WASHINGTON • The White House has said Mr Donald Trump supports both Republican immigration Bills being considered in the House of Representatives, offering a lifeline after the President suggested earlier that he opposed the more moderate Bill.
In an interview on Fox News on Friday, referring to the two delicately crafted immigration proposals, Mr Trump appeared to blast the one with a better chance of passing.
"I certainly wouldn't sign the more moderate" of the two Bills, he said. "I need a Bill that gives this country tremendous border security. I have to have that," he added.
Shortly after the President's comments, House Speaker Paul Ryan's leadership team suspended their plans to build support for the more moderate of the two draft Bills, which would protect 1.8 million "Dreamers" from deportation and give them a path to citizenship.
Dreamers is a term for a group of immigrants, mostly Hispanic, who were brought illegally over US borders when they were children and have been living for years in limbo. While most have attended American schools, they have also lived under the threat of deportation.
But the White House later said Mr Trump did in fact back the proposal that would protect the Dreamers, and the other, more hardline one.
"The President fully supports both the (Representative Bob) Goodlatte Bill and the House leadership Bill," said White House spokesman Raj Shah.
"He would sign either the Goodlatte or the leadership Bills."
House leadership officials put together the more moderate Bill.
Mr Goodlatte's more conservative Bill, seen as having lower prospects of passing the Republican-controlled House, would deny future citizenship to Dreamers under the the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) plan.
Mr Shah said that, in the interview, Mr Trump had been voicing opposition not to either of those Bills, but to a "discharge petition", a rarely used procedural manoeuvre House Republicans had threatened to employ that would have forced debate on four immigration Bills, including a popular bipartisan one that is opposed by Mr Trump, Mr Ryan and House conservatives.
Later on Friday, Mr Trump tweeted: "Any Immigration Bill MUST HAVE full funding for the Wall, end Catch & Release, Visa Lottery and Chain, and go to Merit Based Immigration. Go for it! WIN!"
Both the Republican Bills under discussion, which have been blasted by Democrats and immigration advocacy groups as being too harsh, would fund the wall that Mr Trump wants to build on the US' south-west border with Mexico.
Both would reduce legal migration, in part by denying visas for relatives of US residents and citizens who are living abroad, sometimes referred to as "chain migration".
Last September, Mr Trump announced he was ending the Daca programme created by president Barack Obama in 2012.