Martin Bashir | February 05, 2013
>>> in addition to addressing the nation's economy today, the president has also been meeting with labor and business leaders to discuss a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants . companies as divers a goldman sachs and coca-cola were represented as well as the naacn naacp. maria teresa kumar is an msnbc contributor and president of voter latino and angela rye is director of impact and a political strategist. welcome to both of you. maria, if i can start with you, what do you think the president is hoping to achieve by hosting such a range of organizations and companies to discuss this issue?
>> martin, what the president recognizes is comprehensive immigration reform will take all efforts, all hands on deck. it's going to be grassroots, labor, business, and the only way he can do that is make sure everybody is on board and very clear on what the request is at hand. but more importantly, the fact that he was able to get in one day not only labor but he was also able to get business around the same table during these discussions demonstrates business recognizes they need to move fast on immigration because his window of time is short to pass this legislation.
>> angela , today speaker john boehner and leader eric cantor were both asked if they plan to vote for senator marco rubio 's broad plan supported by senate democrats . see if you can find a straight answer from either man. listen to this.
>> i want to applaud senator rubio for his efforts. this is not about being in a hurry. this is about trying to get it right.
>> my grandparents came from eastern europe at the turn of the last century to flee religious persecution.
>> forgive me, i didn't hear an answer? did you say yes or no?
>> we're a country of immigrants.
>> we could have gone on but there was never going to be an answer. neither john boehner nor eric cantor can say they will support the rubio plan. the president says, as maria teresa just said, he wants to move forward, but are the signs that the republicans still haven't decided on what they think on this issue?
>> well, the republicans have to wake up, martin. at this point 62% of the american people support not only immigration reform but they also support a pathway to citizenship. regardless --
>> but angela , you just heard john boehner refusing to answer the question and eric cantor can't give you an answer either.
>> well, you would have a hard time answering, too, martin if 131 of your colleagues come from districts that are 80% white and have no context for what this really looks like considering the fact that america is now very diverse and the face of america does not reflect the face of those particular congressional districts .
>> i think that's right. maria, the bipartisan senate plan for a bath to citizenship, as you know, requires 11 million illegal immigrants to pay back taxes, a fine, and survive a probationary period. we know that republicans and democrats want to see punishment for the crime of illegal immigration . but if the penalties are too high, won't that simply discourage undocumented immigrants from ever coming forward?
>> well, i think -- first of all, i don't think it would discourage it. if anything the fact that people are risking their lives to be in this country and to demonstrate that they are good citizens by going to work and doing often times jobs that we don't want to do as americans i think demonstrates their commitment to this country. but i do caution the republicans because their whole purpose of moving forward with comprehensive immigration reform is because they recognize that they got a shellacking during the november 6th election. the only way they're going to get the latino vote sort of their current self-deportation policy is to pass comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship. nick short is not going to move the latino vote or the asian vote in this case also that went overwhelmingly for obama because of immigration -- because of the lack of immigration rhetoric in the republican party . so they need -- in order to win the white house and even the senate, they need to make sure that there's a pathway to citizenship so they can get beyond this whole rhetoric of whether or not the latino vote is up for grabs.
>> angela , to be fair to him, even house majority leader eric cantor is begin to move towards the center on this issue. and yet there are still plenty of republicans who still believe the answer is to build a fence, electrify it, enforce existing laws. how can they be persuaded that now is the time for a major overhaul of immigration policy in this country?
>> well, i think the people have to lobby. often times public opinion is the biggest mover on legislation on capitol hill , and i think that they just have to pay attention , folks have to call their members and make sure they're very clear about what their expectations are. if they look at what the president did, whether it's with labor or the business community , it's very clear where everyone in this country is beginning to stand. the republicans, it's time for them to do the same.
>> absolutely. thanks so much for joining us.