Crowley: Trump's Offer of Citizenship to Dreamers Was Just to 'Take More Hostages'

January 31, 2018

Rep. Joe Crowley (D., N.Y.) on Wednesday argued that President Donald Trump made his immigration deal more unacceptable by offering to legalize a greater number of illegal immigrants.

Crowley started out by saying Trump should stay out of negotiations over recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and allow Congress to compromise. Chuck Todd pressed Crowley on that formulation by bringing up the "heated activists" on the left who want Democrats not to compromise at all, and Crowley said Trump’s offer to give citizenship to a greater number of so-called Dreamers was a way of taking more "hostages."

"I think the president continues to take additional hostages," Crowley said. "Initially it was the roughly 800,000 Dreamers or DACA recipients, he has now expanded it to 1.8 million people who may be eligible for DACA, he’s also included—"

"Wait a minute," Todd interjected. "Are you calling the fact that he increased the number of people he would make eligible for citizenship ‘more hostages’?"

"Oh, I think so," Crowley answered.

"That is rough," Todd said. Later in the show, the "Meet the Press Daily" host said Crowley’s position indicated that the debate was "getting nowhere."

Crowley said Trump was only offering to protect a million illegal immigrants who were not under DACA in order to decrease immigration overall.

"[Trump] didn't have to do this. He's actually adding these folks to the equation, and all in the attempt to end certain aspects of legal immigration into the United States," Crowley said.

Todd then asked Crowley what a reasonable family-reunification policy would be, and his answer was that it should include extended family. He said, however, that members of an extended family are part of the "nuclear family."

"I believe the nuclear family itself is pretty much defined," Crowley said. "There is mothers and fathers, obviously, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and grandparents."

Only a couple’s dependent children are considered part of a nuclear family, so grandparents do not fit the definition of the term. Still, Crowley said Trump was not "being totally honest" when he said chain migration allows immigrants’ extended family to enter the country.

Crowley would not say what compromises he would be willing to make when Todd asked.

"I will know the deal when I see it and I haven’t seen those [bills] yet," Crowley said. "But I do think that if it comes down to it, if I believe that the deal is a fair deal, that it will accomplish most of what I'm trying to accomplish, I will give that the light of the day."

Later in the interview, Crowley would not commit to a deal that would lead to a border wall and the legalization of Dreamers, which is the deal Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) had offered before taking it off the table. Crowley called the wall a "waste of our resources" and argued that Trump was not a reliable person with whom to negotiate.