upper waypoint

Bay Area Lawmakers Dismiss Trump's Proposal to End Government Shutdown

Save ArticleSave Article
Failed to save article

Please try again

San Francisco Democrat and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called President Trump's border proposal a 'non-starter' even before it was officially announced. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Updated Saturday, 11:55 p.m.

Several Bay Area congressional leaders on Saturday quickly rejected President Trump's proposal to reopen the federal government by exchanging temporary protections for people brought to the country illegally as children for $5.7 billion in border wall funding.

Trump's offer, which he announced Saturday afternoon from the White House, would extend for three years legal status and protection from deportation for the roughly 700,000 recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, as well as temporary protected status for some 300,000 immigrants who have fled natural disasters or unrest in their native countries.

The Trump administration has previously rescinded DACA and TPS protections, although its move against DACA has been blocked by the courts.

In exchange, he's asking for $800 million for humanitarian assistance at the border, $805 million for drug-detection technology at ports of entry, an additional 2,750 border agents, 75 new "immigration judge teams," the ability for Central American minors to apply for asylum from their home countries and $5.7 billion for "strategic deployment of physical barriers or a wall."


Even before the president announced his proposal, Bay Area Democrats were coming out against it based on early media reports.

San Francisco Democrat and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the proposal a "compilation of previously rejected initiatives" in a statement released 30 minutes before Trump's speech. "It is unlikely that any one of these provisions alone would pass the House, and taken together, they are a non-starter," she wrote.

Pelosi specifically called out the lack of a permanent solution for DACA recipients and those with temporary protected status, but several of the "smart, effective border security solutions" Pelosi said that Democrats would support — new drug-detection technology at ports of entry, increased border staffing and more immigration judges — were included in Trump's proposal.

"What is original in the President’s proposal is not good. What is good in the proposal is not original," Pelosi tweeted after Trump officially unveiled his plan.

East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, also rebuffed Trump's offer before it was officially announced. Swalwell told KQED just before the president's speech that any proposal including a wall is off the table.

“I’m not going to trade opening the government or the fate of Dreamers for a wall,” he said.

Swalwell, a staunch critic of the president and rumored candidate for president in 2020, added that he could support a proposal that includes funding for barriers at certain points along the border, but not a wall.

“If he wants to have targeted barriers where he can articulate vulnerabilities, I’m open to working with him on that,” he said, noting that he does not think the president will budge on the issue.

Fellow Bay Area Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, said in an interview with CNN shortly after Trump's announcement that Democrats will not negotiate with the president on funding for a wall while the government is shut down.

“We can have a discussion about solving our policy differences, but not with the government hostage,” said Lofgren, who leads the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship.

Lofgren, a former immigration attorney and longtime advocate for immigration reform, told CNN that Democrats do support funding for border security and conceded that some of their ideas may overlap with the president’s in some areas, but she said the government should reopen before negotiations begin.

“We’re not going to get to where we need to be for our country with the president coming up with deals that are only his deals that he’s never discussed with anyone,” she said.

Lofgren added that Democrats plan to release their border security proposals in detail next week, including a proposal to “dramatically” increase the number of immigration judges, one to increase funding for the Coast Guard, and another to strengthen funding for new detection technologies at official ports of entry.

“Almost all the drugs that are coming over the land borders come through the ports of entry; they come on trucks,” she said. “And we don’t have the technology to detect those drugs.”

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, also called funding the border wall a "non-starter" and said border security negotiations should wait until after the government is reopened.

"We shouldn't shut down the government for policy disagreements," DeSaulnier said at a town hall in his district on Saturday.

"I do agree with [Trump] on the immigration reform," he added. "We do need to fix the system; it's broken. But for him to claim there's a humanitarian crisis? I've seen it, and he's contributed to it significantly."

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, called the proposal a "real slap in the face," and echoed her colleagues complaints over the lack of long-term protections for DACA and TPS recipients. But she said even if they were included, it would not be enough for her to agree to the rest of Trump's proposal.

"Not for a $5 billion wall," she told KQED. "Dreamers deserve a pathway to citizenship regardless of any proposed wall or any proposal the president makes. That’s the right thing to do.”

She also lamented the continued impact of the partial government shutdown, now the longest in U.S. history.

“These government workers don’t have a lot of money, and this president is just holding them hostage," she said.

Unlike her colleagues, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, said there are parameters under which she could support providing some funding for a border wall, including if the president were to propose a permanent fix for DACA, rather than just three years of protections.

“I think that would be a deal that I personally could support,” she said. “But not all of my colleagues would even be willing to do that.”

But that didn't stop her from harshly criticizing the proposal and the president's negotiating tactics, which she said indicate that he’s not willing to negotiate with Democrats at all.

“We’re not going to negotiate with a terrorist,” she said. “He’s becoming a terrorist in the way he’s negotiating with us.”

In her statement, Pelosi said Democrats plan to pass a package of six bills to reopen the government "so that we can fully negotiate on border security proposals."

Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, who has previously said he would not bring any proposal to reopen the government up for a vote in the Senate unless it was agreed upon by the president and Democrats, said in a statement after the speech that he will move the president's proposal through the Senate this week.

The federal government has been partially shutdown since Dec. 22. and has led to more than 800,000 federal employees being furloughed or forced to work without pay.

KQED's Sara Hossaini and Caroline Champlin contributed to this report.

This post has been updated to include comments from Reps. Barbara Lee, Jackie Speier and Mark DeSaulnier.

lower waypoint
next waypoint
How California and the EU Work Together to Regulate Artificial IntelligenceCarnaval San Francisco Celebrates 46 Years With Spectacular Mission Street ParadeUS Universities Expand Climate Change Degree Offerings Amid Growing DemandArts and Crafts: 'Koko et Kiki'Is California’s Wine Industry in Trouble?The Hidden Dangers of Sharing Adorable Photos of Your Child OnlineInheriting a Home in California? Here's What You Need to KnowD Sharp: The DJ Behind the Warriors GamesAcademic Workers' Strike Will Roll On as UC's Request for Court Order Is DeniedEighth-Grader's Call to 911 About Teacher's Outburst Causes Stir