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Transcript: Sen. Chris Coons on "Face the Nation," June 9, 2024

Coons: Trump making immigration "a political issue"
Sen. Chris Coons, Biden campaign co-chair, says Trump making immigration "a political issue" 07:06

The following is a transcript of an interview with Sen. Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, on "Face the Nation" that aired on June 9, 2024.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to Delaware Democratic Senator Chris Coons. He is a national co-chairman of President Biden's reelection campaign, and he joins us this morning from his home state. Senator, let's- let's pick up on the border. Since we just left that there, this new order the President just implemented this past week authorizes immigration officials to deport large numbers of migrants without processing their asylum claims. You were critical when Donald Trump used this 212f authority under his administration. Why do you support President Biden's use of it?

SEN. CHRIS COONS: Because there's a stark difference in the values that President Biden and former President Trump bring to trying to address the issue of border security and immigration. I'll remind you, Margaret, that former President Trump tried to implement a Muslim ban, a ban on entry to this country explicitly based on one religion. He also used cruelty, the forceful separation of parents from their children and the caging of children at our border to try and deter folks from coming to seek asylum or to seek refuge in our country. President Biden has time and time again asked Congress to enact a broad solution to our border security and immigration challenges, and after months of negotiation between Senators Lankford, Sinema and Murphy, we were one day away from putting on the floor of the Senate, that bipartisan solution. Former President Trump intervened to stop it because former President Trump actually wants a problem to solve through his election, rather than a solution that a bipartisan group of senators stood behind. President Biden is moving ahead with forceful leadership at securing our border. President Trump is simply making a political issue of this. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we should say you are co-chair of the Biden campaign, Senator, but we did cover that border debate and the bill in-depth on this program, but on the premise itself of the authority being used, there is a lot of approval in our polling of what the President just did, but it looks, frankly, like they're just trying to get caught trying, since the administration admits the courts likely will halt this. The ACLU says they're going to sue over it. Asylum is a human right under international law. What do you think this is signaling to Biden supporters, particularly in the progressive left of your party? 

SEN. COONS: I think it's signaling that President Biden is determined to address issues that are a very broad concern to the vast majority of Americans. He would prefer that it be done by legislation, as you just pointed out, legislation that could provide the resources, the judges, the processing, the immigration funding that would make for a more balanced, humane and sustainable solution to our border crisis. I'll remind you former President Trump tried to use gimmicks like building a border wall and is now threatening to nationalize the- to federalize the National Guard and use it to deport tens of millions of people already here in the United States. The difference between Trump's approach and Biden's approach is one of cruelty versus effectiveness.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So only- in our polling, only about 20% believe President Biden's policies would decrease the number of migrants. Are you worried that it's just simply too late? I mean, we've been talking about process in Congress. We've been talking about this executive order for months now, and the trigger was just pulled this week. Is it too late?

SEN. COONS: No, I don't think it is. Because, frankly, I think the American people understand the difference between substance and showmanship. President Biden, every year in his State of the Union, has asked for bipartisan initiatives to address the border and to address immigration. And there's one party, the Republican Party, that time and time again, has rejected bipartisan solutions to immigration and the border. And frankly, what I also hear as I've campaigned across our country for our president is grave concern about the commitment to reproductive rights, to fundamental freedoms, by the current MAGA Republican majority, and by former President Trump. He is bragging that he nominated to the Supreme Court three justices who reversed Roe vs. Wade and who have now put contraception at risk. That's why we took a vote in the Senate last week Margaret to make it clear that Democrats will protect fundamental rights where Republicans under the leadership of former President Trump are putting them at real risk. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: I-I want to ask you about the Middle East. You described Prime Minister Netanyahu's last address to a joint session of Congress in 2015 as a political rally against then President Obama. We're in this election year, there has been tension between our two leaders. Do you expect the Prime Minister to have an election rally against President Biden?

SEN. COONS: Boy I sure hope not, but Prime Minister Netanyahu has a long record of being very partisan and very divisive. For decades Margaret, the strong, bipartisan support for Israel for its security has been a hallmark of our close alliance. But I'll remind you, Prime Minister Netanyahu isn't just divisive here, he's divisive at home. For months and months before the October 7th attacks, the largest protests in Israeli history were occurring week after week in the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem against steps that Prime Minister Netanyahu was taking, putting at risk the rule of law. And Benny Gantz, a centrist, decorated IDF war hero, will likely today announce that he is leaving Netanyahu's war cabinet because there's no clear plan for the path forward. Our President, Joe Biden has been leading a strong effort to try and secure a hostage release and a cease fire. It's been embraced by all of our close allies in the G7 and it's my hope that that can still be accomplished. But frankly, if Netanyahu isn't coming to speak to Congress about his plan for securing peace, his plan for the path forward, I don't know why we would go.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah, so, so why would the Democratic Leader in the Senate agree to something that could potentially be so damaging to the President?

SEN. COONS: Well, Senator Schumer has publicly said that it was with some reluctance, some concern about how Prime Minister Netanyahu has this past practice of using an address to Congress to be divisive. He has a chance to help rebuild and secure bipartisan support for Israel. He has a chance to present a positive path forward towards peace. Look, I respect how hard Lindsey Graham, Senator Graham, has worked to try and bring together Saudi normalization with Israel in exchange for Palestinian self governance. That's an important effort many of us have been involved in. Prime Minister Netanyahu has a chance to show that he will be a real leader, not just a partisan leader, but someone who will try and secure peace and stability for Israel. It's my hope that that's what will happen, and that that's why Senator Schumer agreed to invite him to speak to a joint session of Congress. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Coons, thank you for joining us today.

SEN. COONS: Thank you. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back. 

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