DACA: Donald Trump says he is 'close' to reaching a deal after denying pact with Democrats

DACA: Donald Trump says he is 'close' to reaching a deal after denying pact with Democrats

DACA: Donald Trump says he is 'close' to reaching a deal after denying pact with Democrats

Updated 15 September 2017, 8:20 AEST

President Donald Trump says he is "fairly close" to a deal with congressional leaders to preserve protections for young immigrants living illegally in America, and is insisting on "massive border security" as part of any agreement.

Key points:

  • Top Democrats said they reached agreement to restore DACA program in exchange for security enhancements, not including Donald Trump's border wall
  • In Twitter spree, President denied deal was ever reached
  • Mr Trump says construction of border wall is continuing through renovations and upgrades

Speaking to reporters before surveying hurricane damage in Florida, Mr Trump 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 US-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," Mr Trump said.

"I think we're fairly close but we have to get massive border security."

Mr Trump's comments followed a series of early morning tweets which contradicted the characterisation of a private White House dinner on Wednesday night by his guests, Democrats Senate leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Senator Schumer and Ms Pelosi said in a statement after the get-together that they had agreed to "enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly" and to work out a package on border security, excluding Trump's planned border wall.

"No deal was made last night on DACA," Mr Trump wrote in one of a series of posts on Twitter.

"The Wall [on the US-Mexico border], which is already under construction in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls, will continue to be built."

DACA — also known as the Dreamers program — was created by former president Barack Obama, and provided protections for young people brought to the US illegally as children.

Mr Trump has vowed to scrap the program.

Trump urges bipartisan solution for Dreamers

In further tweets Mr Trump appeared to acknowledge the complexity of handing the issue of the immigrant children.

"Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!" he wrote.

"They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own — brought in by parents at young age. Plus big border security."

The agreement claimed by Senator Schumer and Ms Pelosi represents the latest instance of Mr Trump ditching his own party to make common cause with the opposition.

A person briefed on the meeting between the President and the Democrats, said the so-called deal specified bipartisan legislation called the DREAM Act that provides eventual citizenship for the young immigrants.

House Republicans would normally rebel over such an approach, which many view as amnesty for law-breakers, and it remains to be seen how conservatives' loyalty to Trump will affect their response to a policy they would have opposed under other circumstances.

The House's foremost immigration hardliner, Steve King of Iowa, made clear he was not happy.

Addressing Mr Trump over Twitter, Mr King wrote that if the reports were true, "Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible."

AP/Reuters