Jimmy Carter defends Trump on DACA actions

Story highlights

  • Carter said people should "give (Trump) credit" for not doing away with the program completely
  • The former president cited a long history of failed efforts to pass immigration reform

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump's moves on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program found an unlikely defender Wednesday night: former President Jimmy Carter.

The Democratic former commander in chief told town hall attendees at Emory University to "give him credit" for not doing away with the deferred action program completely.
"To give Trump some due, he hasn't ended DACA yet," Carter said. "What he's said is he has given Congress six months to address the issue, which is long overdue."
    "It's very difficult because when (President Barack) Obama had a Democratic House and Senate, he didn't do it," he added, pointing to a long history of failed -- and often bipartisan -- efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
    Carter suggested that a highly publicized six-month ultimatum might be what's needed to spur Congress to action.
    "I don't think it's a hopeless case. I think the pressure and the publicity that Trump has brought to the immigration issue may have stimulated both Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate to be more accommodating in this longstanding argument," he said.
    Carter's comments happened before reports emerged from a Wednesday evening meeting at the White House, at which it appeared that the President and Democratic leaders were moving closer to a deal to protect the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the US as minors. However, the parameters of such a deal -- including whether it will include pathway to citizenship or funding for a border wall -- remain unclear. Although Trump asserted numerous times Thursday that House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are "very much on board" with his plans, Republicans on Capitol Hill maintain that there has been "no agreement."
    Carter also gave advice to his successor.
    "I would say to promote human rights, to keep our country at peace, and to tell the truth," Carter said of his words of wisdom for Trump. "I would like to see the United States of America, I'd say once again, become the foremost champion of human rights on earth."
    At a separate town hall the night before, Carter slammed Trump's response to North Korea, saying the North Koreans needed to be treated with respect. He also cast doubt on Trump's ability to engineer peace in the Middle East.
    The 92-year-old lamented the extreme partisanship in government affairs, saying he believes the US is at its most fragmented since the Civil War. He also slammed the increase in lobbying and campaign contributions in contemporary elections.
    "I would say the most serious threat to our democracy is making ourselves even more like an oligarchy," he said. "America ... used to be one of our finest democracies on Earth and as I said, it's become primarily an oligarchy."