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SALT LAKE CITY — A group of Republican senators, including Utah Sen. Mike Lee, met with President Donald Trump on Tuesday to talk about immigration policy.
"Our southern border is in crisis. Not even the most liberal papers on the East Coast are denying that anymore," Lee said in a statement after the White House meeting that included administration officials and a dozen senators.
Lee said loopholes that cartels and their smugglers are using to take advantage of people and the "desperate" migrants they are trafficking need to be fixed.
The proposals discussed at the meeting, he said, not only begin to address the current crisis, but make much-needed reforms to the rest of an outdated immigration system. Lee said he looks forward to the principles outlined in the meeting to become "solid" legislation in the coming weeks.
A Trump spokesman said the president and the senators discussed a potential plan that would secure the border, protect and raise wages for American workers and move toward a merit-based immigration system.
"President Trump wants a commonsense, lawful and safe immigration system that Americans, and those wanting to become Americans, have deserved for a long time," according to Hogan Gidley, deputy White House press secretary.
Lee supports Trump's push to extend the wall on the U.S. border with Mexico, though he voted against the president's national emergency declaration because he sees it as Congress ceding its power to the president.
Last fall, he went to Mexico and Guatemala as a large migrant caravan was making its way north.
Lee touted a plan for the U.S. to enter an agreement with Mexico that would require Central American migrants to first seek asylum there before attempting to cross the border. Under a “safe third-country agreement,” asylum seekers would have to ask for protection in whichever of the two countries they enter first.