All In   |  April 22, 2013

Will Boston bombings thwart Gang of 8's plan for immigration reform?

As Republicans like Congressman Paul Ryan push forward with immigration reform work, warnings from Senators, like Rand Paul of Kentucky, are beginning to spread.  Immigration rights activist Gaby Pacheco, who testified at Monday’s Senate hearing, joins Chris Hayes after her moving testimony about the future of immigration reform in America and the Senate Gang of 8’s plan.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we have a new update we can report on the boston marathon bombing case. several officials familiar with the initial interrogation of dzhokhar tsarnaev in the hospital, which we were just talking about, describe him as cooperative. a senior government official says he has told them by writing answers or nodding yes or shaking his head no to others that he and his brothers were not in touch with any overseas terrorists or groups, that they conceived the bombing attack on their own, motivated he told them by religious fervor. they got their instructions from how to make bombs from the internet, he said, according to the officials. we just got that reporting in and wanted to update you on that. now, earlier today, this was the scene at the united states senate .

>> i say that particularly those who are pointing to what happened, the terrible tragedy in boston as a -- i would say excuse for not doing a bill or delaying it in months or years.

>> i never said that.

>> i didn't say you did.

>> i never said that.

>> i didn't say you did, sir.

>> that was today's hearing on the immigration reform bill on which some republican senators did in fact suggest the bill be see through the prism of the boston marathon bombings. senator chuck grassley of iowa among them. today republican congressman and former vice presidential candidate paul ryan and democratic congressman luis gutierrez campaigned in chicago. and said the boston marathon bombings should not slow reform. i would say for the sake of our national security we want to modernize our immigration laws . we do not know how to even track people who oversay their visas. joining me from washington, gabby pacheco and steve cohn, democrat from tennessee. it's great to have you back here, congressman. gabby, i want to begin with you. you gave very moving testimony today before the committee. i guess my first question to you is what was the atmosphere in that room like? what sense did you get of what effect last week's events have had on the conversation, and as an activist who has been working on this before, is there some part of you that is dreading that what you have worked on for so long may possibly be endangered by what happened last week?

>> actually, i think a lot of us were holding our breath and trying to see what was happening. at first we were praying and making sure that people were okay. but secondly, that they didn't try to correlate this with immigration. unfortunately, they have started. but we're in a different time. we're a different world. and i think that the paradigm has shifted on immigrants and immigration as a whole in the country. and so even though there was intention at the beginning there on the panel, i think that there is a lot more acceptance, and i think that this bill is moving forward, regardless of what happened in boston .

>> do you really think that? you really think -- we've been trying to game out in the wake of finding out that the people who are alleged to have done this were born abroad, which obviously i think bears no logical bearing on how comprehensive immigration reform should go forward, but might have a kind of political truck. and you really came away from the hearing today reassured that it is on track?

>> well, i think the first thing is that they had another undocumented person speaking at it. this is the third time they have an undocumented person testify in front of the senate. and so that says a lot. and i think things are changing. i think also the narratives of people like carlos arredondo , who is also an immigrant, who, you know, without any regards to his life went in there and started pinching and grabbing people and taking them out and throwing fences that were there to save people. and not only that, his son had also gone to iraq and died in iraq fighting for this country. so i think that the stories, the pictures that we're putting the faces of immigrants that are coming out and saying we love this country. we want to serve, have really been able to balance out.

>> that's fascinating.

>> what we hear with the father mongering.

>> congressman, you understand the politics here. we're seeing now there has been a group working on trying to get to a bipartisan place in the house to match the beginning of eight on the senate. we saw gutierrez and paul ryan today. what are you hearing from your colleagues about the direction of this, and what effect, if any do you think last week has?

>> i think we have a gang of eight in the house too. and i think they've been doing a lot of very intense work. and i think they're going to have a bill soon. the issue is whether speaker boehner will take their bill as a whole, or whether they'll break it up into parts and let mike mccaul have part of it in homeland and good low have part of it in judiciary.

>> what would that mean if it was broken up for the bill's prospects?

>> it would mean that probably border security would get passed, and maybe stem would get passed, but some other areas would not. and the dream act would probably be in limbo and probably have a problem. and that would be unfortunate. very unfortunate.

>> that would mean it wouldn't be comprehensive immigration reform .

>> it would be piecemeal.

>> gaby , what is your response to that? i should note for folks you were born in ecuador. you came here as a child. you are subject to the deferred action that was announced last year, meaning that you have a normalized status now, even though you don't have citizenship. what is your sense of the state of play of the house ? you've been an incredible activist on this issue. and what would it mean if it did get broken up as the congressman just noted?

>> well, i think that that's something that we're expecting. the house is a totally -- the temperature of it is a little bit different. but i think that what is going to happen is it is going to allow for different people to vote on different issues and different bills. and what they mostly feel comfortable with. i think that with agricultural workers, it's two pieces that we have come along way. for eric cantor and other, john boehner to talk in favor of the dream act , i think we've seen that we're going to have support of it. so we're going to see it in the a piecemeal in the house . i think we're going get a lot of legislations out of the house . and once they come into conference, you know, we're going to get a bill that will be comprehensive.

>> how much have things changed in terms of the tenor of this, particularly in house part? the house republican caucus is probably the most conservative legislative caucus we've seen in many, many years, generations, possibly. have you -- what is the tenor of the rhetoric amongst your republican colleague there's, and it is moving in a direction where you can actually see something getting done?

>> i think we're going to have something accomplished. and i think it's because -- stephen colbert said until the scientists can create a way for a hispanic woman to give birth to an old white man, the republicans for politics are going to have to be for immigration reform . and they are. they realize that they're going to be dragged into the 21st century as they have been on other issues. they're being dragged on health care . they're being dragged on minimum wage. they're being dragged for the last 20, 30 years they've been dragged. and that's what is happening. but they know politically they have to pass a bill. dream act 's probably got a better chance than path to citizenship if it's broken up. and speaker boehner is going to try to do it. he is going to's along some. it shouldn't make a difference. for people who want to stop it or slow it down.

>> it's going to be interesting to see how that plays out. gaby , i trust your judgment on this. and i too after watching the opening fireworks was actually fairly happy with the general tenor of the debate today. gaby pacheco, director of the bring project, which has been doing the dragging that congressman steve cohn was talking about. we will see you again later in the program.

>>> all right. up next, the major news story from last week that was overshadowed by the events in boston , but contains just as many, if not more troubling unanswered questions.