'Gang of Eight' senator defends immigration reform

Sen. Jeff Flake sounds off


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," June 19, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, you have heard the view from someone who doesn't like the bill to a guy who does and is a chief orchestrator of it, a member of the "Gang of Eight." I'm talking about, of course, Republican Arizona Senator Jeff Flake. Senator, good to have you.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE, R-ARIZ.: Thanks. Thanks for having me on.

CAVUTO: I don't know if you had a chance, sir, to hear what Jim DeMint was saying, that this is actually going to cost trillions over the years, that this idea that can relieve our deficit just doesn't add up. You say to that what?

FLAKE: Well, I say that CBO just came out yesterday and said that it would mean about $197 billion in deficit reduction over the first 10 years and a lot more than that in the second two years, $700 billion.

CAVUTO: This is the same CBO, as you know, that said much the same about cost savings in health care that is yet to be evidenced, no?

FLAKE: You bet.

CBO is -- those estimates are only good as the assumptions that you put in them.

CAVUTO: Right.

FLAKE: I would argue in this case that the assumptions are pretty correct, that when you bring in, when you bring people out of shadows to participate more in the economy, and then you have a system that actually works, then we will be better off. They also looked at economic output and said, over the first 10 years, it would lead to economic increase by about 2.3 percent, I guess. And I think by 2033, it's about 5.4 percent increase in economic output. So, it's not just the deficit numbers.


CAVUTO: I'm sorry, sir.

But Senator DeMint countered that by saying, well, a lot of these are just high school, if that, educated illegals now be legal Americans down the road. The economic impact and how they are going to help with the job situation just isn't there. What do you say to that?

FLAKE: I can say we have a lot of lot of history to dispute that.

Over time, those who start out at low-wage jobs typically move up to higher-wage jobs. And don't forget this legislation also includes measures that allow us to actually attract people with STEM degrees, with Ph.D.s and master's degrees in the STEM fields. It allows them to stay and create jobs. So, it's not just on the low-skill side that this will benefit the economy.

CAVUTO: Do you think that being a part of the "Gang of Eight" has been an area that has made you a target?

I'm talking, of course, it wasn't too long ago your son was singled out for using Twitter for making racially disparaging and other remarks. He apologized for those remarks. You apologized on behalf of your son for those remarks.


CAVUTO: But, nevertheless, did you find it curious that they got out at all? And would they have gotten out if you didn't have the prominent position you presently do on this immigration debate?

FLAKE: Oh, I don't know at all. I have been working on this issue for a number of years.

And so I'm just happy to be involved in this process and make it a better bill. In Arizona, we are concerned about border security. And I can tell you we have good border security provisions in the bill. And it's about to get a lot better with some of the amendments that I believe will be adopted in the coming days.

CAVUTO: I know that, but they leapt at this stuff -- your son did. He's just a kid, maybe did some stupid things, as you pointed out. but it was out of blue.

Now, not that that is forgiven, as you said, but if you were anyone else, would it have even amounted to much?

FLAKE: I have no idea. I just -- he's apologized, I have apologized, and we will deal with it and move on, and I hope get this immigration bill passed in a way that will help the economy and help our situation in Arizona with the border.

CAVUTO: Do you think, though, that among prominent mainstream Republicans, this is actually hurting them? They want to move this ball forward? They want to see an immigration law that sticks and passes. But they're hearing it from the right in their party that says, look, you have given up on enforcement, border enforcement, you are a sellout, you are for amnesty. How do you answer that?

FLAKE: Well, I can tell you, none of us from Arizona would dare put border security second or third. It has to remain paramount.

We have a situation where, as Arizonans, we pay a disproportionate burden of the federal government's failure to secure the border. And so we are making sure that we have good border security. Like I said, it's about to get better with some amendments that are coming forward. And I just reject the notion that this bill is not tough on border enforcement.

CAVUTO: Senator, thank you very much. Good seeing you.

FLAKE: Hey, thank you.

CAVUTO: Senator Flake.

Content and Programming Copyright 2013 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2013 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.