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Trump Says 'No Deal' Was Reached With Democrats to Extend DACA

Trump said Thursday morning that "no deal" had been reached but appeared to defend people with DACA status.
Image: Trump speaks before departing Washington for Florida
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he and First Lady Melania Trump depart the White House in Washington on their way to view storm damage in Florida, on Sept. 14, 2017.Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

President Donald Trump insisted Thursday that there was no deal with Democrats yet to extend protections for so-called Dreamers, but the president pleaded with congressional leaders to reach one, while he vowed to push ahead with his border wall "later."

"No deal was made last night on DACA. Massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent. Would be subject to vote," Trump tweeted in a series of posts.

"The WALL, which is already under construction in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls, will continue to be built," he wrote.

"Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!" Trump posted about DACA recipients. "They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own — brought in by parents at young age. Plus BIG border security."

Trump did not deny reports that he would support a deal on DACA that didn't include the wall.

And, in brief comments to reporters Thursday, Trump said "the wall will come later" and that Republican congressional leaders were "on board" with the talks.

"We’re working on a plan. We’ll see how it works out," he said as he was departing to tour the hurricane damage in Florida. "We’re going to get massive border security as part of that."

"The wall is going to be built. It will be funded a little bit later," Trump said.

Later in Florida, the president said, "if the wall is going to be obstructed ... then we're not doing anything."

When asked if he supported amnesty, Trump cupped his hands to his lips and said, "DACA — the word is DACA."

Trump also said he was "not looking at citizenship" or "amnesty" for Dreamers but instead the discussion is about "taking care of people."

Earlier, the president said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., backed the plan. McConnell's office said Trump had called Thursday morning, and the senator said in a statement, "We look forward to receiving the Trump administration’s legislative proposal."

Trump's tweets and remarks came just hours after he held a dinner meeting with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., after which the pair said they’d reached a deal with the president "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."

Schumer and Pelosi, in a joint statement Thursday morning, added that Trump's tweets "are not inconsistent with the agreement reached last night."

The pair said "there was no final deal" but that "both sides agreed that the wall would not be any part of this agreement."

"The President made clear he intends to pursue it at a later time, and we made clear we would continue to oppose it," they said.

Related: Trump, Dems Close to Deal on DACA

Dropping the demand for a border wall could make it easier for Republicans and Democrats to reach an agreement on DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which protects undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children.

Following the Wednesday night joint statement from Schumer and Pelosi, however, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted that, "While DACA and border security were both discussed, excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to."

But earlier Wednesday, White House legislative affairs director Marc Short told an industry trade group that the border wall does not have to be a part of an agreement on DACA, one attendee at the meeting said.

The Trump administration announced last week that the Obama-era program would end in six months. The president said as part of the announcement that, "I am not going to just cut DACA off, but rather provide a window of opportunity for Congress to finally act."

Ending DACA — a program allows undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children to remain and get work permits in the country — could affect as many as an estimated 800,000 people.

Sources told NBC News Wednesday night that Schumer and Pelosi told Trump they are prepared to deliver votes on a measure that would pair the existing DREAM Act text with additional border security that does not include the border wall funding. Specifics on what type and level of border security were not disclosed.

The DREAM Act would have offered those who came to the U.S. as children the opportunity to potentially gain permanent legal residency. The act was first introduced in August 2001 by Sen. Orin Hatch, R-Utah, and Dick Durbin, D-Ill. It has resurfaced several times, always failing to get through Congress.

At a press conference later Thursday morning, Pelosi said the DACA recipients wouldn't be granted amnesty under a DREAM Act deal with Trump, but would have "the opportunity to earn their path to citizenship."

"It’s a long path, a 15-year path, and this is an earned path," she said. "We’re not looking at amnesty; we were never looking at amnesty."

Discussion of a possible deal marked the second time in as many weeks that Trump spurned his own party to pursue an agreement with Democrats. Last week, Trump struck a deal with Schumer and Pelosi that combined disaster aid for those affected by Hurricane Harvey with measures to keep the government open and extend the debt ceiling for three months, leaving some Republicans reeling.

News of another potential deal was met immediately with criticism from conservative Republicans.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, an anti-immigration hardliner tweeted Wednesday that, if there was an agreement, "Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible."

A potential deal would also go against the views of former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who as a White House aide was credited with helping Trump emphasize a message centered on economic nationalism.

Bannon, who following his White House exit returned as the head of Breitbart News, told CBS' "60 Minutes" last week he didn't agree with Trump's decision to give Congress a window to save DACA legislatively, and that "the guys in the far-right" and "on the conservative side" were "not happy" with it either.

Adam Edelman reported from New York and Ali Vitali from Washington, D.C.