Young Immigrants Speak Out Against Trump's Proposed DACA-For-Wall Deal

"We will not be bargaining chips."

On Thursday, the New York Times reported that President Donald Trump had proposed legislation providing up to 1.8 million young undocumented immigrants with a path to citizenship. However, in exchange, the deal requests a $25 billion trust fund for a border wall, limits to family-based migration, and an end to the diversity visa lottery, among other proposed policies.

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The deal, which is similar to one proposed by (and then rescinded) by Sen. Chuck Schumer last week, would reportedly provide a path to citizenship over 10 to 12 years for the 690,000 young immigrants who signed up for Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — allowing undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors to avoid deportation — as well as more than 1 million who never applied for the program despite qualifying. 

As the Times points out, DACA did not previously include a path to citizenship. Trump ended the program last year, leaving many young immigrants facing deportation when it expires in March.

Thursday's proposal, which was drafted by Trump's domestic policy adviser Stephen Miller and White House chief of staff John F. Kelly, has received criticism from politicians and activists alike, with many arguing that the president is holding Dreamers "hostage" in exchange for anti-immigrant legislation. 

United We Dream, an immigrant youth group, spoke out against the plan on Twitter, posting, "We will not pay with our families and our communities as ransom for our own freedom. We will not be bargaining chips for the criminalization and deportation of other immigrants."

The group urged Congress to pass the Dream Act, which was seconded on Twitter by Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Greisa Martinez Rosas, advocacy director for United We Dream and "potential beneficiary of the Dream Act," called Trump's proposal a "white supremacist ransom note" in a press statement.

"They have taken immigrant youth hostage, pitting us against our own parents, Black immigrants and our communities in exchange for our dignity," she said, adding, "To Miller and Trump's white supremacist proposal, immigrant youth say: No."

"It is shameful that the White House is holding these youth hostage in exchange for their extreme immigration agenda," Kevin Appleby, senior director of international migration policy for the Center for Migration Studies, told the New York Times.

The Times reports that the plan was "immediately rejected by Democrats," as well as some Republicans. Several other lawmakers reiterated Warren's objection to the proposal on Twitter. "Pitting young Dreamers against immigrant families runs counter to the values of our country," wrote Sen. Kamala Harris. 

Cover image: Diego G Diaz / Shutterstock.com

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