AMPed Up

Discuss immigration, Tom Cotton says, don’t pretend it’s not an issue

Evin Demirel
Written by Evin Demirel

Senator Tom Cotton joins Joint Chiefs Chairman General Joseph Dunford on Capitol Hill for a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee  on September 22, 2016.   (AP photo by Andrew Harnik)

Tom Cotton, one of Arkansas’ senators, is known for his strong conservative views on social and economic issues. When it comes to the immigration policies of socialist Democrat Norway, however, Mr. Cotton has high praise. The 39-year-old Republican from Dardanelle recently toured Norway and Sweden with Mike Pompeo, a United States representative from Kansas.

They were impressed by the way humane way in which Norway strengthened its immigration policies to handle a flood of Middle Eastern immigrants and asylum seekers. The more permissive Sweden, they contend, hasn’t been as successful.

“There are some important lessons in those two countries,” Mr. Cotton told radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt recently. “Most Americans view them as largely the same, and they have a lot of similarities, but the way they’ve approached this immigration question is radically different. Not only has Norway put very strict limits on immigration and benefits and border security, they’ve also integrated those views into their political system. The traditional immigration skeptical party is part of the governing coalition.”

Below are more excerpts from Mr. Cotton’s interview with Mr. Hewitt. He begins with his take on the big debate, half of which, he admits, he missed because he  had flown home from California early that morning on a red-eye.

Tom Cotton: I thought Donald was effective at driving home some basic points about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party. In fact, he was generous to her. He said that she’s been doing this for 30 years, and she embodies the status quo. She’s actually been doing it for 40 years. Bill Clinton was elected attorney general for the first time in 1976. They’ve been pitching themselves as two for one, as they did in 1991, for 40 years.

If you’re satisfied with the status quo, and you think things should remain the same, then Hillary Clinton’s probably your candidate. But if you think we need a change, as I believe most Americans do, then Donald Trump is going to help Republicans in the Congress bring that change. I thought he was effective in driving that point home.

Hugh Hewitt: You had a Wall Street Journal op-ed  that compares Norway and Sweden and declared Norway the smart country. I’m reading here: “Norway established measures to stop uncontrolled migration. It imposed new border controls featuring a border fence, increased waiting periods for residency and deportation of ineligible migrants. It also reduced migrant benefits. The benefits to match that offered by its neighbors. Norway even advertised in foreign nations, warning that migrants who do not face war or persecution will be deported. The result? Asylum applications in Norway fell 95 percent between the last quarter of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016.”

This is very much what Donald Trump is talking about.

Tom Cotton: That’s actually one point  I hope Donald can improve in the future. I know the debate, having read the post-game analysis, didn’t touch on immigration at all. Didn’t touch on Obamacare. Maybe the moderators will raise those points in the future – if not, though, Donald needs to raise them. Especially immigration. That’s the central issue of his campaign…

Sweden has added almost 300,000 migrants to a country of less than 10 million people in the last two years. That’s like adding Michigan to the United States, and they’ve ruled out any skepticism of immigration from routine political debate. What that has led to is a new right party that neither the left, nor the right, in Sweden will work with. Meaning their Parliament has a minority government, and they ended up getting the very same policies Norway did. Only too late, and without any political stability.

This is exactly what Donald Trump saw in our primaries. You don’t have to agree with Donald Trump to realize that when two-thirds to three-fourths of American people want immigration security, and want lower levels of legal immigration, political parties and traditional politicians need to respond to those legitimate concerns. If they don’t the American people are going to turn to different voices, as Republicans did in their primary.

Hugh Hewitt :  We had a [shooting in] Seattle … and we had the bombings .. . How much is not bubbling through to the elite opinion makers who feel, even if they aren’t really protected, feel protected, Tom Cotton, about the state of anxiety in America?

Tom Cotton: I think too many leaders in both parties, too many of our political, business, cultural and media elites do live in something of a bubble. Again, to go back to immigration. When you live in Bethesda, or you live in Alexandria, it’s an almost unalloyed good thing for your quality of life, and the prices you pay for goods and services in your neighborhood. When you live in Yell County, though, where I live, there’s a lot of costs to mass immigration that we’ve seen over the last 40 or 50 years.

One of those costs has been some of the attacks we’ve seen over the last six months in this country. Either from immigrants or second-generation immigrants who haven’t assimilated. This is a real problem. You’ve seen it in Europe as well. Of the 1.5 million migrants that have come there, some of them have taken up arms against the very societies that welcomed them with open arms. That’s a debate that we need to have, and a problem that we need to solve, not pretend it doesn’t exist.

About the author

Evin Demirel

Evin Demirel

Evin Demirel, a Little Rock native now living in Rogers, often writes about the intersection of local sports, culture, race and business.

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