- Jeff Swensen/Getty Images
- As part of an agreement reached Monday to fund the government, Senate GOP leadership agreed to work toward a deal to codify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
- But House leadership and President Donald Trump may not commit to the same deal.
- Trump’s first public comments after the Senate announced the funding agreement indicated that a DACA deal may not be easy.
President Donald Trump’s first public comments on Monday after Senate leadership reached an agreement to fund the government in the short term and end the shutdown painted a tough road ahead for a bipartisan immigration deal.
As part of the agreement, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell committed to an open process to vote on a bill addressing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, which protects from deportation about 700,000 young undocumented immigrants and is set to expire in March.
It is unclear, however, how House leadership and the president would treat such legislation.
In his first public statement since Senate leaders announced the deal, Trump hedged on a possible agreement on key immigration programs.
“As I have always said, once the Government is funded, my Administration will work toward solving the problem of very unfair illegal immigration,” Trump said. “We will make a long-term deal on immigration if, and only if, it is good for our country.”
Trump announced in September that DACA in its current would end, and the March 5 deadline is quickly approaching.
The vague language in Trump’s Monday statement, however, isn’t likely to soothe concerns of Democrats who think the president may be unwilling to make a deal on the codification of DACA, something on which he has expressed inconsistent views.
In a bipartisan meeting at the White House earlier this month, Trump told lawmakers to come up with a deal and said he would “take the heat” from critics and sign it.
But when a group of bipartisan senators came to a deal that included DACA codification, Trump rejected it.
In the run-up to the shutdown on Friday, Trump again seemed to reverse course on a DACA deal.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Trump had agreed to the outline of a deal to codify DACA that included funding for the president’s long-promised wall along the US-Mexico border. But Schumer said Trump later reneged on the agreement. The White House has disputed Schumer’s version of events.
Even Republicans are unclear about Trump’s goal. McConnell suggested that Republicans could not advance toward a deal on immigration in part because GOP leadership was not clear on the president’s policy preferences.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, the lead Republican on the bipartisan immigration deal, says lawmakers “don’t have a reliable partner at the White House to negotiate with.”
Soon after the Senate deal announcement Monday, Trump met with a group of Republicans senators, including Tom Cotton and David Perdue, associated with hardline immigration positions.