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Sen. Rubio defends 'Gang of 8' immigration overhaul; Sens. Durbin, Cornyn on chances of bipartisan compromise
Written by Chris Wallace / Published April 14, 2013 / Fox News Sunday
Special Guests: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas
The following is a rush transcript of the April 14, 2013, edition of "Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace." This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace.
Senator Marco Rubio explains a new plan to overhaul the nation's immigration system.
WALLACE: From securing the border to creating a path to citizenship, the bipartisan "Gang of 8" senators agree to reforms, drawing fire from the left and right.
We'll talk with one of the chief architects, Senator Marco Rubio, live only on "Fox News Sunday."
Then, is there a spring thaw in Washington's political gridlock. Are compromises suddenly possible on immigration and guns, even the budget? We'll discuss chances for deals with Senate leaders in charge of counting votes -- Democrat Dick Durbin and Republican John Cornyn.
Plus, new threats to peace on the Korean peninsula. We'll have a live report and ask our Sunday panel about new developments this week that have raised tensions even higher.
And our power player of the week. A high school senior uses tennis to help children cope with a serious disorder.
All, right now, on "Fox News Sunday."
WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.
The so-called "Gang of 8," four Republican senators and four Democrats, releases its plan this week for a comprehensive immigration reform. At stake, border security, the status of immigrants in the country illegally and votes of millions of Hispanics. And not surprisingly, it's already drawing heated criticism.
Joining us now, one of the architects of the plan, Senator Marco Rubio, who is in Coral Gables, Florida.
Senator, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."
SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA.: Good morning. Good to be back. Thank you.
WALLACE: The "Gang of 8" plan has a tough border enforcement component, 90 percent rate apprehension, 100 percent surveillance. How far are we from that now on our Southwest border?
RUBIO: Well, in some regions -- it's important to understand, there is no one border. The border is broken into nine different sectors. And in some sectors, that's probably being achieved today for different measures. But in others, it's not. At least three bor -- three sectors are far from that number. And that's what the number needs to come up to.
And as our plan is going to outline, if, in fact, it fails to reach out metric, then the homeland security will lose control of this issue and it will actually be turned over to a border commission made up of local officials from those states most impacted. They will have money set aside so they can solve it for those people themselves. So, we're confident it's achievable. It will take time.
But it also -- it's not just border security. You have to think about -- E-Verify is part of this bill, a universal E-Verify. That's a critical component of this as well, as the entry/exit tracking system, because 40 percent of illegal immigrants are people that came legally and they overstayed and we're going to deal with that issue as well. You have all three work together and all three have to happen.
WALLACE: All right. Let's go back to the border, though, just as an example. You say it's a trigger, the number, 90 percent apprehension rate has to be certified by the Department of Homeland Security before the 11 million illegals, a decade from now, can begin to apply for green cards.
But the Democrats on your "Gang of 8", including Dick Durbin, who will be on in the next segment, saying, no, it's not a trigger. It's just a goal that they have to be working towards.
Now, is it a trigger that has to be met or is it a goal?
RUBIO: Yes. Let me tell you why it's a trigger because, basically, homeland security will have five years to meet that goal. If after five years, Homeland Security has not met that number, it will trigger the Border Commission who will then take over this issue for them. So, they'll have five years to get it done. They have to create these two plans -- a fence plan, there has to be a fence component to this, and a border security plan.
And if at the five-year mark, they have not achieved that 90 percent or 100 percent, then they lose the issue to the Border Commission who has money set aside so they can finish the job and they can get to that number.
And then, of course, understand that it also includes as part of the trigger, E-Verify, universal, and entry/exit. All three things have to happen, and they all three work together to ensure that this is the most effective enforcement system that this country has ever had, if we can get it done.
WALLACE: All right. Let's look at the other side of this. While illegals are going to have to wait probably 15 years before they can become citizens, they get temporary legal status -- I guess it's called probationary legal status -- as soon as the Department of Homeland Security announces it has this plan, that it's going to begin this plan, and that's within months.
Question, why isn't that amnesty? Because, in fact, you're giving legal status to people who have broken the law. And most people here in Washington think once they have that status, whether -- even if it's called temporary, it's never going to get revoked, Senator.
RUBIO: Well, I think that's where people are misunderstanding. They don't get anything. What they get is the opportunity to apply for it. They still have to qualify for it. Meaning, they have to pass the background checks.
They have to be able to pay a registration fee. They have to pay a fine and then they have to renew it. This is not forever. This is a renewable thing.
And then they don't qualify for any federal benefits. This is an important point. No federal benefits, no food stamps, no welfare, no ObamaCare. They have to prove they're gainfully employed. They have to be able to support themselves, so they'll never become a public charge.
These are all things that they have to do just to keep that status. And the only thing that happens is that they will have to stay in that status until at least 10 years elapses and the triggers are met. All that has to happen and then the only thing they get is a chance to apply for a green card via the legal immigration system. We do not award anything to anyone.
WALLACE: But, again, this is what the critics are saying, that once they have this, quote, "temporary legal status", that nobody is ever going to revoke that and say, you know, once they've met the standards, you say, they paid back taxes, they paid a fine, they've got a job, that nobody is going to revoke that.
I want to put up on the screen what a critic said about the whole issue. "I would vote against anything that grants amnesty because I think it destroys your ability to enforce the existing law and I think it's unfair to the people who are standing in line and waiting to come in legally."
Senator, you said that back in 2009.
RUBIO: And I still agree with it. This is not amnesty. Amnesty is the forgiveness of something. Amnesty is anything that says do it illegally, it will be cheaper and easier.
Here's what people need to understand. Under the existing law today, if you are illegally in the United States, you are not prohibited from getting a green card and ultimately getting a citizenship. The only thing is, you have to go back to your home country, you have to wait 10 years and then you can apply for it.
And all we're saying is, we're going to create an alternative to that. That will still be in place, but we're going to create an alternative that says, OK, you want to stay here, you have to wait more than 10 years, you have to pay this fine, you have to pay your registration fee, you have to be gainfully employed, you won't qualify for any federal benefits. And then, after all of that, you don't get to apply for anything until the enforcement mechanisms are in place.
And I would argue to you that it will be cheaper, faster and easier for people to go back home and wait 10 years than it will be to go through this process that I've outlined. And that's why it's not amnesty.
And bottom line is, we don't award anything. You have to qualify. You have to apply for it. And that's the key distinction.
So, I agree, if somehow being in the country illegally is cheaper, easier and quicker than doing it the right way, I wouldn't support that. That's why I haven't supported certain efforts in the past, because I thought they did that.
WALLACE: All right. You have mentioned briefly, and I want to go into this a little bit more, the question of cost, because conservative critics, including the Heritage Foundation think tank, say that this plan, your plan, is going to be a budget buster. They say that these immigrants, once they get this temporary legal status, will be able to get all kinds of federal welfare programs, they're going to qualify for ObamaCare, that this is going to be a big net drain on our Treasury.
RUBIO: OK. First of all, that's -- obviously that's not -- we don't have a bill, so I don't think they've issued an analysis on this yet, but that's not true.
Under this plan, not only do you not qualify for any federal benefits while you're in the legal status. Under existing law, you don't qualify for any federal benefits during the first five years on a green card, either.
Second, in order to quality -- in order to keep this legal status, you must be gainfully employed and you must be paying taxes.
Third, in order to get a green card in the future, you must prove you've been gainfully employed and that you can support yourself.
And so, the bottom line is that that's just not accurate.
Now, here's the other point I would make. Any -- you know, conservatives love dynamic scoring, which is a complicated way of saying, you know, you look at a budget issue, not just for the cost but for the benefits associated with it. That's what we've always pushed for. That's why, for example, when we talk about tax cuts, we don't think tax cuts cost the government money. We think tax cuts help the government generate more revenue because it creates economic growth.
All I'm asking for is that for this plan to be reviewed through the same standard, the same conservative dynamic scoring that we apply to tax cuts, because I am confident that if you do that, and some have already started doing that, you will find that when with we reform our legal immigration system, we get these people that are already here now paying their taxes and not taking anything out of the system, this will be a net positive for the country economically now and in the future. Otherwise, it's not worth doing.
WALLACE: Senator, you clearly are at least considering running for president in 2016. Isn't this --
RUBIO: Says who?
WALLACE: Pardon? What are you going to say, sir?
RUBIO: I said, says who?
WALLACE: Well --
RUBIO: I said, who says I'm considering that?
WALLACE: Are you considering it?
RUBIO: I told people I haven't even thought about that. That's a decision far in the future. At some point in 20 -- you know, but, listen, I have to decide whether I want to run for reelection or get out of politics. But go ahead. I don't mean to interrupt you.
WALLACE: OK, no, that's all right. I interrupt you, you can interrupt me.
Question, though, let's assume for a second, you're at least considering the idea of running for president in 2016. Wouldn't this hurt you in Republican primaries?
RUBIO: I don't know. I haven't really thought about it that way. I can tell you that I've been elected to do a job. My job in the Senate is not just to give speeches and do interviews, it's to solve problems. And anyone who thinks that we have now in immigration is not a problem is fooling themselves.
What we have in place today is de facto amnesty. What we have in place today is not good for anyone except human traffickers and people who are hiring illegal aliens and paying them less than American workers. So, they're the only people benefiting from the system that exists today. It's bad for everybody else.
This is an issue that needs to be solved.
As far as those that are here undocumented, there are four options. We can try to round up people and deport them, which we know is not a doable thing for 11 million people.
We can make life miserable to them so that they'll self report. Again, not a plan that I think necessarily works.
We can leave it the way it is now. We've talked about cost -- it's a lot more expensive to leave it the way it is now than to reform it.
Or we can try to figure out a way to deal with this issue, in a way that insures that this never happens again and that this isn't unfair to people that are doing it the right way. And that's what I'm working. I think that's a very conservative position to hold and I think if we explain this to people and exactly what it does, we can gain a lot of support for this proposal. WALLACE: Senator, we've got a couple minutes left and I want to get through other issues. Let's do a lightning round. Quick questions. Quick answers.
You voted this week to filibuster the gun bill. Does that mean that you will vote against the Manchin/Toomey compromise to expand background checks when that comes up this week?
RUBIO: Well, to be fair, I haven't read it in totality. But I can tell you this, I am very skeptical of any plan that deals with the Second Amendment, because invariably, these gun laws end up impeding on the rights of people to bear arms who are law abiding and do nothing to keep criminals from buying them. Criminals don't care what the law is.
WALLACE: But, Senator, you have supported background checks in the Florida legislature.
RUBIO: Yes. But, again, those background checks in Florida are for people that have concealed weapons permits. For example, if you have a concealed weapons permit, you do a background check. I have no problem with that.
But are they going to honor that in all 50 states? If someone goes to another state to buy a gun, do I have to undergo another background check or will my concealed weapons permit be de facto proof that I am not a criminal?
These are the sorts of things I hope we'll talk about. But I think the bigger point is, we're missing a golden opportunity here. We're focusing so much on guns. We should be focused on violence. Violence is the problem.
Guns are what they're using to commit violence but violence is the central problem. And no one they all want to talk about what they're using, no one wants to talk about what is happening.
WALLACE: So, basically, in lightning round rules, how do you stop violence, Senator?
RUBIO: Well, I think we hope -- I hope we'll focus on mental illness. I hope we'll focus on prosecution. Are we going to prosecute people that have tried to buy guns and failed a background check? If you're not going to persecute them, then your law is useless.
I mean, these are the sorts of things we need to be focused on. And quite frankly, some of these solutions aren't political. We need to take a good hard look at our culture, at the decline of the American family, at the impact it's having not just economically on our society, but on the violence. Why are so many people desensitized to the murder and the suffering of others? Why is that happening in our country? I hope we'll be honest about that and have a good conversation because we need to solve that.
WALLACE: Finally, Senator, in less than a minute left, you were one of the group of a dozen senators who had dinner this week with President Obama. Would you, excuse me, consider a grand bargain with serious entitlement reform, more serious than the president has offered so far, if the cost is that you get more taxes through limiting deductions?
RUBIO: Well, I don't view it that way. I view it as economic growth. My goal is to get the economy to grow robustly because it's the only way to solve our problem. I am believer that we can't cut our way out of this and I'm a believer that we can't tax our way out of this.
The only way out of this is robust economic growth, combined with fiscal discipline. If there's a deal that does that, I'd love to support it. But if this is just a deal where we're going to raise taxes that hurt growth, in exchange for, you know, some cosmetic changes to some other problem, obviously, I'm not going to support that.
The only thing I will support are programs that further economic growth. Growth is the only solution to our problem. We need to grow our economy at 4 percent to 5 percent a year sustained over 10 years. That will solve our problem. That's what I hope we'll work on.
WALLACE: Senator Rubio, we want to thank you so much for joining us today. We'll be tracking immigration reform for months. Please come back, sir.
RUBIO: Thank you.
WALLACE: Up next, springtime wheeling and dealing on immigration, gun control, the budget, and more.
WALLACE: Something special happened in Washington this week. No, not the blooming of the cherry blossoms, though that was lovely. But some serious compromises on immigration, guns and the budget.
Joining us now, the two senators who count votes for possible deals. Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin joins us from Chicago. And Texas Republican John Cornyn is here in Washington.
Gentlemen, you just heard Marco Rubio.
Senator Cornyn, can you support the key component, which is that illegals get legal status within months as soon as the Department of Homeland Security announces its plan -- not that it's actually achieved it but its plan for border security -- or is that amnesty?
SEN. JOHN CORNYN, R-TEXAS: Well, Chris, I found it to be a good practice to read the bill before you comment on it, whether you're gong to support it or not. And I want to say that I'm encouraged by what the so-called "Gang of 8," including Senator Durbin, Senator Rubio, and others have come up with. I was here in 2007 last time we seriously debated immigration reform on the floor of the Senate and I have the scars to prove it. It was a tough --
WALLACE: But, briefly, if I can ask, could you accept temporary legal status for illegals before the border has actually been secured?
CORNYN: I believe border security is absolutely conservatively to this -- to this picture. And so much of it is regaining the public's confidence that the federal government is actually doing its job. So, until that confidence is restored by -- based on the basis of what the legislation provides, I would have difficulty supporting it.
But having said that, I want to read it, I want to go through the regular process on the Judiciary Committee and the floor, and I'm open to certainly supporting immigration reform.
WALLACE: Senator Durbin, let me ask you the same question I asked Senator Rubio. Is this 90 percent apprehension rate a trigger or a goal as you and some of the other Democrats on the "Gang of Eight" say?
SEN. DICK DURBIN, D-ILL.: Well, it's an important question but I think what Marco Rubio has said really put his finger on it.
Let's put it in context, Chris. Our border with Mexico is the safest and strongest it's been in 40 years. We have invested billions of dollars into border enforcement. We're putting more money into border enforcement than we're putting into the FBI and the Secret Service and ATF and DEA combined. And yet, we're saying that if we don't meet all the measurements, all the goals that we've set in years to come, we'll put more in, more investment there.
So, there comes a point we're working with the local units of government, we're making these investments, we are I think moving toward the type of border security which everyone wants to see in America -- most certainly, conservatives like Marco Rubio.
WALLACE: So, you know, an easy question/easy answer. Is it a goal or a trigger?
DURBIN: Well, I think it's both. I think it's both. In terms of saying we're going to shut down the whole system if we don't hit the number, you know, this is a tough thing to measure at some point. We may be within a point or two here or there. We're going to work with the local stakeholders in trying to make sure that we make the necessary investments to close the gap.
We're committed to it. It was the beginning part of the conversation. Every Republican at the table said we've got to start with border security, get that right and we'll stick around for the rest of the conversation. I think we've kept the faith on that issue.
WALLACE: All right. Gentlemen, let's turn to guns, which is another big issue you're going to be talking about this week in the Senate.
Senator Cornyn, you met with families of the Newtown victims this week. And after meeting with them, you said that they wanted mental health reform first.
WALLACE: But Francine Wheeler, the mother of one of the young children who was killed at Newtown, delivered the president's weekly radio address or media address this week.
Here's what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANCINE WHEELER, SANDY HOOK PARENT: Our younger son, Ben, age 6, was murdered in his first grade classroom on December 14th, exactly four months ago this weekend. Please help us do something before our tragedy becomes your tragedy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Senator, in that message, the only thing she mentioned was tougher gun control.
CORNYN: Well, in my meeting with the Sandy Hook families, they told me that -- and, of course, who wouldn't be -- who wouldn't have sympathy and empathy for these people who have suffered lost, but what they told me is they wanted to make sure their loved one did not die in vain, that something good would come out of this. And so, I think that's why I'm focused like a laser on the mental health component.
Adam Lanza --
WALLACE: But, forgive me, sir, they're focused on tougher gun control, specifically the background check.
CORNYN: Well, for example, Adam Lanza stole his mother's guns. A background check wouldn't have stopped that problem, that incident. A background should have stopped James Holmes in Tucson. It should have stopped the Virginia Tech shooter because their background check information about his adjudicated mental illness was not forwarded to the national -- FBI's background check.
In other words, I think the mental illness issue is the common element that we ought to be focused on. And I think we can do some good things.
But I'm not for symbolism over substance. I think we can't just pat ourselves on the back and say we're passing enhanced penalties for trafficking or other issues or background checks when they don't really go and solve the problems that caused these terrible tragedies.
WALLACE: Senator Durbin, you and Senator Cornyn, as we said in the lead-in, as the whips in the Senate, are the vote counters. You're the guys who know whether or not there are enough votes.
Are there enough votes when this comes up this week for you to pass the Manchin/Toomey compromise on expanded background checks?
DURBIN: Well, I think John will concede that Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania is one of the most conservative members of the Republican Senate Caucus; Joe Manchin, one of the most conservative members of the Democratic Caucus. The two of them have come up with a background proposal that is supported by 90 percent of the people in America. It's supported by 75 percent of the members of the National Rifle Association.
So, I hope that the 16 senators and even more will step up and join this approach to make sure that the background checks extend beyond where they are today to try to reach the 40 percent of firearms that are being sold without background checks.
WALLACE: But, sir, do you have the votes at this point or not?
DURBIN: We haven't whipped it. I can tell you this. When it gets down to it, we've got to ask the basic question, should we try to keep guns out of the hands of felons and people so mentally unstable, they shouldn't own a firearm? If the answer is yes, Manchin/Toomey is a step in that direction.
CORNYN: Chris --
WALLACE: Real quickly, Senator Cornyn, do you have the votes to block it?
CORNYN: Well, I'm interested in the debate and discussion, but I would just make the point that if Manchin/Toomey were the law of the land today, none of the four of the most recent mass tragedies involved in gun violence would have been prevented.
WALLACE: The parents say that doesn't matter, though.
CORNYN: Well, what matters to me is that we not just engage in a symbolic act and pat ourselves on the back and say we've done something good and left the problem unsolved. I'd like to solve the problem by focusing on the common element of these recent tragedies, which is the mental health issue.
WALLACE: OK, let's move on if we can to the budget. The president submitted his budget this week which calls for entitlement reforms and cuts, but also more taxes, through limiting deductions.
Here's how House Speaker John Boehner reacted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-OHIO, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: He wants to hold these modest reforms hostage for just another round of tax increases. It's no way to compromise. It's no way to move the country forward. And, frankly, it's no way to lead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Senator Durbin, you have supported chained CPI in the past as a more accurate way to measure cost of living adjustments. If it would be a sensible and accurate cut, if it would help preserve Social Security, why not just vote for it and split it off, not link it to this question of raising taxes?
DURBIN: Chris, let me tell you. This really gets down to the basics. If, in fact, the Republicans are genuine and sincere about dealing with the budget deficit, for goodness sakes, we have to put everything on the table.
The president just did that. The president stuck his neck out and I can tell you he's getting beaten up on the left by it.
What I have said is the chained CPI can be part of our effort to reform Social Security and make sure it has 75 years of solvency. That's what the president's aiming for. That's what I'm aiming for.
But when Boehner -- Speaker Boehner just dismisses this and says if the word "tax" is in there, then Grover Norquist and I are leaving, you know, that is no way to run a country. It's no way to accept a bipartisan responsibility to deal with this deficit.
WALLACE: Senator Cornyn, is the president's budget at least a starting point, a place to begin negotiations both on entitlement reform and higher taxes?
CORNYN: Well, on the chained CPI issue, I think it does represent some modest progress. But you have to recognize the fact this budget was two months late. It raises taxes another trillion dollars or contemplates that and it never balances.
So I give the president credit that he did put this on the table. But this -- I know Dick would agree, chained CPI won't save Social Security and Medicare. We've got to do more.
WALLACE: And if they were willing to do more, would you be willing to put taxes on the table?
CORNYN: Well, I'd be willing to talk about what a grand bargain would look like.
WALLACE: Including taxes?
CORNYN: The president got $600 billion in taxes in January and it's a wrong thing to do to raise taxes another trillion dollars, on top of the $1.6 trillion --
WALLACE: But would you be willing to -- (CROSSTALK)
WALLACE: -- or not, sir?
CORNYN: I'm happy to talk any day about anything. Just about. But I think the president got his tax increase.
WALLACE: OK. One last issue I want to get in to with both of you, and that is North Korea. Secretary of State John Kerry in Seoul this weekend said that the U.S. and South Korea are wiling to return to talks and even consider more aid to North Korea if that regime pulls back from its nuclear program.
Senator Durbin, this sounds familiar. Do we really want to go down this path again, more talks, more aid to the North Koreans?
DURBIN: The last thing we want is the launch of any kind of nuclear missile or nuclear weapon on the Korean peninsula or anywhere in this world. We've got to deescalate the rhetoric and the testing that's going on in North Korea and we're turning primarily to China and saying it's time for you to step up and show some leadership in this region of the world.
We're prepared to work toward a common goal of peace. But we need the Chinese to tell the North Koreans if they want to continue this kind of escalation of rhetoric, it's at the expense of the safety of this world, as well as their own economy.
So, I think Secretary Kerry has it right. We're willing to step forward but we want to see some positive measures from the North Koreans that bring down this harsh and hot rhetoric that we've heard so often in the last few weeks.
WALLACE: Senator Cornyn, a year ago, you accused the Obama administration of a policy of appeasement -- your words -- towards North Korea. How do you think they're handling the current situation?
CORNYN: Well, I'm not for paying an unhinged leader like Kim Jong Un ransom in order to have him toned down his rhetoric. I'm concerned that this inexperienced, the new leader of North Korea, will make a mistake or something could happen, which would result in the kind of conflict that Dick just alluded to. None of us wants that. But I don't see that this policy of paying ransom just to get him to tone down rhetoric has been successful. It's just sort of like a bad movie. We keep seeing the reruns.
WALLACE: Finally, we got 30 seconds left, Senator Durbin. You are chairing a hearing this week about the president's drone policy. Do you think that Congress should have a role deciding when, where, and who the U.S. strikes with drones?
DURBIN: Yes, I do. And I think the Constitution's very clear. The Founding Fathers said the people of America will decide when we go through war through their elected members of Congress. Those are the questions we have to raise now. The drones have offered us a new technology but an age-old question, when is America at war? How far can the war go? Who are the combatants in the war?
And in this circumstance, when it comes to targets in foreign lands, does it make a difference if it's an American or not an American? Critical constitutional questions -- not my idea, the idea of the Founding Fathers.
WALLACE: Senator Durbin, Senator Cornyn, we want to thank you both. You've got a lot on your plates -- and we'll be following all of the action in the Senate. Thank you both for coming in today.
CORNYN: Thank you, Chris.
DURBIN: Thank you.
WALLACE: Up next, the latest on the threats from North Korea. Secretary of State Kerry is now in Japan for talks on what to do about the threats from Pyongyang. We'll get a live report and ask our panel about an apparent softening in the U.S. position.
WALLACE: Now the latest on North Korea. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Tokyo continuing efforts to defuse tensions in the region. Kerry met with Chinese leaders Saturday getting at least rhetorical support from the only government that may be able to get North Korea to scale back its nuclear program. Fox News correspondent Greg Palkot is tracking developments from the South Korean capital of Seoul.
GREG PALKOT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Right. In Korea -- Secretary Kerry is wrapping up a high-stakes diplomatic tour of the region trying to deal with the looming threat of North Korea and a possible missile launch. He finished a meeting with the Japanese foreign minister and then he offered a possible peaceful resolution of the crisis through negotiations. However, he also said that North Korea has to commit to giving up its nukes and he also said that the U.S. is ready to defend itself and its ally. Finally, he had a stern warning for Pyongyang. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The North has to understand, and I believe must by now, that its threats and its provocations are only going to isolate it further and impoverish it's people even further.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PALKOT: North Korea and its young leader Kim Jong-un did respond rejecting those calls for dialogue, calling them a cunning ploy and saying that they never negotiate until the United States drops its confrontational attitude. Meanwhile, those mid-ranged Musudan missiles with a possible reach of a U.S. military base in Guam remains set for use. A U.S. official here tells me that he doesn't believe a firing is imminent, but they're mobile launched and they are quickly ready. By the way, a target date for that launch has been Monday, that's a birthday celebration of the founder of North Korea, Kim Il- sung, a possible missile path for that launch, right over Japan. Secretary Kerry wraps up in Japan on Monday. Chris.
WALLACE: Greg Palkot reporting live from Seoul, South Korea. Greg, thanks for that.
Time now for our Sunday group, former Republican Senator Scott Brown, Democratic strategist Marjorie Clifton, Republican political guru, Karl Rove, and former Democratic Senator Evan Bayh. Guru is a nice thing. You (inaudible) to be happy with that.
MARJORIE CLIFTON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I like that. Yeah.
KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR: You can call me swami.
WALLACE: There you go. Secretary Kerry began his visit -- gentlemen, please, lady. Began his Asian trip in Seoul where he said that the U.S. and South Korea would consider going back to talks, even giving more aid to North Korea if that regime pulls back from its nuclear brinksmanship. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: You would engage in bilateral talks under the right circumstances, but it's up to our friends to decide what they think those circumstances for them might be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Senator Brown, is that the right signal for us to be sending to North Korea now, bluster enough and we and the South Koreans will once again give aid and at least have talks with Kim Jong-un?
SCOTT BROWN, FORMER U.S. SENATOR, R-MASS.: Well, it's like groundhog day, we've heard this before. And it hasn't worked. And every time that North Korea shakes the -- and rattles the swords we're going to come and have talks with them, we're going to give them more aid. Bottom line is China needs to become fully engaged right now and they're not. If they become fully engaged, I do not think that they want to see North Korea exporting terrorism around the region and the world. They have to get involved right away.
WALLACE: But I want to pick up on this question of China, because after Kerry was in South Korea he went to China where he basically made a proposition of them that the U.S. would pull some of its defenses including its anti-missile defenses out of the region if North Korea were going to pull back on its nuclear program.
Senator Bayh, as a former member of the intelligence committee, what are the chances, you think, that China will actually pressure, its really pressure, not just talk about it, its client state of North Korea?
EVAN BAYH, FORMER U.S. SENATOR, D-IND.: I think the chances of that are good, Chris. The problem is that it won't ultimately get us what we want, because the North Koreans will never agree to completely denuclearize. It's the only thing that makes them relevant, rattling the sabers, part of their economic strategy, you know, blackmailing the rest of the word. And it ensures the survival of the regime. They looked at what happened in Iraq, a country that did not have nuclear weapons, they don't want to be attacked. So they are going to keep their nuclear capability. So, the Chinese will do enough to try and manage the situation, but North Koreans ultimately don't care about their people starving. What they care about is regime maintenance. That's why they are going to keep the nukes.
WALLACE: Karl, what struck me about Kerry's trip, and not just the soft talk, but also the hard talk, that this is unacceptable, is how much it frankly sounded like what we heard out of the George W. Bush administration, that, you know, we say we're not going to accept it, but we do accept it. And -- or at least are unable to do anything effective to stop it. Do you think that's fair?
ROVE: Well, I think -- look, there are limits to how much you can pressure the North Koreans. We have over the last decades stepped up sanctions. The administration has some sanctions still available, either multilateral or unilateral sanctions, but this is a difficulty in dealing with a regime that is run by a, you know, a thug family. I mean, remember, 13 years ago the leader of North Korea is being -- is leaving a Swiss boarding school where he was a mediocre student and participated in the campus production of "Grease", I mean this -- he's now -- he's acting tough in order to prove to the military and his own country that he's a tough enough leader.
WALLACE: Did he have a better haircut in those days?
ROVE: Apparently not. I'm seeing the photo -- there's another interesting thing about this. You mentioned Kerry's visit to China. China has given out to nice noises in the last, you know, 48, 72 hours, but it's a sign of the difficulty. They came as a result of Kerry saying to them, if you get North Korea to do something positive, we're open to withdrawing these defenses, the missile defenses that we've extended to cover our allies, Korea and Japan. And this is -- this is a sign of, you know, the difficulty in situation, because that may make China feel good, but it certainly doesn't make Seoul and Tokyo happy at all.
CLIFTON: Yeah. No, I mean I do agree that Kim Jong-il (sic) has kind of got this prepubescent identity crisis he's dealing with, and wielding these nuclear weapons as a means of trying to kind of make his place on the, you know, world stage, but it is a tenuous issue. We don't know how crazy they are because frankly, we haven't dealt with them the same way we have with Iran, or, say, Pakistan. I mean it worked effectively for them to say look, we've got this nuclear power, it got them the foreign aid they wanted, but ultimately, if they want to be a power player, if they want to have economic relevance on that international stage, this is the only tool they see that they have.
WALLACE: Senator Bayh, I mentioned the fact that you were a former member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. We had some confusion this week about whether or not North Korea has the capacity. We know they have missiles, we know they had bombs, nuclear bombs, but the Defense Intelligence Agency, apparently, thinks that they now have a war head capability to put a nuclear weapon on the tip of a missile. Then the defense and director of National Intelligence pushed back, the White House pushed back. As a former member of Senate Intelligence, what do you make of the seeming disarray in the intel community?
BAYH: What this reflects, Chris, is the difficulty of truly assessing what's going on in North Korea. And so, you're going to have different opinions within our intelligence services. The DIA may have one opinion, the CIA may have another, NSA have another. There's no consensus right now. And so -- and that's -- even the DIA only has moderate reliability in terms of the conclusion they reach. So, you have to -- and this is the challenge. Karl referred to it. You're operating with less than perfect information, the consequences of making a mistake are potentially very grave, so you've got to assume the worse and yet realize the bottom line here is they probably don't have this capability.
WALLACE: Take us inside the White House, Karl. How do policymakers make decisions when you don't really know what's going on on the ground?
ROVE: Well, remember, first of all this situation with the differences between the DIA and the director of National Intelligence, this is normal. I mean this is -intelligence is rarely, if ever 100 percent in agreement. The intelligence community tries to arrive at a consensus. The president has to go on the basis of best information he has possible. In this situation, we do know one thing for certain. They want to have the ability to launch a nuclear weapon on a intercontinental ballistic missile. They themselves were declaring that. I mean they said, we're going to strike Japan and nuclear war with Japan, Tokyo will be a sea of nuclear fire. That was in the last 48 hours. They announced that they want to have the ability to attack the United States. This is why President Obama's belated decision to reverse course and put the interceptors back at Fort Grant (ph) in Alaska that would protect the continental United States is so important.
WALLACE: Well, and, you've got to know that Iran is watching all of this and thinking that if they -- if North Korea is handled so gingerly, if they can get the nuclear capability, they get welcome to the club as well. All right. We have to take a break here.
When we come back, we'll tackle the coming storm over immigration reform. You won't want to miss it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JASON LERNER, YOUTOO TENIS: If Zack and I would play tennis, my parents would really emphasize that.
WALLACE: Over the years, Jason figured if it helped Zack it could help other children with autism.
LERNER: It's kind of -- it's extending from a few lessons to well, hey, maybe I could help more than that.
WALLACE: Stay tuned. We'll be right back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUBIO: The only thing that happens is that they will have to stay in that status until at least ten years elapses and the triggers are met. All that has to happen. And then the only thing they get is the chance to apply for a green card via the legal immigration system. We do not award anything to anyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Senator Marco Rubio earlier in this program starting the long, hard sell of immigration reform. And we're back now with the panel. You heard Senator Rubio and others, other senators, talk about it today. A lot of the details, Senator Brown, have been leaked out in the papers. From what you have heard so far, what do you think of the "Gang of 8's" immigration plan and what do you think of the conservative criticism that however you want to dress it up and put lipstick on it, it's amnesty.
BROWN: Well, first of all, I had an opportunity to speak to Marco last night. We spoke for about half an hour, I got a full briefing on what he was trying to do. Very similar to what he was trying to do before when I was in the Senate. I think it's a good start. And he pointed out there are 92 other senators that need to play a role. Here's the key: you need to make sure that this goes through the ordinary, regular order in the Senate, a full and fair, vetting process. Put it up that people look at it, digest it. Let them file amendments, let them feel like they're part of the process, because if Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer try to ram it through it's not going to pass.
WALLACE: But what about the danger that ends up getting nibbled to death?
BROWN: Well, that's -- that is the danger. But that's where people like Marco and Schumer and others have to hold the line and say, listen, this is a good bill. I think it's a good starting point. I commend the "Gang of 8" for doing what they're trying to do. The key is the enforcement. I like the high skilled worker, I like the fact that there's no federal benefits to anybody until they actually get in line and ultimately get their citizenship. That's huge for a lot of the conservatives and, quite frankly, many of the Democrats.
WALLACE: Marjorie, this is an issue you've worked on a lot. Your sense of this and it's political viability?
CLIFTON: Well, there's been no time like the present in that we saw the power of the Latino vote coming out of this past election. Both parties know the inevitability and the necessity of having that voting pool, even going into any future elections. But we also have voices we never had before. Sean Hannity on board with, you know, this policy. We've got Mark Zuckerberg speaking out with the Chamber of Commerce, we have the unions, we have the Republican National Committee and 80 percent of the public agreeing about this pass for citizenship. And I think the key thing that we've got to talk about is not amnesty, but accountability. This is a process that actually presents, as you said, paying back taxes. Actually doing -- paying your due and (inaudible) with the rights and the security. Because border security is stronger than it's ever been for 40 years in this country. We're spending $18 billion right now. We have 21,000 border security agents. So I think it's a different time where we were talking about piecemeal. It's the time for a path to citizenship.
WALLACE: Karl, you had -- this sounds familiar, you had your run with George W. Bush at immigration reform in the Bush White House and you ran into a road block. What do you think are the chances that Republicans, especially House Republicans, will be willing to stomach what you just heard today?
ROVE: Well, if the bill is along the lines of what Marco Rubio laid out with these very tough border standards, border security standards, with a long path to citizenship that involves -- that involves penalties. I mean amnesty is the forgiveness without penalty. There are penalties in this bill. Penalty of time. It's going to require them to wait until the border's secured and then begin a long process. I mean it's probably 13 years or longer, before anybody become a citizen. There's a penalty of money, they have to pay a fine, and then they have to pay the cost of monitoring them to make sure that they stay employed and pay taxes. There's a penalty of effort. They've got to learn English and they've got to remain employed and there's also a penalty in something being withdrawn. You cannot get a single federal benefit, including the Affordable Care Act, the ObamaCare, until and unless you become a citizen. So, as long as it's done, Senator Brown, he made a very important point, regular order -- this was killed in 2007 because Harry Reid derailed a very careful process set up by the White House, Senator Kennedy and Senator McCain, that had 94 amendments set up to vote. Senator Bayh would have been there to, I think, to have vote -- to vote on them. And that was important because the legislation has to have the consensus of Republicans and Democrats if they've had a chance to write it as best they could.
WALLACE: Senator Bayh, it strikes me that the toughest part of this bill for the conservatives, whether it's amnesty or not amnesty, is that the 11 million illegal immigrants who are now in this country, are going to get legal status and a lot of people think that it will never get revoked. I think the toughest part, for liberals, is the fact that it is tough. That there are all sorts of enforcement figures, that it is going to be a decade or longer. In that sense, that it is going to tick off people on the right and the left, has the "Gang of 8" hit the sweet spot here?
BAYH: I think they probably have, Chris. And the conflicting dynamic you outlined shows why this is hard and it hasn't been done until now. And I think we as Democrats need to decide, do we want to solve this issue substantively, in which case we respect the need for more border security and real penalty, or an issue for the midterm elections. My hope is, and this balance puts us on the path of solving this issue. There are significant elements in the Republican party that are for this. Democrats are for it. Washington gives it a better than 50/50 chance of getting it done, because you're seeing that --
WALLACE: I would -- I would like to be able to say that we had an exclusive interview with Marco Rubio this morning, but I would be lying. Because, in fact, he set a new record, he did seven morning talk shows. He is all in on immigration reform, which raises the question, Karl, what does this do to his political prospects? Particularly, we jousted about that a little bit, if he's thinking about 2016.
ROVE: Well, I think it demands, first of all, does the bill get passed? If it does, it will say something for his leadership and the leadership of the others at the "Gang of 8." This is going to sound strange coming from me, but I'm delighted and amazed with the leadership being shown by people as diverse as Jeff Flake and Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer and Marco Rubio. The Democrats and Republicans here have tried to cobble together a bill that's thoughtful, sensitive, tough and with an eye towards getting something done. And the leadership from this eight people, I mean I can imagine with the dynamic. Anytime you have Chuck Schumer in the room, you've got to have seven adults in order to control him. But the -- what the leadership ...
ROVE: ... the leadership from all ...
CLIFTON: We were on the path to bipartisanship.
ROVE: No ...
CLIFTON: This was a beautiful moment.
ROVE: Just remember, there are three Democrats, and they are worried about Chuck Schumer as well. But that the leadership that this group has shown is ...
WALLACE: Compare to my question. What does this do to his presidential prospects?
ROVE: Oh, I think it has -- Look, I think it helps him. I think if he decided to go. Because he's seen to be a leader. Leaders do things that are important.
WALLACE: Is it going to give him somebody on the right, to the right of him, in the Tea Party, being able to say ...
ROVE: Well, not ...
WALLACE: You're soft on immigration. ROVE: Wait a minute, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Jeff Flake is a Tea Party.
WALLACE: I understand. Marco Rubio is a Tea Party.
ROVE: Marco Rubio is a Tea Party. Raul Labrador, who's on the House working group, a Tea Party. John Carter of Texas is a small ...
WALLACE: But you know somebody is going to ...
ROVE: That's fine. And you know what -- that's -- leaders do things because they're important, not because they guarantee them a 100 percent success.
BAYH: What we saw in the last election, Chris, is that winning the nomination is not enough. This may complicate his nominating process that he runs, but it makes him a much more attractive candidate in the general election for people who are looking for problem solving and bipartisanship.
CLIFTON: And frankly ...
WALLACE: Real quickly.
BROWN: The key is to make sure that there is no federal benefits given. They had regular order, everyone's part of the process and as you pointed out, you don't let Chuck Schumer start cutting deals, because he wants to be a majority leader. You let him -- just kind of let him stay back now and let the process play out.
CLIFTON: And frankly, Congress needs this win. Our country needs this win, this bipartisan win.
WALLACE: OK, we have 30 seconds left. Senator Brown, there is talk that you might make a Senate run again in 2014. But not in Massachusetts, in New Hampshire. Why New Hampshire?
BROWN: Yes, I'm not going to comment on that, obviously. I think it's important to continue to do my job here and challenge people to do things better.
WALLACE: But you say -- but you did nothing's off the table.
BROWN: Nothing's off the table and nothing's on the table. Right now I'm recharging the batteries and working hard.
WALLACE: This guy is a ninth generation New Hampshire, that's the dirty little secret. His mother lives there, and ...
WALLACE: ... sounds like an endorsement from the guru. Thank you, panel. See you next week. Don't forget to check out Panel Plus where our group picks right up with the discussion on our Web site, FoxNewsSunday.com and make sure to follow us on Twitter@FoxNewsSunday.
Up next, our "Power Player" of the week.
WALLACE: Autism is the nation's fastest-growing developmental disability. One child in 88 is diagnosed with the illness, which impairs their social interaction. But now a remarkable young man thinks he knows how to help those kids open up. He's our power player of the week.
LERNER: People with autism spectrum disorder can tend to be impulsive or easily agitated. And so exercise helps them stay calm, and stay on task, and remember what they need to do.
WALLACE: Jason Lerner is a 17-year-old high school senior from McLean, Virginia, and he's come up with his own program to help kids with autism.
LERNER: All right, that's better!
WALLACE: For ten weeks in both the spring and fall he and some of his buddies teach children with the disorder how to play tennis.
LERNER: Which foot comes forward on the forehand? The left foot, right?
It seems like athletics or exercise could provide either a supplement or take the place of drugs in some cases.
WALLACE: It all started when Jason was a kid. He and his parents noticed his brother, Zack, who was four years older, was different.
LERNER: Zack could sometimes struggle with just doing homework or remembering certain things in the morning, getting ready for school.
WALLACE: But one thing seemed to help.
Zack and I would played tennis and we could see the importance of exercise and how it helps him stay calm and stay on task.
LERNER: All right, guys, we're going to do one big lap. All the way around.
WALLACE: Over the years, Jason figured if it helped Zack it could help others children with autism. Two years ago he started YouToo Tennis.
LERNER: Maybe I could help more kids out, maybe there's a way that we get more kids involved.
WALLACE (on camera): Why did you call it YouToo?
LERNER: Children with autism who wouldn't normally be able to engage in a sport and who may often be dragging the group behind, YouToo emphasizes that now they can have a chance to play a sport. And so, they feel a sense of belonging, or a sense of ownership. I think they really enjoy interacting with the high school kids. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ready?
WALLACE (voice over): That presented another problem. Jason is going to college next year and he's worried the program would die when he left, so he's been teaching some of the younger kids from Potomac high school how to keep it going.
LERNER: When it comes summer and they're sending out the distribution, setting up the program and reserving courts and getting funding and talking to different sources, I think they'll be able to do it and I think they'll do a great job.
Really good. One more?
WALLACE: When I asked Jason why he devotes so much time to YouToo, he remembered the first year when they finished the fall session.
LERNER: One child, he was cheering up a little bit -- and so I said, Toby, what's wrong? And he said well, we're never going to get to play tennis again. And I said, no, we'll have a session again this spring. And there's a lot of example that these children are starting shy and being there -starting to come here on the court and then by the end they own the court, they're confident, they're having fun, they're talking to us. And so, it's a lot of fun for myself and the other instructors, too.
WALLACE: Jason is headed to the University of Pennsylvania, which has a program in autism research and he plans to keep working in that field. And that's it for today. Have a great week. And we'll see you next, "Fox News Sunday."
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