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Cabinet official: Immigration plans may include citizenship

Jan. 2, 2018 at 10:05 p.m.


SAN DIEGO (AP) — The U.S. Homeland Security secretary said Tuesday the White House would consider immigration legislation that includes a pathway to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of young people, but she emphasized it wasn't an endorsement.

Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said President Donald Trump would consider any legislation Congress passes and noted that some lawmakers want to include a pathway to citizenship for about 800,000 people who have been temporarily shielded from deportation.

Asked whether the president would support citizenship, she said, "I think he's open to hearing about the different possibilities and what it means, but to my knowledge there certainly hasn't been any decision from the White House."

In September, Trump said he wouldn't consider citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients — an Obama-era program that Trump said last year he was ending.

He gave Congress until March to deliver a legislative fix.

The secretary said she was hopeful the White House and Congress can reach a deal that includes border and immigration enforcement measures. She said building a wall along the Mexico border was "first and foremost," and the administration wanted to end "loopholes" on issues that include handling asylum claims and local police working with immigration authorities.

"I remain optimistic. You have to be," Nielsen said. "It's very important. The American people have said they wanted it. I think we should find common ground. The devil's in the detail."

Nielsen said senior administration officials would discuss a potential deal with members of Congress this week.

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