Trump says he'll propose a way to citizenship for 'Dreamers'
President Trump said on Wednesday that he would send Congress a legislative proposal to provide legal status and ultimately citizenship to young immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children and now face deportation.
The president told reporters he wanted to give the so-called Dreamers a way to achieve full citizenship in 10 to 12 years.
"Tell them not to be concerned,” Trump said. “Tell them not to worry. We will solve the problem."
While Republicans, mostly in the House, have resisted such a move as “amnesty,” the president said a solution is “up to the Democrats."
His comments to reporters at the White House came hours after his press secretary had said that on Monday the administration would, for the first time, provide Congress with details of what it wanted to see in an immigration bill that also addresses a border wall and other security measures.
The move follows a short-lived government shutdown last weekend after Democrats blocked a funding bill in an unsuccessful bid to force action protecting Dreamers. Now Trump and Congress are scrambling for compromise legislation to address the fallout of his decision last September to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program by March 6.
“The president wants to lead on this issue and that's exactly what we're going to do," Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Wednesday.
Members of both parties have complained that Trump hasn’t led, and that his mixed signals have impeded deliberations. Sanders, in a statement, said the White House framework would reflect what the administration sees as a compromise to address both Dreamers and measures Trump wants for limiting legal and illegal immigration.
She urged the Senate to go first in voting on legislation drafted from the president’s emerging framework. The House, also controlled by Republicans, is more hostile to legislation giving legal status to immigrants in the U.S. without permission, even the broadly popular Dreamers.
The White House tack represents a break from Trump’s approach two weeks ago when, in a bipartisan meeting about solving the DACA impasse, he said he’d “sign whatever bill they send me.” Since then he has rejected two bipartisan proposals.
Trump insists that any bill must include funding for a southern border wall, more power for deportation agents, curbs on citizens and legal residents sponsoring relatives to resettle in the U.S., and an end to a visa lottery that brings in mostly Eastern European and African migrants.
Many of his demands for curbing legal immigration have been opposed by Democrats, though they have indicated a willingness to compromise.
As part of the temporary funding deal that reopened the government through Feb. 8, the Senate — but not the House — agreed to try to pass a bipartisan immigration bill in that time. If the Senate does not, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he will allow debate on a measure that is open to amendments.