- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 25, 2018

They hugged him, they endorsed him, they appeared on stage after stage in the campaign with him — and now the victims of immigrant crime say President Trump delivered a “slap in the face” after he embraced a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrant Dreamers.

The Remembrance Project, a leading group of families that have lost relatives to immigrants’ crimes, wrote Wednesday to ask for an emergency meeting with the president, hoping to stiffen his spine against what they say is a clear amnesty.

“Either we have laws, or we do not,” the project’s leaders wrote. “America cannot survive another disastrous amnesty — no matter how the politicians spin it.”

The letter went to the White House at the same time Mr. Trump, talking to reporters, was announcing his support for a full pathway to citizenship for young adult illegal immigrants.

The president said he envisioned a process lasting 10 to 12 years, with citizenship as an incentive for Dreamers to become contributing members of American society.

The White House provided details Thursday, saying they envision 1.8 million Dreamers getting citizenship rights — in exchange for major changes to security on the border and tougher policies that would speed up deportations from inside the U.S.

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The president’s plans, which he will officially send to Congress next week, upended the immigration debate, emboldening Democrats and moderate Republicans who had been begging for the president to accept a generous legalization while undercutting House conservatives who had been pushing for a more security-focused deal.

Perhaps the most surprised, though, were the president’s staunchest campaign supporters, who thought they had found a voice willing to buck what they called the pro-illegal-immigrant consensus in Washington.

“He should be strong with what he said during his campaign. Anything short of enforcing existing laws — anything short of that would be a slap in the face to not just our angel moms and dads, but every single American that voted for him,” said Maria Espinoza, national director for the Remembrance Project.

The project’s angel moms and dads are parents whose children have been killed by illegal immigrants — in some cases people the same age as the Dreamers Mr. Trump is talking about granting full citizenship rights.

They embraced Mr. Trump during the presidential campaign and appeared on stage with him at major immigration speeches and at the Republican nominating convention.

“He knows very well by sitting in front of these families and holding their hands and speaking with them how our justice system mishandled cases and this violent illegal alien was released back into the community,” Ms. Espinoza told The Washington Times.

“He knows we want existing laws enforced,” she said. “We have laws already on the books that are not being enforced.”

The White House said Mr. Trump was making major concessions in envisioning citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers. But officials said that was the price they figured they would have to pay to get the security and policy changes Mr. Trump wants, including an end to the Diversity Visa Lottery and limits to the chain of family migration.

“This is the most centrist proposal on immigration that’s ever been put forth in Washington,” one senior White House official told reporters in laying out the details.

Immigrant rights groups, though, blasted Mr. Trump and top policy adviser Stephen Miller, a major figure in the White House on immigration, for the plan.

Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy at the American Civil Liberties Union, called the White House blueprint “hateful” and “xenophobic.”

“Stephen Miller has said that his proposal is ‘extremely generous,’ but the only community that benefits from this supposed generosity are white supremacists,” she said.

Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, Illinois Democrat, said Mr. Trump might as well spend the $25 billion he is asking for a border wall “to erect a 50-foot concrete statue of a middle finger and point it toward Latin America.”

“Both a wall and the statue would be equally offensive and equally ineffective, and both would express Trump’s deeply held suspicion of Latinos,” he said.

Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, said the White House plan would cut legal immigration by 50 percent, as well as pursue changes that would make it tougher for illegal immigrants who dislike the poverty and violence in their home countries to claim asylum in the U.S.

“President Trump and Stephen Miller are exploiting a crisis that they created so they can take a wrecking ball to the Statue of Liberty,” he said.

Polling, though, suggests Mr. Trump may have found the sweet spot on immigration. A survey from Harris-Harvard released this week found that Americans generally want a border wall system, strongly want to end the Diversity Visa Lottery and overwhelmingly want to legalize Dreamers and cut chain migration.

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