WASHINGTON — Sep 12, 2017, 5:49 PM ET

Pelosi, top White House official open on border security

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The top House Democrat and a senior White House official both indicated Tuesday they are open to compromise on border security to expedite legislation to help immigrants brought here illegally as children.

White House legislative director Marc Short said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast that despite President Donald Trump's advocacy for a southern border wall, "I don't want us to bind ourselves into a construct that makes reaching a conclusion on DACA impossible."

DACA refers to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program created by former President Barack Obama, which has extended temporary work permits and deportation protection to nearly 800,000 younger immigrants brought to this country illegally as minors. Trump announced last week he will dismantle the program in six months, and called on Congress to come up with a legislative solution before then.

Separately, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Democrats are backing legislation to help the young immigrants and hope to force a vote on it later this month — a maneuver that would require the support of at least two dozen Republicans. Pelosi said she is committed to helping the immigrants at risk and resolutely opposed to construction of a wall, but indicated openness to border security measures of some kind.

"We always want border stuff, so that's not a problem," Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol. She reiterated that Trump told her and others at a White House meeting last week that he would sign legislation to help those commonly referred to as "Dreamers" if it arrived on his desk, adding, "He said, 'I want some border security.'"

"We've been very clear. There is no wall in our DACA future," Pelosi added.

The comments from Short and Pelosi suggested room for compromise on the sensitive issue of immigration, which has been defeating lawmakers for years. Democrats have been adamant that they will not accept the wall in exchange for protections for "Dreamers," but have indicated support for border security enhancements short of a wall.

Last Thursday, after an unrelated event on infrastructure, Trump pressed Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on whether he would accept the wall as a trade for protections for "Dreamers," but Schumer refused, according to a person familiar with the exchange who spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose the private conversation.

On Tuesday, Schumer told reporters, "We'd certainly look at border security that makes sense, border security that's effective."

At the Christian Science Monitor event earlier, Short said the president remained committed to construction of a border wall, but not necessarily directly linked to the "Dreamers" issue. Construction of a physical wall along the entire 2,000-mile southern border is not practical or even possible, according to most experts and lawmakers of both parties, but Trump made it a central focus of his campaign for president.

"The president is committed to sticking by his commitment that a physical structure is what is needed to help protect the American people," Short said. "Whether or not that is specifically part of a DACA package or a different legislative package, I'm not going to pre-judge here today. But he is committed to making sure that wall is built."

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  • Patrick Boone

    News flash Obama people. Obama is no longer president and while you guys were sleeping the youth that are now the age you guys were when Obama was elected are mostly to the right of you. That's America and it's not going to change any time soon. America is for people who in the very least want to be American. Nationalist that are patriotic to about her country are in the wrong country.

  • michael

    The border will have to be actually secured or the DACA will not pass. The fence/wall is needed in some areas where it doesn't exist or is broken and there should be room for compromise. Also, they can adopt E-Verify to make a deal.

  • CivilDialog

    Given the poor track record that the Democrats have on immigration, we MUST secure the border FIRST! Allowing DACA, or other "immigration reforms" to be move ahead of border security should be a non-starter. Until we can properly secure our borders, anything else we do will have short term results and we will be back in 10yrs with another "immigration reform" policy. Securing our borders and ensuring that the CURRENT laws are being enforced, is the best first step. This gives us better data and time, to develop true immigration reforms that will have long term meaningful impact. Let's do it right, rather than just satisfying the "politicians agenda".

  • TexasVulcan

    Trump's "base" still think a wall is the way to go. They even believe that we can find and deport 12 million illegals.

  • Paula

    Amend the 14th Amendment by eliminating the "birthright" clause. If the parent is an illegal alien, so too are any and all offspring. We need to stop incentivizing illegal entry into the country and continuing with the nonsense that confirms automatic USA citizenship, by virtue of the location where the birth occurs, only exacerbates the illegal alien problem. We no longer have slaves so there is no need to protect their children.

  • Gimme__A__break

    Ohhhhhhhhhh snap! Something might actually get done in Congress?

  • Will Bockemuehl

    Trump wants the wall, let him build it...with his own money. He can try to get it back from Mexico later.

  • DistanceMatters

    Since the Great Recession net illegal immigration is virtually nil. It makes no sense to spend millions (billions?) to satisfy American bigotry. Let's deal with the illegals here by continuing to deport criminals, granting work permits for those who pay a fine for crossing the border illegally, and provide a pathway to citizenship for those who work hard, stay clean, and embrace American values.

  • arriba65

    If Trump traded non-wall "border stuff" for DACA, conservative brains would explode. Not to worry, they would be small explosions.

  • Robert

    My grand daughter married a boy from Mexico. He came here illegally but has since gained his citizenship along with his mother. What is the problem with these other people doing the same. He was worked in minimum wadge jobs and often forced to endure demeaning insults but now is able to have a job that pays a decent wadge. Don't these people realize that Democrats are just trying to keep these people fearful of being a full fledged American citizen with the ability to file charges with our Federal Labor commission. Congress needs to get off their duff and help get this mess straightened out. Trump is calling them out.

  • Guthrum

    Improve the border by using technology. This would be more effective and cheaper than some sort of concrete or steel fence. An electronics fence consisting of containment and blocking devices: noise, lighting, and drones.