IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 01/29/13

Guests: Jose Antonio Vargas

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. (APPLAUSE) 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 rules. 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 our borders. Cracking down more forcefully on businesses that knowingly hire undocumented workers. Businesses have to be held accountable if they exploit undocumented workers. 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 illegally. 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 immigration reform. I`m going to do my part to lead a constructive and civil debate on these issues. (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 possible. 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. (APPLAUSE) 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. (APPLAUSE) 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 previous year. (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 senator. 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 asked about. 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 now. 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. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (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. (APPLAUSE) 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. (APPLAUSE) 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. (APPLAUSE) 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. (APPLAUSE) All those folks before they were us, they were them. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: President Obama talking about immigration reform today in Las Vegas. 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 Republicanville. 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 advice? 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. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) 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 Department. 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. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) 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 U.S. 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 New Yorker." 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 this show. 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 sane. 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 having me. MADDOW: Did you really end up sitting next to Janet Napolitano again? VARGAS: Actually, I was seated right in front of her. (LAUGHTER) 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. MADDOW: Yes. 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. VARGAS: Yes. 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. VARGAS: Yes. 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. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (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. (APPLAUSE) 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 wait years. (APPLAUSE) (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 political effect. 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 up. 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 States. 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 unbelievably impossible. 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 you understand. 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 qualify. 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 years? 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 badly broken. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Yes, we do. Anything that takes 28 years to complete, yes, we do. 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. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) 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 State. 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 tonight, watch. (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 such decisions. 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. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END