DENVER – Colorado’s two U.S. Senators participated in an extraordinary meeting at the White House Tuesday.
President Donald Trump called the meeting to protect 700,000 young people brought to the country illegally from being deported while also securing the border.
The president ended the DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – program after Republican attorneys general threatened to sue.
Television cameras were rolling the entire meeting, which lasted nearly an hour, as Democrats and Republicans negotiated.
The president said he’s ready and willing to sign a bill into law.
“This should be a bipartisan bill. It should be a bill of love, truly a bill of love”, he said. “I will say when this group comes back hopefully with an agreement, this group and others come back with an agreement, I’m signing it. I will be signing it. I’m not saying, oh gee, I want this or I want that.”
The president made one exception – the wall.
“You need it. You need the wall”, he said.
Congressman Steny Hoyer, (D) Maryland (credit: CBS)
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) insisted the wall was code for border security.
“It was clear in the meeting, the wall did not mean some structure”, said Hoyer.
Colorado’s Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner agreed.
“I think this is an opportunity for people who may have worried that there was going to be a sea-to-shining-sea barrier to recognize we’re talking about. The president is talking about security, fence, personnel, technology and not just a physical barrier.”
In addition to a wall, the president wants a merit-based immigration system – not a lottery – and limits on entries of extended family.
“This will be one of stickier points of negotiations”, said Gardner.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) (credit: CBS)
But Trump said if they can protect dreamers and the border, comprehensive immigration reform is next.
“And if you want to take it that further step, I’ll take the heat, I don’t care”, said Trump.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) (credit: CBS)
Colorado’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet was encouraged.
“For this group of people, those are two pretty big agreements walking out of here, and so I think we should respond to it optimistically and with the meeting we’ll kick off tomorrow and see how far we’ll go”, said Bennet.
Gardner is also optimistic lawmakers can pass protections for dreamers before the March 5 deadline when DACA expires.
House Republicans plan to introduce a bill Wednesday as a starting point for negotiations.
Shaun Boyd is CBS4’s political specialist. She’s a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.