WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump does not plan to demand that legislation to aid the roughly 800,000 undocumented youths at risk of deportation due to his decision to scrap the DACA program include funding for a proposed wall on the Mexican border, a senior White House official said on Tuesday.
“We’re interested in getting border security and the president has made the commitment to the American people that a barrier is important to that security,” White House legislative affairs director Marc Short told reporters.
“Whether or not that is part of a DACA equation ... I don’t want to bind us into a construct that would make the conclusion on DACA impossible,” he said at a roundtable organized by the Christian Science Monitor.
Trump announced last week the phasing-out of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was launched in 2012 by then-President Barack Obama.
The president delayed the effective date of the termination until March 5, 2018, allowing time for Congress to devise a legislative solution to the plight of the DACA beneficiaries, known as DREAMers, after the DREAM Act, a bill that has languished in Congress for more than 15 years.
Regardless of what Congress decides to do about DACA, Trump is determined to press ahead with the wall, Short said.
“The president is not backing off a border wall,” he said. “The president is committed to sticking by the commitment that a physical structure is needed ... whether that is part of a DACA package or another package, I won’t prejudge that today, but he’s committed to getting that wall built.”
No action will be taken against DACA beneficiaries during the six-month grace period and recipients who recently completed the renewal process will be allowed to remain in the US for the balance of their two-year permits.
The leader of the Democratic minority in the House of Representatives, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, said that Trump would be prepared to sign the DREAM Act if it reached his desk.
Among Republicans, who control both the House and Senate, there are many who have made support for the DREAM Act contingent on the appropriation of additional money for border security.