In Remarkable Public Negotiation With Bipartisan Lawmakers, Trump Promises to Sign DACA Bill

President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with lawmakers on immigration policy in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Trump promised Tuesday to sign what he called a “bill of love” to extend protections to 800,000 immigrants who entered the United States illegally as children — if Congress can work out the details.

“You folks are going to have to come up with a solution,” Trump told 25 lawmakers in a remarkable televised negotiation at the White House. “And if you do, I’m going to sign that solution.”

But funding for a wall along the border with Mexico remains a sticking point, as Trump insisted that border security remain a part of any deal.

Lawmakers are under a March 5 deadline — imposed by Trump — to come up with a legal fix to the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA, as it’s known, is now the main stumbling block holding up a wide range of other Trump administration immigration priorities.

Conservative Republicans in the House want to link DACA to Trump’s request for $18 billion for a border wall. That would give immigration talks even more urgency, as the spending bill must pass by Jan. 19 to prevent a government shutdown.

So Trump and his top advisers sat down Tuesday with 25 members of Congress — 16 senators and nine representatives, 15 Republicans and 10 Democrats. And in an unusual move, the White House opened nearly an hour of the meeting to the press.

The Republicans came with a common talking point: Congress needs a permanent fix to immigration enforcement, or else have to deal with the issue again. Democrats said the urgency of saving DREAMers from deportation meant that extending DACA must take priority.

The so-called DREAMers are the children of immigrants who remained in the country illegally — growing up as Americans but without the legal status. Obama’s solution was to use his enforcement discretion to give up to 800,000 DREAMers a quasi-legal status, but the Trump administration has said Obama exceeded his authority and that any fix must come from Congress.

Trump said repeatedly on Tuesday that he would sign any bill Congress sends him to make that deferred action program legal. But then he later clarified that such a bill must also include border security measures, including funding for a border wall.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Gregory Korte, Deirdre Shesgreen and Eliza Collins