Ryan dismisses potential DACA deal between Trump and Democrats
President Trump's decision to work with Democratic lawmakers to move forward with border security and protections for dreamers inflamed his conservative base, and raised questions about his promised border wall. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post) September 14 at 12:47 PM
President Trump further swept the debate over âdreamerâ protections into confusion Thursday when he said he was not considering allowing hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants to become citizens, putting him at odds with top congressional Democrats who believed he supported the idea.
âWeâre not looking at citizenship,â Trump told reporters on an airport tarmac in Florida, where he was scheduled to check in on relief efforts following Hurricane Irma. âWeâre not looking at amnesty. Weâre looking at allowing people to stay here. â¦ Weâre talking about taking care of people, people who were brought here, people whoâve done a good job,â he said.
The comments challenged top Democratsâ understanding of his position following a dinner Wednesday night, where they said Trump agreed to pursue a deal protecting a segment of illegal immigrants under the so-called DREAM Act, which includes a long-term path to citizenship. The deal would also include tougher border security measures in lieu â" for now â" of a border wall.
[Trump, top Democrats agree to work on deal to save âdreamersâ from deportation]
âI believe there is an understanding that down the road there is an eventual path to citizenship under the DREAM Act,â House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a news conference on Capitol Hill.President Trump insisted on Sept. 14 that his plans to pursue legislative protections for dreamers will not include "amnesty" and said that any deal must ensure no "obstruction" of his promised border wall. (The Washington Post)
Asked about Trumpâs comments in Florida, she said citizenship is âin the bill â" thatâs in the bill.â
Republican leaders, who were not part of the discussions, said any deal that Trump reaches with Democrats would still have to go through the GOP-controlled Congress.
âI think the president understands he has to work with the congressional majorities to get any kind of legislative solution,â House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said at a Thursday news conference.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) remained noncommittal in a statement that put the onus for a plan on the White House.
âAs Congress debates the best ways to address illegal immigration through strong border security and interior enforcement, DACA should be part of those discussions. We look forward to receiving the Trump administrationâs legislative proposal as we continue our work on these issues,â McConnell stated.
In deciding to pursue an agreement with Democrats, Trump took power from Republicans for the second time in two weeks. GOP leaders had already been slighted by Trumpâs recent deal to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government until Dec. 8.House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) spoke on Sept. 14 about President Trumpâs discussion with Democrats on DACA and border security. (Reuters)
Among rank-and-file members, Democrats and more centrist Republicans praised Trumpâs stance while ultraconservative lawmakers reacted with muted outrage.
âNothing short of a physical wall will suffice,â Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), a conservative hard-liner, said in a statement.
âI also disagree that the focus of our efforts should be on creating yet another amnesty program. â¦ Instead, Congress should prioritize full enforcement of our immigration laws, eliminating incentives that drive illegal immigration, and fully funding a physical border wall,â Biggs sta ted.
The shifting alliances became more apparent Thursday morning after Trump defended âdreamersâ on Twitter, calling them âgood, educated and accomplished young peopleâ and prompting rank-and-file Democrats to concur.
âI agree with you Mr President,â Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) then wrote on Twitter.
But Republicans were divided, with some lawmakers such as Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) giving Trump âkudosâ for the deal on Twitter while ultraconservative Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) decrying Trumpâs position as âamnesty.â
âUnbelievable! Amnesty is a pardon for immigration law breakers coupled with the reward of the objective of their crime,â King tweeted Wednesday night.
âTrump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible â¦ Mr. President, I support your agenda, especially your no amnesty agenda. MAGA!â King wrote, using the initia lism for Trumpâs campaign slogan, âMake America Great Again.â
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) seemed miffed at being kept out of the loop. âMorn news says u made deal w Schumer on DACA/hv ur staff brief me,â he tweeted at Trump.
Other Republicans, even those in leadership, couldnât help but demonstrate their confusion about the whole situation.
In one example, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.) tweeted a link to a story in which White House officials denied any deal on âdreamersâ existed. Schumerâs office rebutted the tweet, saying Trump has confirmed the basic structure for a deal.
After that, Cornyn simply dismissed the agreement as something Congress will have to approve, in the end.
The feeling of betrayal was acute for conservative hard-liners who support construction of a border wall, which Trump, speaking with reporters Thursday morning, said will âcome later.â
âWe want to get massive border security. And I think that both Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, I think they agree with it,â Trump said.
âLook, 92 percent of the people agree on DACA, but what we want is very, very powerful border security, okay?â he said, referring to survey data in support of âdreamers.â
Schumer and Pelosi said border security measures in the final agreement could include drones, sensor technology, road repairs and other strategies included in a bipartisan bill from 2013 that instructed federal officials to draft a plan ensuring apprehension of 90 percent of all illegal border-crossers within five years.
In a speech on the Senate floor, Schumer called the notion of a physical wall âa âGame of Thronesâ idea for a world that is closer to âStar Wars.ââ
âWhat remains to be negotiated are the details of border security with a mutual goal of finalizing all the details as soon as possible,â Schumer said Thursday morning .
âDetails will matter, but it was a very, very positive stepâ to see Trump agree to seek legal protection for âdreamers,â he said.
Paul Kane, Kelsey Snell and Karoun Demirjian contributed.
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