U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday he is “fairly close” to a deal with congressional leaders to protect hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from being deported years after their parents illegally brought them into the United States, but that any agreement must include “massive border security.”
“Well we’re working on a plan, subject to getting massive border control,” Trump said as he left for Florida for a first-hand look at the devastation wrought by Hurricane Irma.
“People want to see that happen …,” Trump said, “young people brought here, no fault of their own, so we’re working on a plan. We’ll see how it works out, but we’re going to get massive border security as part of that, and I think something can happen, we’ll see what happens, but something will happen.”
Trump’s remarks came not long after he said on Twitter that he had not made a deal with the top House and Senate Democratic leaders on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that the Trump administration rescinded last week, while giving Congress six months to vote on the issue.
WATCH: Trump on DACA deal
Democrats’ take on conversation
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer had said after a White House dinner with Trump on Wednesday night that they had agreed to quickly put in place protections for the young immigrants who registered under DACA, former president Barack Obama’s program that protected them from deportation.
While Trump said no specific deal had been reached, he expressed his sentiments for allowing the young people, many of whom have been studying and working in the U.S. and serving in its military, to remain in the country.
“Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!” he said.
Border security, wall
During Trump’s run for the White House last year, his supporters cheered loudest for his plan to build a wall on the southern U.S. border with Mexico, but Democratic lawmakers and some Republicans are opposed and it has not been funded.
In a tweet, Trump said 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.”
As he left for Florida, Trump said, “The wall will come later….We’re building four different samples of the wall, to see which one we’re going to choose, and the wall is going to be built. It’ll be funded a little bit later.” Landing in Florida, he said, “Very important is the wall … very important is the wall.”
Regarding the young immigrants, Trump added, “We’re not looking at citizenship. We’re not looking at amnesty. We’re looking at allowing people to stay here.”
WATCH: Trump on Border Wall
Schumer and Pelosi said Trump’s latest comments on the undocumented immigrants were “not inconsistent with the agreement reached last night” and stressed that there was no final deal yet.
“We agreed that the president would support enshrining DACA protections into law, and encourage the House and Senate to act,” the statement said. “What remains to be negotiated are the details of border security, with a mutual goal of finalizing all details as soon as possible.”
Trump also indicated that he believes both Republican congressional leaders, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, are “on board” with a deal regarding DACA and border security.
The president had told a group of lawmakers from both parties Wednesday that funding for a border wall could be dealt with separately from a bill providing a permanent fix for the people who had registered under DACA. The program allowed them to continue working or studying in the U.S. temporarily without the fear of deportation.
Trump’s move toward protection of the young immigrants, many of whom have never known a home country other than the United States, has angered hardline immigration foes in the Republican party.
Breitbart News, a far-right Internet news site headed by Trump’s former White House chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, called the president “Amnesty Don” for his stance to protect the immigrants and said he was engaging in “a full-fledged cave” on the issue.
VOA’s Chris Hannas, Katherine Gypson, Ken Bredemeier and Sam Verma contributed to this report.