WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump accused Democrats on Saturday of squandering a chance to work out a legislative solution for hundreds of thousands of young undocumented migrants.
In remarks on Twitter, Donald Trump said he did not believe the opposition party truly wanted to negotiate a new arrangement for so-called Dreamers (undocumented migrants brought to the US illegally when they were children), 690,000 of whom are currently shielded from deportation by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Then-President Barack Obama created DACA by executive order in 2012, but Trump announced last year that he was discontinuing it and gave lawmakers until March 5 (when the program is set to expire) to come up with a permanent legislative solution for these young migrants, who otherwise could face deportation even though for many of them the US is the only country they have ever called home.
“The Democrats are all talk and no action. They are doing nothing to fix DACA. Great opportunity missed. Too bad!” the Republican wrote on Twitter.
He made the remarks two days after meeting at the White House with a bipartisan group of Democratic and Republican senators who said they had reached an agreement in principle that would offer a path to citizenship for more than a million Dreamers.
The proposed bill also would provide $1.6 billion in funding for a wall on the US-Mexico border and eliminate the diversity visa lottery program (two key demands of Trump).
That latter program distributes 50,000 visas annually to individuals from countries that traditionally have not emigrated in large numbers to the US.
The senators proposed that 25,000 of those visas go to individuals – including people from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan – whose temporary protected status is set to expire in the near future following recent moves by the Trump administration.
Those undocumented migrants initially were granted TPS, nearly 20 years ago in the case of Nicaraguans and Salvadorans, due to war or natural disaster in their homelands.
An international firestorm erupted this week when the Washington Post reported that Trump, when told about the proposed visa provision for TPS beneficiaries during the meeting, asked why the US should accept migrants from “shithole countries.”
Trump, who met on Wednesday with the Norwegian prime minister, said the US instead should bring in more immigrants from countries like that highly developed Scandinavian nation.
The president on Friday said he used “tough” language during the meeting to refer to immigrants from impoverished, violence-plagued countries but denies using the crude slur attributed to him.
One of the Democratic senators at the meeting, Dick Durbin of Illinois, confirmed on Twitter that Trump used the term “shithole.”
“In the course of his comments (Mr. Trump) said things that were hate-filled, vile and racist. I use those words advisedly,” he said. “I cannot believe in the history of the White House, in that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday.”
Trump, whose administration has said it is seeking $18 billion for the first phase of wall construction, also slammed the DACA fix presented to him at the meeting with Democratic and GOP senators.
“The so-called bipartisan DACA deal presented yesterday to myself and a group of Republican Senators and Congressmen was a big step backwards. Wall was not properly funded, Chain (migration) & (Diversity Visa) Lottery were made worse and USA would be forced to take large numbers of people from high crime countries which are doing badly,” he wrote Friday on Twitter.
“I want a merit based system of immigration and people who will help take our country to the next level. I want safety and security for our people. I want to stop the massive inflow of drugs,” he added.