Photographer: John Moore/Getty Images

Trump Wants Changes to the Legal Immigration System, Senator Says

  • Republican lawmakers met with president at private dinner
  • White House to send immigration outline soon, Cornyn says

President Donald Trump told GOP lawmakers at a private dinner he’s seeking changes to the legal immigration system as part of any deal to permanently safeguard from deportation nearly 1 million immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children, Senator David Perdue said.

Senator John Cornyn of Texas, also among the five lawmakers who attended the dinner Monday night, said no decisions have been made but the White House plans to send an outline of items it wants in a bill as soon as this week.

Perdue, a Georgia Republican, said the discussion included elements of a plan Perdue is co-sponsoring to shift toward a skills-based immigration system and cut legal immigration by half over a decade.

“That’s what we’re working on, absolutely,” Perdue told reporters. Asked what parts of the measure might be included, he said, “anything is negotiable.”

Democrats oppose Perdue’s plan, which has only one Republican co-sponsor, Republican Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said Tuesday that if Trump seeks to add elements of Perdue’s bill, that would run contrary to an agreement Schumer said he and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California reached with Trump last month. That agreement would combine protection for the young immigrants with stronger border security, Schumer said.

"If they’re backing off of it because of pressure from the hard right, America ought to know about it, and we ought to know," Schumer told reporters.

— With assistance by Erik Wasson

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