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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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MATTHEWS: Thanks a lot. Pete Williams, chief justice correspondent for NBC News.

U.S. Congressman Paul (SIC) Grijalva is an Arizona Democrat and the Arizona state representative Rick Murphy"s a Republican. Mr. Murphy, to start with, what do you make of this decision by the court to back up the Obama administration and basically gut the Arizona law before it takes place?

RICK MURPHY ®, ARIZONA STATE REP.: Well, Chris, it"s not surprising, really, at all. Frankly, we expected that that would happen in the lower court simply because it"s--you"ve got a federal bureaucrat with a lifetime appointment backing up a liberal administration. It"s not surprising that this ruling came down the way it did. It"s actually surprising that it wasn"t going to go any further and strike the whole thing down. We pretty much suspected that we were going to have to wait and win at the Supreme Court level in the first place.

MATTHEWS: Well, you"re a politician, sir. You"re using language like "bureaucrat." Well, you"re a politician, if you want to get into that. Who"s who here. I"m a television guy. Let me ask you this. What"s going to be the reaction of the people in Arizona when they go to vote this year? Are they going to find some way of expressing their anger and go vote for J.D. Hayworth against McCain? How are they going to express their anger coming out of this decision?

MURPHY: Well, Chris, I think there"s going to be a huge backlash. The people in Arizona have overwhelmingly demonstrated that they want the border secured and that they want illegal immigration laws enforced. The federal government hasn"t done it. This ruling states that it would interfere with the way the feds are taking care of the immigration issue. That"s precisely the point. It would interfere with their lack of enforcement on this issue, and that"s exactly what we want.

MATTHEWS: OK.

MURPHY: We want it enforced.

MATTHEWS: Congressman Grijalva, what"s your view of this decision by the lower court? Do you think it"s going to stand up in the Supreme Court?

REP. RAUL GRIJALVA (D), ARIZONA: Yes, I, too, expected it. I think, from what I understand, this is a well-crafted, well-written, well-reasoned opinion, and I think it"ll stand--I think it"ll stand the appeals.

MATTHEWS: What do you think is going to come of this politically in your state? Do you think that the voters are going to keep trying? Do you think other states are going to keep trying...

GRIJALVA: Well, I...

MATTHEWS: ... to get some kind of law enforced? They don"t feel the federal government is enforcing the law, so they"re taking the law to the state level.

GRIJALVA: Yes. Well, the issue with this--this law was the
overreaching, the supremacy clause of the Constitution, and that"s what
gutted this--this law and that"s what it violated. And you know, we all
all of us swear to uphold the Constitution. I hope my--I and the rest of the other elected officials in Arizona understand that part of our swearing is that we will implement a law that is constitutional. If this law is--the first level is unconstitutional, I think we should all collectively be relieved that we"re protecting the Constitution.

MATTHEWS: Let me show you the recent or the most recent NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll on the Arizona law. It asked all Americans, "Are you for or against this law?" And 61 percent of the American people say they support this measure. What"s your reaction to that?

GRIJALVA: I think...

MATTHEWS: Congressman?

GRIJALVA: I think everybody that supports--everyone that supports -
not everyone that supports this law is a racist or a bigot. There"s a lot of frustration, a lot of anxiety. And I agree, the Congress should have moved on the issue of immigration reform a long time ago.

But we"re running out of excuses. Here"s the deal. If we"re going to talk about an enforcement process, let"s do that and let"s do enforcement. But beyond enforcement is part of the solution to the immigration--broken immigration system. Some people want to keep it broken so they can take advantage of it politically.

MATTHEWS: That"s what I think. That"s what I think. I"m agreeing with you. I think people--they like it exactly the way it is.

Let me go back to Representative Murphy. You"re one of the tough customers on this, and I understand why you are. I think it"s a politically popular position, and in many ways, I understand and support your frustration with the federal law.

Here"s a simple question. It seems to me that if we"re going to have a deal to fix this problem, it"s going to involve three pieces. One, obviously, border enforcement, two, a way for employers to avoid breaking the law, some kind of ID system they can use, and third, some kind of dealing (ph) with people who"ve been here and built their lives here. We"re not going to have a pogrom and send out 20 million people out of the country. Do you agree that those three parts are necessary?

MURPHY: Not right away. First of all, Chris, people don"t trust the federal government anymore because this is what was talked about more than 20 years ago, the last time there was an amnesty, and people don"t trust the federal government to follow through. Until and unless there is enforcement of the current law, nobody really believes that any new law is going to be enforced, either.

MATTHEWS: OK, you want the other side to act first.

MURPHY: Absolutely. There needs to be...

MATTHEWS: Do you want an ID card?

MURPHY: There needs to be...

MATTHEWS: Do you want an ID card?

MURPHY: Well, there"s already an ID card. The fact of the matter is...

MATTHEWS: Oh, it"s not useful. It"s not--it"s not reliable.
It"s...

MURPHY: Well, you"re right, it isn"t.

MATTHEWS: Do you think we have a--well, why don"t--do you want a reliable system, where an employer knows whether they"re breaking the law or not, or not? Or you just want to--are we all just going to BS this system and enjoy the fight?

MURPHY: Well, right now, Chris, we need to stop the process where we allow and turn our heads and wink at illegal immigrants stealing the identification and the identities of legal American citizens...

MATTHEWS: How do we stop that?

MURPHY: ... and ruining their lives? By enforcing...

MATTHEWS: I"m with that. How do we stop that?

MURPHY: By enforcing the current law and deporting people who are here illegally and not giving them sanctuary to have jobs and live their lives here.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you this. Do you want a reliable ID card that prevents people from being hired illegally in this country right now?

MURPHY: I"m not in favor of a national ID card...

MATTHEWS: Of course you"re not!

MURPHY: ... if that"s what you"re talking about.

MATTHEWS: Because you"re one--you"re one of the BS artists in this world...

MURPHY: No, absolutely not, Chris.

MATTHEWS: ... that doesn"t want to enforce--no, you do not want to have a--look, every bartender has a right for an ABC card or a driver"s license says, You don"t get served in this bar if you"re not 21 because I"m not going to jail and I"m not paying a fine. But when it comes to employment and cheap labor, you want to be able to give a bye to an employer to hire somebody at the cheapest possible wages, which is what you pay somebody...

MURPHY: Absolutely not, Chris.

MATTHEWS: ... who just got here. OK, why not have an ID card for working here, if you have to have one for drinking here?

MURPHY: You already have one. Every state has one. It"s called a driver"s license. In most states...

MATTHEWS: But you just said you don"t want an enforceable ID card.

MURPHY: That"s not what I said, Chris. I don"t want a national ID card.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

MURPHY: That"s not necessarily the same thing.

MATTHEWS: Why not? Why not?

MURPHY: Again, a lot of people in this state and other states don"t trust the federal government. There shouldn"t need to be a national ID card. There"s no reason that the state cannot, in a parallel fashion, enforce the current immigration laws, and that"s what this bill would have done.

MATTHEWS: But are you telling me there"s no illegal hiring in Arizona?

MURPHY: There"s a lot less than there used to be because we have an employer sanctions law that is in place.

MATTHEWS: So all the people working--all the people working in your state are working legally.

MURPHY: I didn"t say that at all, Chris. What I said is we need to actively enforce the law, and we need to penalize those people who are getting jobs or who are hiring people illegally or who know that they have false papers.

MATTHEWS: OK. OK. But obviously, this ID card system is not working, and you don"t want to make it any tougher.

MURPHY: I don"t agree with that, Chris. I don"t think that a national ID card is the answer.

MATTHEWS: OK. Fine. Let me go to Congressman Grijalva. Are you for some kind of national recognition of when people are in this country legally or not, some way that an employer can safely know that he or she is hiring somebody legally? And that is, of course, the main magnet for people coming to this country.

GRIJALVA: Yes. I think there has to be...
MATTHEWS: The president wants one.

GRIJALVA: ... verifiable, foolproof identification so an employer--which we will need tough employer sanctions when we reform this law--will be secure in who they"re hiring, will not bring sanctions upon them. I thought you outlined it well. There have to be employer sanctions, has to be a registration where people--we know who they are and we know that they"re law-abiding.

MATTHEWS: OK.

GRIJALVA: And then there has to be enforcement. You know, the problem is there"s an insatiable appetite to do nothing. Every time we try to reach a solution, it"s "amnesty." Every time we do this...

MATTHEWS: I know.

GRIJALVA: ... there"s always an opposition to it. It"s time people worked on a solution, acted like grownups. We have a problem and a crisis. Let"s find a solution instead of provoking a fight.

MATTHEWS: You know how you can find out--you know how you can find out whether people are serious about this? You say, Would you like to have this if it"s going to stop the problem? I have to tell you, Representative Murphy, you would rather not have a national ID card than solve this problem. That"s your choice. If it came down to it...

MURPHY: No, that"s not accurate, Chris.

MATTHEWS: Well, help me out then. What do--are you--you are saying, We"ll do it your way, which is sort of relying on driver"s licenses, which have never been successful--and by the way, how many states issue phony driver"s licenses? It"s unbelievable. That was a thing that got Spitzer in trouble. I mean, this is, like, what goes on. You know that. It got Hillary Clinton in her campaign, it came up, the issuing of phony driver"s licenses.

MURPHY: Well, Chris...

MATTHEWS: You know what goes on. Virginia does it. A lot of states do it.

MURPHY: Chris, you"re setting up a straw man where if I don"t agree with your position, then I don"t want a solution...

MATTHEWS: No, no. Let me just tell you this...

MURPHY: ... and that"s just not accurate.

MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you this. What"s the chief reason people come to this country? Isn"t it to get a job?

MURPHY: It"s either to get employment or it"s to get the free benefits that we provide. We have way too big of a welfare state...

MATTHEWS: OK.

MURPHY: ... and we need to crack down on that, as well.

MATTHEWS: You are--OK, you"re a hopeless right-winger. You"re hopeless because the reason people come to this country is to get a job, and the first thing they do is try to get a job. And as long as there"s a way to get one illegally, they"re going to come to this country. You don"t agree with that. Everybody listening knows that"s the reason!

MURPHY: Well, Chris, the reality is there are lots of reasons people come here, and one of the reasons is...

MATTHEWS: OK.

MURPHY: ... because we haven"t secured our border and we are...

MATTHEWS: OK.

MURPHY: ... allowing the drug cartels free access to the southern half of our state.

MATTHEWS: OK. Change the subject. OK. OK. Here"s the problem. You"re not serious. Thank you, Congressman, for joining us. Congressman Grijalva, thanks for joining us.

GRIJALVA: My pleasure.

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