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Trump says he wants immigration ‘bill of love’ to protect DREAMers

Gregory Korte and Deirdre Shesgreen and Eliza Collins, USA TODAY

14 seconds ago

WASHINGTON — President Trump said Tuesday he’s confident he can reach an elusive deal with Democrats to protect up to 800,000 immigrants from deportation — legislation Trump called a “bill of love.”

“We have something in common — we’d like to see this get done,” Trump said as he met with 25 members of Congress Tuesday.  “I hope we’re going to come up with an answer for DACA.”

DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program that temporarily protected immigrants who came to the United States as children. It’s the main stumbling block holding up a wide range of other Trump administration immigration priorities, including a spending bill that includes funding for a wall along the border with Mexico.

And the border wall, in turn, could have repercussions across the federal government. Congress must pass a spending bill by Jan. 19 to prevent a government shutdown.

In the Cabinet Room of the White House, Trump and his top advisers sat down Tuesday with 16 senators and nine members of the House — 15 Republicans and 10 Democrats.

The growing demands from both sides have complicated Trump’s promise to find a legislative solution to the so-called DREAMers, who will be deported beginning in March as the Trump administration phases out the Obama policy.

As of March 5, a thousand people a day will lose their temporary status, said Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill. “Lives are hanging in the balance. We’ve got the time to do it,” Durbin told Trump.

But Durbin and other Democrats have also rejected Trump’s growing list of immigration demands. After first suggesting that the border wall would not hold up an agreement, Trump later outlined a series of demands to slow the influx of new immigrants and step enforcement of those already here illegally.

Among Trump’s other demands: Eliminating the visa lottery program and ending the family preferences known as chain migration.

Sen. Charles Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, said the Trump White House was moving the goal posts every time the two sides appeared to be getting close to a deal on the Obama policy — known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA — and border security.

“It is part of a pattern of behavior on the part of this White House during sensitive bipartisan negotiations,” he said Monday. “To throw down a list from the hard-line wing of the White House at the last minute is not a very fortuitous or smart thing to do.”

But White House officials say they feel they have public opinion on their side.

“Democrats ultimately have to make a choice,” said Steven Miller, Trump’s senior policy adviser on immigration, on Fox News Monday. “They care a lot about providing benefit to illegal immigrants. We’re saying to them, if you want to make a deal, then you have to both deliver benefits for American families and American taxpayers too.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday that that Republicans were simply seeking a long-term solution to immigration issues that won’t need fixing in another five or 10 years.

“We want to have a DACA compromise. We want to make sure the DACA problem is solved,” Ryan told reporters. But, he added, “we want to make sure that we have the right kind of interior and border enforcement so that we don’t have another DACA problem down the road.”