Venting on immigration, Trump vows 'no more DACA deal' and threatens NAFTA

President Donald Trump, blaming Democrats and the Mexican government for an increasingly “dangerous” flow of unauthorized immigrants, unleashed a series of fiery tweets on Sunday in which he vowed “NO MORE DACA DEAL”

Minutes after wishing the nation a happy Easter Sunday, Trump complained that “liberal” laws were preventing Border Patrol agents from doing their jobs, and said that Republicans should use the “nuclear option” to sidestep Democratic opposition in the Senate and enact “tough laws NOW.”

The president, who has spent much of his holiday weekend golfing with supporters and watching television, was apparently reacting to a “Fox and Friends” segment on immigration that had aired minutes before.

In his tweets, Trump referred to “caravans” of immigrants heading toward the southern border — a subject that was addressed on the Fox program.

A group of hundreds of Central Americans has been traveling through Mexico toward the United States, where the immigrants hope to seek asylum or sneak across the border. A reporter for BuzzFeed has been traveling with the group as it makes its way north.

As he headed into church in Palm Beach on Sunday morning, Trump addressed his immigration tweets, saying: “Mexico has got to help us at the border. And a lot of people are coming in because they want to take advantage of DACA.”

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, gave temporary protected status to hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. The program requires immigrants to have resided in the United States since 2007, meaning any crossing the border now would not be eligible.

Trump announced last year that he was ending the program, but courts have blocked his decision. He has been negotiating with Democrats on a legislative solution, but seemed in his tweet on Sunday to withdraw his support for such talks.

Outside the church, the president said the Democrats “blew it” after having “had a great chance.”

“But we’ll have to take a look,” he added. He did not respond to a question from reporters about whether his tweets meant that he would not support any deal for DACA recipients.

In turning his Twitter ire on Mexico, Trump said the country was “doing very little, if not NOTHING, at stopping people from flowing into Mexico through their Southern Border, and then into the U.S.” He said Mexican leaders “must stop the big drug and people flows, or I will stop their cash cow, NAFTA.”

“NEED WALL!” he added.

The president’s tweets seemed at odds with some unifying steps taken last week by members of his administration: The homeland security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, met with President Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico to discuss ways to work together on security and trade issues, according to a description of the conversation released by the Department of Homeland Security.

But Trump may have been hearing a different voice over the weekend. He was accompanied to his Palm Beach resort, Mar-a-Lago, by Stephen Miller, a senior policy adviser who has shaped much of the Trump administration’s hard-line stance on immigration.

The president, in his tweets, criticized what he called “Catch & Release,” a practice in which detained unauthorized immigrants are sometimes released as they wait for a hearing before an immigration judge. In some cases, they are released because the government has nowhere to house them.

Critics say the practice — which, contrary to the president’s tweet, is not enshrined in law — gives the immigrants an opening to skip their hearing and settle undetected in the country.

Trump’s tweets Sunday echoed remarks on “Fox and Friends” by Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, whom the president has praised in the past.

“Our legislators actually have to stand up, and the Republicans control the House and the Senate, they do not need the Democrat support to pass any laws they want,” Judd said on the program. “They can go the nuclear option, just like what they did on the confirmation. They need to pass laws to end the catch-and-release program that’ll allow us to hold them for a long time.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

KATIE ROGERS © 2018 The New York Times

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