Marc Short, the White House legislative director, said on Wednesday that President Donald Trump supports giving amnesty to the 800,000 or more illegal aliens who were brought to the country illegally as children and are protected from deportation through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“The president believes that people who are here under the DACA program, again, are contributing to our society, and we want to make sure that they stay here,” Short told NPR in an interview aired on Wednesday.
Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep also asked Short about the decision by a federal court in California that ruled against Trump’s decision in September to end DACA and ordered the program — put in place by President Barack Obama by executive order — to continue to provide temporary legal status and work permits to illegal aliens.
“Does the judge’s ruling, keeping DACA in place largely, for now, take the pressure off to do anything?” Inskeep asked.
“I don’t think so,” Short said. “I think, in fact, the reality is that this is a problem that’s needed to be solved for many, many years.”
“In fact, lower courts had ruled the Obama administration’s actions unconstitutional,” Short said. “And I think that even the Obama administration recognized the shaky legal ground that they were on, but they were just frustrated that Congress had not acted after promising to act for so long.”
Short said he believes that if the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear the DACA lawsuit, filed by former Department of Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano against current DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the high court would ultimately end the program, so a legislative fix is the best approach.
He also said that despite some of the conversation reported on from a White House meeting on Tuesday in which Trump and invited members from the House and Senate discussed immigration, the president still wants a border wall constructed and other reforms.
“We’ve refined that list,” Short said. “And then where we ended the meeting is recognizing there’s four things that we’re trying to solve here.”
“One is the status for the DACA recipients, which we all want to protect,” Short said. “These are people who are age 16 to 36 who came into our country by their parents and had been working.”
“And assuming there’s no legal problem, we want to make sure they stay here and continue to contribute to our economy,” Short said, adding that border security, ending chain migration, and the VISA lottery program are also on the list.
When Inskeep asked Short about a “clean” DACA bill, Short said that the WH considers a clean DACA bill to include the four priorities he listed.
Short also said Trump is open to giving DACA recipients a pathway to citizenship as part of the immigration package.
“The president is very open to that,” Short said. “The president is willing to go there for the DACA participants.”
“But we’re also asking for cooperation on the Democrats for what we think are practical, common sense solutions,” Short said.
Short did not include E-verify as a Trump priority, a program to prevent U.S. businesses from hiring workers who are in the United States illegally.