known as Dreamers, as well as how to fund a major children’s health care program that is in danger of running out of funds. The president met with Republicans at the White House on Wednesday, but the meetings at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland, are designed to come up with a clearer strategic approach.