Trump suggests 2-phase immigration deal for 'Dreamers'

Scott Olson  Getty Images

Scott Olson Getty Images

"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 USA illegally as children to stay and work without fear of deportation.

Republicans, Ryan added, want to make sure that the package, however, is "balanced", so that the USA doesn't have a DACA program five to 10 years from now.

Ryan said that bipartisan negotiations are also ongoing to figure out an extension for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and a package to lift spending caps.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., leader of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, said in a text message after the White House meeting that he opposed the approach Trump suggested.

Congress has less than two weeks - until January 19 - to potentially pass a budget deal to lift spending caps and a governmentwide funding package that funds the rest of the fiscal year.

President Donald Trump appeared to contradict himself multiple times in a meeting on immigration with a bipartisan group of lawmakers Tuesday - a reflection of growing frustration from Capitol Hill about the lack of direction from the White House on the issue.

Now Trump has called for an initial $18 billion in USA taxpayer funding for the wall, a proposal Democrats uniformly are opposed to, along with some Republican lawmakers.

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Lankford acknowledged that the meeting got "confusing", saying though Trump at the beginning defined "DACA" as a deal that included DACA plus border security and two other areas of reform, it was unclear during some parts of the meeting.

Following the meeting, Durbin said he was pleased by the "sense of urgency" by the participants and that they "narrowed down the list of what they are going to discuss in the first phase of immigration, the DACA phase, to border security, chain migration and the diversity visa".

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 can not have security".

And on the potential presidential candidacy of Oprah Winfrey, Trump said, "Yeah, I'll beat Oprah". "If they come to me with things that I'm not in love with, I'm going to do it", Trump asserted. "I know most of the people on both sides, have a lot of respect for the people on both sides, and what I approve is going to be very much reliant on what the people in this room come to me with".

On Tuesday, Trump said he a "permanent" solution was needed for the Dreamers, but also insisted on the importance of border security, especially with Mexico.

A congressional aide told Reuters that negotiators in Congress also have been talking about legislation that would expand TPS in return for ending a visa lottery program that Republicans want to terminate.

Trump's equivocation was the opposite of what lawmakers have long sought from the President.

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Kelly often discussed being open to meeting with Democrats as much as Republicans, and spoke of sympathy toward the DACA population.

Trump said he would "take the heat" politically if lawmakers were to look at broader action that would provide a pathway to citizenship for about 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

The immigration talks at the White House are occurring as Trump and Congress face a January 19 deadline to reach agreement on USA government spending through the end of September, after they already were forced three times to agree on temporary budget plans when they were unable to reach a longer-term deal.

Trump, in the Tuesday meeting, emphasized the need for immigration reform to be bipartisan, noting that the plight of Dreamers is a dilemma that concerns both Democrats and Republicans.

Lawmakers want Trump's chief of staff John Kelly, who previously served as head of the Department of Homeland Security, to be the point person on the negotiations because they want someone who understands the issue and is constantly invested in talks, the source told CNN.

But despite that initial promise seen in Kelly, lawmakers have since felt a series of disheartening decisions has changed that calculus - including the decision to end DACA while he was chief of staff and a series of decisions to end Temporary Protected Status by the administration since - including reporting that he was involved in calling acting Secretary Elaine Duke and pressuring her on the Honduras TPS decision, which Duke later denied.

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