Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros, and former Governors Haley Barbour and Ed Rendell are leading a new task force on immigration reform. The former governors joined The Last Word on Friday night to discuss how their bipartisan group would push for an overhaul of the nation’s current immigration laws, to tighten border security and to identify a road to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country.
The Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington created this group hoping to develop policy recommendations and to build momentum for immigration legislation. The task force will include business and labor leaders, former elected officials, and other stakeholders.
Former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour said on msnbc Friday, “At the end of the day, we’ve got to have a consensus where people are willing to support this and everyone knows that they’re not going to get everything they want. Ed’s not going to get everything he wants, I’m not going to get everything I want. That’s the way American politics and government works.”
After releasing a framework last month, the bipartisan “gang of eight” Senate negotiators hope to finalize a bill by March and pass it in the Senate by this summer. The Republican-led House would have to approve the legislation. President Barack Obama has been pressuring the group to adhere to the timeline, or he will offer his own bill, which was leaked recently.
Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell discussed the arduous process of reaching a consensus. “The devil is in the details. There have to be measurables that everyone agrees on.” Rendell continued and said if that happens and the agreement allowed stronger border security, then they would present this to the chairman of the committee. The former governor asserted one overarching goal about their task force’s mission. “We’re not going to be able to do this without some reasonable path to citizenship. Let’s make it a tough, difficult path, but let’s make it an attainable path.”
Barbour identified the areas of agreement. ”There are two things that are undeniable. There are 11 million people here illegally and we’re not going to put ‘em all in jail, we’re not going to deport them all. That’s just a fact. Secondly, our economy needs workers. We are in a global battle for capital and labor. And if we’re going to have economic growth which is the thing we need most in this country today. If we’re going to have economic growth after a deep recession and a very, very flat recovery, we need this labor.”