Trump’s bor­der wall links to DACA may ease

The Palm Beach Post - - HURRICANE IRMA - By Kelsey Snell, Ash­ley Parker and Ed O’Keefe

WASH­ING­TON — A top aide to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump sig­naled on Tues­day that the White House may back off its calls to pair fund­ing for new bor­der wall con­struc­tion with a bill to pro­vide le­gal pro­tec­tions to hun­dreds of thou­sands of im­mi­grants known as “Dream­ers,” sig­nal­ing that the emo­tion­ally charged is­sue may prove eas­ier to re­solve than ini­tially thought.

Trump last month be­gan a six-month countdown to the end of the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals pro­gram that cur­rently pro­vides le­gal pro­tec­tions to about 690,000 peo­ple, and said it would be up to law­mak­ers to come up with a so­lu­tion. The de­ci­sion has been widely crit­i­cized by mem­bers of both par­ties.

Marc Short, the White House leg­isla­tive af­fairs di­rec­tor, told a break­fast hosted by the Chris­tian Science Mon­i­tor that Trump “be­lieves that a phys­i­cal bar­rier is im­por­tant” be­tween the United States and Mex­ico. But he said the ad­min­is­tra­tion does not “want to bind our­selves into a con­struct that makes reach­ing a con­clu­sion on DACA im­pos­si­ble.”

Short’s com­ments came as House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi in­di­cated that House Democrats are quickly co­a­lesc­ing around leg­is­la­tion that would grant le­gal pro­tec­tions to DACA re­cip­i­ents and set them on a years­long course to ap­ply for U.S. cit­i­zen­ship. The Dream Act is co-spon­sored by Democrats and Repub­li­cans in the House and Se­nate, in­clud­ing Reps. Lu­cille Roy­bal-Al­lard, D-Calif., and Mike Coff­man, R-Colo., and Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Lind­sey Gra­ham, R-S.C., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Se­nate Demo­cratic leader Chuck Schumer.

Pelosi said House Democrats are gath­er­ing sup­port for a pe­ti­tion to force House Speaker Paul Ryan to hold a vote on that leg­is­la­tion as early as the first weeks of Oc­to­ber. For such a strat­egy to suc­ceed, Pelosi would have to ob­tain sig­na­tures from ev­ery Demo­crat in the House and at least 24 Repub­li­cans. She said Democrats should act quickly to take ad­van­tage of a moment when there ap­pears to be wide­spread sup­port for ex­tend­ing le­gal pro­tec­tions for those cov­ered un­der DACA.

Sev­eral re­cent polls have shows that a ma­jor­ity of vot­ers sup­port ex­tend­ing le­gal pro­tec­tions for DACA re­cip­i­ents. A re­cent NBC News/ Sur­veyMon­key poll found less than one-third — 30 per­cent — of re­spon­dents said they op­pose DACA.

But the is­sue of bor­der wall fund­ing is still likely to emerge as a stick­ing point in spend­ing talks later this year. Congress voted last week to ex­tend cur­rent fed­eral spend­ing lev­els through Dec. 8, leav­ing law­mak­ers three months to work out a longterm spend­ing agree­ment. Short hinted that Trump may de­mand bor­der wall fund­ing as a part of those ne­go­ti­a­tions.

In re­cent days, Trump has also pri­vately ap­proached Schumer to dis­cuss trad­ing pro­tec­tions for DACA re­cip­i­ents — widely re­ferred to as “Dream­ers” — for new bor­der wall fund­ing, ac­cord­ing to a per­son fa­mil­iar with their ex­change.

Con­gres­sional Democrats have said they will not dis­cuss any deal in­volv­ing new money for bor­der wall con­struc­tion, but are open to dis­cussing broader bor­der se­cu­rity mea­sures.

In a 2013 bi­par­ti­san im­mi­gra­tion re­form bill, Schumer and dozens of other Democrats sup­ported bil­lions of dol­lars in new fund­ing to hire U.S. Bor­der Pa­trol agents and to de­ploy drones and other technology to scan and pro­tect the south­ern bor­der — pro­pos­als that are still con­sid­ered vi­able to­day, aides have said.

But Schumer, Pelosi and other Democrats have called con­struc­tion of more bor­der wall “im­moral” and a mis­guided use of fed­eral dol­lars, es­pe­cially at a time when the fed­eral govern­ment needs to spend hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars in re­lief aid to re­build parts of Florida, Texas and Louisiana af­ter re­cent ma­jor hur­ri­caes.


The is­sue of bor­der wall fund­ing is still likely to emerge as a stick­ing point in spend­ing talks later this year, de­spite sup­port for ex­tend­ing le­gal pro­tec­tions for DACA re­cip­i­ents.

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