President Trump listens during a roundtable discussion on Venezuela as he visits Iglesia Doral Jesus Worship Center in Doral, Florida, on July 10, 2020. Photo by Kevin Lamarque via Reuters

President Trump’s planned executive order on immigration will not include amnesty for migrants in the United States illegally but arrived as children, a White House spokesman said Friday.

“This does not include amnesty,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement, after Trump said in a TV interview his planned order would include a road to citizenship for such immigrants, known as “Dreamers.”

In the interview with Spanish-language TV network Telemundo, Trump said his executive order would involve Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the program that protects hundreds of thousands of such immigrants from deportation.

“I’m going to do a big executive order. … And I’m going to make DACA a part of it,” Trump said. “We’re going to have a road to citizenship.”

The U.S. Supreme Court last month dealt a major setback to Trump’s hardline immigration policies, blocking his bid to end DACA, which was created in 2012 by his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama.

The ruling did not prevent Trump from trying again to end the program. But his administration may find it difficult to rescind it — and win any ensuing legal battle — before the Nov. 3 election in which he is seeking a second term in office.

The White House statement said Trump’s executive order would establish a merit-based immigration system and reiterated that Trump would work with Congress on a legislative solution that “could include citizenship, along with strong border security and permanent merit-based reforms,” but no amnesty.

Roughly 644,000 people — mostly Hispanic immigrants born in Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — are currently enrolled in DACA, which protects them from deportation and provides them work permits. Their average age is 26. It does not offer a path to citizenship.

Trump’s remarks to Telemundo drew an immediate rebuke from his fellow Republican, Sen. Ted Cruz, who wrote in a Twitter post that “it would be a HUGE mistake if Trump tries to illegally expand amnesty.”

“There is ZERO constitutional authority for a President to create a “road to citizenship” by executive fiat,” the Texas senator wrote.

Trump gave the interview to Telemundo as part of his outreach to Hispanic voters, who will be crucial to the outcome of his Nov. 3 election showdown with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

In his chat with Noticias Telemundo anchor José Díaz-Balart, Trump also spoke about the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the Latino community among other issues.

Highlights of the interview aired Friday night on “Noticias Telemundo” and will also be available for streaming on NoticiasTelemundo.com and the Noticias Telemundo properties on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, the outlet said.

This rough transcript was released:

JOSÉ DÍAZ-BALART: Mr. President, Latinos are on the frontline in many ways. They’re tending our fields, transporting our goods. They’re on the frontline in the hospitals and as many as 30,000 hospital workers are DACA recipients and yet you seem to be laser-focused on deporting DACA.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yeah.

Why?

I’m not. I’m taking care of DACA. I had a deal with the Democrats and they broke the deal. The DACA could have been taken care of two years ago, but the Democrats broke the deal. All of a sudden they just broke it for no reason. Actually, they had a court case that slightly went their way, and they said, “Oh, let’s not talk about the deal anymore”. You remember that. We talked about it.

Uh-hum.

The deal was done. DACA is going to be just fine. We’re putting it in. It’s going to be just fine. And I am going to be, over the next few weeks, signing an immigration bill that a lot of people don’t know about. You have breaking news, but I’m signing a big immigration bill.

Is that an executive order?

I’m going to do a big executive order. I have the power to do it as prresident and I’m going to make DACA a part of it. But, we put it in, and we’ll probably going to then be taking it out. We’re working out the legal complexities right now, but I’m going to be signing a very major immigration bill as an executive order, which the Supreme Court now, because of the DACA decision, has given me the power to do that.

Just so I can understand better, so you’re planning to include a provision for DACA under an executive order?

That is correct.

To give the 750,000 people legalization, at least temporary?

No, what I’m going to do is that they’re going to part of a much bigger bill on immigration. It’s going to be a very big bill, a very good bill, and merit-based bill and it will include DACA, and I think people are going to be very happy.

In the meantime, we’ll put it in, we’ll take it out… I think people are going to be very happy with it, but one of the aspects of the bill, which, frankly, nobody knows about until right now, because I told no another reporter, so you have breaking news. Congratulations. But one of the aspects of the bill is going to be DACA. We’re going to have a road to citizenship.

OK, so that’s…. that’s an executive order, not as a congressional bill.

If you look at the Supreme Court ruling, they gave the president tremendous powers when they said that you could take in, in this case, 700 thousand or so people, so they gave powers. Based on the powers that they gave, I’m going to be doing an immigration bill. One of the aspects of the bill that you will be very happy with, and that a lot of people will be, including me and a lot of Republicans, by the way, will be DACA. It will give them a road to citizenship

When is this going to be?

I would say over the next four weeks.

CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale had his doubts, saying: “This makes no sense.”

And writer Ryan James Girdusky tweeted: “Spoke to administration sources: The EO does not include a path to immigration for DACA recipients… because it’s entirely illegal.”

Updated at 12:15 a.m. July 11, 2020

— Reuters contributed to this report

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