The White House has suggested that any deal on young undocumented migrants depends on funds for the planned Mexican border wall and a clampdown on illegal immigration, sparking outrage from Democrats.
A list of priorities handed to Congress on Sunday night includes calls for more 10,000 enforcement agents, as well as hundreds of judges and prosecutors – along with other restrictions and measures putting pressure on cities and employers.
The Trump administration also pressed for a crackdown on unaccompanied minors who enter the United States.
Last month the president ended DACA – the Obama-era programme that protected hundreds of thousands of so-called “Dreamers”, young people who were brought illegally to the US as children.
He pledged to go easy on them, giving Congress six months to come up with legislation to help the young people, who represent a fraction of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States.
But if enacted, his priorities – which emphasise enforcement – could result in Dreamers’ parents being deported.
The White House says the measures are essential to mitigate the effect of granting legal status to the young migrants, most of whom come from Mexico and other Latin American countries.
“The Trmp administration has put forth a serious proposal to address the enforcement of our immigration laws and border security,” said republican House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte in a statement. “We cannot fix the DACA problem without fixing all of the issues that led to the underlying problem of illegal immigration in the first place.”
Democratic leaders in Congress, who met the president in September, have accused Trump of reneging on a pledge not to include the border wall in the negotiations over the Dreamers’ future.
“The administration can’t be serious about compromise in helping the Dreamers if they begin with a list that is anathema to the Dreamers, to the immigrant community and to the vast majority of Americans,” said House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer in a statement.
“The list includes the wall, which was explicitly ruled out of the negotiations. If the president was serious about protecting the Dreamers, his staff has not made a good faith effort to do so.”
Democrats and moderate Republicans support DACA, as do most Americans according to one survey.
But Donald Trump campaigned to get tough on immigration, and his apparently more flexible stance alarmed some of his more right-wing supporters.