President Donald Trump said Tuesday the “time is right” for Congress to pass a major immigration reform bill, if Republicans and Democrats can strike a deal after years of debate on the issue.
Mr. Trump made the comments in a meeting with network anchors, including PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff and correspondent John Yang, at the White House on Tuesday, hours before his first speech to a joint session of Congress.
“The time is right for an immigration bill as long as there is compromise on both sides,” Trump said.
A senior administration official said the White House is open to undocumented immigrants who have not committed crimes holding jobs and paying taxes.
Trump did not directly mention the possibility of an immigration bill in his speech to Congress, instead focusing on his plan to strengthen the nation’s border and immigration laws. Trump also challenged opponents of his immigration policy.
“To any in Congress who do not believe we should enforce our laws, I would ask you this question: what would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or a loved one, because America refused to uphold its laws and defend its borders?” Trump said.
But his comments earlier in the day suggested a openness to work with Democrats on an issue that divided both parties under former President Barack Obama.
The White House is planning to release a new executive order on immigration this week, perhaps as early as Wednesday. The moves comes after the a court ruling blocked the Trump administration’s first executive order banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
PBS NewsHour correspondent John Yang contributed to this report.