WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump warned lawmakers on Tuesday that they face the last chance between now and March 5 to resolve the future of the DACA program, which protects the 690,000 undocumented youths known as Dreamers from deportation.
“Negotiations on DACA have begun,” Trump tweeted a day after the US Senate was to vote in favor of opening the debate about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, set to expire on March 5.
“Wouldn’t it be great if we could finally, after so many years, solve the DACA puzzle. This will be our last chance, there will never be another opportunity! March 5th,” the president added.
Hours later, at a meeting with legislators about trade, Trump ribbed Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown after the latter said he thought it looked easier to reach a bipartisan agreement on infrastructure than on DACA.
Trump feigned agreement, but only because “we want to help DACA, you don’t.” But the president quickly added “OK, I’m kidding. I’m sure you do.”
Trump seemed optimistic that the immigration debate could soon be settled, and said that all the senators and representatives present at the meeting wanted to resolve the DACA situation.
Last September, Trump announced that he would end the program, imposed in 2012 by then-President Barack Obama, and gave Congress until next March 5 to approve an alternative that would offer a permanent immigration solution for these young people who came to the US as children.
As part of the recent budget negotiations, Senate Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell agreed with the Democratic opposition that he would open a debate on immigration in a full session of the upper house.
Trump has offered a path to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented youths, on condition that Congress resolve his concerns about illegal immigration and allot $25 billion to build a wall on the Mexican border and strengthen border security.
The Democratic opposition, for its part, has criticized Trump for using the Dreamers’ future as a political bargaining chip, and demands a solution solely for those youngsters.