The plan, announced Thursday, was applauded by some in Congress, but blasted by conservative activists as "amnesty" and slammed by a slew of Democrats, who accused President Trump of holding "Dreamers" hostage to his hard-line immigration agenda.
"The Department of Homeland Security must have the tools to deter illegal immigrants; the ability to remove individuals who illegally enter the United States, and the vital authorities necessary to protect national security", a senior White House official told journalists.
The White House unveiled its proposed immigration legislation framework Thursday - a list of major and minor overhauls officials say the president will require in exchange for protecting the Dreamers, illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children who were protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program before Trump killed it.
Trump's comprehensive plan - which will be formally presented next week - includes eliminating the popular "green card lottery" program and would severely restrict family immigration. "But vulnerable American workers would get little or no relief from the competition of chain migration for 15 to 20 years", Numbers USA president Roy Beck said in a statement, adding "even if new applications for chain migration categories are stopped immediately, the framework would allow chain migration to continue for decades by allowing all of the four million foreigners in the waiting list to continue coming".
Trump hinted at the proposal to come on Wednesday evening in impromptu comments suggesting that he was open to allowing some of the young immigrants to become citizens in 10 to 12 years.
The plan represents a sharp shift in USA immigration policies.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Friday voiced opposition to the White House's immigration proposal aimed at breaking a congressional impasse over a long-term budget deal, prompting President Trump to lash out at him and injecting renewed uncertainty into the negotiations.
Should Congress fail to strike an immigration deal by then, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has pledged to bring DACA legislation to the Senate floor, where it would likely pass with support from Democrats and moderate Republicans.
On the other side, immigration restrictionist groups with close ties to House conservatives also panned the deal, saying the cuts to legal immigration will take too long. NumbersUSA President Roy Beck says his group has "no choice" but to oppose any bill that mirrors the White House plan. "And so I respectfully and strongly disagree with the White House's framework for immigration that they put out".
"Anything less would be encouraging illegal immigration without solving the root problem, our porous border", Crawford said in a written statement. "I said, 'We'll take it, '" Schumer added.
Senator Ted Cruz called the move a "profound mistake" and said it's not consistent with the promises made to voters.
Speaking on The New York Times podcast "The Daily", Schumer said he told the president ahead of a major meeting on immigration: "If you're going to have Stephen Miller there or somebody like that, it's not going to work". After all, the Dems will have turned down full relief for around two million young (and youngish) illegal immigrants in the name of chain migration, the diversity lottery, resisting the wall - none of which is terribly popular.
That could make the plan hard to get past Democrats, no matter how strong they want the Dreamers reform.