Trump wants $33 billion for the wall, open to letting Dreamers stay

This article is more than 12 months old

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Wednesday previewed his outline for an immigration Bill that he will promote next week.

He said he wants US$25 billion (S$33 billion) to build a border wall and is open to granting citizenship to "Dreamers", undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children.

Mr Trump said he was optimistic he could come to an agreement with Republicans and Democrats in the US Congress that would appeal to hardliners seeking tougher rules for immigrants while also preventing the Dreamers from being deported.

"Tell them not to worry. We are going to solve the problem. It is up to the Democrats but they (the Dreamers) should not be concerned," Mr Trump told reporters at the White House.

His 2016 presidential campaign promised tougher rules for immigration.

In September last year, he announced he was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) programme created by his predecessor Barack Obama, effective in March - unless Congress came up with a new law. Daca currently protects about 700,000 people from deportation and provides them with work permits.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the lead lawmakers in the immigration negotiations, said Mr Trump's comments signalled a major breakthrough.

Mr Graham said in a statement: "With this strong statement by President Trump, I have never felt better about our chances of finding a solution on immigration."

After the meeting, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill expressed cautious optimism to reporters about Mr Trump's framework, saying "that could go either way", when asked if it will be helpful to lawmakers.

The White House plans to unveil a framework for immigration legislation that it believes can pass muster with both parties on Monday.

Mr Trump will deliver his State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday night.

Addressing the status of the Dreamers' parents, who brought them into the US illegally, would be "tricky", Mr Trump said. - REUTERS