Hardball | January 28, 2013
>>> welcome back to "hardball." a group of eight senators, four democrats, four republicans, unveiled today what they say is a major break through in the immigration debate . the plan would offer a path to citizenship for the millions of people, about 12 million of them, here illegally. it also promises to put some teeth into enforcement. chuck schumer of morning and john mccain of arizona were two of the senators. here is what they said today.
>> other bipartisan groups of senators have stood in the same spot before trumpeting similar proposals, but we believe this will be the year congress finally gets it done. the politics on this issue have been turned upside down. for the first time ever, there's more political risk in opposing immigration reform than in supporting it.
>> what's going on now is unacceptable. in real what's been created is a de facto amnesty. we have been too content for too long to allow individuals to mow our lawn, serve our food, clean our homes, and even watch our children while not affording them any of the benefits that make our country so great.
>> here is what the plan includes. the creation of what the sthors call a tough but fair path to stip. strengthening border security with new tools. establishing an effective employment vir fication system to prevent employers from hiring illegal workers. most will be given a provisional status. they would have to go to the back of the line to get their green card . will it work? and will republicans in the house be willing to go along with the plan? linda sanchez is a democratic congresswoman from california. stephanie cut ser the former deputy campaign manager for president obama 's re-election. you know, congresswoman, as you know, like most americans i have always thought it idiotic on the part of the republicans to even talk about sending home over 10 million people who have been living here in this country for years. it's not going to ever happen. it would be a hideous thing to watch it in effect, people being ripped from their families. but i believe no true reform is ever going to work nor should it be approved that doesn't have enforcement behind it. unless that stops the other thing isn't going to be effective either. do you think this bill has both teeth and a good thing for the people living here both?
>> well, it's important to remember that what the thinking of eight unveiled is sort of an outline. it's actually not a written bill yet. so there are details that still need to be worked out, but the very fact that there is agreement and the very fact that it's a bipartisan effort and the very fact that republican senators are now supporting this earned pathway to citizenship or legalization is a tremendous, tremendous aboutface from where our immigration policy has been.
>> look, i have been around long enough. we have done immigration before. passed a big comprehensive bipartisan bill with all the signatures and everything, everybody smiling, and it was a joke. it was called simpson ms. zoly. alan simpson still thinks he was screwed by it because it didn't have any teeth. it looked nice and got some people here legally but it never solved the problem of illegal immigration . just because it's bipartisan, do you believe that means it's going to work?
>> i think that it's definitely a sign of positive things to come. i mean, the devil is always in the details and, yes, enforcement is being tied in this bill to the pathway to citizenship, but you have to remember, too, there are a lot of moving parts to immigration, and you touch one piece of it, and you have to work and tinker with other parts of it, and i think ultimately with the stepped up enforcement, we have seen stepped up enforcement in the last four years, we have seen much tighter border security . we've seen fewer people coming into the country illegally, and i think if we can separate out those who want to come for legitimate reasons and those who come for criminal reasons and alleviate that pressure at the border, i think that we are well on our way to an effective immigration solution.
>> stephanie , you're in politics and i cover politics. you know the politics of this. it needs to have both sides to it. if people can still come in the country tomorrow and there's no real work permit that's effective like you have in every other country in the world, including mexico , where you have to have a right to work somewhere, you have to have permission to work in the country, we don't seem to have a way of doing it. we know our country is filled with people working in every kind of job, whether it's restaurants or working on people's houses or cutting their lawns or working at golf courses or hotels. we know it's all over the place. people here who have come in the country illegally. nobody i think has confidence -- i certainly don't -- that any bill passed by congress that we've seen before will stop that. you can bring everybody in here into our system, you can give them the opportunity for full citizenship, but if we have to do this again in 23 or 25 years ago, we've gotten nowhere. we have to be a country that's organized enough to say who comes in and who doesn't it seems to me. your thoughts?
>> i agree with you. and i don't think there's anybody that would disagree with you. and the congresswoman is right, the devil is in the details, but it seems like what the senate -- the bipartisan group of senators put out today does have some real teeth in it. what the president has put out previously also has some real teeth in it. let's not forget that the president has made historic increases in border security . that net migration with mexico right now is basically zero. and, you know, let's remember all the criticism that he got over the last couple of years on the increase in the number of deportations. so everybody understands that this bill has to have balance, that as the congresswoman said, once you start tinkering with one part, you have to look at everything altogether and it all works together.
>> that sounds like -- people that believe in border protection, who believe you can stop somebody from coming in this country by higher towers or more drones or more people working there i think are right wingers or idiots. if you want to work and you're looking for a job, you're going to come to america, congresswoman. you're going to come in here and find a way in whether you have to take a boat, an airplane or swim or whatever you have to do, you're going to get here. my question is are we going to have a work permit situation that's truly in force so there will be no incentive to do that? because you can't work in the united states unless you're here legally. if we ever have a system like that, we won't be having this debate 20 or po years from now all over again. your thoughts. because we never stop talking about it.
>> well, if you let me get a word in edgewise, i will tell you --
>> you got all the time in the world to answer my question. do you have confidence this bill will work?
>> i am confident because part of the discussion that's been going on with the house group that's been working on this issue as well as the senate group has been a stronger e verify system and now e verify has not been a perfect system. there are some problems with that, but strengthening that system will also allow employers to verify whether workers in this country are here legally or not and that's a key part of enforcement as well. and i think, you know, ten years down the line, 20 years down the line possibly because our birth rate has fallen dramatically, the birth rate in mexico has fallen dramatically, we're going to need workers from have a much different immigration debate in the future as there is this demand for workers, and perhaps we won't view immigrants so hostilely when he actually need them here contributing to our economy. so i'm confident that with this sort of renewed effort on both sides of the aisle to work out something that is doable, that will have the proper enforcement mechanisms but the proper pathway for people to come in out of the shadows and be fully participating members of our society, i'm very confident that we can get there. i really for the first time in the ten years that i have served in congress, really see this as a very real possibility.
>> yeah. my concern is i agree with everything you said in terms of economics and social issues, fine. my concern is a government that cannot enforce its laws begins to crumble and our failure to have an honest, open, progressive immigration policy has been a disaster and it's not good for the future of our government that it can't do the job of enforcing its own borders which is essential to any country on this planet. stephanie , last thought. are we going to do this this time?
>> well, chris, we have to try. i think there's a reason why we're talking about immigration reform , because the current system isn't working. i think we've done what we can under existing authority in terms of increasing border security , increasing enforcement, holding employers accountable for these workers that are coming in and overstaying their visas. and, look, we have to try. we have to try comprehensive immigration reform to finally fix the problem. business community wants it, the labor community wants it, now a bipartisan group in the senate wants it. so we've got to try to get it done.
>> okay. my answer is i don't believe any of those groups want it. i don't think business wants it --
>> you're such a pessimist this evening.
>> they want cheap, free labor. democrats want support by not offending anybody in the latino community. nobody really wants to get this done. i think john mccain does because he'd like to get re-elected again. anyway, thank you u.s. congress won linda sanchez and steph ghi cutter.
>>> up next, how did joe biden celebrate the inaugural? not well. he got licked again on "saturday night live." he's getting laid by jason sade