President Donald Trump on Thursday said he was not interested for “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, but he wants to let them “stay” in the United States.
“We’re not looking at citizenship. We’re not looking at amnesty. We’re looking at allowing people to stay here,” Trump told reporters in Fort Myers, Florida, citing an outcome which would be practically identical to amnesty.
“We’re talking about taking care of people, people that were brought here, people that have done a good job and were not brought here of their own volition,” he added.
Trump said his administration is “working with everybody” to achieve that.
“Republican, we’re working with Democrat. I just spoke with Paul Ryan. He’s on board. Everybody is on board,” Trump said. “They want to do something.”
Asked about Republicans who are not, in fact, on board with his tentative steps toward a deal, Trump insisted that he was “doing it in conjunction with the Republicans.”
“We have a very, very good relationship with a lot of people,” he said. “A lot of people want this to happen, they expect it to happen and we’ll see if it happens.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, tweeted at Trump Thursday morning complaining that the President “undercut” his committee’s negotiations with Democrats.
“Hv ur staff brief me!” he urged.
And Rep. Steve King (R-IA), an immigration hardliner who claimed in an infamous interview in 2013 that for every DACA-protected immigrant that becomes valedictorian “there’s another 100” with “calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,” was even less pleased.
“If AP is correct, Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair,” he tweeted at Trump. “No promise is credible.”
Trump insisted Thursday that he would only make a deal in exchange for “extreme security, if we get not only surveillance but everything that goes along with surveillance.”
He said “there was no deal” and denied that Democrats claimed otherwise.
“In fact they put out a statement and said they didn’t say that at all,” Trump said.
He also warned Democrats not to “obstruct” his proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The wall to me is vital. If I don’t get the wall, then we will become the obstructionists,” he said. “We have to have an understanding that whether it’s in the budget or some other vehicle, in a fairly short period of time, the wall will be funded. Otherwise we’re not doing any deal.”