Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
President Donald Trump meets with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (L), U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (2nd R), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (R) and other congressional leaders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, September 6, 2017.
The top congressional Democrats on Wednesday night said they reached a deal with President Donald Trump to shield about 800,000 young immigrants from deportation — without the president’s proposed border wall as a condition.
“We had a productive meeting at the White House with the President. The discussion focused on DACA,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement following a White House dinner with Trump.
“We agreed 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,” they added.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders disputed the Democrats’ version of events, saying, “excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to.”
Sarah Sanders Tweet: While DACA and border security were both discussed, excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to.
Last week, Trump ended the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, with a six-month delay to encourage Congress to pass its protections into law. The policy shields certain undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children and authorizes them to work for two years.
Congressional leaders from both parties and Trump have recently supported passing the protections into law. But Trump’s potential insistence on making funding for his proposed wall a condition of a bill — a nonstarter for Democrats — could have threatened a measure to protect so-called dreamers.
Schumer and Pelosi did not specify which border security provisions would be included as part of the DACA bill.
Earlier Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan said kicking out the immigrants protected by DACA “is not in our nation’s interest.” He added, however, that he wanted any legislation protecting them to get paired with border security measures.
The agreement announced by Schumer and Pelosi comes amid a period of increased engagement between Trump and Democrats. Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not attend the dinner on Wednesday night.
Last week, Trump struck a deal with Democratic leaders to attach hurricane aid to a debt ceiling extension and government funding, both for only three months — over the objections of Republican leaders.