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U.S. Rep. Hill Of Arkansas Defends Legal Merits Of ‘Zero Tolerance’ Immigration Policy

U.S. Rep. French Hill speaking at a meeting of the House Financial Services Committee on March 22, 2016.

U.S. Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.) says current immigration law justifies the Trump administration's decision to implement a zero tolerance policy that separates children from their parents if they illegally cross the border with Mexico. However, Hill says he does not support children being separated from their families and is urging Congress to pass legislation to fix the problem, while putting the blame on past presidential administrations for the creation of the law.

The two-term Republican Congressman is seeking a third term in November. He faces Democrat Clarke Tucker, who currently serves in the Arkansas House of Representatives, in the November general election for central Arkansas's U.S. House seat.

Interview Highlights

On campaign ads linking his Democratic challenger, Clarke Tucker, to U.S. Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

Numerous publications have noted that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC)  had Clarke Tucker picked out as the candidate. They preferred his candidacy even during the Democratic primaries. They have backed him in many different ways, and I think that’s a statement of fact. The issue is, no matter how you slice it, someone trying to take the House back to the opposition party - the Democrats and Clarke Tucker in this case - is supporting Nancy Pelosi’s agenda.

What is that? It supports the Iran deal. It supports rolling back the tax cuts. It supports rolling back the investment benefits and tax changes for our businesses. There are no new ideas in the Pelosi agenda. It’s not just a political topic. It’s a policy topic.

On the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the Mexico border

I don’t support separating kids. I think it is true that current law says that if you enter the country illegally and you’re trafficking a child, these kids cannot be put in an adult detention center so the children are transferred to a foster care type situation. Very unfortunate and not a good thing.

The work in the House in the last few days has been trying to clarify that law and come up with a different approach to make it more humane. We still have to deal with the fact that they are here illegally.

On false claims U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ new "zero tolerance" policy is similar to practices under previous administrations

The Obama administration faced this exact same circumstance back several years ago. This is not a specific issue to one administration. This is a crisis along the border that requires, in my opinion, good law changes.

On public defenders saying U.S. Border Patrol agents are lying to parents when they take their kids away

If that’s true, and it was determined to be true by the bosses of those people, that’s ridiculous. But the whole policy is broken and we need to fix it whether it’s an inadvertent action by an officer at the border or a concrete policy of Border Patrol at the top.

KUAR will air an interview with Democratic Second Congressional District candidate Clarke Tucker later this week.

Jacob Kauffman is a former news anchor and reporter for KUAR.
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