Trump immigration plan would provide citizenship path for 1.8M undocumented young people

WASHINGTON (KABC) -- The Trump administration released a new proposal for an immigration reform plan that would allow a path to citizenship for some 1.8 million young undocumented immigrants, while funding a border wall and cracking down on security.

The package calls for spending $25 billion on a border wall and additional security enhancements along the border.

It also would provide a 10-12 year path to citizenship for about 800,000 DACA recipients in addition to undocumented immigrants who are eligible for DACA but not actually in the program. It includes requirements for work, education and good moral character.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program established under the Obama administration allowed people who had entered the country illegally as children to remain under deferred action from deportation.

Trump ended the DACA program in September, setting a March 5 deadline for Congress to provide legal protections or the program's recipients would once again be subject to deportation. Senior officials said Trump would only sign legislation providing those protections if the other immigration changes he is proposing are implemented.

In addition, the administration plan would eliminate the Visa Lottery, which allows people selected at random to immigrate to the United States without consideration of skills, merit or public safety. Instead, the visas would be allocated for family-based and high-skilled employment visas, both of which are considered to have a backlog.

It would also end "chain migration," where someone comes here legally, and then brings family members. Under this plan, only spouses and minor children would be able to come.

The proposal also calls for additional funding to hire more staff for the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration & Customs Enforcement, in addition to immigration judges, prosecutors and other law enforcement.

It would also end a visa lottery aimed at diversity, which drew Trump's attention after the New York City truck attack last year, redirecting the allotment to bringing down the existing backlog in visa applications.

Senior White House officials cast the proposal as one that offers compromises that could help it pass the Senate, but possibly find resistance from some of Trump's more conservative allies.

Democrats said they were heartened Thursday by Trump's support, while Republicans were more cautious.

The president's most loyal media ally, Breitbart News, attacked Trump as "Amnesty Don."

Moderate Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he was "very encouraged" by Trump's surprising words, which the president made late Wednesday in impromptu comments to reporters.

Among Republicans, Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford said he supports the citizenship pathway Trump described. Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., called Trump's words "positive" and said Trump's description "gives us a better sense" of his views, but added, "We have a long way to go yet."

Some of Congress' more conservative members seemed unwilling to open the citizenship door for the Dreamers.

"DACA itself didn't have a pathway to citizenship," said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who battled Trump in 2016 for the GOP presidential nomination. "So I think it would be a profound mistake and not consistent with the promises we made to the voters, to enact a pathway to citizenship to DACA recipients or to others who are here illegally."

In Los Angeles, some immigrant-rights groups said the proposals to crack down on immigration security and deportation will be harmful to undocumented families living in the United States.

"This deal that he's proposing is one that would harm the parents of these young people, and go beyond the parents and just destroy our immigration system and the little humanity that it still has," said Angelica Sala, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights.

At UCLA, the focus of a gubernatorial debate was immigration as students and activists protested outside the venue.

Dozens of them, some of whom are undocumented, said they were not fans of the immigration proposed by the administration.

"I won't be able to experience until I'm in my adulthood. Even people who don't qualify will never have that privilege either," student Johana Guerra Martinez said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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