Trump is ‘fairly close’ to deal for DREAM­ers

Wall will come later, pres­i­dent says, de­spite Dems’ claims

USA TODAY US Edition - - NEWS - Gre­gory Korte

Pres­i­dent Trump said Thurs­day he’s “fairly close” to a deal with Congress that would pro­tect young un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants who came into the coun­try il­le­gally as chil­dren and ad­dress bor­der se­cu­rity.

But even as Trump sig­naled progress on a grand bar­gain on im­mi­gra­tion, he also dis­puted claims by Demo­cratic lead­ers that he had agreed to drop his in­sis­tence that Congress even­tu­ally pay for a wall along the length of the Mex­i­can bor­der.

“The wall will come later, we’re right now ren­o­vat­ing large sec­tions of wall, mas­sive sec­tions, mak­ing it brand new,” Trump told re­porters as he de­parted the White House for Florida, where he was to tour hur­ri­cane dam­age.

But his first pri­or­ity, he said, was forg­ing a deal that would com­bine “mas­sive bor­der con­trols” with some kind of le­gal sta­tus for DREAM­ers, the chil­dren of un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants.

Pres­i­dent Obama had sus­pended de­por­ta­tions of DREAM­ers un­der a pro­gram known as DACA, or De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion can­celed that pro­gram, giv­ing a six-month grace pe­riod in or­der to give Congress time to de­cide their le­gal sta­tus.

“We’re work­ing on a plan, sub­ject to get­ting mas­sive bor­der con­trols. We’re work­ing on a plan for DACA. Peo­ple want to see that hap­pen. You have 800,000 young peo­ple, brought here, no fault of their own. So we’re work­ing on a plan, we’ll see how it works out. We’re go­ing to get mas­sive bor­der se­cu­rity as part of that,” Trump said. “And I think some­thing can hap­pen, we’ll see what hap­pens, but some­thing will hap­pen.”

News of a pos­si­ble break­through came Wed­nes­day night af­ter Trump dined with House Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Charles Schumer. The Demo­cratic lead­ers said they had a “very pro­duc­tive meet­ing.”

Pelosi said Thurs­day that Democrats thought they had an agree­ment to in­cor­po­rate the DREAM Act into the im­mi­gra­tion pack­age, with the bor­der wall dealt with sep­a­rately.

The DREAM Act is a bi­par­ti­san bill that would not just pro­tect the DACA re­cip­i­ents from de­por­ta­tion, but also give them a way to earn cit­i­zen­ship. “I do be­lieve there is an un­der­stand­ing that ... there is an even­tual path to cit­i­zen­ship,” she said.

But asked Thurs­day if he fa­vors amnesty for un­doc­u­mented im- mi­grant, Trump shouted, “The word is DACA.”

The ne­go­ti­a­tions mark the sec­ond time in as many weeks that Trump ap­peared to by­pass con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans to deal di­rectly with Demo­cratic lead­ers. Last week, Trump agreed to a bud­get pack­age that in­cluded a sus­pen­sion of the debt limit, short-term spend­ing and $15 bil­lion in hur­ri­cane re­lief — to the con­ster­na­tion of some Repub­li­cans. This time, Trump said he spoke with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, and they are “very much on board.”

House con­ser­va­tives had a mixed re­ac­tion. North Carolina Repub­li­can Rep. Mark Mead­ows said bor­der se­cu­rity has al­ways been broader than just the wall.

Trump has tried to show sym­pa­thy for the DREAM­ers.

“Does any­body re­ally want to throw out good, ed­u­cated and ac­com­plished young peo­ple who have jobs, some serv­ing in the mil­i­tary?” he tweeted Thurs­day.

El­iza Collins and Deirdre Sh­es­green con­trib­uted from Wash­ing­ton. David Jack­son con­trib­uted from Joint Base An­drews, Md. “We’re work­ing on a plan, sub­ject to get­ting mas­sive bor­der con­trols. We’re work­ing on a plan for DACA.”

Pres­i­dent Trump

ED­UARDO MUNOZ AL­VAREZ, GETTY IMAGES

Im­mi­gra­tion ac­tivists protest the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion's de­ci­sion to end the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals (DACA) pro­gram on Wed­nes­day in Ne­wark.

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