By Talia Kaplan
Published May 08, 2019
Sen. Tom Cotton said on Wednesday that President Trump laid out two broad approaches to immigration reform in a meeting the previous day with 12 Republican senators.
The Arkansas Republican said on "Fox & Friends" that the president described a policy that focuses on modernizing border security and calls for a merit-based system.
“The first (approach) is immediate and urgent," Cotton said, "it’s addressing the crisis at our southern border where we had over 100,000 illegal border crossing apprehensions last month. That's going to be reforming our asylum laws to make sure that we don’t have people committing fraud, showing up, getting a piece of paper from some left-wing lawyer and saying some magic words that lets them into the country olly olly oxen free.”
“We also had a big victory on that, by the way, yesterday in the court system," Cotton added. "Secretary of State (Mike) Pompeo in a negotiated agreement with the Mexican government (said) that they would keep Central Americans in their countries while those asylum claims are processed. The courts finally just said that agreement can go forward, a very common sense victory. So that was the first part of the conversation.”
Cotton said shifting to a high skilled-merit-based immigration system was the second part of the conversation at Tuesday’s meeting, adding it’s something he has worked on “a lot over the last few years.”
“Today we have way too many people coming into the country who are unskilled workers or low-skilled workers and that's driving down American wages,” Cotton said.
“What we need are more people who are doctors, or computer scientists, engineers. And that's the direction the president wants to go as he said in the past, they laid out some broad principles yesterday. I think we had pretty widespread agreement on those principles.”
Cotton, known for his support for strict immigration measures, added that “more and more Democrats across the country are coming to recognize” that “there really is a crisis.”
“Triple the number of Democrats last month said that we have a crisis at our border as had said the previous month. Democrats in Congress may not have gotten that message yet but that kind of growing recognition among the American people that we face a crisis at the border ultimately cannot help but reach the Congress,” Cotton said.
“There are a lot of asylum laws that are well-intentioned but are being abused by people who simply want to come into the country for a chance to make more money and send that money back home. I understand the impulse, I just don't think we as a country should indulge that.”
He then went on to say, “Our asylum laws are for people who are genuinely persecuted like Jews were in the Soviet Union or like Christians in the Middle East are today. They're not for people who simply want to escape crime in dangerous countries.”
Cotton objected to 2020 Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden’s proposal on Tuesday to send more foreign aid to Central American countries to stop the flood of migrants into the United States.
“We’ve been giving them a lot of money for a long time, they continue to come here” Cotton said in response.
“What we need to do is protect our own sovereignty at our southern border and make sure that our laws are not being abused and that we don't have a flood of migrants coming into our country.”