The politics of President Trump's immigration crackdown

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," January 8, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We are going to end chain migration. We are going to end the lottery system. And we are going to build the wall.


REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ, D-ILL.: Now I think it's our responsibility to protect those young men and women because it's really a fight not only for Dreamers today but for a real sense of fairness in the United States of America.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Immigration now the key issue in the talks about funding the
government. This as temporary protection status is coming to an end for
number of countries, now announced today. El Salvador, almost 200,000
people expiring September of next year, Honduras, 57,000 expires July 5th,
2018, Haiti, 46,000, Nepal, Syria, there you see those are also 2018
expiration for temporary protection, essentially meaning that the
immigrants could come here and stay inside the U.S. DHS, Department of
Homeland Security saying the original conditions caused by the 2001
earthquakes in El Salvador no longer exist. So it's coming to an end and
it's sparking a lot of reaction.

Let's bring in our panel: Steve Hayes, editor in chief of The Weekly Standard; Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist, and Charles Lane, opinion writer for The Washington Post.

Let's start, Steve, with this TPS, temporary protection status. The
administration saying, hey, listen it's over. El Salvador can take the
people back. For different lawmakers they're saying wait a second.
They've been here almost 20 years and they've established themselves and
their families.

"There's nothing so permanent as a temporary government program." This is
evidence that he's right.

This is a program that was put in as an emergency measure. It's been on
the books now for 18 years, as you suggested in the intro. The conditions
that caused it in the first place, these dual earthquakes, are no longer in
existence. And the justification for it I think has shifted quite
obviously, and its proponents are not even really pretending that the
justification has shifted.

Donald Trump ran for office saying he was going to change immigration laws
and change them in a pretty dramatic way to make them more restrictive.
That's what he's doing. Nobody should be surprised that he's trying to do
this. And I think the objections are pretty tough to justify at this

BAIER: One of the Republicans, Mario Diaz-Balart, saying "I'm in strong
disagreement with the administration's decision. While living conditions
may have slightly improved, El Salvador now faces significant problems with
drug trafficking, gangs, and crime. Since 2001 these people have
established themselves in the United States, making countless contributions
to our societies and our local communities. It would be devastating to
send them home after they have created a humble living for themselves and
their families. I strongly urge the administration to reconsider this
decision." It doesn't look like that's going to happen.

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: The United States is a wonderful
country and it is a much better place to live than a lot of places on
earth, but as Steve points out, it's a temporary program. It's like how we
talk about DACA. The d stands for "delayed action." Americans have been
told that these are programs that are temporary, that they're not
permanent, and then there's a large bait and switch where after decades
they say, well, now there's nothing we can do.

To me this points to the much larger problem of our immigration policy
which is not very coherent, which doesn't think through what the needs of
the country are and how they match with the citizens. And unfortunately we
are just not having a very good conversation about it. There really are
lots of conflicts here. There is the rule of law. There is with the
country needs. There are the needs of immigrants and there are the ways
that immigrants help countries and the way that they hurt, and nobody is
having a good conversation.

BAIER: Chuck?

president some credit for precipitating an issue that has been allowed to
sort of rollover somewhat mindlessly for many years and, as my colleagues
have said, outstripping the original purpose of this temporary grant of

Having said that, I also don't think it's very realistic to talk about
returning so many people to El Salvador in effect over the next 18 months.
And the reason I say that is it could be a total of about 400,000 -- sorry,
200,000 temporary departure people, but they seem to have at least 100,000
children among them, many of whom are U.S. citizens. That's a big problem
in and of itself.

And I suspect a lot of them are going to attempt to stay here some other
way. They're going to try to get legal status. And a lot of them will
just stay illegally if they can't find legal means. So what I hope was
going to come out of it is that sort of like he tried to do with DACA, the
president has put Congress on notice. They've got 18 months to come up
with something permanent that makes sense for these folks, and I would say
to Representative Diaz-Balart, that's your job.

BAIER: Right, speaking of that, it is the central issue on this government
funding negotiation. Here is Mick Mulvaney on DACA.


billion in the request for it this year. That's the 2018 funding Bill we
have to take up before the end of January. There's about $18 billion to
finish the southern border security. The president is absolutely committed
to having that as part of a larger DACA agreement. So it's really two
piece, 1.6 billion for some money for some wall this year, and then a
larger agreement for the entire wall for the entire border security package
as part of DACA.


BAIER: Can Democrats, Steve, get to a place where they don't give
President Trump a win? They give him some security. They kind of punt the
issue down the road a little bit about the wall, and they somehow come up
with an agreement.

HAYES: Democrats are deeply divided on this. You have got the progressive
left that doesn't want to even have this conversation, and then you've got
more pragmatic Democrats that are willing to try to find some solution.
And it's a good guess as to who's going to win that debate.

I think the most likely outcome is that they give will be and how we define
wall. What does a wall mean? It's not going to be a permanent structure
that spans the 2,000 miles of the southern border. It will be a
combination of cyber defenses and fences and the existing wall, or the
existing border protections which covers some 654 miles of the 2,000
already, and that that will be the give. That's where --

BAIER: Is that good enough for the president's base after a campaign of
Mexico is going to pay for the wall, we are going to get the wall. There's
different pieces of a wall that are already up to look at. The president
reportedly is going to go look at them along the border. Is that good

HEMINGWAY: I don't know exactly, but what really needs to happen is
looking at our immigration policy dramatically differently. And we keep on
having these problems where every few years we need to have amnesty for
hundreds of thousands of people. We need to change at the outset, and
there's no reason why it can't be win-win for everybody, really, border
security and helping people who are here illegally.

BAIER: Quickly, it could be another pond January 19th to, whatever it is,
March, end of March, to come up with some deal on the spending.

LANE: That's true, although the clock is really ticking on DACA itself
which I think expires in March.

And as to your original question, is it good enough for the base? It can
be if the president finds a way to pitch it that way. He can already claim
illegal crossings in Mexico are way down in his presidency. He could
declare victory himself, but I think he is very fixated on that physical

HAYES: And Mexico is not paying for the wall.

BAIER: Or an invisible wall.

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