President Donald Trump said Friday he would soon issue an executive order on immigration that includes a path to citizenship for people brought to America illegally as children.
But the White House quickly seemed to walk back the idea, saying hours later this was just a possibility in talks with Congress on immigration reform.
"I'm going to do a big executive order. I have the power to do it as president and I'm going to make DACA a part of it," Trump said in an interview with Telemundo Noticias.
DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
It began in 2012 under then-president Barack Obama and has allowed some 700,000 people brought without papers to the United States as children to live, work and study without danger of being deported. Most of them are Latin American.
In 2017, Trump tried to cancel the program but the Supreme Court ruled last week that the administration had acted with weak legal justification and it let DACA stand for now.
The ruling suggested there are legal administrative methods Trump could use to cancel DACA, putting the onus back on the administration if it wants to pursue the issue.
Trump said in the interview that in the wake of the court ruling, he would issue an order addressing migration issues that include DACA.
"We're going to have a road to citizenship," he said.
Trump is facing an uphill battle to reelection in November and has made cutting immigration -- both legal and illegal -- a cornerstone of a platform aimed at his white, working-class base.
Hours after Trump spoke, the White House put out a statement that seemed to walk back his remarks on creating a path to citizenship for DACA beneficiaries.
"As the President announced today, he is working on an executive order to establish a merit-based immigration system to further protect US workers," White House spokesman Judd Deere said.
"Furthermore, the President has long said he is willing to work with Congress on a negotiated legislative solution to DACA, one that could include citizenship, along with strong border security and permanent merit-based reforms," he added.
"Unfortunately, Democrats have continually refused these offers as they are opposed to anything other than totally open borders," Deere added.
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