President Trump mulls decision on fate of DACA immigrants

Posted: Updated:

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump stands at the center of a frantic lobbying campaign as he nears a decision on the fate of hundreds of thousands of young people brought into the country illegally as children.

After months of dragging his feet, the president on Tuesday will announce his plans for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which has given nearly 800,000 young immigrants the ability to work legally in the country and a reprieve from deportation.

Despite his fiery pledges during the presidential campaign to end the program, Trump has spent the last week mulling his choices, going over his options again and again, according to several people with knowledge of the deliberations. The people spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss private conversations.

"I think that this isn't a decision that the president takes lightly and he's taking time and diligent effort to make sure that he goes through every bit of the process," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday. "I think the decision itself is weighing on him, certainly."

At the same time, House Speaker Paul Ryan and a number of other legislators are urging the president to hold off on scrapping the program to give them time to come up with a legislative solution to protect those now covered by the program.

"These are kids who know no other country, who are brought here by their parents and don't know another home. And so I really do believe that there needs to be a legislative solution," Ryan told Wisconsin radio station WCLO.

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah also urged Trump not to revoke former President Barack Obama's efforts to protect "individuals who entered our country unlawfully as children through no fault of their own and who have built their lives here."

Pushing the debate over to Congress would add immigration, long a third-rail issue in Washington, to an already packed fall congressional agenda that includes must-pass measures to raise the debt ceiling, shape the federal budget and provide hurricane relief funding.

Republican leaders have worried that Trump would rescind legal status for the so-called dreamers since his first day in office. Some congressional GOP lawmakers spent Inauguration Day urgently trying to reach senior White House officials about the matter after hearing rumors that Trump could roll back the deportation protections as one of his first moves.

Trump had railed against the Obama program during the presidential campaign, slamming it as an illegal "amnesty" that he would immediately end.

Instead, the new president left the protections in place, overruling top advisers including former chief strategist Steve Bannon and policy aide Stephen Miller. The advisers continued to press the matter occasionally in recent months, but Trump always put off the decision for another time.

Then came a letter forcing Trump's hand.

A group of Republican state officials sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions in June announcing a Sept. 5 deadline: If the president didn't halt the program by then, the lawmakers would challenge DACA in court.

As the deadline neared, anxious Republicans began urging the White House to try to persuade the group, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, to further postpone any lawsuit. It was an approach the administration had also seriously considered earlier in the week.  But Paxton made clear the date was non-negotiable.

"No, we are not going to push back the deadline," said spokeswoman Jennifer Speller.

The president also encountered countervailing pressure from those working to keep the program - including CEOs, Roman Catholic bishops and celebrities - and staging daily protests, phone banks, demonstrations and letters.

There appeared to be some signs the pressure was having an impact. Late Friday, the attorney general of Tennessee, one of those who had signed the letter, announced his office was no longer interested in the lawsuit and would encourage legislation to protect the dreamers instead.

"There is a human element to this, however, that is not lost on me and should not be ignored," wrote Herbert Slatery III. "At this time, our Office has decided not to challenge DACA in the litigation, because we believe there is a better approach."

Many DACA advocates still expect the president to announce, in the end, that he will stop the issuance of new work permits under the program, effectively phasing it out over the coming months. One person familiar with the White House discussions said the president was expected to take that route. But the person said the president was looking for ways to soften the blow, such as ending the program at a future date to give Congress time to come up with alternative protection.

The White House also could announce that it will allow the lawsuit to go forward and decline to have the Justice Department defend DACA in court, taking the matter out of its hands.

Trump seemed reluctant Friday to spark the anger that is sure to erupt no matter what he decides.

"We love the dreamers, we love everybody," he told reporters.

Asked what he would say to young immigrants who are awaiting his move, scared about their fate, Trump replied, "I think the dreamers are terrific."

___

Associated Press writers Ken Thomas, Erica Werner, Julie Pace and Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.

  • PoliticsMore>>

  • Rally held in Massapequa Park against GOP tax reform

    Rally held in Massapequa Park against GOP tax reform

    Wednesday, November 15 2017 6:32 PM EST2017-11-15 23:32:27 GMT

    Long Islanders rallied Wednesday outside the Massapequa Park office of U.S. Rep. Peter King in an effort to save state and local tax deductions critical to many homeowners.

    Long Islanders rallied Wednesday outside the Massapequa Park office of U.S. Rep. Peter King in an effort to save state and local tax deductions critical to many homeowners.

  • Nassau GOP head says it’s his job to put party back together again

    Nassau GOP head says it’s his job to put party back together again

    Sunday, November 12 2017 5:22 PM EST2017-11-12 22:22:39 GMT

    Republicans in Nassau County suffered some of the party’s worst defeats in years on Election Day, but Nassau Republican Chairman Joe Mondello says that while party is somewhat fractured, it’s his job to put it back together again.

    Republicans in Nassau County suffered some of the party’s worst defeats in years on Election Day, but Nassau Republican Chairman Joe Mondello says that while party is somewhat fractured, it’s his job to put it back together again.

  • NIFA tells Nassau to find $31M or cut spending

    NIFA tells Nassau to find $31M or cut spending

    Friday, November 10 2017 6:34 PM EST2017-11-10 23:34:24 GMT
    The Nassau Interim Finance Authority says Nassau lawmakers must find $31 million to balance the county budget.The Nassau Interim Finance Authority says Nassau lawmakers must find $31 million to balance the county budget.

    The Nassau Interim Finance Authority says Nassau lawmakers must find $31 million to balance the county budget. 

    The Nassau Interim Finance Authority says Nassau lawmakers must find $31 million to balance the county budget. 

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Time Warner® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 5 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Time Warner® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login, create an account or subscribe to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."