ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo stepped up his warning Monday that Democrats shouldn’t make a deal with President Donald Trump to continue to allow young immigrants brought into the country illegally to remain in the United States.
He said Democrats in Washington led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer aren’t negotiating comprehensive reform with Trump, as the talks are billed. Instead, “it is the status quo for more money to build a de facto wall” along the border with Mexico. Cuomo made the comments on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show.”
Trump had promised to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, enacted by President Barack Obama in an executive order. Now Trump has offered to extend the program to allow nearly 800,000 immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children to remain in the country under two-year work permits.
In exchange, Trump wants more money to fund greater security measures along the southern border. Trump isn’t insisting — at this time — that a wall be built along the Mexican border, which was his bedrock campaign issue. So far, Congress has blocked funding for a border wall, which Democrats said would represent America turning its back both on immigrants and on a founding principle of the country.
Cuomo said that any deal with Trump on DACA can’t become a victory for the Republican president’s continuing effort to build a border wall. Cuomo said any deal must reaffirm the nation’s support for immigration.
“In some ways, I feel we are negotiating against ourselves,” the governor said.
Cuomo also said the federal government would never, as Trump promised, end DACA because it would create “mayhem.” Cuomo said the federal government would be forced to find and deport 800,000 immigrants, many of whom are thriving and have no ties to their parents’ homeland. Cuomo also said the order would be tied up in courts by states opposed to the policy.
New York is home to 50,000 people protected by DACA.
Cuomo also said no more funds are needed for border protection. He said Trump’s focus on protecting the Mexican border is already threatening cuts in programs for the poor.
“I would be very reluctant to give them any more money for border patrols,” the governor said.
Instead, Cuomo, whose supporters are urging him to run for president in 2020, said Democrats should negotiate to improve DACA if there is to be any deal with Trump. Cuomo said DACA should eliminate the requirement that those protected re-register every two years and that a path to citizenship be included.
Those issues are among the parameters of a potential deal that Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are negotiating with Trump.
“I think there is a possible transaction here,” Cuomo said. “I think that’s an intelligent solution.”
There was no immediate comment from Schumer Monday. At an event Sunday, Schumer said, “I told the president unequivocally, no wall. . . . He’ll try to get it somewhere else. We’ll try to fight him somewhere else. He won’t get the wall.”