Trump promises to get a "clean" DACA bill that Republicans will never pass

At a White House meeting with a group of bipartisan lawmakers, Trump appeared to undercut his own negotiations

Published January 9, 2018 2:33PM (EST)

 (Reuters/Rick Wilking/Getty/David McNew/Photo montage by Salon)
(Reuters/Rick Wilking/Getty/David McNew/Photo montage by Salon)

During a meeting with bipartisan lawmakers on Tuesday afternoon, President Donald Trump appeared to suggest a plan that would handle immigration issues in two separate phases. The first would include legislation to construct the so-called wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and it would be paired with a solution for DACA recipients, young adults known as Dreamers who were brought to the U.S. without proper documentation as children. The second phase would separately rely on Congress to come up with a comprehensive overhaul to the nation's immigration system.

But, since this is Trump, the lengthy meeting — in front of cameras for nearly one hour — appeared to be a bit all over the place. Trump seemed to agree he would support a clean DACA bill — meaning a solution separate from the border wall he pledged to build on the campaign trail — only to backtrack when questioned, insisting that DACA and the border wall must be packaged together for security reasons, as Republicans have long demanded.

“What about a clean DACA bill now with a commitment to do comprehensive next?” the president was asked by California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

“I would agree to that,” Trump replied, riling up the Republicans in the room. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., jumped in to clarify that a DACA bill should include funding for more border security.

“I think that’s what she is saying,” Trump then said.

"I think a clean DACA bill, to me, is a DACA bill, but we take care of the 800,000 people . . . but I think, to me, a clean bill is a bill of DACA, we take care of them, and we also take care of security," he stumbled.

The president also suggested DACA recipients deserved "a bill of love," while still ensuring increased border security measures come along with it.

"My positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with," he told reporters.

When he was later asked if he would agree to a DACA deal without the wall, he said, "You need it. . . . I’d love not to build the wall, but you need the wall," according to White House press pool reports.

Despite Trump's confusing answers on Tuesday, both the DACA fix and funding for a border wall will be packaged together, while a more comprehensive immigration reform will be dealt with by Congress at a later date, the Associated Press reported. Trump is choosing to put legitimate measures of border security on the back burner in order to dedicate funds towards his pet project of a border wall, according to The New York Times. Funding for border surveillance, radar technology, patrol boats and customs agents will be either cut or delayed by the Trump administration in order to focus on securing funds for the wall, which Congress has estimated to cost $18 billion over the next decade.

Since taking office, Trump's immigration policies have changed the lives of many and have put people immigrants in harm's way, as the video below noted.

"People that are dealing with this issue know that a third-century solution to a 21st century problem is not going to fix this long-term," GOP Rep. Will Hurd of Texas told the Times.

The wall has been largely criticized as a move that fails to address any of the problems the president has claimed it will solve, such as visa overstays. The Times elaborated:

David Bier, a policy analyst with the Cato Institute, said a border wall would do little to stop the drug trade. Most of the cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines smuggled into the United States come through legal ports of entry rather than areas that would be stopped by a wall, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Nor would a wall stop illegal immigration, other experts said. Data from the Department of Homeland Security and research groups like the New York-based Center for Migration Studies show that most undocumented immigrants now simply overstay legally obtained short-term visas — and did not sneak across the border.

Trump's statements on Tuesday argued the exact opposite.

"If you don’t have the wall, you can’t have security," Trump said, according to pool reports.

Regardless, the Trump administration looks as if it has been able to successfully use Dreamers and the Obama-era DACA immigration law as a bargaining chip in order to secure funding for a wall that many have predicted will not solve the legitimate issues with border security.

By Charlie May

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