Four Congressional Democrats from Queens did not return several requests for comment on whether they would agree to a potential immigration deal with President Donald Trump.
The silence comes after Trump met this week with a bipartisan group of Democratic and Republican lawmakers at the White House to hammer out a deal that would lead to a pathway to citizenship for some 800,000 undocumented immigrants nationwide that came to this country as children and have been educated, living and working here since.
Trump explained he is interested in restoring the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program under former President Barack Obama that prohibited undocumented youths from being deported if they fulfilled certain conditions. He ordered the program’s end in March and said the matter should be settled in Congress.
However, Trump said restoring DACA through a Congressional compromise should “secure our borders.” He referred to his border wall, an estimated $18 billion project, as an example of what a potential deal between Democrats and Republicans should include.
“I feel having the Democrats in with us is absolutely vital because it should be a bipartisan bill. It should be a bill of love,” Trump said.
But U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Rego Park, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth), U.S. Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-Jamaica, Laurelton, Rosedale, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, Far Rockaway, JFK Airport), U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria, LIC, Manhattan, Brooklyn), and U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Long Island, Whitestone, Glen Oaks, Floral Park), all of whom were elected to make these type of federal law decisions, did not provide a comment by deadline.
U.S. Rep. and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-Sunnyside, Astoria, College Point, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Corona, Woodside, Parts of the Bronx) said he would not agree to any deal including Trump’s border wall even if it restored DACA.
“President Trump has no interest in keeping Americans safe or overhauling our nation’s fundamentally flawed immigration system,” he said. “He is solely focused on building an illogical and unnecessary border wall to appease the anti-immigrant voices in his party.”
The Queens representative has made immigration a key issue when heading to Washington. Last week, he held a roundtable with immigrant rights groups and public officials to talk about the DREAM Act.
Crowley reiterated his opposition to a deal even if the Temporary Protection Status (TPS), a federal program that offers a work permit and deportation stay for certain immigrants who came here because of a natural disaster or for political reasons, was also broadened. The Trump administration announced Tuesday immigrants from El Salvador will no longer be protected by TPS.
“The Temporary Protected Status program has given them the ability to work in our industries, learn in our schools, lead in our communities, and build families and homes in our neighborhoods,” said Crowley.
The administration previously announced late last year immigrants from Haiti and Nicaragua will lose their TPS making them eligible for deportation again.
State Senator Jose Peralta (D-Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside), whose district includes both a lot of TPS and DACA immigrants, slammed Trump’s administration and said the latest decision followed previous attacks on immigrant groups.
“Ending the humanitarian program that provided people of El Salvador Temporary Protected Status is wrong, as it was the case when he decided to end protections for Nicaraguans and Haitians, among others,” he said.
Peralta highlighted states and cities as protectors of immigrants from the federal government’s decisions. He offered the example of an allocated $10 million in state funding to a legal defense fund for immigrants, which he helped secure.
“We, at the state level, are at the front lines of defense to fight back anti-immigrant Trump policies,” he said.