Multiple reports are claiming that President Trump said he would consider a pathway to citizenship for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program.
Such a pathway would be open to Dreamers with no criminal record, and would take place over a period of 10-12 years.
“We’re going to morph into it. It’s going to happen at some point in the future over a period of 10 to 12 years,” Trump told reporters. “If they do a great job, I think it’s a nice thing to have incentive of, after a period of years being able to become a citizen.”
These comments came as Trump dropped in unannounced during a briefing about the Administration’s agenda on immigration – and just before Trump departed for a trip to Davos, Switzerland.
Trump’s suggestions about citizenship contradict his Justice Department and Homeland Security secretaries, who have told Congress that the DACA program is illegal and cannot be maintained or extended. A reveal of the Administration’s agenda on immigration was moved from Monday to Thursday to give aides time to reconcile their plans with Trump’s comments.
This gesture of sympathy towards Dreamers is somewhat at odds with Trump’s hardline demands for a crackdown on illegal immigration.
Just this week, the Justice Department sent a threatening letter to 23 jurisdictions believed to be violating a federal law that requires communication between local police and immigration authorities. Jurisdictions that fail to prove they are not violating the law risk losing federal grants.
A handful of Democratic mayors protested the letter by declining an invitation to the White House.
“The mayors who choose to boycott this event have put the needs of criminal, illegal immigrants over law-abiding America,” said Trump just hours before his comments about a potential pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients.
When Trump ended DACA in September, he left it to Congress to come up with a solution that could allow Dreamers to live and work in the US legally.
The phaseout is scheduled to begin on March 5th. When asked if he would consider extending the deadline, Trump said, “Yeah I might do that. I’m not guaranteeing it.”
Democrats and Republicans are struggling to find a compromise that will also satisfy Trump, who is pushing them to include $30 billion for additional border security.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is hopeful that Trump’s newfound support for a pathway to citizenship could help Congress reach a deal. “Finally, with this statement we are on track to solving the immigration problem, which is the political key to rebuilding our military.”