Aides Urge Trump To Make Deal On ‘Dreamer’ Amnesty


Several of President Donald Trump’s most trusted advisers are urging him to make a deal with Congress to protect illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children in exchange for guarantees on the administration’s other immigration policy priorities.

Chief of Staff John Kelly, along with the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, are among the contingent of White House officials pushing for a compromise on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, The Seattle Times reports. Others in the same camp include Vice President Mike Pence, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.

The group wants Trump to accept some kind of permanent legal status for people amnestied under DACA in order to get Congress to approve funding the border wall and detention facilities, agree to cuts in legal immigration, and mandate e-Verify, a system that allows businesses to check the immigration status of potential employees.

Implemented by the Obama administration in 2012, DACA shields certain illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children from deportation and allows them to get work permits. About 800,000 people have obtained temporary legal status under DACA since the program’s inception.

Trump repeatedly bashed the program as an “illegal” executive amnesty during the campaign, but he has adopted a softer tone since assuming office, saying that the program recipients — commonly called “Dreamers” — should “rest easy.”

The administration ended a similar program last month for the illegal immigrant parents of U.S. citizen children known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), which had already been suspended by a federal court decision. However, Trump allowed DACA to continue as an official policy and kept the program open to new qualifying applicants.

Ten states, led by Texas, are now attempting to force Trump’s hand on DACA through the federal courts. Last month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sent the Department of Justice a letter threatening a lawsuit if the administration doesn’t rescind DACA by Sept. 5.

Assuming Paxton’s lawsuit is allowed to proceed in federal court, the administration appears unenthusiastic about defending DACA. Then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in July that department lawyers advised him that DACA was unlikely to survive a court challenge, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, one of the administration’s most strident immigration hawks, has opposed giving benefits to any class of illegal immigrants.

Instead of rescinding DACA or letting it expire, administration officials now want Trump to use it as a bargaining chip to move parts of its immigration wish list through Congress. A bipartisan contingent in the Senate is backing the DREAM Act, which would allow DACA recipients to attain legal permanent residence if they fulfill certain work and education requirements.

The White House declined to support that standalone amnesty when the proposal was introduced in July. Now, eager to notch a victory in the upcoming legislative session, the administration appears willing to fold the DREAM Act into a broader compromise in order to achieve other parts of its immigration policy agenda.

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