Donald Trump cast doubt on Friday that he and Congress would soon reach a deal to protect 800,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation, saying that a bipartisan plan presented to the White House was “a big step backwards”.
On Thursday, a group of Republican and Democratic senators took a bipartisan plan to the president, raising those hopes that he would agree to continue Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca), a program started by Barack Obama. A day earlier, a federal judge had blocked the president’s attempt to end the program outright this March.
But on Friday morning Trump demanded funding for a border wall with Mexico, an end to so-called “chain migration” of family-sponsored visas and an end to any lottery system of entry.
“The so-called bipartisan Daca deal presented yesterday to myself and a group of Republican Senators and Congressmen was a big step backwards,” he tweeted on Friday. “Wall was not properly funded, chain [and] lottery were made worse.”
He added, without evidence, that such measures would mean “USA would be forced to take large numbers of people from high crime countries which are doing badly”, a remark that echoed his first campaign claims deriding people from Mexico.
The potential deal was orchestrated by six senators, including three Republicans – Lindsey Graham, Jeff Flake and Cory Gardner – and three Democrats – Dick Durbin, Michael Bennet and Bob Menendez. In a statement released Thursday, the senators said that they have been working for four months to address the president’s concerns, and that they “reached an agreement in principle”.
Flake said Thursday that border barriers do not need to be a physical wall, but rather “more of a fence” with surveillance, guards and technological security.
Also on Thursday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said that although there was no final deal, “we still think we can get there”.