- President Donald Trump said he believes legislation on the fate of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program recipients will be “terrific.”
- But at the same time, he said any deal must include other immigration measures, such as a border wall and the elimination of the diversity visa lottery.
President Donald Trump on Thursday repeated his stance that any legislation that resolves the fate of hundreds of thousands of young, unauthorized immigrants must also include funding for a wall along the US-Mexico border and major changes to legal immigration categories.
But he also expressed optimism that Congress could hammer out a “spectacular” deal. Before a meeting on immigration with Republican lawmakers, Trump told reporters he believes “DACA is going to be terrific,” referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program which he is terminating on March 5.
“Any legislation on DACA must secure the border with a wall, it must give our immigration officers the resources they need to stop illegal immigration, and also to stop visa overstays, and crucially, the legislation must end chain migration. It must end the visa lottery. Dangerous,” Trump said.
“We’d love to take care of DACA but we’re only going to do it under these conditions.”
Trump’s insistence on the border wall in exchange for a deal on DACA is widely seen as a nonstarter. Democrats have been supportive of certain border security measures, but have stopped short of supporting a physical wall.
The talks come amid growing urgency for thousands of young immigrants whose DACA protections have already lapsed, or will do so after the program is fully phased out in March.
An open letter signed by three former Homeland Security secretaries on Wednesday urged Congress to act by January 19 to allow a new program enough time to be properly implemented, and to minimize the harm done to immigrants whose lose their work authorization and protection from deportation in the meantime.
‘Chain migration’ and the diversity visa lottery
Trump, in his remarks on Thursday, also railed against so-called “chain migration,” which broadly refers to immigration based on family ties instead of employment, and the diversity visa lottery, which he has targeted since the revelation that a suspected terrorist in New York City entered the US through the program years ago.
Trump has falsely accused countries several times of sending their “worst people” through the lottery program, and did so again on Thursday.
“They put down their probably worst people, who knows? But they’re not looking to get rid of their best people. They put their worst people in a hopper and we’re picking out the people, and then we find out what do we have?” he said. “It’s not a good situation. The lottery system, it has to be laughed at by other countries when they send these people in.”
In fact, countries don’t “send” the US anyone using the visa lottery program. Millions of prospective immigrants enter the lottery on their own each year, roughly 50,000 of which are randomly selected and given the typical security screenings and vetting before being permitted to enter.
Trump has already backed a bill, known as the RAISE Act, which would slash legal immigration by half over the next decade, in part by eliminating family-based immigration categories and the diversity visa lottery. But the bill is widely unpopular among both Republicans and Democrats.