Trump Ties Immigration Demands To DACA Deal, Including Border Wall

President Trump on Sunday sent Congress a list of sweeping immigration changes he says “must be included as part of any legislation addressing the status of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.”

Trump wants the border wall he campaigned on to be built, a crackdown on illegal immigration and to switch the U.S. legal immigration system from one that prioritizes family connections to one based on merit.

Trump has promoted these policies before, both during the campaign and as president. But what’s new is demanding that they be included in the legislative fix for the DACA program.

“Without these reforms, illegal immigration and chain migration, which severely and unfairly burden American workers and taxpayers, will continue without end,” Trump said in a letter to Congress.

Last month, concluding that the DACA program put into place by the Obama administration through executive action was illegal, Trump announced that he would end it in six months. He called on Congress to enshrine in law the protections for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children. The approximately 700,000 DACA recipients are often referred to as DREAMers. Under the program, they temporarily avoid deportation and receive work permits.

Around that time, Trump had dinner at the White House with the two top congressional Democrats, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and all emerged talking about the rough outlines of a deal. A major component of that agreement was President Trump’s willingness to take funding the border wall off the table, when it came to DACA legislation.

After the apparent agreement with Pelosi and Schumer, conservatives vocalized their rage, accusing Trump of abandoning the hard-line immigration platform he campaigned on. Conservative commentator Ann Coulter said at the time, “If we’re not getting a wall, I’d prefer President Pence.”

“DACA now, and the wall very soon,” Trump told reporters on the south lawn of the White House in mid-September. “But the wall will happen.”

The White House immigration principles appear to be a departure from that earlier statement. White House documents call for “completing construction of a wall along the southern border of the United States” and ensuring “funding for the southern border wall and associated infrastructure.”

Pelosi and Schumer say these proposals are a clear break with what they believe was agreed to during that dinner at the White House.

By Tamara Keith for NPR
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