Following a working lunch with President Donald Trump on Sunday, Republican Sen. and Trump sycophant Lindsey Graham told reporters that discussions about restarting the government could center on the Bridge Act and Temporary Protected Status for immigrants in exchange for $5.7 billion in border “wall” funding.
Graham, however, admitted that Trump had agreed to nothing specific during the conversation.
The senator also appeared to move the goal posts on the term “wall,” which Trump has used throughout his campaign and presidency to rile his base. Graham added the term “fencing” when he referred to Trump’s “wall,” and admitted that the term was a “metaphor” for better physical security along the border.
Graham’s effort to help Trump emerge from the corner he currently finds himself in due to the government shutdown comes the same day as a report that outgoing White House Chief of Staff John Kelly admitted the Trump administration never seriously considered building one giant wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
It also helps Trump weasel out of a campaign promise to force Mexico to pay for it.
Graham’s comments show that negotiations between Democrats and Republicans over immigration policy could be right back where they were about a year ago.
In exchange for $5.7 billion in funding for the “wall”—or whatever it is—Republicans might be willing to revisit the Bridge Act and TPS. The Bridge Act, initially proposed by Graham and Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, among others, would grant provisional work authorization and protection from deportation for DACA recipients. It does not offer them permanent residency. These provisional protections would be mandated by Congress, rather than by the executive branch.
The TPS program provides provisional residency to migrants from countries experiencing armed conflict, natural disasters, or other “extraordinary” conditions. They include Hondurans fleeing devastation from Hurricane Mitch in 1999, Salvadorans escaping destruction from two deadly earthquakes, Haitians seeking relief from the devastation caused by a 2010 earthquake, and Syrians fleeing civil war, among others.
Almost immediately after taking office, the Trump administration sought to end TPS status for at-risk migrants.
Revisiting the DREAM Act was not on the table, Graham said. He added that discussions over the latest proposals could start as soon as next week.
“There’ll never be a 60-vote deal in the Senate that doesn’t include money for border security-slash-wall,” Graham said. “And I don’t see Democrats giving us more money unless they get something. So, the one thing we talked about is making deals.”
No word, as of this writing, if Democrats would be willing to play ball with this recent offer, or if the more racist elements of the Republican Party would even go along with it. Also, everything depends on who the last person to talk in Trump’s ear is.