Trump says he’s willing to make DACA deal after downplaying chances

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President Donald Trump blamed Democrats for the stall in talks about a potential immigration deal. He also said he wanted, "people coming in through a system based on merit."

President Donald Trump again blamed Democrats on Sunday night for the stall in talks over a potential immigration deal as the threat of a government shutdown looms this Friday.

In remarks to reporters at a dinner photo opportunity with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in West Palm Beach, Florida, Trump said he is “ready and willing to make a deal” on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but he doesn’t believe Democrats want to reach an agreement.

“They don’t want security at the border,” Trump said. “We have people pouring in. They don’t want security at the border. They don’t want to stop drugs, and they want to take money away from our military, which we cannot do. So those are some of the sticking points.”

On Sunday morning, Trump tweeted similar criticisms of Democratic lawmakers, writing: “DACA is probably dead because the Democrats don’t really want it, they just want to talk and take desperately needed money away from our Military.”

In a second tweet a few minutes later, he wrote: “I, as President, want people coming into our Country who are going to help us become strong and great again, people coming in through a system based on MERIT. No more Lotteries! #AMERICA FIRST.”

Trump’s tweets came just hours after his administration resumed receiving renewal applications for “Dreamers” under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program following a federal court order blocking the administration from ending the program.

The program has protected undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children from being deported. The administration announced the end of DACA in September, with recipients beginning to lose their status in early March.

On Saturday morning, Trump tweeted, “I don’t believe the Democrats really want to see a deal on DACA. They are all talk and no action. This is the time but, day by day, they are blowing the one great opportunity they have. Too bad!”

Trump’s remarks come after talks on a bipartisan immigration proposal froze after the President made disparaging comments in an Oval Office meeting with lawmakers in which he reportedly derided African nations as “shithole countries” and asked why more immigrants couldn’t come from Norway. Democrats have been demanding protections for DACA recipients in exchange for border security funding that could include money for Trump’s promised border wall.

Trump has denied making the remarks, but Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, who was at the White House meeting, said Friday that the President “said these hate-filled things and he said them repeatedly.”

Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, who were also in the meeting and have been close allies to the President on the issue of immigration, said in a statement that they didn’t recall Trump making the derogatory comments, “but what he did call out was the imbalance in our current immigration system, which does not protect American workers and our national interest.”

The President’s controversial comments to lawmakers in the Oval Office came after he held on-camera bipartisan talks at the White House last week in which he appeared open to making a deal with both Republicans and Democrats.