U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who has held a hardline position on immigration reform, says there are areas of compromise he’s willing to consider in order to resolve the dilemma of “dreamers” and to enact larger U.S. immigration reform.
“Dreamers” is a term that refers to children of illegal immigrants who have grown up in the U.S. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, instituted under President Obama and reversed by President Trump, has protected these young adults from deportation. Trump has called on a Congressional fix to DACA before a March 5th deadline, but Democrats and Republicans have been unable to find enough common ground to pass a measure.
In an exclusive interview with Talk Business & Politics, Cotton said on Wednesday he’s willing to give legal status to dreamers, but not their parents.
“I think as we approach this problem, the illegal immigrants who were brought here as young people through no fault of their own, we need to be generous and humane, but we have to be responsible as well,” he said. “I am perfectly willing to give legal protections to those people. That’s a pretty big compromise for most Republicans.”
“President Trump has said the same thing. But at the same time, we have to have genuine, responsible solutions here. For instance, we cannot compromise and give legal status to the parents. That would undermine the entire rationale for the DACA program to begin with. The program was designed to uphold the principle that children shouldn’t pay for the crimes of the parents, but surely parents can pay for the crimes of the parents,” Cotton added.
Despite expecting a legislative solution in the next few weeks, Cotton said that if a deal can’t be struck there are other options for not deporting DACA participants that may involve a series of short-term trade-offs.
“I think a legislative solution will be found. If it’s not the kind of solution that I outlined earlier, which gives permanent legal protections to that group of DACA permit holders on the one hand in return for securing our border and ending chain migration, then I think we’ll probably have a fallback position of a much smaller proposition that maybe just gives one year status in return of one year of funding for security on our southern and northern borders. I think there will be a legislative solution of one kind or another.”
Sen. Cotton and U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., have filed legislation to construct a merit-based immigration system and limit the number of legal immigrants allowed in the U.S. each year.