National Public Radio presidential debate

But I — I've — you got to give me 30 more seconds on this, because you can't ignore the underlying issue. The underlying issue is, are we making it easier for kids to go to college? Are we driving our young people into engineering, science and math, the very areas that we're talking about? And are we doing it in a way that will strengthen the American economy over the long term? Because if we don't — if we are not the most creative, the best-educated, the most innovative workforce on the planet, it is very difficult for us to compete.

MR. INSKEEP: Senator Biden.

SEN. BIDEN: Look, I have been working with this for a long time, as former chairman of the Judiciary Committee. That's were it comes out of. We have it about right now, except that the employers aren't doing their part.

You use the — Robert, you use the example of an Indian engineer who would work less than an American engineer. The truth is they're not allowed to hire based on that. They've got to offer the job. If there's an American there who will take the job, they can't undercut it by hiring an Indian engineer who will work for less; that's illegal. We're not enforcing it.

Second point I'd make is, you know, we make this out to be so black and white. I'm the author of the Violence Against Women Act. It came to my attention not long ago — it is relevant, believe it or not — what happened? Immigrant women getting the living crap beat out of them, getting brutalized — brutalized — and they're afraid to come forward and acknowledge they're being brutalized because they'll be deported. So what we have to do — sometimes humanitarian needs trump — trump — immigration law.

And so what did I do? I changed the law. My colleagues all voted for it. It's now the law that a woman who comes forward of being beaten will be effectively immune from being deported so you can put the SOB who's beating her in jail. So sometimes it trumps. Sometimes humanitarian needs trump an existing law relating to immigration like that.

MR. INSKEEP: Let me move onto another subject here because our time is quite short. We're going to go —

SEN. DODD: Health care would be good example of that as well —

REP. KUCINICH: Exactly right. A not-for-profit system, (naturally ?). (Laughter.)

MR. INSKEEP: Let me — let me move on. We're running shy of time here, and I'll tell you, we're going to do about five or six minutes on immigration, and then there's one final question we're going to throw to all of you and give you an opportunity on.

We mentioned that we've been taking questions from listeners in recent weeks about this debate, and one is on a small issue that, I think, points to a large concern. It comes from Tally Wilson (ph) of Boone, North Carolina, and her concern has to do with those voicemail automated messages that you get if you call a government office or a business office; the ones that say for English press one, "para Espanol oprima numero dos." She says, "Suddenly we're asked what language we speak in our own country. Will you remove the questions about what language we speak when we call any U.S. government office?"

Senator Obama?

SEN. OBAMA: No.

MR. INSKEEP: Okay.

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