California Senator Kamala Harris says there's no space for compromise on President Donald Trump's commitment to protect undocumented immigrants who arrived when they were children.
Legislation protecting the roughly 700,000 people whose futures are in the balance "needs to be clean and I feel very strongly about that. No strings attached," Harris said in an interview on the BuzzFeed News morning show AM To DM, which airs on Twitter at 10:00 every day. "We made a promise as the United States government to these young people and we need to keep our promise. That’s it. Period. Full stop."
Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer left meeting last month telling reporters Trump had agreed to a "clean" bill enshrining the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. But the same politics that have derailed decades of efforts to overhaul the immigration system continue to threaten the plan.
And Democrats like Harris face an additional challenge: Trump is so deeply toxic with their supporters that they may find it hard to indulge in the theater of bipartisanship with him.
"How willing are you to work with Donald Trump on this?" I asked Harris.
"If he keeps his word, I’m all for it. That’s a big if," she said.
"So, you’ll be there standing over his left shoulder in the rose garden when he signs the bill? Can you even do that as a Democrat?" I asked.
"Stand over someone’s shoulder?" she laughed. "Listen, let’s get to that point and I am all for everyone who agrees that we need to pass a clean DREAM Act with no strings attached."
Harris also said she's walking a fine line as the deadline for renewing DACA status approaches this Thursday. One one hand, she appealed to DREAMers to make sure they submit their paperwork by Oct. 5, and to reach out to her office for advice.
But she also said she understands some of their trepidation about filing paperwork with the Trump administration.
"I cannot guarantee, because they won’t guarantee, that they won’t share the information with ICE," she said. "We get mixed signals. They say it’s not going to be a high priority for deportation. I’d like to believe that’s true, but they have not given us any guarantees. In that way I think it’s highly irresponsible of this administration. Highly irresponsible."
Harris also spoke in the interview of her confrontations with Jeff Sessions and other Republicans in the Senate this year, and of her obsession with the Kingsman movies.
Ben Smith is the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed and is based in New York.
Contact Ben Smith at email@example.com.
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