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‘No more DACA deal,’ Trump says as he threatens to ‘stop’ NAFTA if Mexico doesn’t better secure border

The Washington Post logoThe Washington Post 4/1/2018 Philip Rucker
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PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Trump said Sunday that there would be no deal to legalize the status of millions of “dreamers,” undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, and directed congressional Republicans to pass tough new anti-immigration legislation.

Trump also criticized Mexican authorities as being too lax about border security, saying the U.S.-Mexico border was “getting more dangerous.” He threatened to “stop” the North American Free Trade Agreement if Mexico does not “stop the big drug and people flows.”

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In fiery Sunday morning tweets, sent an hour after he wished Americans a “HAPPY EASTER” and minutes before he attended a church service here, Trump vowed, “NO MORE DACA DEAL.”

As he walked into an Episcopal service at the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea with first lady Melania and daughter Tiffany, Trump elaborated on his position on immigration to the traveling pool of reporters. He accused congressional Democrats of stymieing a potential deal to protect dreamers, after Trump canceled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in the fall.

“A lot of people are coming in because they want to take advantage of DACA,” Trump said. “They had a great chance. The Democrats blew it.”

The president added, “Mexico has got to help us at the border ... They flow right through Mexico; they send them into the United States. It can't happen like that way anymore.”

In his first of three immigration-related tweets, Trump wrote, “Border Patrol Agents are not allowed to properly do their job at the Border because of ridiculous liberal (Democrat) laws like Catch & Release. Getting more dangerous. ‘Caravans’ coming. Republicans must go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws NOW. NO MORE DACA DEAL!”

The DACA program was begun during the Obama administration to provide temporary protection to dreamers. Trump canceled DACA in the fall but said he would like to reach a deal with Congress to protect the dreamers from deportation in exchange for funding to build his long-promised wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

He, however, went on to reject immigration proposals from congressional Democrats.

Trump's Sunday tweets may have been in response to commentary on Fox News Channel, which he is known to watch regularly. Fox aired a segment earlier in the morning with the headline: “CARAVAN OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS HEADED TO U.S.”

In a second tweet, Trump lashed out at Mexico and threatened to “stop” NAFTA, saying Mexican authorities are not doing enough to secure the border with the United States.

Trump wrote: “Mexico is doing very little, if not NOTHING, at stopping people from flowing into Mexico through their Southern Border, and then into the U.S. They laugh at our dumb immigration laws. They must stop the big drug and people flows, or I will stop their cash cow, NAFTA. NEED WALL!”

And in a third tweet, the president wrote, “These big flows of people are all trying to take advantage of DACA. They want in on the act!”

President Donald Trump delivers remarks on the Infrastructure Initiative at the Local 18 Richfield Training Site in Richfield, Ohio, U.S., March 29, 2018. © REUTERS/Yuri Gripas President Donald Trump delivers remarks on the Infrastructure Initiative at the Local 18 Richfield Training Site in Richfield, Ohio, U.S., March 29, 2018.

Trump sent his tweet on the fourth day of his vacation in Palm Beach, Fla., where he has been staying at his private Mar-a-Lago Club with a small coterie of aides. White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly did not travel with him, but senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, a proponent of hard-line immigration policies, has been spending the Easter weekend with Trump.

By calling for Republicans to use the “Nuclear Option” to pass tough new immigration measures, Trump seemed to urge a parliamentary procedure by which Senate Republicans could pass legislation with a simple majority of 51 votes as opposed to the 60-vote majority required to end debate and bring a vote to the floor.

Trump’s tweets come amid tense negotiations over NAFTA between his administration and that of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. A call between the two men in February became testy after Trump refused to publicly affirm Peña Nieto’s position that Mexico will not pay for the wall’s construction, leading the Mexican leader to cancel a planned visit to Washington.

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