Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) said that immigration to the United States should reflect America's needs rather than offering temporary work programs focused on low-skilled workers during an event on Tuesday with the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).
"There is no lack of people in Congress focused on things like security and enforcement or our temporary guest worker programs," Cotton told CIS executive director Mark Krikorian, "But there weren't that many people focused on our legal immigration system and to me that is one of the cornerstones of our immigration system because it is about not just how we generate workers for our economy but citizens for our country. And that's what we ultimately should focus on is bringing in new citizens who are going to help contribute to the American story and as I studied our legal immigration system I realized it was just a mishmash of quotas and random set asides and policies that are outdated and no one could even explain."
Cotton introduced the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act along with Senator David Perdue (R., Ga.) in 2017, which was endorsed at the time by President Donald Trump. Though the Senate didn't vote on the RAISE Act in the last session of Congress, the duo introduced it again earlier this year with another co-sponsor, Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.). Cotton said he didn't expect an immigration fix while Nancy Pelosi is the Speaker of the House, and that large-scale fixes of the immigration system would take multiple years to gain momentum.
Cotton commented a bill that affects Venezuelan refugees. While sympathetic to Venezuelans who suffered at the hands of Nicolas Maduro's regime, Cotton expressed concern about granting temporary protected status, stating that the status is no longer temporary.
Cotton cosponsored a bill which would eliminate the country caps on high-skilled immigrants while leaving the overall cap in place, which he said was a measure included in the RAISE Act. The bill passed the House with wide bipartisan support, 365-65.
Cotton also said that Democrats had "lost their mind" on immigration, noting the 2020 Democrats who advocate for decriminalizing border crossings and providing illegal immigrants with government-sponsored health care. "They intentionally said repeatedly as a selling point for Obamacare that illegal immigrants would not be eligible for Obamacare and now you've got poor Joe Biden getting attacked on those debate stages by Democrats who say that they deported too many illegal immigrants during the Obama-Biden years," Cotton said, "It just goes to show how radical the Democratic Party has become."