tv After Words Rep. Pramila Jayapal Use the Power You Have CSPAN July 27, 2020 12:01am-1:04am EDT
every once in a while you make a few friends but what a remarkable story here. you arrive in the united states born in india. granddaughter of an indian police officer, remarkable mother and father so motivated. tell us come i know we will talk about immigration that has been the policy through your public service but start what that was like he said you come to the airport with two suitcases and that's it. >> yes. thank you for taking the time to do this. is such a pleasure to have an in-depth conversation with a colleague.
something we don't get to do. i landed here a few months before he turned 17. i came by myself. my dad at $5000 and spent all of it to send me here he thought this would be where i would have the most opportunity in the best education i show up at jfk with my two suitcases that's all you can bring without having to pay for more baggage. i just remember how strange it was to see first of all not the diversity of people that i was used to seeing ally the physical displays of affection i wasn't used to seeing it in asia mcdonald's and burger king what you dream about and indonesia they hadn't made it to that part of the world yet but then to be in a completely
new place with a completely new environment not knowing if you would fit in our how. i went to georgetown undergraduate hear the nation's capital and i remember when i landed at georgetown i went to the foreign student office to get all my information and they said something about being a foreign student but not getting my rooming assignment the guy was very well meaning all he heard was foreign student and said do you speak english? i remember being so surprised jokingly saying i do but only if you talk very slowly. [laughter] so that was the beginning of my entry into the united states. i never dreamt i would be sitting here talk to you as a member of congress.
>>host: absolutely. i would encourage people to read the book just to see how somebody arrives at age 17 for the first time ever and that results in a person becoming a member of congress. this will be fun because you are a leader of the progressive ring of the democratic party and the leader of the new democrat coalition. one of the things that was fun about your book is to stereotype progressives they will have to grapple with the fact he went to business school and worked on wall street in a medical device corporation. a wonderfully rich portrait how the world is so much more complicated than stereotype suggest. so talk about that. and how the private sector
informs you. >> that stems from my dad wanted me to be the ceo of ibm said you have to be a doctor or lawyer or engineer those are the three acceptable professions and i got a degree in economics but then i decided i wanted to be in english lit major i called my dad with my one phone call per year he screamed at me and said i send you to the united states to speak english you already know how to speak english. i promised him i would get the same job with an english degree as an economics degree program at this time in the mid- eighties, wall street was a place you wanted to work if you are smart and competitive.
so that's what i did i worked on wall street for painewebber investment banking, i did a lot of things that no 20 -year-old ever should have done frankly representing companies in bankruptcy proceedings and leverage buyouts. i realized it wasn't for me but i people it's important to know what you don't want to do as much as you do. but also the skills you gain along the way are invaluable. anybody can put a spreadsheet in front of me i work a very complex 300 page spreadsheets before excel was a thing and i could find the errors understand financials a masters in business i sold medical defibrillators they feel every single one made me better prepared to be in
congress because as you were implying thing long as people think progressive completely divorced from business not understanding economics. i think those portrayals are true bad people are always surprised to hear about my background. but it has helped to inform my view of wall street accountability supporting main street and what action makes good economic sense what is good and pragmatic and practical in my world is based on how i think what the future looks like from an economic perspective as well as a social perspective. >> it is really interesting biography i worked at a bank for the while. >> euro whole two years older than me and all your wisdom. [laughter] >> but i agree with you
100 percent. i felt like i was learning a lot and learning those negotiation skills that are important to politics but then you make a wonderful transition into the issue that animates your book you are not satisfied her with that global engagement in the private sector and you go abroad but now all of a sudden the whole concept of immigratio immigration, you say in the book you understand what drives migrants. let's talk about that. because it's the core sadly not at the policy debate, we play defense against the
president who has created a red-hot core of anger quite frankly to describe immigrants as criminal criminals. given where you come from, this book with the immigration debate of morality , here we are at a moment with the most dysfunctional non- conversation about immigration that i can remember, i know 9/11 was important to you but what makes you passionate about moral immigration policy? >> when i was in thailand between graduate school i had this opportunity working for three months for the largest nonprofit and i happened to go
to the largest refugee camp at the time mostly from cambodia and laos. it was a stunning experience for me. deeply moving to see people being bombed there was a bombing in the camp just days before i arrived. so is still a very active camp. most of the folks there thought they would be there for a very short time to get permanently settled coming out of wars losing family and children and you could just see the resilience that people have and how difficult life is those who are in terrible economic situations drought , war and the formation i think about as immigration or migration in the moment just experiencing what was happening, but definitely a core piece how i related to
the issue of immigration about other people. my experience was relatively privileged. i spoke the language. i went to college. all these different things that allowed my experience to be a lot easier than the people i worked with. later switching from the private sector i worked in international health and development and i worked all over the world india, africa, asia, latin america, everywhere. and again i saw the challenges are the root causes of migration and that has always been my orientation how we think of immigration in terms of root causes and how people get here. the 9/11 hit and i thought about it from the perspective to be a us citizen and an
immigrant here in the united states what does our immigration policy need to be? so then it started to be the largest immigrant advocacy organization and many policies in washington along with immigrants to live in the work over the last two decades to preserve for everybody. i got to know the policy detail. i talk in the book how there is such a lack of new wants to the debate of immigration where in fact the system is so unbelievably complex and everybody has a story to tell unless you are native american if african-american or you are
brought over on slave ships it's a very different situation but everybody else has a story to tell about a parent or grandparent or great grandparent coming to the united states and the moral core of that identity as a nation of immigrants. that has been very important to me to make sure we explained to the american people how we have not had a system of immigration laws. we had a few here and there are one or president has managed to move a complete overhaul of immigration laws forward, but it's been decades. our system has not been fixed in decades with no major change. that is untenable for a country that has such deep economic needs and societal and familial needs.
and whose identity is focused on the role of immigrants and building our country. >>host: that is absolutely righ right. one of the things for all of us from the president's point of view is deeply immoral and we will come back to that morality. it is built on lies we are a nation of immigrants if you talk to business people and take the moral approach they will tell you absolutely essential to have more robust immigration a software programmer from washington state or the agricultural worker or those that are unseen but deemed essential ironically. so describe the for us, it's not hard to look at that mass
looking at family separation but to think in moral term terms, describe what you think this is really your thing and has been for decades, if you can wave a magic wand and american immigration policy would change overnight, what would that look like how does that compare to a bill passed united states senate five or six years ago was 67 senatorial votes very different on - - difficult path of citizenship employment identification and verification but it got 60 votes in the senate. tell us your view of a good immigration policy and what it looks like with very strong bipartisan manner five or six
years ago. >> i was on the outside pushing for that bill there is a lot of compromises we didn't like but there were major components a lot of americans will say what the president said or even people before the president he has just been taken to a completely new level something no other president before him has done in history. that people say you should get online. there is no line in the united states there is no system but it took me 18 years to a whole host of reasons so the first thing we need to do is rectify the system so there is a process to navigate to join a
family or work temporarily or be a studen student. those quotas set three decades ago need to be completely updated. to have a system going forward you have to provide a pathway to citizenship for those that are here. why? they primarily have been living here between 15 and 17 years, decades. but but if they all left the entire economy would collapse so let's recognize we to do the work we need them to do.
so give them a path to citizenship and allow them to come out of the shadows. >> because of the way president trump talks about the undocumented but that conduct actually had republican support because they understood the food supply chain the farms and the meatpacking plants simply don't work without that population. >> and despite of what trump has said there was still substantial support which is amazing given that demonization. but my followers that the
washington and chamber of commerce there is a clear sense with the path to citizenship and humane reform. that we need to fix the system. there are humanitarian ways to see the united states as the beacon of hope and light. and traditionally very bipartisan support policy likes to talk about the calling the crown jewel of humanitarianism. this is another place where donald trump has destroyed
everything that has to do with people seeking refuge. he has shut down the refugee resettlement program. were barely taking any. shut down the asylum program. were barely taking any. we shut off all legal ways for people to come. we should be clear that his opposition is not just to undocumented immigrants but all legal immigration. that's why he tried to ban student visas. waited is why he tries to shut down legal immigrant programs for people coming here. he has rolled back all of that. so just to be clear his agenda and those were around to been the white house is no immigration. this will die without immigration that is clear. >> i agree no president has made immigration so toxic as
part of their approach. however at some level it is the same old same old. the way the chinese immigrants were talked about in the 18 hundreds. and this has been the experience of the irish catholics and the mediterranean with the german and northern european immigrants and it's ironic because as you point out we all come from somewhere unless we are indigenous to the continent. so to get behind the politics it is absurd. that this country says its value is to a be a beacon to the world for 240 years we
have been absolutely brutal to the latest wave of immigrants. what is going on their? how do we change that? because if we don't there will be a demagogue who will take on the latest round. >> we have to fix the policy in spite of what people say. every immigration reform happens the tremendous resistance be at the president that has overseen that has actually moved it forward despite any concern that she might have about what the reaction might be because it is good for the country that helps what happened for civil rights and every difficult transition a country has to make. and then remove that obstacle.
and that it will continue to divide us and americans have a very complex history and that has to do with the fact that fear of the other can be used. and for people to reconnect with our immigrant history. the policy is not hard. we have crafted policy around this over and over. we know we need to do. there are some things i would change today we have moved on from where that is. with the united states to preserve our national security
to have a functioning immigration system to keep track of everyone that comes in. we have circular flow migration which was very popular in earlier decades but has gone away. you don't build walls or bridges you have borders that are secure but they are secure with systems to allow people to go in and out not the other way around. we have to go up a few times where donald trump fires up people based on the immigrant base. and that goes through everything else. and anything that any president can go to over and over again.
we do have the history and the identity we just have not done the policy. if we were given a path to citizenship in the senate bill passed, of all the things we have been spending and the department of homeland security with a far more secure country. but it doesn't make a difference. >> event in southwestern connecticut using brutal language with the undocumented. the economy of the area i represent came to a grinding halt if undocumented would
disappear. and to reframe and remind people and we need to grapple with the attacks of the right wing. we don't call them illegals but yet they are here on the illegal and a documented basis. that is the affront to the rule of law. and then to say immigration policy is hard and complicated we have to acknowledge we are in the economy. you cannot come to the public square dehumanizing people are suggesting all immigrants are drug dealers or subhuman.
that is from your religious faith. to do things that are not radically different. so now the fervor leaves the room i feel that appeals to course human values were talking about human beings and with the language of donald trump and that criticism. a system in which you would be accused of supporting illegals terrible language. we all acknowledge 12 million people living in the shadows undocumented is a terrible system. right? on fox news the president says
he wants completely open borders i know that means that uncontrolled entry by anyone so can you address those fantasies? >> i go on fox news quite a bit and i have to laugh because i never talking to the anchor whose job it is to get explosive as possible but talking to those who watch fox news that are looking for a new way to think about things i understand your frustrated because you haven't been able to find a good job. before covid hit we had the worst income inequality and wealth inequality we've seen since the 19 twenties talking to people about their situation first to have a decent opportunity. and then in that moment it's
easy to blame somebody. we been in the situation before. downplayed the immigrant like you said getting people to connect back how they came to the country and third in terms of the border i find that so funny because we're actually talking about a system so you could know who's coming in in and out and allow people to be with their family used to be afraid of family values so what happened to family values blocking kids in cages are separate a child from their parent . . . . white teeth you t
have what you need for the heart and soul of america, the moral value of america as a nation of immigrants come as a country that shined a beacon of light around the world, for people like me that come here and for so many other ancestors and generations of people who come to the united states. i find when i go through that
quickly i may not get the fox news host but i get e-mails from people watching fox news who say to me i didn't realize there wasn't a line and undocumented immigrants pay social security taxes so i can go and retired as a u.s. citizen. they are paying my social security taxes. >> host: good conversation. plus go even deeper here into the substrate of policy. i was talking about morality and politics because one of the main things in the buck is part two is about moral vision. talk about different policy areas and i enjoyed reading it because i spent years thinking
about the role of morality politics and what i've been able to figure out over time is politics without morality is a sort of insane notion that we are here because we have values and people in the country have different values. we share a lot and have different values, so it's everything we do has public servants but there is a downside to moral framing which is on the extreme info make it if you are not quaint with my world vision and sometimes i see this all the time and as he does sometimes when we are framing things in moral terms, it makes it hard to compromise. something we are not known for her today because you could compromise with the libertarian but not somebody that is moral so i'm interested in where and
when morality is the key and when and where we need to draw back. immigration is an arresting. no human can look at families of the patient, anvocation, and i u do where a mother is in a separate so from their 6-year-old daughter. if that doesn't fight fires of moral outrage inside of you, i'm not sure that you are alive. on the other end of the spectrum, immigration is immensely technical subquestio subquestion's of the visa is that doesn't lend itself to the kind of moral clarity families of vocation does so in this concept of where is it essential to the public policymaking process and at what point do the new pullback into a more let's
close the door and get a deal done. >> guest: it's a great question. one of the reviewers for my book in an interview said congresswoman, i'm so depressed that your first section is called politics into the second part is moral vision. do they not go together, and i think this is the question you are asking. i think for me, it is clear morality isn't used through everything. i don't know what you fight for if you don't know what you're going values are. we can use the term values because i think that we share regardless whether you are republican, independent or democrat, i think we share some very poor human values which is we all want the right to be respected, we want opportunity to be treated with dignity and respect. those are kind of things i talked to universally with republicans in my district as
well. the thing we have to remember is our system is not a representative system. it has led to an unrepresented government. it's represented in the sense that their 750,000 people that choose you and choose me and we call that a representative democracy that i but if you looo much of the institutionalized racism and sexism that has pervaded the system for so long, the reality is that people in power who are making decisions that have a particular perspective of what may be moral or not and many of the details of the policy, even though it doesn't sound like it, laid the groundwork o for a continuationf that racism and sexism. so, when you look at these policies, i think it's important
to keep a northstar there and i think about my colleague john lewis who just passed away, or elijah cummings also just passed away. both of whom were so welcoming of me when i came into congress i remember saying in my fighting too hard on families of vocation and also immigration and other things. they both sort of took me into shock me b me by this old debate coach alters and said you keep fighting with the urgency because i think sometimes politics gets reduced to the lowest common denominator. the thing that is easiest to move forward quickly but that isn't actually the thing that gets at the root cause of what is happening and that requires a deeper analysis to the solution. so do we need people to agree with us 100% on everything, definitely not. are there technical pieces where you can argue about how many
leaves us here or how many people get coverage through healthcare with this means versus another means, sure all of those are real but what happens is the characterization of people, for example the criminalization of the poor or the criminalization of immigrants that happened with welfare reform, those are detrimental to any progress moving forward and so that is often the thing i think we have to fight about and we don't. when we are on the floor and the republicans want to divide us they use motion to recommit, for people who don't follow every piece of what we do. that's focused around the criminalization of immigrants, criminalization of black people, brown people, and they don't -- we are too afraid to take that on interstate go ahead. you want to talk about criminalization, let's talk about these people are. we are too afraid of the 32nd ad that might come for top
districts. i understand not every district as a democratic district like mine, that i do think that is where leadership comes in because if we don't fix those undermining pieces of recognizing the need for so-called human being, then that's going to hurt us on any policy we try to put forward. >> you talk about the republicans and the right that they are designed to the motions to recommit. we did when we were in the minority. we need to be a little bit more humble about the fact that both parties there are to blame. >> they never split on those motions for and a word i won't
use on c-span that they recognized them as completely ridiculous and procedure call and they didn't worry about it. >> host: that they were remarkably disciplined. as long as we are talking about republicans, in my opinion today, i wanted a republican district because it's new england and it's gotten gradually more blue. it was generations of republicans. let's talk very briefly because there is so much in the book we need to get to. one of the things that is disheartening about politics today is we should say both have good republican relationships but to give over their values and not through a set of principles we may disagree, but
to one man who has actually taken advantage of the fact i think democrats, and you talk about this in your book, isolated themselves from some of the traditional constituencies. without creating a cartoon or stereotype, i think it suggests that the bulk of the labor movement released was very closely split, how the world did that happen, and i see this when i go to connecticut in that approach from the sentiment. there is a correlation between education and support for donald trump and i know these are complicated issues and you have strong feelings about nondividing people who are not on winning categories, but it does feel to me like you look at the devastated communities in ohio and the postindustrial midwest and it does feel like
democrats dropped the ball and if donald trump figured that out and played to those communities in a way that we bear some blame for doing, let me see if you agree with that? >> guest: yes, yes we totally agree. i talked about that quite a bit. donald trump is both a symptom and a cause. he's the cause of tremendous pain and xenophobia and everything else, but he's also a symptom. he was elected because there were too many people across the country including those in white working class neighborhoods but also black folks and brown folks across the country who were disenchanted with democrats who didn't believe they fought for them. they were confused about our stance on trade. donald trump went right in there and i'm not talking about what he did later but just when he ran for president he said i'm
going to fix things unfair trade agreements, and i'm going to make sure the working people across this country keep their jobs. he talked about opportunities for working people. democrats took so long to get on board for living wage. one of the most popular policies across the country, healthcare i need the ram and one on health care thank goodness because they continued to destroy healthcare. but donald trump has made all kinds of noise about what he believes in, making it sound like he's going to fight for the little guy. democrats have not done enough to either show we really are on the side of regular working people, collective bargaining rights. we should have expanded the collective bargaining rights ten years ago but we didn't. we passed an act in this congress that we should have done that a long time ago and decided to the labor union
brothers and sisters we want you to have a powerful vote. so i think this is the whole that he came onto. on top of that racism and many other things including xenophobia, fear of the other at the time when so much of the country is suffering, if the country was doing well, some of that wouldn't have worked for the country wasn't doing well. 60% of americans didn't even have $400 in their bank accounts before covid hit. so this is where he came and i think for us as democrats, we have to remember two things going into the next election. number one, that the base is critically important. i saw you and i are pulling for joe biden to be president of the united states. it looks like she has a big lead on donald trump, but i would say to be extremely careful because when they take out likely voters and factor in enthusiasm, it
drops substantially so don't think we don't. we need young people, folks of color in all places because michigan, we need everybody to turn out. turnout matters in these places. and then secondly, when biden is the buck it president, we have to be bold. we have to recognize that austerity spending, that if we don't invest in people, education, housing, opportunity, transportation, that we will ultimately worsen these inequalities, and there won't be -- an opportunity for another donald trump to come in. we have to be bold, step out and invest in our communities and hopefully keep the white house in 2024.
>> host: yeah, i agree fervently that there is a great deal more commonality and agreement across the political spectrum particularly on economic issues. you and i would have probably disagreements on economic policy because we come from different tribes in the democratic party, but there is no doubt that those things are consistent in the universal availability of healthcare and reasonable chartered education i don't care where you come from or what the circumstances are if you can be persuasive around providing.com is he will appeal to everyone. i withdraw a distinction here because there is an interesting part of the book i want to highlight. i think that it's hard in the realm of social issues. they recognize we've been if we had an honest economic debate. they've delivered 83%.
they realize we win if that is the debate, but instead they try to paint the democrats as coastal elitists that are obsessed with gender neutral pronouns and use a lot of dark language about people who worship differently and love differently and i think that is a little harder conversation. i see that in my own district sometimes because we've made incredible progress in this country. sorry the lights just went off in my office. we have made head spinning progress acknowledging we have a long way to go. ten or 11 years ago that delegation i don't think anybody was for marriage equality. barack obama was famously kind of outfit for marriage equal to the wind jo wing joe biden was e presidents. we have seen dramatic change and in some of the change is scary
to people who come from more conservative areas then you and i live, and there's a wonderful page in the book where you have a non- binary child who wishes to be referred to as they and fair. they are right-wing and the republicans make all kind of condescending comments about pronouns in this sort of thing. then there is a thing you say i should use pregnant people instead of women throughout the piece to give acknowledgment of trans- non- binary people that might not identify with the term women can still be pregnant. that shows a great deal of care for people who have traditionally been at this marginalized and at worst, targeted, but i think you would agree -- i looked at that page and i thought man, this is beyond what i thought because i haven't done a lot of thinking about it and i represent southwest connecticut one of the most liberal places on the planet. my question at the end of that long speech is how do we make
sure that we are bringing people in and saying, you may not be quite as far along on the journey as others, but we want to help you rather than being condescending or attacking you because quite frankly that isn't just what the republicans say about us but when a presidential candidate calls people to portable and they call somebody struggling with these issues i think we bear some blame for how we talk about these. it's a remarkable page in the book. how do we get to people in a constructive way on these social issues? >> guest: i have a phrase approach life with generosity and abundance, not with scarcity and fear. i think about back when i taught to people about having a non- binary child.
like my mother. she's in india and took a whole course and can't get the pronouns right but it's okay because she loves them. i try to come at it from the love affair and had to talk about how we want our kids to be free to express that they are. it doesn't necessarily turn me off from them i just still sometimes refer to jack as he does for years that is what he was but there is that sense of understanding that's important and i also think everybody wants to be seen. everybody wants to be seen as visible for they are. those identities are so critical and fundamental to somebody being able to be seen. i think we should continue to be strong about it and generous.
i try not to judge people. that's why i had problems with republicans talking about non- binary people in the most dehumanizing of ways. it wasn't just i don't understand this, but they were talking about people in the human rising phase. that is unacceptable so of course i had to speak out but i also think the other thing is there are so many points of connection. when i was running for the state senate, i decided i was running against another democrat i went
to talk to them and i had this story they were identified on the watch he's out there cleaning his harley is he agrees with me on collective bargaining and even immigration. i don't start with that, but he agrees with me. then he asked me about guns. how do you feel about guns. honestly, i don't like them. but i understand the second amendment, my husband used to fund. i don't tell them that my husband is now a buddhist and a
vegan. it becomes clear we are not going to agree on this issue. we should be responsible like if you drive a car you need to be responsible about your guns and he says you are one of those democrats who's going to take my guns away from me. he says i was ready to give you my vote but then we got to the guns conversation and i don't think i can do that. i disagree with you on that. i said how long have you been married to your wife and he says 23 years. that's amazing. do you agree on 100% yet he says of course not. he absolutely is still for a moment, cracks up, takes my hand and says you've are a different partition at least you tell me
what you agree. we should be authentic and we should be okay with them disagreeing with us just as we might disagree with them. >> host: i sort of chuckled myself. it's great that it broke but they did rather than selling his life. >> guest: i don't want to be a marriage breaker. >> host: a couple of questions. i spend a lot of my time talking about how we create a cohesion in the party.
we are a party that includes the proverbial coastal elite, latinos, lgbtq communities, you name it, all you need to do is come and look at us sitting on the floor of the house of representatives. without stereotyping too much i spend a lot of time thinking about cohesion the attitude you described is one of being open and welcoming and graceful. one area if changes in the area
of medicare for all and this is a very difficult topic. i think we mishandled it within the democratic party. much every industrialized country out there does it better than we do. switzerland has private insurance and subsidy medicare for all is the way. in the discussion here they are spreading lies about medicare for all right away i should say
i spend a lot of my time even though i have issues with defending medicare for all because we use it. i did sense a little change in the tonality. is that because this discussion is such a critical issue entryway that is the system that works for the united states. >> guest: it's two things. i do believe it is a system that works. people would say to me how come you say you have a two-year
transition. everything in politics you for the legislation forward and then there are changes. if we get to the point they are talking about a two or four-year transition, fantastic. i'm ready to have that conversation. but i do believe that a universal system that is paid for by the government or that is coordinated by the government i should say that the government is the main conduit it's not tied to any other factor, but that is absolutely what the united states should do if they start to change from different directions but most countries do that. for the reasons you accurately pick up another chapter as i have been very frustrated by
people say that is absolutely the goal that we should get to. let's talk about some of the issues and debate them. they offer so much choice in for years i kept saying what choice do you have when you lose your job. the greatest program into the greatest choice is medicare. now nobody is making that argument as they file jobless claims and 27 million lost their healthcare.
about biden and sanders i did not get medicare for all i did not turn joe biden into bernie sanders but we have made tremendous progress on what we can achieve is a party for our platform. but we did make tremendous progress in terms of the platform achieving universal healthcare. >> the healthcare system is a mess. with the affordable care act is looked at as incremental. we just need to be humble about the notion to suggest that there are a lot of endpoints like switzerland japan france they all do it differently and better.