US President Donald Trump said Sunday a deal to resolve the status of hundreds of thousands of immigrants who entered the United States illegally as children are "probably dead," blaming it on Democrats.
Trump came back on the issue in a pair of early morning tweets three days after igniting outrage by referring to African and Haitian immigrants as coming from "shithole countries."
Global condemnation of the remark as racist has put the president on the defensive amid bipartisan attempts to negotiate a budget deal that would avert a looming government shutdown and remove the threat of deportation of the so-called "dreamers."
"DACA is probably dead because the Democrats don't really want it, they just want to talk and take desperately needed money away from our Military," Trump said, referring to the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program.
"I, as President, want people coming into our Country who are going to help us become strong and great again, people coming in through a system based on MERIT. No more Lotteries! #AMERICA FIRST," he said.
DACA, established in 2012 by Trump predecessor Barack Obama, protects from deportation hundreds of thousands of immigrants whose parents brought them into the country illegally as children.
Trump said in September he was scrapping the program but delayed enforcement to give Congress six months -- until March -- to craft a lasting solution.
But a federal judge on Tuesday ordered the government to keep DACA going pending resolution of court challenges to the president's decision.