Vowing to never "give into this radical left, ever," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina says the goal of talks over a border wall and ending the government shutdown is "not to open up the government — the goal is to fix a broken immigration system."
"ICE is not the problem, it's the solution," Graham, a top ally of President Trump, said on "Face the Nation" Sunday. "The goal is to repair a damaged, broken immigration system. It's to implement policies Democrats have voted for in the past on President Trump's watch."
Graham said Republicans are "not going to put any offers on the table as long as people in charge of these negotiations accuse all of us who want a wall of being a racist and see our Border Patrol agents as gassing children. Until you get that crowd put to the sidelines, I don't see anything happening."
"Why would you negotiate with someone who calls you a racist?" Graham said, adding that President Trump "is not open to a lecture by the speaker of the House." Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called a border wall "immoral" and vowed to never agree to funding its construction.
Democratic and Republican staffers planned toto end the shutdown as it enters its third week. Mr. Trump and congressional Democrats have been at an impasse over the president's demand for $5.6 billion to fund a border wall.
While Graham referenced a possible compromise that would address the status of young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children known as "Dreamers," he insisted negotiations are nowhere near a deal since the two sides are operating from vastly different perspectives.
"We are not going to negotiate with people who see the world this way," he said. "We're having to negotiate with people who want to abolish ICE, not support ICE. We're having to negotiate with people who see the Border Patrol agents gassing children, rather than defending our borders as professional law enforcement officers and we're negotiating with people who will give us one dollar for the wall, even though it's immoral and accuse all of us who support a wall as part of border security as racist."
"The president is right to dig in to get money for a wall as part of border security," he said. "It will not be a concrete wall. It will be steel barriers."
Separately, Graham said he believes the president has re-evaluated his position on ahe announced last month. John Bolton, Mr. Trump's national security adviser, said on a trip to the Middle East Sunday that withdrawal from Syria is contingent on several conditions, notably assurances from Turkey to protect the Kurds.
"The president is slowing down and he's re-evaluating his policies," Graham said. "I applaud the president for re-evaluating what he's doing."