President TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE said Tuesday that lawmakers should pass a “bill of love” to resolve the fate of young immigrants who benefit from an Obama-era program he scrapped last year at an extraordinary bull session in the White House Cabinet Room with lawmakers from both parties.
“I hope we’re going to come up with an answer for DACA,” Trump said, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The unusual setting allowed Democrats and Republicans alike to exchange their views on-camera for roughly an hour over the complicated immigration talks. The meeting was shown on tape, shortly after it concluded, on cable news.
"Well, that was a unique meeting," Democratic Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinManchin keeps Washington guessing on what he wants Democrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema US gymnasts offer scathing assessment of FBI MORE (Ill.) quipped to reporters on the West Wing driveway.
Trump sat between Durbin — an outspoken supporter of young immigrants known as Dreamers — and House Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerGOP leader taking proxy voting fight to Supreme Court Lobbying world Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Feds target illegal gas practices MORE (D-Md.), an attempt to highlight his desire to strike a deal.
“We have something in common: We’d like to see this get done,” Trump said.
Durbin said afterward that he left the meeting with a "positive" outlook and a greater "desire to get this done."
Trump, however, called an immigration bill set to be introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteThe job of shielding journalists is not finished Bottom line No documents? Hoping for legalization? Be wary of Joe Biden MORE (R-Va.) a "good starting point." The measure is expected to include many conservative priorities opposed by Democrats.
The White House and Congress are under pressure to reach a solution. The immigration talks are tied to work on a government-funding bill, with the government set to shut down if a deal isn’t reached by Jan. 19.
DACA, which expires on March 5, gives immigrants who were brought illegally to the United States as children the right to live and work in the country without fear of deportation.
Democrats are demanding that DACA recipients be addressed as part of the funding deal and are frustrated with Republicans who have balked at tying the two issues together.
Republicans have accused Democrats of holding spending talks hostage over immigration.
Trump said his promised wall on the southern border, which is vehemently opposed by Democrats, must be part of any deal.
“You need it,” Trump said when asked if he would accept a DACA deal without the wall. “I’d love not to build the wall, but you need the wall.”
And the president doubled down on his demand that a DACA bill end chain migration and scrap the visa-lottery program.
Trump vented his frustration that, in his view, the visa lottery allows other countries to “give you the people they don’t want” and “the United States takes those people.”
In fact, the visa lottery is a random drawing of people from countries with typically low rates of immigration to the U.S. Applicants must go through a vetting process to be eligible.
Those measures would fulfill Trump’s campaign promises to impose stricter border security measures and reduce the number of people who immigrate to the U.S.
But the president, at times, sent dramatically mixed signals about his goals on immigration that at times appeared to frustrate lawmakers — all in front of the press.
“You created an opportunity here, Mr. President, and you need to close the deal,” Graham said.
“If you want to take it that further step, I’ll take the heat,” Trump responded. “You are not that far away from comprehensive immigration reform.”
Such a deal would likely anger Trump’s base, which believes that a pathway to citizenship amounts to unjust “amnesty.”
This story was updated at 1:50 p.m.