WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump reaffirmed on Thursday his position that any solution for the hundreds of thousands of young undocumented migrants known as DREAMers must be accompanied by allocating funds to build a wall along the US-Mexico border, a requirement that is unacceptable to Democratic lawmakers.
“Our position has been ... very clear from the beginning. Any legislation on DACA must secure the border with a wall,” said Trump at a meeting with Republican senators about a possible replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“(Legislation on the matter) must give our immigration officers the resources they need to stop illegal immigration and also to stop visa overstays. And, crucially, the legislation must end chain migration,” added the president, saying that he and the GOP lawmakers hope that agreement can be reached with the Democratic opposition.
Trump announced last September the elimination of DACA, which had been implemented by former President Barack Obama in 2012 to protect from deportation young migrants who were brought to this country as children, but he gave Congress until March 5 to craft a legislative solution for the DREAMers.
Democrats in Congress want to approve a law protecting the 690,000 young people in question from deportation, but Trump has been firm in linking any such deal to receiving funding for the border wall and his other immigration priorities.
The president is particularly adamant about ending “chain migration,” the process whereby US citizens or permanent residents can help their relatives abroad to immigrate to this country.
“We need a physical border wall. We’re going to have a wall ... to keep out deadly drug dealers, dangerous traffickers and violent criminal cartels. Mexico is having a tremendous problem with crime, and we want to keep it out of our country,” Trump said.
In his remarks, the president showed that he had not changed his position after top White House officials met on Wednesday with congressional leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Schumer said before that meeting that if Trump did not budge on his demand for the border wall, he doubted if any agreement on DACA could be reached that would be acceptable to both sides.
In remarks to the full Senate on Thursday, Schumer said that the Wednesday meeting had been a “good first step” but added that much work remained to be done to find a replacement for DACA.
Attending the Thursday White House meeting were Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley, John Cornyn, Tom Cotton, Thom Tillis, James Lankford and Lindsey Graham, the latter of whom said that he had never been “more optimistic” than now about achieving immigration reform.