U.S. President Donald Trump said he was prepared to back a deal that would provide a pathway to citizenship to America’s “Dreamer” immigrants over a period of 10 to 12 years.
Trump also said the about 700,000 young undocumented immigrants, who were brought into the U.S. illegally as children by their parents, should no longer worry about deportation.
“We are going to morph into it. It’s going to happen, at some point in the future, over a period of 10 to 12 years.
“I think it’s a nice thing to have the incentive of after a period of years being able to become a citizen.
“Tell them not to be concerned. We are going to solve the problem. It’s up to the Democrats but they should not be worried,” Trump said.
Trump said in September he was scrapping Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), throwing the future of those it covers into doubt, but delayed enforcement to give Congress until March to craft a lasting solution.
A district judge, however, had blocked Trump’s decision to scrap DACA and the issue may end being resolved by the Supreme Court.
Consequently, he said he might extend the March 5 date he had originally set to end the Obama-era programme, if Congress has not acted by then.
The latest approach by the White House suggested a key development in negotiations over the illegal immigrants who faced deportation as early as March.
In return, Trump wants border security including the all funding, curbing extended family reunification known as “chain migration,” cancelling the green-card visa lottery, and providing a permanent solution on DACA.
U.S. lawmakers had struggled for months to negotiate a compromise over the status of the dreamers, an impasse that shut down the government from Saturday to Monday.
In reaching a deal to reopen government, Senate’s Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Congress would aim to negotiate an immigration agreement by Feb. 8.
He said, however, that if a deal is not struck by then, the issue would be taken up in debate on the Senate floor.
Democrats unsuccessfully sought to tie a solution to the DACA issue to a stop-gap measure to fund the federal government, but Republicans rejected the effort, leading to a shutdown.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican point-man on the immigration negotiations, hailed Trump’s comments as a major breakthrough.
Graham said in a statement: “With this strong statement by President Trump, I have never felt better about our chances of finding a solution on immigration.
“His support for a pathway to citizenship will help us get strong border security measures as we work to modernise a broken immigration system.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday withdrew an offer to fund Trump’s border wall.
Trump, in a tweet, lashed out at Schumer’s stance: “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer fully understands, especially after his humiliating defeat, that if there is no Wall, there is no DACA”.