The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 01/29/13
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you, my friend.
ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SHOW” HOST: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
The president today gave what will be seen as one of the landmark
policy speeches of his second term. And if you squinted at it, you can be
forgiven for thinking that this might have been a second draft of something
you maybe heard before.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it is good to be
back in Las Vegas.
Hello, El Paso. Well, it is wonderful, wonderful to be back with all
of you in the Lone Star State.
I`m here because most Americans agree that it`s time to fix a system
that`s been broken for way too long.
Everybody recognizes the system`s broken. That`s why we`re here at
the border today.
Broad consensus is emerging.
There is a consensus around fixing what is broken.
We define ourselves as a nation of immigrants.
We define ourselves as a nation of immigrants.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: President Obama`s speech today in Las Vegas on his
immigration proposals, is absolutely consistent with what she has been
arguing for all along. Just watch this bit here. This is uncanny.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
OBAMA: In recent years, one in four high-tech startups in America
were founded by immigrants.
In recent years, a full 25 percent of high-tech startups in the U.S.
were founded by immigrants.
Immigrants help start businesses like Google and Yahoo.
Look at Intel. Look at Google. Look at Yahoo. Look at eBay. Every
one of those was founded by guess who? An immigrant.
We`re going to turn around and tell them to start that business and
create those jobs in China or India or Mexico or some place else. That`s
not how you grow new industries in America.
We don`t want the next Intel or the next Google to be created in China
or India. We want those companies and jobs to take root here.
Right now, we have 11 million undocumented immigrants in America.
Today, there are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants here
in the United States.
Yes, they broke the rules. They crossed the border illegally.
Some crossed the border illegally. They have broken the rules.
And the overwhelming majority of these individuals aren`t looking for
any trouble. They`re contributing members of the community. They`re
looking out for their families.
The overwhelming majority of these folks are just trying to earn a
living and provide for their families.
Businesses that are trying to do the right thing, that are hiring
people legally, paying a decent wage, following the rules, they`re the ones
who suffer. They`ve got to compete against companies that are breaking the
This puts companies who follow the rules and Americans who rightly
demand the minimum wage or overtime or just a safe place to work, it puts
those businesses at a disadvantage.
First, I believe we need to stay focused on enforcement. That means
continuing to strengthen security at our borders.
First, we know the government has a threshold responsibility to secure
Cracking down more forcefully on businesses that knowingly hire
Businesses have to be held accountable if they exploit undocumented
We put more boots on the ground on the Southern border than any time
in our history.
We now have more boots on the ground on the Southwest border than at
any time in our history.
We have to deal with the 11 million individuals who are here
Those who are here illegally, they have a responsibility as well.
To help move this process along, today, I`m laying out my ideas for
I`m going to do my part to lead a constructive and civil debate on
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: The president said those who are here illegally when he
talked in El Paso, said they need to undergo background checks. Today, he
said they need to undergo background checks.
He spoke in El Paso, he said they need to pay tax. When he spoke
today in Las Vegas, he said they need to pay tax.
When he spoke in El Paso, he said they will need to pay a penalty.
When he spoke in El Paso, he said they would need to pay a fine.
So penalty changed to fine. But other than that, yes, the whole
diagnosis of the problem, the whole proposal for how to fix the problem,
the economic and social argument for why we need to fix the problem is the
exact same for President Obama today as it was in 2011. And, frankly, that
it was before that from him.
What has changed is his political assessment, that what he wanted for
the country before but he could not get, now he is going to get. Now it is
Policy-wise, he has stayed in exactly the same place for all of this
time. What`s moved is the Republicans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Now, the good news is that for the first time in many years,
Republicans and Democrats seem ready to tackle this problem together.
At this moment, it looks like there is a genuine desire to get this
done soon. And that`s very encouraging.
But, this time, action must follow. I`m here today because the time
has come for common sense comprehensive immigration reform.
The time is now. Now is the time. Now is the time. Now is the time.
CROWD: Si se puede! Si se puede! Si se puede! Si se puede!
OBAMA: Now is the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: According to Washington, he is right. According to
Washington, now apparently is the time. Not because the president`s policy
proposals or the problem itself have changed one iota from where they were
during his first term, but because Republicans have changed their minds
about what they would like to do.
When President Obama two years ago was in El Paso laying out the exact
same prescription, the exact same policy agenda on immigration that he
stands by today and that is almost exactly the same as what was just
unveiled by four Republican senators and four Democratic senators at a big
bipartisan press conference yesterday. And that we`re told is also similar
to what a bipartisan group is now considering in the U.S. House when
President Obama was already there two years ago, laying out this plan, that
he still stands by, think of where the Republicans were then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m running for
office, for Pete`s sake. I can`t have illegals.
My dad, as you probably know, was the governor of Michigan, was the
head of a car company. But he was born in Mexico. And had he been born of
Mexican parents, I would have had a better shot at winning this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should there be aggressive “seek them out, find
them and arrest them” as Sheriff Arpaio advocates?
ROMNEY: You know, I think you see a model here in Arizona.
The answer is self-deportation.
If I were elected and Congress were to pass the DREAM Act, would I
veto it? And the answer is yes.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: And the Republican problem on this is not just a Mitt Romney
problem. The Republican Party`s nominee before Mitt Romney was a senator
who had been a champion of immigration reform, the year before he became
their nominee. But then in order to become the Republican Party`s nominee,
he had to renounce his own ideas. He had to renounce his own proposals and
say that he would have even voted against his own bill from just the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At this point, if your original proposal came to
a vote on the Senate floor, would you vote for it?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It won`t. It won`t. That`s why we
went through the debate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It did.
MCCAIN: No, I would not, because we know what the situation is today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: For Senator John McCain, immigration reform had been a
priority. And then he was against it. And now he is for it again.
Some modern figures in the Republican Party are associated with
immigration reform, people like former President George W. Bush and his
brother, Jeb Bush, former Republican Party chairman Mel Martinez, who last
night I described as the former Florida state Republican Party chairman.
He was the national chairman. I`m sorry for that. He is a former Florida
So, some of these guys are associated throughout their careers with
immigration reform. But the rest of the party, the current elected
officials in the party are just whipsawing around on the issue wildly,
taking wildly different and directly contradictory responses from election
cycle to election cycle – as Republicans, I think, try to decide if the
upward creeping percentage of Latinos in the American electorate is
something they`re going to use to stoke their base`s fear of a brown
planet, or whether it`s something they`re going to use to try to inspire
themselves to re-conceive of who their base ought to be.
The Latino vote is getting bigger, and the Republican share of that
vote is getting smaller over time. They are getting less and less over
time of something that is getting bigger and bigger over time. And even if
you`re not good at math, that`s reason to panic. And the panic that that
has induced in the Republican Party has led them – at least for this
moment – to embrace what has been the Democrats` position all along.
When President Obama took executive action in his first term to extend
the kind of mini-DREAM Act to young people who had been brought here
illegally as kids, the sum total of congressional Republicans` reaction to
that was something they called the Prohibiting Back Door Amnesty Act to try
to undo what the president had done.
But now, just a few months down the road, Republicans are embracing
the president`s whole approach to the problem. He has stood still, and
they have moved. And they have moved because they think their own toxicity
with Latino voters is forcing them to move.
But there is one last factor here, there is one last immovable truth
here for which this remarkable Republican freak-out and reversal does not
account. And that is the great big outside the Beltway secret – that
Latino voters are really liberal, really liberal.
Jeb Bush`s Republican Hispanic outreach group polled swing state
Latinos after this past election. And it turns out it`s not just the issue
of immigration where Latino voters like Democrats better than they like
Republicans. Swing state Latinos like the Democratic Party on all of the
issues they were asked about.
They like Democrats better on education, on women`s rights, on values
on social issues broadly. They like Democrats better on the deficit. They
like Democrats better on the economy, on small business, on immigration, on
helping the middle class, on all of it, on every single thing they were
The only two categories where Latinos in swing states pick Republicans
over Democrats is when they`re asked who is more anti-immigrant and who
cares more about helping rich people. Republicans win on those two
questions, being anti-immigrant and digging rich people.
But Democrats win on all of the rest of the policy issues.
The exit polls from the 2012 electorate showed a Latino electorate
that was more liberal on gay marriage than the country as a whole. The
exit polls from the 2012 election showed a Latino electorate that is more
supportive of abortion rights than the country as a whole – more
supportive, not less. More.
There is this myth that if Republicans can just stop being so
offensive to Latinos in the alienating way they have talked about Latinos
as an ethnic group and as a political constituency, if they can just get
mainstream on the issue of reforming the immigration system – just go
along with the Democrats on this, we`ll just hold our nose and do it –
there is this myth that then Republicans will gain a new constituency of
voters who is prepared to vote for them. A new constituency of voters,
millions of voters, a growing constituency that agrees with them especially
on social conservatism.
All these Latinos are going to start voting Republicans if you can
control the downside by having the Republicans ease up on immigration.
Nothing in reality suggests that that is the case about Latino voters. But
Republicans are on the move on immigration right now anyway, at least for
Will they balk once they realize that Latinos are going to vote
overwhelmingly Democratic anyway? I know exactly who I want to ask about
this. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The question now is simple. Do we have the resolve as a
people, as a country, as a government to finally put this issue behind us?
I believe that we do. I believe that we do.
I believe we are finally at a moment where comprehensive immigration
reform is within our grasp. But I promise you this. The closer we get,
the more emotional this debate is going to become. Immigration`s always
been an issue that inflames passions. That`s not surprising, you know.
There are few things that are more important to us as a society than
who gets to come here and call our country home, who gets the privilege of
becoming a citizen of the United States of America – that`s a big deal.
When we talk about that in the abstract, it`s easy sometimes for the
discussion to take on a feeling of us versus them. And when that happens,
a lot of folks forget that most of us used to be them. We forget that.
I mean, it`s really important for us to remember our history. You
know, unless you`re one of the first Americans, a Native American, you came
from some place else. Somebody brought you.
The Irish who left behind a land of famine, the Germans who fled
persecution, the Scandinavians who arrived eager to pioneer out West, the
Polish, the Russians, the Italians, the Chinese, the Japanese, the West
Indians, the huddled masses who came through Ellis Island on one coast and
Angel Island on the other.
All those folks before they were us, they were them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama talking about immigration reform today in Las
Today in Washington, Republicans were gently reminded that when they
talk about immigration, they should try to avoid favorite Republican
phrases like, for example, “send them all back” or “electric fence” or
“anchor baby.” It is also suggested gently, so gently, that Republicans
should avoid using the word “illegals” or “aliens” and should, quote, “not
characterize all Hispanics as undocumented.”
This memo was first published today by “The Hill” newspaper. It is
suggested messaging do`s and don`ts for Republicans. It was put out by the
Republican Latino outreach group co-chaired by Jeb Bush, a group that is
taking on the hard task of taking the panic out of Hispanic in
Joining us now is Steve Schmidt, Republican political strategist,
senior strategist for McCain/Palin in `08 and an MSNBC contributor.
Steve, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here.
STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: If the advice has to start with stop saying “send them all
back” and “anchor babies”, does that mean that we are beyond this level of
SCHMIDT: Well, the first rule of hole digging is when you`re in one,
stop digging. So there are some encouraging signs on the Republican side.
And I think people are waking up to the political reality that the
Republican Party will never again win a presidential election if we stay on
the trend line that we have been on since 2004 with Hispanic voters in the
country. The electorate will be 2 percent less white in 2016 than it was
in 2012, which was 2 percent less white than it was in 2008.
So the Republican Party is going to have to figure out how to talk to
this community through a prism of respect before we can even begin to make
the case on issues and empowerment.
MADDOW: You know, that same demographic truth about the Latino
electorate and Republicans` difficulty with communicating with the Latino
electorate, that was true after your race with John McCain in `08. It was
as true then as it was after this race with Mitt Romney.
Why is that sort of recognition of that demographic truth driving a
change now in the party when after your race, after the 2008 race,
Republicans actually went further right on the issue?
SCHMIDT: There is no question. But after the second presidential
loss, after the fact that Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of
the last six presidential elections, I don`t think this takes a rocket
scientist to figure out the math.
And people are looking at it, see the writing on the wall. You look
over the long-term demographically. The Hispanic growth in Texas, for
example, will inexorably change that state from a solid red to a purple and
eventually blue as this trend line continues going forward.
So the problem is highlighted in the memo that you just talked about
is this. When you hear the word “Hispanic”, for too many Republican
policymakers, the first thing they associate with that is illegal
immigrant, as opposed to Silver Star winner or sergeant major or surgeon or
doctor or teacher.
This is a vital part of the American community, and Republicans are
going to have to talk to this community with respect. This immigration
issue, which is an enormous debacle for the country and has been for a long
time has to get fixed.
We have to come to a resolution with the 11 million people that are
here in this permanently gray status. We have to fix the problem. And
then once that problem is fixed, Republicans might be able to start
climbing back to the place we were not too long ago, which was getting 44
percent of the Latino vote after the 2004 presidential election.
MADDOW: I – because of that, because George W. Bush was so
successful at pursuing the Latino vote and doing so in a way that seemed
like it was going to keep going until the party really just dropped his
stance on the issue, on a lot of issues that affect Latino voters, I`m so
used to hearing sort of Beltway common wisdom that Latino voters other than
the immigration issue are so socially conservative, they`re a natural
constituency for Republicans. I`m so used to hearing that, that I think I
started to believe it and was therefore shocked when I went back and looked
at the actual polling which shows not only are Latinos more in line with
Democratic voters in terms of their views on social issues, but they`re
considerably more liberal than the rest of the country on that.
How do Republicans approach both that truth and that strategy?
SCHMIDT: Well, you`re exactly right. This notion that there is an
inherent social conservatism in this community, and therefore once this
issue is cleared out, that they be default into the Republican Party, I
think that`s wrong.
But if you look at, for example, the state that the president was in
today, Nevada, there is a Republican Hispanic governor in the state, very
popular, Brian Sandoval. You look at New Mexico, Republican Hispanic
Governor Susana Martinez.
So, part of the problem Republicans have communicating to Hispanics is
the total utter toxicity of the Republican brand, the Washington, D.C.
brand. But once you`re able to break out of that D.C. brand, Republicans
are able to put an imprint that is appropriate for Nevada or New Mexico on
the party. And you`re finding success there.
Now, I don`t think that the numbers that you talked about on those
issues are permanent. Republicans, when we just finish the presidential
election where we were doomed by comments like the 47 percent, we need to
have a message that reaches out to every American, is about empowerment, is
about climbing the socio-economic ladder, about revitalizing the American
middle class that`s been in decline. We have to talk about those things.
We have to have plans that are grounded in reality to deal with the
problems that American families are facing.
Conservatism is a serious governing policy that has served this
country well over time. But it has been taken over by the loony fringe to
some degree. And to the extent Americans are look agent it, they`re not
seeing a party that is offering very many solutions to problems over the
last couple of years.
So, hopefully, after a second presidential election defeat, we`ll
begin to see the reformers in the party begin to put a new face on
conservatism and make it an appealing brand, which it was for so long.
MADDOW: Watching the internal debate, I think particularly among
House Republicans when they decide what do about this is going to be so
fascinating, and so important for the country.
Steve Schmidt, former McCain/Palin strategist, MSNBC contributor, and
somebody who has just welcomed a new member to his family –
congratulations on your new baby, Steve.
SCHMIDT: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks a lot. You look like you`re getting way more sleep
than I thought you would have been.
All right. We`ve got lots more to come, including a critical vote on
a key Obama cabinet nominee. And Hillary Clinton speaks to Andrea
Mitchell, of course, she does, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose
Antonio Vargas – all coming up.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Before his nomination to position of secretary of state was
put to a vote in the U.S. Senate today, before he was a senator from the
great state of Massachusetts, John Kerry was an officer in the United
States Navy. He served in Vietnam, where pretty famously he was awarded
three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star and a Bronze Star.
Before he was the senator from the great state of Texas, before he was
a lawyer, Ted Cruz, on the other hand, went to Princeton, and then went to
Harvard Law School, where he did very well in school.
It was therefore pretty breathtaking when Senator Ted Cruz voiced his
opposition to both Senator Kerry`s nomination – nomination at the State
Department, and to the nomination of Chuck Hagel to run the Defense
Chuck Hagel received two Purple Hearts in Vietnam and walks around
every day with shrapnel in his chest.
It was pretty remarkable when we heard the reason why Senator Ted Cruz
says that those two wounded combat veterans are not going to get his vote
in the Senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: We`ve got two pending nominations, John
Kerry, Chuck Hagel. Both of whom are very prominently anti-us – less than
ardent fans of the U.S. military.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: They don`t love the military. Not like he does.
He is the junior senator from Texas. There are no medals for a
declaration like that, but technically speaking, I think what we`re
supposed to say is – that`s some brass, Senator. We`ll have more ahead,
including from Hillary Clinton. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Take a look at this picture. On the left of your screen
there, that`s Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano. On the right, that is
Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Both of them are staying in the Obama
cabinet for the second term we have learned.
This is an “Associated Press” picture taken at a Senate Judiciary
Committee hearing on immigration that was held back in June of 2011.
What is remarkable about this picture is that technically it is the
job of this person, Janet Napolitano, to deport this person, the guy
sitting right behind her. That would be Jose Antonio Vargas.
He was born in the Philippines. Here he is with his parents when he
was a little tot in Manila. When he was a 12-year-old kid, his mother sent
him to the United States with someone who he thought was an uncle.
Actually, it was just a guy who his mom paid thousands of dollars to, to
get her son into the United States, so Jose could have a better life in the
Once he arrived, Jose lived in Mountain View, California, with his
grandparents. He worked very hard to learn English. And a couple of years
after arriving in the United States, speaking no English, he graduated from
Crittenden Middle School in the Bay Area, he was named student of the year.
A couple years after that, it was time to get his driver`s license.
Jose rode his bike to the local DMV, he handed over his green card and the
clerk handed it back to him with a warning: never come back here.
Jose had no idea, but the green card that he had that he thought was
really was actually a fake. Jose`s grandfather was a naturalized citizen
and so was his grandmother, but Jose was not a real citizen. Until that
day at the DMV, he had no idea, no clue that he, a kid, was sent to the
U.S. without the proper paperwork. And he learned it all at the age of 16
from a stranger who worked at the DMV.
Scared, confused, but not sure what else to do, Jose worked very hard.
He graduated from high school. He sang in the choir when he was in high
school. He applied to and was accepted to San Francisco State University.
He wanted to be a reporter. He got part-time work, and then
internships at “The San Francisco Chronicle” and “The Philadelphia Daily
News,” and then “The Washington Post.” He also got a really prestigious
internship at “The Seattle Times.” That was on the table for him until the
recruiter for that internship asked all the new interns, including Jose, to
bring in their official paperwork, to bring in a birth certificate or a
passport or a driver`s license, none of which he had.
And so, he quietly withdrew from that internship and could never
explain why he had to.
He went on the graduate from college in 2004. He went back to work
for “The Washington Post” again in Washington, D.C. He reported from the
campaign trail in 2008. He wrote for “Rolling Stone.” He wrote for “The
But none of that compared to this – for his coverage of the shooting
at Virginia Tech, Jose Antonio Vargas won the Pulitzer Prize.
What you`re looking at here is actually the report from his hometown
paper, from “The Mountain View Voice.” Think about that. The hometown
paper reporting on you on winning a Pulitzer. As a journalist, what is
better than that?
But there was a problem. The more high profile and successful Jose
came, the higher his journalism star soared, the more likely it was that
his secret was going to be found out.
And so, in June 2011, he decided to relieve the pressure in a very
brave way. He decided to out himself publicly. He declared that he, Jose
Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer Prize-winning famous reporter, Filipino-American,
was actually here in the United States illegally.
All of those undocumented immigrants you`ve been hearing about all the
years living in the shadows, he was one of them who had been living a very
high profile life. And he declared himself as such in “The New York Times”
and in “Time” magazine and in a video called “Define American”, and even on
And then Jose attended that Senate hearing, and he sat directly behind
the person whose job it is to send him back to a country he has never been
to since he was a little kid. Jose is now no longer a journalist. He is
now an activist traveling the country talking about immigration and the
need to make the system more sane, more humane, yes – but also just more
And today, when President Obama went to Las Vegas to talk about
immigration, to talk in part specifically about why kids brought to this
country illegally, but who graduated high school and went to college and
want to make a good productive life here, when the president talk about why
it does not make sense for us as a country to have as our only option that
those kids should be flown somewhere else, should be kicked out of America
and deported to somewhere they might not even know at all, when the
president made that case today in Las Vegas, Jose was there.
And you will never guess who he was sitting right behind once again.
Joining us now for the interview is Jose Antonio Vargas.
Jose, it is great to see you again. Thanks for joining us.
JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS, UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT: Thank you so much for
MADDOW: Did you really end up sitting next to Janet Napolitano again?
VARGAS: Actually, I was seated right in front of her.
VARGAS: And we said hi. And I introduced myself. And she said oh, I
know who you are. You know, I was – I`m privileged to be sitting there in
the front row when the president gives his speech.
And all I could think about, to be honest with you, are like
thousands, you know, tens of thousands of undocumented people in this
country, and also about 2 million people now that the president
unfortunately has deported in the past four years. And that`s the reality
of immigration in this country.
MADDOW: We`ve been talking so far on the show tonight about how
consistent the president`s policy expressions are on this subject.
VARGAS: Yes, yes.
MADDOW: He has been saying the same thing, that he wants the same
thing to happen for a long time. Obviously, though, now, the situation is
different. The political momentum to move forward on those proposals is
there. Republicans seem like they might want to go along.
Given that, given that it seems like something might happen, what do
you think substantively about what is being proposed? Do you think it
would fix the most important problems?
VARGAS: Well, I think all the focus on enforcement, right, even the
president himself said that the number one priority was enforcement.
VARGAS: The context there, however, that the border has been secured.
We`ve done a tremendous job. What, this is like the lowest border crossing
since Nixon was president.
And when people talk about the border, you know, I came here on a
plane from the Philippines. My border was the Pacific Ocean, you know, a
full million of the 11 million undocumented people are from Asia. So I
feel like this talk of the border and enforcement is code name, right, for
we don`t want these people here.
And I think frankly what`s missing, and this is what I`ve been trying
to do in the past year and a half now is a more honest conversation about
the issue. And I think now, we have it. Now we`re going to have it.
MADDOW: Do you feel like the policy proposals and also the way this
is being discussed, especially by a whole lot of people who have avoided
the subject in the past.
MADDOW: Do you feel like it`s – the discussion is cognizant of what
it is really like to try to navigate the real immigration system?
Obviously, you`re saying it`s not reflective of the fact that not everybody
comes across the Southern border.
MADDOW: But do people really understand how complicated the system is
and the ways in which it doesn`t work?
VARGAS: Well, the first thing I should say is I applaud these leaders
who are finally leading, right? I mean, the policy here – I mean the
policy here is pretty obvious, right, in terms of what needs to be done.
The politics has always been what`s been hard. But I feel like in
terms of what the conversation is, I feel like we are still lacking in
making sure that we`re having a broad conversation about this issue, that
it`s not just about who we`re keeping out, but really what do we want this
country to be, right? What is the future of this country culturally and
economically? I feel like that`s missing.
And I feel like we need to do a better job making this an American
issue. This is not just about – this is not only a Latino issue. This is
not just a border issue. This is about how this country is going to evolve
and what we need to keep moving forward.
MADDOW: Jose Antonio Vargas, founder of “Define American.” And you
more than anybody I think have been very, very good about talking about the
way we should think about immigration as a potential great asset and great
positive for our country, a real way to move forward. You talk than in a
way a lot of other people don`t. And you`ve been really effective at
communicating that, Jose. Thanks a lot.
VARGAS: I really, really appreciate that. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: It`s great to have you here. All right.
VARGAS: Thank you.
MADDOW: The United States Senate voted on something really, really
important, and the vote was 94-3. Wow, 94-3. And also, who were the
three? Isn`t that what you always wonder? It turns out it`s a very
interesting answer. That story is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We all know that today, we have an immigration system that`s
out-of-date and badly broken. A system that`s holding us back instead of
helping us grow our economy and strengthen our middle class.
We`ve got to bring our legal immigration system into the 21st century,
because it no longer reflects the realities of our time.
For example, if you are a citizen, you shouldn`t have to wait years
before your family is able to join you in America. You shouldn`t have to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Shouldn`t have to wait years. You know, complexity is not
just a feature of how the world works and how bureaucracies work.
Complexity is also used as a tactic in politics. Deliberate obfuscation,
making something seemed more complicated than it is can be done to
Por ejemplo, the scare chart, right? A graphical representation that
is made to look deliberately complex in order to scare you about that issue
– this scare chart is called the organizational chart of the House
Democrats` health plan, otherwise known as Obamacare. This was put
together by the House Republicans back in the health reform debate days.
Look how complicated. Isn`t it awful? Let`s add more boxes and lines
to make it seem even worse and more alienating.
When that version apparently was not scary enough, House Republicans
later put out a second draft. Look at this one. A second Obamacare scare
chart, with – I don`t know – 50 percent more rationing zones or
something. Be afraid!
Here is another scare chart. This is America`s strategy, supposedly
for winning the war in Afghanistan. Any questions?
This chart was not originally created for scare purposes I don`t
think, but it was circulated to have that political effect once it was dug
These are scare charts. And pro-immigration reform groups have used
this same scare chart tactic. Look right here. This shows a map of the
current legal path to immigration in this country. This is how you legally
become a U.S. citizen if you`re not one already.
And all the little red stop signs that you see – those are all of the
places in the process that you can get blocked from becoming a U.S. citizen
through our legal immigration process.
So, employer not willing to file LC labor certification? Sorry. Or
I-140 denied? Sorry. How about didn`t respond to RFE in time. Sorry. Or
USCIS security checks denied. Sorry.
All of these different things and more can all lead you to the sorry.
They can all lead you to the stop sign where you fail on your attempted
journey through what is now the legal immigration system in the United
There are also in this chart all these little clocks embedded in some
of the lines to show you places where even though you might be able to
proceed from one step to the next, there is a clock there. There is a long
wait time in between those two steps, even if you get to proceed. And of
course those little clocks start to add up as your life goes by you.
So this is a freakin` nightmare, right? To a certain extent, this too
is a scare chart. This is be afraid of the complexity of this system.
But you know what? This chart is actually also kind of true. And
even if you try to not deliberately play up how complex and difficult this
system is, even if you don`t try to visually obfuscate the paths by which
people emigrate to this country, even if you try to make it look not as
complex-looking as possible, but rather as clear as possible, it is still
The libertarian magazine “Reason” tried to map out the same system
recently in a legitimately user-friendly way. They`re not trying to
obfuscate or seem more complicated. They`re trying to seem more simple.
Look how they have done it. This are little cartoon characters. It
is very well-color coded instead of color coded in way designed to upset
you. You can follow each of these memorable little sort of appealing
characters through the process in a way that is actually designed to help
This is not designed to be visually intimidating, but it ends up being
just as damning about the truth. Your employer is not willing to cough up
10 grand in legal fees? Sorry, you`re out of luck. Are you the married
adult child of the lawful permanent resident? Sorry, that means you don`t
It is hard to navigate a really tangled legal immigration system in a
way that has predictable or rational or frankly defensible outcomes.
And in any of the situations in which you are allowed to emigrate,
this is the most damning thing of all – look at the typical time that it
lapses for people who follow these specific paths in order to become a U.S.
citizen – look at the times, seven years, 16 years, 20 years, 13 years, 28
Twenty-eight years is how long you can expect it to take? Twenty-
eight years is how long it could take right now for people who are
following the rules and doing it right and doing it legally? That`s how
long the people can expect the system to take when the system works?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Today, we have an immigration system that`s out-of-date and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes, we do. Anything that takes 28 years to complete, yes,
The thing you hear all the time from the people involved in the
immigration fight in Washington, is that whatever we have to come up with
has to be tough but fair. Tough but fair. Tough but fair.
How about tough and fair and efficient?
A legal immigration process in this country exists for a reason. It
exists because legal immigration is something we supposedly value as a
country. It`s something we allow. It is a basis actually for who we are
as a country.
And it is the process that our government is responsible for
facilitating. And some of the legal paths for that progress right now
regularly take up to 28 years to complete. Not because you screwed up, but
because you did everything right.
The reason they say that immigration reform has to be done in a
comprehensive way, rather than a piece-meal, ala carte fashion, where you
just pick one or two things to do, the reason it has to be comprehensive
because in part because an ala carte solution would inevitably just mean
trying to cram more people through this existing system.
No, the system is broken. Not only do more people need to get through
the system but the system needs to disappear and be replaced by something
that makes sense. That is not liberal. That is not conservative. That`s
something called good government.
And if you don`t believe me, ask somebody who has gone through it or
who is trying to go through it. If you know anybody who has immigrated to
this country in this generation, ask them – ask them respectfully, but ask
them. Ask around until you find somebody in your personal life who has
gone through this system and ask them if it`s broken. See what they say.
MADDOW: As of Friday, the 7th most senior member of the U.S. Senate
will no longer be the member of the U.S. Senate. John Kerry, formerly the
senior senator of Massachusetts, officially submitted his letter of
resignation today after 28 years in the Senate, and that`s because he is
about to have a new job, the secretary of state.
The Senate voted 94-3 to confirm John Kerry`s nomination as secretary
of state today in a not at all surprising move.
Two of the three votes against Senator Kerry came from both members of
the Texas delegation, Ted Cruz, the “decorated Vietnam veteran John Kerry
is not a big enough fan of the military” guy – yes, you`ll be remembered
for that, Senator Cruz. And also, John Cornyn. The third no vote came
courtesy of James Inhofe of Oklahoma, God bless him.
But those guys lost, so John Kerry is leaving the Senate to go to
And back home in Massachusetts, there is already a date set for the
election to fill his seat. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick – you see
here – he has announced that he will hold a special election to replace
John Kerry on June 25th.
So far, the only person to announce his run for that seat is
Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey. But tonight, a source close to
another Massachusetts Congressman Stephen Lynch tells NBC News that
Congressman Lynch is going to announce he is also running for the seat on
the Democratic side.
And, of course, there`s lots of speculation about the other side of
the aisle. A certain Twitter happy former senator who just lost his seat
in the Senate to Elizabeth Warren in this past election. The “Associated
Press” is reporting tonight that Scott Brown is, quote, “leaning strongly”
towards running and that he is likely to enter the race next week. They
quoted an anonymous Republican source close to the former senator.
That said, the named spokesperson for the senator later told the
Boston TV station WCVB that that “A.P.” reporting was incorrect. But the
spokesperson would not elaborate. So, yes, there is that.
Want to see the weird tweets that Scott Brown posted after midnight on
Saturday and then deleted after I retweeted them to millions of people.
There they are, whatever, Scott Brown, you`re amazing.
There`s also the business of who will fill John Kerry`s vacated Senate
seat until the special election on June 25th. Former Congressman Barney
Frank has said very publicly that he would like to hold the job for the
interim position. Tomorrow, Massachusetts Governor Patrick is expected to
announce whether he will make an interim appointment of Barney Frank, or
whether he will appoint somebody else.
Vicki Kennedy, the widow of Senator Ted Kennedy, is on the short list
for the candidates for that role as well.
Before the Senate voted on John Kerry`s State Department nomination
today, several senators gave tribute to the out-going secretary of state,
Hillary Clinton. She has been a secretary of state during a fascinating
period, during the Arab spring, during the end of the Iraq war, during the
start of the winding down of the war in Afghanistan, the end of Gadhafi,
the end of Mubarak, the end of Kim Jong-il.
Now that she has officially resigned at state there is a frenzy of
speculation of what she`ll do next. Take all the speculation about
anyone`s potential run for president in the past election, multiply that by
100, and you have the level of speculation about Hillary Clinton`s plans.
But tomorrow here on MSNBC at 1:00 p.m., the great Andrea Mitchell is
going to have an one-on-one interview with former Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton. And because we are lucky enough to work closely enough
with the great folks at the Andrea Mitchell show, close enough we can bribe
them for preview clips, we have for you a preview clip of that interview
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST: How much will health – your own
personal health, we know that you have had at least two clots? How does
that factor into the decision about whether to run for president and all
the flying that that entails?
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, it doesn`t factor
in at all. I mean, you know, that – I have no doubt that I`m healthy
enough and my stamina is great enough, and I`ll be fully recovered to do
whatever I choose to do.
But I don`t have any decisions made. I have no real plans to make any
I`m looking forward to some very quiet time, catching up on everything
from sleep, to reading, to walking with my family. I think it`s hard to
imagine, for me, what it will be like next week when I wake up. I have
nowhere to go, and maybe I`ll go back to sleep for a change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Andrea Mitchell, one-on-one interview with Hillary Clinton.
For the rest of that interview, watch “ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS” tomorrow at
1:00 Eastern, right here on MSNBC. If you are at work or school while it
happens, set your DVR, 1:00 tomorrow.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Have a great night.
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