ABC News Australia

Donald Trump, top Democrats agree on deal to protect Dreamers, but no funding for wall

14 September 2017

 

 

US President Donald Trump has struck an immigration deal with opposition Democrats to protect thousands of younger immigrants from deportation — but his much-vaunted border wall will not be part of the equation.

Key points:

  • New deal protects so-called Dreamers — immigrants who were brought illegally into the US as children
  • Donald Trump bypassed Republicans to deal with Senate Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer
  • DREAM Act will provide eventual citizenship for young Dreamer immigrants

The agreement, brokered with top Senate Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, protects immigrants brought illegally into the US as children, the so-called Dreamers.

But it specifically does not include Mr Trump’s long-sought border wall.

The deal would enshrine protections for the nearly 800,000 immigrants who benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, created by former president Barack Obama, which Mr Trump announced he was ending.

The agreement was announced in a joint statement from Ms Pelosi and Mr Schumer following a dinner the pair had with Mr Trump at the White House.

It marks the second time in two weeks that Mr Trump has bypassed Republicans to deal with Ms Pelosi and Mr Schumer.

Mr Trump had given Congress six months to come up with a legislative fix before the statuses of Dreamers begin to expire.

“We 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,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement.

A person briefed on the meeting, who demanded anonymity to discuss it, said Mr Trump’s deal with Ms Pelosi and Mr Schumer specifies bipartisan legislation called the DREAM Act that provides eventual citizenship for the young immigrants.

Nancy Pelosi leaves meeting with Paul Ryan

 

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but said in its own statement that the President had had “a constructive working dinner” with Mr Schumer, Ms Pelosi and administration officials “to discuss policy and legislative priorities,” including DACA.

“This is a positive step toward the President’s strong commitment to bipartisan solutions for the issues most important to all Americans,” the White House said.

During a White House meeting with moderate House members from both parties earlier on Wednesday, Mr Trump had urged politicians to come up with a bipartisan solution.

“We don’t want to forget DACA,” Mr Trump told the members at the meeting.

“We want to see if we can do something in a bipartisan fashion so that we can solve the DACA problem and other immigration problems.”

While White House officials have suggested legislation on DACA could move forward without wall funding, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders disputed the characterisation that a deal had been reached to leave it out of any legislation focused on the Dreamers.

The apparent deal is the latest example of Trump’s sudden pivot to bipartisanship after months of railing against Democrats as “obstructionist.” He has urged them to join him in overhauling the nation’s tax code, among other priorities.

Mr Trump, who was deeply disappointed by Republicans’ failure to pass a health care overhaul, infuriated many in his party when he reached a three-month deal with Schumer and Pelosi to raise the debt ceiling, keep the government running and speed relief to states affected by recent hurricanes.

“More and more we’re trying to work things out together,” Mr Trump said, calling the development a “positive thing” for both parties.

“If you look at some of the greatest legislation ever passed, it was done on a bipartisan manner. And so that’s what we’re going to give a shot,” he said.

The thorny issue of immigration has been vexing US politicians for years.

Funding for Mr Trump’s promised wall had been thought to be a major point of contention between Republicans and Democrats as they attempted to forge a deal.

Throughout his 2016 campaign for president and since taking office in January, Mr Trump has demanded the construction of a wall to keep out illegal immigrants and drugs.

He initially said Mexico would pay for the wall but has requested money from the US Congress after the Mexican Government refused to pay.

ABC/wires