By KEN THOMAS and LISA MASCARO
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House said Wednesday it does not favor an immigration agreement with Congress that would involve extending protections for young immigrants for three years in exchange for three years of border wall funding.
Deputy press secretary Raj Shah said the administration continues to negotiate an immigration overhaul that would address the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects young immigrants from deportation, while also stopping illegal immigration and modernizing the legal immigration system.
Two Republican officials briefed on the talks said the so-called “three-for-three” proposal had been floated in staff-level discussions in recent days.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. The discussions were first reported by The Washington Post, which said the idea was being discussed as part of an upcoming spending bill.
President Donald Trump has proposed a path to citizenship for about 1.8 million immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children in exchange for $25 billion for a border wall with Mexico and other security measures, along with curbing legal immigration. Many Democrats have opposed the proposals.
Trump visited the U.S.-Mexico border Tuesday to see prototypes of the barrier that he wants built. Calls to build the wall — a rallying cry of his presidential campaign — and Trump’s insistence that Mexico pay for it have led to a coarsening in ties between the U.S. and its southern neighbor.
Trump ended the Obama program last September, saying he believed DACA was unconstitutional. Trump pledged to work with Democrats and Republicans to protect the young immigrants, often referred to as Dreamers, from deportation. At one point he promised to accept whatever bipartisan proposal was brought to him, but negotiations broke down after Trump used offensive language to describe some countries in a meeting with lawmakers.
The Department of Homeland Security is under a court order to maintain the DACA protections while supporters of the program challenge Trump’s decision to end it.
Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Catherine Lucey contributed reporting.