As Dems and Trump Bicker, Dreamers Make Clear: 'No Deal Without Us!'

After President Donald Trump announced he would end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, people took the the streets nationwide to call on Congress to pass immigration legislation. (Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

As Dems and Trump Bicker, Dreamers Make Clear: 'No Deal Without Us!'

'We are not your bargaining chip,' say activists following late-night meeting between Democratic leaders and president

As Democratic leaders and President Donald Trump make a public display over what was or wasn't agreed to during a closed-door meeting about the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program Wednesday night, the Dreamers themselves say their demand to lawmakers remains clear: a clean bill enshrining current protections, one that doesn't further sacrifice immigrant communities to harsh policies and more deeply militarized enforcement.

Despite a joint statement, released late Wednesday from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), saying they had agreed to "enshrine" DACA protections quickly along with enacting border security measures that excluded the president's long-promised border wall between the United States and Mexico, Trump said in a series of Tweets Thursday morning that "no deal was made" and--contradicting comments from the White House legislative director earlier this week--any DACA agreement must include a game plan for the wall.

Rights activists expressed their immediate objections:

Noting updates to existing border fencing, Trump also vowed the wall "will continue to be built." His rebuff followed similar remarks from White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who reportedly said, "While DACA and border security were both discussed, excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to." A spokesman for Schumer responded to the contradictory series of messages, saying, "The president made clear he would continue pushing the wall, just not as part of this agreement."

In a pair of follow-up tweets, Trump also appeared to offer support for DACA recipients--often called "Dreamers," in reference to the DREAM Act, a legislative proposal that's been debated in Congress the past 16 years, and was reintroduced by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in July.

As New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza summarized the conflicting comments:

Immigrants rights advocates--who vocally condemned and protested the president's decision to end DACA--were more critical about the meeting and mixed messages.

In a series of tweets in response to the reports, the National Immigration Law Center praised the Democrats and Trump for recognizing that DACA needs attention, but also noted "Dreamers are also border residents, and their communities are already too militarized," and denounced any deal that would target other immigrants, thus positioning Dreamers as a bargaining chip.

Other groups and individuals expressed concern that a deal with Trump and other Republicans would negatively impact the broader communities of immigrants in the United States.

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