Fox News "Your World" - Transcript: Rep. Eric Swalwell criticizes GOP immigration legislation


Date: June 21, 2018


NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: I don't know if Democratic California Congressman Eric Swalwell took him up on that, but he joins us right now.

Congressman, very good to have you back. How you doing?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL, D-CALIFORNIA: Of course, Neil. I'm good. Thanks for having me back.

CAVUTO: I do -- I guess I want to go on a different route with this interview.

I understand that, obviously, Democrats and Republicans have long been at loggerheads over this issue. Is the biggest issue you have with the president's plan or at least the one he wants to push -- because I'm told from a lot of your Democratic colleagues it's the deal-breaker -- the wall, the $25 billion for the wall, that that's a problem, and anything that features it is going to be a problem?

Is that true?

SWALWELL: No. Not for me. I'm not going to speak for others.

My issue is, first, this does nothing to reunite the families who have already been separated, 2,000-plus kids who right now have no pathway back to finding their families. This does -- this cuts in a third the pathway for dreamers who have been in this country.

This gets rid of family reunification and would actually punish three million families who have already been approved to go through that process. And it would eliminate their path to the United States.

And so I have a lot of issues with it.

CAVUTO: So, chain migration. It...


CAVUTO: To chain migration. Without that, you don't like it.

Without the immediate, separate carve-out for DACA, you don't like it. And without a provision that makes for getting these families back together again, which, by the way, we're told it does, but maybe it's not clear, you're a no vote.


SWALWELL: I'm a no vote.

But, Neil, I don't know if you remember. I think the president's best day in office was when he brought the cameras in, he had Republicans and Democrats in the Roosevelt Room, and he said, Congress, you solve the dreamer issue, you pass the bill, I will take the heat.

And then they brought him the bill, and he rejected it. And he said those awful things about where so many immigrants come from. But there's consensus to just pass the dreamers pathway. And so why not pass that bill? That would be a win for all the dreamers.

CAVUTO: All right.

I have a feeling that's what it was going to come down to. And I don't want to politicize this, because you know what happens? Democrats, oh, Republicans are evil. Republicans, Democrats are clueless, and back and forth. And it doesn't solve anything and it wastes our viewers' time.


CAVUTO: But I do want to get, Congressman, from you a sense of what it would be to get these items done. It sounds like the best way it can happen isn't in one grand piece of legislation, as they are going to try tomorrow.

It will be in individual efforts on DACA, on, you know, chain migration or whether you limit it, remove it, whatever. You obviously don't want to remove it.

But that's -- you can't do grand legislation. Those days are out. It's not even feasible. Am I right?

SWALWELL: I hope not, because...

CAVUTO: I think I'm right. I think I'm right. Sadly, I think I'm right.


SWALWELL: You're right. You shouldn't be right.

CAVUTO: So, would you be open a sequence of events, because this has been raised as well, where one at a time these issues are raised, and it would call each party on the carpet to address the issues they like, you get something you like on DACA that hinges on another vote on chain migration, that hinges on another vote on some of these other issues?

Is that a good strategy?

SWALWELL: Yes. Yes. Yes.

I just want to get the problem solved, Neil. As you recall, we had the grand strategy that invested $18 billion in border security, doubled the amount of Border Patrol agents on the border. It had 68 votes in the Senate and never got a vote in the House. And I would support that bill if we could do that grand bill.

CAVUTO: Well, because a lot of your colleagues didn't.

So, let me ask you, Congressman. I know much has been made of the plight of these kids separated from their parents, and not much has been said about kids who were separated and, you know, put in detention centers during the Obama administration.

I know how it works. And maybe some people feel it's not as -- it's much more heinous now than it was back then.

But do you think, in your heart of hearts, that Republicans are this evil, this callous on this issue that they would actually like to see kids suffer, that they enjoy that?

SWALWELL: I think this president is, Neil. I don't think most of any colleagues are. They were...

CAVUTO: You think this president welcomes seeing kids suffer?

SWALWELL: I hate to say it, Neil. This president is a cruel, cruel person. And I think he made this decision. And he allowed it to happen.


CAVUTO: All right, so he's a father and a grandfather. Think that through. And then he would welcome seeing kids crying and screaming.

And, by the way, an astute politician who would probably see ahead of time the outcry that would be produced doing something like this, you really think that he would do that?

SWALWELL: He never showed empathy one time throughout this process. All he said was that it was unpopular.

CAVUTO: So when you demand he take a pen and do something about this to change that, and he did, he's cursed for doing something and not doing something.

SWALWELL: Well, he created the fire, and now he wants credit for calling in the fire department. I don't think it works that way.

CAVUTO: Well, because he responded to the pressure that you and others put on him, and maybe for good reason.

But I just think find it a little extreme. And you wouldn't like it if it was said of you to say that you would welcome seeing screaming, crying kids, because, all of a sudden, you're Scrooge.

SWALWELL: You know, Neil, I think it was Maya Angelou who said, when somebody shows you who they are, believe them.

And when he announced his campaign, he said that many immigrants coming to our country were rapists and murderers. And so, from the very beginning, that's how he has viewed these individuals.

CAVUTO: But wait a minute. When you said that they were going to all of a sudden put something together, and you would be pleased with it, and he did what you said, it doesn't make sense, right? I don't know.

SWALWELL: No, Neil, he did what he should have done. He never should have allowed this to happen.

CAVUTO: I know. But you told him to do it. He said he wouldn't do it.
He said he wouldn't do it.


CAVUTO: And, then, all of a sudden, whether it's the pressures coming from his wife, Melania, or a lot of Democrats or those in his own party, he heard a lot.


CAVUTO: And this president doesn't bend on much. That was a big bending. That was a big pivot. That was a big reversal.

SWALWELL: It was unpopular.

And the guy cares about ratings more than anything else, Neil. I don't think it came from his heart.

CAVUTO: But you see what I'm saying? You're not giving any remote benefit of the doubt here.

SWALWELL: He doesn't deserve benefit, though, Neil. He cruelly put these kids in cages.


CAVUTO: I know how you feel about him. I know how you feel about him.


CAVUTO: And I -- believe me, I'm neither an apologist or a critic. I have raised, I think, a fair and balanced view of the man.

SWALWELL: You have to ask the question. I get it. Yes.

CAVUTO: But, listen, what you're saying is, this guy is evil and he hates kids and he wants to see them suffer.

You are a very smart congressman. You are an astute politician. There's no way in hell you can really believe that.

SWALWELL: I do, because it came out of his own mouth. He said that they were murderers and rapists.

CAVUTO: No, he said, I hate kids, I really want to see them suffer?

SWALWELL: He said that they were...

CAVUTO: He referred to these kids and murderers and rapists?

SWALWELL: He called many of them -- and he has turned this...

CAVUTO: No, no, no, no. No, Congressman, I tell you, I keep track of everything he says, and I keep a list of it, actually.

And he never called these kids murderers and rapists.

SWALWELL: Do you think he's a compassionate, caring person, Neil?

CAVUTO: Well, I don't think he's saying that these are all murderers and rapists.

I don't. Do I think he can be clumsy with words? Absolutely. Do I think you sometimes can be clumsy with words? Absolutely.

Do I think I sometimes can be clumsy with words? Absolutely.

But I think that, in order to facilitate a debate, and when your party and others are categorizing the president this way -- and, by the way, he's not exactly been Saint Francis, responding in kind -- we're never going to get anything done on this issue, Congressman.

SWALWELL: Neil, I think he's a cruel, cold con artist who only changed the policy because people, Republicans and Democrats, spoke up.

CAVUTO: And you want to negotiate with that man. You want to negotiate with that man and say he's a cold, cruel con artist.

You call me that, Congressman, I tell you, I'm not going to negotiate Twinkies with you. That's what hurts the debate, right?

SWALWELL: Neil, this man cruelly separated kids from their parents, put them in cages, and now wants a medal because he reversed the policy?

CAVUTO: He doesn't want a medal. He doesn't want a medal.

SWALWELL: It doesn't work that way.

CAVUTO: And he reversed himself.


CAVUTO: And he gave ground on something. And I think there's a lot of common ground here and all.


CAVUTO: But it can't be had when both sides are calling each other names. And you were calling him what you just did. Those are not nice words.


Well, he -- if he acted more compassionately, Neil, I will give him the credit. But I think it's going to take Republicans and Democrats collaborating now in this country, because this -- this...

CAVUTO: He's the president of the United States.


CAVUTO: He's the only one we got for the time being.

Using words like that, we're never going to get past go, right?

SWALWELL: Well, it's going to take, I think, leaders with compassion and heart who will act boldly against him.

CAVUTO: Including yourself, right, Democrats and Republicans.

SWALWELL: Yes. That's right.

But, Neil, we know who this man was. He's doing exactly what he said he was going to do.

CAVUTO: Think the nasty things. Think the nasty things.


CAVUTO: Congressman, I'm just -- just curious of the process.

But thank you, sir, very much for taking the time.

SWALWELL: Of course. My pleasure.