President Donald Trump said homeland security officials are to make a plea to congressional leaders for a border wall but indicated he would not drop his demand for $US5 billion ($A7.1 billion) funding that triggered a partial US government shutdown now into its 12th day.
At Wednesday's cabinet meeting in Washington, Trump also said he was open to working on a path to legal status for thousands of young illegal immigrants known as Dreamers, pointing toward a potential broader deal with Democrats that could resolve the shutdown.
Trump's demand for the wall funding thwarted congressional efforts to pass legislation last month to keep about a quarter of the federal government funded, affecting some 800,000 federal workers.
Democrats oppose the wall and Trump's funding demand.
Trump said on Wednesday he would keep the government partially shut for "as long as it takes" while he seeks wall funding in any legislation to keep the government funded.
The shutdown, which began December 22, could last a "long time," he warned.
The Cabinet meeting came ahead of a border security briefing at the White House for Democratic and Republican congressional leaders by US Department of Homeland Security officials.
The $US5 billion Trump is seeking would cover only a portion of the money needed for a border wall.
When asked if he would accept less than that, he said: "I'd rather not say it. Could we do it for a little bit less? It's so insignificant compared to what we're talking about."
© RAW 2019 Photo credit: EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS