'This Week' Transcript: The Battle for the Constitution

And, you know, when you look at it from a very humanistic standpoint, you have so many teachers out there who are teaching kids; they may know that some of them are illegal immigrants and -- but you see, sort of, what the kid needs, what the potential of these children are, and you just want to make sure that they're taught properly and that they -- you know, they can move forward to be successful.

And so that's, I think, the mindset that most -- most educators and most teachers in this country have.

AMANPOUR: Give us a little idea -- you're a first-generation American.

RHEE: Yeah.

AMANPOUR: What was it like for you to be here, your parents from South Korea? I mean, how did you assimilate?

RHEE: You know, for me, it was -- it was very interesting. But I think it was probably also very similar to what most immigrant kids experience, which was, sort of, living in two different worlds.

My parents left South Korea and, sort of, wanted to raise us in the world that they had been raised in. And one of the things I find very interesting is that my cousins who grew up in Korea are more liberal and were raised in, you know, much less a conservative way than we were, because Korea was moving along.

In my parents' mind, though, Korea stayed the exact same, and that's how they raised us, in the Korea that they grew up in.

And so that -- there was a very stark difference between their mindset of what kids should -- should do and be like, versus what my friends were experiencing every day.

AMANPOUR: George, when we've discussed immigration, you have an issue with the idea of assimilation, compared to the first waves of immigration here to today.

WILL: Well, a century ago, we were undergoing, in 1911, a torrent of immigration. But there are big differences.

First of all, they came across the Atlantic Ocean, which served, as has been said, as a kind of psychological guillotine. It severed people from where they came from, so they looked into America and said, we're going to become Americans.

It's very different when you are the only developed nation in the world with a 2,000-mile border with a developing nation. And people can walk across and go back and send money back. There's no, again, severing of the connection to the old country.

Second, back in 1911, our economy could absorb an almost unlimited wave of unskilled labor. The American economy is very different now. And there's another problem. I don't know how to quantify this, and it's hard to measure, but today immigrants are emigrating into a welfare state. We don't know the extent to which -- it's hard to measure -- but to some extent, this may be a magnet to people coming to this country for different reasons.

MARTINEZ: But I would say, George, that part of that problem, in breaking ties, is not being allowed to become an American.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTINEZ: I was, because I came legally and...

AMANPOUR: You came in '62 from Cuba?

MARTINEZ: In '62, right, right, under political circumstances. But at the end of the day, I became an American, because this is a welcoming place, and because I felt I was part of America, once I made that threshold and crossed the path.

AMANPOUR: I mean, I'm a direct beneficiary of being an immigrant, getting the H-1 visa after having been in college here.

But I think the debate also and the, sort of, view is, kind of, shifting here in the United States.

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