President Trump said for the first time on Wednesday that he supports a path to U.S. citizenship for young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, in a potential breakthrough on stalled immigration talks in Congress. Trump's staff was caught off-guard by the comments, which Trump made during an impromptu appearance at a background briefing on hardline immigration demands the White House was planning to roll out next Monday, The New York Times reports.
Trump said DREAMers should be rewarded for their hard work with a chance to "morph into" citizens in 10 to 12 years, the central feature of a bipartisan Senate deal he rejected last week. In return, he demanded $5 billion for border security, $25 billion for a U.S.-Mexico border wall (which he said he would build "way under budget"), and an end to immigration programs he doesn't like.
The "legislative framework" the White House was planning to unveil next week focused on the hardline parts of that immigration equation, the Times reports, and after Trump's "off-the-cuff comments" seemed to "suggest flexibility," White House staff started "scrambling in what one official called a 'fire drill.' After delaying the briefing for nearly an hour, Mr. Trump's aides decided to postpone it until Thursday as they tried to reconcile their plans with the president's words." Trump ended with a joke that he would like to see an immigration deal by the time he comes back from the World Economic Forum in Switzerland on Friday.