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DACA Rhetoric Continues to Soften

Pelosi advised Trump on tweet, while Ryan thinks deal is doable

Since announcing the phaseout of the DACA program, President Donald Trump has said those covered by the program are not under immediate threat of deportation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Since announcing the phaseout of the DACA program, President Donald Trump has said those covered by the program are not under immediate threat of deportation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is providing President Donald Trump advice on how to speak to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, after he decided to gradually rescind a Obama-era program that has sheltered roughly 800,000 of them from deportation — and apparently, he is listening.

Pelosi said Trump called her Thursday morning and they discussed the six-month phaseout of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, as well as other issues that she declined to specify.

“I said … ‘Thanks for calling. The people really need reassurance from you that the six-month period is not just a period of round-up,’” she said, recounting the portion of their call that focused on the DACA program.

The California Democrat recounted the call to her colleagues at a whip meeting earlier Thursday.

Trump later tweeted, “For all of those (DACA) that are concerned about your status during the 6 month period, you have nothing to worry about — No action!”

[Podcast: How the GOP Congress Could Help ‘Dreamers’ Now]

The tweet comes a day after Pelosi met with Trump at the White House, along with other top congressional leaders from both parties, when the president sided with Democrats on a deal to package a suspension of the debt ceiling, a continuing resolution to extend government funding, and aid for hurricane victims. 

During that meeting, Pelosi said Trump told her and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer that he would support an immigration bill that included the so-called DREAM Act, which would provide legal status and an eventual path to citizenship, based on certain conditions, for undocumented immigrations who would have been covered by DACA.

Trump, however, wants other things to be part of that bill, Pelosi said, noting he did not specify his demands.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan in recent days has said the GOP would be seeking enhanced border security measures in any measure to provide a solution to DACA. He said he believes Republicans and Democrats can reach a compromise within the effective six-month deadline.

“I really don’t think, for the most part, Democrats are against border security,” the Wisconsin Republican said Thursday at an event in Washington hosted by The New York Times.

At her press conference, Pelosi said Democrats could likely support some border enforcement measures, but cautioned that their willingness to deal will only go so far.

“It does not include a wall,” she said.

The minority leader suggested that any immigration bill Congress can pass in the next six months will be limited.

“The fact of the matter is that we need comprehensive immigration reform, which would cover more than just the DREAMers,” she said. “But for right now, we have to strike while the iron is hot.”

If Republicans don’t follow through on their promises to strike a compromise, Democrats are reserving the option to leverage fiscal deadlines that Congress is getting ready to push off to Dec. 8 to ensure a vote on the DREAM Act.

“We’ll see,” Pelosi said when asked if that was a strategy Democrats planned to employ.

But Dec. 8 is not soon enough for some liberal groups, which are criticizing Pelosi and Schumer for their deal with Trump. 

“Following Trump’s decision to eliminate the DACA program, Democrats had a rare opportunity to force congressional action on the Dream Act to protect immigrant youth,” leaders of the National Immigration Law Center, United We Dream, and Indivisible Project said in a statement. “They had the leverage of a packed September agenda, full of must-pass bills and momentum of an activated grassroots base that is doing their part to fight for immigrants targeted by Trump. … And yet Democratic leaders Schumer and Pelosi instead chose to make a deal with Trump, with a vague promise of action on the Dream Act down the road.”

Pelosi said Thursday that Democrats decided not to support an 18-month extension of the debt ceiling, as the GOP was seeking, because it would have destroyed any negotiating leverage they had.

“The fact that they brought up the CR really strengthened our hand in the three months,” she said.