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tv   George Washington University Immigration Debate  CSPAN  January 14, 2019 9:34am-11:17am EST

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congresswoman chrissy houlahan. republican dan meuser was elected to represent pennsylvania's ninetth district. he was an executive in his family's company that manufactures scooters and other home medical equipment. pennsylvania east 13th district elected representative john joyce. he's a medical doctor who has run a dermatology practice with his wife since 1991. congressman guy reschenthaler served as an attorney in the u.s. navy. new congress, new leaders.
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watch it all on c-span. the senate confirmation hearings for william barr begin on tuesday at 9:30 a.m. eastern. william barr is now of counsel at the law firm of kirkland and ellis and served as the u.s. attorney general for president george h.w. bush. up next, a debate on immigration with writers and editors from the american conservative and the nation. george washington university is the host of this hour, 35 minute event.
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so hello, everyone. i'm judy woodruff. i think we have a real treat in store, an invigorating and thoughtful discussion of a subject that we know is so important to all of us and to our country. the resolution the two sides are going to be debating is america needs more immigrants. and we have an excellent quartet, if you will, to do the debating. i'm going to introduce them now starting with the two who are representing the nation. they are sasha abromski who is seated right here. he is a frequent contribute to the nation. he's the author of several books including "inside obama's brain"
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and "the american way of of the." his most recent book looks at the role irrational fear plays in divisive issues like gun control, health care and immigration. next is michelle chen, she is a contributing writer for the nation, a contributing editor at dissent magazine and a contributing editor at in these times. she's also a contributor to asia public forum. she studies history at the city university of new york graduate center. representing the opposition from the american conservative on my left, on your right, please welcome jim antle. jim is editor of the american conservative. previously he was politics editor for the washington examiner. he was managing editor of the daily caller and he was
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associate editor of the american spectator. antle is the offer of "devouring freedom, can big government ever be stopped." seated next to him as part of the american conservative team is helen andrews. helen is a writer and editor whose work has appears in spectator usa, the claremont review and american affairs among many others. helen andrews was a 2017 robert novak journalism fellow. we welcome all four of them. it's going to be a lively discussion. just a few words before we begin. we want to get a sense of what you in the audience and any of you who are following beyond this room think about the subject of immigration, about whether america needs more immigrants. so we're going to ask you to cast a vote and you have two ways to do that.
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one is to text. normally people tell you to put away your smart phone. we're asking you to take it out and to text the numbers 22333. and once you do, if you believe in the position that american needs more immigrants, then type in nation. if you think america does not, if you disagree that america needs more immigrants, then time in amcon for american conservative. that's one way you can goat. the second way you can vote is simply go to the website pollev.com/podiusdebate. once you get to the website, you can vote for or against the resolution. so that will give us a sense of where people are coming from on this question as we begin
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tonight's discussion. so without further ado, i'm going to say go. we're going to start with opening statements. those are going to last 25 minutes approximately. we're going to divide them as evenly as we can between the two sides starting with the nation. that's going to be 12 minutes on each side. that means it's divided. so six, six, six and six. have at it. sasha, it's all yours. >> you want me over there? >> actually, to that microphone. the clock will tell you where we are. >> first of all, thank you george washington university for hosting this. and thank you, judy, for mott rati moderating it. thank you for coming out tonight to invest some of your time and energy in this really vital question about whether america needs more immigrants.
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now, statements like that never occur in a vacuum. there is always a context to a policy question around immigration or any other issue of the day. and the context that this question is occurring in is trump's united states of america. now, from the get go, from the time that trump declared his candidacy in 2015, came down the elevator at trump tower and declared that mexicans were rapists and criminals, from the get go the trump era has been defined by a xenophobia. by a hatred and suspicion of people who are different, who look different, who speak differently, who come from different places. in the 2016 campaign, trump's immigration policy was shaped by the ethno-nationalism of steve bann
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bannon. in the years since trump was elected president, his immigration policy has been shaped and the bureaucracies changed by the ideas of people like steven miller. trump's modus operandi is essentially to say we want fewer immigrants, especially fewer immigrants who look a certain way, who worship a certain way, who come from certain countries. trump's idea is that we need fewer immigrants from a muslim background. in fact, so adamant is he on that that during the campaign he said he would admit no muslims to america. and after the election he tried to and partially succeeded in implementing a travel ban. he has decided we need fewer immigrants from what he terms the -- and pardon the french -- beep ble [ bleep ] countries. he has decided we need fewer
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immigrants getting visas as a result of the diversity lottery which predominantly allows immigrants in from countries in africa. he has decided that those roughly 1 million people who to all intents and purposes are americans and who were given daca status under the obama administration, he has decided their status should be cast into doubt. the trump administration has decided if you are an immigrant with temporary protected status, you come from a country like honduras or el salvador, your status will be revoked. and if you are one of the half million u.s. citizen children of those immigrants, you face the prospect of being facto t orphaned by trump's immigration policy. by contrast, trump has announced he wants more immigrants from
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some other countries. in particular, he has decided he wants more immigrants from norway. here's the problem. norway has one of the highest standards of living on earth. norway has one of the most generous social benefits programs on earth. norway has some of the most progressive environmental policies on earth and year in, year out, norway finishes either at the top or near the top of global happiness indexes. now, that's not the way immigration flows work. it's not the way they work today. it's not the way they worked yesterday and it's not the way they're going to work tomorrow. you cannot pick and choose who you allow into a country and say we will only allow in the most affluent and the most educated, because quite honestly if you were an affluent educated norwegian looking at trump's america in 2018, you would have
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precious little incentive to come here. here's the problem if we go down that road of fewer immigrants, if we accept it's a pipe dream we're not going to get more norwegian immigrants, but it's certainly not a pipe dream that we can curtail the flow of other immigrants. if we embrace trump's anti-immigration policies, here's what we face. we face fewer workers coming into this country willing to do the jobs that for various reasons home grown americans have long shunned. we face fewer international students coming in with all of the cultural and intellectual benefits that brings. we face fewer entrepreneurs willing to dream their dreams here in the united states. and we face fewer cutting edge scientists coming into this country as seen by the recent hand wringing over the lack of quantum computer experts being
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admitted into the united states. we need more immigrants for two reasons. one of them is the cultural and the economic dynamism that immigration has always brought to this land of immigrants. the second is the moral imperative. if we turn our back on refugees, if we turn our back on asylum seekers, if we turn our back on the poor, the vulnerable, the dispoe sssessed and the persecu, we are throwing away america's unique role on the global stage. for all of those reasons, i urge you today to back our motion that america is a better place when we have more immigrants. thank you. [ applause ] >> american conservative, you have six minutes now. >> i want to thank you all for coming.
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i want to thank my panelists on both sides of the issue. i want to thank judy for moderating. i want to thank george washington university. i want to start by framing what exactly we're saying no to, because the phrase do we need or want more immigrants could mean a variety of things. i would envision, that yes, we will have more immigrants come to the united states. what i object to is increasing immigration levels above their current levels of more than a million admitted per year. i think that a lot of my reasons for objecting to that in this climate have to do with where we are as a country right now. i think at the moment we are admitting immigrants really on a self-selected basis, all of the undocumented immigration is self-selected. and a good bit of our legal immigration is based on who you're related to and a relatively small percentage of it is based on what kind of skills or what your prospects
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for economic success are in the united states. now there have been times in our history where that would have been less problematic than it is today. but we are living in an economy where there is less upward mobility than we have seen in the past, where there is a great deal of competition for low skilled labor. it is very defeifficult for the economic prospects of people who don't have a high school deemployd diploma. frankly we're admitting people to do jobs that because of the pace of technological innovation may not even exist within our lifetimes. and we are seeing a lot of political upheaval over that. we've seen obviously a lot of the focus has been on donald trump. but it's hillary clinton who recently noted that the migration issue in europe has inflamed what she described as
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right wing populism. and currently it has introduced some of that into our own political climate here in the united states. i would argue that you should side with our motion if you don't like the current political climate of the united states under president trump. president trump would not have been possible if we were not mismanaging our immigration policy. we currently, i think, have a country that is very divided where people are very angry, where people have to read magazine articles to teach them how to talk to their own family members during thanksgiving. perhaps some of those articles were helpful to you this year. a lot of that is quite separate from immigration. immigration is not the leading cause of our income inequality. immigration is not the leading cause of our political divide. it's not the leading cause of our cultural divides. but it is something that is a legitimate government function to control and it is something
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that we can quite easily regulate, albeit not without costs. i think there would be benefits toward moving our immigration flow to being more skilled, somewhat less and to be more, somewhat more modest numbers, but would still be in raw numbers, much larger than the immigration flows of most of the rest of the world. welcoming people is a huge part of the american experience. it's a huge part of the american tradition. but it's only one part. the welcoming also has to come in a context of us all coming together. there is nothing to welcome someone to if we don't in the end have a commonality around which we unite. and the united states has had a greater success at doing that with people from all over the world than any other country that has ever existed. i think in our current climate, keeping immigration flows at their current level or somewhat lower would be the best policy for us coming together.
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immigrant, native, and americans who come from a variety of backgrounds, a variety of races, and a variety of income levels. and so that's why i think, yes, we need more immigrants, but we don't know more immigration levels beyond our current admission levels, annually. thank you. >> all right. all right. back to the nation. actually, this microphone is kind of fake, so, i'm just going to leave that there. >> i think we're using your lapel mike, so you can go ahead, even without the stand. it's a good omen. now the jig is up. sorry, guys. but anyway well, thank you all for coming, thank you all for hosting us. so like my fellow teammate, and it seems also my opponents, i.t.
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struggled with this open-ended debate question. first of all, it strikes me as a little bit counterproductive. second of all, it strikes me as a little bit of redundant, and also kind of racist. so i would say it's actually a question of what exactly are we counting and why? because to me, migration has never been about numbers. we don't tend to think of migration in finite terms, in terms of rule of law, in terms of national boundaries, in terms of policing checkpoints, visas, beginnings and endings of jur journeys. yet contrary to popularst stes r stereotype, we should think of movement without a beginning or an end. but on a practical level, it is who we are. it is part of our national identity. and to shun migration, to try to regulate it, is always a problematic, if not impossible
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prospect. so, whether you are native born or a member of one of the indigenous peoples of this continent or just crossed the border yesterday, we should be debating immigration as not something that is a threat, nor is it universally a good thing. but debating immigration is basically debating part of our existence. it is integral to our national existence as a nation and it is part of who we all are as individual. and it's also unavoidable. so the question more immigrants or fewer to me, it's kind of moot, because it's not up to us to regulate this anyway. it's not a bean counting exercise. it's not taxation, it's not fiscal policy. it is simply part of the human condition. our ability, our will, and our right to have move across borders is as integral to humanity is our sense of morality, our sense of justice, and the love we feel for our friends and our family members. we should not only have more migration insofar as we want to live in a society that is
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increasingly human and more embracing of the human condition, but we must have more migration, because it is part of inevitable process that has been going on since time immoral. in fact, it predates the whole concept of nation states, i would argue. migration just is. globalization just is. people move and they always have. so one might argue that, well, national sovereignty is also an existential issue, right, and something that is in crisis right now. and that is part of the right-wing rhetoric that is currently taking over much of europe and probably this country, as well. the argument that we need less migration, though, is a curious one. because, of course, any bit of newcomers is going to have human needs because they are human, not because they are newcomers. they need food, shelter, health, and they want jobs, right? even the people coming across the border right now, whom trump deems as criminals and a threat and an invasion of this country, all they are asking for is one
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sanctuary, they want refugee, and second, they want jobs, right? so the idea of wanting to limit these newcomers in the name of protecting ourselves from some vague threat, i mean, it might be justifiable from a perspective of individual scarcity, so i agree that some people in this country may feel that they are in serious crisis and therefore they have nothing to share, but as a matter of governance, right, governments do, under our current laws, it is true, have nearly unilateral power to control borders, right? this is fundamental to the concept of national sovereignty. but because there are so few safeguards for these laws that govern our immigration regime, more often than not, the borders themselves lead to a maldistribution of resources that is antithetical to human welfare. and that's -- that is antithetical to human welfare on both sides of the border, right? for people leaving in this country as well as for people living outside of it who want to
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get in. the result for us policy wise is a distorted analysis of what borders are intended to do. because migration should be dealt with as an inevitable, unavoidable product of globalization, which is, as essential to us as water, air, as democratic governance. and as humanitarianism, as a concept. so, on the flip side, what is the price of enforcement, right? to abuse, to imprison, to exclude people simply because they crossed a border under the wrong circumstances, that cannot be morally justified. even dyed in the wool conservatives, they reject the notion of identity politics, right? they argue that people should be justified in their individual merits on the content of their character. how, then, can any free society try to police people simply on the basis of the fact that they were born on the wrong side of an arbitrarily drawn line between nation states? especially when they are legitimately seeking asylum, that is sanctuary from persecution. to do so is to fundamentally
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deny not only the rights, but the facts of human nature. as i said before, we are all from somewhere else and we artily divide nations, but at what cost? who's to say which human being does not belong on one side of the wall versus another? but beyond the numbers, there's a basic argument for justice here. to deny people the right to move in order to better their circumstances, i would argue, is as cruel and as unjust as denying someone the right to breathe and eat, because you deem them to have taken up more than they need for food and air, right? to deny them freedom and basic decent living conditions for the sake of depriving them is logical only if your goal is to eliminate a certain population of people in this country. but what is the social cost? >> time's up. >> and that is why i urge you to vote in favor of our proposition. >> okay. thank you. [ applause ] >> helen?
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>> that's what they said last time. that's the argument i always hear from proponents of higher immigration. they say, restrictionists tell us that immigrants are lowering our wages and not assimilating to our culture, but that's what they said about the irish and the italians, and that worked out fine, so it must just be nativist paranoia. but the fact that an argument was made a hundred years ago doesn't prove that it's wrong, quite the hoepopposite, it may that there's something to it. the bromens said that the irish were vastly overrepresented in their city's prz prisons and th were correct. but we can set those kinds of negative effects to the side because they were temporary. a third of immigrants that arrived in the second half of the 19th century were illiterate in any language, but their children learned to read and write and their grandchildren went to college. what didn't change was that those immigrants and their descendants remained a solid voting bloc for the democratic
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party. the biggest consequence of the ellis island great wave of immigration was to shift american politics permanently and drastically to the left. it started from the moment they arrived. every city in america in the 19th century that had a large immigrant population immediately developed its own tammany hall with its corrupt urban bosses. and that was completely revolutionary. the idea that you could simply bribe somebody into voting for you, not by passing policies favorable to their interests, but by literally just giving them stuff, was unprecedented in the american political tradition. it was thought to be a corruption of democracy. which is supposed to be about deliberation among citizens, not the distribution of largess from patron to client. one politician who took careful note of this first american welfare state during his political apprenticeship in the new york state legislature was franklin roosevelt. and of course, when he became
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president, he took tammany hall methods national. now, let's be clear about one fact of history. fdr would not have been nominated or elected without the votes of the urban ethnics. they were a crucial part of the new deal coalition. catholics voted for fdr at rates of up to 80%. and the consequence was the transformation of the american state into something that the framers of the constitution would not have recognized. but which boss tweed would have found very familiar. then, the immigrant vote moved us another standard deviation to the left 30 years later with the great society. because jfk would not have been elected without the votes of those same catholic ethnics, including some deceased ones in cook county. it took a hundred years for the democratic lock on the votes of those immigrants and their descendants to be broken with the rise of the reagan democrats. but after a hundred years, it was already too late. the transformation of our government had been affected. so when you ask yourself whether we need another great wave of
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immigrants now, one of the things to consider is whether or not you think we need another huge and permanent transformation in our state into something more leftist. because today's immigrants are just as solid for the democrats as the irish and the italians were. not just hispanics, but asian americans vote for democrats at rates of 2 to 1, even 3 to 1. california has effectively become a one-party state. not because the liberals there were so persuasive in their arguments, but due to demographic changes. now, i like to think that if i were a liberal, i would disdain to achieve victory by such a, frankly, underhanded method, as simply overwhelming the votes of people who disagree with me with millions of votes from the third world. but if you are a progressive skpuand you would like to see the rest of the country go the way of california, i have to ask you, what is the point of achieving permanent political power for the left-wing party if you then have a left-wing party that stands up for the interests of
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employers and not workers? liberalism is supposed to be about taking care of the least among us. there's no one that unlimited immigration hurts more. it hurts the high school dropout or the ex-convict trying to get a foot on the ladder of employment. and if they do get a job, it keeps their wages low and makes it harder for them to find housing. affirm ty action was supposed to be about benefitting the descendants of slaves and its biggest benefits now is the children of wealthy families sending their children to elite universities. let me tell the left something from the heart. it's possible to achieve power by selling out the interests of ordinary americans in favor of people whose only priority is keeping wages lower and workers powerless. but it's a bargain with the
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devil, and it's certainly not very progressive. [ applause ] >> all right. now we're going to have a round of rebuttals. first, let's go to the nation, and four minutes each. sasha? >> thank you. well, there are so many ways to get into this, it's hard to know where to start. but i think political corruption is as good a place as any. you've just heard that if we let immigrants into this country, we are seeding the groundwork for endemic political corruption. what planet are we on? has nobody heard of scott pruitt? has nobody heard of donald trump? has no one heard of zinke and all the other avatars of corruption that were doing perfectly fine without any votes from, quote/unquote immigrants from third world countries. corruption is a problem, but it isn't a problem triggered by the
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rise of mass immigration. and then we heard that immigrants were responsible for a whole bunch of terrible things, like the new deal, social security, unemployment assurance, eight-hour workweek, awful things like that. and that they were also responsible for the great society, which brought up, i think, medicare, medicaid, and the war on poverty. god forbid, if we let more immigrants in, we might actually get health care for everybody! we might actually get a sensible environmental policy. and really, really awful things like that. my other opponent mentioned that we can't have mass immigration, because it impacts people at the bottom of the economy. well, it is certainly true that in the post-world war ii years, during the period of strict immigration quotas, there was, indeed, lower inequality.
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and people at the bottom of the economy did fairly well. but correlation does not equal cau causation. the reason inequality shrank in those years was because we had the most progressive tax system that we have ever had. it's the fact that we had things like social security. it's the fact that we used federal tax dollars to invest in affordable housing and the gi bill and medicaid and medicare and higher education institutions. and it's the fact that during those years, trade unions had more power than they have had since and than they had had before. if you want to look for reasons for the lack of inequality in those decades, those are the reasons. correlation does not equal ca e causation. the fact that there were immigration quotas is no more responsible for the falling inequality than the fact that during those same decades, there were atmospheric nuclear tests
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releasing radiation into the atmosphere. it's a red herring. i think what we've really heard tonight is the argument that the culture is undermined by quote/unquote third-world immigrants. by people from other countries, with different ways of looking at the world. frankly, that is the same argument made by neo-fascists in europe. and it stinks in europe and it stinks here. and i should say it is no coincidence that one of my opponents told the sidney morning herald last year that one of her favorite figures on the global stage was marine la penn, the leader in france. we are a generous country. we are a country that is historically welcomed in immigrants. we're a country that until recently welcomed in refugees. we're a country that until
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recently abide by international law in welcoming in asylum seekers. our national emblem is the statue of liberty, which has those famous words carved on the base, about welcoming the poor and the vulnerable and the displaced. that is who america is. that is what america is. and if we turn our backs on this, if we say we no longer have room to be generous, we are turning our backs on everything decent and moral -- >> time's up. >> -- in this country and its history. thank you. [ applause ] >> american conservative rebuttal time. >> you know, i was always taught that it was not polite to argue religion in public, and i think when you're talking about these questions in such moral absolutes, are we welcoming or not, is it just or not for
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societies to have borders, is it just or not for countries to have a sense of national sovereignty, we're really not talking about a practical public policy. at that point, we are getting into something that are theological. and i don't dispute anybody's right to have whatever theological commitments they have. i think some might find some of my own theological commitments strange. but in an era of globalization, we are dealing with the inevitability of -- through technology and economic change, of people from a variety of countries coming together, but also the reality that differences and values and differences in how people want to live and differences in ideology and differences that have led to war and conflict and ugly political climates throughout human history, those things still persist. so, i think most human societies
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have been trying to find prudentially ways to balance the inevitability of a more globalized world with how do you then tackle with the fact that some people find it difficult to live with one another? and the fact that immigration in the united states has come -- has tended to come in flows, waves of large numbers of immigrants, then often followed by pauses where there are lower numbers of immigrants, during which time we have seen greater integration of previous immigrant communities into american society. and i think that's what we're calling for to see something a little bit more along the lines of that happen today. you know, i don't think it's purely a coincidence that many of the advances of the welfare state that my opponents have mentioned did occur during a period of relatively low immigration and that since we've had higher levels of immigration, these issues have become more contentious.
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i don't think that bringing in people to pay for the retirements of maga hat-wearing white old people is going to be a less-contentious society. and i think that many members of the immigrant community who will be paying for said retirement may become somewhat resentful of that fiscal reality, as well. i think what we need is an assimilationist policy. i think it is a fact that the bosses who are not fans of labor unions largely agree with the policy of mass immigration, of bringing in more immigrants who are not competing with them for their jobs, for the most part, but competing with people from the lower, at the lower level of the income stream and at the class stream. labor unions did not seek benefits for their workers by having the most open labor markets you could possibly have. and by having a global race to the bottom in wage rates. that's simply historically is
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not the case. and i think for both of those who would like to see us have a more robust welfare state and those of us who would like to see us move back to something closer to the constitutionally limited federal government, the current patterns and numbers of immigration are overwhelming both political goals and making the -- and are one easily controllable thing that are making these debates much uglier and less pleasant than they need to be. i think we all need to come together as americans, regardless of where we came from, what we look like, what our accents are. but there are times, as in food consumption, you need a diet, there are times when lower levels of immigration actually further the goals of assimilation and integration, rather than undermine it. thank you. [ applause ]
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>> ms. chen? >> it sounded like my opponents were sort of arguing against themselves right there. first of all, arguing that a policy of immigration restriction is a good thing universally because it will keep democrats out seems to be a fairly weak-sauce argument. not only because a few years ago, republicans were championing hispanics as natural republicans, that was before trump, of course, but also because they also argue against, say, inviting in more muslims, because they have these horrific hyper-conservative religious views, right, they want to turn everything into sharia law. so these arguments against immigration are quite malleable, quite nebulous, and quite driven by emotion and perception, right? which is interesting, because that is often what they accuse us, you know, sappy liberals falling pray ining prey to. so arguing for more immigration restriction because having more immigrants come as they
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inevitably will is going to make racist people racist more also doesn't make sense to me. the problem is that their racist reactions to immigration, the problem is racism, right? it's not the immigrants. so you might think that the opposite of that for arguing for more liberal border policy or for more liberal immigration laws would be inviting in anarchy, inviting in chaos. listening to the rhetoric that authors usually put forward when they're talking about immigration. which is typically, you talk about flows of people, hordes of people coming over the border, as if it's this unctuous human mass, this invasion of pa parasitical human beings that's thronging to be let in. and i would say this is not inviting in chaos. it's letting a fairly osmotic flow of people from a place my opponents might call it the
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third world, i would call it perhaps the developing world, the global south, but people coming with less resources simply wanting to better their own circumstances. you might call them refugees, in many cases they're fleeing state persecution or unlivable conditions in their home countries. but either way, they have a justifiable claim to want a better life for themselves, right? and i don't believe an arbitrarily drawn boundary should get in the way of that. think about it this way, a basic precep of humanity, when it comes to the duty of the state, it's the government's responsibility to govern fairly and ensure the welfare of these people, the people in its jurisdiction, right? there are the people within its borders and there are the people at its borders. legitimately seeking asylum turned geneva conventions. that is international law. but in any case, it is not up for us to only care about our own citizens, right? we have a variety of tears of legitimacy of different people. i wish it weren't that way, but
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we have people who are green card holders, people who have temporary protected status, people who are daca holders, right? so we have all sorts of different ways of credentialing legitimacy in this country, which are all sort of fundamentally unjust in the sense that they sort of tier humanity, right? i would argue that we should go move, at least, against the system in which there's more equal access to legal resources, to the benefits of the bill of rights, right? to the equal protection of laws, because that is fundamental to our constitutional values. i mean, it is basically about who we are, not who the immigrants are. so people argue that they should come the right way, that they should apply to work legally in the u.s., but the fact is, we have legal immigration in this country and we still treat them poorly. but that is a product of our failed policies, it is a product of our failed labor law, and it is a product of policies that fail every american, not just
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immigrants. >> thank you. >> well, both of our opponents told us that they're concerned about inequality. i'm glad, i am too. that's why i wouldn't like to see the rest of america go the way of california, one of the most unequal states in the union right now. a good rule of thumb on estimating the effects of immigration is always convergence. that the immigrants will become a little bit more like us and will become a little bit more like the countries that they came from. well, one aspect of latin america that california is converging towards is massive inequality. there is no country in latin america where the middle class makes up a majority. their distribution is and has always been a lot more lopsided. you have a tiny elite, about 15% of the population, and a massive toiling underclass and an itty-bitty middle class sandwiched between them. that's the social structure of honduras and these days it's the
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social structure of san francisco. but i don't think the oligarchs of san francisco have quite thought through the social consequences of embracing brazil-style inequality. because what always happens is that as the toiling underclass gets further immisserated and conditions deteriorate and your one-party government becomes more and more inefficient, you gradually reach the point where the government can no longer provide basic public services like keeping the streets free of needles and human feces, which if you've been to san francisco, you know is not a metaphor. and what happens when you reach that point is that the oligarchs withdraw behind walls. they pay for their own privatized versions of government services, they pay for their own private security, like you find in so polo and their own private bus lines stoto substitute. but the people who get sandwiched are the formerly middle class. anybody who can't afford those privatized versions of government services. and they suddenly wake up to discover that their middle class standard of living is no longer available to them, which is why
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the middle class is fleeing california in droves. but if the rest of the country goes the way of california and starts converging on that style of inequality, the rest of us won't have anywhere to flee to. now, both of the -- both of our opponents repeated the old canard that restrictionists are motivated by xenophobia and hate. i think if you want to look for hate, you need to look at the other side of this debate. i hear so often from the left about the coalition of the ascendant and the emerging democratic majority and we don't need to court the votes of the white working class, because soon enough, due to demographic changes, their votes won't matter anyway, which carries the unspoken or surprisingly often spoken implication that all the white working class needs to do is hurry up and die. well, you know what? they are dying. they're the reason why, as we just learned this morning, life expectancy in america has declined another year in a row. life expectancy in a first world country isn't supposed to decline at all, much less a drop
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of the levels that we last saw in world war i and the era of the spanish influenza. and they're dying of things like opioid overdoses or suicide or cirrhosis of the liver. so, yeah, you're telling them to hurry up and die and they're getting right on that. but i don't think that's a thing to celebrate or to gloat about. >> thank you. [ applause ] >> all right. now we have time to -- i'm going to ask a couple of questions of each side and then we're going to open it up to you in the audience. we have a microphone stand, i think. i can't see very well. where you can line up, if you have a question and i'll try to get to you. we've got about 24 minutes for this phase of the debate. so, i'm going to -- i mean, i picked up, obviously, several themes that i've heard. and i'm going to come to the nation side and ask about the basic question of inequality.
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the basic question that they've raised, if you let in so many people that need assistance, which so many immigrants do, not all, be many do. what does that do to the economic fabric of this country? can the united states afford to continue to take people that need government assistance? >> it's a great question. and they did talk very much about inequality and they talked, the last speaker said that we didn't car about the white working class and we were telling the white working class to hurry up and die, neither of which we said. we care very much about the white working class and every other segment of this society. here's the thing, poor people coming into america to work has been the dynamic driving force economically in this country for centuries. we need workers to come in to keep the economy vibrant. if you're concerned about inequality, you do far better off protecting trade union rights. you'd do far better off creating universal health care, since
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health care is the single biggest trigger into bankruptcy in this country. if you cared about inequality, you would support an anti-corporate agenda. but everything about what we've heard ignores the fundamental reasons for cascading inequality in this country and seeks to do a bait and switch and to blame impoverished immigrants for that inequality. and it's just not the case. it's trying to get the poorest of the poor divided and fighting over crumbs. and this country has always thrived at its best, when we welcome in people, regardless of color, we welcome in people regardless of religion. we welcome in people regardless of their economic status and we say that if you come into this country, you make it better. when we have that optimism, the economy flourishes. >> i'm just going to turn that around to jim and helen. what about that? >> well, i -- my view is that there is nothing that is a more pro-corporate position than arguing for unlimited
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immigration or virtually unlimited immigration of the lowest wage workers. and it is a fact that labor unions work by restricting labor, not by having the most free flowing labor market that you can possibly have. i think some immigration restrictionists are, in fact, too enthusiastic in how they talk about immigration. but it is a fact that supply and demand does exist and it applies to your labor market as well as anything else. and people at the lower end of the income scale are more responsive to those flows of supply and demand and an increase in labor supply than are people who are in the middle and upper economic tiers. >> let's just keep going with this question. >> just to put a couple of numbers out there, even by the narrowest measure, undocumented immigrants, that is the immigrants who are here who do
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not have proper work authorization. the folks you say who are not paying their fair share, by any measure, they contribute far more, simply in terms of t taxatita taxation than they do, you know, than they take in terms of the welfare state, right? so this argument that immigration invites inequality is a very curious one, given that they tend to be net contributors to society, right? and there's an actual estimate out there that says that there would be at least $12 billion, right, that is missing from the economy, were it not for undocumented laborers, who are, actually, economic agents, and they do pay taxes, contrary to popular belief. we would gain an extra $3 billion in our gdp, if we simply gave them legal status, right? that is a sheer economic argument. moreover, let's look at the costs of immigration enforcement. and we have, you know, of our current hyper-enforcement
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regime. so in fiscal year 2018, we spent more than $3 billion in homeland security money, on custody operations, right? so that's $8.43 million per day on immigration detention alone. this is the incarceration of people who, if they were simply allowed to go free, home to their communities and care for their families, they could be parents to their children, right? they could be helping their children in school, and they could be working tax-paying members of society and the economy, right? but instead, we incarcerate them for no other reason other than they have committed a civil, not a criminal, immigration violation, right? so if you're worried that immigrants are undercutting the conditions of u.s. workers, the idea is not to limit the number of workers we have, right? otherwise, we could argue also against equal employment for women, for that matter. but the solution is to treat them equally to american workers. we need equal enforcement of labor laws across immigrants,
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not just creating a two-tier workforce, which is what we have now. so i would say that even conservative economists should be arguing that more immigration is ultimately a good thing. but beyond that, this is simply a question of social justice. it shouldn't matter what these people bring in net to our economy, that is certainly a benefit of immigration, if you're going to think in those terms. but what i would argue is that we have a fundamental humanitarian and human obligation to care for people who have a legitimate claim to want to enter our country. >> and i want to ask helen to respond to that. and i do want to get some audience questions in. >> sure. well, i'll be brief. let's talk numbers. that is music to my ears, michelle. i know there's a lot of academic debate and scholarly debate about the effect of massive immigration on u.s. wages. but the scholar i trust the most on this is george borjas up at harvard. and his most recent finding was that just between 1980 and 2000, immigration increased the size of the u.s. workforce by about
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11%. and that had the consequence of lowering wage for natives by a little over 3%. and for people without a high school education, it was more like 9%. that's a serious chunk of change. so i don't see why american workers should be asked tofr, out of some sense of solidarity, welcome an infinite supply of cheap labor that has the only -- that only has the effect of diminishing their own take-home pay. >> all right. let's take some questions from you. just step up to the microphone. >> thank you so much for having -- >> and if you could, make your question brief, because we've got only 17 minutes. >> thank you for having this very central debate to our civilization. but basically, here's the situation. the narrative is partly flawed historically in favor of immigration due to the political correctness if the media, from intellectuals, from politicians and the education system, in front of ugly realities. despite all the subterfuges, we know that democrats want
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immigration to boost their voting power. and also, on the republican side, unfortunately, the rhinos or whatever of what they call the chamber of commerce, of course, wants to put pressure downward on wages by bringing immigration, as well. >> could you get to your question, please, so -- >> my question is, i'm wearing my -- i'm french, okay? i grew up in france. and right now as we speak, basically, the globalization process is falling flat in its face, as macron is basically self-destructing beautifully. now wi now, i want you to comment on that. because what you're watching in europe is coming here. thank goodness that the united states and british were ahead of the curve and voted for brexit and trump, okay? i'm sorry. this is what's going on. i could on explaining for two minutes what you -- what has not been said here! because when the debate is flawed in favor of immigration, basically the whole discourse is meaningless. and i'm sorry, the policies that result from flawed politics will
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be destructive to our nation. i moved here from france 38 years ago. i'm wearing my yellow vest, and you're asking me to ask a question when i'm trying to explain in two minutes what i can really clarify very nicely. i mean -- >> thank you very much. we're going to let -- >> no, we're -- >> i bet the four of us agree, it's time for you to stop, sir. >> we have other people -- >> you don't like the truth! you have to suppress it! you have to basically -- >> you're wasting our time! >> we don't want to hear you! >> right, so he just said the discussion was pointless. so we can just all go home now. >> if we could just have a brief question and direct it to one side or the other. >> thanks for the event, thanks for both debate teams. and i think i'm in favor of -- although i don't i mean that we need immigrants, but to welcome immigrants, instead. so i'm in favor of the nation. but i would like you mostly to
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consider the conservative part. i think you underestimate the productivity of immigrants. and you put all of such a problem to immigrants. it's false. because i can tell you, i can contest you, they are a super class of crime is committed by our native american, white americans. and of course, they can utilize all kind of races to be their slave to produce more crime. so i would like you to put that real productivity or immigrants and fantastic children are raised, a lot of good school credit -- produce the competition -- the school competition, the science competition. so they are the real american friends, make the american society better.
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so you don't try to say immigrants to save the american society. it's the other way around. and beside, immigrant, all kinds of jobs, low jobs, and -- >> if i could summarize -- >> -- appreciate their contribution. thank you. >> if i could summarize -- thank you very much. if i could summarize your question. i mean, her point is that more crime is being committed by native-born americans, that we are unfairly tarring and targeting immigrants. i believe that was -- >> yeah, well, you asked us to appreciate the contribution of immigrants, and i absolutely think we should. i love the contribution of immigrants. and frankly, if there's one aspect of president trump's rhetoric on immigration that i would like to see him drop, it is about crime, because i think you're right that immigrants have lower rates of crime and even violent crimes than natives. >> yes, sir, question? >> tonight, we've heard some very helpful and sometimes passionate views expressed.
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i think there's one mention that we have not heard discussed tonight, and that is, what is our population policy in this country? we know that living in a finite world. we have a population commission that gave a report to us 20 years ago that we have not considered and that has impacted -- should have impact on what our immigration policy is. >> what do you mean by population policy? >> population policy is recognizing we have finite resources in this country, to support our population. as scientists, we know that we are already overpopulated. >> so you mean, limits on immigration? is that what you're saying? >> limits on population, not on immigration. but we also recognize that -- >> do you have a question? >> my question is, i would like to hear from both sides on how a finite amount of natural resources limits our -- informs
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our population policy and how that affects our immigration policy. >> all right. >> yeah, that's a good question. and it seems to me there are two issues. the first is resources. and again, this whole notion that our resource problem would be solved if we clamp down on immigration makes no sense. because the vast amount of resources are used by the people with the most money. they're the people who buy the biggest cars, they're the people who buy the biggest houses, they're the people who use the most water in their swimming pools and so on. you don't solve a resource crisis by blaming an impoverished immigrant coming from honduras. the second part of your question, population. all of the research globally shows that the best way to control population is education! when you educate people, especially when you educate women, you see controls in population. so, again, the idea that because we have finite resources and we have a growing population that we therefore have to banish immigrants outside of our borders, that doesn't solve any problems.
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if you want to deal with resources and if you want to deal with population, overwhelmingly, the best response is global systemic education policy. >> i think -- >> okay. >> should american citizens take more responsibility in terms of sponsoring refugees and asylum seekers on different issues? canada allows refugees to be sponsored by nonrelatives. should the united states do that? and would that help settle the issue with the caravans, where we don't really know how big our security problems are? or it seems like we don't know really what's going on? >> american conservative, do you want to comment? >> well, the problem with the caravan is not that we're not talking about enough refugees, it's that the problems in central america are not amenable to the a refugee-style solution, right? like the number of refugees from southeast asia that we took after the end of the vietnam war was 300,000. the population of el salvador alone is close to 7 million. 1 h% of whom are affected by the
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ongoing violence there. it's not a small minority that's beingsp persecuted, it's everyby has a different situation. that's not the kind of problem that the asylum system can solve or was intended to solve. and the fact that they're trying to immigrant on the basis of asylum that they don't qualify for is an abuse of the asylum system and not, i think, very honorable. >> on our refugee policy, canada has a very different system that is driven by private sponsorship. and if you want to turn over our entire refugee-seeking system to a question of private sponsorship, i think that's a larger question for what our social welfare state is intended to do, as well as for how our immigration system works. is it driven by laws or private preferences? this is a fundamental policy debate that would be much large, i think. that is an interesting question, in some ways, you might argue that private sponsorship would create a more lenient system,
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but it's also a less regulated one in the sense it is driven by private interests. just putting that aside, i think the issue about who qualifies for asylum is definitely an issue of public policy, right? and it is so in every other -- in every single country that is under the geneva conventions. our refugee law is built on a variety of case law, as well as the fundamental idea that you should not be returned to a place where you are going to face inevitable threats of death and persecution. freed people from central america are, indeed, fleeing mass violence. in many cases, policy, in many cases, horrific abuse. whether it is domestic violence, whether it is criminal drug gangs, whether it is a failed state, right? but all of these state institutions are failing them. if you're going to talk about resource pressures, you should look over at the countries they're coming from, right? they all, at least do have a right to due process, right? whether or not you think they have a legitimate claim, i
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believe they do, the trump administration is doing everything in its power to limit those claims, simply in order to keep them out, but let them have their day in court, to defund our court system not a just solution to anything. [ applause ] >> next question, please? >> yes, first, i've been told i came here to impoverish america. i came here to get richer. and so did my family. and we've done very well here. however, i would like to remind you that democrats are not responsible for social improvements. you're following [ inaudible ] and they implemented social policies to improve a democracy. and that's what they're doing here. you talk about, quite clearly, your focus is on this 1 million people, which is 0.3% of population.
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an aging population. and a population that is then being driven away by bad health care. but you know, the biggest terrorists in the world is american government. it has been undermining stre ii america for 40 years. >> sir, do you have a question? >> take responsibility. you are bombing middle east for the last 40 years. and you credit all of these problems for europe, the refugees this you are bombing. even now, you are bombing houthis. >> do you have a question, sir? >> let him speak! >> why don't you stop bombing the world and create a refugee problem in the first place. >> i would absolutely love to do that. >> yeah, have you read "the american conservative"? you'll love it. >> right. my question is simply a sentence to both sides of the aisle. with roughly 22 million americans either underemployed, about 4.8% of our population that is unemployed, and according to the u6, a very large number of people have simply given up looking for
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work, they're discouraged, what wh recommendation, if immigration is the panacea for lifting them from this kind of suffering, where would you recommend these millions of americans emigrate to? >> emigrate to? >> to. >> you mean -- >> i'm curious. >> norway? i don't know. >> yeah, they have a great health care system! >> new zealand. >> right. i'm not advocating for more emigration from the united states, though -- >> but you're saying immigration is this cure, this panacea. >> no, no. >> so it's not a cure, it's not a panacea for -- i was in los angeles two weeks ago. i lived there for 20 years. the size of skid row has doubled. doubled. and i used to live in downtown los angeles. there are homeless encampments all -- going into all of the underpasses. i'm just saying, where should
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these discouraged, displaced, thrown overboard americans emigrate to if emigration is the cure? >> no one, i don't think anyone, whether on this side or the other side has said immigration is a global panacea for problems. it isn't a global panacea. it's part of our globalized reality. there always has been, in the interconnected global world, there have always been population flows. people go from one country to another country to another country. and partly they go because they're being persecuted, and partly they go looking for economic opportunity. but it's not for me to say, all right, impoverished americans -- and you're right, there are millions of kbimpoverished americans. i've written books on it, i've written articles on it. i'm well aware of the scale of american poverty. but it's not for me to say, you need to emigrate somewhere else. if they want to emigrate and seek their fortune or their well-being or security someone else, i believe it's their right to do so. but it's not for me to order them to do that and to leave this country. >> i think it's a -- >> i'm not -- but, gep --
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>> it's also a question of -- >> if immigration is the panacea. >> but we didn't say it was. >> no one here is arguing that it's a panacea, right? that is a straw man argument that is ultimately going to be met with disappointment, because none of us made it. >> answer his question! >> where should we? what country will allow you in without any kind of regulation or any kind of limitation? show me a country on the planet that will do that and think it's in their best interest. i'm sorry, but -- >> the issue here is that a more liberal immigration policy is not a zero-sum game. it does not come at the expense of native-born americans. if we have policies that fail native-born americans -- and by the way, many of those unemployed people and impoverished people are immigrants themselves. let's get that out of the way. >> i suggest you go through skid row in los angeles. >> i've been through skid row in los angeles many, many times and i've interviewed people on skid row and i've interviewed homeless people and people in food banks. and i'm well aware, there's an
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extraordinary problem with poverty. we're not saying it's a panacea to emigrate, nor are we arguing for absolutely open borders. neither of us over the last hour and a half of debate has said anything about completely open borders. the debate topic is whether immigration is good and whether more or less immigration is good. and we've argued more immigration is good. now, does that mean we should tell people where to go? >> i think you should give other people a chance to ask questions. thank you. >> i'm sorry. thank you. >> thank you very much. >> yes, next. [ applause ] >> can you describe the former effects of pete williams' policies and also, what is the role of u.s. intervention in central america, particularly in honduras and how that generates immigration. much
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>> who wants to tackle that, we're down to 1 minute and 50 seconds left. >> well, there's a big debate over whether pete wilson, by supporting proposition 187, which banned taxpayer money, whether that is responsible for the leftward shift of california politically. i would argue that that ignores the fact that democrats took both senate seats two years before that happened in 1992 and barbara boxer and dianne feinstein were elected. that you saw george h.w. bush lose california by an overwhelming margin after richard nixon and ronald reagan each carried it twice, two years before proposition 187. the post-1986 amnesty cohort did play its own role in the leftward movement of california. now, if you have kbreeincreasin immigration populations, that's not going to be good for that
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party's electoral fortunes, either. but i think it is unmistakably the case that the political shift in california happened before pete wilson switched on immigration and before proposition 187 passed. >> all right. we have time for another question. they just gave us a little more time. >> i promise i will not make a speech. i want to ask a quick question. and i would like a response from each side on a proposal that i would have, which would be to end the so-called diversity lottery and to take the 50,000 slots that are associated with that and apply it to increasing the number of refugees that we accept in the united states. >> we've halved the ceiling on refugee admissions, more than halved it. we've reduced it by about three quarters since trump took office, right? there's no reason that the 50,000 will make up for what we have lost.
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besides which, we're not even taking up that number of refugees. so we're falling far short of even that ceiling. the problem with refugee policy, it's unjust lip enforced. the screening is almost impossible to get through and it asks impossible tasks of people in terms of producing paperwork that is necessary to get through this paufl bureaucracy, right? it is a violation of their human rights and it is in no way in compliance with the geneva conventions. if you're going to go that route. the diversity lottery is a bit of diversion, i think, because trump is fixated on it. it is actually an incredibly small part of our immigration system. but i do think that things like the diversity lottery should be abolished, because there are these arbitrary little categories that we carve out of our immigration system that are really based -- have no basis in either rational policy making or human need, right? and i think we should have a
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much more equitable distribution of immigrant slots, if you will. if you must go that route, across the board. and it shouldn't be reduced to a bean counting exercise, nor should it be astrict lly mericratic exercise, as trump wants. >> and the conservatives on that proposal? >> 4 million people, 4 million refugees from syria, global refugee population counting in the tens of millions, another 50,000 that we took when we already take three quarters of the total people resettled, that might help, but it's a drop in the bucket, so -- >> i would like to move to a more americratic system, something more like canada's point system, rather than have things like the diversity lottery. i do think the question of refugees, while it is a subset of the immigration debate is a somewhat different question than
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who we're admitting to become permanent members of american society, refugee status, obviously, is for people in particular cases of hardship. i'm not ultimately opposed to increasing those number of slots while reducing immigration in other categories. >> okay, thank you very much. next question? >> we're hearing two very different debates going on. i think everyone's figured that out. but i think on this side, we're hearing a question of how many we should let in and more of an open borders leaning policy. i know you said you don't support that, but leaning that way. and on this side, we're hearing a conversation about who we should let in, and that's the fundamental question, because you've already set your number at the number we currently let never year. however, we can't just maintain those forever. so what i want to know is at what point do you draw the line? for you, you said you don't maintain a completely open borders policy. what is your line on that?
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and for you, if you're willing to draw the lines on the basis of who we let in, i know you mentioned americratic system a little bit more, but on what basis would we determine who those people are? zblets start with -- let's start with this question, where do you draw the line? >> everybody who's being honest has to wrestle with the fact that at some point, there's a line. there's debate on the left and maybe debate at this table probably debate in this broader room about where that line should be drawn. i don't have a problem with a country setting a border policy. and i don't have a problem with some reasonable enforcement on that border. i do have a vast problem with militarizing borders and i have a vast problem with tear gassing asylum seekers, including children. but do i have a problem with the principle of having some border policy in place? no. now, that said, the reason we have so many undocumented
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immigrants coming in is not because people choose to be undocumented, it's because we have a vast problem of desperation to our south and we have a failed immigration policy that people on the left and on the right agree needs to be fixed, but we can't work out how to fix it. so the default is, it pushes people into the shadows. here's my problem with saying, everything is about enforcement. if you say everything's about enforcement, you don't stop immigration. because as long as there are people who are hungry, and as long as there are people who are desperate, you're going to have immigration. if you militarize the enforcement, all you do is you push people out into ever-more dangerous forms of crossing, so they die of overheating in the desert or they get caught in people-smuggling operations or they end up as sexual prey and you turn an awful lot of people who are already vulnerable into even more vulnerable human beings. that's the problem i have with militarizing the border. but do i have a problem with enforcing the border? no. and do i have a problem with setting numbers?
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no. i have never said we should have tens of millions of people coming into this country here. that wasn't the debate. the debate was just more or less? and we said, we should have more. >> all right. thank you. now let's turn to the tension for "the american conservative." you talked about who we should let in and her question is, let's define that a little bit, about who. you talked about americratic. >> first of all, i would say how many is very important and that's why i don't favor increases. i don't think that we really would arife at -- i don't think our government is competent to make these merit-based decision ifs the numbers are too large. i also think any immigrant group with the right amount of time and numbers can assimilate and be successful in the united states, but i think numbers of people matter. having said that, yes, i would like to have a point system where -- number one, at a broader level before we even get to the point system, i would like to see some of our composition of immigration shift
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a little less from the family reunification side and a little bit more employment-based immigration. so, on the employment-based side, i would like points awardd to people on the bases of technical skills, english proficiency, likelihood to become a public charge at some point, that those things would be evaluated before we admit people and we would admit a larger number of people within our overall group of immigrants that we admit each year who are coming here to not just do the lowest wage jobs and are coming here not just because they are related to a legal, permanent resident already here. >> thank you. >> all right. thank you very much. unfortunately, we've run out of time for questions. we've spent even more time than we had planned, but we thank each one of you for coming forward and asking your questions. i will make one personal observation. it seems to me the two sides have come closer together than
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we realize, maybe at the beginning of the evening. now is the time for closing statements. we have 16 minutes, that's four minutes per person. eight minutes on each side. and we're going to start with the american conservative. these are closing statements. >> i'll go. >> okay. >> so there are a lot of problems in america right now, more pressing than immigration. there's the opioid crisis which at this point is killing more americans per year than died in the entire vietnam war. there's the retreat of men from the workforce to the point where now 14 million men, 12% of the primate working force are not looking for a job. there's the collapse of marriage where we're in the unprecedented situation where 58% of millennials now reach the age of 36, never having been married. the first generation where a majority hit middle age without having tied the knot and the collapse of birth rates with all the other problems. all of those problems are more
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important than immigration. but what they all have in common is that they would all get better if we had an immigration pause. if we didn't have a constant supply of cheap labor from south of the border maybe those employers would have to hire some of the marginal men out of the workforce now and put some match-up and effort in training into making them good employees again. if those men had jobs maybe they wouldn't be so prey to the addiction killing so many americans. the reason why so many millennia millennials are putting off marriage because they want to wait until they can settle down and settling down means having a good, steady well paying job and finding a house. immigration pushes up housing costs, which is why california has some of the highest housing prices in the nation. 30% of californian spend more than half of their income on housing which is why one why the united states has the lowest
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birth rate in 30 years, but california has the lowest birth rate in 100 years. the birth rate in california is lower than it was during the great depression. when arizona passed sb-1070 and illegal immigrants went down, rental vacancies went up and rents down, housing in phoenix is affordable for a young family starting out. think what would happen to the marriage rate or to the birth rate if something like that happened in the rest of the country. we've heard from the other side that trump and trump voters are motivated by fear, but i think they're motivated by hope. american voters have been ignored and lied to on the issue of immigration for more than 50 years. they've -- it was always the case that no matter who they voted for nothing was going to happen because neither side, neither party, was going to do anything to antagonize the special interests that benefit from low wages and trump is the first politician in this century
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that has finally listened to what the people keep saying they want, lower levels of immigration. it's already working, even just in the last year. wages are up, but they're up most for people who lack a high school education. unemployment among people without a high school degree is down 40% from its historical average. so i think that finally, after 50 years of being lied to and betrayed by their politicians, with trump they finally have a sense of hope and something might get accomplished. it's some of the benefits from closing the borders might finally be coming to them and i think that that's a hope that we should all do our best to satisfy. [ applause ] >> so it seems that most of those arguments were about things other than immigration, but the fundamental argument was that even though these things are not caused by immigration,
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somehow having less immigration will improve all of those problems. i'm not sure how you can logically make that argument but i would argue all of these problems, they might actually involve fwran involve immigrants but they don't involve the issue of guarding our borders, policing our borders, limiting the number of people that come here, et cetera. it's true that just as racism amplifies inequality problems in this country, just as unemployment amplifies the failures of our welfare state, every crisis is a signal of some other social crisis. i would argue that immigration is probably the least of these problems and if anything, we have a net benefit to gain from immigration. ultimately, i just want to say that where i different from my teammate i'm not antithetical to this idea of open borders. i do not believe we should throw open the borders tomorrow. i argue under our current system we need a better system, a much more fairer system of
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enforcement if we are going to have enforcement at all. the idea of open borders to me is not an invitation to chaos, rather people who advocate for open borders from the left believe that, you know, they're also in favor of mitigating the crises that produce migration into our borders and in favor of creating a humane and just society across the world, right. that is the one thing if you're going to talk about limiting immigration, there's going to limit the drive for these people to want to mobilize, right. freedom of movement is often driven by human need, right. if you reduce the horrific levels of global inequality in this country, across the world, right, not just within this country, then he would inevitably reduce not only the drive to migrate, but also the levels of inequality within this country, right. but none of those things have to do with who we let in, right. none of those things have to do with how many we let in fundamentally, because all of those things have to do with what we are in terms of a nation
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of laws, in terms of how we set our social policy, right, and in terms of how we not only welcome newcomers among us, but also care for the people within our borders, right, regardless of their citizenship, what color they are, or who they were born to or what side of the border they were born on, right. and i would just argue by saying that migrants, they're workers, right, they're students, they're family, they're partners and people who care for us in our old age, right. we simply cannot live without them and in that sense, we do need more, right. we will inevitably have more, no matter how hard you try to shut the border. right. i argue for genuine social equity and that means we need more immigration because it makes our society more humane, right. we have a moral duty to accept people fleeing in justice, so not just in the farrow sense of the geneva convention but also in terms of a higher level of social justice to which we
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should aspire to as the wealthiest nation of the world. anti-immigration is driven by fear, racism, desperation but most of all ignorance. the way to fix ignorance is not to shut people away from us, it is to seek enlightenment and confront the problems that immigration perhaps signifies, right, but have nothing to do with immigrants themselves, right. i believe in a human immigration policy that whenever possible honors free movement because i believe that any just law must honor humanity first and foremost. because to move is to be human, when you reject migration, you reject your own humanity as well as theirs. [ applause ] >> american conservative. >> there are many people on the other side of this debate who i think have very good intentions. there are some people on my side of the debate who have bad intentions.
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but i think some well-intentioned people have allowed themselves to support an immigration policy that is, at this point, doing more to import a servant class for a white, affluent group of people at the expense of an american working class that is itself disproportionately black and latino and where the strongest economic research is on the question of what it does to the wages of reseents immigrants themselves. i categorically reject the idea that opposing this policy or even raising skeptical questions about it is somehow inherently racist. it is not. [ applause ] there was a time during this debate where there were many more people on the left who were on our side in this debate. there were labor unions and environmental groups and there were civil rights leaders. there was a time when there was the recognition that having an
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immigration policy that serves the interests of the bosses and not the workers was a compassionate and human thing to do. no one is talking about no migration or calling migration illegitimate, but immigration has a lot of reaches into a number of other areas of public policy in the united states at a time where jobs are disappearing, where low-skilled work is becoming more scarce, where we're talking about perhaps having self-driving cars that could lead to 10 million truck drivers not having any work in the near future. there are no obvious and easy answers to those problems. you can't legislate away technological advances. we face some very serious problems that don't have anything directly all the time to do with immigration, but the first thing we could do is have an immigration policy that does not worsen these problems. when you are -- find yourself in a hole, you can stop digging.
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we can do things that will lower the immigration rate and shift the composition of the immigration that we're admitting each year, slightly less in the direction of family reunification, somewhat more in the direction of employment-based immigration, and you still will have a lot more migration into the united states than most countries in the world accept. what i reject, however, is a composition of our immigration that really just serves the interests of those who already have a great deal and who are privileged and does not -- does not lead to greater unity in this country. i think we've seen in our past where we've brought groups of immigrants together. the civil rights movement, many accomplishments of american liberalism happened during a 40-year immigration pause. i think we can do something like that again and it would best
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serve both the interests of those who want a more robust welfare state and those who would like to see limited government, stronger vibrant communities. i think this policy would be best for america and best for the immigrants themselves. that is what immigration is about. it's not simply about who will take a job at the lowest possible wage. it is about who the next americans will be that we will all together be americans. thank you. [ applause ] >> and the nation. >> you've heard a lot tonight about how immigrants are responsible for everything from the opioid crisis to automation to political corruption to overreach of big government. what you haven't heard but is in the background is the demo going togy around the conversation, that immigrants are invaders,
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infesters, they are terrorist, that they are criminals. it is a shameless and it is a violent demagoguery and cheapening who we are as a community. this country has roughly 43 million immigrants. they are hard-working, they are community building, they are tax paying and they are striving. you and i live amongst them, we work with them and our kids play with them and go to school with them. those immigrants are modern day versions of my great grandparents who fled the settlement in russia, fled religious persecution and poverty and some went to the united kingdom. want freedom from persecution, they long for better world for
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themselves and children. they came because they heard america's siren call. make no mistake, that siren call is every bit as beautiful as a work of art like beethoven's ode to joy or billy holiday's "god bless the child." those immigrants pay more in taxes than they take in social services. one study after another shows that. they move into oftentimes struggling neighborhoods and they rejuvenate them. they invent things. they discover things. they start businesses. i'll give you some numbers because numbers are important. the american migration council has found one quarter of a million doctors in the united states are migrants. the migration policy institute has found 17% of the nearly 12 million health care workers in this country are grants. brookings has found 8% of
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teachers are grants. forbes has found that 25% of businesses started in this country are started by immigrants and in california that state we have been told is flailing because of high immigration, 40% of business startups are started by immigrants. make no mistake, throughout american history, gratiimmigrat has been a rocket fuel to our success, to our cultural success, economic success, to our political success, to our moral imagination. our status as a place where immigrants come to dream their dreams is every bit as important to our preeminence on the global stage as is the fact that the dollar is the global's reserve currency. so let me return to the question at hand, more immigrants or less? i would beg you tonight to vote in favor of more immigrants. not because the winner gets $5,000 to give to charity of
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choice. that's peanuts. but because all around the country, when c-span gets around to broadcasting it, at least two or three dozen people are going to be watching it and it's going to help shape public opinion. what you vote tonight matter because it sends a message, are we a country the well of generosity has run dry or a country that still has room to dream and welcome, to open our hearts and our minds, to people who come here because they believe this country offers something better. i beg of you don't shut the door on america's role on the global stage tonight. vote in favor of the resolution that we are a better country when we welcome more immigrants. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you very much to the nation, to the american conservative, for a vigorous
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debate over the last hour and a half and what we want to do now, and it's really important, and we just heard sasha abramski refer to it, we want you to vote because that is going to determine which side won. here's what we're asking you to do. if you believe now, having heard this debate, that america needs more immigrants or if you don't, we ask you to text your response to 2233 and if you believe america needs more immigrants, then we ask you to type in the nation, thenati-h-e-n-a-t-i-o-nf you don't believe the answer to the question is does america need more immigrants, if you disagree, 2233 but type in am conmag,a-m-c-o-n-m-a-g.
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that's what we're asking you to do. text that. or go to a website, website poll ev.com hyphen, i'm sorry, slash, slash, podius debate. so you have a choice. vote either by texting or by going on-line. it's very important that you do this because otherwise we don't know who is the winner. that's the way we're going to decide and understand which side was swayed because we will compare these votes, these numbers, to what we saw earlier. we are -- >> where do we stand right now? i have folks here who are stand big to tell me when we have some sense of the response. when we do, let's see, okay, so that is the before or after?
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that's what i'm trying to understand. this is the response right now. 33 to 67. >> how do we make sure everyone is only voting once? >> hadn't thought of that. >> the answer is much more no, two to one, at this point. looks like some votes are still coming in. this is the real-time number. we want to compare it to what we had before. there's a lot of suspense. the clock is ticking. >> i think we're giving people a little more time. they've gotten closer together. so suspenseful.
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this is the before response. if that was 65/35. let's see. okay. so this is the before poll. it was 54 yes, 46 no. [ applause ] this is the after. >> we count. >> it does appear to be a victory for the american conservative. am i understanding this correctly? that's what i think? yes. america needs more immigrants. i just want to check my numbers counters to make sure we're reading it correctly. is that right?
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i tonight wadon't want to decla winners until you tell me those are the final numbers. who? thumb's up or not if that's correct, american conservative wins, that is correct? the winner is the american conservative. [ applause ] what the winning team gets to do is identify the charity which will receive the $5,000 prize. american conservative. >> we're giving the money to the red cross. very well. [ applause ] that's a good cause. >> i can't argue with that. >> so we know the winner is, but we want to congratulate all of our debaters. michele, we certainly want to congratulate michele and sasha and jim and helen because
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they've given it their all. we've had a great debate. you've been a great audience. we had wonderful questions from all of you and we appreciate that. on behalf of podius and george washington university, thank you very much for being here. [ applause ]
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now in its 24th day, the longest in u.s. history. watch our continuing coverage of the negotiations as well as the house and senate on the c-span networks. texas sent nine new members to congress in the 2018 election including four democrats. colin allred represents the state's 32nd district, a former linebacker for the tennessee tie sans, left the nfl for law
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school and worked as an attorney in the obama administration's department of housing and urban development and then later in private practice. voters in the 16th district elected veronica escobar. she previously has been elected el paso county commissioner and judge. earlier in her career she taught english at the university of texas at el paso as well as literature at the county community college. she's one of the first two latina congresswoman elected by texas voters. the other sylvia garcia, who represents the 29th district. she previously served in the state senate. before that she held a number of elected and appointed positions including terms on the harris county commission and houston's city controller and voters from the seventh district sent lizzie fletcher to the house. this is the first time the seventh has elected a democrat since it was constituted in 1967 on the west side of houston.
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the first member to hold the seat was future president george h.w. bush. new congress, new leaders, watch it all on c-span. the senate confirmation hearings for william barr to be the next attorney general of the united states begin on tuesday at 9:30 a.m. eastern. in december, president trump nominated mr. barr to replace jeff sessions who held the position for over a year and a half since the beginning of the trump administration. william barr is of counsel and served as the u.s. attorney general for president george h.w. bush. watch the confirmation process for attorney general nominee william barr live tuesday at 9:30 eastern on c-span 3. up next, a look at defense strategy and u.s. foreign policy with defense officials and members of congress. this was part of the annual reagan national defense forum in simi valley, california.

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