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Hugh interviews David Freedlander’s interview of Hugh on immigration

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HH: I begin with David Freedlander. You remember, he’s thesenior political correspondent for Newsweek and the Daily Beast, and David sentme an email a couple of days ago, said hey, let’s talk about immigration. Isaid you know my rule, I’m happy to answer any questions you have, if you comeon the air to do it. So David, welcome back, good to have you back.

DF: Thanks for having me. Every time I call you for aninterview, I end up being interviewed myself. I’m not quite sure how this keepshappening, but…

HH: I know, but I’m going to give you, we’ve only got 18minutes. It’s a complicated subject, so I’ll let you go first. And when, by theway, is this going to be in Newsweek or the Daily Beast?

DF: Well, I mean my piece, mostly, you know, I did a piecethat ran today, sort of wondering where conservative activists were on thisissue today, and sort of party stalwarts were…

HH: And what did you find?

DF: But I’m always looking to find different bites of the apple.

HH: What did you discover in the piece you wrote today?

DF: Well, I mean, it seems like there’s still a lot ofopposition, you know, whether it’s enough opposition…I mean, the question,right, is whether or not the sort of party bigwigs care that the grassroots areagainst it, because even though the grassroots are the ones who really derailedthe bill in 2007, right? But this time, there seems to be much more of a senseamong party leadership that this, we need to get this done, it doesn’t matter,we don’t…

HH: Now you see, there are a lot of assumptions baked intothat.

DF: Okay, go ahead.

HH: I am neither a bigwig nor a grassrooter.

DF: No.

HH: I’m a West Coast California Republican, and I opposed2007, as did most of my brethren in talk radio, because it was a lousy bill. Imean, it was just a crappy, terrible, badly written, Z visa-filled, no bordersecurity bill.

DF: Right.

HH: So it collapsed, because it was a bad bill. I tend tobelieve, contra what many people do, that it isn’t about politics. It’sactually about whether or not the legislation makes any sense. Did you findanyone to say that?

DF: I mean, in so many words, I would say. But say more. Imean, in terms of the legislation making sense, I mean, what in your mind doesthis do that that one didn’t do, or do what that one didn’t do?

HH: Well, in 2007, the Z visa provisions, and I read themvery carefully, and brought a lawyer’s eye to them, would have resulted in a migrationentitlement probably to 60 million people when you added in chain migration,which was not touched upon in the bill, and would have resulted in a ratherrapid eligibility for public benefits, and for voting eligibility citizenshippapers for a large cohort without any sort of even effort at assimilation, andwithout closing the border. There wasn’t even border fence provisions in there.So it collapsed on its own weight. This time around, as I don’t know if you’vehad a chance yet to see what Rubio and Flake said to me yesterday.

DF: Yeah, yeah.

HH: They’re very serious about border security. That willfix the problem for a long period of time. They’re very serious about e-verify.They’re very serious about a very long path to benefits and/or citizenship. So Ithink that moves us towards resolution, which is fundamentally fair to the peoplewho have not jumped the border to get here, and at the same time, notunrealistic as to making sure the lives of these 11 million people aren’tmiserable.

DF: So you’re a supporter this time around?

HH: I don’t know. As I said to Rubio and Flake yesterday,show me a bill. Six pages of talking points is not a bill. A bill is a bill. Anddid anyone say that to you, because I don’t even know who would be opposed tothis yet. It’s sort of like we have to read the bill to decide whether we’re infavor of it. I’m not going to become Pelosi in front of people’s eyes. Did anyonedemonstrate prudent…

DF: Well, some people are just against the concept, right? Imean…

HH: Well no, I’m not, and I don’t think many people areactually against the concept. They just are very skeptical of Washington’swillingness, given the ’86 experience, to follow through on their promises offixing the border security issue.

DF: You don’t think there are some people that are justskeptical of anything that sort of seems like it would include an amnesty,would include legalization, would increase immigration?

HH: Sure, I debate Mark Krikorian at the National Review Institute.

DF: Right, there’s one, yeah.

HH: And so he’s a rejectionist, and he calls himself that.That’s his own term. It’s like he has a sweatshirt on it that saysrejectionist.

DF: Right.

HH: And there are a very tiny number of those people. Infact, if you quote, I didn’t read your article yet, but if you quoted TomTancredo, you’re a bad man. Did you quote Tom?

DF: I did not. I did not.

HH: Because he left the Republican Party.

DF: Yeah, and I didn’t talk to him, either.

HH: Oh, good. He…

DF: I was really interested in talking to the folks whoderailed the 2007…I mean, the idea for the story, I don’t come in with these,with a point of view, but I was curious to see the folks who actually derailedthe 2007 effort, which was a mass movement, but whether or not, you know, massgrassroots, blogs, talk radio, email, lighting up the phone lines in Congress kindof thing, where they were on this.

HH: And what did you discover? I mean, tell us…

DF: I discovered that, well, I would say that certainlysome, I would say I found it to be about split, to be honest with you, so aboutsome of those who helped torpedo the 2007 were the Numbers USA, that group,FAIR U.S., I think they’re actually called.

HH: Yup.

DF: They’re still against, but a lot of folks were said thatthis looked a lot better. And…

HH: Who’s on the it’s gotten better at least to the talkingpoints page?

DF: Well, like, for example, members of the Evangelicalcommunity are on board.

HH: Interesting.

DF: And they were probably on board in 2007, too, but theywere not engaged in their, sort of pro-actively engaged. And then there’s…the landscapeis a little different, I think, in a way from what it was in 2007, right, wherethere’s less, in a way, I don’t want to say something I don’t exactly mean, butthe grassroots sort of matter a little bit less in a post-Citizens Unitedworld, where there’s like Americans For Prosperity and others that can providecover if there are folks who are unhappy about it.

HH: Oh, that’s interesting. I hadn’t thought about that. So yourproposition is grassroots, real grassroots have been replaced by Astroturfedgrassroots?

DF: Essentially.

HH: Because I believe Americans For Prosperity…

DF: Potentially could be if it came down to it.

HH: But then, but AFP is real. AFP is full of real people,and I know that there are a lot of groups out there that Manhattan-Beltwaymedia elites dismiss as Astroturf, I’m not sure you’re one of them, that arereal people who have just decided to be effective as opposed to isolated.

DF: Right.

HH: And they’re also the rise of the libertarian movement. Haveyou noted that? Did the Tea Party people…

DF: I wasn’t able to, no, I didn’t really corner them.

HH: Freedom Works is very excited about this, I believe, forexample. And I don’t know about the remnants of Tea Party Patriots or otherpeople like that.

DF: Right.

HH: But I think immigrant is a security issue, and thatthere’s been a lot of improvement on the border already. I think hundreds moremiles of border obstructions have been built in the years, although they’vefallen short of their promises. And I believe that the number of people havedropped, whether for economic or border security reasons also limiting theissue. Did people note those facts to you?

DF: Sure. I mean, do you think that the…and the bordersecurity, I don’t know. I just would be skeptical of claims that say we cansecure the border.

HH: Oh, you need to talk to Bill Montgomery. Do you know whothat is?

DF: No.

HH: Bill is the district attorney, they have a differentname for it in Maricopa County. They don’t call their D.A’s, D.A.’s. They callthem like public attorneys or something.

DF: Sure, yeah.

HH: But he’s the D.A. for Maricopa County.

DF: Okay.

HH: I spent an hour on the phone with him two weeks ago. I’mgoing to bring him on. This guy’s encyclopediesque. He knows everything aboutborder security. The worst sector right now is the Tucson sector. They cannot controlthe Tucson sector. There are reasons unique to the Tucson sector. On the otherhand, the Yuma sector has been brought largely under control. Border securityis measurable, there are metrics, there are reasons it works and doesn’t work.And Montgomery is not a, I mean, he’s a very sober, careful, serious guy, buthe’s not Sheriff Joe. I mean, this is why…

DF: Right.

HH: This is why there’ s a different this time around, isthat a lot of smart people turned their attention to the issue and have thoughtthrough it a lot.

DF: Right, right. Yeah, you know, I just wonder, it justseems like there are always promises to secure the border, quote unquote. Andyou know, you could double the funding on drones. I mean, it seems like people whowant to get through get through, and that then becomes the question.

HH: But that’s not true.

DF: And I would…

HH: I mean, fences work.

DF: Yeah, look, I’m no expert on it, but…

HH: Fences work.

DF: That would be my sense.

HH: Israel’s fence works. The fence that the French inAlgeria constructed on the border with Tunisia during the Algeria civil war, itworked. Fences can keep people out.

DF: But we’re not going to really build a fence across a2,000 mile border, right?

HH: Not 2,000 miles. We only need about effectively 700-800,because a lot of the border is quite simply impassable. You will die if you tryto go across a lot of the places. But it needs more miles of it, and it works.And it’s pretty easy to build access roads, and it’s double fencing. It’s notlittle, tiny. But have you seen the Israeli fence, David?

DF: Pictures, you know.

HH: It works.

DF: Right, yeah.

HH: I mean, there is no doubt about it. It works.

DF: Right, surely a fence would. I just don’t get the sensethat there’s a lot of will for that. But maybe you’re right. Maybe it’s a fencein some places and not in other places. I don’t know. I don’t know.

HH: I think if you heard Republicans in that bipartisancoalition saying there’s not a lot of will for the fence, the game would beover, it won’t pass, because that is the outward manifestation of an inwardcommitment to serious border security.

DF: Right.

HH: I always talk to any reporter, but they have to do it onthe air with me, and I’ll answer their questions. Oddly enough, the last timePolitico called up, and they wanted to do a profile of me. And I offered themthe same deal, David, and they didn’t want to do it.

DF: You’re a tough interview subject.

HH: Well, no I’m not. I’m just transparency. I’m Mr.Transparency. So what’s on your mind?What else do you want to know? You’ve got eight minutes left.

DF: Well, I mean, so it this, do you think that sort ofHispanic voters are a gettable Republican piece of the electorate?

HH: Well, I think every single American is a gettableRepublican, because when the economy collapses under $16 trillion, they’regoing to realize it was President Obama. However, there are good reasons neverto create unnecessary obstacles between any voting bloc and a party. And I wasagainst Prop. 187 in 1994. I think Ken Grubbs of Investor’s Business Daily andme were the only two people, he was on the Orange County Register then, werethe only two Republicans in California to oppose 187 in 1994. It was a shot in thefoot, and Pete Wilson’s a dear friend, and I owe my life to him, because I metmy wife at a Pete Wilson fundraiser. But that was a monumental error, one thatresonates still in California. And so people listen to political dialogue verycarefully. It’s like David, are you a church-going person at all?

DF: Not so much.

HH: Okay, well, if you go to church, and anyone who is outthere listening right now knows, if the pastor of the priest begins to talkabout anything remotely related to you, you know, your job, your lifestyle,your community, your ears perk up, right? You listen differently to that whichis being directed anywhere near you, so that when a Latino voter hears a Republicantalking about Latinos, they listen differently. And so the language Republicanshave employed for years has been often obtuse, not intentionally so, but MarcoRubio makes this point very, very effectively in An American Son. Have you readAn American Son, by the way?

DF: This is Rubio’s book?

HH: Yeah.

DF: No.

HH: Terrific book. It is, I interviewed him at length, latein the year after the campaign was over, because I couldn’t read the book in thesummer, and I don’t interview people unless I’ve read the book. But it’s aterrific book about the real, genuine, honest to God immigrant experience inAmerica. And I think anyone who would read that book would talk differently aboutthe immigrant experience in America. So obviously, I think all voters aregettable. I think it’s important that we not set off neutron bombs near peoplewe want the votes from.

DF: Right, right, right, right, right. I mean, that’s interesting.That seems to be the other question of this. I mean, some folks, you know, whoare against the measure were saying that this is just going to legalize, justgoing to provide of 11 million Democratic voters, you know, et cetera, etcetera.

HH: Well you know, if that were the case, in the Z visaworld, there was a legitimate concern over a lot of the Democrats, in fact,Greg Plum, who I was citing today, instantly Greg went to the key issue of theborder commission when these talking points were released yesterday, theprinciples released. And Greg’s a smart guy, and he is like the key tuning forkfor the left, right? He picks up everything. If you put Joshua Micah Marshalland Greg Plum, and a couple of other guys together, Ezra Klein, you’ll knowexactly what every Democrat in D.C. is thinking. And what concerned him themost…

DF: Right.

HH: …was the border commission, because it might actuallyrequire border security measures and a trigger and stuff. And Greg’s peoplewant these to become, they want these 11 million people to be Democrat Partyactivists. They’re crazy. That’s not going to happen. But I will say, one ofthe reasons I’m advancing school choice is to make sure for regularized immigrantchildren, is to make sure that advocates of that point of view have to confrontthe reality of what they’re sending these kids to, which are horrible, failingurban schools. And I wish Republicans would talk about the reality of theirlives, not how they’re going to voting in 20 years.

DF: Right, right, right. No, that’s fair. I mean, it’s funnythat, I can’t ever remember a time when an entire class of people would becomesuch political pawns, seemingly.

HH: It’s horrible if they become…Archbishop Charles Chaputis a friend of mine, is widely regarded as a conservative by Democrats. He’snot. He’s actually just a social Catholic social Gospel. And he’s always quickto say that anyone who treats the immigrant community as political pawns isreally morally bankrupt.

DF: Yeah.

HH: You know, you might oppose larger or smaller immigration,but these are real people with real lives, and real suffering.

DF: I think that’s exactly right. Yeah, and real needs andchoices, and all the rest of it.

HH: And they are also law breakers.

DF: Right.

HH: And so it’s…

DF: But I mean that’s right. I mean, the question of whetheror not what this means, you know, politically, seems sort of secondary.

HH: Who do you think is more cynical about the Latino vote,Republicans or Democrats?

DF: Who do I…I mean, the whole conversation seems cynical we’rehaving.

HH: Oh, come on, that’s a dodge. Who’s more cynical,Democrats…

DF: I couldn’t, I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know. I mean,the notion that needs to be done, which both sides are saying, right, and I’mnot one… I mean, I come down on the side of the…

HH: Why didn’t President Obama do this in his first term?Answer – he’s the most cynical Chicago pol ever. He wanted this to be ableeding wound that he could and did exploit politically throughout the 2012reelection season.

DF: But it didn’t…well, it covered that it didn’t passbecause of GOP opposition in the Senate, right?

HH: No, he just didn’t bring it up. He didn’t even try, eventhough he promised. He got scored at the Univision summit, remember?

DF: Yeah.

HH: The guy stood up and said where’s your bill? And all hecould say was abba-dabba-dabba-dabba.

DF: Right.

HH: And what he ought to have said is oh, I’m not going to giveyou a bill. You people have to be mad at the Republicans, or I’m not going toget reelected.

DF: But so in a way, if he were politically smart, right,what he would do is they wouldn’t pass this.

HH: He’s not intending to. They asked him. The Latino caucusasked him not to introduce his own bill. He went forward, because for politicalreasons, his objective is to destroy the Republican majority in the House ofRepresentatives in time for him to repair a failing Obamacare. That’s thewhole, that’s the narrative of the next two years.

DF: Yeah, right. No, I mean, you don’t fault him for that,though, do you?

HH: I don’t think presidents should govern with the idea ofdestroying the opposition so they can repair a failing bill. They ought to getrid of the failing bill.

DF: Right.

HH: Have you written yet on how many states won’t touch theexchanges?

DF: You know, this is a topic that interests me, and I’msort of thinking about doing something that’s related to that, but I haven’t nailedthat down yet.

HH: Is anyone at the Daily Beast or Newsweek aware of what aphenomenal failure Obamacare is, how health care prices are skyrocketing,insurance coverage costs is skyrocketing, the states are running away, doctorsare exiting, medical devices are becoming fewer in their development? Doesanyone know this?

DF: I mean, we have to wait a bit, right, before rendering averdict on it?

HH: No.

DF: Don’t you think?

HH: No, no, no, no. 30 states have said not in my lifetime I’mnot touching this. You can’t get me to go into that swamp. This is a big, stinkyfailure, David. I mean, it’s a disaster. You folks inside the Beltway, you haveto get out more. Did your insurance change his year?

DF: No, and I’m not in the Beltway. I have to be clear. But…

HH: Oh, are you in New York?

DF: Yeah.

HH: Okay, well that counts. The Beltway is just the Borg.

DF: Right. I’m not physically in the Beltway.

HH: Yeah, you belong to the Borg. You are part of theopinion media elite, right?

DF: Well, that depends. Is that an honor? Or is that…

HH: It’s just anyone who writes for Newsweek, the DailyBeast, and all the rest of you.

DF: Then I suppose I must be. Let me check my wallet.

HH: So what’s your prediction? Is there going to be immigrationreform in 2013?

DF: Looks that way. It does look that way. Yeah, I’m goingto go with a yes. I mean, I think if you have, if the opposition is sort oftorn asunder, and they’re not entirely engaged in this, and it’s just a portionof the folks who were involved in 2007, I think it probably passes.

HH: The correct answer is we won’t know until we see anactual bill from the House, and an actual bill from the Senate. It could eitherway. David Freedlander, always a pleasure, senior political correspondent formNewsweek and the Daily Beast.

End of interview.

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