Sitting down for an interview from his Washington D.C office U.S. Congressman Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), answered a few questions and explained the quagmire that is the immigration problem. Rep. Mulvaney shared his own frustration with the legal process for immigration and the serious safety concerns along our Southern border. He also gave practical explanations for why the “Deport them all” or “Grant them all amnesty” arguments are just rhetorical sleight of hand tricks to avoid a serious debate.
PC: In the Town Hall meeting you held in York, SC there were a lot of constituents who were pressing that we take these 11 million plus illegal immigrants that are believed to be in the United States and deport them out of the country… You explained to constituents why that is really not feasible. I wondered if you could just reiterate the difficulties?
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Rep. Mulvaney: Sure, when I have the immigration discussions, I actually like to have the discussions. You know, and round them all up and ship them home is not a discussion, give them amnesty and let them all stay is not a discussion. That’s rhetoric, those are talking points, those are usually an excuse not to have a discussion. So, I try and start the discussion to say, OK look, say for the sake of argument there’s twelve million people here [illegally] do we really think that we’re going to round up twelve million people who don’t want to be found and send them home?
And the point I’ve made to people is look, we know what, we know what kind of society it takes to do that…there are historical examples of societies that round up people and ship them off some place against their will. None of those societies are the kind of society that we live in and the specific example I give is look, if you really are in this round them up and ship them home then you’re going to have to agree to give the Army the ability to come and search your house. Um, and kick in your front door looking door to door for twelve million people because that’s where they’re going to be hiding. And that’s not the culture we want to live in, that’s not, that’s not, that’s not us right. We’re not condoning illegal activity or not saying this is amnesty but we’re just starting the discussion by saying, “OK, we can’t round up twelve million people who don’t want to be found.”
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PC: That brings us to the other problem of immigration it’s not merely the problem of, “What do we do with the 11 million or 12 million illegal immigrants here?” The next discussion is, do we focus on the legal immigration process? That is, those who want to come here legally and they’re having to go through hoops, and they’re cutting through red tape and they’re basically climbing mountains and oceans to get here legally and they’re struggling. Do we first focus on that problem and find a way to streamline the immigration process for legal immigrants? Or, do we turn our attention to the, the border in the South and say, “Oh we’ve got to put up a fence, we have to do whatever?” What are your thoughts?
Rep. Mulvaney: I think, I do think there’s a sequence and I actually think there’s some bipartisan support for a sequence. This is actually critical and also explains why the immigration discussion here in Washington has ground to a halt in the last, I don’t know, 8 to 10 weeks. Which is the sequence does need to be border security first. If you, if you fix the other stuff but don’t have a secure border then the problem, you haven’t really solved the problem of the folks who are here. But you’re not, you’re not ending the problem for the future.
We actually thought that we had some agreement between Republicans and Democrats on the topic that border security had to come first. And that once you did that then you can start talking about what you just mentioned. Which is legal immigration. Um, part of the reason we have an illegal immigration problem is that legal immigration is much too hard. I try to talk about the broader, the broader scope.
So many people try to talk about unskilled labor and I’m like look, let’s look at it a different way. We’re the only country, developed country in the world that still has a lottery system. You don’t, we don’t ask people what they can contribute to society before we let them come here. We don’t ask if they speak the language, don’t ask if they have any capital, don’t ask if they have any skills. If you live in Lithuania and you win the lottery you get to come here. That’s just the way we’ve done it for some reason since, I believe the 1960’s and that’s broken.
I happen to think that one of the advantages of doing it that way [sequenced] is several. One of them is it actually makes sense, and one of them is that, that is where the level of agreement is across party lines. Like I said before, I think there’s actually a good number of Republicans and Democrats who believe that border security can and should be done first. There’s a group, a smaller group that says you have to do legal immigration. The hard one, the one we have the most disagreement on is the status of the 12 million people who are here. So, if that’s the case and I think that it is…why not do the stuff we agree on first as we try and, and work towards building some type of consensus on the stuff that right now we don’t [agree on]?
PC: Do you think that building a fence would really be something feasible, that could actually slow or stop the flow?
Rep. Mulvaney: You know, in some places it probably makes some sense but I think we’re kidding ourselves if the fence, if we think the fence is a solution. Number one, you would still have the problem with the unaccompanied children; right now today if you had a 400 foot high, electrified fence. Because the people who are crossing now, the unaccompanied minors want to get caught. They’re showing up and they throw their hands up in the air and say I surrender. Then they are entitled to various protections. So, the fence doesn’t solve that number one.
Number two, almost half of the numbers I’ve seen, or about 45%, almost half of the people who are here illegally in our country today did not cross the Southern Border. They came in legally on a visa and they stayed. Again, you could build whatever fence you want to and at best, at the very best, in a perfect world, you’ll only solve half of your problem. So, I don’t fight building the fence but I do push back when I say, look if you really think that, that’s an answer. That, that fixes the immigration problem in this country, um, you need to broaden your horizons a little bit. Recognize the fact that the problem is much bigger, much bigger than people sneaking into the country across the Southwestern border. Yes, you should fix that there is no question but just fixing that doesn’t fix the problem.
PC: Should public schools in South Carolina be required to enroll the 350 unaccompanied minors who crossed the border illegally?
Rep. Mulvaney: No, I don’t think that they should be educated here and I know that sounds heartless to some people. Um, but you can’t, we’re not going to solve the problem of people sending 8 and 9 and 10 year old children through the Mexican desert, in the middle of summer time. Until folks stop spending money in Central and South America to send their kids here. That’s not going to happen until we start sending this children and these folks home. We have to fix the problem.
Part of the problem is discouraging the people who live in these oppressed areas from gambling with their children’s lives and sending them here. We need to prove to them that there is no pay off. That there is no return on that investment and make them stop doing it. You cannot say OK, we’re going to take these kids in but we’re going to stop it in the future. No one believes that. I know it sounds harsh, I know it sounds to a certain extent heartless but you have to solve the problem. And the only way you’re going to solve the problem for everybody is to solve for these most recent kids who came in.