WASHINGTON D.C. (CBSNewYork) — President Trump has offered a show like most have never seen before.
In an extremely rare move, he allowed cameras to roll during a bipartisan meeting at the White House as lawmakers tried to hammer out a deal on immigration reform.
“I think everyone agrees we have to have border security. I don’t think anyone here would say no,” Trump said.
It was an extraordinary scene, President Trump let the American people be a fly on the wall for a gathering that was no mere photo-op.
Senators and congress-members sat down to do some real negotiating to let so-called creamers — young people brought here illegally as children — stay.
“I feel having the democrats in with us is absolutely vital because this should be a bill of love. Truly it should be a bill of love, we can do that,” the president said.
“I don’t know if the Republican and Democratic party can define love, but I think what we can do is do what the American people want us to do. Sixty-two percent of Trump voters support a pathway to citizenship if you have strong borders. You have created an opportunity here Mr. President, and you need to close the deal,” Senator Lindsey Graham said.
The meeting lasted more than an hour and during several free-wheeling exchanges, both sides laid their cards on the table and appeared ready to compromise.
“I don’t know how you would feel about this, but I’d like to ask the question. What about a clean DACA bill now, with a commitment that we go into comprehensive immigration reform procedure,” Senator Diane Feinstein said.
“I think that’s basically what Dick is saying. We’re gonna come out with DACA. We’re gonna do DACA and then we can start immediately phase two,” Trump replied.
“Mr. President, you need to be clear though, Sen. Feinstein is asking here, when you talk about just DACA, we don’t want to be back here two years later. You have to have security as the secretary would tell you,” Rep. Kevin McCarthy said.
“I think what we’re all saying is, we’ll do DACA and we can certainly start comprehensive immigration reform the following afternoon. We’ll take an hour off and then we’ll start,” he said.
The White House said after the meeting that lawmakers had agreed to narrow the scope of the negotiations to four areas; DACA, border security, family-based chain migration, and the visa lottery.
Lawmakers face a March 5 deadline to address the end of the DACA program.