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Trump wants immigration compromise -- and border wall

2 min

Washington (AFP)

President Donald Trump urged Congress on Tuesday to reach a compromise on the fate of millions of undocumented migrants who came to the US as children, but did not give ground to Democrats over his plans for a border wall.

"It should be a bill of love," Trump said at the White House, where he hosted Republican and Democratic lawmakers for talks on the issue -- and allowed journalists rare access to nearly an hour of the meeting.

"But it also has to be a bill where we're able to secure our border. Drugs are pouring into our country at a record pace. A lot of people are coming in that we can't have," Trump added, saying he hoped for a quick solution.

Trump said he would "take the heat" politically if lawmakers were to look at broader action that would provide a pathway to citizenship for about 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

"You are not that far away from comprehensive immigration reform," he told Senator Lindsey Graham, after the Republican senator floated the idea of more sweeping legislation.

In September, Trump said he was scrapping the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, but then delayed enforcement to give Congress six months -- until March -- to craft a lasting solution.

So-called "Dreamers" were protected from deportation under the policy enacted during Barack Obama's presidency.

On Tuesday, Trump said he a "permanent" solution was needed for the Dreamers, but also insisted on the importance of border security, especially with Mexico.

"We need a wall," Trump said, during the long exchange with lawmakers.

He also called for an end to "chain migration" and to the green card lottery system.

"I would like to add the word 'merit' into any bill submitted," Trump said. "I can tell you the American public very much wants that."

After the meeting, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the group had agreed to "negotiate legislation that accomplishes critically needed reforms in four high-priority areas."

Those include "border security, chain migration, the visa lottery and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy," Sanders said.

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