White House immigration framework revealed

The Lead political panel discusses.

Posted: Jan 26, 2018 2:09 PM
Updated: Jan 26, 2018 2:12 PM

A call about the White House's newly released immigration plan between Stephen Miller, the conservative White House adviser who has been spearheading the West Wing's immigration push, and representatives of hardline immigration groups grew heated Thursday, multiple sources tell CNN.

Miller, according to the sources, called the groups together to pitch them on the plan, which proposes giving 1.8 million undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship in exchange for $25 billion for his long-promised wall and a host of other strict immigration reforms.

White House proposes path to citizenship for 1.8 million people

The call grew contentious, some of the sources said, when Miller began to solicit input from the conservative immigration groups, many of which have long advocated restrictions on legal immigration and no amnesty for undocumented immigrants currently in the United States. For the hardline groups, the main issue is that the "amnesty" -- the citizenship for 1.8 million people -- is not offset by corresponding cuts to the legal immigration system.

"Nobody raised their voice but there was real pushback," said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, who complained that there was little to no consultation with any of the conservative groups before the plan was released.

"It's a letdown because if this were the end result after fighting in Congress and you had to either take this or nothing, I don't know, I can't say that I would definitely say no," he said. "But to start with something like this is absurd."

He added: "I am starting to think not only did the President not write the 'Art of the Deal,' I am thinking he didn't even read the book."

Another source on the call denied that the conversation grew heated but said people did pepper Miller with questions.

"We had serious questions, and the White House official answered those questions to the best of the ability in this framework, because there aren't a lot of details filled in here, and it's always the details we're most concerned about," the source said.

Roy Beck, executive director of Numbers USA, declined to talk about the details of the call but said his group has made clear to the White House that it has issues with the current plan.

Beck compared it to past immigration plans and pledged that his organization would mobilize grass-roots supporters if this remains the White House's proposal.

"We are shocked," he added. "I'm shocked that it is being considered. And I am still hopeful that it is not going to happen."

The plan was equally reviled by some conservatives on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

One senior Republican aide said Trump was "giving away the farm" with the framework.

"When Republicans lose the majority in the House and Democrats have the House, and they use the House to impeach Trump and ramp up the Russia investigations, we'll look back to this moment, and this is the moment that it turned," the aide concluded.

White House officials did not respond to requests for comment.

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