White House Open To ‘Discussion’ Of Future Amnesties As Bargaining Chips After DACA

Saagar Enjeti | White House Correspondent

President Donald Trump is open to discussing future amnesties for illegal immigrants as legislative bargaining chips with democratic lawmakers, White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah told WMAL’s “Mornings On The Mall” Thursday.

“I think Democrats have a whole host of priorities on immigration reform. They want to see legal status for other individuals who have come into this country illegally, and that’s something the president is willing to talk about and I think willing to discuss,” Shah responded to a question as to how Trump will continue to negotiate with democrats over immigration policy reform after passing a DACA agreement.

He continued, “But I think the first thing is first, is that we now have a universe of issues where there is some agreement that this is sort of the ground for an initial debate and initial discussion. If we’re able to get a bill together with this, it will provide good faith for further negotiations.”

The president is currently embroiled in bipartisan negotiations over the future of the Obama-era protections for illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Trump has insisted any agreement codifying the protections into law must be accompanied by funding for a border wall, an end to chain migration, and an end to the visa lottery program. Democrats conversely have said they are open to funding for border security but are adamantly opposed to a wall.

Shah’s comments on future discussions over amnesty for the millions of other non-DACA illegal immigrants buttress Tuesday overtures from Trump on the issue. The president told Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina in a bipartisan meeting of lawmakers he would “take the heat” in the future over attempts to pursue comprehensive immigration reform. The comments were widely interpreted to mean a willingness to accept a pathway to citizenship or some legal status for illegal immigrants.

Shah explained to Daily Caller editorial director Vince Coglianese that when Trump says comprehensive immigration reform he is “talking about the issue broadly” with an understanding that “there are millions of people who’ve come here illegally who live here, many of them have not committed violent crimes or violent acts,” adding that the U.S. also needs “broad legal immigration reform.”

The willingness to consider mass amnesty for the nearly 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. flies in the face of the president’s position during the 2016 campaign. “There will be no amnesty, he declared in a September 2016 campaign speech, adding “Our message to the world will be this: You cannot obtain legal status or become a citizen of the United States by illegally entering our country.”

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