Sen. Tom Cotton aims to lead Trump's charge to curtail legal immigration | Arkansas Blog

Sen. Tom Cotton aims to lead Trump's charge to curtail legal immigration

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COTTON: "America First" means fewer immigrants.
  • COTTON: "America First" means fewer immigrants.

President Trump
spent a lot of time during the campaign talking about illegal immigration. But his recent executive order targeted legal immigration. The order — since blocked by a federal judge — banned refugees from entering the country and also banned entry from seven majority-Muslim nations. Tens of thousands of people who had followed the rules and done the mountains of paperwork and vetting to legally immigrate — often over a period of years — would be immediately halted if Trump's order goes into effect. (Here's some recommended listening on some of their stories, via This American Life.)

Politico reports that Sen. Tom Cotton is angling to be at the forefront of Trump's effort to crack down on legal immigration, including stopping the entry of some of the most vulnerable populations in the world:

The outspoken, 39-year-old Cotton has written the first in what may be a series of bills to revamp the nation’s immigration system. Cotton will start off with legislation being unveiled Tuesday that will dramatically slash the number of immigrants who can obtain green cards and other visas every year. ...

"Donald Trump was the only one who saw that most Americans don’t like our current immigration system,” Cotton said in an interview with POLITICO on Monday. “This is just the area of politics where I think leaders and elites are most disconnected from the people. Not just Republicans but in both parties, in business, in the media, in the academy, culture and so forth." ...

The bill also dumps the diversity visa lottery, which allots about 50,000 visas per year for citizens of countries that traditionally have low rates of immigration to the United States. And it would limit refugees to 50,000 annually — in line with levels outlined in Trump’s controversial executive order.
Cotton says his bill would reduce legal immigration by 40 percent in the first year and 50 percent over a decade.

The rhetoric about illegal immigration often feigns a defense of those immigrants who "play by the rules" (never mind how convoluted, and in some cases essentially impossible, those rules are). Cotton's eagerness to crack down on legal immigrants suggests that something else is afoot.

Inside baseball note: Cotton is siding here with the Trumpistas over the Club for Growth, which generally supports less restrictions on immigration. Cotton is a rigid right-wing idealogue and no populist, but looks like he's trying to settle into the Trumpy lane.


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