KTEP - El Paso, Texas

Trump Travels To Gulf Coast

Sep 2, 2017
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

President Trump is visiting the Gulf Coast today. It's the president's second trip there in less than a week. Melania Trump will be with him. NPR's Scott Horsley joins us. Scott, thanks for being with us.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good morning.

SIMON: Where is the president going? What's he expected to do?

HORSLEY: He's visiting the Houston area and also the area around Lake Charles, La. He's meeting with survivors of the storm and also some of the volunteers who've been helping out with the rescue and recovery effort. Late yesterday, the White House sent a letter to Congress asking for some emergency funding to deal with this storm, nearly $8 billion. Most of that would go to FEMA with the balance for the Small Business Administration to help companies get back on their feet. That's just a down payment in the White House's words. Ultimately, we expect to see a much bigger price tag for the federal government.

SIMON: Earlier this week, of course, the president was in Corpus Christi and Austin, Texas. He met a number of government representatives. The trip drew some criticism. Fill us in about that, if you could.

HORSLEY: When he made that trip on Tuesday, the president did not go to Houston, which is not really surprising. The floodwaters were still rising in the city at that time. And the president didn't want his presence to distract from the still very intensive rescue effort that was underway. The criticism was not so much about where the president went, but what he did or what he didn't do.

That first visit was kind of long on government officials and short on ordinary citizens who'd been affected by this storm. Trump visited a firehouse and a command center, but he didn't really wrap his arms around the flood victims either physically or symbolically. We saw more of that later in the week, when Vice President Pence visited the area. And so we certainly expect to see more of that from the president and perhaps the first lady today.

SIMON: We're also awaiting a decision from the Trump administration about an Obama era program called DACA that gave a reprieve from deportation to young people who were brought into this country illegally as children. What's the status of that now?

HORSLEY: Yeah. Since he's been in the White House, President Trump has voiced support for those young people affected by the program, the so-called DREAMers. Just yesterday, he said, for example, we love the DREAMers. But during the presidential campaign, Trump promised to end this program. And some conservative state attorneys general are demanding he do just that. They see this program as an illegal exercise of executive overreach by the Obama administration.

So all of this has created a lot of anxiety for the nearly 800,000 DREAMers, who came out of the shadows and signed up with the government, not knowing if they're now going to be vulnerable to deportation once again. We got a tease from the president yesterday. He said a decision might have come over the weekend. But later, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said, no, that decision will come on Tuesday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SARAH SANDERS: The president's priorities on immigration are to create a system that encourages legal immigration and benefits our economy and American workers. The president's been very clear. He loves people. And he wants to make sure that this decision is done correctly. And so that's what he's doing now is finalizing that part.

HORSLEY: Some top lawmakers, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Orrin Hatch, have urged the administration not to end DACA but rather to let Congress pass some sort of legal patch. The question here is whether lawmakers have the bandwidth to do that in what promises to be a very busy fall.

SIMON: NPR's White House correspondent, Scott Horsley. Thanks so much for being with us, Scott.

HORSLEY: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.