(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump is willing to resolve the dispute over young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, but any solution will have to be “a balanced approach,” U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said in an interview in Jerusalem.
A three-day government shutdown ended Monday without resolving the fate of the so-called Dreamers, as Democrats initially had demanded, hastening an immigration debate in the Senate. Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy in September, but then lobbed the matter to Congress. About 690,000 beneficiaries of the Obama-era program will face possible deportation if no action is taken by March 5.
With the government reopened, “now we can move forward on issues like the border wall, chain migration, diversity lottery and DACA, that I know the president is willing to resolve and open to resolving, but it will have to be a balanced approach,” Pence said Tuesday.
The comments came on the final day of a three-country swing through the Middle East where Pence sought to revive the stalled peace process. Palestinian leaders refused to meet the vice president because of Trump’s statement last month recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Pence said he was glad the shutdown finished before Trump’s trip this week to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he said the president would discuss his economic agenda and his “America First” policy. He also predicted Republicans would retain their majority in Congress in upcoming mid-term elections.
“The first mid-term election in Congress is always a challenge for the party in power in the White House -- history records just a few exceptions of that. But I think 2018 is going to be another exception,” he said. “This is a president who in one short year has literally turned around the American economy and restored American credibility on the world stage.”
After announcing, at the end of a Monday night press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that the shutdown was ending, Pence launched into an attack on congressional Democrats. He defended the decision to highlight U.S. partisan divisions while overseas, saying he felt the comments were needed “to set the record straight.”
Pence said the U.S. must remain the chief sponsor of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, downplaying the prospect of a joint U.S.-EU effort. He called repeatedly on the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table and suggested that, as they see the strength of U.S. alliances with countries like Egypt and Jordan, they’ll realize it’s in their interest to re-engage.
The Trump administration is making a “serious and ongoing effort to develop a framework for peace,” he said. “It will take the Palestinians returning to the process and being willing to think anew about the prospects of peace for us to make any progress in the days ahead.”
Leaders of several Christian denominations in the region refused to meet Pence over the Jerusalem issue. A devout evangelical, Pence said the administration is making a concerted effort to help Christian communities in war-torn parts of the Muslim-majority Middle East.
“My hope and my prayer is that they got the message that we’re with them, we will stand with them and the United States will be here for the long haul,” he said. “Whether we had the opportunity to meet with certain Christian leaders on this trip, I trust they got the message.”
He also affirmed the U.S. will continue its efforts against Islamic State until the group is “driven to extinction.” Trump’s decision to arm a Kurdish militia force fighting Islamic State near the Syria-Turkey border has stoked tensions with Turkey, which this week sent tanks and fighter jets to attack the Kurdish forces.
“We recognize Turkey as a NATO ally, they have a right to protect their border, and the presence of Kurdish forces along the Turkish border has precipitated this response from Turkey,” he said. “But our message has been that we want to see Turkey and Kurdish forces de-escalate. We want to see dialogue to resolve the differences.”
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