At a meeting Tuesday with bipartisan members of Congress, President Trump said the fix to the soon-to-expire temporary amnesty for “Dreamers” would be a “bill of love,” but stressed that tougher border security must be part of the deal.
“We have something in common. We’d like to see this get done,” Mr. Trump said at the sit-down with more than two dozen lawmakers, trying to strike a deal that would settle the immigration impasse that threatens to cause a government shutdown next week.
The president said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, would soon introduce a bill that addresses the plight of so-called Dreamers, illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.
Mr. Trump called it a “bill of love” that also provides stronger border security, stressing the need to block the flow of illegal drugs into America.
In a show of bipartisan outreach, Mr. Trump was seated between two Democrats: House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois.
There is widespread agreement on both sides of the aisle about the urgent need to address the fate of Dreamers. Their temporary legal status, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, is set to expire in March.
But Democrats have dug in in opposition to the president’s push for $18 billion to begin construction of a wall on the southern border and tightening of immigration laws.
Mr. Hoyer said that “every single Democrat” wants strong border security. The debate, he said, was about how to best achieve it.
Later, Mr. Trump said building the border wall, which was a top campaign promise, had to be part of the deal.
“I would love not to build the wall, but you need the wall,” he said when a reporter asked if it was a non-negotiable item. “If you don’t have the wall, you can’t have security.”
The standoff threatens to derail a spending bill that must pass by Jan. 19 to avoid a government shutdown.
“I really do believe Democrat and Republican, the people sitting in this room, really want to get something done,” said Mr. Trump. “I hope we’re going to come up with an answer for DACA.”
Mr. Trump wants to replace the current chain-migration system that gives priority to family members with a merit-based system and end the Diversity Visa Lottery that gives out 50,000 immigrant visas a year, based on an actual drawing.
He also is pushing to change the law to expedite deportations to Central American countries, saying that’s needed to stem the flow of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) and families that surged during the Obama administration.