Pro-invasion activists in both the Republican and Democratic parties have reacted with undisguised glee after President Donald Trump said he would support an immigration plan that would provide a pathway to citizenship for at least 800,000 illegal aliens brought to the US as minors.
Trump’s pronouncement came as the White House announced it would unveil a legislative framework on immigration next week that it hopes can pass both the House and the Senate.
Trump said he was proposing a budget of $25 billion for building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and $5 billion for other security measures.
When asked about the “Dreamers”—the generic name for the young illegal aliens already in the US, Trump told reporters he had a message for the Dreamers: “Tell ’em not to be concerned, OK? Tell ’em not to worry. We’re going to solve the problem.”
He also said that he was looking to make them into citizens, perhaps over a much longer period of time.
“Over a period of 10 to 12 years,” Trump said, “somebody does a great job, they work hard — that gives incentive to do a great job. Whatever they’re doing, if they do a great job, I think it’s a nice thing to have the incentive of, after a period of years, being able to become a citizen.”
According to a report in the US News and World Report, Democrats “said they were heartened” while “Republicans were more cautious.”
Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, who in 2001 first sponsored the “DREAM Act” to provide legal status to the young immigrants, also praised the president. “The President is headed in the right direction here,” Mr. Durbin wrote Wednesday evening on Twitter.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he was “very encouraged” by Trump’s words.
Among Republicans, Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford said he supports the citizenship pathway Trump described. Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., called Trump’s words “positive” and said Trump’s description “gives us a better sense” of his views but added, “We have a long way to go yet.”
Immediately after Trump spoke, a senior White House official stressed the idea of a pathway to citizenship for so-called Dreamers was just a “discussion point” in the plan that the White House intended to preview to the House and Senate.
The proposals will also likely limit the family members that immigrants are able to sponsor to join them in the U.S. and either replace or transform a visa lottery aimed at increasing diversity.
Trump expressed confidence a deal can be reached, and said he’d like to see one hammered out by the time he returns from Davos, Switzerland, on Friday.
Trump had previously ruled out the idea of citizenship for the immigrants known as Dreamers, saying last September: “We’re not looking at citizenship. We’re not looking at amnesty. We’re looking at allowing people to stay here.”