Roundtable: This Week in Politics

George Will, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Ruth Marcus, and Kimberly Strassel.
17:51 | 04/14/13

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Transcript for Roundtable: This Week in Politics
I'm a grandparent. I can't imagine. I just -- I can do something. I can do something. I urge them to use their lives to give meaning to ideas. I urge them to dream as she did, and work as hard as she did and live a life that honors every last bit of her god-given promise. That was the first lady and senator joe manchin, part of an emotional week in the gun debate. We'll get to that in a moment. First, we have our roundtable. George will, as always. Ruth marcus of "the washington post." Bob goodlatte of virginia. Luis gutierrez, democrat of illinois. Kim strassel of "the washington post." George, you heard the debate among republicans. Which side should the republican party come down on? Every conservative sympathizes with what jeff sessions was saying. But conservatism starts with facts. 11 million people are here illegally. Two-thirds have been a decade or more. 30%, 15 years or more. They're woven into our society. They're not leaving. And the american people would not tolerate the police measures necessary to extract them from our community. Therefore, the great consensus has to be on the details of a path to citizenship. The most important thing rubio said in your interview, if the system weren't broken, if we had no illegal immigrants, we'd need to do something about this. We need the workers. As the baby-boomers retire, and as the birthrate declines, we need something to replenish the workforce to sustain the welfare state. He was saying we already have amnesty. No one's prosecuting the undocumented here now. I completely agree with every syllable that george will just said. And I think the stars are in alignment for many of the reasons he said. The issue is less of a hot button issue it was because net migration from mexico is zero. Technology has been our friend on immigration, both in the workplace and in terms of drone surveillance on the border. It's easier to achieve enforcement. And republicans, most of them, have realized not just the facts on the ground of immigration, but the political facts on the ground, that they are -- their party is going to need to get right on this issue. Mr. Chairman, we've bhere before. 2006, the senate, 61 votes, 62 votes, passed immigration reform. And it died in the house. Republicans in the house wouldn't bring it up. Is that going to happen again this time? I would argue it died in the senate in response to the american people. It passed in 2006. Okay. Well, look. The fact of the matter is, we need to learn the lessons of 19 and 2007. In 1986, we passed an immigration law that allowed close to 3 million people to get here, to stay here, and get permanent residence status if they wanted citizenship. We have new enforcement laws by every president, not just the current one, have only been honored in the breac the second time, 2007, I think it failed because it was done from the top-down. And the senate right now is critical point. They have worked a small group with, we found out today, a representative of the white house, that in all of the meetings, in helping to draft this, when the staff meeting -- is that a problem for you? Not a problem for me. But it is a problem how they go from here. It is absolutely important that they follow regular order. Marco rubio's right. They have a full exhibition of this. He said this morning to you, it would be wonderful to have the other 92 senators have the full input in this process and bring it from the ground-up. The same thing needs to happen in the house. A quick bottom line. Do you think what rubio's talking about, could you envision it passing in the house? I think that the specifics of that bill will be different than the specifics of the bill in the house. We have to address legal immigration reform. Enforcement. And we have to address what we do with 11 million or more people that are not lawfully here. And I think we can do that in a bipartisan way. We have to get the enforcement part right. Not just what the law says. But making sure no one person in the united states can flip a switch and not enforce the law, as many presidents have done before. That's going to be a key, key question here. Congressman? I haven't seen, in recent memory, at least my 20 years, such a dramatic and sudden change in attitude towards the public policy issue, like the one we've seen at the november 6th, AMONG THE MEMBERS OF Congress and the house of representatives. The fact that chairman goodlatte and I can be on this program together and agree that we're going to move forward on resolving our broken immigration system, I think demonstrates that change that exists. Look, I've been working on this issue for 20 years. We're making real progress. I see history being written in this congress. And see it this year and signed by the president of the united states. Next tuesday, next monday, the 22nd, REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN Is going to come down from michigan and join me before the senate club. You guys always hang out. Sure. We are always the best of friends. Interestingly enough, they sold out in 12 minutes they went online. Everybody -- so, bipartisanship is breaking out on capitol hill. Kim, you're a skeptic. I think it's amazing what we have seen so far. And it's incredibly optimistic. This is the point where things become difficult. You're going to have language in the bill and hearings. There's been focus on republicans being the ones not in favor of this in the past. In fact, if you go back and look at the legislative record, the real problem with immigration is you've had common cause between those on the right and on the left. On the right, those who don't want immigration. On the left, unions who don't want a guest worker program. And you've seen republican and democratic members to poison pill some of the legislation. It's good news for the people who are leading this are coming out very boldly and talking as strongly as they have. And we don't know what role the white house is going to play in this yet. I think you haven't seen the kind of conversations that exist. I agree. In the house of representatives, raul labrador, eading on this issue. I remember reading, you can't put luis gutierrez and raul labrador in the same room. I think we're going to work to recess. I'll suggest, 1,400 people are deported every day. To say that the system doesn't have an ill effect on a community, and there is no importance. Today, tomorrow. 1.6 million. It's having a devastating effect. And to follow up on what george will said. One of the things he didn't mention, there are millions of american citizen children. Their parents are the undocumented. We need to resolve this for those children. And I think he makes a real important point. But it's the reason that I'm optimistic. The usual frictions between labor and business, I think have been largely resolved. The business community, small business and big business, is much more unified than it has been. I think the civil rights community, the latino community, the white house is in a very, very pragmatic approach. They're not insisting on instinct at citizenship tomorrow or five years from now. I think the big sticking point is going to be, thigger for enforcement. Is this bring me the witch's broomstick enforcement, where you'll never be able to certify that you can have this passed. That's the sticking point. I'm feeling -- a new issue -- you and ruth are both right. Very good. End of conversation. If we don't get the enforcement right, not just from the standpoint of what the law says, we haven't been talking about, are we just going to rely on the federal government, a thin group of 5,000 enforcement agents across this large country, to enforce the law in the future? Are we going to allow state and local law enforcement to participate in a way that they've not been allowed to participate in the past? We can do that both at the same time. Here's what I believe the community. The immigrant community voted. THE VOTE ON NOVEMBER 6th. It was the same. Take the 11 million and put them in a safe place. Stop the deportation. Allow the parents to raise those children, get them right with the law. Get them a social security card, put them on the tax roll. Republicans, they like this more, the more they hear about background checks for the immigrants. The more they hear they're going to have to learn english -- that's what rubio was telling the rush limbaughs of the world. There isn't a problem because what immigrants are saying to me, where do I write the check out to pay the fine? Where do I take that english class to get right with the law? To answer your first question to george, I think the key to this is making sure that conservatives understand that this is an opportunity to fix a broken system and get it right. And so, when we see things in the senate bill, when we see things that the house group of eight are working on in a bipartisan fashion, working on for years, by the way. When we see them and don't like them, we have to say, here is how we will fix that. As opposed -- I have to move on to the other big bipartisan thing we saw this week, which was gun control. The president had to do something extraordinary over the weekend. He turned over the weekend address to francine wheeler. Her 6-year-old son, ben, was killed at newtown. Take a listen. In the four months since we lost our loved ones, thousands of americans have died at the end of a gun. Please help us do something before our tragedy becomes your tragedy. The nra actually lost a vote this week. The procedural vote to move forward on gun control. But does the nra still hold the cards here? I think gun rights -- and people, gun owners out in the country, are what most of these senators are concerned about. And that is the problem. You talked about a bipartisan compromise. You hae republican senator. He's been joined by a couple more, toomey -- pat toomey's not a squish. This isn't like -- okay. But here's the real issue on this. What you really want. And what happened in newtown, worthy of all the emotion you're ng this week. But there's an obligation to do something that is effective in dealing with this. And I think one of the problems this amendment is going to have is what you want is you want a system whereby law-abiding gun owners, who make of the majority of people who own guns, to use a background system. If they lead to and reassure themselves they are selling their guns to somebody who is not a bad person. That's not what this does. This expands the current system. Government, big government reach. You're going to be required to keep records, that law enforcement's going to be able to access. It's a huge no-no of gun owners. Why they decided to do as far on this amendment you're not likely to get a huge number of republicans or even a lot of democrats, as you mentioned. It should be effective. It should be congruent with the bill of rights, ofch the second amendment is a part. of this strategy is that it occurred at sandy hook, immediately as the president began after the election. He has spent an inordinate amount of time and energy, in probably the most special moments of his second term, the early months, on this. We're not going to get a ban on what are called assault weapons and are semiautomatic weapons. 40% of all weapons sold in this country. We're not going to get universal background checks. We're not going to get a ban on magazines. Does anyone at this table believe that when the senate and the house do whatever they're going to do, that it will make a particle of difference toward preventing -- I do. I do. Well, I do not think we're going to get assault weapon ban. I do not think we're going to get magazine limits. I think we're at a rather extraordinary moment where it's easier for republican and democratic politicians to support same-sex marriage than it is for them to support the same law that was passed in 1994. And so, to the extent that there's a possibility, and there's a possibility of progress, it's going to be limited progress on expanding the background check system that's already in place. Would that have prevented newtown? No. Could it prevent future newtowns? Yes. Will it stop everybody who is determined to buy a gun who isn't entitled to buy a gun from getting one? No. Will it stop some people? Yes. The existing background check system, where if you fail your background check, you can buy one at a gun show, has gotten 2 million -- stopped 2 million transactions. Some of those people went and got other guns. That would be harder under this. But some didn't get other guns. What's wrong with background checks? First of all, the issue here is, are you going to require law-abiding citizens to face greater burdens to no effect? What you have to deal is this administration -- it's a quick check, isn't it? Two days. A maximum. But it's a individual system. And there's no distinction between a sale online or offline. There's no sense that happens. You mail a gun through the mail, you have to go and get it from them because it's illegal to mail the gun. Draw the line between commercial transactions and individuals selling guns. And enforce the law and work to get more people. Very quickly. I'll tell you who is applauding and who is clapping any lack of success on gun control. Gang-bangers and drug dealers across this country. They are happy and delighted because they are murdering and killing young people each and every day. They don't follow the law now. A background check? I think it is the beginning of a conversation we need to have in america to control guns. Having a devastating effect. I will do everything I can, to ensure that another young woman, like hadiya, doesn't get murdered. I'm for the first amendment conversation. But not at the expense of the second amendment. It isn't at the expense. It's at the expense of our young and our youth in this country. Very quickly -- the issue that george raised, believers he constution, we interpret it slightly differently. What's the infringement on second amendment rights to ask people to have a background check and to keep some record of that? The government isn't going to go rifling through people's files. It's going to give them a ability, if there is a crime committed with the gun you sold, to maybe go back and trace it to you. Everybody should welcome that. Go ahead. So, we have determined that the 76,000 people who were found to have lied on the background check in 2010, 4,700 were referred by the atf for further investigation or prosecution. 62 were prosecuted. Every republican on the house judiciary committee signed a letter, to the president and the attorney general, asking why that is, and whyhere isn't greater enforcement. Enforcement's down 40% overall in his administration. The answer we got about the background checks are those are paper crimes. Well, they're not paper crimes. They're not paper crimes because they're perjury. And if you set the example of lying when you do a background check and prosecuting them, you'll have fewer people trying that. Why would the solution be creating more paper crimes? We should enforce the law. And also -- and also make sure that we improve the law. So, I'm with you on it. But just so we get clear, george bush's presidency had the same dismal record on enforcement of the background checks. And as this presidency has during the last four years. Let's improve it together so we can improve the quality of life. All right. Eight out of ten people in america have said, we can do reasonable background checks without infringing on people's right to bear arms. Before we leave, we want to talk about the beyonce/jay-z travel. There's a serious issue whether or not we should have a trade embargo, travel ban. Jay-z in his response said, I'm in cuba. I love cubans. The communist talk is so confusing. When it's from china, the very mic that I'm using. He has a point, george. This has been an odd policy. We've had trade with countries that are far worse on human rights than cuba. The cuban embargo may have made a lot of sense during the cold war. The cold war is over. And it is hard to think of a policy more firmly refuted by eve events, than the policy of the embargo is supposed to weaken one of -- it turns out, the most durable dictators in the world. That may be something that ruth marcus also agrees with you

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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