Lindsay Graham to Trump: Obama, Bush Couldn't Pass Immigration Reform But 'I Think You Can Do It'

| JAN 4, 2018 | 6:03 PM

On Thursday, President Donald Trump met with leading Republican senators to discuss a new immigration reform package that could tie legal status to border security enhancements.

The meeting took place amid uncertainty as to whether Democrats and Republicans could reach an immigration deal that both provided legal status to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients, and fund Trump's coveted border wall.

Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), whom Trump said he liked “very much” and no longer viewed as an “enemy,” projected that Congress would have a better chance of passing immigration reform under the Trump administration.

“Obama couldn't do it, Bush couldn't do it,” Graham said referring to former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush's attempts to pass immigration reform.

“I think you can do it,” Graham told Trump. “There's a deal to be had. If you want it bad enough, you'll get it ... but I've never been more optimistic about an immigration reform proposal making it to the president's desk than I am right now.”

During the meeting, Graham indicated that both sides would have to compromise to accomplish reform. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) committed to holding a vote on a DACA fix, Democrats previously balked at immigration proposals pushed by the Trump administration.

After the administration ended DACA, it gave Congress a six-month timeframe to develop a legislative solution for those receiving legal protection under the policy. When Trump proposed border wall funding and other measures in exchange for a DACA fix, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) suggested that was unreasonable.

“The administration can't be serious about compromise or helping the Dreamers if they begin with a list that is anathema to the Dreamers, to the immigrant community and to the vast majority of Americans,” Schumer and Pelosi said in a joint statement.

But during his meeting at the White House, Trump said he wouldn't support DACA legislation without a border wall.

“That's why our position has been clear, and very clear from the beginning. Any legislation on DACA must secure the border with a wall,” he said. “It must give our immigration officers the resources they need to stop illegal immigration and also to stop visa overstays and, crucially, the legislation must end chain migration. It must end the visa lottery.”

Watch Graham and Trump's comments below, via CNN.