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Lankford, Cole Critical Of Possible Executive Action On Immigration

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U.S. Rep. and Senator-elect James Lankford

President Obama says he understands some Republicans disagree there’s a need to fix immigration laws, but U.S. Rep. and Senator-elect James Lankford (R-Okla. 5) says his party has offered to work with the president for nearly two years.

“The House passed in December of 2012 a high-skill worker visa program that he immediately threatened to veto, the Senate never took up,” Lankford said during an interview with Chris Wallace on FOX News Sunday. “He said, if we don't do everything, we're going to do nothing. And I think we're going to get nothing done if he continues to have that attitude.”

The president says the threat of a government shutdown by Republicans doesn't affect the timing of his executive action on immigration. He’s considering acting on his own as early as this week to possibly shield up to 5 million immigrants now living illegally in the U.S. from deportation.

Lankford says most Americans don’t have a problem with immigration, they have a problem with illegal immigration.

“And for the president to step up and say, I'm just going to remove the word ‘illegal’ and to be able to transition this and ignore the law, a lot of people have a problem with that, Republicans and Democrats alike.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla. 4) says he expects any action on immigration to be broken into pieces and moved through the legislative process.

“If it was up to me, and it’s not, I would start with a big border security bill,” Cole said during an interview with ABC’s This Week. “And I would move it through the House and the Senate. It’s bipartisan. We’ll see what the president does.”

Cole said the president is trying to "pick a fight" with his plan to take executive action on immigration in the coming days.

"He had plenty of opportunity to do things when he had complete Democratic control ... so it's been a political weapon rather than a problem to be solved in my view from the president's standpoint," Cole said. "I think he's actually trying to bait us into doing some of these extreme things," he added later in the interview. During the interview, Cole dismissed the idea of shutting down the government in response to executive action by the president on immigration. "It's an inappropriate weapon, inappropriate tool," he said.


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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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