U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton is once again defending the Trump administration’s immigration policy amid attacks from within the Republican Party.
The Arkansas Republican has endorsed what Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called a “hard-edged approach” to immigration, blaming Cotton specifically for influencing the White House position that contributed to a partial government shutdown.
“The Tom Cotton approach has no viability here,” Graham said. “He’s become sort of the Steve King of the Senate.”
King, a Republican congressman representing Iowa, has frequently criticized programs like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which offer some protection for individuals who entered the country illegally.
Cotton responded with a statement of his own, defending his counterpart in the House while casting his own stones at Graham.
“The difference between Steve King and Lindsey Graham is that Steve King can actually win an election in Iowa,” Cotton told reporters.
He argued that it was Trump’s message that won the 2016 presidential election, so it should be his policies that the GOP embraces.
“Immigration was a major issue there and the American people and especially Republican primary voters made it clear that they wanted Donald Trump’s vision of immigration policy, not Lindsey Graham’s,” Cotton said. “He didn’t make it to the starting line and he didn’t even make it off the kiddie table in the debates.”
Graham, however, insisted that “there’s just no market” for an agenda that would require eradicating DACA and other widely supported programs in the interest of securing immigration reform.
“I like Tom, but on immigration, he’s putting something on the table that there’s just no market for in phase one,” he said. “As soon as the White House understands there’s a bandwidth here for phase one that will include border security and DACA and a few other things, we’ll get a deal.”
Prior to the government shutdown, Cotton criticized Democrats who emphasized immigration issues as part of those negotiations.
“And the Democrats are saying they’re going to reject that bill because they not only want amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, but they also don’t want to take steps to secure our border and stop future flows of illegal immigration,” he said in a recent Fox News interview. “I just don’t think that’s something that’s going to fly with the American people.”
He went on to assert that a number of Democrats “don’t want to shut down the government and deprive American citizens of government services — to include health insurance for poor kids — because they don’t get an amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants.”
Among those Democrats up for re-election this year, Cotton said he did not believe that was “a position that they want to take to the voters in November.”
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