Trump will support citizenship path for 1.8 million young undocumented immigrants, but he wants much in return

  • The White House will support a path to citizenship for 1.8 million young undocumented immigrants.
  • The Trump administration is set to unveil an immigration proposal on Monday.
  • Disagreements on immigration talks contributed to the recent government shutdown.

President Donald Trump will back a path to citizenship for 1.8 million young undocumented immigrants who were either shielded by an Obama-era program or eligible for it, a Republican source told CNBC on Thursday.

White House policy aide Stephen Miller described the administration's upcoming immigration plan in a conference call, NBC News first reported. The White House is set to release its proposal on Monday.

The plan will also call for a $25 billion "trust fund" for the president's proposed border wall, the source said. It will call to limit family migration and end the visa "lottery" system.

Trump ended the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and it starts to phase out March 5. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pledged to bring an immigration bill to the floor by the next government funding deadline on Feb. 8, even if lawmakers do not strike a deal before then.

McConnell said in a statement that he hopes the White House plan will provide guidance for the Senate as they continue to work towards an agreement. A spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan told CNBC, "We're grateful for the president showing leadership on this issue and believe his ideas will help us ultimately reach a balanced solution."

In an outline released later Thursday, the White House said its proposal would include a 10 to 12 year path to citizenship, "with requirements for work, education and good moral character." It also calls for a curb to family migration by limiting family sponsorships to "spouses and minor children only."

GOP Trump allies in the Senate like Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia praised the plan. But concerns quickly emerged, both on the left and right flank.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who helped to craft a bipartisan Senate proposal Trump rejected, slammed the White House plan in a statement. He contended that the proposal puts Trump's "entire hardline immigration agenda — including massive cuts to legal immigration — on the backs of these young people."

Meanwhile, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., said "Trump destroyed DACA, threatened Dreamers with detention and deportation, and is using that threat to enact his hardline immigration policies."

Trump had signaled on Wednesday that his proposal would include a path to citizenship for so-called Dreamers over 10 to 12 years. He told the hundreds of thousands of immigrants shielded from deportation and cleared to work under the Obama-era program "not to worry."

President Donald Trump at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, eastern Switzerland, on January 25, 2018.
Nicholas Kamm | AFP | Getty Images
President Donald Trump at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, eastern Switzerland, on January 25, 2018.

Slow progress on reaching a bipartisan immigration deal contributed to Congress letting government funding lapse recently for three days. Senators expressed dismay that Trump's demands for a possible deal appeared to shift under the influence of his advisors, particularly Miller.

McConnell's commitment to bring an immigration bill to the chamber's floor helped to end an impasse in the Senate. However, it is still unclear what type of proposal could pass both the Senate and the more conservative House.

A previous plan drafted by bipartisan senators that Trump rejected this month included a path to citizenship.

Anna Galland, civic action director at MoveOn.org, criticized the president's proposal, saying in a statement that it would be dead on arrival in Congress. Galland asserted that Trump's proposal holds the "futures of 800,000 Dreamers hostage in order to deport their loved ones and waste taxpayer money on the wall he promised Mexico would pay for."

She argued that Trump's actions suggest that the president is continuing to take an anti-immigrant hard line stance and "doesn't actually want a deal."

"Remember: it's Trump who unilaterally chose to rescind DACA. If he cared about Dreamers, Trump could unilaterally decide to keep it in place. His proposal today isn't a bill of love; it's a bill of cruelty that is no basis for a deal and should be dead on arrival in Congress," she said.

Programming note: CNBC's exclusive interview with Trump will air on "Squawk Box" at 6 a.m., ET, on Friday.

— CNBC's Ylan Mui contributed reporting to this article.