Trump says immigration deal with Democrats close, with border security

WASHINGTON, Sept 14 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Thursday he was close to a deal with Democratic congressional leaders on protections for illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children, astounding fellow Republicans again while alarming conservative supporters.

Trump, who met with the top Democrats in the Senate and House of Representatives, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, at the White House on Wednesday evening, said any final agreement must include significant steps to protect border security including surveillance systems.

The president added that funding for his planned wall along the U.S.-Mexican border - a centerpiece of his 2016 presidential campaign - would "come later" and would not be part of any final deal on the fate of the 800,000 so-called Dreamers. But, speaking to reporters, he said Democrats "cannot obstruct the wall."

19 PHOTOS
Faces of those impacted by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
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Faces of those impacted by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
Paulina, 26, a DACA recipient, is comforted after watching U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on a projection screen at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) headquarters in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 5, 2017. Paulina, a graduate of UCLA, arrived in the U.S. when she was 6 years old. She said the decision was really upsetting but she was going to continue to work to push members of Congress to enact a law to protect their rights. "We are not going to give up", she said. REUTERS/Monica Almeida
Young DACA recipients, Mario, Melanie and Luis, watch U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, on a projection screen at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) headquarters in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 5, 2017. REUTERS/Monica Almeida
Jorge-Mario Cabrera, CHIRLA spokesman and Communications Director (R), along with staff and young DACA recipients watches U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, on a projection screen at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) headquarters in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 5, 2017. REUTERS/Monica Almeida
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 18: A family fills out an application for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), at a workshop on February 18, 2015 in New York City. The immigrant advocacy group Make the Road New York holds weekly workshops to help immigrants get legal status under DACA to work in the United States. An expansion of the national program, scheduled for this week, was frozen by a ruling from a Texas federal judge. The Obama Administration plans to appeal the ruling and, if sussessful, DACA would allow legalization of up to two million immigrants who entered the United States before they were age 16. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 15: People attend an orientation class in filing up their application for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program at Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles on August 15, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Under a new program established by the Obama administration undocumented youth who qualify for the program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, can file applications from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website to avoid deportation and obtain the right to work. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 15: Mitzi Pena, 19, (R) her sister Yaretzi Pena, 5, and her cousin Karina Terriquez, 20, (L) wait in line to receive assitance in filing up their application for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program at Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles on August 15, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Under a new program established by the Obama administration undocumented youth who qualify for the program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, can file applications from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website to avoid deportation and obtain the right to work. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 15: People attend an orientation class in filing up their application for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program at Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles on August 15, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Under a new program established by the Obama administration undocumented youth who qualify for the program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, can file applications from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website to avoid deportation and obtain the right to work. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Edgar Lopez shows his Employment Authorization Card, at home in Davenport, Florida, February 1, 2013. Edgar and his brother Javier are among the 1.7 million estimated illegal immigrants younger than 30 who were brought to the U.S. as children and are eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 15: Oscar Barrera Gonzalez along with a group of immigrants, known as DREAMers, hold flowers as they listen to a news conference to kick off a new program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles on August 15, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Under a new program established by the Obama administration undocumented youth who qualify for the program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, can file applications from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website to avoid deportation and obtain the right to work (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 15: Roberto Larios, 21, (R) holds Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival application as he waits in line with hundreds of fellow undocumanted immigrants at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles offices to apply for deportation reprieve on August 15, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Under a new program established by the Obama administration undocumented youth who qualify for the program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, can file applications from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website to avoid deportation and obtain the right to work (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 15: Brenda Robles, 20, (R) holds her high school diploma as she waits in line with her friends at at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles offices to apply for deportation reprieve on August 15, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Under a new program established by the Obama administration undocumented youth who qualify for the program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, can file applications from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website to avoid deportation and obtain the right to work (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 15: Hundreds of people line up around the block from the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles offices to apply for deportation reprieve on August 15, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Under a new program established by the Obama administration undocumented youth who qualify for the program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, can file applications from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website to avoid deportation and obtain the right to work (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Undocumented UCLA students Alejandra Gutierrez (L) and Miriam Gonzales attend a workshop for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in Los Angeles, California, August 15, 2012. President Barack Obama's administration announced on June 15 it would relax U.S. deportation rules so that many young illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children can stay in the country and work. The changes went into effect on Wednesday. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY IMMIGRATION)
Alan Valdivia receives assistance in filling out paperwork for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles in Los Angeles, California, August 15, 2012. The U.S. government began accepting applications on Wednesday from young illegal immigrants seeking temporary legal status under relaxed deportation rules announced by the Obama administration in June. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY IMMIGRATION)
People fill out paperwork for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles in Los Angeles, California, August 15, 2012. The U.S. government began accepting applications on Wednesday from young illegal immigrants seeking temporary legal status under relaxed deportation rules announced by the Obama administration in June.REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY IMMIGRATION)
Students wait in line for assistance with paperwork for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles in Los Angeles, California, August 15, 2012. The U.S. government began accepting applications on Wednesday from young illegal immigrants seeking temporary legal status under relaxed deportation rules announced by the Obama administration in June. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY IMMIGRATION)
Undocumented UCLA students prepare paperwork for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in Los Angeles, California, August 15, 2012. President Barack Obama's administration announced on June 15 it would relax U.S. deportation rules so that many young illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children can stay in the country and work. The changes went into effect on Wednesday. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY IMMIGRATION)
Paulina, 26, a DACA recipient during U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, on a projection screen at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) headquarters in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 5, 2017. Paulina, a graduate of UCLA, arrived in the U.S. when she was 6 years old. She said the decision was really upsetting but she was going to continue to work to push members of Congress to enact a law to protect their rights. "We are not going to give up", she said. REUTERS/Monica Almeida
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"We have to have an understanding that whether it's in the budget or some other vehicle in a very short period of time, the wall will be funded. Otherwise, we're not doing anything," Trump said as he landed in Florida to survey hurricane damage.

Schumer and Pelosi reiterated their opposition to the wall, and Democrats in the past have promised to block funding for it.

"I think we're fairly close but we have to get massive border security," Trump told reporters earlier in the day of a potential deal.

Trump also said Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell were both "on board" with the potential deal on immigration issues and that "we're doing it in conjunction with the Republicans."

The potential agreement was the latest development in the president's newfound willingness to work with Democrats after Republicans, who control Congress, failed to deliver legislative victories on health care and other matters.

Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program earlier this month but made that effective in March, giving lawmakers six months to come up with an alternative for the Dreamers. DACA, created by Trump's Democratic predecessor Barack Obama, shields the Dreamers, mostly Hispanic young adults, from deportation and provides work permits.

McConnell and Ryan, both of whom have had a tense relationship with Trump, made comments that suggested they might not be on board, as the president said.

"There is no agreement," Ryan told reporters about DACA.

"I think the president understands that he's got to work the congressional majority," he told reporters, referring to Republicans, adding that "we have not begun negotiations" although he expected a compromise to be reached.

McConnell issued a noncommittal statement.

"As Congress debates the best ways to address illegal immigration through strong border security and interior enforcement, DACA should be part of those discussions. We look forward to receiving the Trump administration's legislative proposal as we continue our work on these issues," he said.

14 PHOTOS
Hollywood reacts to Trump's DACA decision
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Hollywood reacts to Trump's DACA decision
.@realDonaldTrump https://t.co/kPWOUWhlWF
Demi Lovato: “I encourage each and every one of you to support and stand for immigration. For everyone out there who is fighting for this cause, I encourage you to stay strong.”
"Adult illegal aliens." Just a disgusting display of prejudice, ignorance and heartlessness. But exactly what's exp… https://t.co/6h1FHsk3ez
Those Who Can Must Take a DREAMER In2 Their Home & Protect Them‼️I’m Ready 2 Do This & 🙏🏻Others in MY BUSINESS WILL DO THE SAME‼️SANCTUARY
I hope that by the time I have to explain Trump to my kids, they'll never have a frame of reference to understand how bad he really was.
Cowardly. Callous. Disgusting. This is not who we are. #defendDACA
Camila Cabello: “As an immigrant who came to the US as a child, I know what it’s like to struggle and to never take any opportunity that came my way for granted. I stand with DREAMers, who have fought so hard to be recognized as the Americans they are.”
Jared Leto: “Obviously, supporting people who are Americans and have lived in this country is important, and protecting them from losing their legal status in the country they grew up in is paramount. So I ask for your support for DREAMers, and I pledge mine.”
We are going to do everything in our power to protect you and defend your right to stay here. I promise https://t.co/czJ5iiuBDJ
To the streets! Find out where the DACA protest is where u live and SHOW UP! If we are ever to be a decent country, this is your moment.
Okay. The Bad Man continues to do bad. Your move, Congress. #DefendDREAMers #DREAMAct #LetsGo
Nearly 1 million young immigrant #DREAMers will be at risk of deportation if @realDonaldTrump ends #DACA. We demand #DefendDACA! #HereToStay
Furious and heartbroken to see the U.S. abandon #DACA, which made our country stronger and more prosperous. To the Dreamers: I'm so sorry.
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CONSERVATIVE BACKLASH

Trump faced a quick backlash from his hard-line conservative political base over his potential deal on DACA.

He had promised as a candidate to deport all of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States and said a wall would be built to stop the flow from Mexico of illegal immigrants and drugs.

"It looks to me like he's preparing to keep Hillary Clinton's campaign promise rather than his own," Republican Representative Steve King told CNN, referring to Trump's Democratic election rival.

Breitbart News, the hard-line conservative news website headed by Trump's former top strategist Steve Bannon, called the president "Amnesty Don" in a headline. Many conservatives oppose giving legal status or a path toward citizenship to illegal immigrants, calling such steps "amnesty" to lawbreakers.

Regarding the Dreamers, Trump said he was not looking at citizenship or amnesty.

"We're talking about taking care of people ... that have done a good job and were not brought here of their own volition," Trump said.

The potential deal comes after Trump stunned Republican leaders last week by reaching an agreement with Schumer and Pelosi to fund the government and raise the U.S. debt ceiling through mid-December.

Trump's hard-line conservative supporters had cheered his decision to rescind DACA, but have become increasingly uneasy with the businessman-turned-politician, in particular after he dismissed Bannon in August and began looking for common ground with Democrats. Trump also endorsed U.S. Senator Luther Strange in an election fight in Alabama against a hard-line conservative Republican.

Schumer and Pelosi said they agreed with Trump that he would "support enshrining DACA protections into law, and encourage the House and Senate to act."

"What remains to be negotiated are the details of border security, with a mutual goal of finalizing all details as soon as possible," they said. "While both sides agreed that the wall would not be any part of this agreement, the President made clear he intends to pursue it at a later time, and we made clear we would continue to oppose it."

(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe and Richard Cowan; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Doina Chiacu. Ginger Gibson and Makini Brice; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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