Sounds like Trump talking publicly about what he doesn’t believe privately – it’s a reverse Hillary. If he meant it it would have been in tonight’s address.
President Trump on Tuesday said he is open to an immigration reform bill that could provide a pathway to legal status — but not citizenship — for potentially millions of people who are in the United States illegally but have not committed serious crimes.
At a private White House luncheon with television news anchors, Trump signaled an openness to a compromise that would represent a softening from the crackdown on all undocumented immigrants that he promised during his campaign and that his more hard-line supporters have long advocated.
“The time is right for an immigration bill as long as there is compromise on both sides,” Trump told the anchors. His comments, reported by several of the journalists present, were confirmed by an attendee of the luncheon.
Trump said he hopes both sides can come together to draft legislation in his first term that holistically addresses the country’s immigration system, which has been the subject of intense and polarizing debate in Washington for more than a decade.
The comments were particularly striking given Trump’s long history of criticism of U.S. immigration policy and a presidential campaign centered on talk of mass deportations of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.
At the meeting with television anchors, Trump suggested he is willing to address legal status for those who are in the country illegally but have not committed crimes. But he would not necessarily support a pathway to citizenship, except perhaps for “Dreamers,” who were brought into the country illegally as children, according to a report by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Jake Tapper, who attended the luncheon.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House principal deputy press secretary, said she could not confirm Trump’s comments in the private luncheon.
“The president has been very clear in his process that the immigration system is broken and needs massive reform, and he’s made clear that he’s open to having conversations about that moving forward,” Sanders said in a Tuesday afternoon briefing with reporters. “Right now his primary focus, as he has made [clear] over and over again, is border control and security at the border.”
Trump has vowed to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and increase funding for federal law enforcement efforts in border areas. He also has instructed the Department of Homeland Security to round up and deport those in this country illegally who have committed serious crimes or caused violence.
The president likened recent immigration raids to “a military operation,” although Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly made clear the military was not involved in conducting them.