Democrats and Trump agree on deal to protect 'Dreamers'

daca-reuters People march and chant against President Donald Trump's proposed end of the DACA program, New York City, August 30, 2017 | Reuters

Top US Democratic leaders have announced that they have reached agreement with President Donald Trump to pursue a legislative deal that would protect hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation.

The agreement was announced in a joint statement by House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer following a dinner with the President at the White House on September 13. The pair said that they also agreed to work on a border security package that would exclude Trump's proposed wall with Mexico.

Trump scrapped the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme earlier this month. The Barack Obama era DACA scheme was put in place to protect the so-called "Dreamers", migrants brought to the US illegally as children, from deportation.

The measures, which protect some 800,000 people in the US, also provide temporary permits for work and study. Trump announced on September 4 that he would cancel the scheme, while giving Congress six months to enact a replacement plan for DACA recipients.

Following the talks, Schumer and Pelosi said they had "a very productive meeting at the White House with the President". The discussion focused on DACA. "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."

In a letter to her Democratic colleagues in the House, Pelosi said she hopes that the deal could be done "in a matter of weeks".

Democrats have repeatedly said they will block any legislation that contains funding for the border wall, Trump's key campaign pledge.

A White House statement was more muted, simply saying that there had been a "constructive working dinner" where tax reform, border security and DACA had been discussed. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders later disputed the Democrats' account.

"While DACA and border security were both discussed, excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to," she wrote on Twitter.

Breitbart, the conservative news outlet headed by former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon, called reports of an immigration deal a "full fledged cave" by Trump on "amnesty" for the Dreamers.

Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, wrote on Twitter: "Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible."

Pro Trump Fox News host Sean Hannity appeared dismayed, tweeting, "weak Republicans have betrayed voters", they "wanted [Trump] to fail" and had "pushed him into arms of political suicide".

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