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United States

Donald Trump 'fairly close' on DACA deal with Democrats

After Democrats said the US president agreed to a plan to protect "Dreamers," Trump denied a deal had ever been made. But the US president has suggested that an agreement could be just around the corner.

US President Donald Trump on Thursday said he is "fairly close" to reaching a deal with congressional leaders on the future of so-called "Dreamers," young migrants brought to the US illegally as minors.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that while no deal had been reached during their meeting with Trump on Wednesday, all those in attendance agreed to protect "Dreamers."

Read more: Trump's DACA repeal sparks jitters among Filipinos in US

"No deal was made last night ... Massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent. Would be subject to vote," Trump said in a tweet. "The Wall (on the US-Mexico border), which is already under construction in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls, will continue to be built."

Confusion arose about the meeting between Trump and Democratic leaders after Schumer and Pelosi said Wednesday they struck a deal with the US president to protect thousands of young immigrants from deportation. However, the US president denied the existence of an outright accord early Thursday morning.

Unknown fate

Trump horrified many young immigrants last week when he announced his decision to repeal the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA protected nearly 800,000 immigrants, known as "Dreamers," brought illegally to the US as children from deportation as long as they had no criminal record and had completed high school.

The president said he was ending the program, which was highly popular with both Democrats and Republicans, in order to give Congress six months to craft immigration legislation replacing Obama's 2012 executive order. The move prompted protests across the nation, with so-called "Dreamers" vowing to stay.

Watch video 02:50

America's 'Dreamers': 'We're staying'

'Excluding the wall'

Schumer and Pelosi released a joint statement on Wednesday evening after meeting with President Trump at the White House.

"We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that's acceptable to both sides," the Democratic leaders said.

According to the statement, the agreement would also see increased security at the US-Mexico border, though it does not include funding for Trump's sought-after border wall.

"This is a positive step toward the president's strong commitment to bipartisan solutions for the issues most important to all Americans."

US lawmakers, companies and rights groups criticized his decision to end DACA, with Human Rights Watch accusing him of holding the young immigrants "hostage."

ls,es/kms (AP, Reuters)

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