Policymakers Send Mixed Messages on DACA

Just days after the president announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, policy leaders send mixed messages on next legislative steps. The latest confusion around the hot-button issue stems from contrary reports around discussions between President Trump and minority Congressional leadership.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi issued statements announcing that they and the president reached a deal to protect some 800,000 DACA beneficiaries from deportation as the program is scheduled to come to a close in Spring 2018. The discussions, undertaken at a White House dinner with President Trump, led to an agreement to “enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides,” according to a CNBC news report on a statement issued by Schumer and Pelosi. In terms of specifics, the Democratic leaders said they reached an agreement with the president to combine a path to citizenship along with border security provisions.

Initial reports on the DACA dinner, which excluded Republican leaders, jibed with the Democratic version of events. The Washington Post, for example, quoted the president as saying, “The wall will come later.”

But within hours of these news items, the president chimed in with his version of events, contradicting both the Democratic leadership as well as his own words.

“No deal was made on DACA,” the president told his Twitter audience in response to the Democrats.

While President Trump has described his desired approach to DACA as centering on compassion and approaching the issue with a “big heart,” the Democratic claim that he capitulated on the construction of a border wall undermines a repeated promise to supporters. For example, Rep. Steve King, a GOP lawmaker from Iowa known for his hardline stance on immigration and an early Trump supporter, responded to the reported news as bestowing “irreparable” harm to the president’s base. If the news reports are accurate, “No promise is credible,” from the president.

Still, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle seem keenly aware of the need to address the DACA demographic. House Speaker Paul Ryan, for instance, said deporting DACA beneficiaries “is not in our nation’s interest.” At the same time, he noted that protective legislation must be paired with border security measures.

So far in his term, the president has encountered more GOP opposition than support in the Republican-controlled legislative branch. The lack of support from lawmakers representing his own party is likely the reason the president reached across the aisle in his effort to bring resolution to DACA recipients, something Republicans have discussed but on which they have failed to act.

“Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military?” Trump wrote in back-to-back tweets. “Really! … They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own — brought in by parents at young age. Plus BIG border security.”