U.S. President Donald Trump says he will soon sign an executive order on immigration that includes a path to citizenship for young immigrants who arrived in the United States illegally when they were children.
In an interview with Spanish-language television network Telemundo, Trump said “DACA is going to be just fine,” referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program under which young migrants have been allowed to stay in the United States temporarily.
"We're going to have a road to citizenship," he said.
However, this "does not include amnesty," White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement after Trump’s television interview.
The White House statement said the executive order would establish a merit-based immigration system and reiterated that Trump would work with Congress on a legislative solution that "could include citizenship, along with strong border security and permanent merit-based reforms," but no amnesty.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz criticized Trump’s plans, saying in a tweet, "There is ZERO constitutional authority for a President to create a ‘road to citizenship’ by executive fiat."
Congressional lawmakers have tried on several occasions in recent years to pass comprehensive immigration reform but failed over deep divisions between Republican and Democratic proposals.
The Trump administration has previously tried to end DACA, an Obama-era program that protects more than 700,000 immigrants.
Trump did not give details about the larger immigration order he says he plans to sign, only saying that it “will include DACA, and I think people are going to be very happy.”
When asked if the measure will be an executive order, as opposed to a congressional bill, Trump said the Supreme Court gave him “tremendous powers” to pass an executive order when they ruled on DACA last month.
The court’s ruling said that the administration had not given adequate justification to rescind DACA. The court’s ruling did not say whether DACA recipients have a permanent right to live in the United States and did not prevent Trump from trying again to end the program.
Deere said Trump is “working on an executive order to establish a merit-based immigration system to further protect U.S. workers.” Trump said he plans to sign it in the next four weeks.
“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,” Deere said in a statement.