Steve Bannon: ‘Amnesty Is Non-Negotiable’

Breitbart News executive chairman Steve Bannon and CBS News anchor Charlie Rose speak in the "Breitbart Embassy" in Washington, DC, on September 6, 2017.
Dan Fleuette

In his extensive interview with Charlie Rose for 60 Minutes, Breitbart News Executive Chairman Steve Bannon was unequivocal in his opposition to legislative amnesty to replace DACA.

“[T]here’s no path to citizenship, no path to a green card and — no amnesty. Amnesty is non-negotiable,” Steve Bannon said to Rose in his first TV interview since departing from the Trump administration and returning to Breitbart News last month.

Rose, the veteran PBS and CBS television news interviewer, challenged Bannon on wanting to enforce America’s immigration laws and focus on the plight of American citizens over those who broke them. “[I]t’s what people respect America for, it is [that] people have been able to come here, find a place, contribute to the economy. That’s what immigration has been in America. And you seem to want to turn it around and stop it,” he told Bannon in the parlor of the “Breitbart Embassy” in Washington, D.C.’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

“You couldn’t be more dead wrong,” was Bannon’s reply. “America was built on her citizens.”

Bannon elaborated with an impassioned defense of what he called “the American system” of populist nationalism:

[T]his is the thing of the leftists. Charlie, that’s beneath you. America’s built … on our citizens. Look at the 19th century. What built America’s called the American system, from Hamilton to Polk to Henry Clay to Lincoln to the Roosevelts. A system of protection of our manufacturing, financial system that lends to manufacturers, and the control of our borders.

Economic nationalism is what this country was built on. The American system. Right? We go back to that. We look after our own. We look after our citizen, we look after our manufacturing base, and guess what? This country’s going to be greater, more united, more powerful than it’s ever been. … [T]his is not astrophysics. And by the way, that’s every nationality, every race, every religion, every sexual preference. As long as you’re a citizen of our country. As long as you’re an American citizen, you’re part of this populist economic nationalist movement.

This declaration came as Rose pressed Bannon for his views on President Donald Trump’s decision to phase out Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA). CBS’s voice-over described DACA as “the program that provides legal protections for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.” DACA was instituted by President Barack Obama as an executive order in 2012 to exempt illegal aliens who broke American immigration laws before their 16th birthdays, have been in the country illegally since 2007, and are in school or have a GED or high school diploma. Almost all DACA-recipients are adults although, theoretically, the youngest among them are 15.

The DACA executive order follows a similar outline as the so-called “DREAM Act” amnesty bill that was defeated every time it was introduced from 2001 onward. President Obama himself stated 22 times that he did not have the authority pass executive amnesty, yet chose to issue the order, leading to legal challenges and widespread doubts over the order’s constitutionality.

Certain elements of the Republican establishment, which have failed to pass funding for the wall on the southern border or make serious progress passing patriotic immigration reform measures like the RAISE Act, are scrambling to save Obama’s executive amnesty through new legislation, despite the fact one of their number, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), admitted the lack of authority for DACA in the first place.

Bannon saw using the Republican legislators’ languishing political capital to pass an amnesty as potentially disastrous, and may trigger a “civil war” within the GOP. “[i]f this goes all the way down to its logical conclusion, in February and March it will be a civil war inside the Republican party that will be every bit as vitriolic as 2013. And to me, doing that in the springboard of primary season for 2018 is extremely unwise,” he told Rose.


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