Debating the president's guidelines for immigration reform

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," October 9, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHARLES SCHUMER, D-N.Y.: We all agreed on a framework. To pass DACA protections and additional border security measures excluding the wall. While both sides agreed that the wall would not be any part of this agreement, the president made clear he intends to pursue it at a later time. And we made clear that we would continue to oppose it.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We are talking about taking care of people, people that were brought here, people that have done a good job and were not brought here of their own volition. But very importantly, what we want, we have to have a wall. We will only do it if we get extreme security. If we don't have the wall, we are doing nothing.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, that was September 14th and 15th. Now it is October 9th and the Trump administration releasing its immigration principles, among them funding and complete construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall, block sanctuary cities from receiving certain federal grants, end asylum abuse and extended family chain migration, establish a point based system for green cards. And the pushback from Democrats was reacted this way by the administration.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: They should actually be calling their friends Chuck and Nancy and say are you going to give up the deal because you don't want -- why don't you want a border wall constructed? Why don't you want more immigration judges and agents? And why isn't it a reasonable policy to limit chain migration, and also to stop these visa overstates and to make sure people that are flouting the law once they're here, breaking the law once they're here, go back?


BAIER: So where are we on this this DACA deal? Let's bring in our panel: Olivier Knox, Yahoo! News chief Washington correspondent; Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist, and Guy Benson, political editor of Mollie?

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: It's so interesting how things work in this town. You have on this issue of immigration a true disagreement. You have people with really different ideas about how best to protect the economic interests of the country and security. And it seems like this is a great place to negotiate. You have people who really want to work out something for children who came here illegally who are still in the country now as adults, and you have people who want to deal with border security, actual enforcement of our many immigration laws, and perhaps a change to our immigration policies that it matches like more what Canada and Australia have in terms of merit based.

I think for most people in America this seems like a perfect thing to go forward, work on this. Everybody gives a little bit here and there and you could actually come to a plan. And yet I don't think people think that's what's going to happen.

BAIER: So is this a negotiation? Is this something that Senator Schumer misunderstood and Minority Leader Pelosi misunderstood from their time in the Oval Office, or what is this?

OLIVIER KNOX, YAHOO! NEWS: I would say Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi had an interest coming out of that meeting in the Oval Office declaring that they had struck a deal and laying out the particulars for trying to lock the White House.

And I think Mollie is right whether this is a negotiating tactic, in other words, are things going to fall away from this list of priorities as the negotiating continues, or is this hardened fact? It's not really clear to me. The president in that clip said he won't do anything unless he gets the border wall and Democrats have said we are not going to support the border wall. That doesn't really set the state for anything better than a stalemate.

BAIER: I guess what the definition of the wall is at some point will come into play?

GUY BENSON, TOWNHALL.COM: I think so. I am remembering now Michael Short, a top adviser at the White House, had seemingly confirmed about a month ago that the president had taken the wall off the table as a redline demand in this negotiation. Now it appears the demand is back on the table.

So I know some people looked at this laundry list today as maybe the art of the deal. Ask big and then gravitate towards the middle after having moved the Overton window in your direction. The only problem with that theory in this situation is that the White House had already apparently given some big concessions which they are now backtracking on.

I think leverage goes to the Democrats because they are very happy to stand up to Trump vis-a-vis their base and to say you set this ticking clock. You said you wanted to help these kids. We are happy to keep this as an active issue for us. Your move. I think that Chuck and Nancy, as he calls them, are probably pretty pleased with this development, actually.

BAIER: We are coming up onto a busy legislative time where things -- there are deadlines on a number of different fronts. One of them is the budget, and this DACA deal will factor into that.

HEMINGWAY: Yes, and there are important things like tax reform that need to come into play here.

But I don't know if I agree on the deadline issue. I think it's just as much of a problem for Democrats who really want to get something worked out on the deferred action. There is a deadline and there will be people who, by their own statements, really need to be taken care of. And if they don't do something, it's really incumbent upon people who say it's so important to act like it's important and work.

I think Americans in general are pretty moderate on this. They want increased security, increased border security. They want enforcement, and they also want something that can help out people who were brought here illegally as children.

And so I think for a lot of people outside this town, it just seems like why can't this be something that you work on it. And yes, a lot of people look at it as political leverage, but at some point there are actual lives not just for the people who are the children, or the adults brought who were brought here illegally as children, but also everybody else who is impacted by immigration laws. And this is something that people in this town really don't think about, which is how immigration policy affects people economically, it affects their security, and this is important.

BAIER: Last word, Olivier.

KNOX: I think that's fair. I think it's a bigger problem for the DACA folks. But what's striking to me is it seemed like they had the outlines, the contours of a deal earlier on that people could more or less live with at least at the White House and among Democrats and some Republicans. And what is striking is what Guy said is that this looks, maybe poison pill is too strong, but this looks like a really, very sharp shift away from at least that notional deal.

BAIER: Maybe we are seeing negotiating in real time. We'll see.

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