'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Thursday, March 20th, 2014
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THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
March 20, 2014
Guests: Samuel Berger, Jose Diaz-Balart
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
When MSNBC first hired me to do this TV show, I was working at the
time at Air America Radio. It was a liberal talk radio network founded in
2004, and you might have heard, it did not survive.
But amid all of the myriad ways that Air America Radio lost money, one
of the ways that we actually made money was by doing a cruise for Air
America listeners. Now, we did not invent this idea for fund-raising, but
it`s a fairly straightforward idea. Banking on the fact that people who
listen to liberal talk radio might like to meet other people who also
listen to liberal talk radio and they might like to also spend time with
the personalities who they listen to on talk radio.
You then market to those folks the opportunity to pay to take a cruise
where they get to hear talks by their favorite radio personalities and have
meals with them and do events with them, and in the process, they also get
to meet a lot of other people who have the same interests that they do, at
least in radio.
So, Air America did a bunch of those. I think I went on two of them,
but I can`t remember, it might be three.
Lots of other similar media outlets do the same thing. "The Nation"
magazine, they do a cruise as a fund-raiser. I`ve heard it`s great,
actually. "The Nation" is obviously just as liberal as Air America Radio
But it`s not just a liberal thing. Actually the pioneers of this are
on the right. "The National Review," that conservative magazine, and also
the "Weekly Standard," they`ve done these cruises as fund-raisers for those
And in June, 2007, one of those fund-raising cruises for the "Weekly
Standard" went to Alaska. And on the day that their cruise ship, the
"Holland America Oosterdam," on the day this lovely ship docked at Juneau
at the Alaska state capital, some of the people from the "Weekly Standard"
cruise fund-raiser thing, some of the people from the magazine got off that
ship and went into town.
Michael Gerson, who had been chief speechwriter for President George
W. Bush, Fred Barnes, who is a talk show host at the FOX News Channel and
also executive editor of the magazine. Also the founder and editor of the
"Weekly Standard," a man named Bill Kristol, along with their wives and
some of their other relatives. Those three guys from the "Weekly Standard"
got off of the cruise, got off of the "Weekly Standard" fundraising cruise,
and they went ashore in Juneau and they had what the "New Yorker" magazine
later reported to be an elaborate, delicious, ultimately very important
long lunch. Halibut cheeks were involved apparently.
At that fancy lunch and then at a follow-up sightseeing trip by
helicopter to a goldmine, those writers for the "Weekly Standard" and
particularly Bill Kristol from the "Weekly Standard," they basically fell
in love, fell in political love, at least, with the governor of Alaska at
the time who hosted them for that lunch and gone with them to the gold
mine, a woman named Sarah Palin.
That was June 2007. By July 2007, the "Weekly Standard" had already
started writing up what ended up a long series of articles praising this
then little known Alaska governor as essentially the conservative who was
going to save the election. Michael Gerson, the Bush speechwriter, he
called Sarah Palin, quote, "a mix of Annie Oakley and Joan of Arc."
Within just a few weeks of that luncheon, Bill Kristol was lobbying in
an almost over the top way on TV, on the Sunday morning shows, he was
lobbying overtly that John McCain ought to pick this, quote, "fantastic
Alaska governor to be his vice presidential running mate for the
presidential election in 2008.
At this point, the Republican nomination was basically sawed up. John
McCain had it in the bag. It was still contested between Hillary Clinton
and Barack Obama on the Democratic side.
That, however, was not a strategic hurdle for Bill Kristol. He
thought Sarah Palin would be the ideal candidate to beat either Barack
Obama or Hillary Clinton. He said, he explained, that Sarah Palin, see,
she could beat Barack Obama at basketball and by virtue of her gender, she
could steal woman voters who might otherwise be inclined to vote for
Hillary Clinton as a historic first woman for president kind of thing.
Sarah Palin was perfect. There was no way that John McCain could lose
as long as he picked Sarah Palin.
Bill Kristol is just as famous, if maybe not just as influential, now
as he was back then. But now part of the reason that Mr. Kristol is still
so famous is because he`s become kind of an Internet me that stands for guy
who is wrong about everything. If you have to boil down the concept of bad
punditry, of somebody who`s famous for getting things wrong, the little
avatar you`d end up with, the little smiley emoticon you would come up
with, would be this guy.
If you type "Bill Kristol wrong" into Google, Google suggests Bill
Kristol wrong again, Bill Kristol wrong everything, Bill Kristol always
wrong. Very quickly, you get to an old BlogSpot page advancing a formal
theory that Bill Kristol is always wrong. The Web site is
Last summer the media criticism Web site Mediaite finding the vehicle
for them summarizing things Bill Kristol has famously been wrong about was
to put together a "Bill Kristol is wrong" slide show. Bill Kristol said
that Nancy Pelosi had disastrously miscalculated by coming out against the
Iraq war, coming out strongly against the Iraq war before the 2006
election. He said because of that terrible miscalculation by Nancy Pelosi,
there was no chance that the Democrats would win the House in 2006.
Democrats not only won the House in 2006 making Nancy Pelosi speaker,
they also won the Senate that year.
That same year, Bill Kristol was promoting Sarah Palin as the way the
Republicans could win the White House, he also said that Barack Obama,
quote, "is not going to beat Hillary Clinton in a single Democratic
primary. I will predict that right now." In fact, Barack Obama beat
Hillary Clinton 19 different times in primaries, plus all the caucuses and
he did, in fact, win the primary overall and became the nominee.
Once Barack Obama became president, Bill Kristol said he knew who
Barack Obama was going to pick as his first nominee for the Supreme Court.
He said he had it on good authority.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL KRISTOL, WEEKLY STANDARD: If he has made up his mind, and I
think it`s going to be Jennifer Granholm, the governor of Michigan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Less than a week later, President Obama did nominate his
first Supreme Court nominee. It was not Jennifer Granholm, governor of
When President Obama was running for re-election in 2012, Bill Kristol
announced to the world his exclusive news that Rudy Giuliani, once again,
was running for president. Rudy is running, "I`m told by reliable sources
that Rudy Giuliani intends to run for the GOP nomination for president in
2012. Rudy Giuliani was just about to declare he was in the running for
2012." Rudy Giuliani did not run for president in 2012.
Bill Kristol is amazing. Bill Kristol once went on the "Larry King
Show" which used to be on CNN and he told Larry King that what America was
going through right in that moment was the high water mark of the gay
rights movement. That there would never be further achievements in gay
rights in America, that what they were living through right then was the
high water mark for gay rights. He said that in 1993.
Anything happen since then? Who am I? Oh, wait.
Bill Kristol is amazing. Bill Kristol has been amazing for a very
long time. Obviously, there`s nothing fatal about making bad predictions
concerning politics. I`ve done lots of it. Any of us who talk about
politics for a living, are dumb enough to be lured into making predictions,
we`re going to get it wrong sometimes. Not as often as Bill Kristol gets
it wrong. Everybody gets it wrong sometimes. And it usually doesn`t make
that much difference in the world.
But Bill Kristol is very frequently wrong, not just about politics but
something he believes he`s an expert on, and that is the issue of war.
This week is the anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. That was
11 years ago this week. It was a war that lasted more than 8 1/2 years.
It was a war that Bill Kristol confidently predicted would last two months,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTOL: Whatever else you can say about this war, let me make one
point. George Bush is not fighting this like Vietnam. Whatever -- we
don`t need to refight the whole history of Vietnam.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saddam maybe, that`s the danger of Saddam --
KRISTOL: It`s not going to happen. This is going to be a two-month
war, not an eight-year war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is going to be a two-month war, he says there, not an
eight-year war. In fact, it was an 8 1/2-year-long war but Bill Kristol
said it would be a matter of weeks.
Bill Kristol also said it would only cost $100 million to have that
war in Iraq. Try multiplying that by a lot.
He said that Saddam Hussein has got weapons of mass destruction.
Saddam was, quote, "past the finish line in developing nuclear weapons."
Bill Kristol said when American troops freed the people of Iraq, that would
make us respected in the Arab world.
On March 1st, 2003, Bill Kristol said, quote, "Very few wars in
American history were prepared better or more thoroughly than this war by
Six weeks later, he declared that war was already over with. He said
in April of 2003, "The first two battles of this new era are now over. The
battles of Afghanistan and Iraq have been won decisively." April 2003, he
You ever wonder why it occurred to the George W. Bush White House to
have the president of the United States put on that flight suit and declare
mission accomplished in Iraq? Well, three days before George W. Bush did
that, Bill Kristol had declared mission accomplished in the pages of the
"Weekly Standard." Said it was done, the war was over, in April 2003.
Also pick Palin, pick Sarah Palin, you`ll definitely win.
In punditry, it may not be possible to overdose on wrong. We may have
an infinite capacity for wrong, right? If so, Bill Kristol is proving that
by never going away. And he hasn`t gone away.
Right now, he`s still a pundit. Still running the "Weekly Standard."
Right now as Republicans and critics of the president are looking for a
political advantage against President Obama, specifically on the issue of
Russia and Russia`s aggression in Ukraine, there`s Bill Kristol right now
trying to sharpen up the sort of vague and non-specific Republican
criticism that President Obama isn`t being tough enough. He`s trying to
put a point on that, get them to get to the point by suggesting it might be
a good time now for another war.
Mr. Kristol this week declaring war-weariness as an excuse. He leads
his column by saying "Are Americans today war-weary? Sure." That`s
literally how he says it. Sure. Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been
frustrating and tiring.
Yes. How did we get into those wars, anyway?
But if the American public is weary of those early wars, Bill Kristol
says that is a curable condition. Mr. Kristol says, "The idol of war-
weariness can be challenged. A war-weary public can be awakened and
rallied. All that`s needed is the rallying."
Yes, land war with standing armies in the Crimea? Anybody ever try
that before? How did that work out?
The neocon armchair generals like Bill Kristol and the John McCain
hawks of Washington, they have not gone anywhere since the last time they
got us to start a war, right? They were not able to get President Obama to
continue the war in Iraq for longer than he did. They were not able to get
President Obama to put boots on the ground in Libya, they were not able to
get President Obama to open up an American front in the war in Syria.
But right now in Washington, President Obama is making it clear that
they`re also not going to be able to get him to start an American war with
Russia over Ukraine or anything else.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK MULLEN: Message to troops about whether the use of force,
militarily in Ukraine, is possible.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are not going to be
getting into a military excursion in Ukraine. Even the Ukrainians would
acknowledge that, you know, for us to engage Russia militarily would not be
appropriate and wouldn`t be good for Ukraine, either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama speaking last night to NBC 7 in San Diego.
Today, President Obama announced essentially a cranking up of what he is
doing instead of war, which as of today is a third escalation of sanctions.
The first one was announced last week. That was a list of travel bans
for some Russian and Crimean officials. The second one was earlier this
week, the list of seven Russian officials and four Crimean officials who
were subject not only to travel bans but also to having their financial
And now at the time that President Obama announced that second
cranking up of sanctions, the president also announced that he`d signed an
executive order giving himself further authority to impose even deeper
sanctions on more people and on some Russian financial and economic
Today, that executive order was put to good use when the president
took a third shot at it, a third escalation of the sanctions. The
president took to the South Lawn of the White House this morning to
announce a new blacklist, essentially, of a wide assortment of politically
connected Russian zillionaires.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The United States is today moving as we said we would to
impose additional costs on Russia. We`re imposing sanctions on more senior
officials of the Russian government. In addition, we are today sanctioning
a number of other individuals with substantial resources and influence who
provide material support to the Russian leadership. As well as a bank that
provides material support to these individuals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A bank. You know, what is considered to be kind of the
nuclear options when it comes to sanctions include cutting off a country
from the banking system. Not allowing a country any access to
international capital or currency by isolating their banking system so it
can`t do any international work.
One senator on the foreign relations committee told us on this show
last night he thinks that Russia may be heading for that nuclear option,
but, of course, that would take a lot of international work to get the
world to agree to do that to them.
What President Obama did unilaterally was to sanction one particular
Russian bank, a bank that is basically considered to be Vladimir Putin`s
bank. It has about $10 billion in assets reportedly. It`s seen as mostly
handling financial transactions for the elite of the elite in Russia
including President Putin, himself.
Because of what President Obama did today, that elite bank in Russia
will no longer have access to dollars and as the "Washington Post" says it
today, correspondent accounts with U.S. banks will also now be terminated.
Although I`m not exactly sure what that means. In addition to going after
that one elite bank and locking down the assets and banning travel for all
these new officials and all these very wealthy businessmen close to
Vladimir Putin, President Obama today also gave himself yet further leeway
to hit Russia in a way that wouldn`t just effect, say, Vladimir Putin`s own
personal money, just the elites, but might effect that whole country in
more of a gut-punch way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I signed a new executive order today that gives us the
authority to impose sanctions not just on individuals, but on key sectors
of the Russian economy. This is not our preferred outcome. These
sanctions would not only have a significant impact on the Russian economy
but could also be disruptive to the global economy. However, Russia must
know that further escalation will only isolate it further.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is a big deal. Executive order that President Obama
signed today gives him the authority to ban essentially any American
economic feelings with whole sectors of the Russian economy, including
potentially Russia`s humongous oil sector and humongous natural gas sector.
Hello, Exxon. About that world`s biggest oil deal you`re working on
with Rosneft right now, President Obama for you on line 2.
Critics of President Obama in Washington right now are making this
sort of esoteric charge that he`s not being tough enough against Russia.
And what a lot of them mean by tough enough is starting a war, just like
they always want. That is not going to happen. Not this time.
If we are big enough as a country and smart enough now as a country to
admit that starting a war is not the only way to be tough, how should we
understand the toughness of what President Obama is doing right now and its
likely effectiveness in terms of stopping Russia from doing what it has
been doing? And what else is President Obama capable of doing?
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Diplomacy between the United States and Russia continues.
We`ve emphasized that Russia still has a different path available. One
that deescalates the situation and one that involves Russia pursuing a
diplomatic solution with the government in Kiev, with the support of the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama today announcing a new round of sanctions
against more than a dozen officials in the Russian government, as well as
members of Russian president Vladimir Putin`s inner circle, as well as one
specific Russian bank.
Joining us now to help understand the importance of these moves today
is Sandy Berger. He`s former national security adviser during the Clinton
administration. He was foreign policy adviser to Hillary Clinton during
her `08 presidential campaign and he`s currently co-chair of the Albright
Stonebridge Consulting Group.
Mr. Berger, thank you so much for being here.
SAMUEL BERGER, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Nice to be here.
MADDOW: President Obama announcing this new round of sanctions today.
It`s the third of those, as best I can tell. We expect there may be more.
How tough are these in the grand scheme of things?
BERGER: I think these are good steps today. Sanctioning Rossiya Bank
I think is important. This, as you pointed out, is really the Kremlin
bank. It`s the bank of the Kremlin insiders.
Authorizing treasury to go after key sectors of the Russian economy,
mining, banking, defense, I think loads the gun for further actions. I
think that`s important.
I think more needs to be done. I think next week`s meetings in Europe
the president`s having with the European leaders are important
opportunities to come together around a longer term strategy, because I
believe this is a longer term challenge.
MADDOW: On the specific issue of that bank, as you described it, the
Kremlin bank, can you help me understand what the material effect will be
for senior Russian officials who`ve been using that bank? This is
obviously not a broad international action. It`s an American action. Will
they feel it?
BERGER: Well, first of all, European banks will be affected by the
fact these banks cannot now deal with dollars. They will not be able to do
transactions in dollars. And, generally, in other cases, the European
banks have followed our lead of these kinds of sanctions.
MADDOW: I see.
BERGER: They`ll still be able to maneuver, but I think they will have
an affect on these leaders. And I think more than anything else, this
crosses a line here. We`ve gone from individuals now to institutions.
And I think the financial sector is the place where Russia is
vulnerable. Russia`s financial sector is interconnected with the global
economy. I don`t think this is sufficient. I think we have to go further,
ultimately, to make very clear to the Russians that we can`t accept what
they`ve done, and if they try to go further, the consequences will be far
greater, because I think what Putin has done here in the last few weeks is
to fundamentally challenge the post-Cold War arrangement that has accepted
the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the nations of Europe based on
a fiction -- a fiction that people, Russian speakers were threatened in
Crimea and a fiction that Russia has been subjected to an unrelenting
campaign over the last 20 years to weaken and humiliate them.
I think it`s very important we now respond strongly to --
MADDOW: He has done -- he has done some things that are sort of like
this. Obviously in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, to a lesser extent I think
in Transnistria. He has essentially extended the Russian empire in starts
and bits in different places. And the world was very disapproving, in
particular, of what he did in Georgia.
But, you know what, Georgian troops were still in South Ossetia -- or
Russian troops were still in South Ossetia when the world came to Sochi and
they hosted the Olympics. He endured that disapproval. Why -- what would
have to happen differently now for him not to be able to endure the
disapproval on this arguably larger incursion?
BERGER: First of all, I think the Georgia situations were somewhat
different. These were frozen conflicts. Those provinces were not within
Georgian control at the time of the dissolution --
MADDOW: Crimea was slightly equivalent to sort of northern Iraq in
terms of having its own authority as well.
I mean, I don`t mean to argue the fine points of that. I just mean to
say that I think Vladimir Putin thrives on the world`s discontent and
thrives on being seen as somebody who`s willing to stand up to the West.
And you can see it in the way that senior Russian officials responded to
the first wave of sanctions, by literally laughing at them. What punctures
BERGER: I think what punctures that is our ability, number one, to
sustain them over time, our robust assistance to the new government in
Ukraine, both economically and politically. You know, the Ukrainian people
have suffered under one incompetent, corrupt Ukrainian leader after
another. They`re in dire straits. The international community has now
really step in a strong way, help them do the kind of economic reforms they
need and to absorb the political costs of that economic reforms.
I think we have to reassure the nations around Russia that they`re not
going to be subjected to the same kind of harassment.
So, I think there`s a series of things we have to do now, because this
notion -- the principle here that Russia or any country can absorb its
ethnic minorities on its border is very dangerous one in the world we`re
MADDOW: Sandy Berger, former national security adviser during the
Clinton administration -- thank you very much for being here to talk to us
tonight. I was happy you were able to come.
BERGER: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Lots still to come tonight. Including what looks
like some unexpectedly good news out of North Carolina that started with a
johnboat trip up the canal that you saw on this show first on Monday night.
MADDOW: Meet the St. Petersburg. It`s a 750-foot-long Norwegian
cargo ship. A car carrier that`s run by a company called Hoegh Autoliners.
This is a huge ship. It weighs nearly 70,000 tons.
The St. Petersburg was on its way from Madagascar to Melbourne,
Australia, when the Australian government announced last night commercial
satellite images showed what appeared to be large-scale debris in the ocean
off the coast of Australia.
The moment that debris was spotted, the closest vessel in all the
world to that potential debris was the Hoegh St. Petersburg, this giant
Norwegian cargo ship that was sailing along in international waters.
And, of course, that ship is under no obligation to help search for
what or what might not be parts of that missing plane. But when the cargo
ship got the call they might be helpful in the search since they were the
nearest ship to the potential debris field, they totally stepped up. They
said they would help.
Hoegh Autoliner executives held a press conference in Oslo. They
pledged their full support. They declared their ship and crew of 19
mariners would be at authorities` disposal for as long as needed.
According to Hoegh Autoliner, their ship had radar equipment and
powerful search lights that would be used to scan the ocean surface around
the clock. They said weather conditions near the ship were good, but they
hadn`t spotted anything so far.
So, the St. Petersburg has been in the general area of this
unidentified debris since last night. And without, of course, any
certainty that the debris has anything to do with the missing 777, more
help is on the way in that part of the world. Five other merchant ships
volunteered to help search as well. An Australian warship is on the way.
That`s expected to make the scene over the weekend.
The new search area defined because of this supposed finding, it`s
about a four-hour flight from Perth, Australia, to the area they want to be
searching. And planes are currently scouring that, including according to
the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, a P-8A Poseidon from the U.S.
Navy which is a fancy plane that can do a lot.
It`s the Navy`s newest submarine aircraft that flies between 5,000 and
10,000 feet. It can dip as low as 1,000 feet for visual inspections. It
can stay aloft for up to nine hours which is handy when the thing you want
to look at takes you four hours to get there. The Navy calls it the most
advanced long-range anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare aircraft in the
There haven`t been any reports of any meaningful sightings from any of
the surveiling aircraft or any of the ships so far, but they are continuing
to look. As the head of the AMSA emergency response division said in his
press conference, "This is probably the best lead that we have right now."
But honestly, there aren`t very many leads. This is not the first
satellite image of debris which has stoked hope the missing plane would be
found. Obviously, though, there are governments in the word, including our
own, who believe this latest announcement from the Australian government in
the middle of the night last night is worth the diversion of assets, to see
if what was spotted by the satellite maybe could be part of that plane.
So, the search continues. It began today at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time
tonight. It`s going to continue in this round until about 8:00 a.m.
Eastern Time tomorrow.
If the search does turn up anything, MSNBC will report it to you the
moment that we know it.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: On Monday, we got in this rather remarkable tape from North
MADDOW: I didn`t mean remarkable that way in the sense that it`s a
still image that makes no noise. But what that was, and I`ll have it for
you in just a second, was the beginning of a chance encounter between some
watchdogging North Carolinians in a johnboat on a canal and the law.
We showed you that on Monday, but what happened today seemingly
because of that video is both surprising and turns out to be kind of big
news out of North Carolina. And that story is coming up.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: In a neighborhood called Humboldt Park on Chicago`s West
Side, there`s a church there called the Adalberto United Methodist. Like
most store front churches, it`s nothing fancy. Just a handful of short
pews and a decorated altar.
At Chicago`s O`Hare Airport, a woman had a job making $6.50 an hour
cleaning out planes. Not a great job. Not a high-paying job, but a job.
She was a young single mother.
She got caught up in an immigration sweep of low-wage workers at the
airport. She did not have the right immigration status. She was not
supposed to be working that kind of job. And although she fought through
the legal resources she had after that sweep, eventually she received a
deadline notice from the Department of Homeland Security demanding she
report to the Homeland Security Office in Chicago by 9:00 a.m. on a
specific day whereupon she would be deported back to Mexico.
Beyond the fact that she did not want to go, herself, she also had a
7-year-old son named Saul who had been born in this country, who lived his
whole life in Chicago. He was a U.S. citizen. She wasn`t going to
separate herself from her son. What, leave him here alone at age 7?
She did not want to go to Mexico, but she had this deadline notice to
turn herself in at Homeland Security. She did not. Instead, she went to
the Adalberto Church. She came to this store front church seeking
sanctuary, seeking refuge from deportation along with her 7-year-old son.
That all happened in the summer of 2006. Her notice to hurricane
herself in was August 15th. That`s when she went to the church.
Elvira Arellano had first come to the United States nine years earlier
in 1997. Her boy Saul was born here in the U.S. She just decided the two
of them would try to stay at the church to try to stay together. And
again, this is a store front church in a poor neighborhood in Chicago.
It`s not like there were a lot of amenities for them.
They stayed in a single room together. She and her son shared that
single bed. She used the small kitchen inside the church to cook
breakfast, lunch, and dinner for her son and herself. Every morning, she
would send him off to school. She would see him out the church doors and
send him to school, but she, herself, never actually went outside the
church and on to the street for fear of being arrested.
And the story of Elvira Arellano and her son, Saul, taking refuge in
that little church, the dilemma of whether or not the government should
force her and her son out of that church by force and separate them, that
dilemma started to spread. She pasted the church windows with copies of
letters of support she received from Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois
and then-Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.
She said if she was arrested at that church in what she called holy
sanctuary, she said, quote, "She would know God wants me to be the example
of the current hatred and hypocrisy of the current policy of this
She started a group called the United Latino Family to advocate for a
change in policy so kids who were U.S. citizens like her son, Saul, would
not be forcibly separated from their parents from U.S. deportation policy.
There`s a long history of people taking refuge in churches and
cathedrals. Back to medieval times, churches offered secure sanctuary for
people who sought it for whatever reason. There`s no law or anything like
that makes that the case here in the United States that it`s a place where
you can hide from the law, but the principle of churches as places after
refuge is a powerful idea.
At the Adalberto Church in Chicago, the pastor said there was no
question for him the church would take her in when she turned up and asked
for help. He said at the time, quote, "I`m much more afraid of God than I
am of Homeland Security."
The thing is, though, legally speaking, the government could have come
in at any time and seized her from that tiny store front church. They knew
she was there. Everybody knew she was there. The government did not go
into the church and pry her out of there. They let her be.
She spent her time in the church praying, cooking, gardening, seeing
her son off to school, waiting for him to come home. She openly defied the
deportation orders. She confined herself to the four walls of that little
church and did it for an entire year.
What she and her son did in Chicago sparked a sanctuary movement that
spread to 16 other states for churches specifically to try to shelter
families that were facing being torn apart by deportation. That December,
in 2006, December 2006, "Time" magazine featured Elvira Arellano and her
son in their person of the year issue, an immigrant who found sanctuary.
In the summer of 2007, after an entire year of living inside the
church and never venturing out, she finally decided she was going to leave.
She said she was willing to face the risk of deportation after year in that
church in order to attend immigration rallies in California.
She wasn`t just trying to change the deportation policy for herself.
She was trying to change it for everyone. So, she left the church and went
to California and two to the rallies and action came very swiftly. She was
arrested as soon as she arrived in Los Angeles. Her son was there with
her. He watched her get arrested.
She reportedly asked the officering officer to give her some time so
she could talk to her son to calm him down before she was taken away.
But they moved fast and that same night she was sent across the
border, sent to Tijuana. Her son, by then 8 years old, was sent alone back
to Chicago to the store front church since that had become their home.
Elvira Arellano was deported in 2007. This week Elvira Arellano came
back. She crossed the border again. Seven years after first deported, she
led a group of 20 mostly undocumented mothers and children across the
border from Tijuana into San Diego, this is part of an ongoing protest
campaign organized by the National Immigrant Youth Alliance to raise
awareness about what remains the plight of kids like Saul, kids who are
born here, raised primarily here, whose country is the United States but
who are being forcibly torn apart from their parents by deportation policy.
The Youth Alliance has organized four of these civil disobedience
border crossings just in the past two weeks. Basically, it`s people with
family ties and family members here showing up at the border asking for
humanitarian parole. It`s basically temporary permission to stay in the
United States for compassionate reasons. They`re essentially turning
themselves in peacefully to Custom and Border Patrol asking to be allowed
to be with their families.
In addition to Saul, who`s now 15 years old, Elvira Arellano also has
a new boy who was four months old. She was with her baby boy when she
crossed this week.
Seven years ago, Elvira Arellano sought sanctuary in the store front
church in Chicago. At the time she was holding out hope that Congress
would move, they would act on legislation that would allow her to stay here
with her American son. She inspired a lot of people in the country with
her year-long fight to stay, living in that little church. But ultimately
when she daned to step outside, she was deported.
Seven years later this week, she crossed over again. Customs and
Border Patrol arrested her. They put her and her baby into a detention
center in stake San Diego for two days.
But then, as we were preparing this story today, late today, they let
her and her 4-month-old son out. This is a picture of her today. She`s
holding her release paperwork. She`s out of the detention center in San
Diego. She`s been giving a court date of April 22nd before an immigration
judge in Chicago. Her 4-month-old son has a court date luckily on the same
day. He had separate paperwork for his matter and everything. But
presumably he will be in his mother`s arms for that hearing.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency can`t tell us exactly
what is next for her, but they do have some discretion for who they deport
and when they deport them. They`re supposed to, of course, prioritize
criminals, people who may pose a threat in this country for some reason.
Last week, President Obama announced an executive review of
deportation policies in this country to see if there are ways to make those
policies more humane. In a White House statement, the president expressed,
quote, "deep concern about the pain too many families feel from the
separation that comes from our broken immigration system."
What changes could that review produce? What can the president do
alone since the Republican-controlled House, Republican-controlled House is
now clearer than they`ve ever been that they`re going to do nothing in
terms of the legislation.
What will happen to Elvira Arellano and her son in the short term?
But what`s going to happen to the millions of people in this country who
are in her same situation and who have been in the same situation for
years? What really can change?
Joining us now is Jose Diaz-Balart. He`s an anchor, of course, of
Telemundo. He`s been covering the immigration reform story intensely.
Earlier this month, he also hosted a town hall on Telemundo with President
Jose, thank you very much for being with us tonight. It`s nice to see
JOSE DIAZ-BALART, TELEMUNDO: Thank you, Rachel. Great being with
MADDOW: What do you expect from this review that the president has
ordered. How much can he do without Congress?
DIAZ-BALART: I think he`s going to wait. I think he has a lot more
hope than you just expressed. And quite frankly, agree with you, there`s
very little possibility we`re going to see in the House of Representatives
some meaningful immigration reform package come out of there.
But the president seems more optimistic. He thinks that maybe by
August when the members of Congress go on their recess, hopefully they will
have done something to start an immigration reform process that would
really mitigate the pain that we`re seeing in this country for hundreds of
thousands of people.
I think he`s going to wait until August if nothing is done in the
House. I wouldn`t be surprised if he starts making some very controversial
executive orders to mitigate the pain of millions of people who face
deportation like Elvira Arellano. I talked to her just a little while ago.
And she`s hopeful but she knows that odds are that people like her
that come back in don`t get very good odds when they got in front of a
MADDOW: Jose, when you said you wouldn`t be surprised if the
president tried to move further with executive orders, obviously, those
would be controversial. Everything about immigration is apparently
controversial. What do you think he could do via executive order? How
much of a change could he make?
DIAZ-BALART: Richard, there is a program, a federal program called
Secure Communities that gives local and state cops the possibility of when
they arrest or detain someone checking their immigration status through
DHS. That has caused more than 150,000 people to be deported.
And maybe the president could tackle that specifically. That would
mitigate immediately in local communities people who have minor traffic
infractions and find themselves deported with like Elvira, U.S.-born
children, and those families are divided and destroyed in this country,
1,000 deportations happen every day in this country.
MADDOW: Do you think this dramatic and now repeated protests against
deportation policies, do you think they are having an effect in Washington?
When you -- I mean, you have access to the president that I could only
dream of. You`ve spoken to him a number of times I know.
And you see how this is debated in Washington. You`ve covered it so
intensely. Do these protests have an effect on the people who are making
DIAZ-BALART: I think they do in many ways. I`m not sure they do in
the Republicans that have already made up their mind. They don`t want to
see immigration reform as an issue before this next November`s elections.
But they do, for example, even the president -- I think the president
has been very clear recently that he feels the pain of deportations and he
wishes that something was done on immigration reform.
There`s a group called La Raza, the largest Latino organization in the
country, they`ve been behind him on a lot of efforts including the
Affordable Healthcare Act. And they recently called him deporter-in-chief.
That I think that has hurt the president and his message that he is the
person who supports immigration reform but can`t see it done in the House.
I think that does cause him to say -- well, let me see what I can do
if nothing is done by August. Maybe I`ll have to step forward, even take
controversial decisions that right now I`m not willing to take.
MADDOW: Jose Diaz-Balart, anchor for Telemundo`s nightly national
newscast, Jose, thank you so much for being with us. It`s great to have
DIAZ-BALART: Pleasure, Rachel. Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Last week, a group of river keepers, folks who basically act
as watchdogs for the Cape Fear River in North Carolina, they hopped into an
aluminum johnboat and scoot it up the Cape Fear River to try to find out
what was going on with whatever this nightmare orange stuff was that seems
to be finding its way into the river?
They ended up on a canal that leads right now into that river. And at
the head of a canal is a decommissioned power plant, a coal-fired power
plant owned by Duke Energy shut down a couple of years ago. But while the
plant is not still burning coal, the residue leftover from them burning
tons of it in a past has been pile the into lagoons, pits of coal ash at
the site of old power plant, these toxic coal ash lagoons.
So, the river keeper guys were motoring just off the Cape Fear River,
up that canal that goes to the Duke Energy plant, trying to figure out what
was going on, and then this happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OFFICER: What y`all got going on today?
PETER HARRISON: Just cruising.
OFFICER: Why when these gentlemen tell you not to go any further,
y`all keep going?
HARRISON: I thought we had the right to use the water.
OFFICER: You do, but what`s the point of going all the way up there?
Fishing or anything? Or --
HARRISON: We`re just looking around.
OFFICER: OK. Well, y`all have your IDs or anything on you?
OFFICER: Just need to see those real quick.
HARRISON: Have we done something wrong?
OFFICER: No, I`m just checking your IDs, man, you all coming up.
This is all the power plant. This is all the power plant`s property.
HARRISON: Including the water that we`re boating on?
OFFICER: Pretty sure. I can get wildlife out here. They`ll scratch
you a ticket.
I`m not going to scratch you a ticket for nothing. I`m going to check
your IDs and let you go ahead and go back down there and tell you not to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The guys from the river keeper did point their johnboat back
down the river, but they`ve already taken samples along the river banks.
They had also come up in a plane to see from above what was going on at the
head of that canal.
And from that aerial survey, they were able to snap these photos of
what appeared to be Duke Energy caught in the act of pumping liquid out of
those toxic blue ponds into the canal that runs into the river that
supplies drinking water downstream.
And it turns out they were right. Duke Energy was pumping liquid out
of their coal ash ponds into that canal and into the Cape Fear River. When
Duke got asked about it, they said it was just routine maintenance, no big
Well, today miracle of all miracles, Duke Energy today actually did in
North Carolina get cited for dumping that crud into the river. The state
today sent Duke a notice of violation in which they informed them that they
had pumped 61 million gallons of waste water out of those toxic coal ash
ponds and that that does not constitute essential maintenance.
The state named more than 100 days on which that pumping had happened.
If Duke is found in violation as they were notified of today, they could be
fined $25,000 a day for each violation. If that was only one violation a
day, that means we`re looking at a fine of $2.7 million.
Duke Energy has 30 days from today to respond to the state regulator`s
notice. And if you think any of this would have happened without those
guys in the johnboat and up in the plane taking the aerial survey of what
was going on at that power plant being protected by those sheriff`s
deputies, then I have some bridge over some creepy teal toxic blue water to
sell you and I`ll sell it to you cheap.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow night.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD."
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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