President Trump and congressional Democrats agreed Wednesday night to work together on a legislative package to address the status of young undocumented immigrants.
Democrats claimed the agreement would include protections for “Dreamers” and border security measures short of a border wall, a characterization disputed by the White House following the two-hour dinner.
“We had a very productive meeting at the White House with the President,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said in a statement following dinner at the White House with Trump and several White House officials.
“The discussion focused on DACA. We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides,” Schumer and Pelosi said.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders disputed the statement in a tweet after the dinner, writing that “excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to” in the larger discussion over DACA and border security.
A White House official called the dinner — at which participants ate Chinese food in the White House’s Blue Room — “constructive,” and said the group discussed tax reform, border security, the DACA program, infrastructure and trade.
“This is a positive step toward the president’s strong commitment to bipartisan solutions for the issues most important to all Americans,” the official said. “The administration looks forward to continuing these conversations with leadership on both sides of the aisle.”
According to one person briefed on the meeting, Trump, Schumer and Pelosi agreed to put together a package consisting of the bipartisan Dream Act with border security provisions.
That bill would offer a path to citizenship to hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants brought to American as children who graduated high school or obtained a GED and pursued higher education, served in the military or worked lawfully for several years.
The meeting comes one week after Trump announced plans to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and surprised Republicans by cutting a deal with Democratic leaders on hurricane relief, government funding and extending the nation’s debt limit.
The dinner also followed a flurry of bipartisan meetings at the White House. Trump, at a meeting with moderate Republicans and Democrats Wednesday afternoon, pushed for action on a legislative fix for DACA, but supported pairing it with border security, according to Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Oregon.
It’s unclear how far any agreement can proceed on Capitol Hill without buy in from Republicans controlling both chambers.
In a statement Wednesday following a DACA meeting between Pelosi, House Speaker Paul Ryan and other top lawmakers, Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said GOP leaders believe “any solution needs to address border security and enforcement, which are the root causes of the problem. Discussions among the Republican conference will continue in the coming weeks.”