Jan. 12 (UPI) — President Donald Trump has slammed a bipartisan immigration deal proposed by six senators to protect young “Dreamer” immigrants in the United States, calling it a big step backward.
Sens. Jeff Flake R-Ariz. and Dick Durbin D-Ill. announced the bipartisan agreement Thursday, to protect immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program while simultaneously implementing a border security package — a project Trump has called for since his campaign for president.
“We’ve got this bipartisan group. We are at a deal. … It’s the only game in town,” Flake said.
However, Trump said Friday he’s not on board with the proposal — partly because of the wall he wants built along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The so-called bipartisan DACA deal presented yesterday to myself and a group of Republican Senators and Congressmen was a big step backwards,” Trump tweeted. “[The border wall] was not properly funded, Chain & Lottery were made worse and USA would be forced to take large numbers of people from high crime countries which are doing badly.”
The president added that he wanted “a merit based system of immigration and people who will help take our country to the next level” and “safety and security” for Americans.
“Because of the Democrats not being interested in life and safety, DACA has now taken a big step backwards,” Trump added. “The Dems will threaten “shutdown,” but what they are really doing is shutting down our military, at a time we need it most. Get smart, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
Trump, who purportedly questioned Thursday why people from “shithole countries” wanted to emigrate to the United States, asked Congress to create a immigration bill in exchange for funding for the border wall.
Friday, he denied that he used the term to describe some migrants’ countries — including Haiti and El Salvador.
“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used,” Trump wrote in a tweet. “What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!” — referring to his remarks.
“Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country,” Trump added later. “Never said “take them out.” Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings – unfortunately, no trust!”
Durbin and Graham were told on Thursday that Trump would not agree to the deal.
“We were hoping for that, but the president is not prepared to do that at this moment,” Durbin said.
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a briefing that no deal had been reached yet.
“However, we still think we can get there and we are very focused on trying to make sure that happens,” she said.
DACA shields nearly 800,000 young immigrants from deportation by allowing them to work and study legally in the United States. Earlier this week, a federal judge blocked the administration’s plans to end the program.