Senator Tom Cotton joined the Hugh Hewitt Show Tuesday morning to discuss the immigration reform negotiations dividing the Senate this week.
In response to the six-Senator "gang of Amnesty" deal being pushed by Sen. Jeff Flake and several Democrats, Sen. Cotton argued: "For four months, they kept asking the President what’s his proposal, what’s his concessions? The President has already made his fundamental concession to their position. He is willing to give an amnesty to hundreds of thousands, if not a million or more illegal immigrants who were by and large brought here through no fault of their own."
"That’s his concession to their position," Cotton said about the president's position on DACA. "It’s time for [Democrats] to start making concessions to our position, to ending chain migration, to ending the diversity lottery, and securing our borders and enforcing our laws."
HUGH HEWITT (HH): I am much more interested in Dick Durbin’s demands than in what Dick Durbin heard or said. I am just done with the story about who said what. I want to know what he wanted, and I want to know if there’s a deal out there. Can you fill me in?
SEN. TOM COTTON (TC): Well, Hugh, that’s the right approach to take. I wish more folks in the media would take it. What matters to the American people is what our immigration policy will be, not what was or was not said in a private meeting and then leaked selectively and dishonestly. So the proposal that the Gang of Amnesty made last week was preposterous. It wouldn’t have just given legal status for the 700,000 people who currently have a work permit under the DACA program, but anybody who was ever eligible for it and their parents, undermining the very rationale for the program, since we’re supposed to be holding the children of illegal immigrants who came here willingly harmless, and furthermore, adding the temporary protected status program, Hugh. That’s about 400,000 people who are living in this country when their countries were struck by a natural disaster or we, in a charitable fashion, allowed them to stay in this country until those conditions change. But in some places, that’s going on 15, even 20 years. T in TPS stands for temporary, and it needs to end. It certainly doesn’t need to be a part of these negotiations. Furthermore, on all of the so-called concessions that the Gang of Amnesty made, there was no concession whatsoever. They gave a relatively small amount of money, certainly not enough to secure our border entirely, knowing that they would block additional money next year. They didn’t do a single thing to end chain migration. They merely delayed it temporarily for a very small population, accelerated it for others. And they don’t end the diversity lottery, Hugh. They simply take those green cards and give them to other people, creating new country set asides and quotas, which is the exact opposite of what we want to do on our immigration system. We want to treat people for who they are, not for where they come from or who they’re related to. So the proposal they made was utterly ridiculous. And it probably set us back in trying to find a deal.
HH: Now Senator Cotton, you may not know the answer to this, and that’s fine if you don’t. Did Senator Durbin secure the meeting under false pretenses?
TC: I can’t speak to that, Hugh. I just know that the White House contacted me Thursday morning and asked me to attend. I’ve been part of multiple working groups for many months now. We’ve been trying to find a solution to this issue as President Trump said he wanted.
Here’s the problem with what the Gang of Amnesty is proposing. For four months, they kept asking the President what’s his proposal, what’s his concessions? The President has already made his fundamental concession to their position. He is willing to give an amnesty to hundreds of thousands, if not a million or more illegal immigrants who were by and large brought here through no fault of their own. That’s his concession to their position. It’s time for them to start making concessions to our position, to ending chain migration, to ending the diversity lottery, and securing our borders and enforcing our laws.
HH: Now Senator Cotton, my view is most importantly when you regularize the Dreamers, you have rewarded a certain behavior. In order to prevent that behavior from happening again, more bringing of children to the United States, you have to impose a barrier, because that which gets rewarded gets repeated unless you impede it. Therefore, the border fencing, the border barrier, is the most important thing to me here. I don’t understand how anyone cannot understand this. People die making that trek.
HH: Ten people in a Wal-Mart parking lot died in July. It’s a terrible thing to encourage people to do.
TC: So Hugh, this has been our point all along going back months that the Gang of Amnesty simply won’t accept. If you give an amnesty of any kind, but especially an amnesty to people who were brought here as children, it has two unavoidable, logically-related side effects. First, it encourages more illegal immigration with children, which is extremely dangerous. That’s why we have to secure our border and enforce our laws to ensure that situation doesn’t occur again. Second, it creates a new set of initiating immigrants for more chain migration, and encourages more illegal immigration, because you can create more chain migration for your relatives in the future. That’s why I say logically-related package. It’s not a comprehensive bill that tries to give amnesty to 12 million people or solve every problem we have with, say, temporary guest worker programs for farmers or ski resorts. It is a discrete, coherent, logical package that the Gang of Amnesty simply has rejected for four months despite Donald Trump’s willingness to provide that legal protection for those 700,000 or so people.
HH: And may I add the reality it’s the only thing that will get through the House.
TC: I’m not sure it could get through the Senate, either, Hugh. I mean, Senator McConnell has been very insistent on this that we’re not going to pass immigration, an immigration bill on the spending bill. And a mere deal of illegal protection for the DACA recipients and some modest pittance of, you know, window dressing for the border, is a bad deal.