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White House holds firm on March 5 deadline for immigration

February 8, 2018 GMT

The White House said Thursday that there is no breathing room in President Trump’s March 5 deadline for action on illegal immigrant “Dreamers,” saying they expect Congress to pass a bill by then.

Mr. Trump had said he reserved the “right” to extend the date, but his top lieutenants, including his chief of staff, Justice Department and Homeland Security secretary all said he doesn’t have that power.

The White House itself weighed in Thursday, saying it was holding firm.

“March 5 is the deadline,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said.

That’s the date when Mr. Trump’s phaseout of the Obama-era DACA deportation amnesty fully kicks in, and people were supposed to begin losing protections at a rate of about 1,000 per day.

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But a federal judge last month ruled Mr. Trump’s phaseout illegal and reinstated the DACA program, meaning the government is once again accepting and processing applications for the status.

There had been speculation that the reopening of the DACA process could puncture the March 5 deadline.

Mr. Trump’s insistence that he had the right to extend the March 5 deadline has complicated his lawyers’ case in court.

They’ve argued that the Homeland Security Department had to terminate the program because it was illegal and unconstitutional when President Obama’s administration created it by executive authority.

But Mr. Trump’s claim of powers suggests he believes the program is legal, immigrant-rights groups argued in court.

Two weeks ago he told reporters he was considering a delay.

“I might do that. I’m not guaranteeing it because I want to put a little bit of but I certainly have the right to do that if I want,” the president said.

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