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White House chief of staff John Kelly: Don't expect President Trump to extend DACA deadline

White House chief of staff Gen. John Kelly (left) said President Donald Trump is not likely to extend the DACA deadline past March 5. DACA permit holders will not be a priority for deportation if there's no deal made in time, Kelly added. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump is not expected to extend the March 5 expiration date for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA, White House chief of staff Gen. John Kelly told Capitol Hill reporters Tuesday.

“I doubt very much” Trump would extend the program, Kelly said, according to Politico. 

In less than a month, work permits for young immigrants — often referred to as "Dreamers" — will begin expiring, and lawmakers need to come up with a deal on immigration reform. Trump announced in September that the DACA program would end in March.

What did Kelly say?

Kelly said the current DACA program is not legal and he would advise against Trump extending it, Politico reported.

“Mr. [Barack] Obama established the program, and it was considered to be unconstitutional, not based on any law,” Kelly said. “So the extension, I’m not so sure the president, this president, has the authority to extend it.”

The current framework developed by the Trump administration is "generous," Kelly said, and it expands the pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, which covers those who didn't previously register for the DACA program.

“I can’t imagine men and women of goodwill who begged this president to solve the problem of DACA, as generous is that [Trump's proposal] has been, I can’t imagine they would vote against it. I mean, this is more than they could’ve imagined,” Kelly said.

DACA permit holders will not be a priority for deportation if there's no deal made in time, Kelly added. There are approximately 690,00 registered DACA recipients.

What else?

On Monday, the White House rejected a plan from Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) that would provide a pathway to legal citizenship for even more people than the 1.8 million Dreamers that Trump proposed legalizing.

The bill did not authorize funding for the border wall, address chain migration, or end the diversity visa lottery program — all demands that Trump has made in order to get him to agree to legalization for Dreamers.

Instead, it proposed a study to determine what border security measures would be necessary.

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