In this Fox News Sunday Show With Chris Wallace: Sens. Graham, Lee talk Edward Snowden, GOP immigration split; Gabriel Gomez’s race for US Senate seat
WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.
NSA leaker Edward Snowden is on the move today. With the U.S. seeking Snowden’s extradition, Hong Kong authorities allowed him to leave the country, reportedly on a flight to Moscow. And Russian news agencies say he’s booked on a flight from Moscow to Cuba on Monday.
Joining us now to discuss the Snowden case and the split inside the GOP over immigration reform are two leading Republicans. Senator Lindsey Graham is a member of the “gang of eight” that is leading the push for reform. Senator Mike Lee opposes the legislation and he is the author of a new e-book, “Why John Roberts Was Wrong about Healthcare.”
We should, both are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Gentlemen, let’s start with Snowden.
Senator Graham, what do you make of Hong Kong — excuse me, Hong Kong authorities allowing Snowden to go? They say our extradition papers were not in full compliance with their law and what leverage do we have over Moscow if they decide to let him go to another country?
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C., ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Well, I’d like to find out why our papers were not in compliance. That would be a big mistake by the Department of Justice.
I don’t think he’s a hero. I believe he hurt or nation. He compromised our national security program designed to find out what terrorists were up to. So, the freedom trail is not exactly China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela.
So, I hope we’ll chase him to the ends of the earth, bring him to justice and let the Russians know there will be consequences if they harbor this guy.
WALLACE: Well, I was going to ask you about that because the key decision over the next 24 hours has to be made by Moscow, Senator Graham. Should we put pressure on them now right now, hold him there?
GRAHAM: Absolutely. They want to be part of the world community, the WTO. They want a good relationship with the United States. They should hold this felon and send him back home for justice.
WALLACE: Senator Lee, are we basically helpless here as Ed Snowden thumbs his nose at the United States with the help of the Chinese and now apparently with the help of the Russians. And what if he goes to another country, whether it’s Cuba, or Iceland or someplace in South America?
SEN. MIKE LEE, R-UTAH: Yes, I don’t know if I would use the word “helpless,” but we are in a precarious position here.
But I think Mr. Snowden is also — look, I made no secret about the fact that I’ve got some concerns about much of what the NSA has been doing, but I think Mr. Snowden is delusional if he thinks that he’s going to find a country with a better human rights record in Moscow or in Havana or Caracas. I think he’s in for a rude awakening if that’s what he has in mind.
WALLACE: So, what does it tell you if Ed Snowden is headed to one of those countries rather than the U.S.?
LEE: It tells me that if he’s looking for a place with a better human rights record than the United States, he’s certainly not going to find it in any of those countries.
WALLACE: All right, gentlemen, let’s go to immigration reform, which is the reason we invited you here, in the first place. With the addition of more than $40 billion in new border enforcement, will the Senate this week pass comprehensive immigration reform? If so, how many votes?
Senator Graham, let’s start with you.
GRAHAM: The bill will pass. I think we are on the verge of getting 70 votes. That is my goal. It’s always been my goal. We are very, very close to 70 votes.
The Hoeven-Corker Amendment I think gets us over the top.
WALLACE: We’re going to talk in detail about that in just a moment.
But let me ask you for a general prediction also, Senator Lee. I know you are opposed to this legislation. But do you agree that it’s going to pass with a very wide majority, something like 70 votes?
LEE: I think it is like to pass and I think it may well be along the margin Senator Graham suggested.
And, you know, the sponsors of this bill had the best of intentions. In my opinion, the best intentions aren’t enough when you’re dealing with a 1,200-page bill.
They promised us that under this bill, illegal immigration would be a thing of the past. It won’t. CBO told us this week that 10 years from now, we’ll still have 6 million to 8 million illegal immigrants in this country.
They told us it would be tough but fair. It’s neither beneath. It’s not tough on those who broke the law and it’s not fair to those patiently who’ve been patiently waiting in line to come to this country legally.
And perhaps, worst of all, Chris, we learned late Friday — just late Friday, that they are going to replace the “gang of eight’s” bill, about a thousand pages, with a 1,200-page Corker-Hoeven Amendment.
This is a provision few people have read and ever fewer understand.
So, look, we all want immigration reform. But this bill is not the right vehicle for getting there.
WALLACE: All right. Let’s talk about this amendment which has apparently changed the calculus and added 10 to 15 more Republican votes. It’s being called the Border Surge Amendment.
Let’s look specifically at what it would do: double the number of border agents to 40,000. Complete 700 miles of new fencing. Deploy drones, radar and ground sensors. Full implementation of E-Verify for employers and beef up entry-exit tracking for people on visas.
Senator Lee, is your problem that you don’t think even with this $40 billion in extra border enforcement, you still don’t think it’s going to work? Or is your problem the sequencing, the idea that it’s going to allow a provisional legal status for the 11 million people, immigrants who are already here before you get all of this border enforcement in place?
LEE: As a proponent of immigration reform, my problem has been sequencing and the fact that it’s not a good idea to try to attack the entire problem at once. That’s how you end up with a 1,200-page bill.
And with the sequence of this bill in particular, we have to look to the fact that the pathway to citizenship begins basically on day one. But it will take many, many years, if not decades to fully implement all these border security measures.
WALLACE: Senator Graham, you say many Republicans who were opposed to talk about border security — they really just don’t favor a path to citizenship. But the Congressional Budget Office — and this is something Senator Lee just pointed out — the Congressional Budget Office said that your “gang of eight” bill would only reduce illegal immigration by 25 percent.
GRAHAM: They are talking about the entry-exit problem, 48 percent of the people here illegally overstayed their visas. There will be improvements in that area.
As to the border, we practically militarized the border. I have been hearing for year, let’s secure our border, let’s regain our sovereignty. We have secured our border in a way I could not have imagined four, five years ago.
This whole border security amendment, I think, is the most aggressive attempt to control the southern border and regain our sovereignty. This bill reduces our deficit by $890 billion. It is good for our economy. This bill is good for our national security.
No one can get a green card until border security measures are up and running, until E-Verify is up and running controlling a job in America.
As to the 11 million, they will have an earned, hard pathway to citizenship. They have to get in the back of the line before they can become citizens. They can’t cut in line. They have to pass two English proficiency exams.
I reject the idea of becoming the Mideast or Europe where you have 11 million people with a legal status who can’t be part of America. America is different than the Mideast and Europe. E pluribus unum, out of many, one.
This is tough practical solution for our national security, for our economy and tough, practical solution to 11 million. And most importantly, if we do the bill, amnesty is the status quo. If we do this bill, there will be no third wave of illegal immigration.
WALLACE: Let me ask you about another objection that Senator Lee just mentioned — the idea that this is going to be a huge 1,200-page bill. I heard you complain about that during Obamacare, the idea that you have a huge bill nobody read and why not take it in more incremental, bite-sized pieces. Why not in this case?
GRAHAM: Well, let’s look at it this way. Give the Republicans all the border security you want and all the legal immigration you want and trust the Republicans to deal fairly with 11 million, that’s not going to sell to a Democrat and I’m sure as hell not going to accept an agreement where they get legalization on a pathway to citizenship. Then they give me border security. Then they give me legal immigration reform.
You have to do it together. We have tied border security and legal immigration reform to green card status. Until we secure our border, until we get legal immigration reform in place, you can’t get a green card which would put you on citizenship status. We tied the two together.
That’s the only way to do this. I’ve been dealing with it since 2005 and 2006, and this is a great solution for our economy and our national security. And I’m very proud of this bill.
WALLACE: Even if the Senate passes immigration reform this week, it still has to go to the House.
And, Senator Lee, you have said it will be dead on arrival in the House. House Republicans are talking about the kind of incremental approach I know you favor. Let’s deal with enforcement first. After that we can deal with the 11 million illegals who are in this country.
Let’s look at something John Boehner said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER, R-OHIO: It’s border security and confidence that we have the border secured before we begin to go down this path of addressing both illegal immigration issues and the illegal immigration issues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: But, Senator Lee, Lindsey Graham says — and I must say, a lot of Democrats say — that will kill the legislation. They’re not going to accept border enforcement first and then a promise of dealing with legalization of the 11 million people who were already here afterwards.
LEE: Well, that’s what they have said. It’s what they want to be the case.
The fact is, I think the House of Representatives has it right. In any event, the House of Representatives has said border security first. They are doing exactly the right thing. They are dealing with it in the right sequence.
The House Judiciary Committee passed out of committee this week, two security measures — two things to bring about robust immigration reform and a step by step process. I think that’s the approach we ought to be taking.
What’s making this contentious, what’s making it politically divisive is that the Senate “gang of eight” insisted on wrapping the issues up into one 1,200-page bill. That’s what’s making it divisive because they are putting the single most controversial, confrontational issue — that of amnesty and ultimate citizenship — into a 1,200-page bill.
WALLACE: All right. Gentlemen, we’ve got about two minutes left. And I want you to split it evenly, if you will.
There’s a lot of — needless to say — a lot of politics in this. President Obama pushed for passage of the Senate bill this week at his weekend media address. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: That’s what comprehensive immigration reform looks like — stronger enforcement, a smarter legal system, a pathway to earned citizenship, a more, vibrant growing economy that’s fairer on the middle class.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Senator Graham, is President Obama doing enough to push this, and if Republicans are seen — whether in the Senate, unlikely, or in the House, much more likely, as stopping the comprehensive immigration reform, what will be the political fallout as the GOP tries to reach out to Hispanic voters?
GRAHAM: Well, President Obama has been better on immigration than Senator Obama. Senator Obama started doing the union’s bidding and helped take the bill down in 2006 and 2007. Every time we’ve asked him to do something he’s come through. But when he does things on his own, even this time around, it’s been pretty much a disaster coming out of the White House.
As to the Republican Party, here is my firm belief. America is not divided on this, Mike. Seventy percent of Americans, including Republicans who support an earned pathway to citizenship over a 13-year period where you get in the back of the line, learn the language and pay a fine. So, to the Republican Party, this is a chance to improve our economy, reduce the deficit by $890 billion to get border security you will never see in your lifetime, to regain our sovereignty.
If it fails and we are blamed for its failure, our party is in trouble with Hispanics, not because we are conservative but because of the rhetoric and the way we handled this issue. I want to get reattached to the Hispanic community, to sell conservativism, pass comprehensive immigration reform and grow this party. The party has got to be bigger than Utah and South Carolina. The Hispanic community is close to our values but we have driven them away over this issue.
Let’s fix this problem for the good of the country and for the good of the party. And this bill does that, my friend.
WALLACE: Senator Lee, let me pick up on what Senator Graham said to you. Mitt Romney got only 27 percent of the Hispanic vote back in November, 50,000 new Hispanic citizens become — reach voting age every month in this country.
If your party is seen as killing immigration reform, are you going to you see that at the polls for decades to come?
LEE: Well, look, if we turn immigration reform into a political football, everyone loses. We all know that. We’ve learned that from the past. We don’t want to have to learn that in a hard way in the future.
What the American people want is to make sure our border is secure and they want to make sure that we fixed our legal immigration process, especially before we legalize, much less granting citizenship to 11 million people, treating them all the same regardless of whether they overstayed visas or crossed in illegally in the first place.
We have to remember at the end of the day, that CBO told us early this week that this will be bad for wages. It will be bad for unemployment. This is not the right solution.
WALLACE: Senator Lee, Senator Graham, thank you both. Thanks for joining us today to talk about this. We’ll watch what the Senate does this week. Thank you, gentlemen.
GRAHAM: Thank you.
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