'Fund the wall and give us DACA,' say evangelical leaders after Trump offers deal to end government shutdown
Evangelical leaders in the US are urging the Democrats to consider Donald Trump's DACA offer to end the government shutdown.
After weeks of stalemate, Trump offered to extend protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals - children who were brought to the US illegally and face deportation, also known as Dreamers.
In exchange for $5.7bn to build his promised wall along the border with Mexico, they would be given protection from deportation for three years and permits to work.
In a White House speech on Saturday, Trump said he wanted to 'break the logjam' with Congress, which has left hundreds of thousands of federal workers furloughed without pay since December 22 - the longest federal government shutdown in US history.
'Both sides in Washington must simply come together,' he said, before adding that 'walls are not immoral, in fact they are the opposite of immoral because they will save many lives'.
Democrats have already signalled that they will reject the offer. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said it was a 'non-starter' and a 'compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable and in total, do not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people's lives'.
Rev Samuel Rodriguez, the leader of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), expressed support for the offer but not without some caveats as he said that a permanent solution was needed for Dreamers rather than a 'temporary fix'.
'While we commend the spirit of the president's latest effort to end the government shutdown, we at the NHCLC must continue to insist upon a permanent DACA solution for a permanent wall,' he said.
'A temporary fix will only prolong an already untenable situation and kick the can still further down the road. A practice that has proved counterproductive, ineffective and inhumane for more than three decades, and in fact, led to the current crisis in the first place. We can and we must do better.
'While this offer falls short, we also applaud the president and recognize that it represents progress and forward momentum.
'We strongly urge the Democratic leadership in Congress to swiftly propose a counteroffer that both secures the futures of America's Dreamers and secures our southern border at the same time.
'As we've already publicly declared during this shutdown: Fund the wall and give us DACA.'
Jentezen Franklin, the senior pastor Free Chapel, in Gainesville, Georgia, also said he wanted Republicans and Democrats to 'build the wall and give us DACA' as he called on both parties to 'stop political posturing'.
'Today, President Trump has gone way beyond halfway in agreeing to extend deportation protections to Dreamers for three years,' he said.
'He also placed in his proposal many ideas originally proposed by Democrats, showing that he is listening. The president just wants common sense protection on the southern border that includes a barrier and humanitarian support, something everybody said they wanted just a few years ago.
'It's time to stop the political posturing and support the president's proposal for common sense protection and humanitarian aid.'