WASHINGTON — President Trump’s chief of staff on Wednesday told a group of Democratic lawmakers that Mr. Trump’s campaign promise to build a wall along the Mexican border was “not fully informed,” and that the president has “evolved” on the issue of immigration, participants in the meeting said.
The chief of staff, John F. Kelly, met with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, as a group known as the “Twos” — the Number Two Democrat and Republican in both the House and Senate — worked toward negotiating a deal to protect the young undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers” from deportation.
About 780,000 young people are protected by an Obama-era initiative, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, but Mr. Trump has rescinded the program and given lawmakers until early March to come up with a replacement.
Mr. Kelly told the lawmakers that “he was the one who tempered” Mr. Trump “on the issue of the wall, on the issue of DACA,” said Representative Raúl Grijalva, Democrat of Arizona, who attended the session, which was first reported by The Washington Post.
“He has basically got him to understand that a concrete wall from sea to shining sea along the southern border, that that was not going to happen for environmental, geological and other reasons, and that I think he has come to the point that he understands that barriers can mean many different things,’’ Mr. Grijalva said.
“He used the word ‘evolved,’” Mr. Grijalva said, adding that Mr. Kelly said Mr. Trump has “evolved, in the general context of the wall and DACA, and he said you make campaign promises; that’s different from governing.”
Two Democratic House aides who attended the meeting confirmed Mr. Grijalva’s account, as did Representative Luis V. Gutiérrez, Democrat of Illinois.
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