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CNN "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" - Transcript - Immigration Reform and Voting Rights

Interview

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CROWLEY: I'm joined by two members of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Bob Goodlatte, the Republican chairman from Virginia, and Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Democrat from Illinois. Thank you both.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Candy, good to be with you.

CROWLEY: Is immigration going to die in the House, immigration in its comprehensive form as sent to you by the Senate? Is it dead in the House?

GOODLATTE: I don't think so. We're taking a step-by-step approach to immigration reform, but we want to solve all three problems with immigration reform. We want to see legal immigration reform improved to grow a healthy economy, create more jobs for Americans. We want to see enforcement improved and actually enforced, and we want to find the appropriate legal status for people who are not here lawfully.

CROWLEY: But three separate pieces of legislation is tough, because -- I think, and I'm going to let you argue it here -- is that Democrats and many Republicans say you have to tie border security with a pathway to citizenship, or whatever one wants to call it, because otherwise it all falls apart. Can you deal with a separated series of bills that go toward reform?

GUTIERREZ: Here's what we can't do. We cannot put compromise to one side. We need an American solution. What the House Republicans are doing is giving a Republican solution. And a Republican solution isn't what we saw was successful in the Senate.

What happened in the Senate was that Republicans and Democrats decided that bipartisanship was going to lead to a solution, that compromising was going to lead to a solution. They understood that either you gave it an American solution or you were going to get no solution at all. And I think what's happening in the House of Representatives is that there isn't a conversation like the one and a dialogue like the one you saw in the Senate.

CROWLEY: But I thought you had a gang of eight in the House that's working toward a bill that you're supposed to have next week. Where's that?

GUTIERREZ: And it's working, and we had a wonderful meeting this past Friday. They have reiterated their support for a bipartisan --

CROWLEY: Right. There's Republicans on it, right?

GUTIERREZ: There are Republicans on it.

CROWLEY: But you're worried about?

GUTIERREZ: What we're worried about is that if what you propose is simply a partisan solution -- look, it's tough out there, the proposal in the Senate, but people worked together. They said to immigrants, 11 million of them, they said tell you what we're going to do. For 10 years, you pay every tax possible, but you don't get a single benefit. We're going to exclude you -- and Democrats accepted -- we're going to exclude you from Obamacare, we are going to -- as a matter of fact, we are going to confiscate every dollar you put --

CROWLEY: Let me just try to get to the --

GUTIERREZ: -- into the Social Security trust fund, but that is an agreement that we made because we want to reach a solution.

CROWLEY: Understood. I'm trying to get to where you differ with your chairman of your committee. And this is where this bill or these bills will come through. Is there something he's doing wrong that you're seeing in your smaller group with Republicans? I mean, what is the problem here?

GOODLATTE: Well, we would love to have a bipartisan group produce a bill, because it would help to inform the House, just like the Senate bill helped to inform the Senate. But 70 percent of the Republicans in the Senate voted against the immigration bill. Republicans are in the majority in the House. We want to work with Democrats. We want to work with Luis and others to do a bill, but not the Senate bill. And the compromise is going to have to come both in getting a bill out of the House and then in going to conference with the Senate to work out the differences. But the Senate bill gives legal status to 11 million people before it solves all the problems with securing the border, with e- verify, with an entry-exit visa system, and it says we'll take care of those later, but that's 1986. And in 1986, we gave an easy pathway to citizenship --

CROWLEY: We heard that during the Reagan years. Let me just try to pin you down on this. Is there any way that this House of Representatives is going to pass a bill that includes a pathway to legalization for undocumented workers? Is that ever going to happen?

GOODLATTE: When you used the word pathway to legalization as opposed to pathway to citizenship, I would say yes.

CROWLEY: But not to citizenship, you don't think that -- something that ends in U.S. citizenship?

GOODLATTE: Not a special pathway to citizenship, where people who are here unlawfully get something that people who have worked for decades to immigrate lawfully do not have.

GUTIERREZ: The proposals that we have seen in the House of Representatives are old proposals, they are discredited proposals. There were proposals in the past. We had an election on November 6, and they said no to self-deportation, they said no to fingerprints, picking winners and losers, and criminalization.

CROWLEY: But they kept Republicans in charge of the House.

GUTIERREZ: But let me just -- here is what we need to do. What we need do is to find an American solution. What you've seen in the Senate -- look, the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO fight every day. They have reached a compromise. You have farm workers and the farmers themselves reaching a decision. You have our religious community, you have "The Wall Street Journal" and "The New York Times." The breadth and the depth of support which exists for comprehensive immigration reform is greater than I've seen on any other issue. Yet, the one people that stand on the side, unwilling to compromise and sit down with Democrats -- yes, the chairman has a solution, but it's not a bipartisan solution, so it's a solution that's going to lead us to nothing, to unresolved dilemmas and problems.

CROWLEY: So he says you're leading them to nothing.

GOODLATTE: Until Democrats in the House are willing to work with Republicans to produce a bill that can get a majority of House Republicans to support it and then go--

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: That's a high (ph) mark, not just the majority of the House, but the majority of Republicans.

GOODLATTE: Absolutely. Well, that's what happened in the Senate, right? The Senate's controlled by Democrats, the Senate majority -- in fact, all of them -- voted for the bill they liked.

GUTIERREZ: But that's (ph) exactly what happened in the Senate.

GOODLATTE: And 70 percent of the Republicans didn't.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Can I get a sense of what each of you thinks the speaker is headed for? Does he want something that will get to conference and you work it out there, which happens on quite a few bills sometimes?

GOODLATTE: I think the speaker wants to solve this problem. He wants to do it methodically, where we examine each of these issues separately, and we're doing that. And then he wants to find something that can pass the House. He says, and I agree with him, it would be best if it had the majority of both parties voting for it, and then we have to conference with the Senate, because there are lots of defects in the Senate bill that we don't like. CROWLEY: I know your caucus has met with the speaker. What is your sense of what he wants?

GUTIERREZ: (inaudible) meeting with the speaker of the House, the speaker of the House now has to decide whether or not he is going to allow the American people to speak. There are a majority of Democrats and Republicans that are ready to solve this problem. Will he allow a small group, maybe even a majority of his caucus, to control the debate and the future on this issue? If he decides to do that, we will then end in a stalemate and an impasse once again. That isn't what the American people sent us. That wasn't the decision they made on November 6th.

CROWLEY: I'm out of time, but it would be malpractice for me not to ask you about the Voting Rights Act, which many interpreted as, hey, it's up to Congress to figure out how states deal with changes in election law. Do you see any measures coming out of your Judiciary Committee that will deal with this?

GOODLATTE: First thing, it's important to understand that the Supreme Court's decision does not in any way take away the right of people to not be discriminated against in voting--

CROWLEY: But do you see a need for activity in your committee?

GOODLATTE: We will hold hearings on this next month. We will look at what the Supreme Court was talking about in terms of old data. We'll look at what new data is available, and we will make sure that people's freedom to vote in elections in this country is protected. But many would argue that--

CROWLEY: Sounds like not necessarily.

GOODLATTE: We don't know yet.

CROWLEY: All right, OK. Thank you so much. Congressman Bob Goodlatte, Congressman Luis Gutierrez.

GUTIERREZ: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Thank you for coming.

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