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House Speaker Ryan asks President Trump to hold off on scrapping DACA

About 20 protesters demonstrate to demand immigration reform in front of the White House August 30, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

House Speaker Paul Ryan on Friday gave a major boost to legislative efforts to preserve protections for young undocumented immigrants — and urged President Donald Trump to not tear up the program.

Responding to a question about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, on his hometown radio station WCLO in Janesville, Wisconsin, Ryan said Congress was working on a legislative fix to preserve the problem.

“I actually don’t think he should do that,” Ryan said of Trump’s consideration of terminating the program. “I believe that this is something that Congress has to fix.”

Ryan’s statement offers the most public support by anyone in the Republican congressional leadership for some sort of legislation to protect the “Dreamers” under DACA.

The popular Obama administration program — which gives protections from deportation to undocumented immigrants that were brought to the US as children to work or study — has long been targeted by Republicans as an overreach of executive authority.

Nevertheless, a number of moderate Republicans alongside Democrats support the program and have offered legislation that would make the protections permanent.

Ryan, who worked on comprehensive immigration reform before he became part of House leadership, endorsed that approach in the interview.

“President (Barack) Obama does not have the authority to do what he did … we’ve made that very clear,” Ryan said in the radio interview. “Having said all of that, there are people who are in limbo. These are kids who know no other country, who were brought here by their parents and don’t know another home. And so I really do believe there that there needs to be a legislative solution.”

The Trump administration has been discussing for weeks what to do about DACA, responding to the deadline on an ultimatum issued by 10 state attorneys general, led by Texas. The threat: Sunset DACA by September 5 or the states will try to end it in court.

Discussions have heated up this week as officials have met to chart a path forward. While a decision had been possible Friday, sources familiar with the deliberations did not expect a decision Friday.

Sources inside and outside the administration said the White House continues to explore buying itself time and is also considering allowing the attorneys general to proceed with their threat.

That course of action could potentially remove pressure from the White House, where the President has promised to act with “heart” on the matter and give Congress time to pass a legislative fix, and one source said it was under consideration.

Any action by the President to sunset DACA would put immediate pressure on Congress to act, something the White House and a senior congressional source recognize would be a challenge with many other pressing priorities at the moment, from Harvey relief to the debt ceiling to government spending. A go-slow approach on DACA is preferred, the congressional source added.