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The right's war against Trump's immigration plan

McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in Political News

In addition to a path to citizenship, Trump's proposal would leave in place the backlog of people who have been sponsored for residency by family and exclude enforcement measures to crack down on sanctuary cities and mandate E-Verify, an online system that allows businesses to check work authorization.

In the Senate, the 10 Democrats who face tough re-election bids in states Trump won and moderate Republicans are being urged by these groups not to endorse the president's plan. In the House, Republicans are being lobbied to sign on to a bill by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., which includes the additional enforcement measures that the White House plan does not.

The Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee is trying to find primary challengers for nearly 100 House Republicans who it claims support protections for the young immigrants. "We're trying to keep the focus on the GOP primary season," said the group's president, William Gheen. "Republican voters want what Trump promised."

Trump won the Republican nomination and the presidency in 2016 largely on a campaign focused on cracking down on illegal immigration and ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which offered young immigrants temporary, renewable work permits.

But after wavering for months, he announced in September that he would end the DACA program March 5 to give Congress time to pass legislation to change some aspects of it. But lawmakers haven't been able to find a compromise. Instead, they agreed to fund the federal government until Thursday if Republican leaders committed to take up immigration, including the fate of DACA beneficiaries, this week.

Former Rep. Brian Bilbray, a California Republican who was chairman of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, said the proposal reminds some of the immigration law signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 that offered a path to citizenship to nearly 3 million immigrants.

"The White House is leading off with the wrong message across the border and that is what happened in back in the '80s," he said. "We will give amnesty first and we promise enforcement. We want to do the easy, fun stuff first and we don't want to do the heavy lifting first. We don't want to earn the right to even talk about another amnesty."

Trump proposed offering legal status immediately and citizenship in 10 to 12 years to 1.8 million young immigrants brought into the country illegally as children by their parents who would have been eligible under the original DACA program. In exchange, he would secure enforcement measures that conservatives have long wanted –– $25 billion for border security, drastic reductions to the number of immigrants who could be sponsored by family and an end to the diversity lottery program that awards green cards to immigrants.

The Remembrance Project, which bills itself as "a voice for victims killed by illegal aliens," started a petition to Trump. "You often spoke of our angel families, our loved ones, real Americans, who have suffered the most, who never receive the same sympathy as illegals," Maria Espinoza, the group's co-founder and national director, wrote in an open letter. "It appears to the "Stolen Lives" families and everyone who voted for a Trump presidency, that, sadly, these families indeed have been forgotten, and again silenced."

Californians for Population Stabilization will launch a TV ad campaign Wednesday in Washington and South Carolina, the home of Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has been negotiating a deal that would include a path to citizenship and a down payment on a $1.6 billion request Trump made this year for border security. The ad will run for at least two weeks.

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