White House Director of Legislative Affairs March Short said Monday that he is “optimistic” about the progress Congress and President Donald Trump are making regarding the legal status of some undocumented immigrants, despite reports that Trump’s own aides have stonewalled those negotiations.
“I’m perhaps too optimistic, but I feel like there’s been significant progress,” he said on CNN’s “New Day” Monday, discussing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program, one of several key issues keeping Congress from coming to a budget agreement that would reopen the federal government.
“I think Democrats have moved significantly toward our position of the physical barriers that we’re asking for,” he continued. “Democrats have asked us to say, look, as opposed to the 690,000 that have work permits in the DACA program, would you be willing to consider that beyond because their position is some who were either afraid to come out of the dark and to register or what not, and we said ‘yes, we’d be willing to do that.’”
Short’s comments come as lawmakers await a consistent message on DACA from the White House. On Friday, just hours before the government shut down, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) met with Trump, and the pair agreed on an asking price for a border wall in exchange for restoring protections for DACA recipients.
However, a new report from The New York Times Sunday revealed that key Trump aides, Chief of Staff John Kelly and senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, have stonewalled immigration negotiations between Trump and lawmakers.
Trump has reportedly privately told Democratic lawmakers that he wants to come up a plan to protect DACA recipients, but his plans have been overridden by Miller and Kelly. The pair have reportedly refused to budge on compromises until they include hardline policies on issues like merit-based immigration, sanctuary cities and the border wall.
The two are also reportedly behind the White House’s push for ending block chain immigration and the lottery system. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Sunday that immigration negations would go nowhere while Miller was in charge of discussion for the White House.