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Trump Says He's 'Fairly Close' To Deal On Young Immigrants

President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017.
Andrew Harnik / Associated Press
President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017.
Trump Says He's 'Fairly Close' To Deal On Young Immigrants
Trump Says He's 'Fairly Close' To Deal On Young Immigrants GUEST: Marisa Lagos, reporter, KQED's California Politics and Government Desk

This is KPBS Midday Edition . I am Maureen Cavanaugh. It is Thursday, September 14 . The top story, Democratic leaders announced last night that they and a president had an agreement on moving forward on a law to protect dreamers without a border wall. Today, the president said no deal had been made but he supports legislation to protect dreamers but with a wall.Here is what he talked about.We are not talking about amnesty. We are talking about taking care of people, people that were brought here and have done a good job and were not brought here of their own volition but what we want, we have to have a wall. If the wall is going to be constructed when we need to find the all day, we are concerned with how much they need, that we are not do anything.Leaders who were not at the dinner where this reported agreement took place say the president needs GOP support in Congress to get anything done on the dreamers. Joining me to sort this out is Marisa Lagos . Welcome to the program.Thank you for having me.With the equivocation and backtracking going on, can you tell if there really is anything to this so-called agreement on DACA?It seems like what we have heard this morning from Democrats and a president, there is a framework of an agreement to move forward. They have this dinner. It seems like the president is on board with discussing us. You know, the boats are there in question. The question is if leadership will let it come to the floor for about. It seems like the president was not happy with the backlash from his decision to phase out DACA and he was happy when he got good headlines around his agreement last week with the same Democratic leaders in terms of timing on the debt ceiling vote. This is a step forward. When I first saw this come up last night, I thought the Democratic leaders make a mistake? Did they say something the president had agreed to? It seems like a lot of the strategy was to put this on the record and get it out so this half could not walk back when he said in private.Nancy Pelosi and truck Schumer were clear that the agreement that they thought they had did not include a wall. Now the president says, he seems to say he needs a wall or he is not doing anything. What will clear this up ?It does seem like this might be semantics. A wall versus a fence versus just the wall. What we hear from both sides is that it would not necessarily be the same bill. I know I talked to Congress or of men Zoloft. She says it is a nonstarter for Democrats to talk about a wall per say but we have a lot offense along the border. The Democrats are open to border security improvement. You know, it may well be that that is a deal he has to cut with Republican leader ship to get the actual about the expected Democrats and the president is talking about increased border security that is Antigo, increased security is not going well with immigrant advocates. Here is Christian from the southern coalition.It is important to point out that one out of every five dreamers live in a border region.There is no place for democracy in our region in which we have seen time and time again border agents who are corrupt, who are violent, who get a way with excessive use of force on a regular basis. We are extremely concerned about those compromises.What do you think of the congressional package on border security would include?That is hard to say. New technology is one part of what Democrats is open to, especially with areas of the border where the river is the border or they are more remote. We have seen attempts to beef up border patrol just like I supposed Abby could be a part of that. It does seem as much as advocates do not want to see any of this, leaders are open to those sorts of discussions. Is this semantics? I think the big question on that issue is who pays for and where the funding comes from and do something else get cut to do that.As you mentioned, is it up to the GOP leadership who are not too pleased about this tentative agreement to open up discussion on any possible dreamer legislation?It is not clear how displeased they are. Paul Ryan this morning made some tweets about the immigration bills before Congress. Nancy Pelosi said that she had spoke to the speaker about this. The Democrats are planning next week to try to discharge the dreamer bill that already exist on the porch of the house. They need 218 signatures. There are Republicans who said they are signing on to the dream act or they want to support it. Will they then go against leadership or get a wink and a nod from Paul Ryan and bring it up for a vote in October?I have been speaking with Marisa Lagos . Thank you so much.My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

President Donald Trump on Thursday said he was "fairly close" to a deal with congressional leaders to preserve protections for young immigrants living illegally in America but he's insisting on "massive border security" as part of any agreement.

Trump, speaking to reporters before surveying hurricane damage in Florida, pushed back against Democratic leaders who claimed there was a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. He also said his promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border would "come later."

"We're working on a plan subject to getting massive border controls. We're working on a plan for DACA. People want to see that happen," Trump said. He added: "'I think we're fairly close but we have to get massive border security."


RELATED: Trump: GOP Leadership 'On Board' With Deal Over DACA

After he landed in Florida, he declared repeatedly, "If we don't have a wall, we're doing nothing."

Trump, in a series of early morning tweets, disputed the characterization of a private White House dinner on Wednesday night by his guests, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the top Democrats on Capitol Hill. Trump said there was no deal.

But speaking on the Senate floor Thursday morning, Schumer insisted that both sides were in agreement and there was no dispute.

"If you listen to the president's comments this morning ... it is clear that what Leader Pelosi and I put out last night was exactly accurate," said Schumer. "We have reached an understanding on this issue. We have to work out details, and we can work together on a border security package with the White House and get DACA on the floor quickly."


Indeed, in the face of ferocious pushback from conservative lawmakers and media outlets including Breitbart, run by former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, the White House appeared focused more on reshaping presentation of the agreement, than on denying it outright.

"By no means was any deal ever reached," White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters told reporters aboard Air Force One as the president traveled to Florida. "This is something that Congress needs to work on"

Democratic aides said that although there was no final deal, an agreement had been reached.

But Breitbart was already labeling Trump "Amnesty Don."

"The Trump administration will not be discussing amnesty," Walters said. The president wants "a responsible path forward in immigration reform. That could include legal citizenship over a period of time. But absolutely by no means will this White House discuss amnesty," she said, although most conservatives would consider "legal citizenship over a period of time" to meet the definition of amnesty.

Schumer and Pelosi said in a statement that the details on border security needed to be negotiated, that both sides agreed "the wall would not be any part of this agreement" and that Trump said he would pursue the wall later.

And soon after, Trump appeared to confirm that approach. "The wall will come later, we're right now renovating large sections of wall, massive sections, making it brand new," he told reporters before his Florida trip.

He also said Republican congressional leaders, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky favored his approach on the immigration program. "Ryan and McConnell agree with us on DACA," Trump said, adding that he had spoken to them by telephone.

Trump said he had spoken to Ryan.

It was a head-snapping series of events for a president whose White House campaign demonized immigrants and focused intensely on construction of a border wall that Trump insisted Mexico would pay for. During the campaign, Trump declared repeatedly that he would "immediately terminate" President Barack Obama's DACA executive order upon taking office.

However, since then the president has not seemed comfortable with a harsh approach toward immigrants brought here illegally as kids, and he has been inclined recently to turn to Democrats to jump-start legislative imperatives. Only days ago, Trump and the Democratic leaders agreed to back a three-month extension of the debt limit in order to speed hurricane assistance.

"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," Trump tweeted early Thursday.

At the same time, he expressed sympathy for the hundreds of thousands of younger immigrants vulnerable to deportation even though they were brought to the United States as toddlers or children. He had announced last week that his administration was rescinding the program and gave Congress six months to come up with a legislative fix.

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

A person briefed on the Wednesday night meeting, who spoke on condition anonymity about the private get-together, said the deal specifies bipartisan legislation that would provide eventual citizenship for the young immigrants.

House Republicans would normally rebel over such an approach, which many view as amnesty for lawbreakers. Early response from conservatives indicated their loyalty to Trump did not go so far as to allow them to embrace his immigration pact with the Democrats.

The House's foremost immigration hard-liner, GOP Rep. Steve King of Iowa, addressed Trump over Twitter, writing that if the reports were true, "Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible."

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter said over Twitter, "At this point, who DOESN'T want Trump impeached?"