US President Donald Trump on Thursday said he was open to a path to citizenship for some younger undocumented immigrants as part of his negotiations with Democrats, provided he gets Congressional funding for a wall across the border with Mexico.
"We're going to morph into it. It's going to happen, at some point in the future, over a period of 10 to 12 years," he told reporters during an impromptu news conference at the White House before he left for Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.
Trump called this as an "incentive" for the immigrants for the hard work. "Tell them they have nothing to worry about," he said.
However, a senior administration official later said no final decision has been reached yet over the issue. Some 6,90,000 undocumented immigrants, who came to the US as minors, are likely to get benefited. Among them include several thousand people of Indian descent.
The Democrats and Republicans have agreed to come out with a legislation ahead of the February 6 deadline as a condition to extend the short-term funding of the government, in the absence of which the opposition Senators have threatened to resort to government shutdown as it happened over the weekend for three days.
Earlier in the day, the White House said it will roll out its immigration framework on Monday, which would be based on four agreed-upon pillars of securing the border and closing legal loopholes, ending extended-family chain migration, cancelling the visa lottery, and providing a permanent solution on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Trump is seeking USD 20 billion to build a wall along the Mexico border and another USD 5 billion for other border security measures. He said there can be no deal on DACA without funding for the wall.
"If you don't have a wall, you don't have DACA," Trump said reiterating his intent to end the chain migration and diversity visa program.
"We're talking about probably 800 miles of wall," he said.
"That wall is the best return on investment," he said, adding that this will save hundreds and billions of dollars. Senate Minority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer has ruled out any funding for the wall.
"It's off the table," he has said.
Trump's remarks about a path to citizenship for younger undocumented illegal immigrants was immediately welcomed by a top Senator involved in the immigration negotiations.
"This statement represents presidential leadership on immigration that will allow us to solve a difficult problem. "I truly appreciate President Trump making it clear that he supports a path to citizenship for DACA recipients. This will greatly help the Senate efforts to craft a proposal which President Trump can sign into law," said Senator Lindsay Graham.