TULSA, Okla. – President Trump will extend a March 5 deadline to end protections for young undocumented immigrants if Congress fails to act by then, according to a Republican senator who spoke directly with the president about the issue.
Sen. James Lankford (R., Okla.) said Trump told him he was willing to “give it some more time” to allow lawmakers to find a solution for “dreamers,” unauthorized immigrants brought to this country as children, if Congress does not pass legislation extending protections before time is up.
“The president’s comment to me was that, ‘We put a six-month deadline out there. Let’s work it out. If we can’t get it worked out in six months, we’ll give it some more time, but we’ve got to get this worked out legislatively,'” Lankford said outside a town hall here Thursday night.
Trump did not specify how long an extension might last, Lankford said.
“He wants a legislative solution,” the senator said. “His focus was, ‘We’ve got to get a legislative solution.'”
The White House did not immediately respond Thursday for a request for comment.
The president hinted at this possibility in a tweet Sept. 5, the day he announced that his administration would end an Obama-era program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, that allows these immigrants to stay in the country without fear of deportation.
“Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA,” Trump wrote. “If they can’t, I will revisit the issue!”
Lankford confirmed Trump’s comments to him after describing them to several 20-somethings who approached him to talk about DACA after the town hall.
“I was trying to set them at ease and to say, ‘This is going to get worked out. The president’s even said to me, we’re going to get this worked out and find a solution to this legislatively,'” he said.
Jordan Mazariegos, 24, a dreamer who is studying at accounting at Oklahoma State University, was not fully reassured.
“I don’t know,” he said after hearing Lankford’s comments. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”