During a major bipartisan meeting at the White House on Tuesday, President Donald Trump said he will back “what the people in this room” come up with for an immigration plan, regardless if he fully agrees with it or not.
The president held the meeting with nearly two dozen members of Congress and ultimately stated that he supports a two-prong solution for immigration, urging lawmakers to start with an immediate fix for the thousands of individuals impacted by the administration’s repeal of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Nearly 45 minutes of the meeting was made available to the press, offering a rather rare glimpse behind the curtain of ongoing discussions in Washington to find an immigration fix ahead of the March DACA deadline.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) proposed to the president, “What about a clean DACA bill now with the commitment that we go into a comprehensive immigration reform procedure.” Trump appeared to support the plan, responding, “I have no problem with that.”
“We’re going to come out with DACA, and then we can start immediately on the phase two, which would be comprehensive,” the president added.
Some lawmakers in the room appeared to be more open to the idea of a clean DACA fix proceeding a more comprehensive immigration bill, while others wanted to ensure that increased border security was included in the initial DACA fix.
“Mr. President, you need to be clear, though,” Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) urged, wanting the president to clarify whether he wants border security attached to the DACA fix or coupled with a larger immigration overhaul down the line. “When we talk about just DACA, we don’t want to be back here two years later. You would have to have security, as the secretary would tell you.”
“What do you think I’m saying?” Feinstein responded. “I think you are saying DACA without security. Are you talking security as well?” McCarthy said.
Ultimately, the president said he’s willing to take the “heat” from both Republicans and Democrats in order to get a bipartisan immigration fix pushed through Congress and onto his desk.
“If you want to take it that further step, I’ll take the heat. I’ll take all the heat you want to give me. I’ll take the heat off both the Democrats and Republicans. My whole life has been heat,” the president told lawmakers.
Trump added that he has full confidence in the group he assembled for Tuesday’s meeting, telling the bipartisan members that he will sign and support whatever plan they ultimately come up with, regardless of how he feels about any particular measures within the bill.
“When this group comes back hopefully within agreement … I will be signing it,” Trump said.
“I’m not going to say I want this so I want that, I’ll be signing it. I have a lot of people in this room who I think you’re going to come out with something really good.”
While the president stated in the meeting that a border wall will still need to be attached to a larger immigration reform package, it appears during Tuesday’s meeting the administration moved closer to approving first fixing DACA and then moving forward with a larger, more comprehensive immigration overhaul.
Democrats and Republicans appeared to leave the bipartisan meeting feeling encouraged about the prospects of addressing immigration policy in a more joint effort. “To the extent the WH meeting helped narrow the scope of negotiations & prioritize #DreamAct, this was a positive first step,” Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) said after the gathering.
Trump on immigration: “My positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with.” (via FOX) pic.twitter.com/ce2b67kw6x
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 9, 2018
“This was the most fascinating meeting I’ve been involved with in 20-plus years in politics. I very much appreciate President Trump’s attitude, demeanor, and desire to get something done that will make our nation more secure — while being fair to the Dreamers,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a statement.
Congress has until March 5, 2018, to work up a fix for the so-called “Dreamers,” who were brought illegally into the United States by their parents but allowed to stay after former President Barack Obama signed an executive order, which President Trump repealed in 2017.
“President Trump has the right attitude. Now it is up to all of us in Congress to come up with a proposal that gets the job done.”