'This Week' Transcript: The Battle for the Constitution

VARGAS: Risky and, a lot of people have said, like, irrational. In many ways, the goal was to expose just how incredibly dysfunctional and irrational the whole system is and has been for quite some time.

You know, in many ways, I represent, kind of, as with a lot of people, just how broken the immigration system is. And we've never, this country, Republicans, Democrat, journalists, I think, have yet to, kind of, come to one table and tell the truth about where we are about this issue.

AMANPOUR: You spent most of your youth basically lying about it...

VARGAS: Yes.

AMANPOUR: ... having to lie, deciding to lie about it, even when you were a reporter. And at one point, you were told you were illegal. You didn't know that, actually?

VARGAS: No. I mean, I found out. Like a lot of undocumented, you know, youths who come to this country, I didn't find out until I was 16 years old and went to the DMV to get a driver's permit. That's when I found out.

And...

(LAUGHTER)

... the first instinct was, you know, don't let anybody think that I'm not American. And thank God for television. That's how I learned how to speak American...

(LAUGHTER)

... you know, like, learned slang and figured out that I needed to read The New Yorker and Newsweek and Time magazine, you know, to, kind of, assimilate and adapt even further.

AMANPOUR: Senator Martinez, you're obviously working on this issue. You're trying to achieve something rational in the immigration reform. You just heard what Jose said, that it's an irrational situation. Is it?

MARTINEZ: Well, it really is. I mean, we have a lot of people who have lived in our country for many, many years, some of them brought here as youths, as Jose's example.

The fact is that we have a system that hasn't really been working either for Americans or for the poor immigrant people that may be in this country in a way that want to just become Americans.

AMANPOUR: Mayor Bloomberg has called the lack of immigration reform and particularly with the more highly skilled people, sort of, national suicide. Is there a route to changing this now in today's political climate?

MARTINEZ: Well, I think perhaps a piecemeal approach could be obtained, and there's some things we need to do just for the good of our country, for the good of our economy.

You know, we have a tremendous shortage of people in the high-tech fields, the STEMs, as we call them, science, technology and mathematics, where we really need people from other countries who are learning these skills to be able to come here and create jobs.

So creating numbers that are adequate to fill the demand is something that we ought to do at any -- it's good for America. We ought to just do it.

AMANPOUR: Michelle, let me ask you, on a very human level, somebody like Jose got through because his teachers -- some of them knew; some of them had to lie to protect him, or at least not tell the truth.

How difficult is it for educators around the country right now when faced with situations like Jose's?

RHEE: I think it's very difficult. Because, as educators and as, you know, public employees, people know that they have certain responsibilities to the government.

But at the same time, our primary responsibility as educators is to the children and ensuring that we are -- are acting within the best interests of the kids that we are serving.

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