Tags: Immigration | Tim Scott | diversity | ideas | south carolina

Sen. Tim Scott: Immigration Crisis Won't Be Solved Overnight

Sunday, 03 Aug 2014 11:34 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

The immigration crisis isn't a problem that happened overnight, and it's not going to be solved with a quick-fix solution, South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott said Sunday.

"Its not a crisis that occurred in the last two months," Scott told ABC senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny on the network's "This Week" program.

Instead, said Scott, the problems are a "lack of collaboration. To show up in the 23rd hour saying we need you to approve a $4 billion package is not the way to do it."

Story continues below video.

But immigration is "a hard question to wrestle with," said Scott. "[It's] how to be compassionate to people who you know are coming looking for a better way of life, and at the same time, adhering to the laws of the country.

Scott, a former representative, was appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley in 2013 following the resignation of former Sen. Jim DeMint, and won his June primary challenge against Randall Young with more than 90 percent of the vote. He will face Democrat Joyce Dickerson in November's special election.

He says that his service in the Senate during one of its least-productive periods in memory has brought him many questions.

"Whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, you look at the Senate and you shake your head," Scott told Zeleny.

But Scott, who is one of only two African-Americans in the Senate and the first black senator from the south since the Reconstruction era following the Civil War, says that he hopes that he's provided an opportunity to have a "serious conversation with voters everywhere, white, black, old, and young."

Republicans struggle to diversify their ranks as they need to "win the war of ideas," said Scott. He noted that it's "always good to have diversity," whether it's skin color or philosophy.

"I would hope that the Republican Party would be a little more diversified in its approach," said Scott.

He also noted that there is always room for improvement when it comes to Republicans focusing on poor and middle class Americans.

"One of the things I said consistently is we have to play in the education space," said Scott. "My life has changed because of public education."

He said he often thinks of the neighborhood where he grew up in north Charleston, S.C. when he is criticized, including when The Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, called Scott a ventriloquist dummy for the tea party in a Martin Luther King Day speech in January.

"At the end of the day, very few of them have taken the time to make a phone call, have a conversation, a debate about my agenda," said Scott about his critics. "They have no clue who I am, what I stand for."

Sometimes, Scott admitted, people don't even recognize him when they see him in public. Zeleny told of Scott's program as an "undercover senator," including a shift at a burrito restaurant where he swept floors and chopped chicken so he could listen to voters' complaints.

People not only didn't recognize Scott, but he said that "within an hour, hour and a half or so, typically someone says, 'aren't you that guy?' No, I'm not Darius Rucker. I'm just Tim Scott."

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