From the White House: On Tuesday, the President and 22 congressional leaders met to discuss comprehensive immigration reform, and openly spoke on the issue and their positions for 45 minutes while television cameras rolled on the discussion.
President Trump, “I feel having the Democrats in with us is absolutely vital, because this should be a bitartisan bill. This should be a bill of love. Truly, this should be a bill of love, and we can do this.”
This had rarely, if ever happened, where one could watch the President balance the give and take between members of his own party and leading Democrats. Illinois Sen Dick Durbin was sitting immediately next to the President, with Democratic Congressional Leader, Rep Steny Hoyer (D-MD) sitting next to the President’s left.
The 45 minute open conversation was carried in full on FOX News. Everyone at the table said they want to help the population, but Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told the congressman, that America needs to close its physical borders as well as it’s legal loopholes if we are going to address the problem of illegal immigration once and for all.
It is so rare to hear the president and leaders in Congress discuss and important public policy issue in front of the cameras. And is one member said, this was a better conversation than they have had in the last several years. Interestingly, the congressional caucus leaders were not at the table; Speaker Paul Ryan, Sen McConnell, Rep Nancy Pelosi, and Sen Chuck Schumer
There is a March 5th deadline facing the DACA population — those illegal immigrants brought into the nation by their parents. DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which for the last five years, has protected an estimated 800,000 young adults who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents, from deportation and allows them to have jobs.
But the DACA program has to be reauthorized and the Trump Administration does not want to do that without first having other reforms made that the administration says are important to the security of the nation. In part that means ending “chain migration” in which family members of illegal, or legal immigrants can then come into the nation. And, the administration wants to secure the southern border and close other legal “loopholes.”
From the conversation of Congressional members sitting at the table, they have virtual universal support among those today at the White House.
The President said he is still committed to building the wall as part of a deal on DACA, but he also mentioned he thought the wall didn’t need to be 2000 miles, as there are a number of places along the border, where there is a natural border.
He also said he hated hearing the wall along the sourthern border would take seven years to build “Please, don’t ever say that again!” The President, who spent the majority of his career as a realestate developer and builder, said he believes in building under budget and under schedule.
The President said he thought it was ridiculous to say the wall would cost $18 Billion to build. While not saying how much it would cost, he did say it could be build in ONE YEAR, and for far less than what’s reported in the world.
The President said, he felt the two sides were really not that far apart, and that he was willing to “take the heat” politically from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, if that helped close a deal.
When asked if there could be a DACA deal without an agreement on building a border wall, the President said, “No. I would love to not have to build a wall, but you need the wall.”