US President Donald Trump wrote a book called ‘The Art of the Deal’ - and now he’s offering a deal to end the US government shutdown. Picture: Brendan Smialowski/AFP
US President Donald Trump wrote a book called ‘The Art of the Deal’ - and now he’s offering a deal to end the US government shutdown. Picture: Brendan Smialowski/AFP

Trump's shutdown compromise sounded awfully familiar

US President Donald Trump has made his strongest effort yet to end the government shutdown with an offer of sanctuary to some immigrants in return for funding for a border wall with Mexico.

In what he called a "commonsense compromise both parties should embrace", Trump extended protection for so-called "dreamers", who were brought to the US illegally as children.

The fate of this group, who were previously protected under Obama-era laws, has been one of the most contentious battlegrounds of Trump's presidency.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Picture: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Picture: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Trump also offered a similar three years of "legislative relief" to thousands of refugees living in the US under Temporary Protected Status, granted after their countries of birth were struck by natural disasters or political violence.

Saying he wanted to "break the logjam… and end the shutdown", which is entering its fifth week, he also extended an invitation to Democrats to hold weekly, bipartisan meetings over immigration.

However Democrats indicated the new offer from Trump would be rejected, releasing a statement shortly before his press conference after details of the deal were reported.

"Democrats were hopeful that the President was finally willing to re-open government and proceed with a much-need discussion to protect the border," Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, initial reports make clear that his proposal is a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives."

A border wall was an election promise for Trump and remains a key issue for his base, but he has struggled to make it a reality and today he detailed the form it would take.

"This is not a 2000 mile concrete structure from sea to sea. These are steel barriers in high-priority locations," he said.

"Much of the border is already protected by natural barriers such as mountains and water. We already have many miles of barrier, including 115 miles that we are currently building or under contract. It will be done quickly.

"Our request will add another 230 miles this year in the areas our border agents most urgently need."

The US is enduring its longest ever partial shutdown, over the Democrats refusal of Trump's request for US$5.7 billion to fund his border wall.

While some 800,000 federal workers are currently either furloughed or working without pay, the spat has in recent days descended into farce.

On Wednesday, the Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked President Trump to reschedule his State of the Union address, citing security concerns over a lack of federal workers.

The following day, Trump retaliated by cancelling Pelosi's planned Democrat congressional excursion to Afghanistan, Brussels and Egypt telling her the "public relations" exercise would have to wait until the shutdown ended.

In today's address, Mr Trump said he was asking for $800 million urgent humanitarian assistance, $805 for drug detection technology, funding for an additional 2750 border agents and law enforcement professionals and 75 new immigration judge teams to sort out backlog of almost 900,000 cases.

"Both sides in Washington must simply come together, listen to each other, put down their armour, build trust, reach across the aisle and find solutions," he said.

"It is time to reclaim our future from the extreme voices who fear compromise and demand open borders, which means drugs pouring in, human trafficking and a lot of crime."

Speaking from the Diplomatic Room at the White House, Trump detailed what he described as the cost of America's "badly broken" immigration system, including illegal drugs and crimes committed by "illegal aliens".

"Unfortunately our immigration system has been badly broken for a long time," he said.

"We are now living with the consequences, and they are tragic, brought about by decades of political stalemate, partisan gridlock and national neglect.

"As a candidate for president I promised I would fix this crisis and I intend to keep that promise one way or the other.

"Our immigration system should be the subject of pride, not a source of shame as it is all over the world."

UNITED STATES OF EMERGENCY

In the past week talks between the White House and Democrats have broken down. Trump wants to continue negotiating but Democrats insist the president needs to re-open the government while striking a deal over border security.

Trump has repeatedly described the situation on the border as a "crisis", a claim his critics dispute and which he has been using to build his case for a declaring a state of emergency.

"I may declare a national emergency dependent on what might happen to resolve the partial government shutdown," Trump has said.

Such a move would hand Trump increased powers and the ability to bypass a raft of laws. The premise of a state of emergency is that the country cannot cope using its existing laws and the implementation of new laws would take too long.

A declaration would not end the shutdown, which can only end after the president settles a deal with Congress, but it would allow funds to be diverted to border security.

American presidents regularly issue emergency declarations and often renew declarations from previous administrations. An example of this is the state of emergency declared following the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, an act which froze Iranian assets within the US and has been repeatedly invoked by new leaders.

Domestic emergency declarations include those following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and a 2009 flu epidemic. During his 2016 campaign, then-candidate Trump spoke of his plans to declare a state of emergency to counter America's opioid epidemic.


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