On this week's Face the Nation, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour discussed the current debate over our America's immigration laws and whether it was going to be a big issue in the upcoming presidential election.
While many Democrats are rightfully upset with President Obama's record number of detentions and deportations, as the Mayor rightfully pointed out, the alternatives being offered by the Republicans would do nothing but create a permanent under class of workers who never have any hope of becoming citizens of the United States.
Barbour tried to downplay the impact that the Republicans' policies on immigration and their opposition to the DREAM Act might have, using the same arguments I've heard them making when trying to dismiss the terrible poll numbers Republicans have with women voters right now as well, and that's the claim that President Obama has done more harm to either group because of his economic policies.
Of course when pinned down on what those policies are and what they would do differently to improve economic conditions for those groups, they always revert to their solutions for everything, which is lowering taxes and deregulation.
Barbour trying to shift their stance now saying he'd be supportive of Rubio's version of the DREAM Act and claiming the Democrats are playing politics by bringing it up in an election year is cynical at best given the fact that everything Republicans have been doing since President Obama was elected is about playing obstructionist politics to do damage to our economy and try to make sure that he's a one term president. That or playing to their base with passing hundreds of laws trying to restrict women's access to health care and abortion services. They've shown they have very little interest in actually governing unless it's to enrich their campaign donors at the expense of the rest of us.
Transcript below the fold.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let-- let me just ask you this, Mister Mayor, though, there are some Democrats who are disappointed, to say the least, with the President on immigration policy, for one thing, on gay rights, on-- on any number of things. Immigration, for example, is going to be a big issue it seems to me. What about that?
ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA: I think it is going to be an issue. I-- I agree with Governor Barbour that the biggest issue is going to be the economy but it is going to be a big issue and if you look at the DREAM Act as an example, if we were to give these kids a pathway to citizenship, if they went to college or the military it would add 1.5 trillion dollars to the U.S. economy. I believe that there should be a pathway for citizenship. The President has said from the beginning that he supports a pathway to citizenship. Mister Romney on the other hand has called for the self-deportation of eleven million people. He said the DREAM Act would be a hand out and his campaign with Kris Kobach who authored the Arizona and the Alabama law. So I think on the issue of immigration that the President is more in tune with the mainstream of America.
BOB SCHIEFFER: What about that, Governor Barbour, because Hispanics make up eleven percent of-- of the voting population, and it seemed to me during the-- the primaries, the Republicans just almost tried to run Hispanic off-- Hispanics off at some point?
HALEY BARBOUR: Well, there's no question the Hispanic vote's a very important vote. And it's a very important vote in some states. Well, it's a very important vote. Nationally Republicans didn't do well in '08. But look, unemployment among Hispanics is higher than among others in the United States, particularly among young Latinos that are-- they are being hurt worse by the policies of this administration. And don't think that that doesn't enter heavily into their and their family's thinking. So many not employed at all. Their hopes were built up. And when you talk about the DREAM Act, I've been around here a long time. If you're serious about legislation, you don't wait to bring it up in a lame deck-- lame duck session, which is what they did with the DREAM Act. They never brought it up in the first two years that they had sixty Democrats in the Senate, huge majority in the House. They don't bring it up until after the 2010 election. I mean how serious is that? How serious is the President about the budget when his own tax commission that he appointed comes out with a report he's never mentioned it.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me-- let me just get back to the DREAM Act and let's just talk about that because Marco Rubio has now kind of come up with his version of the DREAM Act. Under the President's version, as I understand it--people who serve in the military, who go to college, who came into this country, whose parents brought them into this country, then they-- they can-- there's a path to citizenship. I guess Marco Rubio says his version is they would get a work permit and then they could-- could apply for citizenship. Could you support the DREAM Act that the President, as he outlines it, Governor Barbour's Republicans-- as a Republican?
HALEY BARBOUR: I-- I have to tell you, Bob, I'm not familiar with every detail.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Mm-Hm.
HALEY BARBOUR: But some of the concepts are clearly attractive. The fact that people come and serve in our military certainly ought to give them some status in the United States, whether it's that they have the right to stay and to work as long as they pay taxes, as long as they are--
BOB SCHIEFFER: Mm-Hm.
HALEY BARBOUR: --don't break the law, that maybe there should be a different path to citizenship.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Are you saying, though, that Governor Romney is going to have to move a little on this issue?
HALEY BARBOUR: Well, I'm-- I'm not saying anything for Governor Romney. What I am saying is--
BOB SCHIEFFER: You wish he would?
HALEY BARBOUR: --Hispanic votes are in play here because of the economy and because of other policies of this administration have been bad for Hispanics as well as everybody else. And we better go try to get those votes.
ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA: I would support the President's version of the DREAM Act. I think that Senator Rubio's version of the DREAM Act would create a second-class status for folks, and I understand that Speaker Boehner said that he doesn't expect that that issue will be addressed in this Congress. But we should engage in-- in a conversation, and in a debate.