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On immigrant Dreamers, Trump tells top senator: 'We don't want to hurt those kids'

A group of "Dreamers" meet with now-President Trump at Trump Tower in 2013. (Diego Sanchez)
A group of "Dreamers" meet with now-President Trump at Trump Tower in 2013. (Diego Sanchez)

President Trump told a top Democratic senator Friday that he did not want to "hurt" young immigrants who have been living illegally in the U.S. since childhood but are otherwise law-abiding.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat, met Trump for the first time at Friday's inaugural luncheon in the Capitol and used the opportunity to bring up the so-called Dreamers.

"We don't want to hurt those kids," Trump said, according to Durbin's recounting of the lunch conversation.

Trump's team has indicated he will immediately clamp down on illegal immigration by launching workplace raids and curtailing new entrants and refugees in the first days of his new administration.

But whether that snares the Dreamers is uncertain.

Trump campaigned on a hard line against illegal immigration, promising to deport those already in the country and build a wall along border with Mexico to stem new arrivals.

But since then Trump has said he wants to "work something out" for the young immigrants, more than 700,000, who have been temporarily protected from deportation under former President Obama's executive actions.

Trump once vowed to undo Obama's actions on "day one" of his administration.

Durbin has led a bipartisan coalition in Congress that has drafted legislation to help Trump do both.

Under the "Bridge Act," Trump could end Obama's executive actions but also give Dreamers a three -year temporary deferral of deportation while Congress considers broader immigration law changes.

Past coverage: Trump once welcomed a visit from immigrant 'Dreamers.' Now, they anxiously await his next move >>

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