In news that may come as a shock to most Americans and even some White House administration employees, President Donald Trump was reportedly open to the idea of providing legal residency status to millions of undocumented immigrants who haven’t been charged with serious crimes, a White House official said Tuesday.
The official reportedly told CNN's Jake Tapper and Wolf Blitzer that Trump wanted to sign legislation on immigration reform during his tenure in the Oval Office, but that a bill would require both political parties to be willing to compromise. "There’s got to be a coming together," the official told CNN.
If Trump were to include providing legal status to immigrants who haven’t committed felonies in an immigration reform bill, the move would be sure to have political and social implications. There were more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., Pew Research Center reported in 2014. Meanwhile, both legal and undocumented immigrants have been found to commit far less crime than native-born Americans, according to multiple studies dating back as far as the 1980s.
Could the president be softening his perspective on illegal immigration? Trump’s hardliner stance on immigration helped him secure the presidency, though the vast majority of Americans were in support of providing legal status to undocumented immigrants. Even 72 percent of Trump's supporters backed a pathway to citizenship for the millions of immigrants already living in the country illegally.
Protests have erupted across the country following several of Trump’s initial immigration actions, including executive orders appropriating funding and resources to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and travel restrictions on seven Muslim-majority nations. The travel ban was ultimately blocked by a 9th circuit court of appeals and was expected to be revised by the Trump administration.
If Trump were to include a policy providing legal status to undocumented immigrants in a massive immigration reform bill, that would be seen as a major victory for activists and the Democratic party, which has rejected the president's typically-controversial immigration policies.
White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders didn’t deny the reports indicating Trump could seek to provide legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants when speaking with reporters Tuesday.
"I do know that the president has been very clear in his process that the immigration system is broken and needs massive reform," Huckabee Sanders told The Hill. "He’s made it clear that he is open to discussions on that moving forward."