In an appeal to Democrats amid the government shutdown, President Donald Trump is reportedly willing to stoop to a new low by using migrant children arriving at the border as pawns in his bid to get funding for his border wall.
In a letter sent to congressional leaders on Sunday and obtained by the Washington Post, the Trump administration proposed throwing in “an additional $800 million” in spending “to address urgent humanitarian needs” and unaccompanied minors arriving at the border.
The two-page letter, sent by acting White House budget director Russell T. Vought, also proposed a possible restoration of an Obama-era program that allowed children in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala to apply for resettlement in the U.S.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner Kevin McAleenan reportedly “went to bat” for the $800 million, an official told the paper, which would be used to set up more comfortable temporary facilities to house migrants rather than literal cement boxes.
With more than 2,000 people crossing the country daily, according to the Post, facilities have grown crowded, with immigration authorities having to release families en masse. Meanwhile, two children have died while in custody, at least one of them after becoming sick while detained. This $800 million might look like a peace offering, but it’s a clear attempt to dangle pleas for better treatment of migrant families in front of Democrats’ faces in exchange for a huge concession that would symbolically and literally shut migrant families out of the country entirely.
However, despite that measly offer around the treatment of detained children, it appears Trump’s willingness to give an inch while trying to take up nearly 2,000 miles with his border wall has pleased his administration. Per the Post, emphasis mine:
Despite the pessimistic tone from Democrats, senior administration officials described the letter to congressional Democrats as a flicker of progress. They said the letter’s formal call for a “steel barrier” rather than a massive concrete wall — as Trump long promised — was a notable development.
Sure, the president might be making thousands of federal employees work without pay, forcing asylum applicants’ court dates to be rescheduled, making food stamps arrive late, and countless other negative effects because he’s afraid to look like a fool. But at least he’s calling the wall a “steel barrier” rather than a concrete wall now!