Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton joined me this morning to discuss DACA’s path to vanishing (as it ought to as it is unconstitutional) and its necessary replacement legislation, which will include but not be limited to DACA:
HH: Talking now with United States Senator Tom Cotton. Good morning, Senator Cotton. How are you?
TC: Good morning, Hugh, good to be on with you. Belated Happy Labor Day.
HH: And to you. I hope you notice the Ohio State Buckeyes just crushed Indiana. Did the Razorbacks play this week, or have they given up football?
TC: No, in fact, everybody was so eager to see us play, we started of the season on Thursday night.
HH: And successfully?
TC: Of course.
HH: Okay, just checking. Senator, will you agree with me to stipulate to get this started, DACA is un-constitutional, and but for the President’s six month action, which adds a ripeness element, the state attorneys general who were about to challenge it would have been successful, in my opinion, and that the President did a favor to every DACA kid by giving a ripeness argument to every court to delay ruling it un-constitutional?
TC: Hugh, those points are almost undisputable. President Obama created this mess. And it’s landed in President Trump’s lap and our lap in the Congress. The reason we know it’s unlawful is President Obama himself said it was unlawful in 2010 and 2011 when he was asked to take these steps and did not. But he did so in 2012 in the middle of his reelection. I don’t know if any capable and forthright lawyer who argues that the administration can defend this proposition in court. They certainly have weaker ground to stand on than President Obama did when he refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act a few years ago in court. So it’s just not, this is all a mess of President Obama’s making.
HH: And President Trump has done a favor to the Dreamers by giving a six month order which will cause courts to pause. Now the next question is will Democrats give up what they perceive to be a political advantage in having the Dreamers screwed to work with you and Senator Perdue and others to come up with a comprehensive bill that combines protections for DACA Dreamers with reform of immigration to make it more coherent?
TC: Well, Hugh, 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. He 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.
HH: Now Senator Cotton, I know you work well with Senator Coons and a few other Democrats. I don’t want you to name names, but do they recognize the moral case for adding the border barrier here, because I think we had 18,000 arrests at the border in July. 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-Mar parked truck dead because of asphyxiation or swept away by floods. We’ve just got to remove the incentive.
TC: Hugh, I mean, our immigration system needs to server the interest of American workers. But as an additional matter, it certainly shouldn’t encourage dangerous and even lethal behavior of other people. That’s not just true here in America, it’s true in Europe. I mean, the policy that Chancellor Merkel announced a couple of years ago was essentially if you can survive the journey to Europe, you can stay here. I mean, what kind of policy is that? And as you say, Hugh, we saw the horrific incident where so many illegal immigrants were killed in a box truck through asphyxiation. How is it a moral policy to encourage more illegal immigration or turn a blind eye to it when you’re incentivizing people in Latin America to make a very arduous border-crossing trip, sometimes, you know, in the hands of human traffickers or other so-called coyotes?
HH: So Senator Cotton, at the end of the day, the Indians are ten games ahead in the Central Division, and we know they’re going to the post-season. So we know they’re going to get to the post-season, and we don’t know that they’re going to win. But the probability is they’re going to get to the post-season. What’s the probability of an immigration bill combining DACA and portions of RAISE Act, yours and Senator Perdue’s bill backed by President Trump, getting to the President’s desk within this six month window?
TC: Hugh, I’m pretty optimistic. 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.
HH: And very quickly, there are two brothers who graduated from Harvard and Middlebury. Their message to @RealDonaldTrump, don’t repeal DACA. That’s a fake news, that’s not true. It’s not about repealing DACA. There is no DACA.
TC: That’s right, Hugh. I mean, it’s not lawful. They would lose in court. They probably shouldn’t defend it in court. This is a mess of President Obama’s making. President Trump is trying to clean it up through legal action.
HH: Senator Tom Cotton, good to hear from you. I hope Ohio State and Arkansas meet in the post-season so we can end this once and for all. But Arkansas rarely makes it to the post-season, so that’s probably not going to happen. Have a great week, Senator Cotton, and I hope to see you on Friday.
End of interview.