ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Earlier this week, we spoke with Congressman Carlos Curbelo, a Florida Republican who has introduced a bill to let DREAMers stay here legally. Well, Republican Congressman Paul Gosar of Arizona would vote against that bill. I asked him why he thought people who were brought to the U.S. as children should face consequences for their parents' actions.
PAUL GOSAR: Do we allow the children as citizens to move forward and then allow them to claim their families who are the lawbreakers? Something's wrong with this process, and we got it backwards. There are other ways to remedy this. In the '30s, '40s and '50s, we had an extended visitor status that we did every year, allowing people.
So no one's saying that you have to be deported right away. But what ends up happening - how about getting back to the rule of law, you know? I think Justice Brandeis said it very, very well. In a government of laws, the existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law.
SHAPIRO: President Trump said yesterday that if Congress does not legalize DACA, quote, "I will revisit this issue." How do you interpret that?
GOSAR: Well, maybe what he's going to do because he's aware of where I, you know, proposed the long-term extensions for visitor status, you know, on a year-to-year basis - so there's other opportunities on the floor and - that are out there. There's remedies while we go through this aspect of a very articulated, well-predicated discussion about immigration. If you put them all together in one, it'll never pass.
But what the American people want is the trust to be restored. Trust is a series of promises kept. Start simple. Articulate with them what it takes to be legally in this country. Look at the definitions of the borders of this country and defining sovereignty of a country that enforces its laws, can create its laws, defines its jurisdiction and upholds those aspects. We have to have all these kind of conversations, and they're begging for it. If they're - if the last election isn't a wakeup call, I don't know what is.
SHAPIRO: Historically, Republican leadership has been reluctant to bring a vote to the floor if a bill would pass with a minority of Republicans and a majority of Democrats. Do you think they would make an exception for this bill? I know you would not support their making an exception for this bill, but I wonder whether you think they would.
GOSAR: Well, Ari, you know, if anything in the past - you know, those four - my four terms - we see it all the time when we see debt ceilings, when we see budgets, when we see continuing resolutions. Leadership always goes off the - off-course because very few, you know - they can get very, very few Republicans who aren't concerned about accountability and fiscal responsibilities to go along with them. So that's been the fallacy all along - is that leadership does it when they like to and don't use it when it's convenient for them not to.
So from that standpoint, you know - if they're going to bring that forward, I'm sure they could probably do that. But there are consequences. And I - once again, I'll bring it up. The American people are frustrated when you don't have a solution, when you kick the can down, when you do a knee-jerk reaction instead of solving the problem. Listen. Make a diagnosis. Break it up into pieces where they can actually articulate a decision and have a conversation with you. And let it go.
SHAPIRO: You've described what you would like to see. Given the Congress you know that you're a part of, what do you think will happen?
GOSAR: I think this is the perfect storm because we're talking about budgets. We're talking about debt ceilings. We're talking about health care. These are all attractive interplays for all citizens and refugees and immigrants. So why not take it one piece at a time and have that discussion? We can show the American people that we can walk and chew gum at the same time. There shouldn't be a hard lift.
SHAPIRO: You're saying wrap immigration into...
GOSAR: As piece by piece...
SHAPIRO: ...Something like that.
GOSAR: As piece by piece by having that discussion. There's plenty of opportunity to have that discussion. There's plenty of time to have this done in a conscientious fashion in six months. So from that standpoint, I don't give the remedy that this is too short a time. It's just perfect to kind of nudge us. And the American public is watching. They want to see that their voices are being heard. They're scared. They don't know who their neighbor is. They want to know that they're following the law. They want to make sure that we're a country, that we're - define borders and that we actually have a rule of law and that we're enforcing it.
SHAPIRO: Republican Congressman Paul Gosar of Arizona, thanks for coming into the studio.
GOSAR: Ari, thanks for having me - appreciate it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.