September 14, 2017 14:01 GMT by nytimes.com

Trump Confirms Support for Law to Protect ‘Dreamers’

Trump Confirms Support for Law to Protect ‘Dreamers’

President Trump said there would need to be a larger agreement on border security for any deal on young undocumented immigrants.

WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Thursday morning that he supports legislation that would protect young undocumented immigrants from deportation and would deliver a “massive” increase in border security — but not with a wall on the southern border.

That appeared to confirm the broad parameters of an agreement that Democratic leaders announced had been reached Wednesday over dinner at the White House.

In remarks to reporters as he left the White House on Thursday, Mr. Trump said, “We’re working on a plan for DACA,” referring to protections for immigrants who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Mr. Trump’s comments contradicted his own Twitter posts early Thursday morning when he said, “no deal was made last night on DACA.”

Even if Mr. Trump and Democratic leaders agree to support legislation to protect the young undocumented immigrants, any proposal would need the support of Republicans, who control the House and Senate.

On Thursday morning, the president said that there would need to be a larger deal on securing the United States’ border in order to complete any agreement on protections for the immigrants. Democrats said the Wednesday dinner agreement did not include funding for the border wall between the United States and Mexico — a top priority of the Trump administration — drawing immediate criticism from some within the president’s own party. Mr. Trump confirmed that on Thursday as well, saying, “The wall will come later.”

Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader of New York, and Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader of California, issued a joint statement on Thursday saying there was no “final deal.”

“President Trump’s tweets are not inconsistent with the agreement reached last night,” Mr. Schumer and Ms. Pelosi said. “As we said last night, there was no final deal, but there was agreement” that Mr. Trump would support a law for DACA protections.

“What remains to be negotiated are the details of border security, with a mutual goal of finalizing all details as soon as possible,” the Democratic leaders said. “While both sides agreed that the wall would not be any part of this agreement, the president made clear he intends to pursue it at a later time, and we made clear we would continue to oppose it.”

Mr. Trump’s Twitter posts seemingly shooting down reports of a DACA deal came after some Republicans criticized him for his making deals with Democrats, particularly if the accord excludes the border wall, a move that could jeopardize the support of his own base. Mr. Trump appeared to address that in a subsequent Twitter post: “The WALL, which is already under construction in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls, will continue to be built.”

Later, he told reporters, “The wall will come later, we’re right now renovating large sections of wall, massive sections, making it brand new.”

After Wednesday’s dinner, White House and Democratic staff sought to clarify what came from the meeting.

Late Wednesday, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, tweeted that there was no agreement out of the dinner about “excluding” the wall. Shortly after her post, the communications director for Mr. Schumer tweeted that the wall was not part of the agreement, but that Mr. Trump made clear he would continue to push for it.

In another pair of tweets on Thursday morning, Mr. Trump questioned whether anyone actually wanted to deport these young immigrants, raising more questions about the president’s intentions for this program. On Sept. 5, the president moved to end the DACA program and called on Congress to pass a replacement.

Mr. Trump has told Congress it has six months to find a legislative fix to shield the young immigrants that President Barack Obama gave protections to through an executive order. But Congress is struggling to find a way to pass a law to give the young immigrants quick protections, and prospects for quickly enacting a replacement seemed dim late Wednesday.

The program benefits about 800,000 immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children. It allows them to remain in the country and gives them the right to work legally without fear of immediate deportation.

Mr. Trump has sent mixed messages on the program. He has said he would end it, then he gave Congress time to come up with a legislative solution after he was widely criticized in the media for his decision to end DACA. Mr. Trump has also said he has said he would reconsider the matter if Congress failed to act, even as his own attorney general called the program unconstitutional.

Wednesday’s dinner followed an Oval Office meeting last week with Democratic leadership when Mr. Trump sided with the Democrats about the debt ceiling — over the objections of Republicans and his own Treasury secretary.

Conservatives attacked Mr. Trump after Wednesday’s reported deal.

Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, wrote on Twitter that if the reports were true, “Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible.”

The headline “Amnesty Don” led the website Breitbart, run by Mr. Trump’s former chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon.

After the dinner, while cable news channels and websites were reporting on the prospects of a deal, Mr. Trump took to Twitter to revisit a favorite topic, “Crooked Hillary,” his nickname for his former presidential rival Hillary Clinton.

“Crooked Hillary Clinton blames everybody (and every thing) but herself for her election loss,” Mr. Trump tweeted.

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