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Sen. David Perdue: Trump wants all 4 ‘pillars’ in immigration bill

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., says he is hopeful that Congress will support a solution for DACA recipients this week, while taking measures to prevent future waves of illegal immigration. Perdue joins Judy Woodruff to discuss his support for President Trump’s immigration plan and whether Republicans would give any ground in order to pass legislation to protect the “Dreamers.”

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And for more on the immigration debate taking place here in Washington this week, we are joined now by one of President Trump's main allies in Congress. He's Republican Senator David Perdue of Georgia.

    Senator Perdue, thank you for joining us. Welcome back to the program.

    I think my first question to you is, how worried should DACA recipients like young Alexis Zazueta, the young man we just heard from, how worried should they be about their status?

  • Sen. David Perdue R-Ga.:

    Well, I'm hopeful that we're going to have a solution for them this week.

    The president wants the same thing that they are talking about. You heard in that clip, Judy, that this individual — and what a great story that is — wants certainty for his future. How can you argue with that?

    Well, the president has offered that, actually going beyond what was originally being negotiated, but what he's also said is he wants to eliminate the situation that caused this problem in the first place.

    We don't want to be back here in five years doing the same thing again for a new wave of people, young people, who are brought here illegally. And so that's what this is about, and I think this president's plan, the bill we have, the Succeed and Secure Act, actually does that.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    As I understand it, though, Senator, right now, there are not the votes to support president's plan. What do you see the prospects for it right now?

  • Sen. David Perdue R-Ga.:

    Well, here are the prospects.

    We have had 30 years of debate on this thing. We have had Democrats and Republicans at various points in time actually support the principles laid out by the president in this bill.

    We have had actually tonight even late-coming support for this bill. And I have to tell you, Senator Alexander and Senator Isakson today have — or just tonight have endorsed this bill. And I think that's a great watershed of what's to come overnight and tomorrow.

    These are two well-thought-of individuals here, and I respect both of them immensely. And they were involved in a bipartisan effort trying to reach a solution to this thing. And this they have come back and said this is the plan that they think meets the need.

    We have the DHS endorse this. Of course, the president endorses this bill. What we're hopeful of is, when these other things are looked at in the light of day, that we will see this plan that the president laid out and we have in this bill actually meets the need of what the Democrats have been asking for, actually.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, it's my understanding, I think, and what I have been told, Senator, in the last few days is that where the support — there is greater support now for two parts of what the president wants, and that is doing something for these DACA recipients and doing something about border security, maybe doing something about the visa lottery.

    The greater difficulty is coming with the decision about how to handle the family migration question.

  • Sen. David Perdue R-Ga.:

    Yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Is there give both on the president's side and on the — as well as on the other side, that you think could bring the two sides together? But it would require give on both sides.

  • Sen. David Perdue R-Ga.:

    Judy, I think you have characterized this extremely well, better than most people have that I have heard today.

    And I think it — what you're showing is that three or four principles the president is talking about have general agreement. The one on the family-based, I think, has room in there on both sides where we can actually get the solution that we're all looking for.

    And that is the create an end to the environment that incents people to bring their young children in here that created the DACA situation in the first place, and also ends the loopholes in here that create the opportunity for terrorists to use our immigration system against us.

    I would love to see our legal immigration system, Judy, that brings in 1.1 million immigrants today — and, by the way, that's up some 400,000 or 500,000 just in the last few years — but we only bring in 70,000 of the 1.1 million today related to what we call the E.B. programs, work programs.

    So, there are qualified workers coming in. Another 70,000 is their spouse and immediate children — 150,000, Judy, are refugees and asylum seekers.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Right.

  • Sen. David Perdue R-Ga.:

    And the other 800,000 are legacy, derivative family immigration sponsorees.

    And that's what we want to look at. Places like Canada, Australia use more of a point-based system. And we would entertain potentially bringing more workers in under that format.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, I guess one of my bottom-line questions is, is there give, do you believe, in the president's position, your position that would mean you might not fully do everything that the president wants to do right now with regard to these families, but that would end up protecting these DACA recipients?

    Or is the president so wed to getting all four, as he calls it, pillars of this plan, that even if that means the DACA recipients get deported, that's the way it is?

  • Sen. David Perdue R-Ga.:

    I think this president has been very clear for a long time about what his position is.

    He wants a solution to the problem that caused the DACA situation. He wants the DACA situation solved. He's gone farther than any Republican ever thought that he would. We support that, those of us that are sponsoring this bill. And we believe there is enough commonality in this Senate that if they will look at these different principles, that they're — that we will be able to get to a common solution.

    To answer your question, I think we do have some room on the worker part of the family-based system, but not just for the DACA. You can't do what some proposals are coming out with now, talking about, well, we will just protect — we won't let the DACA kids do — well, that is not going to solve the problem that we have.

    So, I think there is room in there yet. But the president has been very clear, he wants these four pillars in this solution.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, we know there is not agreement yet, but we know you all will continue to work on it for the next day or two. And we will be watching very closely.

    Senator David Perdue, thank you.

  • Sen. David Perdue R-Ga.:

    Thank you, Judy.

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