Calling it a “true crisis,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Thursday she believes Democrats will get on board with President Trump’s new immigration overhaul expected to be released later this afternoon.
“I think the best thing you can do to bring Democrats and Republicans together is to have a good plan which is exactly what we have in this,” Sanders told “Fox & Friends.” “(There is) nothing in there that Democrats shouldn’t be for. The big difference between Republicans and Democrats in this case (is that) we actually laid out what we want to see happen in our immigration system.”
Sanders said the president’s new immigration plan is “more of a long-term thing, looking at modernizing and updating our entire immigration system, simplified for people coming into the country legally. We haven’t touched this system in decades.”
She also took the opportunity to slam Trump’s Democratic rivals.
“Democrats right now, unless they get on board with this, the only thing they have said they want is open borders,” she said.
To be clear, not all Democrats want open borders, as Sanders and the White House have repeatedly suggested. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for example, has rejected the “open borders” label, saying such a policy is grossly unrealistic.
“If you open the borders, there’s a lot of poverty in this world, and you’re going to have people from all over the world,” Sanders, who is one of the Democratic frontrunners in the 2020 presidential race, said. “And I don’t think that’s something that we can do at this point. Can’t do it.”
It isn’t Sanders’ first rejection of “open borders” policies either.
In 2015, he made comments to Vox that, in 2019, may sound out of place for a Democratic socialist.
“Open borders? That’s a Koch brothers proposal,” he said, referring to the conservative billionaire businessmen known for their political activism. “That’s a right-wing proposal which says essentially there is no United States.”
Trump is expected to unveil a plan from the White House Rose Garden Thursday afternoon that would overhaul parts of the nation’s immigration system, including a measure that would significantly increase the educational and skills requirements for people who want to come to America while scaling back on chain migration.
The proposal, spearheaded by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, marks a dramatic departure from the nation’s largely family-based approach, which officials said Wednesday gives about 66% of green cards to those with family ties and only 12% based on skills.
In its place, the new plan would provide opportunities for immigrants who have specific skills or job offers to work in the United States, provided they can demonstrate English proficiency and educational attainment, and pass a civics exam.
What the plan doesn’t do is address the millions of undocumented workers living in the country illegally, including hundreds of thousands of young “Dreamers” brought to the U.S. as children – a top priority for Democrats. Nor does the plan reduce overall rates of immigration, as many conservative Republicans would like to see.
Working with Kushner to craft the new policy is Trump’s top immigration advisor Stephen Miller. Their plan, however, falls short of the more extreme measures that Miller has long pushed the president to adopt.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report.