Jeff Flake on Immigration Reform: "Democrats Are Negotiating In Good Faith," "Only One Deal In Town"

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Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake expressed optimism that the Senate would come to a bipartisan agreement on immigration reform, DACA, and border security on ABC's 'This Week' on Sunday.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R) ARIZONA: Well, this is a bipartisan deal. It’s not the Democrats bringing this forward. There are three Democrats, three Republicans and we’re working now to add more Republicans to that list and we will have more this coming week. This is a bipartisan that -- where both sides have compromised. There was a change to what the DREAM Act was, this is different from that.

And I can say that we’ve got to get 60 votes. We’re not under rules of reconciliation where one party can just impose it’s will, it has to be both parties and therefore, this is a bipartisan solution. I believe there is a deal to be had.



STEPHANOPOULOS: I know you weren’t in the meeting on Thursday but I believe you’ve spoken with those who were in the meeting. You just heard Senator Perdue right there saying the president didn’t use those comments that were -- didn’t use those words that were widely attributed to him. Do you believe that?

FLAKE: Well, all I can say is I was in a meeting directly afterwards where those who had presented the president our proposal spoke about the meeting. And they -- they said those words were used before those words went public. So that’s all I can tell you is I -- I heard that account before the account even went public.

STEPHANOPOULOS: In the moment, on that same afternoon, Thursday afternoon. President is -- is, as I said, is tweeting this morning. He put out another tweet on immigration this morning that I want to read to you. I as president want people coming into our country who are going to help us become strong and great again, people coming in through a system based on merit. No more lotteries, America first. Your response?

FLAKE: Well, in this compromise, we do get rid of the visa lottery program. But we allocate those visas to a couple of different programs, like TPS or temporary protected status. And that’s -- the discussion of that program and as well as another is what gave rise to the language that was used. But I -- I think there is broad agreement to get rid of the visa lottery.

There’s also agreement between us, the Republicans and the Democrats, that we do get rid of chain migration as it relates to the covered population. Those who benefit from this DACA bill will not be able to use chain migration to become citizens. We just don’t do it for everybody, like the president wants to -- to do. If we want a comprehensive bill, I’m all in. But we can’t do a comprehensive bill, which will take months and months to negotiate, before the -- the March 5 deadline.

And one thing I do take big issue with the president on is he is saying that the Democrats aren’t moving forward in good faith. I can tell you I’ve bee negotiating and working with the Democrats on immigration for 17 years and on this issue, on DACA or on the DREAM Act for a number of years and the Democrats are negotiating in good faith. We are trying to come forward with a compromise and I think we have and you’ll see that this week.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are we farther away from a deal than we were on Thursday morning?

FLAKE: You know, I’m not sure. I think that when we get back into town, people will realize there’s only deal in town, there’s only one bipartisan bill and we need 60 votes and that bill will be presented with even more Republicans and Democrats than we have right now.

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