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As U.S. Accepts DACA Renewal Applications, Trump Says Program Is 'Probably Dead'


We're going to start with the issue that's been so much in the news this weekend - the DACA program created by the Obama administration. It gave a temporary reprieve from deportation to young people living in the country illegally after being brought here as children. President Trump tweeted today that, quote, "DACA is probably dead," unquote.

Congressional Democrats and some Republicans have been looking for a way to extend that protection in exchange for border security and other moves on immigration. But during a White House meeting to discuss that last week, the president reportedly used a vulgar slur to describe countries in Africa, as well as Haiti and El Salvador. NPR's Scott Horsley is with us to tell us more now.

Scott, welcome. Thanks so much for joining us.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good to be with you.

MARTIN: Now, there's a CBS poll out today that confirms what other surveys have found - most Americans, including most of the president's supporters, want to help these young people who benefit from DACA. They're often called DREAMers. Is the program really dead?

HORSLEY: Well, the program has certainly been on life support ever since last fall, when the president announced that he was going to pull the plug on it. But he said he'd wait six months to give Congress time to come up with a permanent fix. Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado is part of a bipartisan group of lawmakers who've been working to come up with such a fix. They thought they had a tentative deal last week until the president blew it up.

Since then, there's been, as you say, widespread condemnation at home and abroad of the language the president reportedly used. But Gardner told "Face The Nation" today, in effect, DACA is too important to let it go down the hole that the president has created here.


CORY GARDNER: We can't let this moment's politics defeat the important policy choices ahead of us. Look, we've put together a very responsible plan. And if people want to - better that, if people want to improve that, then let's do that.

HORSLEY: In the meantime, the Homeland Security Department has begun accepting renewal applications from DREAMers in response to a court order, although some advocates have cautioned those DREAMers to hold off applying until the legal ground is a little more solid.

MARTIN: Now, last week, many people may remember that the president told a bipartisan group of lawmakers that if they could reach a compromise on immigration, he'd go along with it. What happened?

HORSLEY: Right. This small bipartisan group of six senators thought they had a deal. It would have granted lasting protection to the DREAMers but limited their ability to sponsor family members. It also would have beefed up border security, as the president wants. And it would have ended the visa lottery that the president hates.

But when Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Dick - and Democrat Dick Durbin got to the White House to present that plan, they were surprised to find a couple of immigration hardliners there, including Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton. Like the president, Cotton is very much opposed to this bargain. He spoke to CBS.


TOM COTTON: We have an immigration system, today, that treats people based on where they're from or who they're related to, not who they are. That's not the system we need. We want to move to a system that treats people for who they are, not where they're from.

HORSLEY: We should say though that when the president made his comments, he seemed to be saying we should admit would-be immigrants not on the basis of who they are but precisely because of where they come from.

MARTIN: So finally, Scott, you know, we've been talking about this for days now. But I take it there is now some dispute about whether the president used this vulgar slur that we've heard so much about that has been widely attributed to him.

HORSLEY: Yeah, Georgia Senator David Perdue cast some doubt on that in an ABC interview today. But it's worth pointing out that when the story first leaked, the White House didn't deny it. Perdue issued a much more cautious statement out of the gate. Senator Dick Durbin, on the other hand, has been emphatic that the president did use this language, and that's been backed up by some of Durbin's Republican colleagues.

MARTIN: That's NPR's Scott Horsley. Scott, thank you.

HORSLEY: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.