AG Sessions 'can't imagine' Dems shutting down government over border wall funding

George Stephanopoulos interviews the U.S. attorney general in his first Sunday show interview since joining the Trump administration.
12:59 | 04/23/17

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Transcript for AG Sessions 'can't imagine' Dems shutting down government over border wall funding
??? She's got Bette Davis eyes ??? ??? What I talk about immigration and when I talk about illegal immigration and all the problems with crime and everything else, I think of a great man, and I want to just introduce you to him for a second. Do you know who I'm talking about? Who am I talking about? Nobody knows right now. Because we've kept it a surprise. Senator Jeff sessions! Candidate trump's first and most fervent supporter in the senate. Now the attorney general of the United States. General sessions, welcome to "This week." Thank you for coming on this morning. Thank you, George. Good to be, good to be with you. Top of the list the border wall. He said he was going to end the illegal immigration. Fully funds the construction of a wall on the southern board we are the full understanding that the country of Mexico will be reimburtsing the United States for the full cost of such wall. The president is trying to get a downpayment in the government funding bill that needs to pass this week. Democrats insist it's a nonstarter. Is the president going to insist on the funding even if it means a government shutdown? I can't imagine the Democrats would shut down the government over an objection to a downpayment on a wall that can end the lawlessness. We have already received, George, a 60% or so reduction. Marc was the lowest illegal immigration month in 17 years. But our goal is not to reduce it 50%, 60%, 70%, but to end illegality. Have a lawful system. People apry to come here. Wait their turn. A system we can be proud of. The president won't sign a bill if it doesn't include Fu funding for the wall? He'll make those decisions. We need that wall. It will help us complete the promise that the president has made to the American people. That's what they want. The American people have a right to expect it. I believe congress will eventually deliver. As you may know, it's not just the Democrats opposed to the wall. "The Wall Street journal" says not a single member of the house or senate in the border states would commit to the wall. He has a problem with his own party there as well. You say the Democrats would shut down the government. If the president vetoes that bill, he would get much of the blame. He deserves the credit for hiring general Kelly. There's a complete change in the morale of the border officers. We are reversing their morale. I truly believed we could do this. That's one of the reasons I supported him. This is a tremendous achievement a lot of people thought was impossible. I do believe this wall, this barrier is going to be essential in ending the illegality. It will save us billions of dollars. The numbers of people that are coming will be reduced dramatically. The amount of drugs entering our country will be reduced. The number of people we're housing in detention centers will be declining. We'll get people out of the country to the countries that are not taking them back after they're due to be deported. It will save us hundreds of millions, billions of dollars. It will be great achievement. You sound quite quft. Do you have evidence Mexico will pay for it? We're going to get it paid for one way or the other. I know there's $4 billion a year in excess payments according to the department of the treasury's own inspector general. Tax credits to people that they shouldn't fete. They're mostly Mexicans. Those kind of things add up. $4 billion a year for ten years is $40 billion. How are you going to capture that money? What's that? How are you going to capture that money? The department of treasury, several years ago, under the Obama administration said if you change the regulations and enforce them properly, it would save up to $4 billion a year. There are other things we can do at the boarder to create Reven revenue. But with your discussions, Mexico has given no indication at all that the government of Mexico is going to send money for the wall. There are ways we can deal with our trade situation to create the revenue to pay for it. No doubt about it. Let's go to the situation of the dreamers. The president says they should rest easy. Some of his supporters are saying that a broken promise. During the campaign, president now president trump had said he was going to end that on day one because it's an unconstitution gnat action by the president. And of course he's right. It is illegal. And, they've done nothing to it. They've done absolutely nothing. He says work permits are still being issued to dreamers who didn't have them before. Is he right when he says this promise has been broken? Mgts I think the president is is honoring his promise to end the lawlessness at the border. The first thing we need to do is to stop the additional flow of illegal people into our country. Many of these are involved in criminal enter prizes. Hauling drugs, that kind of thing. We need to end that. We have to wrestle what to do about people who have been here a long time. But I would say that the president is honoring his commitments to the American people. To fix this border and we're beginning to stay at it. The border patrol is working very hard and so is the department of justice. We're going to back them up. Even though he hasn't kept this specific commitment right there, the president said to the associated press that the dreamers should rest easy. He's not going after the dreamers. That's his policy. Is it the policy of the justice department? CHLT homeland security hads primary jurisdiction there. Their first and strongest priority, no doubt about it, is the criminal element that we have in our country that have come here illegally. They're focusing primarily on that. The president has sympathy for young people brought here at early ages. So they can rest easy? We'll see. I believe that everyone that enters the country unlawfully is subject to being deported. However, we've got -- we don't have the ability to round up everybody and there's no plans to do that. But we're going to focus first as the president has directed us, on the criminal element and we have got to get that under control. Your justice department this week sent a letter to several cities and the state of California, warning that they're putting their federal funding at rick if they don't begin to cooperate more with the federal government. The attorney general of California is coming up next. He said federal threats to take away resources from law enforcement or our people in an attempt to bully states and locallies into carrying out the new administration's unsound and deportation plan are reckless and jeopardize public safety. Your response? It's nothing reckless or extreme about saying if someone comes to our country unlaw fully and commits a crime, another crime in the country, they should be deported. That's what the law says. You shall be deported. It says state and local developments cannot bar their plits and law enforcement officers from sharing information with the federal government. In other words, if a person commits a crime in Los Angeles or in H the case of Kate Steinle, San Francisco, and a individual there is released multiple times and comes back to San Francisco because it's a sanctuary city and commits a murder, that the situation where that person should have been deported previously and not allowed to return. There is nothing extreme and unreasonable about that. I urge our politicians and mayors to listen to their law officers. Let's work together. Cooperate between the federal and state authorities. Let's remove dangerous criminals from America. It only makes common sense. Is there that letter did raise the ire of one prom intercept law enforcement official here in New York. James O'Neal, the police commissioner. It said New York City continues to see gang murder after gang murder, the predictable consequence of the city's soft on crime stand. Commissioner o'neil says that make his blood boil. Murder is below the national average here. That statement was focus tonight sanctuary city policy. It said soft on crime. I know. I know. For four decades, New York has been a fabulous city for law enforcement. They have developed some of the best techniques ever. I think we should all study the tactics developed. Rudy Giuliani and others over the decades have transformed new York. They have proven community-based policing, broken windows policing, to make cities safer saved lives and other cities need to be studying what they've done. Sounds like you're taking back what you wrote? Well, that was a statement that went out dealing with the sanctuary city situation. The police officers, the sergeants association has made a statement saying Jeff sessions is correct. This is a soft on crime policy. We want to work with our mayors. Improve law enforcement in America. Half of the murders in New York are gang-related. Many of those are people -- gangs who have illegal aliens involved in them. So why would you not want to deport those and make the city even safer. Let's talk about the travel ban. You're taking heat from comments you made. I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and consist constitutional power. Of course, that island in the pacific is Hawaii. One called it dog whistle politics. Your response? They filed a suit. They filed a suit in Hawaii. The first decision on the new, ek active order came out of hi my. All I was saying was the president -- Why not just call it the state of Hawaii? The president -- nobody has a seps of humor anymore. Look. The president has to deal with the department of defense. The national intelligence agencies. CIA. He knows the threats to this country. He is responsible for protecting America. This order is lawful. It's within his authority. Constitutionally and explicit statutory authority. We're going to defend that order all the way up. And so you do have a situation in which one judge out of 700 in America has stopped this order. I think it's a mistake. And we're going to -- bat until the courts and I thing we'll eventually win. At a rally last month, the president said this current ban is a watered down version of the origin original. He says we should push the first one all the way. The first one was lawful. I totally support the president's view that the first order was lawful. We spent tremendous amounts of time to write it in a way that would satisfy the courts. I'm more confident that the second order will be upheld. The president has ever right to say that when you have dangerous countries six countries, three of them are state sponsors of terrorism. Three of them are failed states with terrorism -- terrorists in them. We need to be very careful. He's got a 90-day pause in tentries from those countries. That's a reasonable thing. And try to review how we vet people from countries like that, and be careful about it. I think he has a duty to protect America. And the American people should support him 100%. General sessions, thank you for joining thus morning. Thank you, George.

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

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