Graham: Immigration push this year – before or after energy – means ‘breaking faith with me’

But asked about indications that an energy plan is on track move first, Graham replied: “I think I have made it pretty clear that if you bring up immigration, you are breaking faith with me.”

Asked if this was the case even if immigration came to the floor after climate and energy legislation, he replied “absolutely.”

Graham has long been a proponent of immigration reform, but accuses Democrats of preparing to bring up a bill in a “haphazard” manner, and calls it is an election-year political gambit.

Graham, in a 15-minute exchange with reporters, said immigration has no chance of passing this year. But he said bringing it up would badly hamper lawmakers’ and the country’s the ability to deal with the issue in the future.

“Do you think that I would sit on the sidelines and see immigration brought up like this and not object?” he said. “I am not going to be a party to bringing up immigration . . . this year in a way that will destroy that issue.”

“I am not going to have my fingerprints on a political maneuver that could wind up breaking this country apart,” Graham added. “Immigration brought up this year is nothing but a political stunt. It will divide the country.”

Graham first publicly threatened to abandon the climate and energy effort Saturday in a letter to energy stakeholder groups. But that letter, while spelling out similar concerns about a “hurried” immigration bill, stressed that taking it up first would harm the energy and climate measure.

“I want to bring to your attention what appears to be a decision by the Obama Administration and Senate Democratic leadership to move immigration instead of energy. Unless their plan substantially changes this weekend, I will be unable to move forward on energy independence legislation at this time. I will not allow our hard work to be rolled out in a manner that has no chance of success,” Graham wrote.

Kerry, Graham and Lieberman had planned to roll out the energy and climate bill Monday, but that plan was scuttled by the weekend’s events.