The 13th day of the partial government shutdown is coming to an end as the newly minted Democrat-led House wastes no time in enacting its agenda. Vice President Mike Pence sounds off on the shutdown and the battle for the border wall on 'Tucker Carlson Tonight.'
CARLSON: Will the deal that resolves the shutdown include any form of amnesty for people here illegally now?
PENCE: Well, our focus is on border security.
CARLSON: Well, of course, but the Democrats’ focus is on getting amnesty for people here illegally, will you agree to that?
PENCE: What we’ve completely focused on is keeping the president’s promise, to build a wall, to pass legislation that provides other support for border security, that gives the people that are enforcing our laws at the border, and across the border -- enforcing our immigration laws, the resources and the tools that they need.
There’s a lot of people talking about a lot of different ideas, you know frankly the better part of a year ago the president expressed a willingness to deal with the issue of Dreamers in a compassionate way. People who were brought here as children, and through no fault of their own -- he’s discussed that, it’s being talked about…
CARLSON: But what about people who came here as adults…
PENCE: -- ever since -- ever since the Christmas holiday, the president sent us to Capitol Hill I met with Senator Schumer not once but twice. We engaged in good faith negotiations, the president and I cancelled all of our Christmas vacation plans, we were here in Washington, D.C..
Democrats broke off negotiations about a week ago, but the president’s made it clear, we’re here to make a deal, but it’s a deal that’s going to result in achieving real gains on border security. And you have no border security without a wall, we will have no deal without a wall.
CARLSON: If the deal in the end includes allowing people who came here as adults, intentionally to break our laws, to become citizens -- then wouldn’t the message to the rest of us be, why should we obey the law, if people who intentionally broke it are being rewarded for it? Can you see why that would be a perverse incentive for the rest of us?
PENCE: I absolutely can, and I’ve heard no discussion of that -- I’ve heard no discussion of amnesty related to this. I heard -- some members of the Senate are talking about maybe including Dreamers in some sort of a negotiated settlement.
And the president’s posture on all of this is, look, we’re at 5.6 billion. We have engaged in good faith negotiations, we’ve made offers, there’s been no counter offers made, but again, we heard the democrat leadership, the new speaker of the House this morning again said, "no money for the wall," well the American people know walls work.
And we heard from border agents today in the oval office that in areas and sectors where they were assigned to deal with illegal immigration, the flow of narcotics, human trafficking, all the threats to our communities that we face at our border -- that once they build a wall, you saw illegal immigration, the flow of narcotics, drop precipitously.
CARLSON: So the bottom-line is you will not accept a deal that does not include a wall, if I’m hearing this right?
PENCE: I think the president’s made it very clear -- no wall, no deal. But look, we really are prepared to negotiate, we’re prepared to talk, we’re prepared to listen…
PENCE: And ultimately it all begins with the facts. I mean that’s the reason why the president called the meeting in the situation room. We’ll be meeting again tomorrow with Republican and Democrat leadership.
And I want the American people to know that -- that, you know, this is a real crisis at our border. We made progress last year. And it probably was a result of the fact that the American people elected a new president who delivered a very strong message about confronting illegal immigration.
We actually saw a decline in illegal immigration and incursions on our southern border. But in the last 12 months we’ve literally seen a dramatic increase in the number of -- 2,000 people a day apprehended at our border or found to be inadmissible, trying to enter our country.
I mean that represents -- as -- as much as we’re all troubled in recent weeks about the caravans moving north -- and there’s talks about more caravans. Literally 2,000 people a day attempt to come into this country illegally by one means or another.
We can agree on those facts, come together around solutions, but part of that solution means a wall. It means a barrier and -- along our southern border. And it also means technology, drones, the kind of support that our border agents know will assist them in doing their job. But bottom line, if there’s no wall, there’s no deal
CARLSON: The president, the other day, announced the withdrawal of the 2,000 American troops in Syria back to the United States. Nobody in Washington liked that, including some Republicans. Lindsey Graham said it’s probably not going to happen. There was a pause on that withdrawal.
What is the state of that? Are those troops coming home and if so, when?
PENCE: You know President Trump as commander in chief and as candidate made it clear that our -- our number one priority would be destroying ISIS.
The reality is we have defeated ISIS, we have defeated the caliphate. And what the president announced just before Christmas is not that we’re giving up on the fight of ISIS; we’re going to continue to lean into the fight of ISIS.
We’re going to continue to take the actions that are necessary to protect the American people and our interests in the region. But the president is determined, in consultation with military commanders, including in al-Assad air force base when he was there just after Christmas.
But it’s no longer necessary for us to have American forces in harms way in North Eastern Syria to accomplish that.
CARLSON: Do you think we can expect in the next few months those troops to come back?
PENCE: Well I think the president’s made it clear. We’re going to do this and are doing this in an orderly way.
I heard him in dozens and dozens of speeches talk about bringing our troops home wherever we could around the world. This is not a president that’s interested in seeing American forces all over the world.
CARLSON: So -- no, no he definitely said that, of course.
PENCE: They accomplished the task that we gave them to accomplish, defeating the caliphate.
CARLSON: But what about Afghanistan? I’m just …
PENCE: And now we can bring them out of Syria.
CARLSON: Do you think that we’re winning the conflict in Afghanistan? Do you think the United States benefits from the continued presence of such a large number of U.S. troops there?
PENCE: Well, the president is in the process of evaluating that, as we speak. I was in Afghanistan last year. In his speech in August, President Trump, basically through new rules of engagement, new resources, additional military personnel, gave our folks on the ground the ability to take the fight, be at the tip of the spear, supporting the Afghan National Army in the battle against the Taliban, ISIS Khorasan, Al-Qaeda, re-emerging in Afghanistan.
And it’s been a tough fight, and the president’s been very clear about that. And now, I think the president’s in the process of evaluating options about what has been, as you know, Tucker, we both lived through it in the last two decades, what has been a – an 18-year conflict in Afghanistan and determining what our best options are, in terms of putting America first, protecting America’s interests in the region, making sure that we can confront terrorism –
PENCE: – if it – if it rears it head once again. But the president’s looking at ways in Syria, and perhaps even in Afghanistan, where we can have less of a military commitment and see those resources and those troops coming home.