Why not amnesty?
This interview was shot on "Talk Radio Row" during the New Hampshire primary.
HELEN GLOVER, TALK RADIO HOST, RHODE ISLAND: Helen Glover, WHJJ 920 on the AM dial. Politics is my thing, but we really have a very wide variety of topics. A lot of local stuff, but my interest is local, national, and international.
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR: How serious an issue is immigration amongst your listeners and generally amongst Republicans in New Hampshire?
GLOVER: Amongst my listeners in Rhode Island, immigration is a huge issue. We’re seeing direct impact of what the influx of a large group of people—they’re undocumented, not paying taxes, using our systems, as in health, education, you know, welfare system. That is a huge drain on our economy. So, like Ron Paul was saying on the last debate Saturday night, it is an economic issue. So amongst my listeners, that’s a huge issue.
JAY: What do you, your listeners, what do they want on immigration? I mean, Romney and Giuliani are talking about millions of people having to leave the country and try to come back in again. I mean, it seems completely unwieldy. And in terms of the economy, what happens to the economy if in theory millions of people leave and can’t come back again? Sometimes, I think, some of the proposals are for ten years. Where does that leave you on the economic front? And what kind of immigration policy is rational to you?
GLOVER: What we’re talking about a possible recession and we’re talking about unemployment numbers edging up, I don’t think we want to talk about economic issues with illegal immigration anymore. If we’re talking about people that will do work in the fields that Americans won’t do, then you’re talking about having a migrant worker program that California had way back before the first amnesty and the first immigration reform that worked well, and I think we need to look at something like that again. If we need to look at people being able to come to this country after they’ve been vetted, after they’ve had a background check, after we’ve got identification on them, and we’re talking the difference of should you wait ten years or should that maybe go to three years, I’m open to something like that. But right now, I look right at our area in New England, New Bedford, the Michael Bianco factory that was raided back in March—here, New Bedford, highest unemployment rate in Massachusetts at nine percent, these people being told–the illegals come in and do the jobs Americans won’t do. Well, that’s not true, because the minute that raid went down, the very next day, close to 400 people lined up for those well-paying—it’s a factory job, but I mean some people need those jobs, and it was a steady, secure, well-paying factory job. It is not jobs Americans won’t do; it’s jobs Americans have not been able to get in on because there are businesses in this country that will employ an illegal force. And to me, it’s indentured servanthood. You come in, you’re afraid to say anything ’cause your employer can go, “Hey, you’re illegal. You know what? Get out of here, buddy.” You’re going to work for whatever conditions they put you in. So I think we need to have an employment verification system. From a homeland security issue, we need to know who is in this country. That is very important. Since 9/11, we still don’t know who’s here. So immigration reform is very complex, but I do not agree that we can absorb 20 million people in this country and there’s no economic impact to that.
JAY: But isn’t amnesty the only fast way to have documentation?
GLOVER: Absolutely not. First of all, amnesty just means that these people now legally become entitled to any type of social program that we are giving in this country. How in the world are we going to support that?
JAY: Have you seen an economic modeling that actually shows in a factual way what that would mean?
GLOVER: I can look at Rhode Island and the fact that we’re in a huge deficit right now. And these people, a lot of illegals, have come in to Rhode Island, thirty, forty thousand in the past four or five years, why? Because, we have very liberal social programs. So if you don’t think they’re coming for that, people are sadly mistaken.
JAY: No, but do they already have access to the social programs?
GLOVER: Do they have access to them as an illegal? Supposedly no. But the minute they have a child, that child is a full-fledged American citizen. That child has access to all those benefits. And that child living in a house is going to have access to anything that an adult would, because, you know, you’ve got food stamps, you’ve got welfare—.
JAY: So the economic impact of that’s already being felt.
GLOVER: It’s huge.
JAY: So an amnesty wouldn’t change it.
GLOVER: No. I don’t think so. And you don’t really have to worry about deporting people, because people came here, if they don’t think there’s a promise of a job, or a social program, or health care, or education, if they’re not going to be able to access that, they are going to return home. Many of them are not really interested in being US citizens. If they were, I think there’d be more arguing for that point. Many, many of them—look at Mexico’s economy. Second to their oil economy is money sent home by immigrants that came here, sending it home to go home to live better in Mexico. Okay? So Mexico’s not going to do anything to stop that influx of illegal immigrants.
JAY: But the United States did very little to stop the influx this way. I mean, there’s clearly a lot of employers, starting in California agriculture and across the country, they wanted Mexicans to come here. I stood, myself, in the early ’90s; I was standing on the border of Tijuana with hundreds of people lined up in either direction, ready to cross over. [crosstalk]
GLOVER: Absolutely. [crosstalk]
JAY: There was no one on the other side saying, “Don’t come.” I mean, they were selling popcorn to people; it was so open. Employers in America wanted people to come, so why would the people that come under those conditions be the ones to suffer? If the United States couldn’t defend its own borders, then why penalize the people who more or less were invited, and now lived a life here for years? Why don’t you deal with the border now? But why oppose amnesty for people who have been here and made a life here for years? ‘Cause, I mean, how are they to blame?
GLOVER: And that’s John McCain’s argument. John McCain wants to seal that border now. But what does that do to deal with the problem of 20 million undocumented people in this country? No. 1, of course, you don’t–
JAY: [crosstalk] But that’s why I ask: how do you quickly document 20 million people other than through amnesty? And why is that such a dirty word with Republicans?
GLOVER: Well, you’re giving amnesty to whom? Okay, I’m going to give you amnesty. What do I know about you? If you have zero documentation, do I know if you’re wanted in your own country? Do I know if you’re here for terrorist reasons? Why would I just give blanket amnesty?
JAY: There has to be a process of application.
JAY: But a process that would give you amnesty through some due process, versus you have to leave your country and uproot your entire life. Those are two different things, no?
GLOVER: Well, then, are we a country of laws or are we not?
JAY: You are not; you are not. There wasn’t a law–. Well, the United States already ignored the law: they allowed millions of people in. There was no law.
GLOVER: What do you mean there was no law?
JAY: There was no enforcement. Let’s put it that way.
GLOVER: Well, there’s no enforcement of the law, but there is a law.
JAY: There was a law.
GLOVER: Absolutely there was a law.
JAY: But there was no enforcement.
GLOVER: Okay. So the bank right now isn’t being adequately secure. I’m just going to walk in and take money. Does that make it legal?
JAY: It may not make it legal, but in terms of the real flow of people, if you don’t stop—. [crosstalk] No, no. It’s not an abstraction. If you really induce people to come, if the bank induces you to come into the bank and take the money—.
GLOVER: Well, who induced them to come? Business?
JAY: Yeah. Certainly California agriculture did.
GLOVER: So you want to run an indentured servant-hood business?
JAY: No, I’m with you. I think there has to be a solution to this.
GLOVER: Exactly. And we’re talking about, oh, then let us go to $10 a—no, it’s not. No, it’s not. Believe me, big business is as much a part of this as people that want open borders and people that are opting for socialism, or a North American free trade and North American union here. So it is a very complex issue. I would say that you need to start, first, with securing the border, but you need to deal with the people that are here. If Michael Chertoff is telling us there’s 2 million criminals here, how does he know there’s 2 million criminals here? Where’s his database that’s telling him there’s 2 million criminals here? And if they are here, that’s inexcusable they’re still here. Number two, we need to look at the way we do business in this country. If an American citizen or an illegal resident is not able to access a job in their town because that business decides they’re going to employ illegal aliens at a lower rate, then that is no more fair or legal and is not the American way. So, yes, it’s a huge question, but to give blanket amnesty, I just cannot, I cannot, support that.
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