“There’s not a request for that,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, when asked if the White House would consider settling the deportation cases of millions of illegal immigrants. She added that it was a conversation between various federal agencies and that they would keep that quiet.
When asked to confirm the details of the plan, DHS spokeswoman Katie Waldman directed reporters to a statement by DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen that discussed “voluntary departure programs” in place.
The plan, according to a source familiar with the discussion, includes a mechanism whereby illegal immigrants can sign papers to voluntarily leave the country and avoid deportation. The plan would be similar to an Obama administration program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, that allowed some young undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation and work legally in the United States.
But Mr. Trump has targeted DACA’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, or DAPA, as he seeks to implement his “Build the Wall” campaign promise by deporting millions of undocumented immigrants and enacting a plan to tighten border security that includes separating families.
Some of the details are not clear, according to those who have seen the proposal. Asked whether the plan covered DACA recipients, Mr. Nielsen told reporters that it was “an initiative we’re involved in internally as the secretary and a team within the department.”
The person briefed on the plan spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss it in the normal course of business.
Mr. Trump has said that as a candidate he had received many illegal immigrant donations. He attacked illegal immigration as a key plank of his campaign message, including in a speech in Arizona in 2015 that sparked outrage for linking illegal immigration to increased rapes and murders of women.
So it is unclear whether he is backing away from his advocacy for a crackdown on immigration or instead has turned a corner, given the bipartisan support for a bill that would allow more undocumented immigrants to work legally and pay taxes.
More than a dozen senators, including Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, will be in New York this week to tout immigration legislation.
Mr. Trump spent the early part of the summer flirting with a campaign to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. But in August, he said he would not deport undocumented immigrants without criminal records or serious crimes committed. And he has suggested that those who entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas but did not commit criminal behavior could not be deported.