President Trump hosted a bipartisan group of lawmakers at the White House on Tuesday to talk about reforming the nation's immigration policies. Mr. Trump told the group of lawmakers that he hopes to come up with "an answer for DACA" and said it should be a "bill of love."
In the highly unusual, 45-plus-minute negotiations that aired on news networks afterward, the president spoke to a bipartisan group of 20 lawmakers including Senators Lindsey Graham, Jon Cornyn, and Dianne Feinstein, House Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, who said he would be introducing a bill in the coming days.
"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 which has given legal status to 800,000+ illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
"I really do believe Democrat and Republican, the people sitting in this room, really want to get something done," Trump said. "Let's see if we can get something done. I really think that we have a chance to do it. I think it's really important. You're talking about 800,000 people. You're talking about lots of other people who are affected, including people who live in our country, from a security standpoint."
"I think my positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with.," he said. "I am very much reliant on the people in this room. I know most of the people on both sides; have a lot of respect for the people on both sides, and my -- what I approve is going to be very much reliant on what the people in this room come to me with. I have great confidence in the people. If they come to me with things that I'm not in love with, I'm going to do it, because I respect them."
"You created an opportunity here, Mr. President, and you need to close the deal," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said.
"If you want to take it that further step, I'll take the heat," Trump told Graham. "You are not that far away from comprehensive immigration reform."
Democrat Dianne Feinstein posed the question to the president, "What about a clean DACA bill now, with a commitment that we go into a comprehensive immigration reform procedure?"
"I would agree to that," Trump replied. "We’re going to come out with DACA and then we can start immediately on phase two, which would be comprehensive immigration reform."
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy intervened: "Remember border security."
Sen. David Perdue also interjected: "Remember chain migration."
"I haven't seen us get this close and having this discussion in quite a few years. I think we can make this happen. We all know it, we've done it before," Rep. McCarthy commented on the budding progress.
The president added, "I think we'll do DACA and we can certainly start comprehensive immigration reform the following afternoon. OK? We'll take an hour off and then we'll start. I do believe that. Once we get DACA done, if it's done properly, we have taken the first jump of comprehensive reform."
The president ended the meeting saying he was "very much reliant on the people in this room" and had "great confidence" in those gathered.
"I will say when this group comes back hopefully with an agreement, this group and others come back with an agreement, I'm signing it. I will be signing it," Trump added.