WASHINGTON — The morning after a dinner which Dem leaders said yielded a preliminary agreement to protect 800,000 DREAMers without bringing the border wall into the deal, President Trump denied he was granting amnesty to undocumented immigrants.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a joint statement after the Wednesday meeting on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that they and Trump “agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides.”
Trump tweeted this morning: “No deal was made last night on DACA. Massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent. Would be subject to vote. The WALL, which is already under construction in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls, will continue to be built.”
“Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!” he added. “They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own – brought in by parents at young age. Plus BIG border security.”
Schumer and Pelosi said in a follow-up statement this morning that Trump’s tweets “are not inconsistent with the agreement reached last night.”
“As we said last night, there was no final deal, but there was agreement on the following: We agreed that the president would support enshrining DACA protections into law, and encourage the House and Senate to act. What remains to be negotiated are the details of border security, with a mutual goal of finalizing all details as soon as possible,” they said. “While both sides agreed that the wall would not be any part of this agreement, the president made clear he intends to pursue it at a later time, and we made clear we would continue to oppose it.”
“Both sides agreed that the White House and the Democratic leaders would work out a border security package. Possible proposals were discussed including new technology, drones, air support, sensor equipment, rebuilding roads along the border and the bipartisan McCaul-Thompson bill.”
Outside the White House this morning, Trump said that “we’re working on a plan — subject to getting massive border controls.”
“We’re working on a plan for DACA. People want to see that happen. You have 800,000 young people, brought here, no fault of their own. So we’re working on a plan, we’ll see how it works out. We’re going to get massive border security as part of that. And I think something can happen, we’ll see what happens, but something will happen,” he said.
“The wall will come later, we’re right now renovating large sections of wall, massive sections, making it brand new,” Trump added in response to a question. “We want to get massive border security. And I think that both Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, I think they agree with it.”
The president said he spoke to GOP congressional leaders by phone about the deal. “Mitch is on board, Paul Ryan’s on board. We all feel, look, 92 percent of the people agree on DACA, but what we want is very, very powerful border security, ok?” Trump continued. “Ryan and McConnell agree with us on DACA, we’re very much, we’re very on board.”
As Trump was boarding Air Force One bound for Florida, he fielded a shouted question about whether he supports “amnesty.”
Trump shouted back: “The word is ‘DACA.'”
White House spokesman Lindsay Walters told reporters aboard the flight that the president made it “pretty clear this morning … there was no deal made.”
“There was a constructive conversation on how to move forward,” she said, noting that Congress will now have to come with legislation and present it to Trump.
After landing in Florida, Trump said, “We’re not looking at citizenship. We’re not looking at amnesty. We’re looking at allowing people to stay here.”
“Very important is the wall. We have to be sure the wall isn’t obstructed. Very important is the wall. We have to be sure the wall isn’t obstructed because without the wall I wouldn’t do anything. … It doesn’t have to be here but they can’t obstruct the wall if its in a budget or anything else,” he said. “…I just spoke with Paul Ryan, everybody’s on board. … We’re talking about taking care of people, people who were brought here, people who’ve done a good job.”
After spending the morning focusing on tax reform, McConnell issued a statement: “As Congress debates the best ways to address illegal immigration through strong border security and interior enforcement, DACA should be part of those discussions. We look forward to receiving the Trump administration’s legislative proposal as we continue our work on these issues.”