President says Obama-era bill should be 'bill of love', makes support contingent on larger immigration package.
President Donald Trump signaled Tuesday he could support a deal to allow hundreds of thousands of immigrants living in the country illegally to keep their status, but only as part of a broader border security deal.
"We’ve been talking about DACA for a long time,” Trump said, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program formed in 2012 through an executive order by former President Barack Obama that allowed those who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children to stay and work without fear of deportation.
There are about 780,000 DACA recipients living in the country.
Trump ended the program last year, citing legal challenges by states, but gave Congress until March 5 to negotiate a deal that would allow "Dreamers" to stay legally.
Trump said a bill to rectify the problem he is largely responsible for "should be a bill of love. But it also has to be a bill where we’re able to secure our border".
It is unclear if Trump is going to demand Congress include funding for the wall he envisions running along the U.S.-Mexico border as part of any border security bill, but he appeared to indicate it is part and parcel with what he views to be border security when he said "if you don't have a wall, you cannot have security".
Senior Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein asked Trump if he would support a "clean" DACA bill, which would normally include the program's replacement program alone. Trump said he would, before adding that such a bill should include "border security" as well.
In addition, Trump said he is seeking an end to the U.S.'s visa lottery program, as well as immigration based on extended familial relations, as part of a comprehensive package.
"I’m appealing to everyone in the room to put the country before party and to sit down and to negotiate and to compromise," Trump said in unusually diplomatic rhetoric while hosting an immigration meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers at the White House.
Addressing the media afterward, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the administration believes “the wall is part of border security, that is one component".
Trump originally said Mexico would foot the bill for the wall, a claim incredulously dismissed by the U.S.'s southern neighbor. Sanders, maintained, however, that Trump has not abandoned the idea of Mexico paying for the structure.
Sanders said in a statement released after the meeting that the president and lawmakers "reached an agreement to negotiate legislation that accomplishes critically needed reforms in four high-priority areas: border security, chain migration, the visa lottery, and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy" during a closed-door session.