tv Town Hall Event Immigration MSNBC November 21, 2010 12:00pm-2:00pm EST
this is an msnbc special event. >> illegal immigration, it's the hot topic on america's southern border. >> we need an immigration policy that works, a policy that meets the needs of families and businesses while honoring our tradition as a nation of immigrants and a nation of law. >> flash points in the congressional campaign. >> i don't know how anyone of hispanic heritage could be a republican. okay. do i need to say more.
>> tonight we tackle the issue head on with americans whose lives have been directly affected. latinos who say they are here to stay. >> i feel american. i am american. this the community that saw me grow up. >> voices of americans that want illegal immigrants gone. >> they're coming in and grabbing what they can get. >> immigration, can we get beyond the border lines. that's our topic tonight. >> announcer: beyond borderlines. live from the university of san diego. [ applause ] >> good evening. i'm lawrence o'donnell and welcome to the university of san diego. we're going to talk tonight, and, yes, maybe argue a bit about the issue of immigration
in the latino community. there are 50 million latinos in america. they are our fastest growing minority. but millions are here illegally. the political debate over what to do about that has deeply divided americans especially in border states. before we begin, please welcome my partner tonight maria teresa kumar, executive director of voto latino and an msnbc contributor. maria teresa, thank you. thank you for joining us. we're going to drill down on latino immigration, including legal and illegal immigration. the immigration story in this country is bigger than just latinos. >> it's our identity. we're one of the few countries, if not the only country, where it's been built on people self-selecting themselves to come to the country, have the identity and really empower themselves. it's a different wave of immigration. it's interwoven who we are fundamentally.
that's why i'm excited to be here tonight. >> msnbc, the place for politics, we've discovered latinos is a very significant voting bloc now. they decided the election for harry reid and others. what is happening in latino voters participation now and going forward? >> they keep surging. i think the number one thing is is that immigration is a critical part of the equation for latino voters, but jobs as well. and what's happening right now, immigration has reached such a heated point that we can't have an honest conversation. that's what this is about. it's about, yes we need to talk about global asian, competing on a global level as immigrants, national security. but more importantly we're talking about families. people who we're talking about are parents and families that are being torn apart, and how do we get to that conversation. >> let's get to the conversation. let's go right to the heart of the battle over illegal immigration, the feeling by millions of americans that illegal immigration is harming their country and in
some cases their way of life and communities. we went to fremont, nebraska, a town of 26,000, where some people are worried about a surge in illegal immigration. their answer was new local laws to do what they say state and federal laws are failing to do. here are some of those people in their own words. ♪ >> fremont has that small-town feeling of ride your bike anywhere, great school systems. hardworking people, too, i'd say. >> you have the farming community outside fremont. you have meat packing. the population is around 25,000. it's a close-knit community. it's like everybody knows everybody. i've lived here my whole life. >> it's just a great community. >> it's very frustrating.
>> people are fed up. >> there are a lot of people that are very angry. >> everybody sitting here is proud to be an american, and it bothers them to see the way of life change so drastically because of something that shouldn't be there. >> the problem was that we had illegals starting to become greater in number in the city of fremont. >> all of a sudden you'd be at the grocery store and everybody is talking spanish around you. where did this come from? we're about as far away from the border as we can get. i think that became very disconcerting to people around here. i think it bothered them. we're middle america, we're kind of mainstream. you know, we're not real flashy. i think people felt like it was getting intrusion put upon them that these people weren't invited, and they're here. we're not getting doctors and lawyers and itt techs and finish carpenters, we're getting
whatever is rolling down the river. >> which is causing the crime rate to go up, police costs to go up, school costs to go up, hospital costs to go up. >> they are not paying into our system. unfortunately they don't have health system, illegals. they use emergency services that cost a ton more than if they saw a normal doctor. >> we're footing the bill for those people that are here illegally. they are stealing. they are basically stealing from the rest of us. >> within our school system you saw a lot of programs for the gifted kids just get wiped out. more money was going towards teaching spanish kids to speak our language and a big expense for free and reduced lunches. >> these people are making no attempt to try to become u.s. citizens or try to blend in with society, learn the language, try to adapt and say, you know, you don't see any community service
being done by these people. they're coming in and grabbing what they can get. >> before they start every council meeting, they have to say the pledge of allegiance. well, there was a handful of hispanics, whether they were legal or illegal, i don't know, refused to stand up and say the pledge and put their hand over their heart. we're for immigration. we're just against illegal aliens coming in, bringing crime, drugs, gangs and an economic burden. >> and not loving our country like we love it. that's all we're asking. love our country, follow our rules. you know, try to be an american. that should be first. >> what we were trying to do is get an ordinance passed to which we did make the city enforce the ordinance to make it illegal to have anybody hire somebody here, that was here illegally or rent to them. >> basically you could not hire, rent to or harbor illegals. if you were caught, if you were a business, you would lose your business license. >> it just seems pretty
ridiculous that we would have to go take a petition, get signatures, to get an ordinance passed to enforce a federal law that's already on the books. it seems asinine to me. we shouldn't have to do that. as citizens of this country, we shouldn't have to. >> the federal government isn't going to do anything about it. >> it's very frustrating because governments, federal and city, are not doing anything about the problem. they basically just turn their head and, you know, let it go. >> some people were afraid to speak out, too, just because of the fact you appear very hateful if you're against illegals. >> what's the worst thing you can call a person? a racist. a lot of people don't want to be called a racist, because it's probably the worst thing you could call somebody. >> we've been called it. >> there's nowhere in our ordinance that said any kind of a race. we were addressing illegal aliens. >> illegal immigration. >> i don't care what country you came from.
>> we have laws. this country is built on laws. let's follow the laws. we follow them. why aren't they following them? i feel we're fighting to try to keep the country a country. keep the country from going down the tubes. >> strong words and strong feelings from fremont, nebraska. to respond we are joined by a familiar face, especially if you were in a movie theater this weekend, actor activist and co-founder of voto latino rosario dawson. and from houston, texas, a man who deals with the reality of illegal immigration every day harris county's first latino sheriff adrian garcia. rosario, if you had shot your new box office hit "unstoppable" in fremont, nebraska, and had a chance to sit in that coffee shop with those people, what would you have wanted to say to them? >> it looks like we could have, actually. there's a lot of freight trains going through there. one, i would say change is scary.
there's been an influx of people coming into this country for the majority of our history. you know. i think it was very scary for the native people to see people show up and say we hate europe, can we move in. as part of american history we've had illegal immigrants and legal immigrants that came in and changed the fabric of this country. the trains that the freights were going across were laid down by chinese. we've created internments, things to respond but basically they are here to say. so i feel that's the thing that's going to be most important. making sure populations are going to be permanently living with each other, to understand each other's cultures and to start working together as americans. >> sheriff garcia, i'm hearing some fear in those voices. i'm hearing frustration, frustration with government, frustration with unenforced laws and a little bit of bewilderment of how did this happen. they are talking about how far they are from the southern border.
new york city is farther from the southern border. if you want to hear a lot of foreign languages you've never heard before drop in there for lunch. what would you want to say to those people? >> as rosario touched on, i think immigration has been a natural part of our country. it's really the fabric of what america is all about. we are a nation of immigrants. but by the same token, whenever you start to have some issues, as in my business public safety concerns, then people beginn to try to -- or their fear begins to build around that regretfully. regardless whether it's true or how much it contributes to that, the perception of fear begins to take hold. >> maria teresa, their reaction is not unique. communities around the country are trying to pass local laws, if you rent to illegals, these penalties will occur. what is happening in these local initiatives? are any of them taking hold and in any way working? >> some of them are.
there's a case in a small town in georgia where they passed these ordinances, and unfortunately all the undocumented -- and legal immigrants and americans left. and as a result, the town was devastated. but i think we're missing the broader point. folks are getting recruited to come to this country. they are coming for work. so how do we deal with the work? how do we start talking and talking seriously about the business aspect of it, of putting it forth? >> there are meat packing in the midwest like those in the nebraska communities that used to be unionized. they aren't anymore and that's opened it up. you said you started off on this subject as a liberal and you've now moved over to being a conservative. why have you traveled that road? >> really, it's my mom's fault, because when i was much younger and still understanding at all, my perspective was pretty much how we're talking about here. if people are working and people
are here trying to contribute, you know, what's the big concern about it? by the same token, i am the product of a guest worker, my father helped build rail lines in california. so my mother really straightened me out and said, wait a minute, there's a way to do things. and your dad waited in line. he completed his contract. he returned home when he was supposed to. he followed the rules. so i think there's that balance that we have to try to achieve. >> can i jump in there? i think that the program that you're talking about, sheriff garcia, is no longer available now to workers. when you say get them in line, how would you address that and how would you address business playing such a big role? >> you have the wrong guy to address those issues. we need our legislators to address those respective issues. but by the same token, i think there is a lot that's been said
about the amount of work force that's being demanded today. as you say, people are being recruited from other parts of the world. and regretfully, it creates a supply and demand issue that we're all trying to struggle with. regretfully it puts local law enforcement in the middle of this conversation. >> rosario, there are so many different facets of this. there are people that want to talk about sealing the border first and other things. there's a very large population here, illegal population, 12 million maybe. there aren't enough guys with badges in this country to move 12 million back across that border. everyone acknowledges that. what should we be thinking about how to deal with the 12 million who are here and staying here? >> well, i think first of all we need to stop making latinos synonymous with immigrant. it's changed many times over the years. >> illegal immigration. there are very big numbers in chinese and many other populations. >> yes. and going back to the supply and
demand, the reason why we need comprehensive immigration reform is that the laws already on the books don't work anymore. if we did, we wouldn't be talking. we need to think about what's right for 2010. we can't keep going back to old pieces of paper. according to old pieces of paper i'm not allowed to vote and as a person of choolor, you aret even considered a full human being. that's why we need to inject humanity. 30 years ago it was easier for my grandfather to come from cuba and make a life for himself. it's much more difficult to do the same things now. that's why these are new problems. we need to tackle them with new fresh ideas because that's the only way we're going to be able to move forward and be globally competitive. as we're arguing about these menial jobs that go to high school diploma owners or less, bill gates is importing people from china and india. because he has jobs that he would love to give to americans, but we don't qualify for them because we rank 25 in the world in math and 21 in science. and so our education levels are really down. so when you think about that,
rell, are we really arguing over jobs that we really want to have? should we really be pushing ourselves as a culture? and that's why immigration itself can't be talked about in a vacuum outside of the private prism industrial system, health care and specifically education. >> we'll get to the first e-mail question when we come back and meet a former ins officer who says it's too late for immigration reform. stay with us. [ male announcer ] humana and walmart are teaming up to bring you a low-price medicare prescription drug plan called the humana walmart-preferred prescription plan. it's a new plan that covers both brand and generic prescriptions and has the lowest-priced national premium in the country of only $14.80 per month and in-store copays as low as $2.
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i think the people of arizona have the right to pass their laws under the tenth amendment. i think it's clearly a result of the federal government's failure to secure our border and to enforce our laws. >> americans are right to be frustrated including folks along border states. the answer isn't to undermine fundamental principles that define us as a nation. >> we're back here at the university of san diego with rosario dawson and sheriff adrian garcia and also joined
now by mike cutler, a longtime immigration enforcement agent who now works with the center for immigration studies in washington. we're going to the first e-mail question from daniel rojo. mike, you get the first question. >> sounds fair. >> what do we do with the illegals that are here now? maybe ask it a few times if you don't get an answer. i'm listening. >> there is an answer. you're right. we're not going to lock up -- and i think there's more than 12 million. >> how many do you think? >> maybe 30 or more. 30. could be double. >> in 1986 we were told there were a million illegals given lawful status with the amnesty then. we wound up with 4 million. if we're talking 11 or 12, god knows. we don't know. this is like the weight of a black hole. who knows. you can only do it on inference in terms of our society. the problem is immigration laws are designed to keep people out of a country whose presence is
harmful. it's the way a homeowner looks through a peephole to make certain that he lets a stranger into the home that he trusts. while we can't arrest all the illegal aliens who are present here, we can create an environment that is not conducive or encouraging -- there's a section of law that says it's a felony to encourage, induce, aid or abet. what you do, if you can't get a driver's license. if you can't get a job, if you can't open a bank account, then why would you remain? if you sat in a restaurant and the owner came out and said the power is off in our refrigerator, the food is spoiled, we can't serve you, you wouldn't stay very long. i think we need to create an environment that encouraging lawful immigration. we certainly need it. i'm the son of an immigrant. my mother came from poland ahead of the holocaust. the idea of having people come across the border. we don't know if they are simply looking to work. if you look at the immigration laws, the laws of exclusion give categories. among them people violent felons, involved in terrorism, people involved in human trafficking, human rights violations, war criminals.
we don't know if the guy that runs the border is simply looking to get a job because he's desperate or on the run. >> your answer to the question of what do you do with the 12 or more million that are here now illegally is you do nothing except try to get them to leave through these environmental -- >> you don't get all the speeders that are speeding down the highway. in new york we had a problem with drunk drivers. we started seizing cars. we didn't seize all the cars. >> sheriff garcia, how does that sound to you? >> obviously, you have to make sure that you are providing public safety. that you are making sure that people understand when you commit a crime, there's consequences. that's the way we do it in harris county. we're just not taking it to the extreme the way other places do in terms of just trying to figure out who is walking down the street and what their status is. rather we're basing it on the fact when someone commits a crime, we're checking them and we're cooperating with i.c.e.
and having that kind of process. but also, public safety needs to have good information. it needs to have a relationship and confidence of the community. otherwise it won't work. >> maria teresa, what mike's talking about, it sounds to me, is making life even more difficult than what the arizona law is contemplating. what do you think the behavioral reaction would be with illegal workers now? >> with undocumented workers, i think the picture that mr. cutler is providing, actually, would devastate the united states economy period. because what we're talking about is individuals that are working in agriculture, in our health care. they're also working in our manufacturing. to wipe them out doesn't seem to be an option. i do have a question for you. you've been working with the ins for the last 30 years and you've seen what works and what doesn't. what would you change of our laws today, if you could start all over. if the president and congress came up to you and said, you have, michael cutler, with your experience of 30 years, how would you change our immigration laws today?
>> actually, in some ways congress has done that. >> i'm asking how you do it. >> you need more manpower. first of all, if you think we're enforcing the immigration laws we're not. we have about 3,000 i.c.e. agents, immigration and customs enforcement dedicated to enforcing immigration law. new york has 35,000 police officers. the likelihood that an illegal alien will be able to run or border or overstay their visa or terms of admission is quite high. so what we really need to do is increase the likelihood that if you're here illegally -- and by the way, we let in 1.1 million unlawful immigrants last year. they are on the pathway to u.s. citizenship. that's more than any other country on the planet. >> how would we fill the current jobs that undocument people are doing, the program that his father was able to enjoy? >> let me tell you the problem with that. foreign workers have a goal of sending money out of the economy. every year we lose 100 to $200 billion. >> but that means their family
is less likely to move here. >> not at all. they still want to come here. if you legalize them, the families would come here but the unscrupulous employer -- this is something no one talks about -- the unscrupulous employer will go to his boss with that magic card and say, i'll keep working for you but not at $6 an hour. they were fired and the next batch of illegals were hired. which is how we got here. what do we do with 20 million people who wind up losing their jobs? they will have brought their families here because comprehensive reform would allow it. and we wouldn't even know who they are. they would take any name they want. meanwhile, you have wives and children, breadwinner out of work. they would wind up on welfare, unemployment, communities going bankrupt. how do you pay for all this. >> rosario, what we're hearing from mike is the strict enforcement school. and it seems to me, it sounds a little bit like arizona on steroids.
what i want to get, rosario, how do you think the population that's here, the illegal population, undocumented population that is here already, how do you think that they would react to the kinds of things mike is talking about? do you think we would see this mass migration back across the southern border of tens of millions of people because they can't get a checking account? >> yes and no. the reality is we're talking about people born on one side of an imaginary line or another. people go where their livelihood can be the best. that's what we're talking about. we're talking about millions and millions and millions of individuals who all decided to risk their lives and try to be an entrepreneur here, in some way, shape, or form to work here, just to work. that's where it gets really dangerous. because it would be so easy to just go, well, all of you are illegal and you need to leave. how do we do that? how do we do that and stay humane. sb-1070 is a law that has us pointing at people, are you a criminal? are you? how about you?
it would be easier if people would be honest in that way. again, it is about employers and it is about people who are encouraging people to come here as much as bad policies in their countries that are affecting their livelihoods and driving them out. as long as we encourage people to come here the same way these same employers are sending american jobs overseas, this is a tremendous problem why we're here where we are. these employers are looking for cheap labor. and us americans like to have things as cheap as possible. so if we try to combine the two is going to be really problematic. either that means all of our costs are going to go up and we're also going to lose all the tax money and that we're getting from all of the undocumented people who are here, or we get rid of all these people, we keep them all here and we try to figure it all out. but what's going to happen with the situation? >> i think part of what you're saying is that we don't have a system where we can get the unskilled worker we desperately need now.
so how do we actually create that pathway? >> we have a comment over there on microphone one. go ahead. >> thank you very much. i'm craig vargas, a professor at the university of san diego. this program began by people talking about bringing humanity to the debate. i arrived here in san diego from the midwest from ohio in 1978. i'll tell you what my experience with people coming across the border has been. i will concede there are issues of crime and people crossing the border illegally. when i look around san diego i see people coming from south of the border working very hard at difficult jobs that pay very little money. it seems difficult to bring humanity to the conversation when these people are demonized so readily. how are we going to have true immigration reform when we, in fact, do demonize these people? >> rosario, what is the feeling in the latino community about this point, the demonization? we saw a tv commercial run in the campaign in nevada that was demonizing, showing images of
these people running across the border. what is it like in that community when this kind of imagery is out there? >> well, i think that people who are especially running for election seem to forget people can watch, if they are speaking in spanish they are watching in spanish but they are watching the english ads. they are quite polarizing. there's ads out there saying don't vote at all. when sheriff arpaio had put out an e-mail, which he says that he wasn't actually attached to, but in arizona, that e-mail went out to 800,000 people to tell them that we had to stop them illegals from voting, and we had to make sure that they couldn't go to the polls. everyone knows undocumented people can't vote so what that meant was voter intimidation. so i think what people are starting to see and you're seeing it here with the backlash against meg whitman here in california, that people are paying attention to these issues. latinos are going to vote how they are going to vote. they are not a monolithic voting bloc. they're going to do whatever. they are paying attention to ads, seeing how they are talked about, especially people for generations have been here and
going, so if i'm here, i was here before the imaginary line crossed me in american history here in arizona. but you're telling me that just by looking at me, you can tell me i don't belong? people are going to get upset. that's why this conversation is going to get more and more convoluted as emotions come up. >> it could not be more ironic that we're having this conversation in a spot that used to be mexico. >> yes. >> we're going to break. we're going to break. when we come back, we're going to get to politics pop we're going to get to the latino vote. we're going to get to more questions. the latino vote is changing american politics. we're going to talk about that when we come back. stay with us. [ male announcer ] it's simple physics...
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>> i don't know how anyone of hispanic heritage could be a republican. okay? do i need to say more? >> i think every speech should begin with a shot of tequila. >> welcome back to the university of san diego. we're going to turn to the politics of immigration. latinos are a huge factor in our elections, and so is the fear of illegal immigration. how that played out in the midterm elections and how it will play in 2012 is the question now. we're joined by salida lake, a veteran campaign strategist for democratic candidates and alfonzo aguila, executive director for latino partnerships and conservative principles and jose diaz-balart from our sister network telemundo.
salinda, we saw the latino vote be decisive in the election, harry reid in nevada. what else did we learn about the latino vote in our last election, and what does it tell us going forward? >> we saw three things. we saw it was decisive in maintaining democrats in the senate. it could easily be decisive in maintaining a democratic president in 2012. we saw even if latino voters initially were disengaged, they turned out in record numbers. it wasn't about identity politics but issue politics. it was about candidates who spoke to the immigration issue. we also saw that the immigration issue as a wedge didn't work very well. only 8% of the voters overall said immigration was a wedge issue for them. they did vote republican. but the voters on election eve overwhelmingly two-thirds support comprehensive immigration reform. they refused to allow this to be a wedge issue. >> alfonso, harry reid said he can't understand why any latino
would ever vote republican. what is it that he cannot understand? >> well, i think as a latino, i find that comment very insulting, very condescending. i think latinos are independent. yes, the majority voted for democrats. but we've seen a modest but important increase in latino support who voted for republicans. remember george bush in '04 got about 44% of the latino vote. so latinos can consider republican candidates, either republican candidates open themselves to the latino community and propose solutions to immigration that are constructive but to generalize. and typecast latinos and say they are all democrats i think is pretty ridiculous and pretty insulting. >> it's also pretty ridiculous and insulting to insult the hispanic community like sharron angle did in nevada and other places. >> absolutely. >> i think you as a conservative would not say you could not support someone like that
either. >> i agree 100%. we have to understand that the republican party also is not a monolithic party. the majority of republicans are actually pro-immigration. let's not forget that the last debate we had was under ronald reagan. george bush worked hard to get immigration form in '07 and we're almost there. but i think republicans, the majority of republicans sadly are remaining silent. it is time now for those republicans who are for immigration to stand up and say we have to do something constructive that goes beyond just enforcement-only options. and frankly, those people like sharron angle and others, tom tancredo, have actually hijacked the discussion of immigration within republican ranks. and i think republicans have to stand up and say we're the party of free market, we're the party of freedom of opportunity. tom tancredo, speak for us. we're going to do something constructive on immigration. >> it seems that hijacking has been successful. it seems a long time since we've heard a republican candidate talk about immigration reform.
they used to. george w. bush did. john mccain did. but john mccain has completely reversed himself. things have changed in the republican party on this subject. >> significantly. i mean, even marco rubio had to soften his stance on immigration in order to be elected statewide in florida. a quick question, what you're saying and i think what the audience can agree, is that republicans right now are talking out of two sides of their mouth. they are talking definitely about issues that a lot of latinos would care about when it comes to small businesses, also family values, but it is hijacked by the laerge larger angles and brewers. how would you advise the next presidential candidate, whether it be sarah palin or huckabee, how would you advise them to tackle this issue? >> well, i think you'll be very surprised with some of the presidential candidates including sarah palin on this issue. we still don't know what she thinks about broader immigration reform. i'd say that you have to propose something constructive that is more than just enforcement only. that we have to go back to our
free-market principles and recognize that we are the party of the free market. the problem as you very well outlined at the beginning of the show is that this economy has an incredible demand for foreign workers. so we need a mechanism to bring those workers in. why don't we have a guest worker program like george bush supported? that's where many democrats who are controlled by unions oppose a guest worker program. >> all right. we're going to hold it there. when we come back we have questions from the audience ready to go. we're going to be looking forward to what's going to happen in 2012. will latinos be the determining factor in the presidential election? we'll be right back. time for the "your business entrepreneur of the week." north carolina natives jenny fulton and ashley fur worked in the financial industry until both were pink-slipped.
and we're back with our immigration town hall at the university of san diego. questions and comments from the audience. go ahead. >> yes. my name is dylan hayden, i'm a sophomore here. i was wondering if you could address kind of the duality that exists right on the border, the border fence. on the one hand it seems to be ' kind of a daunting thing for individuals that live on the other side of the border. on the other hand we're hearing that millions of people are crossing the border annually.
so maybe if you could talk about that and talk about why or why not you think it's successful. >> all right. we're going to pick that up as we move along. go ahead. one more. >> when will our republican leaders across the nation and we heard the sheriff from texas and now the new governor-elect for new mexico with continued enforcement and really lack of understanding or suggestion in fixing the problem. you know, we seem to be really aware about our border -- for example border patrol tripling since 2001 in agents. we've stripped driver's licenses, tried to take the right of undocumented immigrants from renting, kind of resulting to now driving without driver's licenses or insurance orienteding under mohorrible conditions. but none of them seem to know about how we're going to fix the problem. governor-elect from new mexico republican ran on the platform of fear and really enforcing immigration laws but had no knowledge of the dream act, which is one of the most prominent legislations that is actually going to be in the lame
duck session hopefully this upcoming week. >> alfonso that is the impression voters are getting from republicans. let's go over here. >> good evening. i'm a daughter of immigrants and a young lawyer. today the supreme court upheld ab 540 which really waves tuition requirements for students. what will we do as a nation if we don't encourage access to education and opportunity? because had that not been the case for me, i wouldn't be here today standing before you as a lawyer. >> just to clarify for the national audience, in california, there is a -- in the california system, university system, if you are a resident of the state you pay a certain tuition level. if you're a resident or montana, or some other state, you pay a higher tuition level, and what the california supreme court has decided is that undocumenteds here in california will pay the residential -- california residential rate if they live in california. over here. >> hi. while we keep talking about this as foreign immigration, we're clearly focusing on a
mexico/u.s. immigration situation. how do you think other immigrant countries across the globe will react on the laws pretty much focused on the u.s.-mexico immigration situation? >> we have experts later in the segment that will deal with that. >> i'm linda vargas. i'm a professor here at the school of bus. and i'm very curious as to given that jobs are the biggest draw here for people from south of the border, what kind of penalties do you think employers would legitimately embrace to stop employment of illegals in this country? >> jose, you know this community. you've worked on this story. you know the reality of life here on the ground for the undocumented worker, for the employers. what do you think would work on the employer? >> lawrence, thank you for doing the show. i think it's important to recognize and respect what you all are doing at msnbc. [ applause ] it's important. there are so many things to talk about. first of all, for the young man who started it's not untold millions that come across the
border every year. let's be clear. because we don't want to create more confusion than there already is. it's not untold millions across the border. for the gentleman that talks about republicans and what they are not doing to help understand the need for immigration reform, i would say democrats have also promised immigration reform and didn't come through. that's part of the apathy we've been seeing in hispanic voters for sometime now. but i think that the key here is we have to analyze this a little bit from two different perspectives. there are almost two different worlds in this country. there are the worlds of a young man who is here who has two brothers born in the united states. he came when he was 3 years old. obviously didn't come of his own volition. his parents brought him here. he has dreams and future plans and wants to be part of the united states armed forces and contribute here, yet he's being penalized for something that he didn't do. let's talk about whether his parents should or should not.
let's talk about the millions of people like him that are already in this country and know no other country. let's talk about them. i'll wrap it up. but let's also see if there's not a common ground we can find with the ranchers in the arizona border and that feel that they should have the right to not have untold hundreds of people coming through their property every week, and they don't know who they are, and they may be led by a guy with an ak-47 who back home in mexico is cutting heads off. everyone has a right to be safe but so do the people who are here and really do have dreams and feel as american as you and i do. >> maria teresa, how do you get a subject change with people in this conversation? by that i mean there are people who focus almost exclusively on border security, on a fence, on tripling the personnel on the southern border. we did triple the personnel on the southern border between presidents reagan and presidents
clinton. we tripled it. and the illegal crossovers increased with the tripling. how do you get people to get out of the one little solution or the one little hole they want to keep this conversation in? >> i think what you're talking about is right now the lack of comprehensive immigration reform, everything we do from now until then is a band-aid effect. we're not addressing the core issue. the core issue is, one, we have to modernize our immigration system. we're using antiquated rules and asking people to play by antiquated laws and not giving them the opportunity to reflect what our country needs. number one. and number two, it's very much what jose said and also what you said, we have to get the republican and democratic party to offer solutions, and they're not doing it because they are catering to the extreme and not moderates. and that's where the majority of americans really are. >> what's the realistic possibility? you understand what's driving democratic candidates and you understand what's driving republican candidates on this issue. what's the realistic possibility of some kind of agreement in what kind of time frame? >> first of all, this is an area
where the voters are way ahead of the politicians of both political parties. the dream act overwhelmingly supported by the public should be passed in the lame-duck session. right now there aren't the republican votes. there are the democratic votes. i was just saying to alfonso, we need his leadership there, maybe we should nominate him on the democrat side for office. there is the will in the public. there hasn't been the will of the elected officials. we need leadership and we need leadership from the president. >> we're going to have to leave it there for this segment. lots more in the next hour how this debate affects young people and what we can learn from our own history. you'll meet one young man who says he is an american, but the law says he's not. all of that when we continue live from the university of san diego. ♪
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to turn to the future, specifically, one of the toughest problems in the immigration debate, the children of illegal immigrants. brought here at very young ages. raised here as young adults. american in every way you can imagine. but not in the eyes of their government. and as they try to lead adult lives, they begin to confront the terrifying reality of a life in hiding. arizona is one of the places that fear is greatest. and it's where we met some of these young, well, you decide if we can call them americans. ♪ >> since i was little my dad would tell me, don't tell anybody you are from mexico. >> i consider this my country and, you know, i would be more than proud to serve and protect our freedom. >> people talk about getting in line. but what line do i get in? >> i think around high school is when it really started hitting. the fact that undocumented was
going to be a barrier to overcome. they can't say that i don't belong here, that i'm not welcome here, that i'm not needed here. because i am. >> it is our home because, like for me, personally, i was here since i was 4 years old. >> i have been part of this community since i was little. i've been part of this state, this country. i feel part of it. i feel american. i am american. this is the community that saw me grow up. >> there is like a police car next to us and it starts flashing its lights, your heart starts pumping. >> i think there is a certain amount of fear that i live with, that we all live with because there's a lot of uncertainty as to, you know, what the consequences are going to be for a simple traffic light stop. the important thing to remember is that there is an even greater fear, an even greater uncertainty, especially in my case of going back to a country which i don't know. >> i would be scared to go to mexico. right now because of all of the violence.
>> i was told, you know, get an education. go to college. do great things. and here i am stuck. it's kind of tough. in fact, i won't sugar-coat it. it is amazingly tough. >> to me, it's very difficult and sad at the same time to know that once i graduate, you know, i'm going to be graduating with this degree. i'm hopefully going to be able to get into nursing school, get my nursing degree. but then after that -- what am i going to do? if i don't have nine digits of the social security, i can't get a job. >> you know, they want you to be that statistic that they talk about. they want you to be that person that they talk about on the news doing something wrong. but here we are, you know, doing everything we can to go against
it and actually doing what we can to pursue our education regardless if we can't get the job after we have that diploma. but we are doing it. and we're not letting the nine digit numbers stop us. that's the most frustrating thing for me, that everything that we are doing, can amount for nothing. but yet we're doing it regardless. >> a lot of us, we get pushed down so much to the point where we just give up. but then there are some of us who actually say, you know what? i'm just going to prove you wrong. i'm just going to go out there. i'm going to educate myself. and i'm going to make a better future for myself. >> if we have talent here in the u.s., if we have people who can contribute to the economy, we should be able to use them. i mean, use me. you know? >> i believe in the goodness of people. and i know that there is actually people out there fighting for us. but as for politicians, i don't
think any of them want to actually, you know, stand up for what they believe in. >> this is my home. i am not going anywhere. ♪ >> we are joined now by one of the young people you met in that piece. his name is selzo, also, delores huerta, the legendary co-founder, along with cesar chavez, of the united farmworkers union. and still with us, former immigration enforcement agent, mike cutler. selzo, thank you for doing this. i know it isn't easy. we showed some tape earlier in the show, some people living in nebraska who are dealing with a new immigrant population in their community. they are -- they feel many things, and i think including fear. in fact, we invited them to come here to san diego. they couldn't to join us with
the dialogue we are having tonight. but you know there is all this fear of the immigrant population and what they are coming here to do, what they might mean to this country. but on the other side of this issue, you are living in fear on a day-to-day basis. a fear of what might happen to you, someone in mike's job if they find you, might have you shipped out in fear of what your future can be even if you are able to stay in this country. >> yes. i mean, i think both sides of the argument have fear. and i think fear is what is keeping us from solving the issues that affect us. this issue of immigration. i think that if both of us, both of theides sf the story, can sort of come together and overcome that fear. for example, right now, i can say i am undocumented and unafraid. i say that so i can share my story and let you know that -- that my values are the american values that i grew up with. i grew up in this country wanting to serve after high
school. and i couldn't. but i continued with my education. so yeah, we need to get over that fear. to start that dialogue. >> delores, you have watched generations of latinos come across our southern border legally and illegally to work here, to work as farm workers and in other occupations. what do your decades of experience tell us about where we should go from here? >> well, first of all, we are not going to solve the problem of immigration unless we solve the issues of our trade policies. what people don't realize when they talk of the anti-immigrants, anti-illegals, whatever, they don't realize why do people come here in the first place? whey do they leave their beautiful homes, where we go to as tourists, guatemala, to come here and suffer? and they do that because there is no opportunities. we say, wry aren't there opportunities? because we ship our corn to mexico. our subsidized corn goes to
mexico. the maize is from mexico. but we put thousands of farmers out of work. what are they going to come? they're going to come north. we have giant stores, wal-mart, they go up there, tens of thousands of people that they displace from the shop did keepers. we have the big-box factories, right? what happens then, like in juarez, mexico, one day to the next, 80,000 jobs shipped from mexico to china. these people are all displaced. so unless we solve those trade policies and use our united states technology, resources to help not only mexico but central america, those countries rebuild their own economies, people don't leave because they want to leave. they leave because they have to. they don't want to starve. this is the big picture, global, not just united states, happening in the europe. punishing immigrants who are victims. putting people in prison who are victims. this is wrong. you have to change that.
corporations, they pass billions of dollars across borders. we have materials that come from the united states to china and then they bring them back. so they can be sold here. so if we can have money cross borders and materials cross borders, but if a person tries to cross a border, then we make them a criminal and we put them in prison. and this is wrong. people say i don't want to be a racist. when we talk about the people that were recruited to work in the meat packing plants in nebraska, if those were canadians, you would not have that problem that you are seeing there. it would be very, very different. so at the bottom -- and this has been increased and it's been propagandaized, against the people of color, against the people from mexico and the people from central america and latin america. >> mike, i want to take you back to the question i asked in introducing the video of celso. >> sure. >> is this person sitting here an american? >> by law, no. because one point i really have to respond to. for me it was never about race. as an immigration agent, i spent
years at times arresting and investigating people from europe. i was the marine intelligence officer. most of the people i arrested were from greece. i've arrested canadians. i work closely with the rcmp, the royal canadian mountie police. mexico has built its own fence to separate itself from guatemala. nafta has been a nightmare. this goes back to political finance. we get the best government money can buy every time there's an election. agents aren't allowed to accept a cup of coffee. politicians take money with both hands, and they do the bidding of the corporations. if you look at america -- >> mike, to get back to what you would look to do going forward. which is to make life for celso even more difficult than it is now, prevent him from getting a credit card, a checking account, anything like that. celso, if everything mike wants to happen happens and you can't get a checking act and you can't pay rent to someone who would safely be able to rent you an apartment, would you leave?
would what mike's been talking about tonight make you give up and go back across that border? >> i don't think anything will make me go back across the border. because i grew up in arizona, in phoenix, that is my community. i plan to contribute to the community that saw me grow up. so, at this point, i don't see anything getting in my way. >> mike, tell me, one more quick point. tell me what it's like. you had that badge for 30 years. you were in a position to handcuff people like this and get them back across that border. when you, no doubt, had to do it with guys like this who are obviously here to contribute, they're not here to cause trouble. not part of any crime issues or any of the things that we don't want in this country. he is, in fact, exactly what we want in this country. we just don't have a documented way of getting him here. what was it like for you when you had to handcuff one of these people and drag that person across the border? >> we can't make policy on the exceptional case. you need to look overall at whether or not what we do or don't do encourages more people
to violate the borders. half the world lives below the poverty line. and on one of your programs this morning, you were just talking about how one in five american children don't have food. not enough food to have safe lives, where they're being harmed. we have to take care of our own first. america is like a lifeboat. if you and i were on a lifeboat and it was going down -- >> go ahead. >> i think, mike, first of all you said, because, you wouldn't, you would have to deport him because of the law. if you had the opportunity, would you change the law? >> you are missing my point. >> no, but would you change the law? >> no, i wouldn't. i will tell you why i wouldn't. baz because the whole world -- half the world lives below the poverty line. if we don't make -- >> you don't think there is any room. >> we admit 1.1 million plus americans every year on the pathway to citizenship. at what point do you say that's it? >> let's consider -- i want you to consider a pathway to citizenship being considered. harry reid has said in lame-duck session of congress he wants to take up the dream act.
nancy ploegs nancy pelosi has said she wants to take up the dream act. outline for us what the dream act is and how it would help celso. >> the dream act what it does it provides a pathway to citizenship for individuals that are 16 years or younger and been here five years and have demonstrated one they want to serve the military as celso would look to do. and number two if they would like to go to school. and it's a pathway to citizenship. it's not guaranteed. and this is the issue. when we start talking about our american identity, who are we? we start talking about pulling ourselves by the bootstraps. going up and against all odds, and fundamentally trying to beat those odds. who more than a dream act kid would be able to demonstrate that? >> one question. one quick point. listen, the dream act -- the dream act -- [ applause ] the "m" in dream act says minor. if you look at the house bill, aliens up to their 35th birthday would be eligible. the senate bill has no age cutoff. one of the problems we have with this debate is that the language
very often is deceptive and misleading. and i think the american people are upset about it because i think we are a generous people. we are the 911 to the world. when there is a crisis we show up and show up with more than anybody. >> we're immigrants. right? that's our identity. when you start saying -- you know what? you are incredibly qualified. the biggest tragedy right now -- >> the age cutoff. >> one of the biggest tragedies we are telling people. you know what we need teachers, we need health care workers, we need engineers. and we have them. >> you would be for a dream act if the age cutoff was for minors? for minors who are here before they were 16 years old. all right. we're getting somewhere. we can negotiate a version of the dream act with mike before the night is over. jose. one thing mike has been saying is that we are on a lifeboat. this is a limited resources country. we can't take any more of these people. they are a drain. they are costing us money. that's ignoring the fact that, in fact, they are contributing massively to social security, billions and billions of
dollars. by the way, not making claims on it because many of them are using fake social security numbers. that money goes straight into the trust funds, and they don't withdraw. we have about 5% to 10% of the social security trust fund are due to immigrant labor coming into this country. so there's a very big contribution. what other things do you hear in this discussion that are getting distorted from the realities of what you know covering this story? >> by the way, talk about contributions. i invite you to go, just on the outskirts of phoenix where celso's from where you can see people at 118 degrees fahrenheit in the summer picking peppers for a five-gallon barrel of paint for $1.25. and they're there day in and day out. and, you don't find a lot of people that were born here that are willing to do that. but having said that i want to say one thing. i think that both political parties are playing political football with this. they're exploiting the hispanic community each in their own way. my conservative friends and my liberal friends, both are not willing to deal with the reality.
which is, there are 11 million people here. 80% of the kids born to undocumented immigrants are like celso, born in the united states, or were here when they don't know any other country. and it is incumbent upon both political parties to quit the crap and get down to brass tacks and figure out what things they can do together to deal with immigration reform. they're not willing to do it either one of them. because they're willing to exploit for their political short-term advantage. >> there is a lot of exploitation. there was a hearing that chuck schumer held last year where alan greenspan, talking about the visas where fraud runs rampantly. and mr. greenspan, who i think was one of the architects of the meltdown, said we've got to eliminate the difference in skilled and unskilled workers. his words, he accused middle-class americans with skills being the privileged elites. if you in the middle-class think you are the privileged elite, god help all of us. we are bringing in foreign
workers who undercut americans who are trying to support themselves. look, we all want to give to charity, but you don't give to charity when your children are going to sleep hungry at night. america is in crisis. and we can't bring the entire world. by the way, this isn't about race. because of the people losing their jobs. it's every flavor of american who loses their job. >> go ahead, celso, quickly. >> i would have to say, i graduated in business management. i want to employ and solve that problem of hunger by creating jobs. i want to create opportunity. so, give me that chance to contribute to this country. that's all i am asking. >> that's the last word for this segment. when we come back, more questions and comments from our live audience here at the university of san diego. stay with us. ♪ [ male announcer ] what does it take to excel in today's business world? our professors know. because they've been there. and they work closely with business leaders to develop curriculum to meet the needs of top businesses.
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my mom says that -- i think she says that barack obama's taking everybody away that doesn't have papers. >> wrayeah. well, that's something that we have to work on, right? to make sure that people can be here with the right kind of papers, right? that's exactly right. >> and we're back here at our immigration town hall at the university of san diego with
comments. go ahead. >> my name is rosemary johnston, a member of the immigration rights consortium. i live in a state where one in four residents is foreign born. in a community where one in four residents is foreign born and where 86 languages are spoken. and i'm proud of that. i also live in the city that has the busiest migratory corridor in the world. i think in another 30 years when our european counterparts are facing severe labor shortages because their birth rate has fallen below 2.0, the united states will thank its immigrants brothers and sisters, we will have a healthy, plentiful labor force. >> we'll get to exactly that point in the next segment. over here. >> how are you, mr. o'donnell. thank you for coming. and i want to say hello to mr. cutler. also, thank you. i am that 911 force you have been talking about. i have been in the navy for 15 years, serving proudly. >> thank you, sir. >> thank you. thank you. thank you. but, i have traveled, luckily, to nebraska for example and i
can tell the people of fremont, it's really sad they couldn't come here today. but they could go a couple hours westbound towards the panhandle and go towards, for example, alliance, nebraska. you go there, and this is a 10,000 people population. this town is supported by the 50% of them who are immigrants. mexicans who work there in the fields. and they transport all the goods that are coming out of the potato and whatever else they have coming out of there. this town remains vibrant because of the immigrant influence you have there. at the same time, though, i want to know how you as a commentator, journalist, the pundits and also the politicians, how they can re-encourage and rekindle that basic need for main street america to think about working in the fields. because that's where all the goods that we are nourishing ourselves from. that's where they're supposed to be coming from, from our own local backyard, not from the grapes that i bought yesterday
from trader joe's that came from chile, for example. i want tomatoes that i can buy here. i want my avocados from california. i like that. i have been in this country for 15 years. i came straight from mexico. i used to be a teacher over there before i joined the navy. and i don't know if i will go back to mexico when i get out. i get out in five years. i can stay here. i can have a great job here. i can go become to mexico and have a great life over there. but celso, for example, his life has been here. he's used to the american way. he wants to be here. so i hope he can stay here with the dream act. thank you very much. >> we'll come back to the dream act. thanks for your comment. one more over here. >> my name is wendy, from east los angeles, by way of el salvador. i find the comments, some of the comments being made completely insulting and belittling. i as an american citizen don't want to be or have a legacy of
an america that says that we have to take care of us before we take care of the rest of the world. and i would believe that most americans feel the same way. in el salvador, it cost the same as the united states for gas, milk, and eggs. and a salary is about $200 a month. that's because of the continued colonization and marginalization of the united states towards latin america and other countries. i hope that we're able to have a discussion of comprehensive immigration reform as it deals directly with international foreign policy. >> we're going to do that in the next segment including a realistic framework economic issues. mike, i want to give you a twitter question. it says, many small government types yell about sending undocumented people back. what size government agency would they create to execute this? >> well, i think --
>> you've estimated 30 million undocumented people in this country. how many millions of government workers would you have to hire to move them back across the border? >> it's not just about moving them back. we need a system that has integrity. we naturalized 30,000 people four years ago without their files. they lost 111,000 files. this is the agency that handles citizenship and benefits. the whole system -- >> we're not talking about naturalizing them. we naturalize a small number. 30 million or 20 million. yeah, it's a very small number in this big picture that we are talking about. how many people would you have to hire to do this? >> i would look to see probably about as many i.c.e. agents for the country as there are new york city police officers. >> 30,000. that can't possibly take on 13 million, 14 million people. >> but what it does is creates an environment that discourages illegal immigration. how many speeders get caught speeding but we don't do away with the speed laws? you create a climate of deterrence. >> i think what lawrence was
saying, we actually do know. i think this is where you kind of interject. 40% of undocumented folks actually overstay their visa. >> work without permission. >> we have a tracking system. >> we don't even. >> part of the conversation we have to first recognize there is two different types of folks. you keep criminalizing the undocumented, and that's not acceptable because they're workers, right? they're workers. they're parents. and they serve in our military. and that's not okay. once we can open up the conversation and we are not criminalizing a family, then -- >> let me say one thing. when some one runs the border we don't know what motivated them. i arrested some one working wanted for murder. one guy came back, escaped from a federal penitentiary here in the united states. when someone runs the border, we don't know why they did. >> you're absolutely right. we need a way to know. >> dolores, go ahead. >> no. legalization would weed out the type of people that you are
speaking about. when people become legalized, they have to be fingerprinted, right? i remember when the program ended, we legalized 500,000 people without any legislation. it kind of just happened. right? you know, this has been the policy of the united states from day one. every single immigrant group that came to the united states has been legalized one time or the other by some method. we're asking for legalization of our undocumented people. we are not asking for anything different than we've always had in the past. it's the same thing that we've always done. so we need to do it. and actually, when we talk about the last amnesty law in 1986 which, by the way, the democratic congress passed that law, senator kennedy along with congressman howard berman and others. what happened? we had 4 million people that became legalized in this country. and guess what? the world didn't end, right? people assimilated. people did the work. >> it encouraged more. >> no, the thing is, we've got to start thinking of the future.
we can't -- as was said earlier by rosario dawson, we can't think about doing things in the past. think of the future, think of globalization, people as human beings, not, not punish the victims. because they are the victims. we keep punishing them. >> dolores, recognizing that you have been an active, such an icon in our community, when you start talking undocumented immigrants and we're talking about immigration here, where would you stop? because recognizing that there is -- you know, we can't open all of our borders, right? but where would you stop? what do you think is sensible? >> as i said before, i think the ultimate answer is going to be that we have to help other countries develop their own economic systems like we did with japan, germany after world war ii. we had the marshall plan. we gave them money to build their economies. american corporations didn't go to japan and take over their economy. we gave them money to build economies, japan, germany. they did the same thing with ireland. you know, european union did the same thing. because of the poverty there. so we've got to think of the big
picture and not just keep punishing the people coming here to work. >> celso, let me get a last word from you on the dream act. secretary of defense gates is in favor of the dream act. and it's because of people like lance corporal jose gutierrez who was one of the first casualties in iraq. he came here illegally from guatemala as a child. he dies when he was 22 years old fighting for this country. he was granted citizenship when he was in his grave by an instantaneous act of our government making the decision that, okay, he's contributed enough. what can we do, do you think, to get that citizenship award made earlier, made when we recognize the kind of kid that jose gutierrez was on his way to being? >> well, part of that solution is in the dream act. there is a military aspect where you have an opportunity to either get a college education or serve in the military. either of which would allow you to have temporary conditional residency. and then be able to start and get in the line, get in the
process to become a u.s. citizen. so it's not automatic citizenship. but to go back to what we were talking earlier, we can't just focus on enforcement only. yes, we do have to secure our borders. we do have to make sure to find the undocumented people that are criminals. but that's not the only problem, and that's not going to solve the problem. there is a problem in place because of a system that's broken. a broken immigration system we need to fix. we need to change the laws. >> we'll broaden the focus next segment. we have to take a break here. when we come back, everything old is new again. a look forward by looking back. ♪ [ heather ] businesses need a reliable financial partner. one who can stay in sync with their moves. my job at ge capital is to get bobcat
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so your community is changing. you're worried about rampant crime. suddenly english isn't the only language you hear, your schools are getting crowded with immigrant children. sound familiar? welcome to america. 100 years ago. what our own history can teach us about in graduation when we come back. [ male announcer ] if you think you can only charge your things
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america's gateway for millions of immigrants. so if we're going to learn something about this issue from our own history, there is no better place to start. we went there with one of america's leading experts on the history of immigration, professor marcello suarez arrozco of new york university. ♪ 5,000 people a day came through here at the peak. one-third of our country, 100 million people owe their citizenship to the people who came through the great hall. >> millions of dreams. stories about working to realize a better life. >> the sounds we are hearing in the immigration debate today in
this country, the anxiety, the fear. we have heard all that before haven't we? >> yes, there is nothing more apple pie than anxiety and ambivalence about immigration. >> we hear a lot of worries about crime with the illegal immigrant population in the country now. hasn't that always been a worry that crime will come with them? >> yes. and, in fact, the data show that immigrants, including unauthorized immigrants, are less likely to engage in crime than comparable samples of nonimmigrant folk in the population. but the concern has been with us from the very, very beginning. a huge fear about being from ireland. it's amazing to think a century after the irish first began to arrive in huge numbers, here in new york, in boston, that it
took jfk to put to rest that enduring concern over loyalty, over trust. that has been at the center of every immigration wave in the history of our country. >> at what point do we say immigration is good for us? >> at times of economic anxiety today or back then there is always a pushback. when the unemployment rate in our country is below, say, 5%, 6%, immigration is not an issue. when the unemployment rate begins to climb, the debate over immigration becomes, "they're stealing jobs. they're taking jobs away." when, in fact, economists have reasonably established that immigration generates a very vigorous surplus to the u.s. economy. >> we hear complaints about immigration from different
sections of the country. our southern border towns, obviously very upset about it in many ways. >> the solution to our immigration problems in the 21st century is not going to be the control of the border. today, unlike 100 years ago, education will play a much, much more fundamental role in the making new citizens, new workers, new americans. citizens who can function in more than one language, who can have insight into cultural practices, business practices, from other parts of the world will give huge advantages moving forward. the question is -- do we as a country have the energy that it takes to take on that challenge? or have we given up on the shining light that lady liberty symbolizes to the entire world?
♪ [ applause ] joining us to talk more about where we have been, where we are going, professor marcello suarez arrozco. and joining us, director of the transportation institute and associate producer here at the university of san diego. [ applause ] once again, actor/activist/co-founder, rosario dawson. professor, when we were at ellis island i believe i heard you bring a reality check and debunking on what we have heard here tonight. on the crime issue, it is hard to describe to people how suspect the irish were as an immigrant population in relation to crime. in fact, in boston, when they appointed the first irish police officer, there was a protest about that officer saying, his name was bernard mcginniskin.
you can't make the irish police officers. it would be a cultural conflict of interest. they're criminals. that was the phrasing that was used. we've heard all of this before. what does our history tell us about what we've been in the last 100 or more years with this subject? what does it tell us about where we're going? >> lawrence, what history tells us is that the rate of immigration has remained relatively stable. in fact, contrary to the heated temperature, heated nature of the debate today, the rate of global migration has remained roughly 3.2, 3.5% of the entire global population. the rate of immigration in our country today is lower than in previous waves of large-scale immigration. with the irish, when the eastern europeans, when
the italians, were coming in huge numbers to our country, the proportion of immigrants to the native population was substantially higher than it its today. so in a way we are a country where immigration is both our history, and it is also our destiny. moving forward, even if there's no more migration into our country, the fastest growing sector of the u.s. population comes from the echo the immigration generates. it's from the children and the grandchildren of immigrants. so been here, done that. we need to lower the temperature. and we need to let the better angels of our nature guide what is obviously a difficult conversation. it was a difficult conversation then. it is a difficult conversation today.
>> professor, you study the transborder issue here. you are living on this border which is kind of a laboratory and possibly something that looks like our future. what is this country going to look like in 2050? >> it's going to look very different. first of all, thank you for coming to this global laboratory, san diego, tijuana, san diego, america's feenest ci finest city. thanks for coming to -- [ applause ] -- america's finest students who are all right here with us today. thank you for being here. i think that america igoing to look very different because of the current wave of migration, it's not about undocumented immigration. we have a large latino population now. as that population continues to grow, we are going to see the face of america change. the nice thing is that every new wave of immigrants makes america's face more beautiful. i think that is what is going to continue to happen. once we get past this sort of ugly phase of those tensions
between cultures and different groups start to ameliorate, in a decade or so. the next decade will be tough. >> rosario, does is that history give you any encouragement? to see that we had other populations, the irish and others, go through the same kind of negative reception that people are getting coming across our southern border now? >> well, that ends up being part of our conversation that we continue to have of people coming up and saying, well, just the latinos turn in line to get yelled at. you know, the thing that we can go back to always is our own passions, our own personal history. for me, i was raised on a squat in the lower eastside in an abandoned building. my parents, as tenacious as they were, said i will put in heat, water and electricity and live out of the slum apartment to have an opportunity to provide for my child more than i can now. when the squats were taken over by the city, all the rhetoric in the newspapers were saying that they were taking so much money from the city, and that that's why we had to get rid of these squatters. the squatters fought back
against a tank, an actual military tank that came down 13th street. they're fighting back with rocks, urine, helicopters going, s.w.a.t., empty buildings ended up being watched with 24-hour police surveillance for four years. that cost the city millions of dollars. it's one of the things that fuels me right now. we don't always hear our history even when it is happening correctly. that's what is happening now. we are in elections flooded with lots and lots of money and they're buying people's votes because these elections are decided by a couple hundred, a couple thousand votes. when that happens, it's the person who's going to feel the most comfortable going in to vote and has been talked to the most. and that's usually going to be a lot of latinos and people who are feeling antagonized and they're not going to vote. and then a bunch of people who are going and driving to the polls because of fear and anger. you have a very small group of people deciding our history. that's why it is important to get young people to be part of this decision-making. because they're the ones who are inheriting this country. they're the ones who are going to lead it out of its trillions
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welcome back. i'm joined again by maria teresa kumar,professors suarez and kumar,professors suarez and shirk and actor rosario dawson. what do you think, quickly, frank, gets lost in the way the media treats this issue now? >> we mainly focus on is there a problem? when we all agree there's a problem. we don't focus enough on the solution. we talk about comprehensive reform. we need to define it. it combines strong enforcement at the border, cracking down on bad actor employers who ebb gauge in illegal hiring, and giving people here who are illegal and not criminal a chance to become americans by meeting certain requirements. they be, you have to reform the
immigration system going forward so you have a 21st century system. that's why two-thirds of the american people want it. quite frankly the only thing that's lacking is the political will to do what the public wants. >> you are certainly trying to get latinos to the polls. it's a nonpartisan group. what is the impact you expect in a larger, if you could get a larger latino turnout? >> i think 2012 everybody's trying to figure how to win the 2012 election. you need at least 44% of the latino vote and we need to change the rhetoric. lawrence, we all recognize that a perfect bill no one's going to be completely happy with. as frank said, it's broken. that's what we heard from mike cutler and other guests. we need to fix it and we need to tone down the debate, we need to actually have a conversation and fix the problem. when we talk about 12 million undocumented, we're talking about 4% of the population, right? it's not just latinos. it's south asians, chinese. we have to bring them into the
conversation and humanize it. at the end of the day if we don't humanize it, keep talking statistics, we fail ourselves as americans. >> professor, a lot of misinformation flows in these conversations. what can we do in the media to try to keep the dialogue within the bounds of reality? >> lawrence, to paraphrase harry truman, immigration is too important to leave it to the politicians. [ applause ] >> yes. >> we need a national conversation. we need a rational national conversation. i applaud you for beginning what will be a process of re-encountering, rediscovering the fundamental essence of what our country has stood for in the eyes of the world over the last 200 years. the opportunities, the fundamental human agency that
gets mobilized when people pick up to join a society of consent, a society of loss, a society of rules that welcomes newcomers. germany today has a real immigration headache. most of the issues we are contending with are issues that, with good faith and with a mature, rationale engagement from the political class, we can fix. no american politician will say what the german chancellor said two weeks ago. immigration in germany failed. immigration in our country has not failed. we invented the computer because of an immigrant. we developed the basic medical technologies for the bypass because of an immigrant. if you google -- >> google is an immigrant.
>> we're runting out of time. rosario, i just want to get a quick final take from you and what your takeaway is from this discussion here tonight. >> i believe that we, it's a really healthy thing to get more people to be a part of this conversation. it shouldn't just be politicians who are having this conversation outside of us. we need to take it not only and have it in your homes but take it out, march to the polls and make sure people really hear us. once again, when you start talking about going, well, in this past election, you see in the midterm election, there's a gee exof this and moving towards that. again, you're talking about just a couple hundred or a couple thousand people making these votes that are determining our history. if you want to see what real people every single day in this country have done in this country, read the people's history of the united states. it's not just about people who are in political standings that really are talking about what american values are. sometimes they are separate from what's happening in our politics, so, people, please, join -- >> our professors have books to sell. [ laughter ] >> and tonight, maria teresa kumar will get the last word.
go ahead, maria. >> the last word, ooh. >> i think, most importantly, we have to recognize, this is an opportunity that is before us, an opportunity to actually modernize our immigration system, they consent to come here and build off of that so we can continue to be a force to be reckoned with in the 21st century. >> i want to thank all of you for participating tonight, especially our guests. maria teresa kumar and our other partner here on the program and thank you for joining us here tonight on the beautiful campus of the university of san diego. and, of course, you out there in television land watching. as you know, the immigration debate has been part of the american conversation for a couple of centuries now. of course, there is much, much more to say and we're going to make sure that all sides are going to continue to be heard right here on msnbc. good night from san diego.