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Democrats hope for a Dreamer vote by next month as White House says border wall funds may not be part of the deal

Originally published by LA Times

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday that Democrats are pushing for a vote as soon as this month on Dream Act-like legislation to protect young immigrants from deportation.

Though President Trump terminated the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, he gave congressional leaders six months to come up with a legislative fix.

Pelosi’s efforts come as a top White House aide reiterated Tuesday that the administration is not insisting — at least not publicly — that funding for a proposed wall along the Mexican border be part of any deal.

Instead, both sides are more likely to come to agreement on a package of other border security measures that could be paired with the bill,

Trump, who had previously threatened a government shutdown over border wall funding, outlined the contours of a possible deal last week.

“The president is committed to sticking by his commitment that a physical structure is what is needed to help protect America,” White House legislative director Marc Short told reporters at a breakfast Tuesday sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. “Whether or not that is specifically part of the DACA package, or a different legislative package, I am not going to prejudge here today.”

Pelosi told reporters that Trump, during his recent meeting with congressional leaders, made clear he wanted to see legislative action on a DACA protection bill, and Democrats let the president know they will not allow wall funding as part of it.

“We’ve been very clear: There is no wall in our DACA future,” Pelosi said. “It’s just not going to happen.”

Democrats are gathering signatures in the House in support of  their bill, from Los Angeles-area Democratic Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, to force a floor vote.

As the minority party, Democrats are trying to build support for a discharge petition, which is a procedural move to force a vote after Sept. 25, if enough Republicans agree.

More than two dozen House Republicans have already signaled support for similar DACA-like legislation that would allow the young immigrants, who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, to temporarily work and remain in the country.

Democrats would need most of those Republicans to back their bill, but Pelosi noted that even the threat of enough support to force a vote can sometimes be enough to prod the majority party leadership to act.

“We’re hoping a number of them will come over,” Pelosi said.

“The president asked them to bring it up,” she said. “We told him… We will not rest until it’s passed and we want to do it as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, the White House is preparing to release legislative principles in the weeks ahead on other border security measures as part of a DACA deal.

“There are several things we think are important,” Short said. “We do think it is important to secure our border. We do think interior enforcement is critical. And we also think that we should be moving to a merit-based immigration system.”

Short said those ideas could be part of one legislative package or multiple bills.

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