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Arizona congressman calls DACA-border wall debate a leadership issue

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LISTEN: Tom O'Halleran, Arizona Congressman

PHOENIX — An Arizona congressman said Friday that the political move to tie protections for people brought illegally into the country when they were young to the debate on the border wall showcased an issue with the country’s leadership.

“This whole idea that we should be holding up the Dreamers because of this – when 70-some percent of the public wants it done and the vast majority of people in Congress want it done – this is a leadership issue right now,” Democratic U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News.

President Donald Trump has stated that no deal will be made for a revamp of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program without an agreement on the wall.

However, there could be some negotiating room. Trump has praised DACA recipients in the past.

“You have some absolutely incredible kids — I would say mostly,” he said last year. “They were brought here in such a way. It’s a very very tough subject. We are going to deal with DACA with heart.”

O’Halleran said supporting people who were eligible for the DACA program created by then-President Barack Obama should be a program that everyone gets behind. He likened it to other programs that protect the welfare of children, such as KidsCare and SNAP.

The congressman also said he wants to see the border be more secure but was unsure a multibillion-dollar wall was the most fiscally responsible way to achieve that.

“Border security is something I think all of us want but we want it in a way that it keeping in mind of the deficit we have and the actual amount of technology we can put on that border and … Border Patrol agents to make sure that we have a more secure border than we have today,” he said.”

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