Rep. John Faso On The GOP's Immigration Bill
SUSAN DAVIS, HOST:
The fate of immigration legislation in Congress is murky to say the least. A vote on a House Republican compromise that would provide legal status for people brought to the U.S. as children, those people often called DREAMers, was postponed last week. The bill's been complicated by this fight over the Trump administration's family separation policy for migrants at the border. The House is scheduled to try again this coming week. But President Trump is now suggesting maybe they shouldn't bother. New York Republican Congressman John Faso is one lawmaker who's trying to pass that compromise bill. And he joins me now. Congressman Faso, welcome to the program.
JOHN FASO: Good morning. Thank you.
DAVIS: First, I'd like to get your reaction to the news last night from the Department of Homeland Security that they have reunited about 500 of these migrant children with their families.
FASO: Well, I appreciate that. That's good news. Obviously, we want to see all of these children reunited with their families as quickly as possible. And we also, in the legislation that we're talking about - we would make it clear that the families arrested at the border with minor children - that they should be kept, pending the processing of their case, with their children so that this family separation policy doesn't go forward in the future.
DAVIS: So let's talk about the legislation because last week, the president came up to Capitol Hill. And he stood in a room with you all. And he said he was behind you, in his words, 1,000 percent on immigration legislation. And then on Friday, he tweeted, quote, "Republicans should stop wasting their time on immigration this year." What do you say to the president about that?
FASO: Well, with all due respect, I would say it's not a waste of time. We are determined to try to fix this problem. And that involves bringing together the issues of border security, which we need to accomplish, and also resolving the fate and the status of the so-called DACA people who were brought to the United States as children before 2007 and under the age of 16. These are now young adults, for the most part, who are working, who are wanting to be a part of American - fully part of American society. They are as American as apple pie, frankly. They know no other country than the United States, so we need to resolve that status. And this legislation does that, as well.
The key here I think for many conservative Republicans, and for me as well, is that I don't want to just deal with DACA and then 10 or 15 years from now, have the same repeat of DACA all over again. So we need to resolve the border security. And we also need to pass a bill. Let's be frank. We need to pass a bill that President Trump will sign. And so this bill is a compromise. It is a work in progress. And hopefully, we can get this job done.
DAVIS: You were one of the original signers of something called a discharge petition that would have forced the House to vote on a series of immigration proposals. But you agreed to put that aside to try and get this bill passed. This bill might not pass now. Do you think you made a miscalculation?
FASO: No. I don't think we did. And candidly, if this doesn't pass, there's always an option to try a discharge petition again. But I don't really want to go there right now. I think the bill in front of us is a good bill. It balances the need for security with the need to resolve DACA and also this issue of family separation. And frankly, it's a great disappointment to me that Democrats are basically sitting on the sideline. If they wanted to come forward and participate in this, they could. But they - I think they want the political issue rather than solving the problem.
This legislation would solve the issue for up to 1.8 million people brought here as young children, the so-called DREAMers. It would allow them to go through a legal process to eventually get a green card and then eventually apply for citizenship. Not putting them ahead of other immigrants similarly situated, but create - recognizing that no one, no administration is going to deport these people from the United States. And - but we need to resolve their legal status. And now is the best time to do it. We have full employment in the United States. We have more job openings than we have unemployed people in the United States, so why would - in heaven's name would we want to tell 1.8 million people, who are mostly working and being productive members of our society, that they're no longer welcome here? It doesn't make any sense.
DAVIS: Congressman, long-time conservative columnist George Will wrote this week that Republicans should lose their majorities because they can't pass legislation. Do you think he has a point if you can't pass this immigration bill?
FASO: No, because - I respect George Will, but the fact is that if immigration legislation were easy, it would have been done a long time ago. Mind you, the Democrats, when they had big majorities in the House and Senate, President Obama in office, didn't lift a finger to solve this problem.
DAVIS: I'm sorry, Congressman. We're going to have to leave it there. Congressman John Faso of New York, thank you so much for coming on the program.
FASO: My pleasure. Thank you.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.