News & Politics

Sen. Cotton Floats Bill to 'Mitigate Consequences' of Not Deporting 'Childhood Arrivals'

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) Photo by: Zach Gibson/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) appeared on the Hugh Hewitt Show Tuesday morning to discuss the end of DACA. During the discussion, Cotton floated his own bill which would give legal status to the approximately 750,000 “Childhood Arrivals” who were illegally brought into the country as minors.

“President Obama created this mess,” said Cotton, considered the Senate’s top immigration hawk after the departure of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “It’s landed in President Trump’s lap and our lap in the Congress,” he added.

Hewitt pointed out that President Trump did the childhood arrivals “a favor” by issuing a six-month pause on courts taking any action. He asked Cotton if he thought Democrats would be willing to “give up what they perceive to be a political advantage” by cooperating on an immigration bill.

Cotton answered:

I certainly hope the Democrats will focus on the art of the possible here, what kind of agreement we can reach to achieve the President’s own stated goals.

[Trump] has said repeatedly that he wants to “take care” of the DACA recipients. I have no objection to that. But we have to recognize there are going to be two negative consequences of that action.

One, we create a new opportunity for citizenship through chain migration for their parents, the very people who violated the law by bringing them here as children in the first place. And two, we encourage other people around the world to bring their children here illegally.

So we have to do something to stop chain migration. My bill does that, and we have to do something to enhance enforcement. That’s a very simple, logically coherent legislative package. It’s not comprehensive reform. It’s not the Gang of 8 bill. It’s not trying to blow ocean. It’s trying to take the action that Democrats say they want, which is to give legal status to approximately three-quarters of a million of these people in their 20s and 30s while also mitigating the consequences of that action.

Hewitt argued that a strong moral case could be made for a border wall:

I don’t know how many people were swept away by Hurricane Harvey when it hit who were trying to get into this country illegally, but it had to be a significant number. … It is immoral not to secure that barrier and to continue to attract people to make that arduous trip that ends up with many of them in a Wal-Mart parked truck dead because of asphyxiation or swept away by floods. We’ve just got to remove the incentive.

Cotton agreed, saying that “it certainly shouldn’t encourage dangerous and even lethal behavior of other people.” The senator said he was “pretty optimistic” that Congress would be able to come to an agreement, and stressed that he would be opposed to a “blanket amnesty”:

You know, the Democrats have said for years they want to give legal status to these people. The President says he wants to, but he also knows that we have to control the consequences of that. And there’s a very, like I said, logically coherent, straightforward, relatively small package that can be negotiated here. That’s what I’m going to work on.

I’m not going to support just a blanket amnesty with nothing to control the consequences of it, or some kind of rebate Gang of 8 legislation. I’ll be an opponent of that.