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CNN "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" - Transcript - Immigration

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CROWLEY: We will see about that with a lot less limelight, a House bipartisan group has been working on an immigration bill. And its chances for success and what two members of the house immigration team think of the Senate approach is up next with Republican congressman Mario Diaz-Balart and Democratic congressman Luis Gutierrez.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Joining me now congressman Luis Gutierrez, Democrat from Illinois, and Republican Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida. Thank you gentlemen for coming - for coming out of the room where you've been negotiating for quite some time (INAUDIBLE) try to get together a House version.

As you watch and from what you hear about what the Senate is putting together, do you see major points of contention ahead for what you all want to do and what the Senate wants to do?

REP. MARIO DIAZ-BALART (R), FLORIDA: Who do you want to take? Look, they're doing great work. They're doing great work. The bills are going to be different no doubt about it. And as you said -- as was said in the intro, the rubber meets the road, first they got to pass out of the House, they got to pass out of the Senate, the conference committee would be difficult. But so far it looks like we're at least on the same planet. And that's a step in the right direction.

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: I think, Candy, the number one, I worked with senator McCain 2002, '03, '04 we introduced the bill. Ironically enough it was Jeff Flake and I that introduced it in the House. Now he's the Senate and he's working.

So you have McCain, he's back, he's knowledgeable and he's very clear. Right? He says it's about politics, right? It's about getting it done. Responding to the election on November the 6th. And Dick Durbin, Bob Menendez and Graham, these are all very knowledgeable people. They're going to put together a plan.

CROWLEY: Sure, but what they can get passed and what you all can get passed are hugely different probably because one's the Senate dominated by Democrats, the House, Republicans. Where do you look at -- the two of you look at each other and go, I don't know whether we can come together on this.

GUTIERREZ: I am very, very optimistic that the House of Representatives is going to have a plan that is going to be able to go to a conference with the Senate in which we're going to be able to resolve differences. CROWLEY: For instance, will your plan tie together border security and putting undocumented workers on a pathway towards legalization of some sort? Do you see those things tied?

DIAZ-BALART: Candy, you can't have a bill without border security. You just can't. In the first place, you know -

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: The argument's always been which comes first, right?

DIAZ-BALART: Go ahead.

GUTIERREZ: I think we can do them simultaneously. One thing I have a lot of confidence is what we're doing -- a lot of people say rush, rush, rush. Why can't you get it? You know something, the first thing you have to do when you have four Republicans and four Democrats who agree on virtually nothing else and who argue and fight and debate about everything else, you have to create a sense of trust and camaraderie that exists as you develop such on an issue like this. Having said that, I think first thing we're going to do is we're going to put people in a safe place. That is 11 million people, you can give them a work permit, Social Security card, a driver's license.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Sure. That's what legalization -

(CROSSTALK)

GUTIERREZ: And then the second part is the path to the green card, that permanent residency which leads to citizenship.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: But as you know, what conservatives in particular and there are many of them in the House say is the last time we did immigration reform under Ronald Reagan what happened was we put everybody on, you know, amnesty as they called it at that point. And we never saw the border get secured. So is it going to be enough for you to say to your House Republican colleagues we're going to do at the same time?

DIAZ-BALART: Well here's the issue. It's not only that. Because that is true. What you just said, that's exactly what happened after the '86 legalization. So, no, there has to be a real, not lip service, a real serious order and interior security component of this. We do not want to be -- we don't want to go through this effort to be in the same place five or 10 years down the road. And therefore we have to learn from the mistakes of the past. Part of it is border security. Part of it is interior security. We have to modernize the visa system, the visa program, so that people could legally apply to come to the United States, which is why all of it has to be fixed. It is broken from A to Z. We have to fix it.

(CROSSTALK)

GUTIERREZ: And I think the difference between what Mario and I and others are doing today than 1986, Candy, is 1986 was amnesty. Basically show up, get a green card. That is not what we are doing now. Here's what we're doing differently now.

CROWLEY: Certainly the promise of it. I mean what people are talking about is, OK, but you're still well ahead of people trying to do this on a legal basis if you're sitting here in this country without documents.

GUTIERREZ: We are confronting a reality. Census.org says it's 1,400 a day. Everybody agrees it's 1,200 a day deportations. We understand who these families are most of them have been here more than 10 years, Candy, most of them live with children. Eighty percent American citizen children and what do they have? Undocumented.

This is a tragedy in America. It's a devastating effect and that is what is pulling us together to get this done, saving those families, number one. But it isn't amnesty. The reason it isn't amnesty is, number one, we don't put them at the front of the line. Number two, we have a verification system now, I believe one of the guiding principles that we have is in America a job that is created in America should go to an American first that is born here. I'll say that again. Born here, American should always have first crack. But having said that, there are opportunities for others to work in America. And we need to have those (INAUDIBLE) workers here. And we need to treat them well.

CROWLEY: I want to take advantage of you all being here on a couple other subjects, but my last question and correct this figure if it's wrong. But I'm told about 40 percent of the undocumented workers or immigrants that we have here now simply overstayed their visa.

DIAZ-BALART: Right (ph).

CROWLEY: So this isn't a question of you securing the border. This is a question of finding people once their visa expires. Is there something that would work?

GUTIERREZ: Yes. A verification system. Look, the same Social Security card my grand dad got in the 1930s, that my dad got, that I got, that then my children got that now my grandson, Luisito (ph), got that same Social Security, he's going to take it out of the perforation. Come on. We can do better than that in terms of verifying that who is working in America is eligible to work in America.

DIAZ-BALART: It's an issue of will. Not technology. We can secure the borders. We can secure internally. We can modernize our visa system. We can deal with the issue of the 11 or 10 million that are here. It's an issue of will. Luckily I think now there's bipartisan will to get it done. And the question is, will there be an agreement? I think there will be.

CROWLEY: There will be an agreement. When are we going to see your bill, the House bill? DIAZ-BALART: As we said, our concern is -- it's got to be done this year. But our concern is to get it done well, not quickly.

CROWLEY: So a week, two weeks, six months?

GUTIERREZ: I'm very optimistic that our group is going to work and get back from the recesses we've been talking, during the recess we've been working. Candy, you know better than most simply because we're not in Washington, D.C. it doesn't mean that work ceases here. We are going to continue to work. I expect very, very soon for that proposal to come forward. But I do want to stress that this is a comprehensive approach to our immigration system.

CROWLEY: Everything's tied together.

GUTIERREZ: They are tied together.

DIAZ-BALART: Whether they like it or not, it's tied together.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you quickly, do you think at the end of this process and how you see it shaping up that you are going to be able to deliver the majority of Republicans in your caucus? Or will you rely on some Republicans and a majority of Democrats?

DIAZ-BALART: No, no. For this to happen, it has to be a bipartisan effort. And that's why we have spent so much time, we've done it quietly, we've done it, frankly, I mean quietly. Really. Working, working, working to see if we can come up with a bipartisan effort. It will not happen, Candy, if it's not truly bipartisan.

GUTIERREZ: You have seen over the months us working on this issue. And you haven't heard, read about or heard about the leak. Our commitment is --

CROWLEY: You've been good on the leak.

GUTIERREZ: We've been very, very good about getting that done because we want a product. Because what is motivating us is resolving the problem and the issue. And I want to say to my colleagues on the Republican side of the aisle, they're going to have people that are going to come to -- when this proposal is put forward, here's what you're going to have here before you. People saying that Luis Gutierrez didn't do a good enough job and that Mario didn't do a good enough job, but in the end it is going to be the job that the American people sent us to get done.

CROWLEY: Congressmen, I've got to go. I hope you will come back when you got this in your package out there. And if you'd lighten up and let some leaks come out, we'd appreciate it.

(LAUGHTER)

Thank you.

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