Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) touted his immigration reform proposal on the Senate floor Monday by arguing that it would accomplish all of President Donald Trump’s objectives.
Cotton introduced the Secure and Succeed Act with six other GOP senators, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) on Monday. Cotton told his Senate colleagues later that day that it was their only immigration reform plan that has a chance to become law during the Trump administration.
"We’ve introduced legislation this week that transforms the president’s four-pillar framework into an actual bill," Cotton said. "And it’s the one bill that can become a law. We have a plan, not to pass a bill but to pass a law."
Cotton told his fellow senators to "solve this problem by passing a law" instead of "simply signal[ing] our virtue" by passing a bill.
He outlined how it satisfies Trump’s demands by providing "legal status and ultimately citizenship for people who were brought here through no fault of their own as minors," but also by taking measures to control immigration. By having extensive border security, ending the visa lottery system, and limiting to chain migration, the act fulfills all four of Trump’s "pillars" on immigration.
Cotton also said other proposals in the Senate are "half-measures." He said it wasn’t responsible to legalize 1.8 million illegal immigrants without other measures to control immigration.
"It is not responsible, because if we give those people legal status, we’ll have two negative side effects. First, we’ll create more incentives, perverse incentives, to encourage illegal immigration with minor children to this country. That is dangerous. It is immoral—not to mention unwise from our national interest," he said.
"Second, if we give legal status to these 1.8 million people, we’ll create a whole new pool of legal permanent residents and ultimately citizens who could naturalize their extended family, to include their parents, the very people who created the problem to begin with, undermining the rationale for the program to begin with," Cotton added. "Remember that rationale is the children ought not pay for the sins of the parents, but surely parents can pay for the sins of the parents."
He noted that this bill does not present a dilemma between pleasing voters and satisfying the president, since Trump’s goals for immigration have broad support with the electorate. He said a skills-based immigration system is what most Americans want.
"A recent poll showed that 65 percent of Americans support this proposal," Cotton said. "Two out of every three Americans support it. And they should, since after all, every part of this proposal is popular. Most of us have seen polls that suggest fewer than 20 percent of Americans want to see these people have to return to their country that in many cases they don’t remember. At the same time, 72 percent want to end the practice of extended-family chain migration, and securing our southern border is equally popular."