A big, beautiful border wall was a constant refrain during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, but Monday –in his first official press conference at the White House–spokesman Sean Spicer hinted that the administration may have its eye on a broader approach.
“Immigration is obviously going to be high on that list,” Spicer said when asked about Trump’s priorities.
“It’s not just building the wall. That’s through the appropriations process. It’s how do we enact policies to make sure that what we have now doesn’t happen again?” Spicer said. “It’s a comprehensive look at how we’re keeping people out of this country that shouldn’t be here. That people who are coming to visit are leaving when they’re supposed to, to make sure we’re tailoring immigration policies that make sure that we’re not, you know, an open door for anyone to just walk in. “
Spicer also touched on the status of DREAMers in the press conference. On the campaign trail, Trump often railed against former President Barack Obama’s executive actions that allowed DREAMers– people who came to the U.S. illegally as children– to stay in the country without fear of deportation. But, Trump’s administration has recently begun downplaying rolling back those actions.
“I don’t have anything further on the executive action front. I think I’ve asked and answered the DACA piece in terms of his priorities right now,” Spicer said. “I think we’ll have — we don’t have anything in front of us right now to sign on that, so give us a little time. We’ll see what Congress moves forward with. I’m sure we’ll have a further readout on the executive order piece.”
In Congress, a team of bipartisan lawmakers has been working on legislation that would protect DREAMers from deportation, but Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), the leading Republican on the bill, told TPM last week that he hadn’t talked to Trump about how his bill might fit into Trump’s broader plans to reform or overhaul the U.S. immigration system, but that he hoped Trump would not act too hastily.
“We don’t want to put these kids in a position where they fear for deportation or their education is put in jeopardy,” Flake said. “I am encouraging them to work with us. We want something permanent. That was the problem with what was done before.”