Thune: Dems use immigration issue to score political points

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," June 20, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, you would think now, with the president signing this executive order to end this program where they're separating kids from their parents along the border, that this would all go away.

The ACLU, as I told you at the top of the show, is intervening. A number of Democratic congressmen, representatives saying, we have got to go one step further to make sure there's no incarceration of anyone for 100 miles from the point of the border.

Well, that -- that would be interesting.

Let's get the read on all of this from Republican South Dakota Senator John Thune.

Senator, it wasn't and deemed so far not good enough for the president's critics, Republican critics, or those that say the Republicans didn't go far enough. What do you say?

SEN. JOHN THUNE, R-SOUTH DAKOTA: Well, I think this is another example, Neil, of a lot of Democrats who would like to use this issue to score political points, rather than to come up with a solution.

I think what the president did today was the right thing to do. It was to say to the American people and to all those who might to want to come to this country illegally that we're going to enforce our laws, but we are going to do it in a humane way when it comes to the treatment of families. We're going to keep families together.

And that was the executive order that he signed today. And it's, I think, in response to what we saw as an unintended consequence of the zero tolerance policy that the administration had implemented.

But smart move, right move on his part, but one that will probably never satisfy the Democrats, because, frankly, like I said before, I think they see this as an issue and are more interested in using it as a political opportunity, rather than to come up with a real solution to the problem.

CAVUTO: President Obama had been weighing in on this on Facebook, Senator, saying: "Imagine if you'd been born in a country where you grew up fearing for your life, and eventually the lives of your children. A place where you finally found yourself so desperate to flee persecution, violence, and suffering that you'd be willing to travel thousands of miles under cover of darkness."

And then he adds: "Now we imagine ourselves in the shoes of others, to say there but for the grace of God go I." But we didn't do that.

What do you make of that?

THUNE: Well, I mean, I think that he, like many others in the -- on the Democrats and those who have a very liberal view on this issue and support the catch and release policy that was largely the policy of the previous administration, but if you're somebody who is coming into this country that is seeking asylum, Neil, you can do that by coming to a port of entry.

It's the people who come here illegally that are being detained and going through an adjudication process. And if it's -- there are grounds for them to seek asylum here, they're granted that. If there aren't, they are returned.

And the thing that the recent change by the administration does is it allows those families, while that process is going on, to be kept together.

And I think that -- as I said, that is the right thing for the administration to do. I'm glad they did it.

And I would hope the Democrats would at least acknowledge that they have addressed -- the administration has addressed in the near term this issue. It doesn't address the broader immigration problem.

And this, frankly, is a byproduct of a broken immigration system which needs to be fixed. And that is going to require bipartisan cooperation, something that we have not seen from the...


CAVUTO: Yes, I'm wondering how likely that is, because I know the Senate is going to be in session in the August recess, mostly just Republicans.

Is it your sense that that's when you will try to do something? Because getting bipartisan cooperation right now -- and that could change -- doesn't look good.

THUNE: Well, I think it will be hard, because we're in an even-numbered year and we're getting closer and closer to an election.

And, as I said, I think that, for the Democrats, they always view this as a political issue, a wedge issue that they can use in an election season, which is unfortunate, because this is an issue that cries out for a solution.

The House may very well take action. If they send a bill to the Senate, our leader has indicated that if it's something that there is bipartisan -- if there are Democrats in the Senate who will support it, that will give us the 60 votes necessary to pass it, and something that the president will sign into law, he will bring it up.

If it doesn't meet those conditions, it's unlikely that we will have that debate. We spent a week on immigration already earlier this year, as you know, and didn't get to a final resolution. But it needs one, and it's going to require bipartisan cooperation in order to get one.

CAVUTO: All right, Senator, it's a crazy town you live in.

THUNE: It is a crazy town, yes, indeed.

CAVUTO: All right, Senator, thank you very much for taking the time.


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