(CNSNews.com) - "This is a day of reckoning for the American people," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox News Tuesday night.
With thousands of Central Americans massing at the southern border, it's time to decide: "What message do you want to send to the rest of the world about our border?" Graham asked.
"If you want to be open borders, this is your chance. If you want to stand firm, this is also your opportunity, and I hope Democrats understand you have got to really hate Trump to not see this caravan as a problem for the American people."
Thousands of would-be asylum- and job-seekers from Central America are now massed in Tijuana, waiting for a chance to get into the U.S. any way they can. On Sunday, some 500 of them tried to rush the border, prompting Border Patrol agents to fire tear gas to disperse the crowd of mostly adult males, some of whom were throwing rocks and bottles.
The liberal media seized the moment to complain that Trump was tear-gassing children.
Graham noted that the Obama administration also used tear gas at the border, but at that time, he was seen as "protecting the country," whereas Trump is portrayed as a "cruel, heartless bastard."
"The question for the country," Graham said -- "What do you say to the people who shot the canisters? I stand behind the men and women on the border standing between us and people that want to cross illegally. When you're slamming the tear gas, you're slamming the people we put on the border to protect us. And that's what disgusts me the most."
Graham noted that he's been a military lawyer for most of his adult life:
You use the least amount of force possible to protect you and secure the mission. And the mission is to protect the border from being overrun. Soo tear gas keeps the people apart. You don't get in a fight. That's a good thing.
The bottom line is, Donald Trump was right to call the caravan out weeks ago. He is right to make sure it never crosses the border. People throughout the world are watching the president. If he blinks here, his credibility on securing the border is dead. He is not going to blink.
And to my democratic friends, how do you expect the public to work with us to fix a broken immigration system if you support one wave after another? A lot's at stake here. The president's not going to bend, he's not going to back down. I hope the Republicans and Congress will stand behind him.
Graham said future caravans won't set out for the United States if this one is stopped."Democrats should give him the money he needs to secure the border. If they deny him the funding to secure our border, President Trump is going to push back and fight back."
President Trump wants another $5 billion in Fiscal 2019 to build an impenetrable wall, but on Tuesday, Democrats said they've already agreed to give him $1.6 billion, and that's enough.
"We believe three things," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told a news conference. "Number one, we are for strong border security. The bill we originally put together in 2013 had $40 billion and we are for strong border security, we've made numerous proposals.
Number two, the $1.6 billion for border security negotiated by Democrats and Republicans is our position. We believe that is the right way to go. Third, if there's any shutdown, it's on President Trump's staff.
"Stick to $1.6 billion," Schumer concluded.
Asked if Trump's request for $5 billion is "unreasonable," Schumer responded: "They haven't even spent the $1.3 billion - they haven't spent a penny of the $1.3 billion they requested in last year's budget."
Politico on Tuesday asked President Trump if he is "firm" on his request for $5 billion: ""I am," Trump responded. "I am firm. We need border security, of which a wall is part of it. But we need border security. All you have to do is look at the borders."