The White House said on Wednesday it does not favour an immigration agreement with Congress that would involve extending protections for young immigrants, often referred to as Dreamers, for three years in exchange for three years of border-wall funding.
Deputy press secretary Raj Shah said the administration continues to negotiate an immigration overhaul that would address the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programme (DACA) that protects Dreamers from deportation, while also stopping illegal immigration and modernising the legal system.
Two Republican officials briefed on the talks said the so-called “three-for-three” proposal had been floated in staff-level discussions in recent days.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak publicly. The discussions were first reported by The Washington Post, which said the idea was being discussed as part of an upcoming spending bill.
President Donald Trump has proposed a path to citizenship for about 1.8 million immigrants brought to the US illegally as children in exchange for $25 billion for a border wall with Mexico and other security measures, along with curbing legal immigration. Many Democrats have opposed the proposals.
Mr Trump visited the US-Mexico border on Tuesday to see prototypes of the barrier that he wants built. Calls to build the wall — a rallying cry of his presidential campaign — and the president’s insistence that Mexico pay for it have led to a coarsening in ties between the US and its southern neighbour.
He ended the Obama programme last September, saying he believed DACA was unconstitutional and pledged to work with Democrats and Republicans to protect the young immigrants from deportation.
At one point he promised to accept whatever bipartisan proposal was brought to him, but negotiations broke down after Mr Trump used offensive language to describe some countries in a meeting with lawmakers.
The Department of Homeland Security is under a court order to maintain the DACA protections while supporters of the programme challenge Trump’s decision to end it.