Trump invites cameras to witness bipartisan talks on immigration reform

Immigration meeting

Last Updated Jan 9, 2018 6:52 PM EST

WASHINGTON -- President Trump invited congressional Republicans and Democrats to the White House on Tuesday, and made a very public display of presiding over a meeting about immigration. Mr. Trump called for bipartisan immigration legislation, saying it should be a "bill of love."

In an usual move, cameras were allowed to film the almost hour-long session.

"We're all going to have to give a little and I'll be the first one willing to," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said.

Republicans zeroed in on four priorities: border security, ending the visa lottery, limiting immigration based on family ties and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). That's the Obama-era program ended by Mr. Trump that provided legal status to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein tempted the president with a bill that would only deal with DACA.

"What about a clean DACA bill now, with a commitment to go into a comprehensive immigration reform?" Feinstein said.

For a moment, the president appeared willing.

"We will come up with DACA. We will do DACA and then we can start immediately phase two, which would be comprehensive," Mr. Trump said.

Trump says DACA legislation should be a "bill of love" at W.H. meeting

Then McCarthy -- mindful of conservative opposition to such a strategy -- redirected the president

"Mr. President, you need to be clear, though, I think what Sen. Feinstein is asking here about DACA, we don't want to be back here two years later. You have to have security, as the secretary would tell you," McCarthy said.

"I think that's what she said," Mr Trump said.

"No, I think she is saying something different. You're saying DACA without security," McCarthy said.

But the president seemed in a mood to make a deal, pressing the lawmakers to go further.

"If we do this properly, DACA, you are not so far away from comprehensive immigration reform," Mr. Trump said. "And if you want to take it that for further step, I'll take the heat. I don't care."

trump immigration
President Donald Trump (C) presides over a meeting about immigration with Republican and Democrat members of Congress, including (L-R) Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), Rep. Martha McSally (R-Arizona), Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Illinois), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) and Sen. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) in the Cabinet Room at the White House on Tue., 9, 2018 in Washington, D.C. Getty

He did renew his calls for a border wall.

"I'd like to not build the wall, but you need the wall," Mr. Trump said.

Afterward, the No. 2 House Democrat, Steny Hoyer, left the door open.

"We are prepared to work with the president on border security, which means many things to many people," Hoyer said.

Approving DACA will expose the president to charges he sold out his base. That's why the White House is trying to drive a hard bargain on other immigration issues. Mr. Trump said Tuesday he could take the heat. Congress is about the find out if that's true.

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