President Trump doubled down Sunday evening on criticism of congressional Democrats over stalled negotiations to secure the future of an Obama-era program shielding immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children from deportation — while also denying claims from his opponents in Congress that he’s a racist.
Trump told reporters at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida resort, that he and congressional Republicans were “ready, willing and able to make a deal” on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, “but Democrats don’t want to.”
The president and Congress are attempting to reach a deal on comprehensive immigration reform as part of a federal spending bill that Congress must pass by Friday to avoid a government shutdown. Trump and Republicans are seeking increased funds for border security and changes to the lottery and so-called “chain migration” immigration programs in exchange for providing permanent protection for so-called “Dreamers.”
Democrats have balked at such conditions, which has prompted Trump to repeatedly criticize their leadership this weekend.
“They don’t want security at the border,” Trump said of Democrats Sunday night. “They don’t want to stop drugs. And they want to take money away from our military, which we cannot do.”
“The folks from DACA should note, the Democrats are the ones that aren’t going to make a deal,” the president added. He voiced his thoughts in a tweet earlier in the day: “DACA is probably dead because the Democrats don’t really want it, they just want to talk and take desperately needed money away from our Military.”
Trump also denied that he was a racist in the wake of a vulgar comment that lawmakers said he made last week about Haiti and African countries.
“I’m not a racist,” the president said in response to a reporter’s question. “I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed. That I can tell you.”
Trump made the remark Thursday during an Oval Office meeting on immigration with a bipartisan group of six senators.
“Why are we having all these people from s—hole countries come here?” said Trump, referencing people from Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and African countries in the temporary protected status program, according to lawmakers who were there, including Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill.