President Donald Trump declared as “dead” on Monday a program that protects immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children and pressed Congress to “immediately” pass legislation to secure the U.S. border with Mexico.
Trump, who has taken a hard line on legal and illegal immigration as president, said in September he was terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, but gave the Republican-controlled Congress until March 6 to replace it. Congress failed to meet that deadline, but courts have ruled the program can remain in place for now.
“DACA is dead because the Democrats didn’t care or act, and now everyone wants to get onto the DACA bandwagon,” Trump twited.
It was unclear whether Trump, in any new immigration legislation, would support safeguards for people protected by DACA. The White House did not respond to requests for comment on Trump’s tweets.
DACA shielded hundreds of thousands of immigrants, often called “Dreamers,” from deportation and gave them work permits.
Taking a hard line on immigration appeals to Trump’s conservative political base.
“Congress must immediately pass Border Legislation, use Nuclear Option if necessary, to stop the massive inflow of Drugs and People ... Act now Congress, our country is being stolen!” Trump wrote in another Twitter post.
Congress is in the second week of its spring recess.
Senate Republican leaders have ignored previous calls from Trump advocating the so-called nuclear option, which would involve changing Senate rules so Republicans could more easily overcome Democratic opposition to legislation in a chamber they control by a slender 51-49 margin.
Trump on Monday also reiterated his call for Mexico to stop people from entering the United States, after saying on Sunday he would terminate a major trade accord with Mexico if it does not do more to secure its border with the United States.
The United States is currently renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada.
By Reuters reporter Richard Cowan, Makini Brice