During DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham took a few minutes to address President Trump directly regarding the debate over DACA and illegal immigration.
"Obama couldn't do it, Bush couldn't do it, and both of them to their great credit tried. Do you think President Trump can do this?" Graham wondered, about making a bipartisan immigration deal.
"So Mr. President," he said. "Close this deal."
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: Do you understand leverage?
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, DHS: Yes, sir.
GRAHAM: Do you think the president understands leverage?
NIELSEN: Yes, sir.
GRAHAM: So here' what I would suggest to you.
Phase one: To expect my friends on the other side to go comprehensive for us, and DACA for them, is not going to happen. I'm telling my friends on the other side, DACA and nothing else is not going to happen. The sweet spot is DACA-plus, more than the DACA kids. And making down payments on border security. Moving slowly but surely towards a merit-based immigration system, to be followed by Phase Two. Will you allow me to describe Phase Two?
NIELSEN: Yes, sir, please.
GRAHAM: Phase Two as I see it: As we move further towards border security in its full sense, that we begin to find a pathway forward for the eleven million not included in phase one, who are not crooks, drug dealers, rapists, felons (which is the overwhelming majority of the eleven million). Once we get a glide path for them, I expect in return that when they're through the system, we'll have a merit-based immigration system, based on the economic needs of the country. That we'll have a secure border, and we'll increase legal immigration, so people in the future don't have to cheat? Does that sound pretty reasonable?
NIELSEN: It sounds like a phase two.
GRAHAM: So, I'm going to try to get you through Phase One. If the president is watching, I'm still int he phone book. So don't give my number out, but call me.
This has turned into an S-Show, and we need to get back to being a great country, where Democrats and Republicans can work together to do something that we should have done years ago.
To the 700,000 young people, some young some older, we're not going to leave you behind. I don't know how this movie ends, but you're going to be taken care of.
To those want to begin to fix our broken immigration system, you're going to get something too. I don't know how we right this ship. Dr. King said something pretty poignant about us. He said we came on different ships, but we're all in the same boat now. So here's my hope, that we can find through Phase One a reasonable down-payment on border security, begin to correct some of the problems when it comes to chain migration, deal with the DACA population fairly and with a sense of compassion, and set up Phase Two and, all I have to say Madam Secretary is we need your help...
And to the country at large, things are going to get better. It is not going to end this way. The president ran hot. I think I know why. Something happened to him between Tuesday and Thursday, and we'll get to the bottom of that. And quite frankly, I got pretty passionate and I ran a little hot too. Somebody needs to fix this problem.
Obama couldn't do it, Bush couldn't do it. And both of them, to their great credit, tried. Do you think President Trump can do this?
NIELSEN: I think he wants to do it, yes sir.
GRAHAM: I think Dick Durbin has been one of the best people you could ever hope to work with, that he is a decent honest man, a liberal Democrat, yeah he said yeah, and I'm a conservative Republican, but on this and other things we can find a way forward.
So Mr. President, I'm going to end today where I ended Tuesday. Close this deal.