U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), along with other Democratic and Republican members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, met with President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and cabinet members in the White House’s Situation Room last Wednesday.
They were reaching out in an effort to end the partial government shutdown, according to a news release from the congressman’s office.
A tweet from White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders described the meeting as “constructive” and said that both parties now understand what the other wants.
According to the news website Vox, members of the caucus said they were not trying to negotiate on behalf of the Democrats but instead wanted to inspire the president to move forward with a negotiation.
Democrats from the bipartisan group reiterated the sentiments of the Democratic leadership that the president must reopen the government before any negotiations on border security are conducted, according to the news release from Suozzi’s office.
The release also said that the congressman supports border security measures such as more physical barriers at borders, radar, increased patrols and strengthening ports of entry.
In return for additional border security, Suozzi supports further protections for “those immigrants currently with temporary legal status under DACA and the Temporary Protected Status program” as well as their families.
DACA is the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy under which those who were brought into the country illegally as children were eligible for a two-year period where they were protected from deportation and could apply for a work permit. Trump moved to end the DACA program in September 2017.
Temporary Protected Status is when an immigrant from a designated country, typically those experiencing a natural disaster or armed conflict, is allowed to live and work in the country for a time.
“When I was elected to Congress, I promised to work with anyone, regardless of party, to tackle serious problems facing our country,” Suozzi said. “Although I strongly disagree with the President’s strategy of holding federal employees hostage over these negotiations, it is my job to govern and I agree with the Democratic leadership that the government must be reopened immediately and then we can work on a border security agreement.”
At the time of the meeting, the government had been shut for 26 days. It remained closed this week.