New GOP Senator Tom Cotton Says Immigration Must Help Americans

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Newly elected Sen. Tom Cotton used his first post-election appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press” to urge immigration reforms that help American get better wages — yet establishment media outlets ignored his populist call.

“The president just lost an election in no small measure because wages for working families are declining and unemployment is still too high in too many places,” Cotton told the anchor, Chuck Todd.

“And the first big action he took after the election was to make it easier for illegal immigrants to get jobs, not for working families to get jobs,” Cotton said about Obama’s Nov. 21 announcement to provide work-permits to 4 million illegals.

In contrast, the new GOP Congress will try to pass law that begin “building a border fence or enforcing our interior immigration laws, and getting a handle on legal immigration that could actually drive down wages and increase unemployment,” he said.

Cotton’s comments are novel, mostly because nearly all GOP politicians have ignored the impact of Obama’s amnesty on Americans’ wages and jobs. Instead, GOP leaders, such as House Speaker John Boehner, criticize the amnesty as bad for bipartisan cooperation, as a violation of the law-making process and of the Constitution, and an an obstacle to passage of a business-friendly immigration rewrite.

Cotton’s populist comments also are important because he beat the Democratic incumbent with a populist message on jobs and immigration. The successful GOP candidate in Georgia, David Perdue, also used a similar message.

This immigration argument may help the GOP caucus decide to block Obama’s amnesty, and could push the caucus in a more populist direction amid pro-amnesty pressure from business groups.

Cotton will remain a House Representative until January, so he will attend a Dec. 2 meeting where the House GOP caucus will decide if and how to block Obama’s unilateral amnesty for 4 million illegal immigrants.

“I’ll consult with my colleagues in both the Senate and the House, to decide… but I’m reluctant to cede the spending power that a Congress has under the Constitution,” he said. “What we might also do is pass a short-term spending measure into the new year to let a new and accountable Congress, not a lame-duck Congress, make a difference.”

A short-term spending bill would allow the GOP majorities in the House and Senate to block Obama’s amnesty after January. A long-term, 12-month spending bill favored by some GOP legislators would allow Obama to execute the amnesty.

But a large slice of the GOP’s leadership and caucus are reluctant to fight Obama’s $2 trillion amnesty, largely because the amnesty is backed by many donors and business groups that profit from cheap labor. “One side [of the GOP] wants to fight, one side doesn’t want to talk about it,” a Hill aide told The Daily Caller.

But at least 60 members of the GOP caucus want to block the amnesty — and their numbers were increased by the November elections.

On Nov. 21, Obama decided he would basically stop deportation of illegal immigrants, and boost the annual inflow of guest-workers for jobs sought by Americans. Obama also said he would grant work-permits to 4 million illegal immigrants, plus give them access to federal welfare programs and a fast-track to citizenship. The likely cost of the amnesty is $2 trillion.

Obama has already distributed or promised almost 1 million work-permits to foreigners since 2011, in additional to the routine inflow of 1 million immigrants and 650,000 non-agricultural guest-workers each year. Four million Americans turn 18 each year.

Polls show that Obama’s immigration policies are very unpopular, especially among voters in Midwestern swing-states. On Nov. 4 in deep-blue Oregon, 66 percent of voters struck down a new law giving drivers licenses to illegals.

But Todd and other establishment journalists ignored Cotton’s pitch, which polls suggest could boost the GOP’s vote in 2016.

For example, Todd shifted the to conversation to Cotton’s campaign-trail remarks about jihadis and weak border security.

“You didn’t bring up terrorism just now with me,” he told Cotton. “You did in a campaign phone call. Is that just campaign rhetoric?”

NBC highlighted that segment of the interview, and downplayed the immigration segment.

Politico also ignored the immigration comments, and instead focused on routine remarks about the need for greater border security. “Rep. Tom Cotton, who’ll be sworn in as the youngest member of the Senate in January, says securing the U.S.-Mexico border is a top priority for him and other Republicans,” read Politico’s article, which was headlined “Tom Cotton sees securing U.S.-Mexico border as a top priority.”

The Washington Post also hid the populist remarks. “Sen.-elect Tom Cotton [R-Ark.] this morning went on ‘Meet the Press,’ where he mainly talked about his stance on immigration, an issue that the soon-to-be Republican Senate is sure to discuss in great detail following President Obama’s recent executive action,” said the Post’s article.

The Post’s article was sardonically headlined: “Senator-elect Tom Cotton agrees with candidate Tom Cotton on immigration and terrorism.”

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