The Rachel Maddow Show | January 29, 2013
>> gave what will be seen as one of the landmark policy speeches of his second term. and if you squinted at it, you can be forgiven for thinking that this might have been a second draft of something you maybe heard before.
>> well, it is good to be back in las vegas .
>> hello, el paso . well, it is wonderful, wonderful to be back with all of you in the lone star state .
>> i'm here because most americans agree that it's time to fix a system that has been broken for way too long.
>> everybody recognizes the system's broken. that's why we're here at the border today.
>> broad consensus is emerging.
>> there is a consensus around fixing what is broken.
>> we define ourselves as a nation of immigrants.
>> we define ourselves as a nation of immigrants.
>> president obama 's speech today in las vegas on his immigration proposals, is absolutely consistent with what she has been arguing for all along. just watch this bit here. this is uncanny.
>> in recent years, one in four high-tech startups in america were founded by immigrants.
>> in recent years, a full 25% of high-tech startups in the u.s. were founded by immigrants.
>> immigrants help start businesses like google and yahoo.
>> look at intel. look at google. look at yahoo. look at ebay. every one of those was founded by guess who? an immigrant.
>> we're going to turn around and tell them to start that business and create those jobs in china or india or mexico or some place else. that's not how you grow new industries in america .
>> we don't want the next intel or the next google to be created in china or india. we want those companies and jobs to take root here.
>> right now we have 11 million undocumented immigrants in america .
>> today there are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants here in the united states .
>> yes, they broke the rules. they crossed the border illegally.
>> some crossed the border illegally. they have broken the rules.
>> and the overwhelming majority of these individuals aren't looking for any trouble. they're contributing members of the community. they're looking out for their families.
>> the overwhelming majority of these folks are just trying to earn a living and provide for their families.
>> businesses that are trying to do the right thing, that are hiring people legally, paying a decent wage, following the rules, they're the ones who suffer. they've got to compete against companies that are breaking the rules.
>> this puts companies who follow the rules and americans who rightly demand the minimum wage or overtime or just a safe place to work, it puts those businesses at a disadvantage.
>> first, i believe we need to stay focused on enforcement. that means continuing to strengthen security at our borders.
>> first, we know the government has a threshold responsibility to secure our borders.
>> cracking down more forcefully on businesses that knowingly hire undocumented workers .
>> businesses have to be held accountable if they exploit undocumented workers .
>> we put more boots on the ground on the southern border than any time in our history.
>> we now have more boots on the ground on the southwest border than at any time in our history.
>> we have to deal with the 11 million individuals who are here illegally.
>> those who are here illegally, they have a responsibility as well.
>> to help move this process along, today i'm laying out my ideas for immigration reform .
>> i'm going to do my part to lead a constructive and civil debate on these issues.
>> the president said those who are here illegally when he talked in el paso , said they need to undergo background checks . today he said they need to undergo background checks . he spoke in el paso , he said they need to pay tax. when he spoke today in las vegas , he said they need to pay tax. when he spoke in el paso , he said they will need to pay a penalty. when he spoke in el paso , he said they would need to pay a fine. so penalty changed to fine. but other than that, yeah, the whole diagnosis of the problem, the whole proposal for how to fix the problem, the economic and social argument for why we need to fix the problem is the exact same for president obama today as it was in 2011 . and frankly, that it was before that from him. what has changed is his political assessment, that what he wanted for the country before but he could not get, now he is going to get. now it is possible. policy-wise, he has stayed in exactly the same place for all of this time. what has moved is the republicans .
>> now the good news is that for the first time in many years, republicans and democrats seem ready to tackle this problem together. at this moment, it looks like there is a genuine desire to get this done soon. and that's very encouraging. but this time action must follow. i'm here today because the time has come for common sense comprehensive immigration reform . the time is now. now is the time. now is the time. now is the time.
>> si se puede ! si se puede !
>> now is the time.
>> according to washington, he is right. according to washington, now apparently is the time. not because the president's policy proposals or the problem itself have changed one iota from where they were during his first term, but because republicans have changed their minds about what they would like to do. when president obama two years ago was in el paso laying out the exact same prescription, the exact same policy agenda on immigration that he stands by today and that is almost exactly the same as what was just unveiled by four republican senators and four democratic senators at a big bipartisan press conference yesterday, and that we're told is also similar to what a bipartisan group is now considering in the u.s. house when president obama was already there two years ago, laying out this plan, that he still stands by, think of where the republicans were then.
>> i'm running for office, for pete's sake. i can't have illegals.
>> my dad, as you probably know, was the governor of michigan, was the head of a car company. but he was born in mexico. and had he been born of mexican parents, i would have had a better shot at winning this.
>> should there be aggressive seek them out, find them and arrest them as sheriff arpaio advocates?
>> you know, i think you see a model here in arizona.
>> the answer is self-deportation.
>> if i were elected and congress were to pass the dream act , would i veto it? and the answer is yes.
>> and the republican problem on this is not just a mitt romney problem. the republican party 's nominee before mitt romney was a senator who had been a champion of immigration reform . the year before he became their nominee. but then in order to become the republican party 's nominee, he had to renounce his own ideas. he had to renounce his own proposals and say that he would have even voted against his own bill from just the previous year.
>> at this point, if your original proposal came to a vote on the senate floor, would you vote for it?
>> it won't. it won't. that's why we went through the debate.
>> it did.
>> no i would not, because we know what the situation is today.
>> for senator john mccain , immigration reform had been a priority. and then he was against it. and now he is for it again. some modern figures in the republican party are associated with immigration reform , people like former president george w. bush and his brother, jeb bush , former republican party chairman mel martinez , who last night i described as the former florida state republican party chairman. he was the national chairman. i'm sorry for that. he is a former florida senator. so some of these guys are associated throughout their careers with immigration reform . but the rest of the party, the current elected officials in the party are just whipsawing around on the issue wildly, taking wildly different and directly contradictory responses from election cycle to election cycle. as republicans , i think, try to decide if the upward creeping percentage of latinos in the american electorate is something they're going to use to stoke their base's fear of a brown planet, or whether it's something they're going to use to try to inspire themselves to reconceive of who their base ought to be. the latino vote is getting bigger, and the republican share of that vote is getting smaller over time . they are getting less and less over time of something that is getting bigger and bigger over time . and even if you're not good at math, that's reason to panic. and the panic that that has induced in the republican party has led them, at least for this moment, to embrace what has been the democrats ' position all along. when president obama took executive action in his first term to extend the kind of mini dream act to young people who had been brought here illegally as kids, the sum total of congressional republicans ' reaction to that was something they called the prohibiting back door amnesty act to try to undo what the president had done. but now just a few months down the road, republicans are embracing the president's whole approach to the problem. he has stood still, and they have moved. and they have moved because they think their own toxicity with latino voters is forcing them to move. but there is one last factor here there is one last immovable truth here for which this remarkable republican freak-out and reversal does not account. and that is the great big outside the beltway secret that latino voters are really liberal, really liberal. jeb bush 's republican hispanic outreach group polled swing state latinos after this past election, and it turns out it's not just the issue of immigration where latino voters like democrats better than they like republicans . swing state latinos like the democratic party on all of the issues they were asked about. they like democrats better on education, on women's rights, on values on social issues broadly. they like democrats better on the deficit. they like democrats better on the economy, on small business , on immigration , on helping the middle class , on all of it, on every single thing they were asked about. the only two categories where latinos in swing states pick republicans over democrats is when they're asked who is more anti-immigrant and who cares more about helping rich people . republicans win on those two questions, being anti-immigrant and digging rich people . but democrats win on all of the rest of the policy issues. the exit polls from the 2012 electorate showed a latino electorate that was more liberal on gaye marriage than the country as a whole. the exit polls from the 2012 election showed a latino electorate that is more supportive of abortion rights than the country as a whole. more supportive, not less. more. there is this myth that if republicans can just stop being so offensive to latinos in the alienating way they have talked about latinos as annett nick group and as a political constituency, if they can just get mainstream on the issue of reforming the immigration system, just go along with the democrats on this, we'll just hold our nose and do it, there is this myth that then republicans will gain a new constituency of voters who is prepared to vote for them. a new constituency of voters, millions of voters, a growing constituency that agrees with them especially on social conservatism . all these latinos are going to start voting republicans if you can control the downside by having the republicans ease up on immigration . nothing in reality suggests that that is the case about latino voters. but republicans are on the move on immigration right now anyway. at least for now. will they balk once they realize that latinos are going to vote overwhelmingly democratic anyway? i know exactly who i want to ask about