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White House clarifies Trump comments on 'clean' DACA bill

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President Trump listens 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)

The White House clarified on Tuesday said President Trump still opposes legislation that permanently protects Dreamers if it excludes border security measures, after Trump seemed to indicate in a meeting with lawmakers that he might support a bill that doesn't boost border security.

Trump's confusing comments came during a meeting with Republicans and Democrats who have been involved in writing an immigration bill that lets thousands of illegal immigrants stay in the country and work if they were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, and also improves immigration enforcement and security at the southwest border.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., asked Trump at one point how he would feel "about a clean DACA bill now with a commitment that we then go into comprehensive immigration reform?" referring to the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

"I have no problem. I would like to do that," Trump responded.

"We'll do DACA, and then we can certainly start comprehensive immigration reform the following afternoon," he added, adding that Congress could "take an hour break" in between passing two separate bills.

Some saw those remarks as a sign Trump might be able to accept DACA language without border security. But when reporters asked Trump later in the meeting if he would agree to "a DACA deal without the wall," the president said, "You need the wall."

"Watch what [Trump] actually said," White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told the Washington Examiner when asked to reconcile the president's seemingly conflicting comments. "A DACA bill he deems as clean would include border security."

Congressional leaders have reached an impasse over immigration reform, as Democrats insist that a DACA fix be included in the spending deal lawmakers must pass before the government runs out of funding on Jan. 19.

"I hope we're going to come up with an answer for DACA," Trump said Tuesday.