Emanuel Says Talk With Trump Was ‘Frank’
The mayor met with Trump, senior adviser Steve Bannon and incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus for 45 minutes, and Emanuel said he pressed them to continue a program that allows undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children the chance to legally work here.
Speaking by phone from New York City, Emanuel said he is open to future talks with Trump.
“He was not worried about having someone he disagrees on X, Y or Z and I was direct and frank,” Emanuel said.
“What I did see from both his staff and him was a willingness to hear opposing views. There are places we agree -- the importance of infrastructure. On things like immigration, I have a different take and a different view.”
Trump has pledged to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a 2012 directive from President Barack Obama.
Trump on Wednesday appeared to soften his position on DACA during an interview with Time magazine.
“We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud,” Trump told Time. “They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Because DACA is not a law, Trump could simply repeal the program with the stroke of a pen.
“These are good kids who have cleared everything and have no issues in their background,” Emanuel said.
Emanuel said he gave Trump a letter signed by mayors across the country who want the DACA program to continue. Among the co-signers were New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
An estimated 742,000 people live in the country because of DACA, according to federal data. In a ranking of states with the most DACA recipients, Illinois comes in third with an estimated 69,571 people.
Emanuel said he and Trump also spoke about transportation and education, including community colleges. Emanuel said Trump was very impressed with the “unbelievable” gains city is making in education.
Emanuel said he agreed to meet Trump because “he is the president-elect of the United States of America.” The mayor said Trump invited him to a meeting during a phone interview they had a few weeks ago.
When asked whether Trump is prepared to become president, Emanuel mentioned his past experience in both the Clinton and Obama administrations and said, “There is no training to be president.”
“There have been few people who have been chief of staff and senior advisor in two different administrations and (knows) how the White House operates,” the mayor said.
Mayoral spokesman Adam Collins said Emanuel met one-on-one with Trump before the president-elect brought in Bannon and Priebus. After that big meeting, Emanuel met separately with the two aides, Collins said.
The mayor’s meeting with Trump comes a day after Emanuel announced the creation of a task force to coordinate resources for immigrants and refugees. The task force includes Sen. Dick Durbin and U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez.
Emanuel has also frequently reaffirmed the city’s promise of being a so-called sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants after Trump’s election. The Republican businessman had vowed on the campaign trail to cut off federal funds to cities that do not comply with federal immigration laws.
Lauren Chooljian covers politics for WBEZ. You can follow her at @laurenchooljian.