Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he “really” believes President Trump would be open to signing a deal that would include border wall funding in exchange for temporary protected status reform and legislation to protect beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program from deportation.
The Trump administration has been reversing TPS designations, which grant foreign nationals from certain countries time to live and work in the United States if natural disasters or conflicts have created unlivable conditions. TPS for Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal and Haiti ends this year; a lawsuit to keep about 50,000 Haitians from being deported is moving forward this week.
Additionally, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced before Christmas legislation to grant temporary protected status to Venezuelans.
Graham told CBS’ Face the Nation that the government can’t be reopened during wall negotiations: “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?” he asked.
“We’re not going to negotiate with people who see the world this way,” he added. “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.”
Graham said that “wall plus DACA plus TPS makes sense.” It’s a deal reportedly backed by White House senior advisor Jared Kushner.
“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,” he said.
Graham predicted that “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.”
Trump told reporters today that “we’ll see what what happens with DACA” at the Supreme Court.
“If the court does what most great legal scholars think they’ll do, they won’t give President Obama, or President Trump, the power to do what President Obama did. And if that happens, it will be a great thing for our country. You know why? Because we’ll work out a deal very fast with the Democrats, on DACA. We’ll work out a deal very quickly with Democrats, on DACA,” the president said.
Durbin told CBS that the solution to most undocumented immigrants in the U.S. “is not a concrete wall, it’s a computer program that needs to track these people who received the visas” and overstayed.
On Trump changing his border wall plans from a concrete wall to steel fencing, Durbin noted that “he’s changed his demand from time to time and he’s changed the amount of money he’s asking for dramatically, from $2 billion to $5 billion to $11 billion to $25 billion, even to $70 billion.”
“Vice President Pence said at one point a few weeks ago, $2 billion will do it, $2.1 billion. And then within a matter of hours, the president reversed it, said, no, it has to be $5.6 billion,” Trump said.
Durbin recalled that he and Graham presented a bipartisan DACA deal to Trump a year ago that the president rejected.
“He said, ‘I’ll go with my approach.’ His approach ended up with 39 votes in the United States Senate, it wasn’t even accepted by his own party unanimously,” Durbin said. “So we’re in a position now where, when the president makes these claims and promises, a lot of us — I hope I can speak for Senator Graham — are a little bit skeptical.”