'People need a pathway to citizenship,' Gillibrand says of Trump's proposal

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., joins "This Week" to discuss her 2020 aspirations and the president's new immigration and border security proposal to end the government shutdown.
10:23 | 01/20/19

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Transcript for 'People need a pathway to citizenship,' Gillibrand says of Trump's proposal
first, let's bring in the latest democratic senator to jump into the 2020 presidential race, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. She joins us from Iowa. Good Ator. Good morning, Martha. You tweeted that the proposal is a bad deal that since he ordered the end of DACA and tps he is only temporarily giving back what he took away and calling the wall pointless and ineffective. So is this proposal a nonstarter for you? It is. It doesn't recognize the importance of what this debate is about. Democrats will protect this country. We believe in border security, but to not protect all dreamers, to not recognize the suffering that families who are here are facing, to shut down the government to get his own way when 800,000 people have not gotten their paychecks this week who might not be able to pay their rent or their mortgage or food or heat, it's outrageous. He's just playing politics and this is a bad deal. It does not do the things that would move this country forward in a productive way. Let me just read you what president trump just tweeted. He said, amnesty is not part of my offer. It is a three-year extension of DACA. Amnesty will be used only on a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else. Likewise, there will be no push to remove the 11 million plus people who are here illegally, but be careful Nancy. Does that sound like he's moving a bit and what's your reaction to that? It doesn't sound like he's moving at all. If he wants to work on reform, open the government and sit down with democratic leaders to actually work on the stuff that needs to get done. People need a pathway to citizenship, and we have 3 million dreamers in this country and we should be protecting these young people. They came here through no fault of their own and they have made lives. Some are serving in our U.S. Military. Why wouldn't you welcome them here to make sure they can have a pathway to citizenship? That's something we're willing to talk about. For the president to hold hostage public servants, it's wrong. It's morally wrong. The white house suggested yesterday that the president's plan is similar to the bipartisan bridge act in 2017. You were a cosponsor to that bill. Is there room for negotiation on this? The difference between what he has offered and what we were trying to pose is we wanted a pathway to citizenship for all dreamers. He is taking a small section of that and giving them a temporary stay. Just for a moment, think about the people he is affecting. I have met with those dreamers and they have so much anxiety. They have so much fear. They don't know if they will be able to finish their college education or stay with their husbands. They don't know if they will be able to continue their life and so what he is creating is anxiety and fear in people in our communities, people that we care about, our families. It's wrong. What he's doing again, he has no compassion for anyone. He has no empathy for the struggles and the hardships that he's placing on people whether it's the government workers who aren't getting paid or the dreamers who are contributing to our country in amazing ways. He doesn't care about anyone but himself. It's just about him. But senator, what about that wall? Is the wall for you a nonstarter? If you got what else you're talking about, could you live with a wall? Well, his idea for a wall is ineffective and it's not going to make us safer. I will support border security. I will support investment to make our country strong and safe. All Democrats care about national security and border security, but what he has done is he has confused America. He has tried to create fear and division. He has tried to say immigration is about terrorism. Immigration is not about terrorism and you should separate out those two things because we need to invest more money to keep our country safe from terrorism, to stop human trafficking, to stop gun trafficking, to stop drug trafficking. We want more funds to go there, absolutely. But we do not want the inhumane treatment of people seeking refugee status in this country, people seeking asylum. Moms and children divided at the border is immoral. Putting people into for-profit prisons, spending all that money that we're supposed to be spending for border security, against trafficking -- I want to stop you because I was on the border this week and we talked to the chief of the sector and he said, we need that wall so the agents can work on other problems down there. Drug smuggling. What is the matter with a wall if somebody who is standing there every day says we need it? I have heard a lot of interviews and I have talked to border security officials as well, and they need resources to do their jobs, but they have also said that the way president trump is conducting his immigration enforcement is destroying their ability to actually do anti-terrorism. I have a letter from 19 I.C.E. Agents written to the secretary of homeland security that what trump has done is making it impossible to do their jobs. There are two jobs for border security and I.C.E. I.C.E. Has to do anti-terrorism, anti-gun trafficking, anti-drug trafficking and anti-human trafficking. That's one side, and the other is enforcement and removal. All the money is going to immigration and removal and you're defunding the anti-terrorism. That's a huge problem. The money is going for these for-profit prisons run by companies like gio and they are locking up families in prison-like settings and not only demonizing them, but creating inhumane places for them to wait just to be considered for a chance for their asylum claim. Mitch Mcconnell says he'll bring this to a vote next week. He needs 60 votes to even start the debate. Will the Democrats block that? Mitch Mcconnell is not letting us vote on the things that could pass. I don't know why he's not standing up to president trump and doing what's right. The president said one way or another he's going to get this wall. So what's the strategy for Democrats if he declares a national emergency? Well, Martha, let's go back to what you started. We put a deal on the table a year ago to say, we will give you the border security money that you want. We will let you start doing the things you want to do, but you must protect all the dreamers. That was something we were willing to talk about. That is still there for him. The fact that he's saying three years just for DACA just shows that he's not serious and he doesn't actually care about moving the country forward. I do want to ask you -- Which is one of the reasons why, Martha, which is one of the reasons why, Martha, I'm running for president because I tell you we have to stand up to this president when he's wrong. We have to reclaim democracy, open government, put the power of the people back in our hands. I want to ask you about your run for president which you did announce this week. You have been facing scrutiny for past statements for immigration when you were a member of the house. You called securing the border a national security priority. You voted to increase for I.C.E. And opposed amnesty for undocumented immigrants. I know you said you're embarrassed about those statements, but will the primary voters believe you? I do. What the president is doing at the border is inhumane. Immigration has been our strength. Our diversity is our strength. We are a nation of immigrants. Our story is about that, if you come here and you have a dream, you can earn your way into the middle class and make America stronger. But how do those voters believe you? Maybe you'll change your mind about something if you became president. Well, Martha, ten years ago when I became a senator, my job was to represent 20 million people. 20 million people in other places around that state that might have had different concerns and worries and fears than my upstate New York rural district and so I listened to them. I met with leaders across my state about what was happening in the community and how families were being torn apart and I promise you, Martha, the reason I'm running for president is I be fight for their children as hard as I would fight for my own and all children. That's why we have to fight the moral issues and health care as a right and not a privilege. We need better public schools. We need better job training so anyone can earn their way into the middle class. It means rewarding work, helping unions organize. Helping people train for higher wages. Equal pay for equal work. Affordable day care. I do care about other people's children and I would tell voters, look at my heart. See who I am. I believe I have the courage and the compassion and the fearless determination to do what's right even when it's hard, especially when it's hard. I'm a fighter. I have always been a fighter. I will fight for your kids as hard as I would fight for my own and that's why I am going to run for president. And senator, lastly I want to get your reaction to the buzzfeed report suggesting president trump instructed his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to congress about a proposed trump tower Moscow deal. The special counsel's office disputed that report. What was your reaction and did Democrats seize on that report too quickly? The report is highly concerning, Martha. It just shows more evidence that perhaps this president did obstruct justice. It shows that -- Even though the special counsel disputes it? Martha, it raises a question in my mind that is very serious and so what we need is Mueller to be able to finish his investigation, and one of the things that I'm most concerned about is that senator Mcconnell will not let a bipartisan bill come to the senate floor to allow us to protect that investigation, to make sure he cannot be fired prematurely, and the law says he can only be fired for cause. What our bill does is go to a judge and a judge can make a decision about whether this was done properly and preserve all the evidence. We have to protect him and we need the facts. This shows how urgent that investigation is. Okay. Thanks very much for joining us this morning, senator. Thank you, Martha. Thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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