'Gang of 8' close to immigration reform deal?

Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks out


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," April 1, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

STUART VARNEY, GUEST HOST: Well, deal or no deal?

When it comes to immigration reform, that is the million-dollar question.

Marco Rubio's warning talk of a deal is premature. That is what he is saying. But if my next guest is right, a deal has never been closer.

To Republican Senator and 'Gang of 8' member Lindsey Graham.


VARNEY: Welcome, Senator. Good to have you with us.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R - S.C.: We don't have tattoos. Thank God.


VARNEY: I'm not asking.


VARNEY: Senator Rubio and yourself...


VARNEY: ... is there a rift between you on immigration?

GRAHAM: No, not really.

The eight of us are trying to put together a legislative proposal that would go through the regular process. It would go to the Judiciary Committee, where I'm a member. It would be amended, debated, changed, and then go to the full Senate and then eventually to the House.

The legislative proposal we're working on I think is a starting point of

the debate, not the ending point of the debate.

VARNEY: Are you close?

GRAHAM: Yes, very, very.

VARNEY: Very -- within days?

GRAHAM: I hope that by next week we can roll something out for public consumption.

VARNEY: It was said earlier on this program, about 20 minutes ago, that you are rushing into this, rushing to get some legislation because you want to play placate the Hispanic vote. That was the gist of the argument laid on us today.

GRAHAM: You know...

VARNEY: And you say?

GRAHAM: I want to -- I want to fix the broken immigration system for the good of the nation. We have 11 million illegal people here. That's not good for the country.

We have a family-based immigration system, when the whole world has a merit-, economic-based immigration system. Two goals, prevent a third wave

20 years from now, secure your border. You have a right to your own sovereignty. Control who gets a job. Provide abundant labor to employers who can't find American workers at a competitive wage.

And as to the 11 million, be firm and fair. I think that is a long- overdue solution to a very hard problem. And if we don't get it right this time, it will be a decade or more before anybody takes it up.

VARNEY: Senator Rubio says this talk of an imminent, imminent legislation is premature. Is there an area where you and he disagree specifically?

GRAHAM: The idea of a bill being sign is not imminent.

The idea of a legislative proposal that is bipartisan coming to the Judiciary Committee I hope will happen next week. You got to go through the committee. Then you go to the full floor of the Senate, then to the House. Everybody in America will get to read the bill. Those who don't like it can try to kill it. Those who want to change it will have an opportunity.

But the one thing I won't accept is the status quo. You're against amnesty, well, that's exactly what we have by doing nothing. If you want this country to grow and be competitive, we have got to access labor outside this country. We're a declining population.

The current immigration system is broken for all concerned.

VARNEY: The closing of the border, is that to you job one, not closing of the border, but making it less...

GRAHAM: Sovereignty. Sovereignty, controlling who comes to America.

You can come, but on our terms, not yours. If you can walk across the street, you will never control this issue.

VARNEY: Is that job one for you, sir?

GRAHAM: Absolutely.

Sovereignty is about a secure border. We spend $18 billion securing the border since 2006. We're going to spend more. But once you get here, getting a job, an E-Verify system to make sure that you can't hire somebody illegally. If you're an employer, you can find out if the person in front of you is legal or not.

That's all about sovereignty. Controlling who comes into this country is a sovereign right of this country. And I will insist on sovereignty.

VARNEY: Gun control, universal background checks not apparently, we hear, in the legislation that is going to come before Congress and before the president, the capping the size of the magazine not going to be part of the legislation.

GRAHAM: Right.

VARNEY: Both of those two issues, I believe, are very popular with voters, but they are not part of the legislation. You want to explain that?

GRAHAM: Well, because you can't get the votes to pass them. That's why they're not part.

Universal background checks, does that mean if a father gives a gun to his son for Christmas, they have to go through a background check? That's what they were trying to sell. That won't work. Criminals will never go through a background check; 76,000 people failed a background check in 2010. Nine thousand were felons on the run from the law, and not one of them got prosecuted.

Before you expand the background check system to include private individuals, let's start prosecuting people who violate the law that exists today.

VARNEY: Are you comfortable with presenting this kind of legislation, being part of this legislation, when it does not fulfill the wishes, the expressed wishes of many voters?

GRAHAM: I don't believe many votes expect a background check when a father gives a shotgun to his son for Christmas. I don't believe that most..

VARNEY: When it's portrayed like that, yes.

GRAHAM: Yes. Well, see...

VARNEY: But how about at gun shows?

GRAHAM: Well, in gun shows, you have to -- you buy it from a licensed dealer. Private people can show up at a gun show.

Here's what I want America to know. If you fail a background check in this country, what happens to you? Absolutely nothing. One-tenth of 1 percent of the people who fail a background check get prosecuted. There was a lady in my state who pled not guilty by reason of insanity of killing -- trying to kill the President of the United States in 2005. That was not even recorded the in the system.

She legally brought a gun this February. This system is broken. I want to fix it before you expand it.

VARNEY: Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican, Florida.

GRAHAM: South Carolina.


VARNEY: Oh. Where did I got that from?


VARNEY: South Carolina.

GRAHAM: And we like Florida.



VARNEY: I like your accent.


GRAHAM: Thank you. I like yours.


VARNEY: Thank you for joining us, Senator.

GRAHAM: Thank you very much.

VARNEY: It's been a pleasure. Thank you, sir.

Content and Programming Copyright 2013 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2013 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.