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Trump, leaders reach agreement to negotiate immigration reform bill

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with lawmakers on immigration policy in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump and congressional leaders reached a bipartisan agreement on Tuesday to begin negotiating an immigration reform bill that will focus on four issues.

In a statement, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the upcoming legislation would address border security, chain migration, the visa lottery and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. More issues could be added later.

The legislation — which Trump said should be a “bill of love” — may be completed in two phases.

The president said he would insist on construction of a border security wall as part of an agreement involving young immigrants, but he said Congress could then pursue a comprehensive immigration overhaul in the second phase.

“We’re going to get DACA done — I hope we’re going to get DACA done and we’re all going to try very hard,” Trump said during the meeting.

The president appeared to acknowledge the potential political pitfalls of pursuing a more permanent deal, telling the lawmakers, “I’ll take all the heat you want. But you are not that far away from comprehensive immigration reform.”

Trump as recently as last weekend said he wouldn’t sign legislation addressing the Dreamers unless Congress agreed to an overhaul of the legal immigration system. He told reporters Saturday at Camp David that any deal must include an overhaul of the family-based immigration system as well as an end to the diversity visa lottery, which draws immigrants from under-represented parts of a world.

That would be in addition to Trump winning funding for his promised southern border wall and added border security. But in the meeting he indicated a willingness to compromise with Democrats, whose votes are needed in the narrowly divided Senate.

“The president exhibited, I thought, quite a bit of flexibility when the cameras weren’t there in terms of what we do in this phase and the next phase — and an acknowledgment that a lot of things we want to do are going to be part of a comprehensive bill but not now,” said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), one of the attendees.

Democrats and Republicans were set to resume negotiations on Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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