Sunday, May 20, 2007

CNN's John King asks Secretaries Gutierrez and Chertoff very tough questions on Amnesty Bill

John King was filling in for Wolf Blitzer on this morning's CNN Late Edition (transcript).

King should be commended for adressing some very tough questions, particularly on the Z Visa program, to Secretaries Gutierrez and Chertoff (emphasis added on King's questions which show more and more incredulity as they are not answered):
King: ...The administration says this is not amnesty because those who came into this country illegally would have to pay a penalty, would have to pay back taxes, would have to come into the system some way. But if it's not amnesty, what is it?

If there's somebody sitting in Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico who wants to come to the United States today to make a better life for his or her family, somebody that's in the United States, whether it's been for six months or six years or ten years illegally, that person broke the law to get here and can get a Z visa when this program is in place, how is that not at least jumping the line or an easy pass, if not amnesty?

CARLOS GUTIERREZ, SECRETARY OF COMMERCE: Well, it's not amnesty. They're going to have to pay a penalty. They're going to have to wait in line. They're going to have to undergo a criminal background check. It is not amnesty.

And part of the problem here is that we can spend so much time talking about nuances of one word. And this is so much more complicated than one word. In the meantime, we're not getting the job done. We're not enforcing it. We're not having people come out of the shadows. So, it's a national security priority.

So, it is not amnesty. We've said it's not amnesty. We have the impression -- I have the impression that perhaps for some people, the only thing that would not be amnesty is mass deportation.

We don't think that is practical. We don't think that's logical. We don't think that's humane. And that would hurt our economy. So, it's not amnesty. We should move on. And this is so much bigger than the debate about the definition of one word.

KING: Well, if we're going to have a debate about the definition of one word, I want to ask you both on this one. Is part of the problem is that on both ends, there is language that is perhaps intellectually dishonest? You say it's not amnesty, but you also say people are not jumping the line.

But to someone who is in this country illegally now they have a better chance to get status, to get a visa, and ultimately, if this program is fully implemented, to become a legal permanent resident or perhaps even a citizen of the United States.

They have jumped the line and they have a better advantage than somebody sitting in Honduras or Guatemala or Mexico today trying to get here, correct?

GUTIERREZ: No, that's not correct.

KING: How is it not correct? They're here already. They have a job in America.

GUTIERREZ: But you're talking about citizenship. You're talking about a green card. There is no automatic path to green card. There is no automatic path to citizenship.

And that's one big difference, versus the 1986 amnesty that did create an automatic path. There will be a Z status, which is legalization. That means they can work. But they are not permanent residents.

If they want to be permanent residents, they have to apply; they have to leave the country to apply; they have to pay another fine, they have to qualify to be legal permanent residents.

There is nothing automatic. And that's a big difference, versus what we had in 1986. There is no automatic path to citizenship.

KING: I'm having a hard time with this because these people are here, though. Is it just easier to say, look, we've screwed this up for 20 years and this is the best way to do it?

Everyone's trying to argue their points. You're saying they're not cutting in line. But if I'm in this country now illegally, I do have a better chance, don't I?

CHERTOFF: Look, John, first of all, if you want to get a green card, you're going to have to wait until everybody who is currently on line gets their green card first. So you're not going to jump the line as far as that's concerned.

You're going to have to pay a penalty. You're going to be on probation. By the way, that is typically what happens...

KING: But you're strengthening border security during that period of time.

CHERTOFF: Correct.

KING: So if I'm in Guatemala, Mexico, anywhere else, trying to get here, you're having a new system in place, a stronger border, so I can't sneak in, stronger requirements for me to apply to get in.

And somebody who broke the law and is already here can get in the system.

CHERTOFF: Well, there's no doubt, John, we're dealing with the situation as we find it on the ground. We can't pretend that we haven't inherited the legacy of three decades of neglect of the problem. So we're going to have to manage this problem.

And what we've done is we've come up with a solution that doesn't allow these people to jump the line in terms of getting a green card. Everybody who has been on line waiting patiently gets ahead of them.

They have to pay a penalty, similar to what you pay if you commit a misdemeanor, which is what this is under the existing state of the law.

So I think we've squared the circle. We've had real penalties. We've put people at the back of the line. But obviously, we're not going to have a mass deportation.

You know, John, it comes down to this, we've proposes a bipartisan solution that really gets the problem fixed. If someone has a better solution that's realistic, they should come forward with it.

But if all people want to do is complain and say, well, this isn't good enough, that's the Goldilocks solution, where it's always too hot or too cold. I think the public has lost patience with that and they want us to fix the problem.


Post a Comment

<< Home