Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

politics

Trump Re-Starts Immigration Talks After Senate Ends Shutdown

President Donald Trump dove back into negotiations over immigration legislation on Monday, hours after the Senate indicated it would move to end a three-day government shutdown.

The president met for lunch with six conservative Senate Republicans -- Tom Cotton of Arkansas, John Cornyn of Texas, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, James Lankford of Oklahoma, David Perdue of Georgia, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina -- shortly after leaders in the Senate announced they had brokered an agreement to keep the government open for almost three more weeks. Trump met later in the afternoon to discuss immigration with two centrist Democrats who’d voted with Republicans to keep the government running -- senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Doug Jones of Alabama.

“There were no promises made, we weren’t getting in the weeds on anything,” Manchin said. “He was in a very attentive, listening mood.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump wanted to move forward with immigration talks.

“As soon as the Senate voted to reopen the government, the President continued conversations on the next steps on responsible immigration reform,” Sanders said. “We will work with Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate committed to fixing our broken immigration system.”

As part of the deal to re-open the government, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said if party leaders and the White House cannot reach a compromise on immigration beforehand, it’s his “intention” to permit a Senate vote on an immigration measure after Feb. 8.

The deal has been little consolation to immigration activists, who are eager to codify protections against deportation for people brought illegally to the U.S. as children. Despite Trump’s public insistence that he too wants to protect so-called Dreamers, the White House says it will insist that the legislation be accompanied by sweeping immigration restrictions, modeling its demands on legislation written by conservatives including Cotton.

“We will make a long-term deal on immigration if, and only if, it is good for our country,” Trump said in a statement Monday.

White House aides also said Monday the president would not sign legislation like that proposed by moderate lawmakers, including senators Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, and Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat. The administration believes their bill wouldn’t sufficiently limit illegal immigration in the future, the officials said.

The deal struck to reopen the government did not include any commitment by House Republicans to consider immigration legislation passed out of the Senate. It’s not clear whether the House will consider any bill itself.

— With assistance by Arit John

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