Roundtable I: Immigration Battle

Paul Krugman, Carly Fiorina, Matthew Dowd, Jorge Ramos, and Rep. Lou Barletta.
8:53 | 02/03/13

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Transcript for Roundtable I: Immigration Battle
single republican, including the 20 who had previously voted for comprehensive immigration reform, to step up and say we'll work with you to make this happen. You promised that, and a promise is a promise, and with all due respect but you didn't keep that promise. I am happy to take responsibility for the fact that we didn't get it done, but I did not make a promise that I would get everything done 100% when i was elected as president. Univision anchor jorge ramos on immigration reform and joins during the campaign on immigration reform and he joins our roundtable right now along with republican congressman lou barletta, our own matthew dowd, paul krugman of "the new york times" and princeton and carly fiorina, former ceo of hewlett-packard. Let's begin with immigration, jorge. You were very tough on the president during the campaign, he laid out his principles this week in nevada and you also saw a bipartisan group of senators do the same thing and harry reid optimistic. Are you? I am. It's the first time I don't remember ever seeing the president and members of both parties rushing to beat the other to present an immigration proposal. I haven't seen that. It's the most important immigration news in the last 38 years and especially because it includes a path to citizenship. On both sides. Yeah, so there is no amnesty. They'll pay penalties. They'll pay taxes back. They'll go back to the end of the line, and it might take up to 10 to 15 years to become u.S. Citizens, so it is definitely still the promise of -- the man not joining the bandwagon sitting next to you. We're equal, either citizens or noncitizens, the promise and this is what it's going to achieve. Let me explain where you come from, you come from pennsylvania, from hazelton. You passed ordinances that would punish landlords who rented to illegal immigrants and punish employers who hired then. You intend to fight this effort for immigration reform in the house. This is 1986 all over again and that was at the time they told the person -- people,s is one time only, 1.5 million illegal aliens would get amnesty and ended up being 3 million. The same thing will happen today, george, when we're offering a pathway to citizenship without knowing that we could secure our borders, to put it in simple terms, you wouldn't replace your carpet at home if you still had a hole in the roof, and that's what we're talking about. Any time you start waving a carrot such as american citizenship without securing the borders, that number that we have today, I believe, will double or even triple. How do you answer that argument that deportations have gone up, the number of people crossing our borders illegally has gone down? Well, you know, that's -- we can argue about that all day long on whether or not this administration -- I don't know how anyone could argue this administration is serious about enforcing our laws when they're suing the state of arizona because the federal government has caused the problem and arizona wants to defend itself as well as another example is the president's prosecutorial discretion where he is prohibiting law enforcement agents from enforcing the law, in fact, there are i.C.E. Agents who are suing the Matthew dowd, the congressman brings up 1986 and also in 2000, president george w. Bush's second term he tried immigration reform. Didn't get very far. Well, I don't think the president -- obviously I worked for him then that president bush tried really that hard and put his weight behind social security reform which turned out to be a disaster in the midst of that and didn't really push that, but he had a problem with his own party in that. President bush had a problem with the republican party in that. The problem I think for republicans is and here's -- I'm an irish immigrants who great, great grandfather came over here. Whether he was legal or not, when he was 17 years old in the midst of a society that said no irish need apply is that america's always benefited economically and spiritually and morally from immigrants in this country, and we have a situation now, there's 52 million latinos that live in this country, more than 40 million of them are here legally. Something has to be done. Republicans know this. Reans know that if you put together a package of border control, of controlling the border and a path to citizenship, it's going to happen. If republicans don't do this, it's not as if latinos say immigration is my top issue, the economy is their top issue. If they don't do this, republicans could make themselves the minority party for the next generation. Two things, one is this is not -- we're not going to deport the people who are already here. We're not actually going to revee this. The fact of immigration is going to happen, the question about what we'll do about border control, some of that in these proposals but in any case that's almost a separate issue. One is regularizing the status of people here, basically making them legal, bringing them under labor law, all of that, how could you really be against that? It's, you know, got to be good for everybody to do that. The republican party has a problem. The leadership understands that they cannot -- they're doomed if they are only the party of old white people, to put it bluntly. The problem is their base is old white people, and so the rank and file, which answers to base, which doesn't fear democrats but does fear tea party challengers may not go along, but this is clearly -- there's no possible -- and the business community getting behind it, as well. Yes, and it's important to remember some facts about the attempted immigration reform in 2007. The guest worker program amendment, which failed and which killed immigration reform, was voted down by democrats, barack obama among them, barbara boxer of california, a state that desperately needs a guest worker program, why, because organized labor was against it. I also am very optimistic about this bill. It is carefully crafted to acknowledge that we have to deal with the people who are here today, but also that we have to actually reform our legal immigration system so that we have a guest worker program that works, so that we have border security, so that we don't have 16 different visa programs and many of the people who are here illegally have overstayed their visas, in other words, we have a host of problems that have to be solved. This gang of eight bill I think is a first step towards solving them. What I hope, what I hope is that while it's easy to always blame the republicans, I hope that the democrats and organized labor will not push their opposition to a guest worker program so far that they kill the whole deal because they did it last time. Let me say something. It is amazing that the border is not secure. I mean, first barack obama deported more than 1.5 million. And there are more agents than ever before, apprehensions have gone down, the number of undocumenteds has gone from 12 million to 11 million and the citizens along the border with mexico along the border are the safest. So if you wait to do something until the border is completely secure, I don't know exactly what you're talking about. The last word. We have a couple of problems. Number one, 40% of all the people in this country illegally didn't cross the border. They came here on a visa that expired and disappeared into our system, and we can't track them. Number two, one thing we're missing in this debate about illegal immigration is the cost. Heritage foundation did a study that after the taxes are realized by our country by those who are here illegally, it will cost $2.6 trillion in medicare, social security -- no, no, the congressional budget office -- that's pocket change. The net cost of all of this is pocket change. It's really a small number. This is going to be politics at its best if people can't forge a compromise that will keep democrats on board and republicans on board. This will get done. But if president barack obama pushes too hard to win and cause the other party to lose, this thing is going to come apart. Much more to the economy than when they take -- the congressional budget office is saying -- they only have ten years. The cbo -- no. The heritage foundation. it's very small numbers. Because here's the thingk, here's the thing, because so many will be at the lower end of the economic ladder, what they will be paying in taxes because they will be earning less and what they'll be taking out in programs that are already going broke, we're not going to be able to afford it. Number two, the people who -- and the city always saying that they're going to contribute -- but, remember, we're -- we are here and will be bringing them into the system which mostly means -- but why don't we talk about those -- how about the legal immigrants, how about the legal hispanic immigrants, do you think it's good for them to have 20 or 15 million people compete for their jobs when they came to america for an opportunity? It also is a -- that's a small -- reforming the legal -- reforming the legal immigration system is on the table in the gang of eight bill. It has to be on the table. Business support requires just common sense requires that we not simply say, 11 million people who are here illegally, okay, we'll deal with your status, and we're not going to fix any of these other problems. That has to be the last word.

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

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