All In   |  May 07, 2013

Conservative civil war over immigration reform

The Heritage Foundation issued a scathing report on the cost of immigration reform, using the terms "amnesty" and "welfare.” Senator Amy Klobuchar joins Chris Hayes to discuss the future of immigration reform.

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

>>> prepared for a first round of legislative edits, it is becoming increasingly clear that whether or not a bill can be passed will be determined by who wins an increasingly bitter and brutal civil war now being openly fought on the right. if the elites of the republican party believe that passing meaningful reform was going to be easy, the heritage foundation has now shot that belief to pieces. yesterday, the conservative think tank released a scathing report warning that the proposal which would create a pathway to citizenship for the nation's 11 million undocumented workers would cost the taxpayers more than $6 trillion in new spending on social programs. terms like welfare and amnesty are deployed throughout. many economists dispute the numbers. heritage cites the think tank 's new president south carolina senator jim demint begs to differ.

>> no sensible thinking person could read this study and conclude that over 50 years that this could possibly be have a positive economic impact.

>> well, i don't know if grover norquist counts as a sensible person, but enter grover norquist . went before a congressional joint economic committee to make the free market, conservative argument for comprehensive reform . the short version of which is legalization and immigration will contribute to economic growth .

>> if we didn't have the 12 million illegals in the united states now, what would the economic effect of that be?

>> well, you can look at where people came in. people who -- there was no legal opportunity.

>> would it be --

>> would it be positive or negative if we didn't have those 12 million illegal immigrants ?

>> gdp would be smaller.

>> okay.

>> norquist also questioned claims on the cost of reform .

>> you take those numbers that heritage puts out on entitlement, it's an argument against having children. i mean, children tend to be much younger than immigrants. their english is much more limited. they don't work very often. and they're going to get a lot more out of the entitlement program than they put in. it's not -- that's a bad argument against children. it's a good --

>> i figured that out.

>> it's a good argument for reforming entitlements.

>> other key players openly disputing the merits as senator marco rubio said their argument is based on a single premise that i think is flawed. they will be poor the rest of their lives to the u.s. quite frankly , not the immigration experience. haley barbour was more blunt. from a think tank , really? but that's precisely the point. the guys at heritage did not write that report for you or for me. they didn't write that report for democratic lawmakers or the "new york times." they wrote that report for the right wing base. those figures will be recited over and over again on right wing talk radio . because this report is reverse engineered based on what will get the base most riled up. the guys at heritage know they will get a reaction when they say welfare. they know they will get a reaction when they say amnesty and put them together. the study is an open declaration of war on republican party elite who are quite committed in a past the point of no return kind of way to some kind of comprehensive immigration reform legislation. what's to remarkable about where we stand on this right now, the of over 11 million human beings hangs in the balance as think tanks duke it out. joining me tonight, senator democrat from minnesota, vice chair of the committee that held the immigration hearing today at which mr. norquist testified. my sense is you've got the gang of 8, there is momentum, big question about the dog that didn't bark being the right wing reaction that happened in 2006 and '07 to blow up the last attempt at this. switch boards lit up, petitions delivered, people at town halls. what are you seeing? what are you hearing from your constituents? what are you hearing from your colleagues across the aisle about whether the heritage report is playing and whether we're going to see something like we saw in 2006 , 2007 ?

>> well, i think you saw the answer today with the immediate pushback. i actually asked grover norquist , chris. i thought it was important for the number of house republicans what i heard from the judiciary committee that this reduces the debt. which is something he cares a lot about. that was the focus of the hearing. you have conservative senators like john mccain , marco rubio , who not only push back on this report but have been leaders on immigration reform . we are ready for this like we haven't been ready before. we know that this is necessary for our economy, that it'll be a positive for our economy. 90 of the fortune 500 companies that we have right now were formed by immigrants we have to make that strong argument to democrats and republicans.

>> can i ask you an honest question here? as a liberal, i remember going to a hearing on immigration reform few years back on the hill. alan are greenspan making the conservative economic argument for it. when i see grover norquist and alan greenspan and the chamber of commerce and mark zuckerberg and his ceo buddies dumping this money in. there's some part of me that starts to get really nervous about where this bill is headed. because as a general matter, those are not people who i feel have the best interest of say working people in mind and so if i look over to that side and i say, wow, you've got the chamber, grover norquist , greenspan, all of these people, why should i think that this actually can be a win/win for working class folks, as well, for the folks whose lives are at stake here and not end up being essentially a way of supplying cheap labor to corporations that want cheap labor.

>> well, chris, i think all you need to do is look in the eyes of a dreamer. look in the eyes of one of these high school students where all they want to do is to be in america, to do well, look at these immigrants that have served in our military that want to be citizens. look at the migrant workers , the head of the migrant workers who is firmly behind this bill. it has happened over time after doing a dry run in 2007 . the people have really come together behind this bill. the undocumented workers who want the path to citizenship, who are willing to pay fines, learn english, do what they're supposed to do. that's what this bill is about. sure it has business support, i think that's a good thing. we have brought labor together, we have worked really hard on this bill to make sure it works for everyone. it's never going to be perfect. we're going to have endless hearings in judiciary. that's great. endless votes on amendments, but i want you to think of the faces of those kids that all they want to do is be americans. this bill lets them do it.

>> i agree with that. briefly my question to you is we know there's pressure from the republicans coming to the table. are democrats getting pressure on the left flank about what are in the devil of the details of this bill?

>> well, i think we always want to make sure it's fair to american workers. that's why i worked hard on some of the proposals to make sure we have engineers and scientists able to stay here if they get their degree here. they made sure there are provisions in there to make sure some of these firms that just are there to bring in people only on these visas. a number of things protection for american workers, especially construction workers .

>> as this plays out in the amendments and the mark-up. thank you so much. that is "all in" for this evening. " rachel maddow show" starts now.