Trump is ‘fairly close’ to deal for DREAMers
Wall will come later, president says, despite Dems’ claims
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.”
Immigration activists protest the Trump administration's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on Wednesday in Newark.