Trump suggests ‘Dreamers’ deal; judge blocks move to end program
Searching for a bipartisan deal to avoid a government shutdown, President Donald Trump suggested Tuesday that an immigration agreement could be reached in two phases – first by addressing young immigrants and border security with what he called a “bill of love,” then by making comprehensive changes that have long eluded Congress.
Trump presided over a lengthy meeting with Republican and Democratic lawmakers seeking a solution for hundreds of thousands of young people who were brought to the U.S. as children and living here illegally. Trump last year ended the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shielded more than 700,000 people from deportation and gave them the right to work legally. He gave Congress until March to find a fix.
Negotiations over the DACA program may be more complicated in light of a federal judge’s ruling Tuesday to block temporarily the administration’s decision to end the program. In doing so, U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco granted a request by California and other plaintiffs to let lawsuits over the administration’s decision play out in court.
The president, congressional Republicans and Democrats expressed optimism for a deal just 10 days before a government shutdown deadline.
Trump said he was willing to be flexible in finding an agreement as Democrats warned that the lives of hundreds of thousands of immigrants hung in the balance.
“I think my positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with,” Trump said during a Cabinet Room meeting with a bipartisan group of nearly two dozen lawmakers, adding, “I am very much reliant upon the people in this room.” A group of journalists observed the meandering meeting for an extraordinary length of time – about 55 minutes – that involved Trump seeking input from Democrats and Republicans alike in a freewheeling exchange on the contentious issue.
“My head is spinning from all the things that were said by the president and others in that room in the course of an hour and a half,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. “But the sense of urgency, the commitment to DACA, the fact that the president said to me privately as well as publicly, ‘I want to get this done,’ I’m going to take him as his word.”