Trump strikes DACA deal with two top Democrats

De­nies giv­ing up bor­der wall in talk with Schumer, Pelosi

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEPHEN DINAN

Demo­cratic lead­ers emerged from a din­ner meet­ing Wed­nes­day night with Pres­i­dent Trump to say they had worked out a deal to grant per­ma­nent pro­tec­tions to young il­le­gal im­mi­grants — with­out hav­ing to ac­cept fund­ing for the pres­i­dent’s pro­posed bor­der wall.

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles E. Schumer and House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi said Mr. Trump agreed to move quickly on a bill that would “en­shrine” the pro­tec­tions of the Obama-era DACA pro­gram — a ten­ta­tive de­por­ta­tion amnesty — into law.

The White House, in its own state­ment, said the din­ner cov­ered DACA, but it did not men­tion a fi­nal deal. Press Sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders took to Twit­ter to deny that the bor­der wall, a key part of Mr. Trump’s cam­paign, was sac­ri­ficed.

“While DACA and bor­der se­cu­rity were both dis­cussed, ex­clud­ing the wall was cer­tainly not agreed to,” she wrote on her Twit­ter ac­count.

Nev­er­the­less, the Democrats said oth­er­wise.

“We had a very pro­duc­tive meet­ing at the White House with the Pres­i­dent,” Mr. Schumer and Mrs. Pelosi said in a joint

state­ment af­ter the din­ner. “The dis­cus­sion fo­cused on DACA. We agreed to en­shrine the pro­tec­tions of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a pack­age of bor­der se­cu­rity, ex­clud­ing the wall, that’s ac­cept­able to both sides.”

They did not say what the bor­der se­cu­rity pack­age would in­clude, though Mrs. Pelosi last week said it could mean more drug in­ter­dic­tion ef­forts by the Coast Guard.

It’s also not clear what the DACA-like pro­tec­tions would mean. Democrats say it should in­clude a full path­way to cit­i­zen­ship, while some Repub­li­cans counter that it should mean a le­gal sta­tus short of cit­i­zen­ship.

The deal, if it comes to fruition, would be the sec­ond ma­jor bar­gain Mr. Trump has cut di­rectly with the two Demo­cratic lead­ers, un­der­cut­ting the ne­go­ti­at­ing po­si­tion of his own party’s lead­ers in Congress.

Last week, he agreed to a large debt and spend­ing bill that deep­ened the fed­eral debt and sped re­lief money to vic­tims of Hur­ri­canes Har­vey and Irma, adding the $15 bil­lion price tag to this year’s deep­en­ing deficit.

Mr. Trump later re­port­edly raved to the Demo­cratic lead­ers about the good press they got for strik­ing a bar­gain — a noted change from the poor news cov­er­age the pres­i­dent has re­ceived for work­ing with Repub­li­cans early in his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

But a deal on the Dream­ers, with­out con­crete im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment steps, could be a tougher sell for the pres­i­dent’s party.

Mr. Trump last week an­nounced he was phas­ing out De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals, the legally ques­tion­able amnesty that Pres­i­dent Obama an­nounced in 2012. DACA pro­tects from de­por­ta­tion nearly 700,000 young adult il­le­gal im­mi­grants who were brought to the U.S. as mi­nors by their par­ents.

The pres­i­dent said he doubted the pro­gram could be de­fended in court, and he said it was up to Congress to fig­ure out a leg­isla­tive so­lu­tion that could with­stand scru­tiny. He set a six-month phase­out to al­low enough time to pass a re­place­ment pro­gram.

Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer called him “cow­ardly” and “brain­less” for the move — yet now seem to have found a will­ing part­ner on the is­sue and are poised to strike a win that eluded them when Mr. Obama was in the White House.

The White House said the din­ner meet­ing in­volved Mr. Schumer, Mrs. Pelosi, Mr. Trump and other ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials, and called it con­struc­tive.

“Th­ese top­ics in­cluded tax re­form, bor­der se­cu­rity, DACA, in­fra­struc­ture and trade. This is a pos­i­tive step to­ward the pres­i­dent’s strong com­mit­ment to bi­par­ti­san so­lu­tions for the is­sues most im­por­tant to all Amer­i­cans,” the White House said — though it didn’t men­tion any fi­nal deals. “The ad­min­is­tra­tion looks for­ward to con­tin­u­ing th­ese con­ver­sa­tions with lead­er­ship on both sides of the aisle.”

Hours be­fore the din­ner, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said any deal on DACA had to in­clude se­ri­ous im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment mea­sures that would help stop a flow of il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

“DACA is a symp­tom of a big­ger prob­lem, which is we do not have con­trol of our bor­ders. So while we deal with DACA … we also have to deal with the prob­lem in the first place: se­cur­ing our bor­ders,” he said. “We’re go­ing to start en­gag­ing th­ese con­ver­sa­tions with all of our mem­bers, all across the Capi­tol.”

Mr. Trump’s deal could un­der­cut those con­ver­sa­tions, though.

Democrats, who have sup­ported stiff bor­der se­cu­rity in­clud­ing hun­dreds of miles of fenc­ing in the past, have flip-flopped on the is­sue with Mr. Trump in of­fice and now say they won’t ap­prove a dime for the wall.

In­stead of stop­ping il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion, Mrs. Pelosi last week cast bor­der se­cu­rity as an anti-drugsmug­gling ef­fort and said that was the di­rec­tion of her con­ver­sa­tions with Mr. Trump.

“He was talk­ing about drugs com­ing into the coun­try, and the biggest pro­tec­tor, for us, and that has been the Coast Guard. They have been the biggest in­ter­dic­tor of drugs com­ing into our coun­try. But it does not in­clude a wall, no,” she said.

The White House sig­naled Tues­day that it would ac­cept a DACA deal with­out need­ing to have bor­der wall fund­ing. But Marc Short, the pres­i­dent’s top li­ai­son to Congress, said they ex­pect to get wall fund­ing in an­other bill.

The next likely chance would be in the 2018 spend­ing bills, which are now due in De­cem­ber. The House is poised this week to pass a bill that in­cludes $1.6 bil­lion for three ini­tial legs of the Trump bor­der wall, but that will be a tough sell in the Se­nate, where Democrats have more than enough votes to fili­buster.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.