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Trump's Immigration Plan Draws Criticism From Both Parties

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

So President Trump showed his hand on immigration last night. The White House released a one-page proposal. A senior White House official calls the new immigration plan, quote, "a bipartisan compromise position." Well, it is already attracting a lot of bipartisan criticism. NPR congressional correspondent Scott Detrow is here to walk through all the latest on immigration. Hey, Scott.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Hey there.

KELLY: Before we get to the criticism, let's lay out what is being criticized - quick recap of what the White House is proposing.

DETROW: So the White House is taking a step toward the Democratic position on this. On one issue, they support a 10- to 12-year path to citizenship for people in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program but also people who would be eligible for the program but aren't in it. So we're talking about 1.8 million people here.

KELLY: All right.

DETROW: But they want a lot in exchange for that - $25 billion for construction of a wall and other border security, additional money for immigration personnel on top of that. And then they want changes to the legal immigration system. They want to limit family considerations when visas are awarded to just parents and children who are minors, and they also want to completely end the visa lottery system.

KELLY: So a lot to unpack in this plan, and we mentioned it is already coming in for a lot of criticism. Start with Democrats. How - what's the reaction been there?

DETROW: They do not quite view this as the compromise that the White House is framing it as.

KELLY: OK.

DETROW: I'll read you a couple quotes here. And I should point out this came out yesterday after Congress left town, so most of the reaction so far has been on Twitter, in statements, things like that. So here's Joe Crowley, who's part of House Democratic leadership. This isn't an immigration proposal. It's a ransom note. And here's House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. She says this is, quote, "an anti-immigrant framework" and, quote, "part of the Trump administration's unmistakable campaign to make America white again."

A lot of similar responses, and I think it just comes down to the fact that President Trump's shifting positions on immigration and also the rhetoric he's used from the campaign through his presidency, notably the slur he used in that infamous moment in the White House a couple weeks ago talking about African countries. Democrats just don't see him as trustworthy, and they don't view his motives - they're incredibly suspicious of his motives on the issue of immigration.

KELLY: Not a huge surprise that Democrats are not onboard with this plan or at least not yet. Are Republicans any more receptive?

DETROW: Well, a lot of key Republicans are. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton is someone who's long been pushing for these changes to legal immigration that are included in this framework. He said in a statement that this plan is generous and humane while also being responsible. If you look at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's statement, he seems to mostly be just grateful that President Trump is finally putting his views on paper. McConnell's been trying to negotiate this as Trump has shifted from position to position. And McConnell's response bubbles down to, thank you for saying this; now we'll work on it. But here's what's important. House Republicans...

KELLY: I was going to ask. That's the Senate side. What about on the House?

DETROW: And they are the majority in the House...

KELLY: Right.

DETROW: ...Just like they are in the Senate. A lot of House Republicans are - real hard-line positions on immigration. And there's a lot of skepticism, especially from the Freedom Caucus part of the world, who view any sort of path to citizenship as amnesty. So the key to getting them onboard is how much President Trump sells this, how much he sticks to this plan. So if he comes out in the State of the Union next week and says, this is what I want, they could come around. Otherwise, they might remain critical to this.

KELLY: NPR congressional correspondent Scott Detrow. Thank you, Scott.

DETROW: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.