Trump pushes bipartisan immigration deal, but renews demand on border wall

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Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas on Tuesday sparred with President Donald Trump over his proposed wall along the U.S. -Mexico border.

"The wall is going to happen or we're not going to have DACA", Trump said Saturday after meeting with congressional Republicans at Camp David.

Trump remarked that the group was not far away from comprehensive immigration reform and that if they want to take that final step, they should do it, as he is willing to take the heat for both Republicans and Democrats.

In the background, details are still being worked out on what a plan to help recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, would look like, and a bipartisan group of Senate lawmakers led by Democrat Dick Durbin of IL and Republican Lindsey Graham of SC continues to negotiate. Trump announced plans to repeal DACA previous year and challenged Congress to craft a legislative reform package.

The president said he would insist on construction of a border security wall as part of an agreement involving young immigrants, but he said Congress could then pursue a comprehensive immigration overhaul in the second phase.

Democrats have balked at accepting major new border security provisions, saying the administration's call for $18 billion in funding for hundreds of miles of a border wall is costly and unnecessary at a time when illegal immigration levels have plummeted.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks to reporters after the weekly party caucus luncheons at the U.S. Capitol in Washington

Yet it seems that Trump is remarkably willing to trade a largely pointless border wall for a less stringent immigration policy than perhaps his base had expected.

"I would like to add the word "merit" into any bill submitted", Trump said.

When I wrote earlier this morning that an immigration deal was possible, I didn't realize that President Trump was about to host a White House meeting on the very subject. Instead, the guest list is set to include lawmakers from both parties involved in the immigration debate, such as Republican Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and Senator Dick Durbin of IL, a Democrat.

Conservatives quickly sounded alarms about a process that would lead to a comprehensive agreement on immigration, a path that has always been anathema to many rank-and-file Republicans. The source said Trump told them beforehand the press would come in for the top. That is, Trump needs Democrats to support this measure.

"We can do a great wall-you need the wall", Trump said after a question from Sen. "So that's where the negotiations are taking place". "If they come to me with things I'm not in love with, I'm gonna do it". Those issues include efforts to nix some forms of legal immigration such as family reunification, called "chain migration" by Trump and other opponents, and the green card diversity lottery system. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., one of the attendees.

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