WASHINGTON -- Deadlocked with Congress on an immigration issue that both parties say they support, President Donald Trump has gone on the attack, blaming Democrats and further dimming the chances of agreement before November's elections to protect so-called Dreamers from deportation.
In a speech to Republican-friendly Latino business leaders on Wednesday, Trump said he wants to sign a law replacing the Obama-era program -- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA -- to allow up to 1.8 million young immigrants who are in the country illegally to stay, get work permits, attend college or serve in the military. The problem, he said, is Democrats.
"They're nowhere to be found. It's really terrible," Trump said, while Republicans are "ready, willing and able."
He urged the audience: "Go get DACA. Go push those Democrats. I'm telling you it's lost. So this is a moment for DACA, for all of us."
The president's comments, which echoed his partisan tweets of recent days, reflected his sensitivity to being blamed himself for the demise of a program that is broadly popular with Americans. His speech came in a week when the program was supposed to end, by his order of last September, and after he rejected bipartisan Senate legislation to replace it last month. The president's party, which controls Congress, has been unable to agree on legislation it could pass without Democrats' backing.
Democrats point out that DACA's proposed expiration is a problem of Trump's own making, given his September order putting nearly 700,000 young permit-holders at risk of deportation.
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"Right now the president created this crisis and only the president can end this crisis," Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., said in the Senate on Wednesday.
"Six different times we've gone to him and six different times he's rejected bipartisan approaches," Durbin said. "Congress needs to do its job."
Court decisions have temporarily kept the program partially operating, in the meantime, requiring the administration to continue renewing the two-year protections indefinitely for people already approved for DACA permits. That was unchanged by a third court ruling this week in the president's favor.
The two earlier federal court decisions also removed the urgency for Congress and the White House to act on a substitute program, according to lawmakers from both parties.