NewsNation | December 12, 2012
>>> senator from new jersey bob menendez , thank you for your time. i know the experience of the issue of immigration and you have an aggressive advocate. i wanted to ask you about this report that has just been published saying that an employee and legal immigrant which is a registered sex offender in your office is under arrest by immigration authorities. do you know anything about this report, senator?
>> i just heard before i came on your show from the ap. here's what we know. we know we have a non-paying college intern program. this young man applied to that process and got recommended by the school. we asked status of all of those college interns and nothing indicated anything about his status. we certainly wouldn't have known through any background checks since he is say minor about any sex offender status. once it came to our attention, our new jersey staff director let the young man go from the program. that's all we know.
>> he was arrested december 6th . do you know when this was brut to the attention of your office.
>> my understanding is this monday.
>> the homeland security department instructed agents not to arrest the 18-year-old until after election day . we know you were reelected in november, but according to a u.s. official involved in the case, in this ap report, homeland security department was instructed not to arrest him until after election day . do you know about a delay and arrest?
>> absolutely not. i didn't know about the young man's status until this monday. actually before i came on to the program. my staff knew about it on monday. i didn't know until before your program.
>> obviously this ties into it because if you are fighting for immigration reform and there was an illegal immigrant working in your office unbenounced to you or not, that does factor into your credibility and the conversation as well. go ahead.
>> let's get clear. when you are saying working, he is an unpaid college intern. he is not a staff paid person. we have a bunch of college interns and give them an experience in the office and they answer phones and do some mail. most of the time attend lectures and different entities that we bring through the office. number two, no way we could know about his status. we ask about the status and number three is there is no way we could know about any allegation as a juvenile of what his background would be in terms of any criminality. that's the story. it does speak volumes about why we need comprehensive immigration reform . i can't know who is here to pursue the american dream versus who is here to do the damage. phi cannot get people to come forth out of the shadows and go through a criminal background check and determine who is here to pursue the dream and see who is here to have backgrounds that get to court.
>> does that speak to the complexity of what plan would be offered up and as i pointed out, politico is reporting leaders are offering cover, if you will, to republican who is might vote or support a plan that would be called amnesty. obviously by critics when you have 11 million people in this country, 14 million according to data. what would be a viable plan that would protect those who certainly have not broken the law and not committed any crimes and do not deserve to be shuffled back to the country to wait an undetermined amount of time.
>> first of all none ofamnesty. that means you get something for nothing. away you go. you go on your merry way. everything that we proposed is what we called earned legalization. you must come out of the shadows and register with the government and go through a criminal background check . if you have a criminal background, you get deported. no tolerance for that. after you go to that criminal background check , if you have no criminal background, you must pay back taxes you may have earn and not paid. you must also learn english which is the first time for permanent residency that we require an english language requirement. you must wait your turn as those who have been waiting under the legal process get ultimately appointed first to their permanent residency and you get at the end of the line . if you maintained a good standing in our society during this period of time, you have a chance at permanent residency .
>> what about the ideas according to the article that some leaders are perhaps cutting it up into smaller bills. in a sense what we are talking about with the fiscal cliff where there may be a deal on tax rates and later next year deal with entitlements in the deficits and debt ceiling and the other issues facing us. would you support backing away from a comprehensive legislation to perhaps piece meal it together or are we past that at this point with so many millions of people in the country illegally?
>> there is a consensus growing that piece meal doesn't work. every time we had an individual element of the comprehensive immigration reform and taken one piece and putting it on the floor, it becomes where everybody else wants to add on. if you put ag jobs on the floor for the agriculture industry, the high tech industry said wait a minute, we need visas for high tech workers. site food industry said we need the low visas for ship hands. then you have the hotel and restaurant industry. you have a series of elements that become a demand. you are back to trying to solve the problem comprehensively. there is a agreeing consensus that we have to achieve through comprehensive reform. what that pathway to permanent residency looks like and how long it will take waiting at the back of the line and going through the process i talked about and what our future flows, all of the elements will be worked out. you are not going to achieve what you want for national security and the national economy by doing this.
>> senator, i appreciate you coming on. you are aware of the breaking news developing and you did not cancel and you came on regarding this investigation of a senate intern arrested. someone who worked in your senate office. thank you