Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) criticized Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D., N.Y.) immigration proposal on Thursday, and instead encouraged his fellow senators to pass legislation in line with President Donald Trump's priorities.
Cotton called the amendment, supported by Schumer and Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Mike Rounds (S.D.), the "Schumer amendment," and he said Republicans should not acquiesce to it. Speaking on the Senate floor, Cotton started by quoting Abraham Lincoln before he walked through the weaknesses of the proposal.
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"Abraham Lincoln said if you call a dog’s tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have, five? No, it has four. Because calling something doesn’t make it that," Cotton said. "In the same way you can call a bill bipartisan because there are some Republicans on that bill, and if the Republicans have simply acquiesced to the Democrats’ position, it’s a Democratic bill. Calling it bipartisan doesn’t make it so."
The Senate failed to reach the 60 vote threshold needed to end debate on immigration and send the proposal to the House of Representatives shortly after Cotton presented his concerns with the bill.
Cotton mocked the proposal for provisions made Wednesday night, saying it would provide an "enforcement holiday for illegal immigration."
"You might call it the olly-olly-oxen-free position. Because it declares to anyone, worldwide, if you get to the United States in the next four months before, June 30, 2018, olly olly oxen free, the Department of Homeland Security will not enforce our laws against you," Cotton said.
"It used to be January 1, 2018, and you had to be present for at least five and a half years. That’s not great, but it’s better than any a prospective enforcement holiday, which says if you get to this country illegally in the next four months, we will not make you an enforcement priority," Cotton said. "So, come on in, everyone—if you get here by June 30, under this amendment, the Department of Homeland Security will not make it a priority to enforce its laws against you."
Cotton also highlighted the amendment expanding the already "extraordinarily generous" offer from President Donald Trump to give 1.8 million undocumented people a path to citizenship. The amendment would expand proposed Trump's offer to three to four million people by lifting the age caps, Cotton argued.
Cotton said the Department of Homeland Security would be powerless to bar legal status from those who helped minors into the country years ago.
"They say that no person can receive legal status if the Department of Homeland Security can show they knowingly assisted the entry of a minor in this country. Now, tell me how the Department of Homeland Security is supposed to make that showing?" Cotton asked. "How are they supposed to go back 10, 15, 20, 25 years and show that this illegal immigrant knowingly brought that person into this country? It’s preposterous. It’s the exact reason why so many immigration bills have failed for so many years in this body, because the Democrats write bills that they claim does one thing when in reality it does the exact opposite thing."
Cotton criticized the amendment's provisions on chain migration and the southern border wall. He also said the bill, which would eventually fail 54-45, had "zero chance" of becoming law because the White House opposed it.
"And finally, this amendment has no chance of becoming law. Zero chance. It shouldn’t pass this chamber, to begin with, but even if that were to happen, President Trump issued a veto threat just minutes ago. The House of Representatives is not going to pass this bill. They probably won’t even take it up, as they didn’t take it up the last time the Senate passed a terrible immigration bill," Cotton continued.