tv Inside Story Al Jazeera May 22, 2014 11:30am-12:01pm EDT
america, i'm del walters in new york. a reminder that you can check us out 24 hours a day by going to the website. alaljazeera.com. >> immigration reform is live and then dead. the legislative clock ticking, is congress going to move? if it doesn't is the president? that's the "inside story." >> hello, i'm ray suarez. cast your mind back to the language ago time of late 2012.
the dust was still settling from the national elections and pundits said the immigration reform was suddenly looking more like a slam dunk. latinos just re-elected president obama by 2- 1, the fastest growing group in america. therefore there was an issue circling the obama presidency. it's been a year and a half later, the president's approval rating has dropped but not as low as republicans. the two groups continue to blame each other and house speaker john boehner insists there is still time before campaigners go out to campaign.
the what, the house, the whether, and the when are the "inside story." >> the pentagon is the latest place president obama is turning in an effort to change immigration rules in this country. the department of defense is evaluates whether to allow immigrants who came to the u.s. illegally as children to gain legal status while serving in the military. young people with a work history and a pardon under mr. obama's earlier efforts to defer deportation of immigrant children. >> that's the right thing to do. >> moves like this are an example of the president working his levers of power. the question is what more can he do and what will he do to keep his immigration reform agenda moving forward without action in
congress. republican house speaker john boehner said he wants immigration reform. he rejected the sweeping overall passed in the senate and favors a step by step approach. >> we've talked about this literally every week for the last 18 months. i made it clear over the last several months that until the president gives us some reason that--some confidence that we can trust him to implement an immigration reform bill we really don't have much to talk about. the ball is in the president's court. >> some members of boehner's caucus are clearly frustrated by the lack of movement. congressman jeff denim in california put forward an amendment to the defense authorization act seeking legal status for immigrants who serve in the military. he called it "the enlist act" but it's not going to happen. g.o.p. house leadership blocked it. >> we've got this narrow window.
the closer we get to the midterm elections the harder it is to get things done around here. it's hard to believe that things could get harder, that this place could get more dysfunctional, but it's very hard right before an election. so we've got a window of two, three months to get the ball rolling in the house of representatives. >> the president has been facing increased criticism and protests over his immigration policy. more than 2 million illegal immigrants have been deported since he took office. in response the president assigned secretary of homeland security to review the deportation policy to make it more humane. that review is still under way. a new poll out under scores the disconnect , and overwhelming
majority of americans support comprehensive immigration reform. according to a political poll nearly three-quarters of those surveyed want change in the nation's immigration laws. 85% of hispanic surveyed say the immigration issue is important in determining which candidate they'll vote for. so while the public waits for action and the issue is at a standstill on capitol hill, the president is left to work at the margins if he wants to make progress. >> the strategies and politics whirling around the possibility of immigration reform this time on the program. some republicans have confidently insisted this issue does not hurt them short term and providing a path to legal citizenship can only hurt in the long run. some democrats have raised the temperature on the president saying strong enforcement of current law has brought him nothing from republicans and only alienated some of his
strongest supporters. while breaking up thousands of families. it's unclear how either party wants to move forward. joining us to look at this naughty political challenge from seattle, from polling research and special adviser for refugee and asylum affairs for the u.s. department of homeland security. >> what could be changed about the day-to-day operation of the immigration system without legislation from congress? >> well, ray, what's clear is that we need a permanent fix, and only congress can do that. let's start there. no matter what the president
does, whether it's through executive authority or otherwise we need to worry about what happens in 2016 when there is a new president in the white hou house. he or she could change whatever president obama does under executive authorities. that's why the republicans on capitol hill particularly in the house really need to do what the american people want them to do, that said the president has a tremendous amount of authority to enforce the immigration law in a way that makes it more humane, that makes it more useable. it's a very badly broken law, but there are nooks and crannies in the law that can be helpful. for example, the president could allow--he has already allowed the spouses of active military undocumented spouses to get green cards. he could expand that program for people who qualify.
the deferred action for childhood arrivals, that could be expanded beyond the dream e and i would propose to the president that he look to expanding it to those undocumented immigrant who is would qualify for immigration relief by the bill passed by the u.s. senate or hr 415 which is also an immigration reform. >> i'm going to move it to igor. he seems pretty optimistic, as you heard, that there are a lot of things that the president could do. do you agree, first off, with that conclusion. would it change their status going forward in the short term? >> well, i think the issue is as david pointed out
if someone is looking for lasting immigration system, it has to come from congress the administrative legalization for the dreamers that the president enacted a couple of years ago . for example. some of the guidelines that immigration enforcement follows. as we look towards the lasting solution both to illegal hail yens in the country but also the problem of immigration system, the lack of employment enforcement. the questions whether or not the system should be rebalanced between the employment and immigration.
i think those solutions have to come from congress. >> you both suggested and it's apparently true that congress would have to do something to create a long-lasting fix for this problem. but does the president create facts on the ground that almost provide a template, a model for where congress would eventually go by acting on his octobertive authority? does he create realities that congress has to bend to if he changes the situation for people who are here out of status right now? >> i think-- >> that's what he should--i'm sorry. >> go ahead, igor . >> i didn't mean to cut you off, david, but i think what may happen is that congress may act to the perception. friendships, we saw it with the dream
act that supported by a lot of republicans including senator hatch, senator rubio a couple of years ago was looking into the dream act that could pass for congress, bipartisan support, basically short circuit circuited the process. >> matt, i wanted to turn to you before the break and note that this does not happen in a vacuum. it happens in context. there are more than 310 million americans looking on at the president and congress doing or don't do something. what is happening in public opinion. >> all the latest poll something demonstrating there is widespread support among different racial and ethnic groups, partisan groups. we're finding all the time in our polling that increasing numbers of americans support it. they want to see something done.
and a very, very small percentage of americans. the most common answer given there should be some path to legal status. i think its accurate to say that that the policy is really ignoring the fast majority of public opinion on this. not only after the 2012 elections but since then. when the senate started to act on the bipartisan immigration bill in the senate we started to see more con gelling of public opinion. coming together and saying yes, this is the type of bill we can support. now we're in this hole, so to speak, where nothing is getting done. which heard from boehner say that it's time to act. the public at large supports moving forward with some immigration reform. >> when we come back after a short break we'll talk about who is helped, who is hurt, owe both
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you. >> in the state of the union speech president obama promised to do what his predecessor george bush could nod and what he himself could not pull off in his first term, pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship. with that the president promised to push the needle on enforcement. today on the program we're asking what is legal for him to do, and igor, what is politically advisable to do. you heard after the break talking about how there are safe majorities supporting some sort of change. obviously to be defined later , how come that is not enough wind
at the president's back. >> if he wants to have a passage of immigration bill as a legacy, i think he has to proceed very carefully. we saw a time when the bill was passing through the senate. he was not pushing a lot of executive actions. so i think if the president wants to--if he wants to satisfy some of the groups that are demanding more immediate executive action he can find ways to do that. but as david said, these things will not be permanent. secondly, they will actually under cut the compromise on immigration. >> david, in your time leading immigration lawyers, i'm sure you communicated to congress and heard back from them what did think say was holding things up? what did they say was getting done on this issue?
>> well, this is a hard issue. what we send them to washington to do is to make the hard choices. when you think about this all americans would benefit from a comprehensive immigration reform bill like what was passed in the senate. that's an economic issue as well for american workers. >> and when they say, look, i just can't do this. i can't take another hard vote. don't make me take this vote. do they fear the punishment of an electorate that if you believe matt already supports immigration reform. >> well, ray, you have a situation in the house. remember a bill has passed the senate. you have a situation in the house where it's really the minority of the members who are holding this up. we'll get immigration reform out of the house once the leadership
speaker john boehner , eric cantor and majority whip mccarthy decide to stop cow to kowtowing to the fringe groups in the house. the votes are there. the american people want it. we need leadership from the american leaders in frong. >> matt, both parties say they want to do it. have you asked any questions, or have other opinion researchers been asking constituents, who they blame, who they hold responsible for lack of progress on this issue? >> yes, we've been asking that question quite consistently. there's no question when it comes to a legislative solution latino voters and republican at large see the republican party as the party obstructing reform. when john boehner said we will not move these bills it is the
republican party who are blocking the bills. the republicans in the senate went along. but they'll have to square with the american public. i don't think all this business about primary challenges are true at all. it's just a small group, a vocal group but a small group who just don't want to move on this issue. they don't necessarily believe in this issue. if the republican party were to show leadership and bring them to the floor vote and move it forward, our polling finds that they'll be able to get a lot of rewards for that and they would see their numbers improve with the latino community, asian community, with moderate voters in the middle. people want to see immigrants treated humanely and incorporated in our society. they need to do something on this issue and show leadership. >> latino approval rating for barack obama has gone down by some measures as much as 25
percentage points since the senate passed the pre comprehensive bill. >> we're finding absolutely obama standing with latinos is taking a hit in large part due to his increased deportation policies. since he has taken office he has supported more undocumented immigrants more than any other president. nearly 1,000 a day. approximately 2,000 parents who have children have been deported. this is felt in the latino community. they are not happying and they want to see action. they want to see the stop to separation of families and more oon the immigration bill. >> they say we want to take it up. we just can't trust the
president to enforce the law. is that just the kind of thing the speaker of the house says? or is there some real sentiment to that effect among members of congress? >> i think that comment reflected a real sentiment. i think there is a perception while this administration has funding and numerical strength to the border patrol, there is a sense that the administration has back pedaled. there is a sense that the administration has a policy with the removal of illegal aliens with criminal convictions. it's perfectly legal exercise of persecute al
of the law. i think things like that and the legalization of the dreamers that the president did, i think that leads to the perception that this administration has a very different approach. >> just before we go to a break, since you know this world so wall, you also know that a lot of people who were classified as quote/unquote criminals, their crime was entering or reentering the united states after deportation. these landscapers, bus boys, guys who did dry wall, they're not felons in the way that we think of armed robbers. they came back to live with their families, aren't they? >> the policy prioritizes individuals with criminal felony convictions, and most serious for removal. that's a justifiable channeling of enforcement resources.
but the perception when you put individuals who's only crime was to enter the country illegally, you do have a perception that these individuals will not be removed. there were a lot of administration cases that interest clowereclosed. but they were also taken from the immigration proceedings. i think there is a perception that the president has a different handle on immigration enforcement. >> when we come back we'll discuss how these problems have been languishing because there was no legislative action in this area. this is "inside story." stay with us.
personal to latino voters. they are not talking about an abstract video that goes away. they are talking about their brother, their mother, father, and an uncle. like you said, around a table. i don't think, honestly, despite the problems in congress, i think they'll have to solve the problem. i think the demographics are going to demand it. polling numbers bear it out. i think we'll see a demand for immigration reform increasing - if you compare what is going on now, to 2011. last time there was an immigration bill before congression we had a different set of actors, i think they'll push the issue over the finish line. >> several people around the table were citizens and voters. are these people likely to stay
home in "14 and angry in "16. >> absolutely. two out of three latino voters are connected to an illegal immigrant. in 2012 the deferred action programme put wind in the sails and brought the latino people out for president obama. now he's looking at unenthese yastic -- unenthusiastic rates something. >> before we go, is that a big part of why republicans may be seen as dragging their meet on this. i think the republican leadership wants to pass the immigration reform. it is demonstrated, when you hear speaker john boehner say he wants to bring the bill to the floor. i think it's genuine.
they want to increase the support for the republican party. there's a decision on the party, and my personal fear is that the perception that happened in the last immigration bill, the last on which i worked is that the government was not soars. history. >> great to talk to you all. thanks a lot. that brings you to the end of "inside story". the programme may be over, the conversation continues. we want to hear what you think about issues raised on the programme or any day's show. log on to facebook or twitter. see you for the next "inside story" in washington. i'm ray suarez.