Jeff Flake - U.S. Senator ~ Arizona

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) today spoke on the Senate floor to urge his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to be realistic about what can be part of the deal to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipients:

“…Let me just stress, a lot of words are highly charged that are thrown around this immigration debate. No word is perhaps more highly charged than the word amnesty, that's been thrown around by a number of my colleagues. I would suggest that that is not the case here with the DACA kids. Amnesty by definition is an unconditional pardon for a breach of law. I don't think a child being brought across the border by the parents has committed a violation of the law. Not the child, certainly the parent but not the child. And so to provide relief for those kids and to allow them to stay in the only country that they know, I don't think should be called amnesty. Yet that highly charged phrase is often used… To say, or to suggest that anyone pursuing a bipartisan solution is proposing amnesty, I think, is misleading, and it puts back the cause of actually trying to fix the situation. In the proposal that we are drafting, this bipartisan group offers a pathway to citizenship only for a specific group of young immigrants…These are immigrants who are serving in the military, who are seeking education, who are holding good jobs. And they'll be required to continue to do so before they can have a chance to earn citizenship. As for the parents of these young immigrants, nobody can deny the fact that they did break the law, and any bipartisan proposal on DACA cannot and will not reward them for this behavior

“…Nobody's suggesting that we don't need additional infrastructure or barriers on the border. The question is how much do we provide for in this legislation? The president has made a request in the budget for about $1.6 billion for the coming year. I think that totals about 74 miles of fence between Texas and California. I think that that's a good place to start. How much we authorize going forward will be very much in debate. I know that during the campaign, the president talked long and hard about building a wall. But every time he mentioned building a wall, he talked about Mexico paying for it. We all know, many of us knew at the time Mexico was not going to pay for that wall. They're not. That's why the president is asking for $18 billion of U.S. taxpayer money to fund that wall. So to suggest that the president hasn't changed his position and that we're dealing with a proposal that we've known is coming from the White House simply isn't true. It has changed. The president initially said Mexico would pay for it. It's not the case. It's the U.S. taxpayer that's going to pay for any infrastructure on the border.

“…Deals like this, where you need 60 votes necessarily involve compromise. No party, no individual is going to get everything that they want; the White House won’t get everything they want, the Democrats in Congress won’t, and neither will the Republicans. This will be a compromise. I’m simply suggesting tonight – let’s get real about the time involved between now and when we have to fix this, and not think that we can simply kick the can down the road and put in some temporary fix, some kind of bridge later that will protect these kids…Let’s all get serious, Republicans and Democrats – not coming forward to the table with unrealistic expectations about what can be part of this legislation. Let’s have something that we can put on the Senate floor by the end of the month to have sufficient time to get this fixed by March 5th.”


To view the full video of Flake’s remarks, click here.