President Donald Trump introduced chaos into immigration negotiations on Tuesday when he said he'd accept whatever compromise that Congress comes up with so long as he gets his border wall.
Trump told a group of 20 legislators from both parties at the White House that he could get behind a two-step process that would save the Dreamers from deportation and beef up border security that's followed by a total immigration overhaul.
'My positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with,' Trump at one point said. 'If they come to me with things I'm not in love with, I'm gonna do it, because I respect them.'
The assertion was a 180 from Trump's earlier stance that reform must include funding for the border wall and radical changes to immigration first and foremost in addition to safety for participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Trump had steadfastly said that he would not approve legislation that legalizes DACA unless he gets the wall, additional border security resources, the elimination of the visa lottery system and and an end to chain migration at the same time.
As confusion over his position reached a high point on Tuesday after the remarkable meeting with lawmakers, the White House said that nothing had changed. Trump still believes that the four pillars of his immigration policy must be addressed in the first bill that Congress passes.
Sen. Lindsey Graham had mentioned a pathway to citizenship as part of comprehensive immigration reform in his remarks at the meeting, but White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that was not something the president was interesting in pursuing at this point in time.
'Right now our focus is on the four things I laid out,' she said.
Sanders clarified that the wall is just one component of the border security measures that Trump is insisting on. He also wants technological upgrades to certain areas.
On one point, though, Trump was adamant: Congress has to fund his border wall.
'I'd love not to build the wall, but we need the wall,' Trump said. 'If you don't have the wall, you cannot have security.'
SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO
President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he'd accept whatever immigration compromise that Congress comes up with so long as he gets his border wall
After a lengthy discussion with lawmakers in the room that Trump allowed to play out on camera, providing an inside look at the bipartisan negotiations, the president said it was clear to all that he was on a 'similar page' with legislators present.
'We have something in common. We would like to see this get done,' he said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham told the former businessman point blank that he needs 'to close the deal' as Trump took a backseat position to the lawmakers in the room.
The South Carolina senator noted that he'd built up a list of derogatory nicknames over his support for immigration reform such as Lindsey Grahamnesty and Lindsey Gomez.
'I don't want bad hombres,' he proclaimed. 'I don't want to do this every 20 years,' he said.
Graham predicted that the right-wing would go bonkers over the deal that's in the works and characterize it as amnesty.
Trump insisted that an agreement would sell itself, though, and said the lawmakers could put any heat they take over the compromise agreement on him.
'My whole life has been heat,' Trump said. 'I like heat in a certain way.'
Democrats had been refusing Trump's demands for a border wall and a total immigration overhaul, leading Sen. Chuck Grassley, who attended the Tuesday meeting, to declare the negotiations 'doomed to failure' yesterday on the Senate floor.
White House senior adviser for strategic communications Mercedes Schlapp positively told Fox this morning, however, 'The president will deliver.'
Trump half-jokingly told legislators at the White House on Tuesday, 'Maybe at some point I'll just lock the doors and I won't let anyone out.'
Tuesday's meeting was invite-only but Michelle Lujan Grisham, head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, successfully crashed it after being told there was 'no space' for her at the table, according to Politico.
She came to the White House with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.
GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham, David Perdue, Jeff Flake and Tom Cotton were among those participating from Trump's party. Flake is seen here during the meeting that surprisingly took place while cameras were rolling
The Republican president who led a lucrative business before he was elected will personally made his case for a revamp today in a White House meeting that was attended by immigration reform advocates in the House and Senate from both parties.
'I feel having the Democrats in with us is absolutely vital because it should be a bipartisan bill. It should be a bill of love. Truly,' Trump said. 'It should be a bill of love. But it also has to be a bill where we’re able to secure our border. Drugs are pouring into our country at a record pace. A lot of people coming in that we can’t have.'
A statement provided to DailyMail.com before the meeting said: 'The Trump Administration’s immigration priorities are clear: securing the border with a wall, closing dangerous enforcement loopholes; eliminating the visa lottery program and ending chain migration.'
GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham, David Perdue, Jeff Flake and Tom Cotton were among those participating from Trump's party. Democratic representatives include Sen. Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate, Dianne Feinstein, and Bob Menendez.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy represented GOP leadership in the meeting along with Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
The meeting followed on Durbin's declaration on Friday that Trump was making 'outrageous' demands that 'would undercut months of bipartisan efforts' to protect Dreamers.
Durbin accused Trump of 'trying to put its entire wish-list of hardline anti-immigrant bills - plus an additional $18 billion in wall funding - on the backs of these young people.'
'President Trump has said he may need a good government shutdown to get his wall. With this demand, he seems to be heading in that direction,' Durbin said.
Trump told Democrat Dick Durbin on Tuesday that he now believes a DACA fix could be separate legislatively from other immigration reforms he's pursuing, like an end to chain migration and an end to the diversity lottery
Trump told Durbin on Tuesday that he now believes a DACA fix could be separate legislatively from other immigration reforms he's pursuing, like an end to chain migration and an end to the diversity lottery.
'I really agree with Dick,' Trump said. 'I think we get the one thing done and then we go into comprehensive the following day. I think it will happen.'
Trump said in the long meeting that broadcast for nearly an hour, 'I think we’ll do DACA, and we can certainly start comprehensive immigration reform the following afternoon.
'We’ll take an hour off and then we’ll start. I do believe that,' Trump added.
Trump had said Saturday during a presser at Camp David that Congress must fund the border wall he promised on the campaign trail or there would be no agreement.
'The wall is going to happen or we’re not going to have DACA. You know, we want to get rid of chain migration. Very important. And we want to get rid of the lottery system,' he said.
Trump also said that Democrats must approve his spending request for additional border security personnel, as well.
'We all want DACA to happen. But we also want great security for our country. So important. We want to stop the drugs from flowing in. Very important,' he said Saturday.
Trump has claimed numerous times that visa lottery awardees are bottom-dwellers who are intentionally displaced by their home countries.
'They give us their worst people, they put them in a bin, but in his hand, when he’s picking them is, really, the worst of the worst. Congratulations, you’re going to the United States. Okay. What a system — lottery system,' he said recently.
He made a similar claim on Tuesday, wrongly asserting that 'countries come in and put names in a hopper.'
'They’re not giving you their best names – common sense tells you they’re not giving you their best names. They give you people that they don’t want, and then we take them out of the lottery,' he said in his meeting.
'When then do it by hand, put the hand in a bowl, and what’s in the hand are the worst of the worst. They put people that they don’t want in the lottery, and the United States takes those people.'
In reality, it's the State Department who picks diversity lottery awardees, and they are selected at random. State heavily vets them before they are allowed into the U.S.
Trump wants to move to a merit-based immigration system, nonetheless, in which high-skilled visa applicants would be prioritized.
'They’re not sending us their finest, okay. When somebody gets picked in the lottery, we’re not getting their best people,' he said Saturday. 'So we have to get rid of the lottery system, we have to get rid of chain migration, and we have to have a wall.'
The president told a reporter that he expects all of the immigration reform components he's demanding to be included in the compromise bill. He also said it's still his belief that Mexico will pay for the border wall.
Last week Trump had a Republican-only meeting at the White House to discuss immigration. His Tuesday gathering included top Democratic voices on the issue like Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois.
The meeting came less than a day after Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said in a floor speech that immigration talks have stalled because of Democrats' unwillingness to compromise.
'Unfortunately, this body still isn’t closer to a legitimate and fair deal that promotes and protects the interests of the American people in a lawful immigration system, and provides a fair and equitable solution on DACA,' he said.
'As the Democrats see it, it’s take it or leave it, their way or the highway. That isn’t good faith. That isn’t negotiation. And that approach is doomed to failure.'
Trump said during a Saturday presser at Camp David that Congress must fund the border wall he promised on the campaign trail or there would be no agreement
Schlapp, a senior communications official in the White House, subsequently lambasted Democrats as 'hypocritical' in a Tuesday morning appearance on Fox & Friends for backing away from border security measures after voting for the Secure Fence Act in 2006.
'They were the ones in 2006 who basically supported these physical border barriers,' she exclaimed. 'It's time for them to come to the table. Let's strike a deal. The president wants to strike a deal with the Democrats, and the time is now to do it.'
Durbin, notably, did not vote for 2006 legislation. Feinstein, however, did.
The Illinois senator and Hispanic Democrats in the House are hoping to use a must-pass spending bill to force Trump's hand on DACA this month.
The continuing resolution that's keeping the government up and running expires on Jan. 19.
'I will certainly vote against it, and I know most Democrats will vote against it,' Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro told MSNBC on Sunday evening.
Castro said he can't see his side accepting the border wall in exchange for Dreamer protection.
'Well, I don't see -- I think that's gonna be a very tough deal for the president to make. We don't want to trade the lives of 800,000 people for a wall across the United States,' Castro stated. 'DACA should be handled with a clean Dream Act. And that if there's elements of border security that President Trump and Republicans want to pursue, that they can pursue that in separate legislation.'
A memo that progressive group Center for American Progress is circulating that was obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation on Monday described the DACA standoff as a 'moral imperative' for Democrats that is 'critical' to their success at the ballot box.
'If Democrats don’t try to do everything in their power to defend Dreamers, that will jeopardize Democrats’ electoral chances in 2018 and beyond,' the memo warns. 'In short, the next few weeks will tell us a lot about the Democratic Party and its long-term electoral prospects.'
Schlapp told Fox on Tuesday that Democrats would be jeopardizing national security by holding up military funding if they go the shutdown route.
'I think the Democrats are really running a very big risk if they go in this direction,' she said. 'And here is a president saying come over to the White House, let's talk, let's get this done.'
The American people want the homeland protected and real immigration reform, she asserted. 'That is why the president was elected,' Schlapp said. 'And the president will deliver.'
Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5251673/Trump-opens-White-House-immigration-summit-live-TV.html?mrn_rm=als1