Graham: "The Goal Is Not To Open Up The Government," No Deal Without A Wall


Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, joins Margaret Brennan from Clemson, South Carolina to discuss the government shutdown battle and the administration’s plan for Syria.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-S.C.), MEMBER, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Yes. It was pretty clear to me that we're never going to have a deal unless we get a wall as part of it. Dick Durbin is a reasonable guy but he's not leading this parade. We're having to negotiate with people who want to abolish ICE, not support ICE.

We're having to negotiate with people who see the Border Patrol agents gassing children rather than defending our borders as professional law enforcement officers. And we're negotiating with people who give us $1 for the wall even though it's immoral and accuse all of us who support a wall as part of a border security that's racist. As long the radical left is in charge, we're never going to get anywhere. The president will compromise but he will not capitulate. So that's where we're at.

BRENNAN: But the people in the room are your colleagues, Senator Durbin, along with --


GRAHAM: He's not --

BRENNAN: -- you don’t --

GRAHAM: -- they sent staff people to do the negotiations. The vice president is in the room with a bunch of staffers. Dick Durbin is a good guy, he's a reasonable guy but Nancy Pelosi has made progress. She's gone from not a penny to a dollar. Nancy Pelosi sees the border crisis as manufactured. President Trump sees it as will. Until we see the same movie, you're never going to reach a conclusion.

The president is right to dig in to get money for a wall as part of border security. It will not be a concrete wall. It will be steel barriers. And every plan I've supported in the past with Dick Durbin has had money for physical barriers, including walls and fences, except now when Trump is president.

BRENNAN: Well, there are about 800,000 federal workers who are in this limbo, not being sure when they're going to get paid.


BRENNAN: So with that in mind, with them in mind, why can't you reopen the government while you argue about the things you just laid out?

GRAHAM: Why would you negotiate with somebody who calls you a racist if you want a wall who gives you a dollar for a wall when the Democratic Party supported $25 billion in the past?

We're not going to negotiate with people who see the world this way. We'll negotiate with Dick Durbin but I'm not going to negotiate with somebody who calls the Border Patrol agents a bunch of Nazis when they're trying to defend the border against a mob.

These caravans have changed everything. The reason you need $5 billion now and not $1.6 billion is the border is deteriorating in terms of security. We've got 11,000 unaccompanied minors coming from Central America. And it costs us $750 a day to house these minors. And only God knows what they go through to get here.

The Democrats see our law enforcement officers as the problem. We see the illegal immigrants, the coyotes and the drug dealers as the problem.


BRENNAN: What about the people who work for Homeland Security, who are carrying out the policies you're talking about, who are not going to get paid?

What about the Coast Guard, who are not going to get paid?


GRAHAM: They're being held hostage by people who say you need one dollar to secure the border. They're being held hostage by people --

BRENNAN: So you don't want to open the government and then continue --

GRAHAM: -- I do want to open up the government but the goal is not to open up the government. The goal is to fix a broken immigration system, to bring reality to this table, that ICE is not the problem, it's the solution.

The goal is to repair a damaged, broken immigration system. It's to implement policies Democrats have voted for in the past on President Trump's watch.

We're not going to give in to this radical left ever until we can find a rational way forward where we'll have a wall as part of a border security plan. We're going nowhere. Wall plus DACA plus TPS makes sense. But you'll never convince --

BRENNAN: Is the president open --


BRENNAN: -- but is the president open to that compromise you just floated there, that the --


GRAHAM: Yes, but what he's not open to is a lecture by the Speaker of the House, I'll give you a dollar. He's not open to the people on the left accusing his Border Patrol agents of being Gestapo agents, gassing children. He's not open to the idea that the wall is immoral. So if you bring Dick Durbin to the table we'll fix this.


BRENNAN: Let's dig into that. That's significant, what you said there.

If you think the president is indeed open to a DACA for a wall trade here, because he stood in the Rose Garden the other day and said, no, we got to wait for the court rules. And we're some time out from that.

GRAHAM: Well, OK. Here is what he's open to. He's open to getting his wall money. We need $5 billion for the wall in light of the increased threats. He has always put on the table, he put 1.8 million illegal immigrants having pathway to citizenship in his own plan.

So how can you say he's not open-minded to it?

Here is what I think the deal would look like. Give him the money we need to secure our border and $5 billion, $5.6 billion, could be well spent. And I think we can put on the table, TPS reform. There's 400,000 people going to lose their legal status soon who have been here for decades. I'd like to deal with that problem.

BRENNAN: When is that going to be put on the table, that offer?

GRAHAM: I think we'll have offers on the table when we find somebody that is not crazy to deal with. We're not going to put any offers on the table as long as people in charge of these negotiations accuse all of us who want a wall of being a racist and see our Border Patrol agents as gassing children.

Until you get that crowd put to the sidelines, I don't see anything happening.

BRENNAN: You've worked with the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, on criminal justice reform. He's cited as someone open to the deal you describe, of DACA for the wall.

GRAHAM: He is.

BRENNAN: But the president really seemed to shoot that down in the Rose Garden the other day.

GRAHAM: I am here to tell you --

BRENNAN: When will you see that put on the table?

Is that -- ?

That is a bigger immigration overhaul than what we're talking about right now, which is simply the wall.

GRAHAM: When you see Dick Durbin and others in the room, not a bunch of staffers, when you see this rhetoric that those who want to build the wall are racists stop, when you see the idea one dollar is enough for the wall, when that stuff ends, the real negotiations begin.

Right now the people running the show on the Left are radical, liberal Democrats, who don't see a border security problem. They see their own government being the problem, not the illegal immigrant. Until that changes we'll never get anywhere.

There's a deal to be had here but it will include a wall and if there's no wall in this deal, we'll never have a deal.

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