Feb. 14 (UPI) -- More than 250 liberal-leaning groups have signed a letter that urges Senate Democrats to reject any immigration deal that includes "nativist" proposals.
The letter, published by the Center for American Progress and signed onto by a wide range of immigration, refugee, faith, education, youth, health, labor and civil liberties organizations, says that President Donald Trump's demands for an immigration deal "would take the country backwards in an echo of restrictive policies not seen since the 1920s."
The CAP letter says that Trump is using recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, often referred to as Dreamers, as "bait" to pull in Democratic votes for an anti-immigration bill.
"Congress must reject these nativist overtures," the CAP letter states. "President Trump and Congressional Republicans created this moral crisis and it is up to them to work in good faith with Democrats to reach a narrow agreement that pairs a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers with smart and sensible border security measures."
Although Trump's prior proposal -- and others brought by Republican Senators to reflect the president's wishes -- includes a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million young undocumented immigrants, the CAP letter strongly urges Democrats to reject bills that contain Trump's other demands -- including additions to the current wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, ending family-based migration for non-nuclear family members and ending the diversity visa lottery.
The letter says the proposed border wall and an increased number of Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees is a "wasteful and unpopular policy that will only harm border communities...asylum seekers, unaccompanied children and immigrant communities across the country."
Ending family-based migration must also be opposed, the letter says, because it would cut overall immigration between 33 percent and 44 percent and "would needlessly penalize American families."
Lastly, the letter urges Democrats to reject any immigration proposal that would end the diversity visa lottery -- a program that admits up to 50,000 people to the United States each year from countries that send few immigrants to the country.
It says ending the program would prevent immigrants who are "far better educated than U.S.-born Americans" and who "work in managerial and professional occupations" from coming to the United States.
"The task at hand is to protect Dreamers, and Congress must not do so by slashing the Diversity Visa program," the letter states.
CAP's letter comes at a time when many Democrats are facing pressure from liberal groups to push for a DACA bill that excludes Republican demands, even though Democrats don't have a majority in either the House or Senate.
On Tuesday night, Senate Democrats prevented a vote on a bill proposed by Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Christopher Coons of Delaware that tied granting amnesty to DACA recipients to increased funding for border security.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said bipartisan talks are ongoing and lawmakers are working to find a solution.
"I believe progress is being made. I hope that we can continue along those lines," he said.