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Kasich Decries DREAMers Being Used as 'Pawn' in Congressional Negotiations

Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Vice President Joe Biden participate in a discussion on bridging political and partisan divides at the University of Delaware in Newark, Del., Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON – Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) said undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, known as DREAMers, are being used as a “pawn” in the immigration debate.

Kasich also said he is unsure about running for president in 2020 at this time.

“See, what I don’t understand is why can’t the Congress just pass something to protect the DREAMers? Why do they have to be a pawn in a negotiation?” Kasich said on a Jan. 11 conference call with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright organized by Freedom House to preview their annual “Freedom in the World” report. “What are the Democrats doing? When are they going to stand up? I frankly can’t figure out what they believe in.”

Kasich said additional border security measures are needed and “chain migration” should be examined but Congress should “relieve the pressure on the DREAMers.”

“These are people who came here as children and now they’re being used as pawns in a political debate – think about if you were one of them,” Kasich said. “To all politicians: get this fixed.”

Trump recently tweeted, “DACA is probably dead because the Democrats don’t really want it, they just want to talk and take desperately needed money away from our Military.”

During the conference call to preview the Freedom House report, Kasich expressed concern about Russian efforts to “disrupt” free elections in the U.S. and other areas like Western Europe. He also emphasized the need for the U.S. to engage Turkey to help solve issues in the Middle East.

Kasich explained that he remains “very concerned” about the future of U.S.-China relations.

“When you look inside of China and you see the political prisoners, the lack of, well, there’s very little openness – this is very concerning to me and something we really don’t spend much time on, in my opinion. In the U.S., I’m very concerned about the U.S. withdrawing, whether there are trade issues, and here we have the United States leaving the Pacific trade agreement and we can immediately begin to see the Chinese fill that void,” he said.

“I’ve been very concerned about some of the attacks on NATO. Of course we all believe that NATO ought to do more, but there are ways to talk to your friends that don’t embarrass them or split them, in my opinion, because we need them for some bigger fish that we need to fry,” he added.

Kasich warned that “unilateral action that could undermine” the Iran nuclear deal would have “serious repercussions with our allies.”

“When I see the United States beginning to withdraw, or any other unilateral action – and I’ve been very concerned about the unilateral action that was taken on Jerusalem – it’s been confusing, it’s divided our friends again,” he said. “You know, these are serious matters because the West needs to stick together. And while I think it’s important at times to call people out, there are multiple ways in which you can do it while not fracturing the alliances that are so important to all of us.”

Kasich said he would like to see the U.S. work with other countries to help Mexico crack down on corruption because the nation has a “great opportunity to become one of the leading countries in the world because of demographics, natural resources and size, but this corruption problem is very serious.”

PJM asked the governor if his concerns about the state of foreign affairs are propelling him toward a run for president in 2020.

“No, I’m not thinking about – I don’t know what I’m going to do when I’m done with this job. Madeleine [Albright], I’m out in a year, maybe I’ll join your firm. We can’t discuss it now, but maybe later. But I don’t really know what I’m going to do – and this is going to sound a little crazy to all of you but there’s a proverb that says the Lord will fulfill the purpose of my life. And as I get older, I guess I get more mellow and I don’t know what’s in store for me in the future,” Kasich replied.

“I know that I don’t want to be in the Congress of the United States. I was there. I was chairman of the Budget Committee. I achieved what I wanted to there and I love being governor. So as to what the future brings, I really don’t know,” he added. “I’m just trying to be the best voice I can be while living – look, my greatest concern is being hoisted on my own self-righteous petard, that’s my greatest concern.”

Albright, who served as secretary of State and UN ambassador during the Clinton administration, said she agreed with everything Kasich said on the press call about foreign policy.

“Our way of life, our democracy, our people are safer when other countries are democratic, and I really do think we need to think about that because of what happens when countries are unstable and provide really a Petri dish for a variety of people who hate us to have power,” she said.

“It’s no coincidence that the hotspots most likely to harbor terrorists and generate waves of refugees and produce illegal drugs are by and large in areas of the world that are highlighted in the report as not free, so I do think as Americans look at this they need to understand that our security, our democracy is more stable when others are also democratic,” she added.

Albright warned about the consequences of the Trump administration “withdrawing from the democracy struggle.”

“The international system hates a vacuum,” she said. “The Chinese are filling it, and therefore we have to be sure we are playing the role that we have played, which is a beacon of democracy and also of liberalism and a way that we need to be involved in it and not give up on the democracy struggle.”