President Trump said Thursday that he is working with Democratic leaders on a plan to legalize illegal immigrant Dreamers, and said he won’t insist on funding his border wall as part of it, saying that “will come later.”
The president also said GOP leaders in Congress are “very much on board” the deal he’s working with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
The two Democrats emerged from a working dinner at the White House Wednesday to say they’d all reached a framework, which would speed a bill to grant Dreamers full legal status, coupled with more border security. But they said the president agreed the wall wouldn’t be part of that security.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders disputed that version later Wednesday, but Mr. Trump on Thursday agreed with the Democrats’ reading, saying that the wall will not be part of the deal.
“The wall will come later, we’re right now renovating large sections of wall, massive sections, making it brand new,” he said as he departed the White House en route to Florida, where he was to look at hurricane recovery efforts.
Mr. Trump said he will insist on “massive border controls” as part of the Dreamer bill.
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He didn’t elaborate, but the Democratic leaders said Thursday morning that means more technology, drones, sensors and roads.
Neither physical barriers, which the Border Patrol says it needs, nor more agents were part of the list Democrats gave.
Mr. Trump’s deal is already angering some congressional Republicans who said it betrays the campaign promises he made, forgoing serious security but granting a new amnesty for some illegal immigrants.
They fear a repeat of the 1986 amnesty, which legalized millions of illegal immigrants in exchange for promises of stiffer enforcement. The amnesty happened, but the enforcement didn’t, and within 15 years the number of illegal immigrants had more than tripled in the U.S.
Mr. Trump, though, said he’s got the top Republican leaders in Congress with him, and said he’d spoken with both of them about the deal.
“Mitch is on board, Paul Ryan’s on board,” the president said, referring to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan.
SEE ALSO: Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi announce deal with Trump to protect young immigrants
He said legalizing the Dreamers polls very high, but he repeated that any deal must be accompanied by very, very powerful border security.”
Mr. Trump is right that some fence rebuilding is going on already. The 2017 budget called for replacing sections that use outdated designs with the most modern bollard-style fencing. And the 2018 budget he submitted asked for money to add about 60 miles of new levee wall and fencing in Texas.
That is, however, short of the border-long wall the president promised his supporters during the 2016 campaign, and he has failed to make progress on his vow to make Mexico pay for the project.