Trump Sets `Dreamers' Decision for Tuesday Amid GOP Backlash
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump plans to announce Tuesday whether he’ll scrap protections for immigrants illegally brought to the U.S. as children as he comes under new pressure from top congressional Republicans and hundreds of business leaders to keep the program.
“We love dreamers. We love everybody,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office Friday when asked whether young immigrants covered by the program should be worried. He plans an announcement Tuesday on the Obama-era program, spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Friday.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and Utah Senator Orrin Hatch said Friday that Congress, not the president, should address the future of the program that protects almost 1 million young people from being deported.
“There are people in limbo; these are kids who know no other country," Ryan told a Wisconsin radio station. "I really believe there should be a legislative solution.”
Hundreds of chief executives and business leaders in the U.S. also signed a letter urging Trump not to scrap the program. The White House said this week that it was still reviewing the program adopted when Barack Obama was in office.
‘Vital’ to Future
“Dreamers are vital to the future of our companies and our economy,” Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook, Amazon.com Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos and more than 350 other executives said in the letter, which was posted on a website late Thursday. “With them, we grow and create jobs. They are part of why we will continue to have a global competitive advantage.”
The open letter signals that top executives in the U.S. are feeling bolder about confronting the president. Trump last month disbanded two business advisory councils after CEOs from companies including Intel Corp. and Merck & Co. quit in protest of his handling of the riots in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Warren Buffett and General Motors Co.’s Mary Barra were among the executives who signed the letter, with many issuing separate statements on company websites and social media.
Polls show that the vast majority of Americans believe that immigrants protected from deportation by the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, should be allowed to remain in the U.S. Trump faces a deadline to act after 10 states threatened a legal challenge if the program continues beyond Sept. 5.
Ryan said he had discussed his views with the administration. Hatch, the longest-serving GOP senator, also said in a statement that he had urged the president not to act.
One Republican familiar with the matter said that Trump could call on Congress to create a legal framework to allow the immigrants to remain in the country, while announcing that his administration would not defend the program if the attorneys general bring a suit. It is unclear how fast Congress could move on legislation or how the policy would work, but a lawsuit would presumably take months to advance, allowing lawmakers some time for debate.
The person said Trump could also try to use the immigrants’ status as a bargaining chip to win funding from Congress for a border wall. But Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, rejected such a negotiation in an Aug. 22 tweet.
“It is reprehensible to treat children as bargaining chips. America’s DREAMers are not negotiable,” she said.
Hatch said that while the U.S. needs tougher immigration enforcement, "we also need a workable, permanent solution for individuals who entered our country unlawfully as children through no fault of their own and who have built their lives here."
Trump faces particular opposition on the issue in the Senate. Three Republican senators -- Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska -- have co-sponsored a bipartisan bill that would allow such young people to earn legal permanent residence. The young immigrants are known as "dreamers" after a proposal to shield them from deportation.
Other Republican senators, including John McCain of Arizona and Marco Rubio of Florida, say the young immigrants’ needs should be addressed as part of a broader immigration overhaul.
Senator Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, plans to introduce a measure next week shielding the young immigrants from deportation for five years if they work, pursue higher education or serve in the military.
Ten House Republicans sent a letter to Ryan on Friday to urge a legislative solution for the young people who came forward to apply for DACA status. While criticizing Obama’s unilateral action in creating the program, the letter said, "It would be wrong to go back on our word and subject these individuals to deportation.”
Representative Mike Coffman, a Colorado Republican, said on Twitter Thursday that participants in the program "grew up here, went to school here, and should be allowed to stay here. The time has come to take action." He has proposed legislation to protect those immigrants.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump declared the program unconstitutional, but he softened his view considerably after taking office. His administration had continued to follow the Obama policy, granting new permits to thousands of applicants since January.