PoliticsNation | January 29, 2013
>>> lead. the time has come. today president obama unveiled his vision for immigration reform . his vision for a nation that gives people the rights they deserve. that's what the election was all about. that's what the president promised in his inaugural address . that's why millions of americans said se on election day . the truth is immigrant rights are civil rights . this is not an issue that should divide us. and the president made that point today.
>> it's easy sometimes for the discussion to take on a feeling of us versus them. and when that happens, a lot of folks forget that most of us used to be them. we forget that. [ applause ]
>> it's important for us to remember our history. unless you're one of the first americans you came from some place else. somebody brought you.
>> you came from some place else. somebody brought you here. that's the american story. that's what this debate has been about.
>> all those folks before they were us, they were them. and when each new wave of immigrants arrived, they faced resistance from those who were already here. they faced hardship. they faced racism. they faced ridicule. but over time as they went about their daily lives, as they earned a living, as they raised a family, as they built a community, as their kids went to school here they did their part to build a nation.
>> they built the nation and a new generation of immigrants is still building the nation today. today the president endorsed the principles of a new senate plan put forward by both democrats and republicans. it calls for a tougher border security and a path to citizenship. but he also made it clear that congress must act now.
>> this time action must fault. we can't allow immigration reform to be bogged down. we've been debating this for a long time. if congress is unable to move forward in a timely fashion, i will send up a bill based on my proposal and insist that they vote on it right away.
>> 11 million people have labored in the dark of a shadowy economy for too long. husbands and wives are afraid to be torn apart. children are afraid their parents will be deported. our lawmakers should finally bring them into the light . joining me now is richard wolffe and victoria defrancesco soto. let me go to you. immigration reform is now inches closer to what is happening. is this true in your opinion that we are seeing what is actually inching closer and closer into reality?
>> reverend, it won't be easy, but i do believe it will happen. this is a very strong initiative that we see being put forward by both the bipartisan senate committee and by the president. and it is so strong. because it is a piece of legislation that has learned from the mistakes of the past two immigration reforms. so in 1965 , the heart seller act focussed on family reunification but ignored workers and the need for workers to come to the u.s. that's really the main route of documented immigration today. with the immigration reforming control act, it put forward employer sanctions. but it had no teeth. so we saw the big failures of both of these immigration reforms. and the plan by the president --
>> well, what makes this different? why will we not see it different now? because one of the things i think the president hit right on the head is we got to deal with the fact that people have this convenient amnesia about their own roots with this us against them. when most americans other than native americans were either brought here or their forefathers came here. and now there's this un -- this arrogance, this unwarranted and unearned arrogance that we're looking at others when others are us just a generation or two again other than those of us brought here. so why do you think that we will have a different result this time?
>> well, because the failures of the past two immigration reforms, he's allowing for that. he's saying look, we have a demand for people. we're going to allow that through normalizing the status of people who are already here. and also through guest worker programs. and if you're breaking the law and letting people work for you illegally, we are going to sanction you and we're going to put those mechanisms into place. but that was really brilliant was what the president did rhetorically was really bring the human connection to it. he was reminding people of irish descent , polish descent, people of all immigrant descents that they too are immigrants. he's also going through the emotional pulling at the heart strings aside from the policy mechanisms.
>> richard , isn't that effective because too often this is framed as a latino issue?
>> and when the president reminds people, wait a minute immigration is about everybody. i'm talking about your great grand dad. everybody came here from somewhere else . this is not just about latinos or trinidadians or jamacians or africans. and i think th
>> the president is trying to move it forward quicker. but employers like the status quo because they like to exploit the undocumented ones. more responsible ones are saying we need more reform. this whole debate is changing. as president he has to counter the talk radio nativist folks who scuffled the last deal. it was talk radio that stopped it then. he and rubio and john mccain , they all need to go out there and move this on to a much more human level far different kind of discussion. they're not just undocumented people, they are family members living with us.
>> and as he said have gone through ridicule and racism and everything else and built a family and helped build a country. and we're talking about children afraid their parents will be gone. we're talking about married couples split. we act as though in most cases these people are exploited. they're not here exploiting. and i think that was a key message in the speech today.
>> you know, they are immeshed in our economy and daily lives. let's face it, even mitt romney was employed undocumented workers . it touches every part of our society. to have a president give voice to that is important for the debate.
>> the key here is the path to citizenship. that's going to be the critical point both in the senate bipartisan proposal and what the president is saying. how does that move, you're dealing with this saying we're going to secure the borders with more aggression. but the pathway to citizenship. the president's saying do it now. they're saying let's do it after some steps. how do we marry the two? where's the common ground going to come?
>> correct, reverend. that is the main difference between the two plans. at least as far as this morning, we haven't seen any details about what the senate wants in terms of determining that the border has been secured. $18 billion went into border security in 2012 . that's over twice as much as we were spending in 2003 . we know president obama has deported record numbers of folks. so how much tougher can we get on the border? we've seen immigration rates decrease. you know, instead of working harder just throwing more money at the issue, what the president is focusing on is let's be smarter about it. let's focus on the technology to track illegal immigrants who are already here. let's think about using technology on the border. so the president can make a very strong case. i'm not too worried about that. i think that's the republican senators trying to look tough for their own party.
>> now, richard , let me share this with you. that kind of struck me. a conservative latino group released a memo with some advice to republicans on how to talk about the issue. and in it they admonished them don't use phrases like this. don't use send them all back. elect fence. anchor baby . illegals. reagan. because he gave citizenship to immigrants back in the 1980s . i mean, it's almost like we know you guys aren't really serious and we know you are really have no information at all on how to relate to people. so let's tell you little things you shouldn't say. i mean, this is pitiful.
>> it is. it's sad. it's also funny in a way. if it weren't real human beings we were talking about and wasn't so offensive, you would say this is some kind of joke, right? people obviously have a long way to go in terms of their understanding of who -- what kind of communities they're living in. and by the way, if republicans think that this alone will win them latino votes whether it's the language or even the policy, they're not looking at the right polls. latinos even more than immigration reform and you could talk to this. they want education to be better. they want better jobs. they want better health care . republicans have to not just talk about this, not just pass this legislation, but appeal to latino voters.
>> they must deal with all americans . richard , will this happen? you watched this with bush. is it going to happen this time?
>> i think it will happen this time. and i can say as an immigrant and citizen of this country, i think it's good for this country. this country has a huge and fantastic tradition of welcoming immigrants. this is another new chapter in that history.
>> thanks for your time tonight.
>> thank you.
>>> coming up, the second term campaign got a major jolt today and boost. it didn't happen in vegas though. we'll explain.
>>> and file this one under can't make it up. dick cheney , the guy who shot a friend of his in the face is talking gun safety . they don't think this is a problem?
>>> plus as she gets ready to leave her job, hillary clinton is talking about her dancing. great show ahead. stay