President Donald Trump complained Friday that a permanent for for beneficiaries of the DACA program was left on the cutting room floor during this week’s congressional budget debates, and blamed Democrats for ‘using’ immigrants as negotiating pawns.
Launched with an executive order by President Barack Obama, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals system offers a no-deportation guarantee to nearly 800,000 illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.
‘I say this to DACA recipients, that the Republicans are with you. They want to get your situation taken care of,’ Trump said Friday during a brief appearance in the Diplomatic Reception room of the White House.
‘The Democrats fought us. They just fought every single inch of the way. They did not want DACA in this bill.’
President Donald Trump said Friday at the White House that a spending bill he signed didn’t include help for DACA recipients because Democrats refused to entertain the idea
The fate of nearly 800,000 ‘DREAMers,’ U.S. residents left in immigration limbo because they were illegally brought to the country as children, is a political hot potato
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Trump said, are using DACA recipients as pawns instead of helping them
Speaking to ‘the Hispanic community’ in particular, he said ‘Republicans are much more on your side the Democrats – who are using you for their own purposes.’
Democrats had offered a compromise that would have involved putting all DACA recipients – and illegal immigrants who qualified for the special dispensation but never applied for it – on a path for citizenship.
The White House countered with an offer for a three-year DACA extension, allowing for a scenario where Trump could continue using the issue as a 2020 political weapon.
Trump announced in September 2017 that he would wind down DACA in six months, giving Congress until March 5 to codify it in law.
The White House hoped the resulting deadline would give GOP negotiators leverage to insist on $25 billion in border security funding – the lion’s share of which would pay for the president’s long-awaited border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
But a series of short-term court victories, most notably in the liberal Ninth Circuit in California, gave Democrats a reprieve and allowed them to ignore the March 5 red line, knowing that the Department of Homeland Security was powerless to stop DACA beneficiaries from renewing their legal status.
That weakening of Trump’s bargaining position is what forced congressional Republicans to settle for $1.6 billion in border security enhancements in the budget bill he signed Friday, just hours after he threatened to veto it.
That money allows for the construction of just 33 miles of new border barriers where none already existed. Trump has said he wants between 700 and 900 miles built, and promised last year that it would happen by the end of his first term in office.
The president railed against Democrats on Friday for cutting DACA ‘DREAMers’ out of the 2,200-page budget, but the Dems offered a deal Republicans decided they could refuse
The president shocked Washington with a veto threat on Friday, claiming Democrats had ‘abandoned’ DACA beneficiaries, but ultimately he signed it
‘DACA is also tied to the wall, for the major funding, the $25 billion for the wall and other things,’ the president noted Friday, ‘so I think that will be coming up very soon.’
‘DACA recipients have been treated extremely badly – by the Democrats,’ he added.
‘We wanted to include DACA. We wanted to have them in this bill – 800,000 people, and actually it could even be more. And we wanted to include DACA in this bill. The Democrats would not do it. They would not do it.’
In his veto threat Friday morning, Trump specifically cited the lack of a one-for-one deal involving both his wall project and a DACA fix.
‘I am considering a VETO of the Omnibus Spending Bill based on the fact that the 800,000 plus DACA recipients have been totally abandoned by the Democrats (not even mentioned in Bill) and the BORDER WALL, which is desperately needed for our National Defense, is not fully funded,’ he tweeted.
A half-hour earlier he wrote on Twitter that DACA, the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, ‘was abandoned by the Democrats. Very unfair to them! Would have been tied to desperately needed Wall.’
Trump has demanded funding for the 1,954-mile border wall between the U.S. and Mexico but Congress only gave him funding for 33 new miles of barriers this time around
White Houe budget director Mick Mulvaney said Thursday that Trump had offered Democrats ‘three years worth of a DACA fix in exchange for three years worth of a wall’
Trump sees his wall as a barrier against illegal immigration, an impediment to narcotics smugglers and an upgrade to national defense.
‘National defense is a very important two words,’ he said Friday. ‘Because by having a strong border system, including a wall, we are in a position militarily that is very advantageous.’
DACA, meanwhile, has become Washington’s ultimate political hot potato, with both major parties trying to portray themselves as deeply concerned about immigrants languishing in visa purgatory.
The White House has complained repeatedly this month that Democrats were abandoning them in the budget-cooking process.
‘Let’s make it clear: The president wanted a DACA fix as part of this deal,’ White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told reporters on Thursday.
‘He had offered a large package with a complete DACA fix in exchange for the entire wall. He offered a small package – three years worth of a DACA fix in exchange for three years worth of a wall.’
‘The Democrats in the House and Senate have made it clear they think they’re winning in the courts and they do not want to fix this legislatively,’ he added.
‘We’ve reached out to them again and again to try to fix DACA, and they refuse to engage on the topic.’