Sen. Tom Cotton says more advanced technology and updated asylum laws are needed to protect against illegal immigrants coming to America through Mexico, but he’s not sure closing the border would resolve the current dilemma.
Calling it a “crisis,” Cotton, R-Ark., said March saw a huge influx of immigrants with children who presented themselves at the southern border. He said there are a number of ways to expedite the legitimacy of those arriving.
“We really do face a crisis at our border. Just last month, March, we saw some of the largest numbers of illegal immigrants show up at our borders we’ve seen in 10 years,” Cotton said.
He noted that adults are coming to Border Patrol agents, not sneaking across the border.
“We absolutely should adjudicate more quickly,” he said, in reference to the cumbersome processing of legitimate asylum seekers. “We should try to take advantage of rapid DNA technology, so we can identify on the border who’s an actual child and who’s a trafficked minor so we can take care of that minor and we can deal with the person who’s been trafficking that person trying to get into the country. We should do more with modular housing to try to keep people at the border.”
When asked about President Donald Trump’s proposal to close the entire 1,200 mile section of the U.S.-Mexico border, Cotton said he doubted it would solve the problem.
“I wouldn’t want to close the border if it wasn’t going to solve the problem. And again, right now, the problem is not people trying to run across the border in the middle of the night. It’s people showing up and making false claims of asylum.”
Cotton has not seen the report submitted by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller to the U.S. Department of Justice, but he believes President Trump is not guilty of colluding with the Russians to win the 2016 election.
“The Mueller report, as quoted by Attorney General Barr in his letter to Congress, found no evidence whatsoever of any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. That’s what I’ve seen for two years on the Intelligence Committee as well,” he said.
He thinks Barr should be allowed to complete his redactions of the Mueller report before releasing it to the public – a move Cotton supports.
“Should the Mueller report be made public? As the attorney general said, I want to make as much public as possible. However, he said just in a letter this past week that every single page of the Mueller report, to include the summaries, was stamped with sensitive possibly classified information. That’s why they’re going through the process of reviewing that material. He’s going to make as much public as he possibly can. I hope that’s the large majority of the Mueller report,” Cotton said.
Critics of Trump allege that he’s been lax with Russia. He’s been accused of sharing sensitive intelligence with Russian leaders in the Oval Office and taking Vladimir Putin’s word at face value that he didn’t interfere in the 2016 elections. Cotton said this administration and particularly this Congress have been tougher on Russia than during the Obama years.
“I’ll just say first off, as I’ve said all along, Russia is not our friend. They interfered in our democratic processes in 2016. They will continue to do that. That’s why we have to take a firm line against Russia, as I always have and as this president does a lot better than the last president,” said Cotton rattling off instances such as sanctions, providing arms to Ukranians to defend against Russia, and withdrawing from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
“We’ve sent strong messages. Some have been in the news, some of which I can’t discuss, that the kind of interference we saw in our electoral processes in 2016 we will no longer tolerate. So, there are more steps we could take. I will say this though, that this administration has been tougher on Russia as a matter of policy than the last administration, by far,” he said.
Cotton will seek re-election in 2020 and presently he has no Democratic challenger. The state’s junior senator, who knocked off incumbent U.S. Senator Mark Pryor, D-Ark., in an epic 2014 race, said he’ll stand on his domestic and international accomplishments when asking voters for a second term.
“Because of my action on the tax bill two years ago, 60,000 Arkansans who can’t afford their health insurance are no longer being fined by the government for not being able to afford the insurance that Obamacare made unaffordable in the first place. Arkansas families got a tax cut. A lot of them are getting money back in their pockets this month because of that tax bill. Arkansas seniors have more choices on generic drugs and are therefore paying lower prices for drugs,” Cotton said as reasons for deserving a new six-year term.
“I’ve stood up to bad immigration plans, I’ve promoted good immigration plans. I’ve stood with law enforcement during some pretty tough times over the last four years for law enforcement. On the international front, I’ve worked every day to try to keep Arkansans safe and to defend this country, whether it was convincing the president to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal or recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the Golan as sovereign territory of Israel, trying to rebuild our military so we can deter our adversaries from ever taking a shot at the title to begin with,” he added.
Cotton also discussed efforts to crack down on contraband in prisons, Chinese espionage, the tariff and trade wars with China, and other issues in his interview. You can watch the full interview in the video below.