Hardliners Push Back On Bipartisan Deal On Immigration Package
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
So earlier this morning I spoke to Congressman Paul Gosar. He's a Republican from Arizona. And just so you know, when I spoke with him about all this, NPR was at that point not broadcasting the vulgarity that the president is alleged to have used, and we did not use that word in our conversation.
I want to ask you about comments made by your colleague. Republican Congresswoman Mia Love of Utah called on the president to apologize for these comments. She said that they were unkind, divisive, elitist and fly in the face of our nation's values. Do you join her in that condemnation?
PAUL GOSAR: I can't condone, you know, vocabulary that one of - another person actually utilizes in that aspect. But I also understand that the president is not a career politician that you may say things that are not politically correct in the world of politics.
MARTIN: So you're saying the term that he used is just - it's just politically incorrect. It's not offensive on its face.
GOSAR: It's - I think there's - any word we can use can be utilized in an offensive aspect, Rachel. I think the intent is that when we look at other countries, the lawlessness that is exacerbated by their capacity makes them not something to be wanting to stay. That's why you see such a precipitation of people wanting to come to the United States. So maybe a poor choice of words. But, you know, everybody has to acknowledge their comments.
MARTIN: Lots of folks are saying this is more than a poor choice of words. No surprise, Democrats are lashing out. Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal described the comment as, quote, "racism masquerading poorly as immigration policy." Do you understand the racial element of that term and how he used it?
GOSAR: Oh, I do. But I think when you - when we start slinging the racial slurs, you know, I think that's a poor choice on both sides. I think we...
MARTIN: Even though he said he would prefer immigrants from Norway, a predominantly white country?
GOSAR: You know, looking all the way across the board, you know, for immigrants coming to a country from very different statuses - you know, higher-status living that are presented in Norway versus maybe what you would see in Haiti or in parts of Africa. And that's part of the rule of law. You know, I think that was what his comments were. Maybe a very, very poor choice of how to place that. But once again, starting to use the racial slur - I think we've used it way more on both sides. And I think it really clouds the issue of having a very good debate.
MARTIN: It is the issue for some people. But I want to move on and ask about the substance of this bill that was brought to the president. Senator Jeff Flake was at the helm of this thing. And it's notable that the president had said earlier - on Tuesday, actually - that he was going to sign anything that congressional members came up with. This is what he said.
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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: What I approve is going to be very much reliant on what the people in this room come to me with. I have great confidence in the - if they come to me with things that I'm not in love with, I'm going to do it.
MARTIN: So why won't the president sign this deal that a bipartisan group brought to him yesterday?
GOSAR: Well, first of all, being in the House, I don't always appreciate what the Senate comes up with. So there's that animosity as well. So - but I think the president has been very firm up until that point was that a framework for immigration had to have border security, had to have a kibosh to chain migration and other aspects...
MARTIN: Which this did. It also just had DACA protections in it to prevent so-called DREAMers from being deported. Do you think that should be included in any immigration bill?
GOSAR: Well, I think what we have to do is be very, very careful and that there's no special status that is given until we look at the bigger problem. And that is - why are we taking 700,000 people and moving them to the front of the line in the victim category? Isn't there a bigger category of immigrants that are the victims that are trying to do it the right way that we ought to really concentrate on and make sure that we have the full status in regards to how do we look at our immigration from top to bottom in a fair and equitable way? I think that's the biggest key because the rule of law is key here.
MARTIN: All right, we're going to have to leave it there. Congressman Paul Gosar of Arizona, member of the conservative Freedom Caucus. Thank you very much for your time this morning.
GOSAR: Thanks so much, Rachel.
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