Maryland’s congressional legislators shared mixed receptions Saturday to President Donald Trump’s offer to extend protections for immigrants brought into the United States illegally as children in exchange for border wall funding.
In a speech Saturday, Trump said he would extend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and the temporary protected status programs if Congress allocated $5.7 billion toward a border wall and immigration enforcement.
In an emailed statement, U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., did not specifically indicate how he would vote on Trump’s offer, but called on the president to end the shutdown.
“Open the government immediately and then let’s have a serious conversation about border security and immigration issues where all sides can present their ideas,” Van Hollen said.
U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin echoed Van Hollen’s calls to end the shutdown before having a debate on the border wall in a statement emailed Saturday night.
“We all want secure borders; we all want protections for the Dreamers and TPS recipients; we all want comprehensive immigration reform; but government must be reopened first,” Cardin said in the email. “Unfortunately, in a speech called ‘a plan to reopen the government,’ we heard very little about the urgency of reopening the government. There are 800,000 federal employees and millions of service contractors who deserve to be on the job and paid for their hard work. The American people deserve to have their government fully functioning again.”
Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., supports the president’s offer, he said in a statement posted to his social media accounts.
“He offered generous support for border security, and is willing to negotiate over DACA and an increase in asylum applications from Central America,” Harris said in the statement. “Democrats should think seriously about negotiating this time around, instead of immediately casting the president’s offer to reopen the government aside.”
Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md., tweeted that Trump’s offer was “holding the legal status of DREAMs and TPS holders, and the pay of federal employees and contractors for ransom.”
Earlier in the day, before Trump’s announcement, U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., spoke of the shutdown during an event in Baltimore. Cummings said he wants Congress to put aside $1 billion not for a wall, but toward increasing the number of immigration judges.
“A lot of people are trying to paint the picture that Democrats do not care about immigration and border security,” Cummings said. “But we do care, and we will continue to do that.”
Cummings said that he hopes to be able to resolve the shutdown soon and that the president might “put aside his stubbornness and allow people to go to work.”
After Trump’s announcement, Cummings tweeted, “Mr. President, before you proceed with discussions to protect the border and DREAMers you must first open the government, and ensure that the more than 800,000 federal employees who have already missed one paycheck do not miss another.”
According to Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pledged to bring the plan to a vote this week. House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi has already rejected the proposal.
Trump said the United States’ immigration system is “badly broken” and called his offer a “common-sense compromise.”