In refusing to offer a real compromise to end the shutdown, Trump once again prioritizes his anti-immigrant agenda over the well-being of the country.
Trump went on television over the weekend and lied to the country about a so-called compromise proposal he intended to use to get House Democrats to fork over $5.7 billion for his wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump tried to make it seem like he was offering pro-immigrant concessions to Democrats, saying he would extend protections for Dreamers and protect other immigrant groups from deportation, thereby offering "solutions" to issues he created when he ended the protections in the first place.
But it turns out the actual language in the proposed bill, released by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), makes radical changes to the asylum system — at the expense of children.
"The bill includes the most extreme proposals on asylum that I've ever seen," Kerri Talbot, director of federal advocacy at the Immigration Hub, said in a statement.
The measures in the bill "are meant to make it more difficult for migrants to claim asylum in the United States, a legal process that allows people fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries to seek refuge," reports the New York Times.
The bill specifically targets children from several Central American countries, making it both more difficult to request asylum and putting an arbitrary cap to limit asylum to only 15,000 children each year.
"These are children who are often desperately fleeing terrible violence back home," Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) told the Times. "They are literally running for their lives and asking for our country to help. Instead of offering them help, this proposal would require border officials to turn a deaf ear to their desperate pleas and send these kids back to the very places they just risked their lives to escape."
Senate leaders were just as incensed.
"The asylum changes are a poison pill if there ever was one, and show the lack of good faith that the president and now Leader McConnell have," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on the Senate floor.
"Kids will lose their lives, plain and simple," Wendy Young, president of Kids in Need of Defense, told the Washington Post.
The sham compromise "is just another drive to hurt immigrants," Sanaa Abrar, advocacy director at United We Dream, said in a statement. "It is cruelty personified," she added.
Trump instigated a shut down of the federal government in December, and has continued to reject every offer from Democratic leaders to reopen the government and engage in a discussion about immigration policy. McConnell spent weeks refusing to even hold a vote on legislation to fund the government, calling such votes "absolutely pointless."
Meanwhile, 800,000 federal workers are not receiving their paychecks, FBI agents warn about national security threats to the country, thousands of families face possible evictions, and airline pilots warn that air travel is less safe.
Instead of seeking a solution to reduce the pain and chaos caused by the government shutdown, Trump and his Republican allies are ratcheting up the cruelty.
In a sign of caving to the realities of the situation, McConnell relented and will allow a vote on a clean funding bill passed by House Democrats. If enough Republicans join Democratic colleagues in doing the right thing, the Trump shutdown could finally come to an end.
But that's a big "if."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.