Speaker Ryan denies Trump immigration deal with Democrats

Ryan said Thursday that Trump has to work with Republicans on DACA.

ByBy Benjamin Siegel
September 14, 2017, 10:41 PM

— -- House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., dismissed President Donald Trump's immigration reform talks with Democratic leaders Thursday, insisting that any agreement on the status of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants would require Republican support to pass through Congress.

"The president understands that he has to work with congressional majorities to get any kind of legislative solution," Ryan said at his weekly news conference.

The Wisconsin Republican, following a phone call with Trump and Chief of Staff John Kelly, told reporters that Trump's dinner with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, "was a discussion, not an agreement or a negotiation."

"These are discussions understanding people's positions," he said.

On Wednesday night, Schumer and Pelosi said they had reached an agreement with Trump to put together a legislative package to address the status of "Dreamers" that would include border security measures, short of funding for a border wall.

"Leader Schumer and I had a very productive meeting with President Trump where we agreed to a plan to work out an agreement to protect our nation’s dreamers from deportation," she said Thursday. "We insisted that the bipartisan DREAM Act, the one introduced by Congresswoman [Lucille] Roybal-Allard, would be the basis for the protection and that we would review border security measures that do not include building a wall as we go forward.”

The bipartisan Dream Act would offer a path to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of young unauthorized immigrants brought to the U.S. as children who graduated high school or obtained a GED and pursued higher education, served in the military or worked lawfully for several years.

As he returned from visiting areas impacted by Hurricane Irma in Florida, Trump told reporters Thursday "we're not talking about" a path to citizenship.

"We're working on a deal for DACA, but a lot has to do with the amount of security. We want very heavy security at the border," he said. "DACA now and the wall very soon, but the wall will happen."

Just hours earlier on Air Force One, White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said “legal citizenship over a period of time” was in fact still an option for Dreamers.

Trump's dealings -- and comments about dealings -- with Democrats on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has given rank-and-file Republicans whiplash on Capitol Hill, leaving many hesitant to back the president without seeing the details of an agreement.

"Nobody knows what the details are yet," said Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pennsylvania., an immigration hardliner and early supporter of Trump's presidential campaign. "There will need need to be enforcement first."

“There is no deal currently made and of course there are 535 members of Congress who were not a party to the conversation and I know people will have a lot of interest in discussing it,” said Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, the number two Republican in the Senate.

Republicans plan to discuss a path forward on an immigration agreement, Ryan said. Thursday. In a meeting with Democrats Wednesday, Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., raised the possibility of convening working groups on the issue with members of the House Homeland Security and Judiciary Committees.

"What I'm going to do is get consensus with our members now while we negotiate a compromise," Ryan said. "There will be a compromise. We believe this will occur. And this compromise will include border security and enforcement. so that we don't wind up with another DACA problem ten years down the road."

Others lawmakers plan to put forward their own proposals. Sens. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., plan to introduce a bill next week to provide a legislative fix for the plight of dreamers that would also discourage illegal immigration, Lankford told ABC News in an interview.

Conservatives lashed out at Trump following news of a potential deal with Democrats.

“Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair. No promise is credible,” Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, tweeted Wednesday night.

ABC News' Mary Bruce and Ali Rogin contributed to this report.

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