President Trump signs a bill on Jan. 22, 2018.(Official White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

Trump ‘Examining Other Avenues’ in Case Congress Doesn’t Deliver DACA Deal

With a Monday deadline for congressional action to save Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program beneficiaries, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway indicated today that President Trump may be poised to take protective actions on his own without a legislative agreement in sight.

Capitol Hill action has stalled over legislative agreements that include legalization for so-called DREAMers and extra border security measures, but bipartisan pacts have left out elements the White House wants to see in a DACA deal: limiting family reunification to spouses and minor children, and ending the diversity visa lottery. Democrats have said those tenets are non-starters.

Conway was asked on Fox whether Trump, who has proposed a path to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, will issue an executive order if the deadline comes and goes sans a save from Congress.

“If it’s not going to happen on Capitol Hill, the president — I’m sure he is, I know he is examining other avenues and options. But remember, one body in this town makes the laws. One executes it. The other interprets it. And that’s why we have three separate but equal branches,” Conway replied.

“This president has taken action any number of times through executive order and other executive actions when he thinks others are slow to act or when he is in a position to do that. You’ve seen him do it with healthcare, for example, trying to open up healthcare benefits to others when repealing and replacing Obamacare failed on Capitol Hill. You’ve seen him do it to get coal miner benefits back. You’ve seen him do it for regulatory reform. He’s done it to take us out of TPP, to take us out of what he considers to be a bad deal,” she continued. “So he will act if in fact his authority allows him to but he’s made a commitment very publicly to resolving this issue.”

The Supreme Court on Monday said it would not hear the Trump administration’s fast-track appeal of a lower court ruling that directed the Department of Homeland Security to continue accepting renewal applications from DACA beneficiaries.

That lawsuit was brought by former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, now president of the University of California.

In trying to hopscotch the 9th Circuit, Solicitor General Noel Francisco had argued to the Supreme Court that the district court “entered an unprecedented nationwide injunction requiring the government not simply to tolerate, but to affirmatively sanction, a continuing violation of federal law by nearly 700,000 aliens.” The White House said it eventually expects to prevail in the case.

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a sponsor of the DREAM Act, told NPR that “the election of new members to the House and Senate will decide the fate of this issue.”

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Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera and SiriusXM.

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