John Kelly just drew a line in the sand over congressional negotiations on ‘Dreamers’

  • President Donald Trump will probably not extend the March 5 deadline for the termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, White House chief of staff John Kelly said.
  • Kelly also suggested that the White House’s proposed immigration deal was generous, as it would offer a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million unauthorized immigrants rather than just the 690,000 protected by DACA.
  • That 1.8 million includes “the people that some would say were too afraid to sign up, others would say were too lazy to get off their asses, but they didn’t sign up,” Kelly said.

White House chief of staff John Kelly told reporters Tuesday that President Donald Trump will likely not extend the March 5 deadline set for the termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects unauthorized immigrants known as “Dreamers” from deportation.

Kelly said he was “not so sure this president has the authority to extend it.” The Trump administration had rescinded the program in part because of its argument that DACA was an unconstitutional executive overreach enacted by former President Barack Obama.

Kelly added that Trump also won’t ask Congress to approve a short-term extension of DACA, because “what makes [lawmakers] act is pressure.”

Though Trump had set March 5 as the date for DACA to expire, that deadline has been temporarily prolonged after a federal judge blocked DACA’s termination and ordered the Trump administration to resume processing applications.

The Trump administration is appealing the judge’s ruling to a federal appeals court and the Supreme Court, though it did not file an emergency application that could have put a hold on the judge’s order.

Meanwhile, several different bipartisan groups of lawmakers have proposed deals in recent days and weeks that codify DACA in exchange for various proposals on border security funding and adjustments to the legal immigration system. As of Tuesday, Trump had rejected two of those plans.

Kelly also said that the White House’s proposed immigration framework, which would offer a pathway to citizenship for some 1.8 million young unauthorized immigrants in exchange for $25 billion in border wall funding and other immigration restrictions, was a “generous” offer as it protected far more than the 690,000 Dreamers currently enrolled in DACA.

“The difference between [690,000] and 1.8 million were the people that some would say were too afraid to sign up, others would say were too lazy to get off their asses but they didn’t sign up,” Kelly said, according to Politico. “That’s beyond what anyone could have imagined, whether you’re on the right or the left.”

Kelly also said that Dreamers “are not a priority for deportation” if their DACA protections lapse and Congress fails to enact a legislative solution. He added that as long as unauthorized immigrants have no criminal record they will likely stay “out of anyone’s scope” for a long time.