US President Donald Trump has stunned the Republican Party by reaching out to Democrats for an agreement on immigration and border security.
The Republican president invited top Democrats in Senate and the House of Representatives over to the White House for dinner on Wednesday to discuss Trump’s immigration reform, including his recent order to repeal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
After the meeting, which was attended by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the two sides agreed on protecting the nearly 800,000 immigrants covered by DACA while also working on improving border security.
“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 in a joint statement after the meeting.
WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer answers questions at the US Capitol, Washington, DC, September 12, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
They also said the two sides stopped short of reaching a deal on Trump’s controversial wall on the border with Mexico, a claim that the White House countered later on.
“While DACA and border security were both discussed, excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted.
The new agreement specifically includes bipartisan legislation called the DREAM Act, which paves the way for the young immigrants to gain US citizenship upon meeting a certain criteria, a source told the Associated Press.
The deal marked yet another successful outreach by Trump to his fierce opponents on the other side of the aisle, after his surprising deal with the Democrats on debt ceiling and government spending legislation.
The new approach has effectively sidelined Republican leaders in Congress, specifically Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Trump has criticized both Ryan and McConnell over their inability to muster enough support in the Republican-dominated Congress for his policies on immigration and healthcare.
The businessman-turned-president told reporters after another meeting with Democrats earlier on Wednesday that “More and more we’re trying to work things out together.”