Melissa Harris-Perry | February 02, 2013
>>> even as it seems that many republican politicians are johnny come latelies to the issue of immigration reform , there are conservative advocates on this issue for some time and most notably former governor of florida jeb bush has been pushing the party to more warmly embrace the latino electorate. next month, former governor bush and his partner at the goldwater institute will release their book " immigration wars, forging an american solution" and last week they penned an op-ed in the " wall street journal ," that in some conservative circles the word comprehensive immigration reform is an epithet-a code word for amnesty. people who have such declaration s when associated with the border states are moving toward something more. go and now the author is joining us.
>> thank you for having me.
>> you have said that the legislation act since 1952 has not held up well and in short, we need to start from scratch. so how realistic to make policy from the ground-up?
>> well, it is super important the do that, because america's realities in the 2013 are so different than when the law was passed 60 years ago. first of all, we need immigrants more than ever, but we have a system that does, that has extensive family preferences that include parents and siblings that crowd out work-based immigrants both on the high skill side and on the lower skill side. that is the sort of thing that we need to grapple with as we move forward, but we do think that the best way of preventing illegal immigration is to have a workable legal immigration system, and we haven't had that for a very long time.
>> all right. part of it is about raising the caps and those other sorts of things, and aisha, it feels like the devil is in the details here, and we have been hearing comprehensive immigration reform and seeing the bipartisanship, and still we have a premium on border security , and on both sides, and we have the fact that the path to citizenship is contingent on fines, and english languages and classes and getting to the back of the line and still feels like to me there is a preference for a certain kind of immigration here.
>> and yes, it brings up class issue, and first of all, anybody who would suggest that we are not enforcing the border is woefully ignorant. 85% of the border is secure, and the parts that are not are inhabitable and it would be so much to maintain that portion would be economically nonviable. anybody who sayings we have anything else is kicking the ball on the court. and if you say, that you can be on the path of citizenship if you pay all of the back taxes that you have and pay a fine and we are talking about folks who are coming here and making the meager earnings, and how long does it take them to pay it all back before they can become citizens.
>> michael, you made an economic argument about the cost of detaining and the cost of deporting and the cost of all of this, but i keep thinking about the cost of getting on that path to citizenship for ordinary immigrants here.
>> all year long, we have the stories of the people coming into the offices. the filing fees are prohibitive to everybody introduced to the new gift. these people are putting food on the table, and they have the same challenges. president reagan in the 1980s changed the immigration law when he gave the nasty word amnesty out, and then he shifted the responsibility of policing immigration from government to employers, and the employers in a hard economy and generation now are being punished by the obama administration and the justice department and homeland security by not doing i-9s and policing the immigration of their staff. the economics here are very harsh. what we should be doing is to remove the biblical straw and giving employers the staff and the resources that they need. giving people a path legally in a earned legal since and financial fee they can afford, and yes paying taxes and ferret ferreting out all of the criminals. i'm a former federal pros ku prosecutors, we do not want to create a place for people to boot strap themselves in on criminal grounds, but again, this will prevent deporting people to areas that should not be, and we cannot detain people here who are scholars, because the detention facilities are abominab abominable.
>> clint , i heard you say a couple of things that are surprising, well, a lot of things that are surprising, and the number one thing is that we need more workers, and we are hearing of a xhiblg crisis and surplus of workers and that is part of the reason why immigration is down overall, but secondly, as i talk to michael about the resources that we will need to make any of the ground-up policies work, that sounds to me potentially like big government . can we get the republicans on board give ten two realities?
>> well, first of all we theneed to look at the bipartisan plan is not just for the labor unions , because on the left they are sounding the alarm that we are going to be allowing too many immigrants in, so this is an issue with many dimensions to it, but right now, we are not producing through births enough new americans to keep our population as it is right now, and we are about to have a massive number of people beginning to retiring, and we need productive workers to fill those spots and to sustain our economy and social welfare system . this is something that is missing from the debate, because with we need productive workers and the only place to get them right now is through immigration . so, i think that republicans will understand that. beyond that, really, we are not calling for a bigger government solution at all, and quite the contrary. we think that market forces ought to dictate immigration , and right now for both farm worker jobs, tourism jobs as well as high-tech jobs, there are not enough americans filling the jobs. we saw what happened when alabama sent a bunch of illegal immigrants back, the crops died on the vines, and otherwise, high-tech jobs are exported to foreign country , because we don't have enough high skilled workers to fill those jobs, and we have to fix those issues and do it now.
>> clint , thank you. we have to take a break now, but when we come back, we want to talk more about the issues, because that particular perspective is fascinating one in that this is the solution of the problem of the social safety net and everything else is to get workers here. i want to think about the human side in addition to the labor side. thank you, clint , for being part of the conversation.