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Trump open to citizenship for 'Dreamers' in 10-12 yrs

The White House has outlined an immigration plan for almost two million people to become U.S. citizens in exchange for border wall funding.

The proposals, which are likely to find resistance from some of Mr Trump's conservative allies, also include tighter restrictions on legal immigration and 25 billion USA dollars (£18 billion) in border security.

White House officials said Thursday they expect lawmakers on Capitol Hill to "digest" the proposal and formulate legislative text to bring to the floor in the Senate and called it "kind of the bottom line for the President". For the hardline groups, the main issue is that the "amnesty" - the citizenship for 1.8 million people - is not offset by corresponding cuts to the legal immigration system. "The fact remains that immigrant youth are either living in danger and policymakers must deliver the permanent protection of the Dream Act by January 19th", Greisa Martinez Rosas, advocacy director for United We Dream, said in a statement.

The activists said they didn't trust Republican leaders' promises to hold an immigration debate in February. Republicans narrowly control the chamber by 51-49 and need Democratic votes to pass legislation. But it comes with a long list of concessions that many Democrats, and conservative Republicans, especially in the House, may find impossible to swallow.

On the Republican side, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., thanked the president and his administration.

Negotiations will be tough. Trump's plan would expand this further by adjusting some of the requirements, officials said, but they would not offer specific details.

Trump has given Congress until March to come up with a plan to protect the almost 700,000 young people who had been protected from deportation and given the right to work legally in the country under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

The 1.8 million people who would be eligible for a 10-to-12-year pathway to citizenship include the 690,000 people enrolled in the DACA program, plus a similar number who were eligible for the program but didn't apply, and a small number who would become eligible because of adjustments to the calendar used to determine qualifications, an official said.

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Democrats remained skeptical. The Democratic National Committee mocked Trump's view, with spokesman Francisco Pelayo saying "No one believes Donald Trump when he says he's doing a "great job" fixing a problem he created by making his cruel decision to rescind DACA".

"I am hopeful that as discussions continue in the Senate on the subject of immigration, Members on both sides of the aisle will look to this framework for guidance as they work towards an agreement", he said.

Stephen Legomsky, who was chief counsel at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Obama administration, called the plan a "horrendous tradeoff" and predicted Democrats would reject it.

On Tuesday, Sanders set out four different pillars of what the President wants in any deal, which included "serious" border security, an end to the diversity visa lottery program, an end to chain migration, and then a permanent solution for the DACA program.

"We've got to talk about border security, chain migration and the visa lottery, too", Tillis said. Several have opposed the process as "amnesty" for undocumented immigrants.

The senior official added that the White House planned to notify Congress on Wednesday night exactly what the president's position is, noting that that's what many members have been asking for.

"I think the House will have an independent vehicle", the second official said. "The significance of (McConnell's) commitment is we aren't waiting for the White House anymore". Lorella Praeli, with the American Civil Liberties Union, called it "a hateful, xenophobic immigration proposal that would slash legal immigration to levels not seen since the racial quotas of the 1920s, eliminate legal immigration channels for African countries, and spend $25 billion for a harmful, wasteful border wall and an increase in Border Patrol and ICE agents".

"It would be far cheaper to erect a 50-foot concrete statue of a middle finger and point it towards Latin America, because both a wall and the statue would be equally offensive and equally ineffective", the IL lawmaker said on Twitter.



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