Sean Duffy Discusses Immigration, Student Loans, SCOTUS

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Sean Duffy Discusses Immigration, Student Loans, SCOTUS

Premiere Date: 
June 27, 2013

Rep. Sean Duffy speaks about immigration reform, student loan rates, SCOTUS.

 

Episode Transcript: 

Frederica Freyberg:

The immigration bill heads next to the House, where leaders are saying no thanks. We turn now to Wisconsin Republican congressman Sean Duffy, who joins us by phone. And, Congressman, thanks very much for doing so.

Sean Duffy:

Hey, Frederica, thank you for having me on.

Frederica Freyberg:

I wanted to ask you about that. Speaker John Boehner has stated that the House is not going to take up the senate bill. What's your reaction and position on that?

Sean Duffy:

I agree with him. The House is going to work its will. We're going to take our time and work through this immigration debate, because what we realize in the House is the current immigration laws are broken. It's not working for our country, and when we have a government that's broken, we want to step in and fix it. But we have to reflect, have hearings, have debates. And we have a very different body than the senate, and that's why the House will work its will and produce a House-- a House bill that will reflect our ideas, our values and our thoughts of how we should reform our immigration process to actually make it work, not just for everyone today, but to make sure we actually fix it for the long term. Because you look back to 1986, they had an immigration reform bill that didn't actually fix the problem. And that's why when the situation we are today. We want to fix this problem long-term, and we don't believe the senate bill does that. So the House will work its will and hopefully we'll be able to get together with the senate and find some agreement to send to the president.

Frederica Freyberg:

What is it about the senate bill that you don't think is going to fix the longstanding problem?

Sean Duffy:

Well, I’ll tell you this, in the House what we want to do is several-fold. One, we want to make sure we secure the borders and verify it. Number two, we want to deal with those who have come here illegally or without documentation. We want to give them some form of a legal status. And if they want to apply for citizenship, like anyone from any other country, they can apply, but they'll get to the back of the line. We want to make sure they're paying their taxes. – we're concerned about those who are undocumented tapping into our-- our entitlement system, whether it's Social Security, Medicare and, if it's not repealed, into Obamacare, when they haven't necessarily paid for it. But then also, Frederica, we have to make sure we have a re-do on our visa program so we can have a workable work visa program that allows migrant labor to come in and work at times when there's a need, and allows them to go home when they want. That system doesn't work today, and so we want to make sure we have a work visa program that will work for a 21st century economy.

Frederica Freyberg:

So, Congressman, you say that you want to kind of do this in pieces and take each of these prongs separately. Which would be the first? Would it be border security?

Sean Duffy:

The first is border security, yes, because, again, Frederica, if we don't secure the border, we're not really fixing the problem. We have to make sure the border is secure, number one. And then I think you can get a lot more Americans to buy into a form of a legal status for people who have come here without documentation. But if you don't secure the border, all we're doing is going to have a 10 or 20-year process where we keep dealing with our same problem. And we're about fixing problems, not just putting Band-Aids on problems.

Frederica Freyberg:

Doesn't all of this in the House, though, portend that this would take a lot longer than potentially the kind of comprehensive bill that just passed in the senate?

Sean Duffy:

Well, I'll let pundits analyze the length of time, but I think America would agree that one system is – broken and, two, that we should secure our borders. And if you get those-- if you get that right, then we can move forward with the other parts of what the senate-- some of the senate's ideas and some of the ideas that are going to come out of the House. But to think that you go in a comprehensive fashion, well, when we tried that in the past, you don't secure the border and you don't then fully address the problem and that's our concern.

Frederica Freyberg:

How complicated is this immigration issue for Republicans who really need to, frankly, court the Hispanic vote?

Sean Duffy:

Listen, I think we're looking at doing what's right, what's right for Americans, what's right for American families. And I think there's a wide agreement within the Republican party in the House that we want to fix the broken system. I think there's a lot of us who think there's a pathway forward that will work for the country and work for House Republicans.

Frederica Freyberg:

I want to get your reaction to the high court's ruling this week on gay marriage, because we understand that in Wisconsin it likely opens the door to gay couples that are legally married in other states getting those same benefits here in our state. What's your reaction to that?

Sean Duffy:

First off, this is one of those debates that passions run high on both sides. I understand that, you know, and a lot of people on both sides of the issue talk to me about this issue. I'm one who believes in traditional marriage. But, you know, though I am not necessarily pleased with the decision from the Supreme Court, what I also think it does is gives states the right to decide what works for those states. And I think the ball then will kicked to our state legislature, our governor, to decide how they want to handle this. And so though I'm not fully happy with what happened, I also think letting people in states make decisions about what's right for them is also an appropriate approach.

Frederica Freyberg:

Very briefly, to close, we wanted to get your position on whether congress needs to act to prevent the doubling of the interest rate on federal student loans.

Sean Duffy:

Absolutely, and that's why, Frederica, the House actually has acted. We’ve passed a bill to make sure that student loan rates don't double. We've sent that over to the senate, and the senate has refused to act. Listen, I mean, there's young Americans who have gone to school who have gotten out now and they have to pay their student loans back. This is a tough economy. They're going through hard times. We want to make sure that those hard times aren't doubled with interest rates doubling on the student loans. And that's why we in the House have acted, and we're hoping at some point soon the senate will take this up and actually join us and fix this problem. But per our earlier conversation, they have been consumed with immigration, but have left the young Americans with student loans on the sidelines as we approach the deadline of July 1 and their interest rates doubling. So my hope is the senate will act and follow our lead in the House to fix this problem.  

Frederica Freyberg:

All right, we need to leave it there. Congressman Sean Duffy, thanks very much for joining us.

Sean Duffy:

Frederica, thanks for having me on. Have a great day.

Frederica Freyberg:

You too. 


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