U.S. President Donald Trump said he would 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 that “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.
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 that he said he planned to sign, saying only that “it’s going to be a very big bill, a very good bill, and a merit-based bill.”
He said the order “will include DACA, and I think people are going to be very happy.”
When asked if the measure would 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 it ruled on DACA last month.
The court ruled last month that the Trump administration had provided inadequate justification to rescind DACA. However, the court did not make a judgment on whether DACA recipients have a permanent right to live in the United States, and the ruling does not prevent Trump from trying again to end the program.
Trump said he planned to pass the immigration order in the next four weeks.
A presidential spokesperson, Judd Deere, said Trump was “working on an executive order to establish a merit-based immigration system to further protect U.S. workers.”
“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,” he said in a statement.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz criticized Trump’s comments, saying in a tweet that “it would be a HUGE mistake if Trump tries to illegally expand amnesty.”
“There is ZERO constitutional authority for a President to create a ‘road to citizenship’ by executive fiat,” Cruz wrote.
Congressional lawmakers have tried several times in recent years to pass comprehensive immigration reform but have failed over deep divisions between Republican and Democratic proposals.