PLAYER PROFILE

Josh Hawley

Republican U.S. Senator from Missouri

In 2018, Josh Hawley gained national attention when he beat incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill to become U.S. Senator from Missouri. A Trump-endorsed conservative populist who positions himself as a deeply religious Christian and an advocate for working-class and rural Midwesterners, Hawley is often mentioned in the same breath as Senator Tom Cotton in speculation about potential Republican candidates for the 2024 presidential election.

A junior senator with less than half a term under his belt, Hawley is better known for his positions than his policy accomplishments. He has attacked the high cost of prescription drugs, inaccessible higher education, and a culture in which “billionaires become heroes” while blue collar workers struggle. His talking points have led commentators to draw wry comparisons between Hawley and self-professed democratic socialist Senator Bernie Sanders.

In 2019, a report found that in the previous year, the life expectancy for Missourians dropped from 77.1 years to 77.0 years, partly due to an increase in overdoses. Hawley blames the opioid and methamphetamine crisis in Missouri on a porous southern border and an underfunded border security apparatus. A vocal supporter of the border wall, Hawley voted against a resolution to overturn President Trump’s emergency diversion of military funds for construction of the wall.

Hawley has also argued that for the working class, “the flood of immigrants, illegal and otherwise, [exerts] downward pressure on wages.” In 2019, he joined Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue in their attempt to re-introduce the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act, a measure that sought to reduce overall immigration and to replace the current labor demand-driven visa system with a new “points system.” Hawley, Cotton, and Perdue proposed to cap refugee admissions, end the Diversity Visa lottery, and limit family-sponsored immigration by allowing U.S. citizens to sponsor only their spouses and minor children, not parents, siblings, or adult children. Under the RAISE Act’s points system, an immigrant’s chances of receiving a visa would increase based on factors like level of education, English fluency, and past achievements. “With the RAISE Act, the United States can finally end chain migration and move to a merit-based system,” said Hawley.

Perhaps it is Hawley’s faith more than anything that sets the context for his approach to immigration issues. In a 2017 speech to the American Renewal Project, he said, “There is not one square inch of all creation over which Jesus Christ is not Lord. … We are called to take that message into every sphere of life that we touch including the political realm.”

After his efforts to overturn the presidential election of Joe Biden on the day that pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, Hawley’s own presidential hopes are in question. After his role in the melee, the two biggest newspapers in his home state — the St. Louis Dispatch and the Kansas City Star — called for his resignation, and the dean of the Missouri Republican Party, former Senator John C. Danforth, reacted by saying that his support of Hawley’s senatorial candidacy was “the biggest mistake I ever made.”

SOURCES:

Hawley’S IDEAS

  • Border Security

    “The state of Missouri does not share a border with Mexico, but in this present crisis we are a border state. We are a border state because of the drugs that are pouring across this border and flooding into the towns and streets and homes of the people of Missouri. We are a border state because of the families, whose lives are destroyed by those drugs, whose lives are destroyed by crime,” Hawley said during a 2019 visit to McAllen, Texas. He has supported a border wall and higher funding for CBP and ICE to secure the southern border.

  • Border Wall

    Hawley has consistently voiced support for a border wall. He voted against overturning President Trump’s national emergency declaration, which diverted military funds toward construction of the wall.

  • Detention

    Hawley has voiced support for Trump’s detention policies, including the MPP “Remain in Mexico" program and “zero-tolerance” family separation policy. When asked about family separation in 2018, he stated, “If people didn’t cross the border illegally this wouldn’t happen. It is an entirely preventable tragedy: Don’t cross the border illegally and this won’t happen.”

  • Immigration Courts

    No statement found.

  • Undocumented Population

    On the website Josh Hawley ran while campaigning for Attorney General of Missouri in 2016, Hawley stated that he opposed amnesty for undocumented immigrants and that undocumented immigrants should not be eligible for benefits such as welfare and Medicaid. He has emphasized undocumented crossings on the U.S.-Mexico border as a conduit for drugs, gangs, and potential terrorists.

  • ICE

    “CBP is overcapacity, underfunded, undermanned. ICE: overcapacity, underfunded. HHS: overcapacity, underfunded,” said Hawley in 2019. He has accused Democrats of obstructing funding for ICE.

  • DACA

    While running for Attorney General of Missouri in 2016, a page on Hawley’s website stated his opposition to “President Obama’s attempt to unilaterally rewrite immigration law” and pledged to join other states in a lawsuit attempting to overturn DACA. Missouri did not ultimately join the lawsuit, which petered out when President Trump announced his intention to end DACA in 2017. Since becoming a senator, Hawley has been less vocal on the subject. After a June 2020 Supreme Court ruling blocked President Trump's attempt to overturn DACA, Hawley tweeted that the decision was “disappointing.”

  • Asylum

    Hawley has called for an overhaul of the asylum process. He supports the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the “Remain in Mexico” program, which requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until their scheduled court date in the U.S.

  • Central America Policy

    No statement found.

  • Visas

    In 2019, Hawley co-sponsored the RAISE Act with Senators Cotton and Perdue. The RAISE Act proposed to end the Diversity Visa lottery and to limit family-sponsored immigration so that U.S. citizens would only be allowed to sponsor spouses and minor children, not extended family members. The bill would have replaced the current employer-driven visa system with a “points system” which would award visas based on criteria such as level of education, English fluency, and notable past achievements. "With the RAISE Act, the United States can finally end chain migration and move to a merit-based system,” said Hawley.