Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, who has been on the frontlines in the battle to hammer out an immigration deal, wants to reassure “Dreamers” they will be deported.
“I don’t believe anybody is going to be deported,” Gardner told ABC News’ Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein on the “Powerhouse Politics” podcast, of the formerly-protected undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as youths. “There’s not going to be this mass deportation on this. That’s first and foremost. Please know that Congress is working very hard to solve this.”
Gardner worries about the 800,000 people that are in the midst of turmoil and fear because their legal status is set to run out on March 5. The Trump administration has announced the U.S. would end in March the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival which would bring an end to the temporary protection extended to these undocumented migrants.
Gardner joked that the number of senators at the negotiating table keeps changing so it should be called the “Gangs of Prime Numbers.”
And despite the polarizing nature of the immigration reform and border security, Gardener said, “I believe there are good-faith people on both sides of the aisle who are going to get this done.”
Even though Gardner is known for his optimistic outlook –- an “over-caffeinated hamster,” is how he jokingly described himself –- he will cross swords when necessary.
In November, Gardner was one of the first GOP senators to speak out against embattled Alabama Senate nominee Roy Moore, and supported a move in the Senate to expel Moore if he won. As the National Republican Senate Committee Chair, Gardner held firm, but the Republican National Committee followed Trump’s lead and funded Moore’s campaign in the final stretch, despite the cloud of scandal.
And another controversial candidate on the horizon is former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is running for the Senate seat in Arizona vacated by Republican Jeff Flake.
Although pressed by ABC News’ Karl, Gardner refrained from commenting on Arpaio, saying he was more impressed by Arizona Rep. Martha McSally who has also thrown her hat in the ring. He also didn’t think Arpaio reflected the “values” of Arizona voters.
“It’s not up to me,” Gardner said. “It’s up to the people of Arizona. There’s going to be plenty of choices in this race.”
Gardner also spoke about his occasional disagreement with the electorate. For example, despite his disapproval, he admitted his state is high on legalizing pot.
“So I’m somebody who opposed legalization when this question was put before the people of Colorado,” he said. “I did not support it, but the people of Colorado spoke. They supported it, they moved forward with recreational marijuana.”
He adds, laughing, “I believe if that vote was held today. It would actually pass by a greater margin today than it did then.”
But what’s not a laughing matter is Gardner’s belief that Attorney General Sessions went back on his word. The Colorado Republican threatened to hold up the confirmation process for White House Justice Department nominees unless Sessions reversed a decision to roll back a policy allowing legalized recreational use of marijuana in some states.
“To me,” he said, “it’s a states’ rights issue.” And that’s where Gardner is on the same page as the pot smokers in his state.