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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Trump says no more on deal for ‘Dreamer’ immigrants

The president on Twitter threatened to pull out of North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico

Donald Trump attended church on Easter Sunday with first lady Melania Trump and daughter Tiffany. AFP/Nicholas Kamm
Donald Trump attended church on Easter Sunday with first lady Melania Trump and daughter Tiffany. AFP/Nicholas Kamm

President Donald Trump declared on Sunday that a deal to help "Dreamer" immigrants was “NO MORE” and threatened to pull out of a free trade agreement with Mexico unless it does more to stop people from crossing into the US. He claimed they are coming to take advantage of protections granted certain immigrants.

“NO MORE DACA DEAL!” Mr Trump tweeted one hour after he started the day by wishing his followers a “HAPPY EASTER!”

He also said Mexico must “stop the big drug and people flows, or I will stop their cash cow, NAFTA. NEED WALL!” The US, Canada and Mexico are currently renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) at the president’s insistence. Mr Trump says Nafta is bad for the US.

“Mexico has got to help us at the border,” he told reporters before he attended Easter services at an Episcopal church near his Palm Beach, Florida, home, as he held the hand of his wife, Melania. “If they’re not going to help us at the border, it’s a very sad thing between our two countries.

“A lot of people are coming in because they want to take advantage of Daca,” he added.

Former president Barack Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) programme to protect from deportation hundreds of thousands of immigrants who are living in the US illegally after they were brought there as children. Mr Trump ended the programme last year but gave Congress six months to pass legislation enshrining it. A deal has so far proved elusive and Mr Trump has blamed Democrats for that.

It was not immediately clear what the president was referring to when he said people are coming to take advantage of the programme, which granted the immigrants work permits.

The Department of Homeland Security is not issuing new permits, although existing ones can be renewed. Anyone who wanted to participate in the programme had a set period of time during which to sign up, and the programme is no longer open to new entrants. Proposed Daca deals crafted by lawmakers were also not open to new participants.

Mr Trump did not explain what he meant when reporters asked as he entered the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea with the first lady and Tiffany Trump, his daughter from his second marriage. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for clarification.

The president, who addressed reporters briefly before entering the church, again blamed Democrats for failing to protect the "Dreamers".

“They had a great chance. The Democrats blew it. They had a great, great chance, but we’ll have to take a look because Mexico has got to help us at the border. They flow right through Mexico. They send them into the United States. It can’t happen that way any more.”

Mr Trump promised during the 2016 presidential campaign to build a southern border wall to stop illegal immigration and drugs from Mexico, but Congress has frustrated the president by not moving as quickly as he wants to provide money to start construction.

The president also complained on Twitter that Border Patrol agents cannot do their jobs properly because of “ridiculous liberal [Democrat] laws” that allow people caught for being in the country illegally to be released while they await a hearing before a federal immigration judge.

Mr Trump tweeted that the situation is “Getting more dangerous” and “Caravans” are coming. He did not offer details to back his comment.

Some fellow Republicans chided Mr Trump over the tone of the tweets.

“A true leader preserves & offers hope, doesn’t take hope from innocent children who call America home. Remember, today is Easter Sunday,” tweeted Ohio Governor John Kasich, a Trump critic who challenged him for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

The church visit was the president’s first public appearance with the first lady since CBS' 60 Minutes aired an interview last Sunday with adult film star Stormy Daniels, who says she had sex with Trump in 2006, early in his marriage and a few months after the first lady had given birth to their son. The White House says Mr Trump denies the affair.