IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Monday, Nov. 15th, 2010

Read the transcript to the Monday show

Guests: Rosario Dawson, Adrian Garcia, Mike Cutler, Celinda Lake, Alfonso Aguilar, Maria Teresa Kumar, Jose Diaz-Balart, Dolores Huerta, Celso, Frank Sharry, David Shirk, Marcelo Suarez-Orozco

ANNOUNCER:  This is an MSNBC special event.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC)

LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, CO-HOST (voice-over):  Illegal immigration—it‘s the hot topic on America‘s southern border.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We need an immigration policy that works—a policy that meets the needs of families and businesses while honoring our tradition as a nation of immigrants and a nation of law.

O‘DONNELL:  Flash points in the congressional campaign.

SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA:  I don‘t know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican.  OK?  Do I need to say more?

O‘DONNELL:  Tonight, we tackle the issue head on with Americans whose lives have been directly affected, Latinos who say they are here to stay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I feel American.  I am American.  This the community that saw me grow up.

O‘DONNELL:  And voices of Americans who want illegal immigrants gone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They are coming in, and grabbing what they can get.

O‘DONNELL:  Immigration—can we get beyond the borderlines?  That‘s our topic tonight.

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER:  “Beyond Borderlines” live from the University of San Diego.

(APPLAUSE)

O‘DONNELL:  Good evening.  I‘m Lawrence O‘Donnell, and welcome to the University of San Diego.

We‘re going to talk tonight, and, yes, maybe argue a bit about the issue of immigration in the Latino community.  There are 15 million Latinos in America.  They are our fastest-growing minority.  But millions are here illegally.

And the political debate over what to do about that has deeply divided Americans especially in border states.

Before we begin, please welcome my partner tonight, Maria Teresa Kumar, executive director of Voto Latino and an MSNBC contributor.

(APPLAUSE)

O‘DONNELL:  Maria Teresa, thank you.  Thank you for joining us.

Maria Teresa, we‘re going to drill down on Latino immigration, including legal and illegal immigration.  But the immigration story in this country is bigger than just Latinos, isn‘t it?

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, CO-HOST:  It‘s our identity.  And we‘re one of very few countries, I hope (ph) not only the country where it‘s been built on people self-selecting themselves, to come to a country, have the identity and really empower ourselves.

And I think the challenge is, is that it‘s a different wave of immigration. 

But it‘s a story, again, that‘s interwoven of who we are fundamentally. 

That‘s why I‘m excited to be here tonight.

O‘DONNELL:  And on MSNBC, “The Place for Politics,” we‘ve discovered, as I think everyone has, that Latinos is a very significant voting bloc now.  They decided the election in Nevada for Harry Reid and others.

What is happening in Latino voters‘ participation now and going forward?

KUMAR:  Well, they keep surging.  And I think the number one thing is that immigration is a critical part of equation for Latino voters, but jobs as well.  And what‘s happening right now is that immigration has reached such a heated point that we can‘t have an honest conversation.  And that‘s what this is about.  It‘s about yes, we need to talk about our globalization and how we have to compete on a global level as immigrants, but we also have to talk about to do national security.

But more importantly, we‘re talking about families.  People who we‘re talking about are parents and families that are being torn apart, and how do we have that conversation.

O‘DONNELL:  Well, let‘s get to the conversation.

To begin, let‘s go right to the heart of the battle over illegal immigration, the feelings shared by millions of Americans that illegal immigration is harming their country and in some cases their way of life and their communities.

We went to Fremont, Nebraska, a town of 26,000, where some people are worried about a surge in illegal immigration.  Their answer was new local laws to do what they say state and federal laws are failing to do.  Here are many of those people in their own words.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Fremont has that small town feeling of ride your bike anywhere, great school systems, hardworking people, too, I‘d say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You have the farming community outside Fremont, you have meat packing.  The population is around 25,000.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s a close-knit community.  It‘s like everybody knows everybody.  I‘ve lived here my whole life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It‘s just a great community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s very frustrating.  People are fed up.  There are a lot of people that are very angry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And everybody sitting here is proud to be an American, and it bothers them to see the way of life change so drastically because of something that shouldn‘t be there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The problem was that we had illegals starting to become greater in number in the city of Fremont.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And all of a sudden, you‘d be at the grocery store and everybody is talking Spanish around you and going, where did this come from?  We‘re about as far away from the border as we can get.  I think that became very disconcerting to people around here.  I think it bothered them.

We‘re Middle America.  We‘re kind of mainstream.  You know, we‘re not really flashy.  We‘re not the low deal.

I think people felt like it was giving an intrusion to put upon them that these people weren‘t invited and they are here.  We‘re not getting doctors and lawyers and ITT techs and finish carpenters, we‘re getting whatever is rolling down the river.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Which is causing the crime rate to go up, police cost to go up, school cost to go up, hospital cost to go up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They are not paying into our system.  And, unfortunately, they don‘t have health insurance, a lot of illegals.  And so, they use emergency services that cost a ton more than if they saw a normal doctor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘re footing the bill for those people that are here illegally.  They are stealing.  They are basically stealing from the rest of us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And within our school system, you saw a lot of programs for the gifted kids just get wiped out.  And more money was going towards, you know, speaking Spanish kids to speak our language, and a big expense for like free and reduced lunches.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  These people are making no attempt to try to become U.S. citizens or try to blend in with society, try to learn the language, try to adapt and say, you know, you don‘t see community service by done by these people.  They are coming in and grabbing what they can get.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Before they start every council meeting, they have to say the Pledge of Allegiance.  Well, there was a handful of Hispanics, whether they‘re legal or illegal I don‘t know, refused to stand up and say the Pledge and didn‘t put their hand over their heart.

We‘re for immigration.  We‘re just against illegal aliens coming in, bringing drugs, gangs, and economic burden.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They‘re not loving our country like we love it and that‘s all we‘re asking is love our country and follow our rules and, you know, try to be an American.  That should be first.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What we were trying to do is trying to get an ordinance passed to which we did make the city enforce the ordinance to make it illegal to have anybody hire somebody here that was here illegally or rent to them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Basically you could not hire, rent to or harbor illegals.  And if you were caught, if you were a business, you would lose your business license.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It just seems pretty ridiculous that we would have to go take a petition, get signatures, to get an ordinance passed to enforce a federal law that‘s already on the books.  I mean, it seems asinine to me.  We shouldn‘t have to.  As citizens of this country, we shouldn‘t have to.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The federal government isn‘t going to do anything about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It‘s very frustrating because governments, state, federal and city, are not doing anything about the problem.  They basically just turn their head and then, you know, let it go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Some people were afraid to speak out, too, just because of the fact that you appear very hateful if you are, you know, against illegals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What‘s the worst thing you can call a person, a racist.  A lot of people don‘t want to be called a racist, because it‘s probably the worst thing you could call somebody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There‘s nowhere in our ordinance that said any kind of a race.  We were addressing illegal aliens.  And I don‘t care what country you came from.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘ve got laws.  This country is built on laws.  Let‘s follow the laws.

We follow them.  Why aren‘t they following them?  I feel we‘re fighting to try to keep the country a country.  I mean, keep the country from going down the tubes.

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O‘DONNELL:  Strong words and strong feelings from Fremont, Nebraska.

To respond, we are joined by a familiar face, especially if you were in a movie theater this weekend, actor/activist and co-founder of Voto Latino, Rosario Dawson.

And from Houston, Texas, a man who deals with the reality of illegal immigration every day, Harris county‘s first Latino sheriff, Adrian Garcia.

Rosario, if you had shot your new box office hit “Unstoppable” in Fremont, Nebraska, and had a chance to sit in that coffee shop with those people, what would you have wanted to say to them?

ROSARIO DAWSON, ACTOR AND ACTIVIST:  It looks like we could have actually. 

There‘s a lot of freight trains going through there.

You know, one, I would say change is scary.  There‘s been an influx of people coming into this country for the majority of our history, you know?  I think it was very scary for the native people to see people showing up and going, we hate—we hate Europe, can we move in?  You know, I think that was really scary as well, as part of American history that we‘ve had illegal immigrants and we‘ve had legal immigrants who has come in and changed the fabric of this country.

The trains that those freights that were going across were laid down by the Chinese.  We‘ve created internments.  We‘ve created all the different types of things to respond it, but most—eventually, we have to deal with the fact that they‘re here and they‘re here to stay.

So, I feel like that‘s the things that‘s going to be the most important, is making sure that as these populations are starting to really—they‘re going to be permanently living with each to understand each other‘s cultures and to start working together as Americans.

O‘DONNELL:  Sheriff Garcia, I‘m hearing some fear in those voices.  I‘m hearing frustration—frustration with government, frustration with unenforced laws, and a little bit of bewilderment of how did this happen.  They are talking about how far they are from the southern border.

Well, New York City is a lot farther from the southern border, and if you want to hear a lot of foreign languages that you may have never heard before, you can drop in there, you know, for lunch.

What would you want to say to those people?

SHERIFF ADRIAN GARCIA, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS:  Well, as Rosario touched on, I think immigration has been a natural part of our country.  It‘s really the fabric of what America is all about.  I mean, we are a nation of immigrants.

But by the same token, I think, whenever you start to have some issues,

say, as in my business, public safety concerns, then people begin to try to

or their fear begins to build around that regretfully.  Regardless if it‘s true or not, or how much it contributes to that, the perception of fear begins to take hold.

O‘DONNELL:  Maria Teresa, their reaction is not unique.  Communities like that around the country are trying to pass these local laws about, you know, we‘re going to—if you rent to illegals, these penalties will occur.

What is happening in these local initiatives?  And is it—is it—are any of them taking hold and in any way working?

KUMAR:  Some of them are.  I mean, there‘s a case actually in a small town in Georgia where they passed these ordinances, and unfortunately, all the undocumented and legal immigrants and Americans left because—and as a result, the town was devastated.

But I think we‘re missing the broader point.  Folks are getting recruited to come to this country.  They are coming for work.  So, how do we deal with the work?  And how do we actually start talking and talking seriously about the business aspect of it, putting it forth.

O‘DONNELL:  There are meat packing in the Midwest like those in the Nebraska communities that have used to be unionized, they aren‘t anymore, and it‘s opened up.  You said that you started off on this subject as a liberal and you‘ve now moved over to being a conservative.

Why have you traveled that road?

GARCIA:  Well, really, it‘s my mom‘s fault, because when I was much younger and still understanding at all, my perspective was pretty much how we‘re talking about—if people are working and here trying to contribute, you know, what‘s the big concern about it?

But by the same token, I am the product of a guest worker.  My father was a Bracero who helped build the rail lines in California.

And so, my mother really straightened me out and she says, wait a minute—she says, there‘s a way to do things.  And your dad waited in line.  He completed his contract.  He returned home when he was supposed to.  He followed the rules.

And so, I think there‘s that balance that we have to try to achieve.

KUMAR:  Can I jump in there?

O‘DONNELL:  Go ahead.

KUMAR:  I think that the Bracero Program that you‘re talking about here, Garcia, is no longer available now to workers.  So, when you say, let‘s get them in line, there‘s no line right now.  So, how would you address that?  And how would you address the whole issue of business playing such a huge rule?

GARCIA:  Well, first of all, you got the wrong guy to ask those issues because that‘s really we need to have our legislators address those respected issues.

But by the same token, I think there‘s a lot that‘s being said about the amount of workforce that‘s being demanded today.  As you say, people are being recruited from other parts of the world.  And regretfully, it creates a supply and demand issue that we‘re all trying to struggle with.  Regretfully, it puts law enforcement, local law enforcement right in the middle of this conversation.

O‘DONNELL:  Rosario, there‘s so many different facets of this.  There‘s people who want to talk about just sealing the border first and then consider other things.  There‘s a very large population here, illegal population, 12 million maybe.  It is—there aren‘t enough guys with badges in this country to move 12 million back across that border.  Everyone acknowledges that.

What should we be thinking about how to deal with the 12 million here and staying here?

DAWSON:  Well, I think, first of all, we need to stop just making Latinos synonymous with immigrant.  It‘s changed many times over the years.

O‘DONNELL:  Or illegal immigration.  There are very big numbers in Chinese illegal immigration and many other populations.

DAWSON:  Yes.  And, you know, and then going back to the supply and demand -- you know, the reason why we need comprehensive immigration reforms is because the laws that are already on the book don‘t work anymore.  If they did, we wouldn‘t have this problem and we wouldn‘t be talking.

So, what we need to be thinking about is what‘s right for 2010.  We can‘t keep going back to old pieces of paper, because according to old pieces of paper, I‘m not allowed to vote and as a person of color, you weren‘t even considered a full human being.  So, that‘s why we need to inject humanity into this situation and talk about -- 30 years ago, it was easier for my grandfather to come from Cuba and make a life for himself.  It‘s much more difficult for anybody to come out of there and do that same thing now.

That‘s why these are new problems and we need to tackle them with new fresh ideas because that‘s the only way we‘re going to be able to move forward and be able to be globally competitive—because as we‘re arguing about these menial jobs that go to high school diploma owners or less, Bill Gates is importing people from China and India because he has jobs that he would love to give to Americans but we don‘t qualify for them because we ranked 25 in the world in math and 21 in science.

And so, our education level is really down.  So, when you think about that, really, are we really arguing over jobs that we really want to have?  Should we really be pushing ourselves as a culture?  And that‘s why immigration itself can‘t be talked about in a vacuum outside of private prison industrial system, health care, and specifically education.

O‘DONNELL:  We‘re going to get to our first e-mail question when we come back and we‘ll meet a former INS officer who says it‘s too late for immigration reform.

Stay with us.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER ®, OHIO:  I think the people of Arizona have the right to pass their laws under the Tenth Amendment.  I think it‘s clearly a result of the federal government‘s failure to secure our border and to enforce our laws.

OBAMA:  Americans are right to be frustrated, including folks along border states.  But the answer isn‘t to undermine fundamental principles that define us as a nation.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

(APPLAUSE)

O‘DONNELL:  We‘re back here at the University of San Diego with Rosario Dawson and Sheriff Adrian Garcia.  And we‘re also joined now by Mike Cutler, a longtime immigration enforcement agent who now works with the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington.

We‘re going to the first e-mail question.  It‘s from Daniel Rojo (ph).

And, Mike, you get this first e-mail question, OK?

MIKE CUTLER, FORMER INS SPECIAL AGENT:  Sounds fair.

O‘DONNELL:  It‘s, “What do we do with the illegals that are here now? 

Maybe ask it a few times, if you don‘t get an answer?”

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

CUTLER:  There is an answer.  And, look, you‘re right.  We‘re not going to lock up—and I think there‘s more than 12 million.

O‘DONNELL:  How many do you think?

CUTLER:  Maybe 30 million or more.  Look—

O‘DONNELL:  Thirty.  It‘s double.

CUTLER:  Maybe so, maybe even—you know, in 1986, we were told that there were 1 million illegals that would be given lawful status with the amnesty back then.  We wound up with 4 million.  If we‘re talking 11 million or 12 million, God knows.  We don‘t know.

This is like trying to figure the weight of a black hole.  You can only do it by inference in terms of the impact on our society.  But the problem is that immigration laws are designed to keep people out of a country whose presence is harmful.  It‘s the way a homeowner looks through a peephole to make certain that they let a stranger into the home that he trusts.

And while we can‘t arrest all the illegal aliens who are present here, we can create an environment that is not conducive or encouraging.  In fact, there‘s a section of law that says it‘s a felony to induce, encourage, aid or abet.

So, what you do is—if you can‘t get a driver‘s license, if you can‘t get a job, if you can‘t open a bank account, then why would you remain?  If you would sit in a restaurant and the owner came out and said, you now, the power was off in our refrigerator, our food is spoiled, we can‘t serve you anything, you wouldn‘t stay in the restaurant very long.

I think we need to create an environment that encourages lawful immigration.  We certainly need it.  I‘m the son of an immigrant.  My mother came from Poland ahead of the Holocaust.

But the idea of having people come across the border, we don‘t know if they‘re simply looking to work.  And if you look at the immigration laws, the laws of exclusion give categories.  And among them are people who are violent felons, involved with terrorism, people involved in human trafficking, human rights violations, war criminals—we don‘t know if the guy that runs the border is simply looking to get a job because—

(CROSSTALK)

O‘DONNELL:  Your answer to the question of what do you do with the 12 or more million that are here now illegally is you do nothing except try to get them to leave through these environmental elements?

CUTLER:  And you don‘t arrest them.  I mean, you don‘t get all the speeders that are speeding down the highway.  In New York, we had a problem with drunk drivers.  You started seizing cars.  We didn‘t seize all the cars.

O‘DONNELL:  Sheriff Garcia, how does that sound to you?

GARCIA:  Well, obviously, you have to make sure that you are providing public safety, then you are making sure that p understand that when you commit a crime, that there‘s consequences.  That‘s the way we‘re doing it in Harris County.  We‘re just not taking it to the extreme, the way other places do in terms of just trying to figure out who‘s walking down the street and what their status is.  But rather we‘re basing it on the fact that when someone commits a crime, we‘re checking them and we‘re, you know, cooperating with ICE and we‘re having that kind of process.

But, also, public safety needs to have good information.  And it needs to have a relationship and confidence of the community, otherwise it won‘t work.

O‘DONNELL:  Maria Teresa, what Mike is talking about, it sounds to me, is making things even more—making life even more difficult than what the Arizona law is contemplating.  What do you think the behavioral reaction would be in the—with illegal workers now?

KUMAR:  Well, with the undocumented, I think—I mean, I think what the picture that Mr. Cutler is providing, actually, would devastate the United States economy, period—because what we‘re talking about is individuals that are working in agriculture, in our health care.  They‘re also working in our manufacturing.  So, to wipe them out doesn‘t really seem to be an option.

But I do have a question for you.  So, you—you‘ve been working with the INS for the last 30 years and you‘ve seen what works and what doesn‘t.  What would you change of our laws today, if you had—if you could start all over?  If the president and Congress came up to you and said, you have, Michael Cutler, with your experience of 30 years, what would you—how would you change our immigration laws today?

CUTLER:  Well, actually in some ways, Congress has done that.  I‘ve done about 15 congressional hearings.

KUMAR:  But I‘m asking, how would you do it?

CUTLER:  Well, you need more manpower.  First of all, if you think we‘re enforcing the immigration laws, we‘re not.  We have about 3,000 ICE agents, Immigration and Customs Enforcements agents for the interior, dedicated to enforcing immigration law.  New York has 35,000 police officers.  The likelihood that an illegal alien will be able to get away with running our border or overstay their visa or violating the terms of their admission is quite high.

So, what we really need to do is increase the likelihood that if you‘re here illegally—and by way, you know, we let in 1.1 million lawful immigrants last year.  They are on the pathway to U.S. citizenship.  That‘s more any other country on the planet.

KUMAR:  So, how would we fill our—how would we fill the current jobs that undocumented people are doing, if there‘s no Bracero Program that his father was able to enjoy?

CUTLER:  Well, let me—let me tell you the problem to that.  Number one, foreign workers have, as a goal, sending money out of the economy.  Every year, we lose, you know, $100 billion to $200 billion that gets sent home by the people who worked here.  But here‘s the other problem—

KUMAR:  But that means that their family is less likely to move here because they‘re actually having remittances.

CUTLER:  Not at all.  They still want to come here.  And, in fact, if you legalize them, the family would come here, but the unscrupulous employer—now, this is the thing no one ever talks about—the unscrupulous employer, as soon as that guy is legalized, and I saw it firsthand as an agent, will go to his boss with the magic card and say, I‘ll keep working for you but not the $6 an hour, I want prevailing wage and these are the list of other conditions that I‘m entitled because I‘m legal.  They were fired and the next batch of illegals were hired, which is how we got here.

What do we do with 20 million people who wind up losing their jobs, they would have brought their families here because comprehensive reform would allow it and we wouldn‘t even know who they are.  They take any name they want.  And meanwhile, you have wives and children here, the breadwinner out of work.  They would wind up on welfare, unemployment, their communities going bankrupt today.

How do you pay for all this?

(CROSSTALK)

O‘DONNELL:  Rosario, what we‘re hearing from Mike is the strict enforcement school.  And it seems to me it sounds a little bit like Arizona on steroids.

(CROSSTALK)

CUTLER:  But that is the law.

O‘DONNELL:  What I want to get, Rosario—

(APPLAUSE)

O‘DONNELL:  -- how do you think the population issue, the illegal population, undocumented population that is here already, how do you think that they would react to the kinds of things Mike is talking about?  Do you think we would see this mass migration back across the southern border of tens of millions of people because they can‘t get a checking account?

DAWSON:  Well, yes and no.  I mean, the reality is that we‘re talking about people born on one side of an imaginary line or another.  People go where their livelihood can be the best.  That‘s what we‘re talking about.  We‘re talking about millions and millions and millions of individuals who all decided to risk their lives and try to be an entrepreneur here, in some way, shape, or form work here, just to work.

And that‘s where it gets really dangerous, because it would be easy to just go, well, all of you are illegal, and you need to leave.  How do we do that?  How do we do that and still stay humane?

Do we—SB 1070 is a law that makes us have to go around and point to people, are you a criminal?  No.  Are you a criminal?  How about you?  How about—it would be easier if we could—if people would be just honest in that way.

But again, it is about employers.  It is about people who are encouraging people to come here just as much as bad policies in their country that are affecting their livelihoods and driving them out.

So, as long as we‘re going to continue to encourage people to come here the same way that these same employers are also sending American jobs overseas, like this is a tremendous problem why we‘re here where we are.  These employers are looking for cheap labor.  And us Americans like to have things as cheap as possible.

So, if we try to combine the two, it‘s going to be really problematic.  Either that means all of our costs are going up and we‘re also going to lose all the tax money and that we‘re getting from all the undocumented people who are here, or, you know, we get arrived all these people and we‘re just here—or we keep them here and we try to figure it all out.  But, you know, what‘s going to happen with all the situations—

KUMAR:  And I think part of what—you know, Rosario, I think what you‘re

saying is that we don‘t have a system now so that we can actually get the -

you know, the unskilled worker that we desperately need right now.  So, how do we actually create that pathway?

O‘DONNELL:  We have a comment over there on microphone one.  Go ahead.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Thank you very much.  My name is Craig Vargas.  I‘m a professor here at the University of San Diego.

And this program began by people talking about bringing humanity to the debate.  And I arrived here in San Diego from the Midwest, in Ohio, in 1978.  And I will tell you what my experience with people coming across the border has been.

I will concede that there are issues of crime and people crossing the border illegally.  And when I look around in San Diego, I see people who come from south of the border that are working very hard at difficult jobs that pay very little money.  And it seems very difficult to bring humanity to the conversation when these people are demonized so readily.

And how are we going to have true immigration reform when we, in fact, do demonize these people?

O‘DONNELL:  Rosario, what is the feeling in the Latino community about this point, the demonization?  We saw a TV commercial ran in the campaign in Nevada that was demonizing the --- showing images of these people running across the border.  What is it like in that community when this kind of imagery is out there?

DAWSON:  Well, I think that people who are especially running for election seem to forget that people can watch, if they are speaking in Spanish, then they are watching in Spanish, but they‘re also watching the English ads.  And they are quite polarizing.  You know, you‘re telling me there‘s ads going out there saying don‘t vote at all.

There‘s when Sheriff Arpaio had put out an e-mail, which he says he wasn‘t attached to—but in Arizona, that e-mail went out to 800,000 people to tell them that we had to stop them illegals from voting, and we had to make sure they couldn‘t go to the poll.  Everyone knows undocumented people can‘t vote.  So what that just meant was voter intimidation. 

So I think what people are starting to see—and you‘re seeing it here with the backlash against Meg Whitman here in California—that people are paying attention to these issues now.  Latinos are going to vote however they are going to vote.  They are not a monolithic voting bloc.  They are going to do whatever.  But they are paying attention to these ads.  They are seeing how they are being talked about.

And especially people who have been her for generations and going, so if

I‘m here—I was here before the imaginary line crossed me and said that I

in American history here in Arizona.  You are telling me that just by looking at me, you can tell me I don‘t belong?  People are going to get really upset.  This is why this conversation is going to get more and more convoluted as emotions get in the way of being able to get through the facts and get to a clear resolution. 

O‘DONNELL:  It could not be more ironic that we‘re having this conversation in a spot that used to be Mexico. 

DAWSON:  Yes. 

O‘DONNELL:  We‘re going to break.  When we come back, we‘re going to get to politics.  We‘re going to get to the Latino vote.  We‘re going to get to more e-mail questions.  The Latino vote is changing American politics.  We‘re going to talk about that when we come back.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  I‘d like to read you something that I hope sounds familiar.  “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States, and of the state wherein they reside.” 

That is the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.  It says very clearly that anyone born in this country is a citizen.  But apparently that clear language isn‘t clear enough for some people.  And when we come back, we‘ll talk about a growing political effort in state houses and in Congress not to amend the Constitution, but to reinterpret the 14th Amendment to exclude children of illegal immigrants.  That‘s when we come back live to our immigration town hall here at the University of San Diego.  Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER:  I don‘t know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican.  OK?  Do I need to say more. 

CARLY FIORINA, DEFEATED SENATE CANDIDATE IN CALIFORNIA:  I think every speech should begin with a shot of tequila. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  Welcome back to the University of San Diego.  We‘re going to turn to the politics of immigration.  Latinos are a huge factor in our elections.  And so is the fear of illegal immigration.  How that played out in the midterm elections and how it will play in 2012 is the question now. 

We‘re joined by Celinda Lake, a veteran pollster and campaign strategist for Democratic candidates, and Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnerships for Conservative Principles, and someone who covers the Latino political story every day, Jose Diaz-Balart from our sister network Telemundo. 

Celinda, we saw the Latino vote be decisive in a very important election. 

The majority leader of the United States Senate, Harry, Reid, in Nevada.  What else did we learn about the Latino vote in our last election?  And what does it tell us going forward? 

CELINDA LAKE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST AND POLLSTER:  We saw three things.  We saw it was decisive in maintaining the Democrats in the Senate.  And I think it could easily be decisive in maintaining a Democratic president in 2012.. We saw that even if Latino voters were initially less engaged, they turned out in record numbers. 

And it wasn‘t about identity politics.  It was about issue politics.  It was for candidates who spoke to the immigration issue.  We also saw that the immigration as a wedge didn‘t work very well.  Only eight percent of the voters overall said immigration was a wedge issue for them.  They did vote Republican.  But the voters on election eve overwhelmingly—two-thirds support comprehensive immigration reform.  They refuse to allow this to be a wedge issue. 

O‘DONNELL:  Alfonso Aguilar, Harry Reid said he can‘t understand why any Latino would ever vote Republican.  What is it that he cannot understand? 

ALFONSO AGUILAR, LATINO PARTNERSHIP FOR CONSERVATIVE PRINCIPLES:  I think as a Latino, I find it—that comment very insulting, very condescending.  I think Latinos are very independent.  Yes, the majority voted for Democrats.  But we‘ve seen a modest but important increase in Latinos voter support for Republicans. 

Remember, George W. Bush in ‘04 got about 44 percent of the Latino vote.  So Latinos can consider Republican candidates, if the Republican candidates open themselves to the Latino community and propose solutions to immigration that are constructive.  But to generalize and typecast Latinos and say they are all Democrats I think is pretty ridiculous and pretty insulting. 

JOSE DIAZ-BALART, TELEMUNDO ANCHOR:  It‘s also pretty ridiculous and insulting to insult the Hispanic community like Sharron Angle did in Nevada and we‘ve seen in some other places.  You‘ll agree with that. 

AGUILAR:  Absolutely. 

DIAZ-BALART:  I think that you as a conservative would probably say that you could not support someone like that either. 

AGUILAR:  I agree 100 percent.  We have to understand that the Republican party also is not a monolithic party.  The majority of Republicans are actually pro-immigration.  Let‘s not forget that the last immigration reform we had in this country was under Ronald Reagan.  George W. Bush worked very hard to get immigration form in ‘07.  And we were almost there.  But I think Republicans—the majority of Republicans, sadly, are remaining silent. 

It is time now for those Republicans who are for immigration to stand up and say, we have to do something constructive that goes beyond just enforcement only options.  And frankly, those people, like Sharron Angle and others, Tom Tancredo, have actually hijacked the discussion of immigration within Republican ranks. 

I think Republicans have to stand up and say we‘re the party of free market; we‘re the party of freedom of opportunity; Tom Tancredo doesn‘t speak for us.  We‘re going to do something constructive on immigration. 

O‘DONNELL:  It seems that hijacking has been successful.  It seems a long time since we‘ve heard a Republican candidate talk about immigration reform.  They used to.  George Bush did.  John McCain did.  But John McCain has completely reversed himself.  Things have changed in the Republican party on this subject. 

KUMAR:  Significantly.  Even Marco Rubio had to soften his stance on immigration in order to be elected statewide in Florida.  But a quick question for you—so what you‘re saying, and I think what the audience can agree, is that the Republicans right now are talking on two sides of their mouth.  They are talking definitely about issues that a lot of Latinos would care about, when it comes to small businesses, also family values.  But it is being hijacked by this larger—the larger Angles and Brewers. 

How would you advise the next presidential candidate, whether it be Sarah Palin or Huckabee—how would you advise them to tackle this issue? 

AGUILAR:  Well, I think you‘ll be very surprised with some of the presidential candidates, including Sarah Palin, on this issue.  We still don‘t know what she thinks about broader immigration reform.  I would say that you have to propose something constructive that is more than just enforcement only, that we have to go back to our free market principles and recognize that we are the party of the free market. 

The problem, as you very well outlined at the beginning of the show, is that this economy has an incredible demand for foreign workers.  So we need a mechanism to bring those workers in.  Why don‘t we have a guest worker program, like George Bush supported? 

That‘s where many Democrats, who are controlled by the unions, oppose a guest worker program. 

O‘DONNELL:  All right.  We‘re going to hold it there.  When we come back, we have questions from the audience ready to go.  We‘re going to be looking forward to what‘s going to happen in 2012.  Will Latinos be the determining factor in the presidential election?  We‘ll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  And we‘re back with our immigration town hall here at the University of San Diego.  Questions and comments from the audience.  Go ahead. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  My name is Dylan Hayden (ph) and I‘m a sophomore here.  I was wondering if you could address kind of the duality that exists right on the border, the border fence.  On the one hand, it kind of seems to be a kind of a daunting thing for individuals that live on the other side of the border.  On the other hand, we‘re hearing that millions of people are crossing the border annually. 

So maybe if you could talk about that and talk about why or why not you think it‘s successful. 

O‘DONNELL:  We‘ll pick that up as we move along.  Go ahead.  One more. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Also with that, when will our Republican leaders kind of across the nation—and we heard the sheriff from Texas and now the new governor-elect for New Mexico with continued enforcement and really lack of understanding or suggestion in fixing the problem.  You know, we seem to be really aware about our border—for example, border patrol tripling since 2001 in agents. 

We‘ve stripped driver‘s licenses.  We‘ve tried to take the right of undocumented immigrants from renting.  Kind of resulting to now driving without driver‘s licenses or insurance or renting under horrible conditions.  But none of them really seem to know about how we‘re going to fix the problem. 

Governor-elect from New Mexico, Republican, ran on the platform of fear and really enforcing immigration laws, but had no knowledge of the Dream Act, which is one of the most prominent, you know, legislation that is actually going to be in the lame duck session hopefully this upcoming week. 

O‘DONNELL:  Alfonso, that is the impression that voters are getting from Republicans.  One over here. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Good evening, my name is Cynthia Carrasco (ph).  I‘m a daughter of immigrants and a young lawyer.  Today, the (INAUDIBLE) Supreme Court upheld AB 540, which really waves tuition requirements for students.  What will we do as a nation if we don‘t encourage access to education and opportunity?  Because had that not been the case for me, I would not be here today standing before you as a lawyer. 

O‘DONNELL:  Just to clarify for the national audience, what that is—in California, there is a—in the California system, university system, if you are a resident of the state, you pay a certain tuition level.  If you‘re a resident or Montana or some other state, you pay a higher tuition level.  And what the California Supreme Court has decided is that undocumenteds here in California will pay the residential—California residential rate if they live in California. 

Over here. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hi.  While we keep talking about this as foreign immigration, we‘re clearly focusing on the Mexico-U.S. immigration situation.  How do you think other immigrant countries across the globe will react to laws that will be pretty much focused on the U.S.-Mexico immigration situation? 

O‘DONNELL:  We have experts in later segments that are going to deal with exactly that.  Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hi.  I‘m Linda Vargas.  I‘m a professor here at the School of Business.  I‘m very curious as to—given that jobs are the biggest draw here for people from south of the border, what kind of penalties do you think employers would legitimately embrace to stop employment of illegals in this country? 

O‘DONNELL:  Jose, you know this community.  You‘ve worked on this story.  You know the reality of life here on the ground for the undocumented worker, for the employers.  What do you think would work on the employer end? 

DIAZ-BALART:  Lawrence, thank you for doing this show.  I think it‘s important that we recognize and respect what you all are doing at MSNBC. 

(APPLAUSE)

DIAZ-BALART:  So many things to talk about.  First of all, for the young man who started, it‘s not untold millions that come across the border every yore.  Let‘s just be clear because we don‘t want to create more confusion than there already is.  It‘s not untold millions coming across the border. 

For the gentleman that talks about the Republicans and what they are not doing to help understand the need for immigration reform, I would say that the Democrats have also promised immigration reform and didn‘t come through.  That‘s part of the apathy that we‘ve been seeing in the Hispanic voters for some time now. 

But I think that the key here is we have to analyze this a little bit from two different perspective.  There are almost two different worlds in this country.  There are the worlds of Ceso (ph), a young man who was here, who has two brothers born in the United States.  He came when he was three years old, obviously didn‘t come of his own volition.  His parents brought him here.  He has dreams and future plans and wants to be part of the United States armed forces, and contribute here.  Yet, he‘s being penalized for something that he didn‘t do. 

Let‘s talk about whether his parents should or should not—but let‘s talk about the millions of people like Ceso that are already in this country and that know no other country.  Let‘s talk about what we do with them.  Let‘s talk about what we do—

(APPLAUSE)

DIAZ-BALART:  And I‘ll wrap it up.  But let‘s also see if there‘s not a common ground that we can find with the ranchers that are in the Arizona border and that feel that they should have the right to not have untold hundreds of people coming through their property every week, and they don‘t know who they are, and they may be led by a guy with an AK-47, who back home in Mexico was cutting heads off. 

Everyone has a right to be safe.  But so do the people who are here and who really do have dreams and feel as American as you and I do. 

O‘DONNELL:  Maria Teresa, how do you get a subject change with people in this conversation?  By that I mean there are people who focus almost exclusively on border security, on a fence, on tripling the personnel on the southern bored.  Well, we did triple the personnel on the southern border between Presidents Reagan and Presidents Clinton.  We tripled it.  And the illegal crossovers increased with the tripling. 

How do you get people to get out of the one little solution or the one little hole they want to keep this conversation in? 

KUMAR:  I think what you‘re talking about is right now the lack of comprehensive immigration reform, we actually—everything we do from now until then is a Band-Aid affect.  We‘re not addressing the core issue.  The core issue is one, we need—we have to modernize our immigration system.  We‘re using antiquated rules, and asking people to play by antiquated laws, and not giving them the opportunity to reflect what our country needs.  Number one.

And number two, I think it‘s very much what Jose said, also what you said, Alfonso and Celinda, we have to get the Republican and Democratic party to actually offer solutions.  They are not doing it, because they are catering to the extreme and not moderates.  And that‘s where the majority of Americans really are. 

O‘DONNELL:  Celinda, what‘s the realistic possibility?  You understand what‘s driving Democratic candidates.  And you understand what‘s driving Republican candidates on this issue.  What‘s the realistic possibility of some kind of agreement in what kind of timeframe? 

LAKE:  First of all, this is an area where the voters are way ahead of the politicians of both political parties.  The Dream Act overwhelmingly supported by the public, should be passed united lame duck session.  Right now, there aren‘t the Republican votes.  There are Democratic votes for immigration reform.  There aren‘t the Republican votes. 

I was just saying to Alfonso, we need his leadership there; maybe we should nominate him on the Democrat side for office.  But we—there is the will in the public.  There hasn‘t been the will of the elected officials.  We need leadership and we need leadership from the president. 

O‘DONNELL:  We‘re going to have to leave it there for this segment.  Lots more in our next hour on how this debate effects young people, and what we can learn from our own history.  You‘ll meet one young man who says he is an American, but the law says he‘s not.  All of that when we continue live from the University of San Diego.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  “Beyond Borderlines,” live from the University of San Diego, here again Lawrence O‘Donnell. 

O‘DONNELL:  Welcome back to our conversation about illegal immigration and the Latino community.  In this half-hour, we are going to turn to the future, specifically one of the toughest problems in the immigration debate, the children of illegal immigrants.  Brought here at very young ages, raised here as young adults, American in every way you can imagine, but not in the eyes of their government. 

And as they try to lead adult lives, they begin to confront the terrifying reality of a life in hiding.  Arizona is one of the places that fear is greatest.  And it‘s where we met some of these young, well, you decide if we can call them Americans.  

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Since I was little, my dad would always tell me, don‘t tell anybody you are from Mexico. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I consider this my country and, you know, I would be more than proud to serve and protect our freedom. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  People talk about getting in line.  But what line do I get in? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think around high school is when it really started hitting, the fact that undocumented was going to be a barrier to overcome.  They can‘t say that I don‘t belong here, that I‘m not welcome here, that I‘m not need here, because I am. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It is our home because, like for me, personally, I was here since I was four years old. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I have been part of this community since I was little.  I‘ve been part of this state, this country.  I feel part of it.  I feel American.  I am American.  This is the community that saw me grow up. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  There is like a police car next to us, and it starts flashing its lights, your heart starts pumping. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think there is a certain amount of fear that I live with, that we all live with, because there is a lot of uncertainty as to what the consequences are going to be for a simple traffic light stop.  But I think the important thing to remember is that there is an even greater fear, an even greater uncertainty, especially in my case, of going back to a country which I don‘t know. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I would be scared to go to Mexico.  Right now, because of all of the violence. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I was told, you know, get an education.  Go to college.  Do the great things.  And here I am stuck.  It‘s kind of tough.  In fact, I won‘t sugarcoat it.  It is amazingly tough. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  To me, it is very difficult and sad at the same time to know that once I graduate, you know, I‘m going to be graduating with this degree; I‘m hopefully going to be able to get into nursing school, get my nursing degree.  But then after that what am I going to do?  If I don‘t have nine digits of the Social Security, I can‘t get a job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You know they want you to be that statistic that they talk about.  They want you to be that person that they talk about on the news doing something wrong.  But here we are, you know, doing everything we can to go against it, and actually doing what we can to pursue our education regardless if we can‘t get the job after we have that diploma. 

But we are doing it.  And we‘re not letting the nine digits—nine digit numbers stop us.  That‘s the most frustrating thing for me, that everything that we are doing can amount for nothing.  Yet we are doing it regardless. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  A lot of us, we get pushed down so much to the point where we just give up.  But then there are some of us who say “you know what, I am just going to prove you wrong.  I am just going to go out there.  I am going to educate Kate myself and I am going to make a better future for myself.”

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If we have talent here in the U.S., if we have people that can contribute to the economy, then we should be able to use them.  I mean, use me.  You know? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I believe in the goodness of people.  And I know that there is actually people out there fighting for us.  But as for politicians, I don‘t think any of them want to actually, you know, stand up for what they believe in. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is my home.  I am not going anywhere. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  We are joined now by one of the young people you met in that piece.  His name is Celso.  Also with us Dolores Huerta, the legendary co-founder, along with Caesar Chavez, of the United Farm Workers Union.  And still with us, former immigration enforcement agent Mike Cutler. 

Celso, thank you very much for doing this.  I know it isn‘t easy.  We

showed some tape earlier in the show, some people living in Nebraska who

are dealing with a new immigrant population in their community.  They are -

they feel many things.  I think including fear.  In fact, you know we invited them to come here to San Diego.  They couldn‘t to join us with this dialogue we are having tonight. 

But you know there is all this fear of the immigrant population and what they are—what they‘re coming here to do, what they might mean to this country.  But on the other side of this issue, you are living in fear on a day-to-day basis, a fear of what might happen to you.  Someone in Mike‘s job, if they find you, might have you shipped out.  And fear of what your future can be even if you are able to stay in this country. 

CELSO, UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT:  Yes, I mean.  I think both sides of the argument have fear.  And I think fear is what is keeping us from solving the issues that affect us, this issue of immigration.  I think that if both of us—both of the sides of this story can sort of come together and overcome that fear. 

For example, right now, I can say I am undocumented and unafraid.  I say that so I can share my story and let you know that my values are the American values that I grew up with.  I grew up in this country wanting to serve after high school.  And I couldn‘t.  But I continued with my education.  So yeah, we need to get over that fear, to start that dialogue. 

O‘DONNELL:  Dolores, you have watched generations of Latinos come across our southern border. legally and illegally, to work here, to work as farm workers and in other occupations.  What do—what do your decades of experience tell us about where we should go from here? 

DOLORES HUERTA, DOLORES HUERTA FOUNDATION:  Well, first of all, we are not going to solve the problem of immigration unless we solve the issues of our trade policies.  What people don‘t realize when they talk of the anti-immigrants or anti-illegals, whatever, they don‘t realize why do people come here in the first place?  Why do they leave their beautiful homes, Shapas (ph), Juahacam (ph), Tracam (ph), where we go to as tourists, Guatemala, to come here and suffer. 

And they do that because there is no opportunities.  We have to say why aren‘t there opportunities?  Because we ship our corn to Mexico.  Our subsidized corn goes to Mexico.  The maize is from Mexico.  But we put thousands of campesino (ph) farmers out of work.  What are they going to do?  They are going to come north. 

We have our big, giant stores like Wal-Mart.  They go up there and tens of thousands of people that they displaced from the shop keepers.  We have our maquiladoras (ph) that go there, the big box—big box factories, right, and what happens then.  It‘s like in Juarez, Mexico, from one day to the next, 80,000 jobs were shipped from Mexico to China.  These people are all displaced. 

Unless we solve those trade policies and we use our United States technology, our resources to help the people—not only Mexico, but Central America, those countries rebuild their own economies—people don‘t leave because they want to leave.  They leave because they have to leave because they‘re not going to starve. 

This is the big picture, and it‘s global.  It‘s not just the United States.  It‘s happening the same thing in Europe.  We‘re punishing immigrants who are victims, putting people in prison who are victims.  This is wrong.  And we‘ve got to change that. 

Corporations, they pass trillions of dollars across borders.  We have materials that come from the United States to China and then they bring them back so that they can be sold here.  So we can have money cross borders, and materials cross borders.  But if a person tries to cross a border, then we make them a criminal and we put them in prison.  This is wrong. 

I‘ll always say—and people say, I don‘t want to be a racist.  When we talk about the people that were recruited to work in the meat packing plants in Nebraska, if those were Canadians, you would not have that problem that you are seeing there.  It would be very, very different. 

So at the bottom—and this has been a really increase, and it‘s been propagandized—it‘s against the people of color.  It‘s against the people from Mexico and the people from Central America and Latin America. 

O‘DONNELL:  Mike, I want to take you back to the question I asked in introducing the video of Celso.  Is this person sitting here an American? 

MIKE CUTLER, FMR. IMMIGRATION AGENT:  By law, no.  But there‘s one point I really have to respond to.  For me, it was never about race.  As an immigration agent, I spent years at times arresting and investigating people from Europe.  I was the Marine intelligence officer.  Most of the people I arrested were from Greece.  I‘ve arrested Canadians.  I worked closely with the RCMP, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. 

You know, Mexico has built its own fence to separate itself from Guatemala.  What she had about the trade agreements I agree.  NAFTA has been a nightmare.  But this goes back to political finance.  We get the best government money can buy every time there‘s an election.  Agents aren‘t allowed to accept a cup of coffee.  Politicians take money with both hands and they do the bidding of the corporations. 

O‘DONNELL:  Get back, Mike, to your—what you would look to do going forward, which is to make life for Celso even more difficult than it is now, prevent him from getting a credit card, a checking account, or anything like that. 

Celso, if everything Mike wants to happen, happens, and you can‘t get a checking account, and you can‘t pay rent to someone who would safely be able to rent you an apartment, would you leave?  Would what Mike has been talking about tonight make you give up and go back across that boarder? 

CELSO:  I don‘t think anything will make me go back across the border, because I group in Arizona, in phoenix.  That is my community.  I plan to contribute to that community that saw me grow up.  So, at this point, I don‘t see anything getting in my way. 

O‘DONNELL:  Mike, tell me—one more quick point, tell me what it is like.  You had that badge for 30 years.  You were in a position to handcuff people like this and get them back across that border.  When you no doubt had to do it with guys like this, who are obviously here to contribute—they‘re not here to cause trouble.  They‘re not part of any crime issues or any of the things that we don‘t want in this country.  He is, in fact, exactly what we want in this country.  We just don‘t have a documented way of getting it here. 

What was it like for you when you had to handcuff one of these people and drag that person—

CUTLER:  We can‘t make policy on the exceptional case.  You need to look overall at whether or not what we do or don‘t do encourages more people to violate the borders.  Half the world lives below the poverty line.  On one of your programs, you were just talking about how one in five American children—American children don‘t have food, not enough food to have safe lives, where they‘re being harmed. 

We have to take care of our own first.  America is like a lifeboat.  If you and I were on a lifeboat and it was going down -- 

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, VOTO LATINO:  I think, Mike—first of all, you said if—because—you wouldn‘t—you would have to deport him because of the law.  If you had the opportunity, would you change the law? 

CUTLER:  You are missing my point. 

O‘DONNELL:  No, but would you change the law? 

CUTLER:  No, I wouldn‘t.  I will tell you why I wouldn‘t.  Because the whole world—half the world lives below the poverty line.  If we don‘t make clear—

O‘DONNELL:  You don‘t think there is any room left in this country? 

CUTLER:  I think there‘s room.  We admit 1.1 million plus immigrants every year and we put them on the pathway to citizenship.  But at what point do you say that‘s it? 

O‘DONNELL:  Let‘s consider—I want you to consider a pathway to citizenship that is now being considered.  Harry Reid has said in the lame duck session of Congress, he wants to take up the Dream Act.  Nancy Pelosi has said she wants to take up the Dream Act.  Maria Teresa, outline for us what the Dream Act is and how it would help Celso? 

KUMAR:  Right.  The Dream Act, basically what it does is it provides a pathway to citizenship for individuals that are 16 years or younger and have been here for five years, and have demonstrated that one, they want to serve in the military, as Celso would look to do.  And number two, if they would lock to go to school. 

And it‘s a pathway to citizenship.  It‘s not guaranteed.  This is the issue; when we start talking about our American identity, who are we, we start talking about pulling ourselves by the bootstraps, going up and against all odds, and fundamentally trying to beat those odds.  Who more than a Dream Act kid would be able to demonstrate that? 

CUTLER:  One quick point.  The Dream Act—the Dream Act—

(APPLAUSE)

CUTLER:  The M in Dream Act says minor.  If you look at the House bill, it‘s aliens up to their 35th birthday would be eligible.  The Senate bill has no age cutoff.  One of the problems we have with this debate is that the language very often is deceptive and misleading.  I think American people are upset about it because I think we are a generous people. 

We are the 911 to the world.  When there is a crisis, we show up and we show up with more than anybody. 

KUMAR:  But we‘re immigrants, right?  I mean, that‘s our identity.  When you start saying, you know what, you are incredibly qualified—

(CROSS TALK)

KUMAR:  One of the biggest tragedies right now is we are telling people, you know what, we need teachers; we need health care workers; we need engineers.  And we have them. 

O‘DONNELL:  You would be for a Dream Act if the age cut off was for minors? 

If it was for minors who were here before they were 16 years old. 

CUTLER:  Numbers that we can deal with.  Right now—

O‘DONNELL:  All right, we are getting somewhere.  We can negotiate a version of the Dream Act with Mike before the night is over.  Jose, one thing Mike has been saying is that we are on a lifeboat.  This is a limited resources country.  We can‘t take any more of the people.  They‘re a drain.  They‘re costing us money. 

That is ignoring the fact that, in fact, they are contributing massive low to Social Security, billions and billions of dollars.  By the way, not making claims on it because many of them are using fake Social Security numbers.  That money just goes straight into the trust funds and they don‘t withdraw. 

We have about five to ten percent of the Social Security trust funds are due to immigrant labor coming into this country.  So there‘s a very big contribution. 

What other things do you hear in this discussion that are getting distorted from the realities of what you know covering this story? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  By the way, talk about contributions, I invite you to go just on the outskirts of Phoenix, where Celso is from, where you can see people at 118 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer picking peppers for a five-gallon barrel of paint for 1.25.  And they‘re there day in and day out.  And you don‘t find a lot of people who were born here that are willing to do that. 

But having said that, I just want to say one thing.  I think that both political parties are playing political football with this.  They‘re exploiting the Hispanic community each in their own way.  My conservative friends and my liberal friends both are not willing to deal with the reality, which is there are 11 million people here.  Eighty percent of the kids born to undocumented immigrants are like Celso.  They were born in the United States, or were here when they don‘t know any other country. 

And it is incumbent upon both political parties to quit the crap and get down to brass tacks and figure out what things they can do together to deal with immigration reform.  They‘re not willing to do it, either one of them, because they‘re both willing to exploit for their political short term advantage. 

CUTLER:  There is a lot of exploitation.  But, you know, there was a hearing that Chuck Schumer held just last year with Alan Greenspan talking about the H-1-B Visas, where fraud runs rampantly.  Mr. Greenspan, who I think was one of the architects of the meltdown, said we have to eliminate the difference in wages between skilled and unskilled workers.  His words, he accused middle-class Americans with skills of being the new privileged elites.  If you who are in the middle-class think you are the privileged elite, God help all of us. 

So we are bringing in foreign workers who undercut Americans who are trying to support themselves.  Look, we all want to give to charity, but you don‘t give to charity when your own children are going to sleep hungry at night.  America is in crisis right now.  We can‘t bring the entire world. 

By the way, this isn‘t about race.  Because of the people who are losing their jobs, it is every flavor of American who loses the job. 

O‘DONNELL:  Mike, we are going to have—go ahead, Celso. 

CELSO:  I would have to say that me, I graduated in business management.  I want to be able to employ and solve that problem of hunger by creating jobs.  I want to create opportunity.  So give me that chance to contribute to this country.  That‘s all I am asking. 

O‘DONNELL:  That‘s the last word for this segment.  When we come back, more questions and comments from our live audience here at the University of San Diego.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  My mom said that—I think that she—she says the Barack Obama‘s taking everybody away that doesn‘t have papers.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY:  Yeah, well that is something that we have to work on, right, to make sure that people can be here with the right kind of papers.  Right?  That‘s exactly right. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  But my mom doesn‘t have papers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O‘DONNELL:  We‘re back at our in immigration town hall here at the University of San Diego, with comments from the audience.  Go ahead. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  My name is Rosemary Johnston, and I‘m a member of the San Diego Immigration Rights Consortium.  I live in a state where one in four residents is foreign born, and in a community where one in four is foreign born and where 86 languages are spoken.  I am proud of that. 

I also live in the city that has the busiest migratory corridor in the world.  I think in another 30 years, when our European counterparts are facing severe labor shortages because their birth rate has fallen below 2.0,, that the United States will thank its immigrants brothers and sisters, because we will have a healthy and plentiful labor force. 

O‘DONNELL:  We‘re going to get to exactly that point in the next segment. 

Over here. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How are you doing, Mr. O‘Donnell.  Thank you for coming.  And I want to tell Mr. Cutler also, thank you.  I am that 911 force that you are talking about.  I have been in the Navy for 15 years, serving proudly. 

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  But I have traveled, luckily, to Nebraska for example.  And I can tell the people of Fremont—I was really sad they couldn‘t come here today.  But they could go a couple hours westbound, towards the Panhandle, and go to a town like, for example, Alliance, Nebraska. 

You go there, and this is a 10,000 people population.  This town is supported by the 50 percent of them who are immigrants, Mexicans who work there in the field.  They transport all the good that are coming out, all the potato and whatever else they have coming out of there.  This town remains vibrant because of the immigrant influence you have there. 

At the same time, though, I want to know how you as a commentator, as a journalist, the pundits and also the politicians, how they can re-encourage and rekindle that—that basic need for main street America to think about working in the fields, because that‘s where all the goods that we are nourishing ourselves from—that‘s where they‘re supposed to be coming from, from our own local backyard, not from the grapes that I bought yesterday from Trader Joe‘s that came from Chile, for example. 

I want tomatoes that I can buy here.  I want my avocados from California.  I like that.  I have been in this country for 15 years.  I came straight from Mexico.  I used to be a teacher over there before I joined the Navy.  And I don‘t know if I will go back to Mexico when I get out.  I get out in five years.  I can stay here.  I can have a great job here.  I can go back to Mexico and have a great life over there. 

But Celso, for example, his life has been here.  He is used to the American way and he wants to be here.  so I hope he can stay here with the Dream Act.  Thank you very much.

O‘DONNELL:  We‘re going to come back to the Dream Act.  Thanks for your comment.  One more over here. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Hi.  My name is Wendy Garrio.  I‘m from East Los Angeles, by way of el Salvador.  I find the comments—some of the comments being made completely insulting and belittling.  I, as an American citizen, don‘t want to be or have a legacy of an America that says that we have to take care of us before we take care of the rest of the world.  And I would believe that most Americans feel the same way. 

In el Salvador, it cost the same as the United States for gas, milk, and eggs.  And a salary is about 200 dollars a month.  That‘s because of the continued colonization and marginalization of the United States towards Latin America and other countries.  I hope that we‘re able to have a discussion of comprehensive immigration reform, as it deals directly with international foreign policy. 

O‘DONNELL:  We‘re going do that in the next segment, including a realistic framework on the economic issues involved in immigration. 

Mike, I want to give you a Twitter question that we have.  And it says many small government types yell about sending undocumented people back.  What size government agency would they create to execute this? 

CUTLER:  Well I think -- 

O‘DONNELL:  You have estimated 30 million undocumented people in this country.  How many millions of government workers would you have to hire to move them back across the border? 

CUTLER:  No, it‘s not just moving them back.  We need a system that has integrity.  You know, we naturalized 30,000 people four years ago without their files.  They lost 111,000 files.  This is  the agency that handles citizenship and benefits. 

O‘DONNELL:  We‘re not talking naturalizing them.  We naturalize a very small number.  We‘re talking about 30 Million or 20 million.  Yes, it‘s a very small number in this big picture that we are talking about.  How many people would you have to hire to do this? 

CUTLER:  I would look to see probably as many ICE agents for the country as there are New York City police officers? 

O‘DONNELL:  Thirty thousand?  That can‘t possibly take on 13, 14 million people. 

CUTLER:  No, but what it does is it creates an environment that discourages illegal immigration.  How many speeders get caught speeding, but we don‘t do away with the speed laws.  You create a climate of deterrence. 

KUMAR:  But I think, as Lawrence was saying, we actually do know.  I think this is where you kind of interject.  Forty percent of the undocumented folks actually overstay their visa. 

CUTLER:  Work without permission or commit felony. 

KUMAR:  We actually have a tracking system. 

CUTLER:  We don‘t even. 

KUMAR:  Part of this conversation is that we have to, first, recognize that there is two different types of folks.  You keep criminalizing the undocumented and that‘s not acceptable because they‘re workers, right?  They‘re workers.  They‘re parents.  And they serve in our military.  That is not OK.  I think once we can open up the conversation, and we are not criminalizing a person -- 

(CROSS TALK)

CUTLER:  Let me say one thing.  Let me make one quick point.  When someone runs the border, we don‘t know what motivated them.  As an agent, I have arrested people working in factories who are wanted for murder.  I arrested one guy who committed a murder, was deported, came back, escaped from a federal penitentiary here in the United States. 

When someone runs the border, we‘re don‘t know why they did. 

KUMAR:  No, and you‘re absolutely right.  We need a way so we actually know who is living within our borders. 

CUTLER:  You would wind up—

HUERTA:  No.  Actually, legalization would weed out the type of people that you are speaking about, because when people become legalized, they have to be fingerprinted, right?  I remember when the Baserro (ph) program ended, we legalized a half million people without any legislation.  It kind of just happened.  Right? 

You know, the thing is that this has been the policy of the United States from day one.  Every single immigrant group that has come to the United States has been legalized at one time or the other by some method or the other.  We‘re asking for legalization of our undocumented people.  We‘re not for anything different than what we have always had in the past.  It‘s the same thing that we‘ve always done. 

We need to do it.  Actually, when we talk about the last amnesty law in 1986, which—by the way, the Democratic Congress passed that law, Senator Kennedy along with Congressman Howard Berman and others.  What happened?  We had four million that became legalized in this country. 

Guess what?  The world didn‘t end.  Right?  People assimilated.  People did the work. 

CUTLER:  But it encouraged more. 

HUERTA:  No.  The thing is this, that we have to stop thinking into the future.  We can‘t—as was said earlier by Rosario Dawson, we can‘t keep thinking of doing things like we did in the past.  We‘ve got to think of the future.  We‘ve got to think of the globalization.  We‘ve got to think of people as human beings, not punish the victims.  Because they are the victims.  We keep punishing them. 

KUMAR:  Lawrence, for this—recognizing that you have been an active—such an icon in our community, when you start talking undocumented immigrants and we‘re talking about immigration here, where would you stop?  Recognizing that that there is—we can‘t open all of our borders, right? 

But where would you stop?  What do you think is sensible? 

HUERTA:  As I said before, I think the ultimate answer is going to be that we have to have other countries develop their own economic systems, just like we did with Japan and Germany after World War II.  We had the Marshall Plan.  We gave them money to build up their economies.  American corporations didn‘t go into Japan and take over their economy.  We gave them the money to build their economies, both Japan and Germany. 

They did the same thing with Ireland.  You know, the European Union did the same thing with Ireland because of the poverty there.  So we have to think in the big picture, and not just keep punishing the people that are just coming here to work. 

O‘DONNELL:  Celso, quickly, let me get a last word from you on the Dream Act.  Secretary of Defense Gates is in favor of the Dream Act.  And it‘s because of people like Lance Corporal Jose Gutierrez, who was one of the first casualties in Iraq.  He came here illegally from Guatemala as a child.  He died when he was 22 years old fighting for this country.  He was granted citizenship when he was in his grave, by an instantaneous act of our government, making the decision that OK, he has contributed enough. 

What can we do, do you think, to get that citizenship award made earlier, made when we recognize the kind of kid that Jose Gutierrez was on his way to being? 

CELSO:  Well that—part of that solution is in the Dream Act.  There is a military aspect where you have an opportunity to either get a college education or serve in the military, either of which would allow you to have temporary conditional residency and then be able to start—get in the line, get in the process to become a U.S. citizen. 

So it‘s not automatic citizenship.  But to go back to where we were talking earlier; we can‘t just focus on—on enforcement only.  Yes, we do have to secure our borders.  We do have to make sure to find the undocumented people that are criminals.  But that is not all the problem.  That is not going to solve the problem. 

We need to realize that there‘s a problem already in place and it‘s because of a system that is broken, a broken immigration system that we need to fix.  So we need to change those laws. 

O‘DONNELL:  OK.  We‘re going to broaden the focus in the next segment.  We have to take a break here.  When we come back, everything old is new again.  A look forward by looking back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  So your community is changing.  You‘re worried about rampant crime?  Suddenly English isn‘t the only language you hear?  Your schools are getting crowded with immigrant children?  Sound familiar?  Welcome to America, 100 years ago.  What our own history can teach us about immigration when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  On January 2nd, 1892, a 15-year-old Irish girl named Annie Moore became the very first immigrant to be processed at Ellis Island in New York Harbor.  My Irish ancestors arrived in similar style in Boston, most of them before there were any immigration laws in this country.  For 62 years, Ellis Island was America‘s gateway for millions of immigrants. 

So if we‘re going to learn something about this issue from our own history, there is no better place to start.  We went there with one of America‘s leading experts on the history of immigration, Professor Marcelo Suarez-Orozco of New York University. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O‘DONNELL:  Five thousand people a day came through here at the peak.  One third of our country, 100 Million people, owe their citizenship to the people who came through this great hall. 

MARCELO SUAREZ-OROZCO, PROFESSOR, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY:  Millions of dreams, stories about working to realize a better life. 

O‘DONNELL:  The sounds we are hearing in the immigration debate today in this country, the anxiety, the fear, we have heard all that before, haven‘t we? 

SUAREZ-OROZCO:  Yes, there is nothing more apple pie than anxiety and ambivalence about immigration. 

O‘DONNELL:  We hear a lot of worries about crime with the illegal immigrant population that‘s in this country now.  Hasn‘t that always been a worry, that crime will come with them? 

SUAREZ-OROZCO:  Yes.  In fact, the data show that immigrants, including unauthorized immigrants, are less likely to engage in crime than comparable samples of non-immigrant folk in the population.  But the concern has been with us from the very, very beginning. 

A huge fear about the gangs from Ireland.  It is amazing to think a century after the Irish first begin to arrive in huge numbers, here in New York, in Boston, that it took JFK to put to rest that enduring concern over loyalty, over trust that has been at the center of every immigration wave in the history of our country. 

O‘DONNELL:  At what point do we say immigration is good for us? 

SUAREZ-OROZCO:  At times of economic anxiety, today or back then, there is always a push back.  When the unemployment rate in our country is below say five, six percent, immigration is not an issue.  When the unemployment rate begins to climb, the debate over immigration becomes “they‘re stealing jobs.  They‘re taking jobs away.”  When, in fact, economists have reasonably established that immigration generates a very vigorous surplus to the U.S. economy. 

O‘DONNELL:  We hear complaints about immigration from different sections of the country.  Our southern border towns, obviously, very upset about it in many ways. 

SUAREZ-OROZCO:  The solution to our immigration problems in the 21st century is not going to be the control of the border.  Today, unlike 100 years ago, education will play a much, much more fundamental role in the making of new—new citizens, new workers, new Americans, citizens who can function in more than one language, who can have insight into—into cultural practices, business practices, from other parts of the world.  It will give huge advantages moving forward. 

The question is, do we as a country have the energy that it takes to take on that challenge?  Or have we given up on—on the shining light that Lady Liberty symbolizes to the entire world? 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O‘DONNELL:  Joining us to talk more about where we have been, where we are going, Professor Marcelo Suarez-Orozco.  Also joining us, David Shirk, director of the Trans-Border Institute and associate producer right here at the University of San Diego.  Once again, actor, activist and co-founder of Voto Latino, Rosario Dawson. 

Professor, when we were at Ellis Island, I believe I heard you bring a reality check and a debunking to much of what we have heard here tonight.  On the crime issue, it is hard to describe to people how suspect the Irish were as an immigrant population in relation to crime.  In fact, in Boston, when they appointed the first Irish police officer, there was a protest about that officer saying—his name was Bernard McGinniskin (ph) -- you can‘t make the Irish police officers; it would be a cultural conflict of interest.  They are criminals.  That was the phrasing that was used.

We have heard all of this before.  What does our history tell us about what we have been through in the last 100 or more years with this subject?  What does it tell us about where we are going? 

SUAREZ-OROZCO:  Lawrence, what history tells us is that the rate of immigration has remained relatively stable.  In fact, contrary to the heated temperature, heated nature of the debate today, the rate of global migration has remained roughly at 3.2, 3.5 percent of the entire global population.  The rate of immigration in our country today is lower than in previous waves of large scale immigration. 

When the—when the Irish, when the eastern Europeans, when the Italians were coming in huge numbers to our country, the proportion of immigrants to the native population was substantially higher than it is today.  So in a way, we are a country where immigration is both our history and it is also our destiny. 

Moving forward, even if there is no more migration into our country, the fastest growing sector of the U.S. population comes from the echo that immigration generates.  It‘s through the children and the grandchildren of immigrants. 

So been here, done that.  We need to lower the temperature.  We need to let the better angels of our nature guide what is obviously a difficult conversation.  It was a difficult conversation then.  It is a difficult conversation today. 

O‘DONNELL:  Professor Shirk, you study the trans-border issue here.  You are living on this border, which is kind of a laboratory and possibly something that looks like our future.  What is this country going to look like in 2050? 

DAVID SHIRK, PHD, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF SAN DIEGO:  It‘s going to look very different.  First of all, thank you for coming to this global laboratory, San Diego and Tijuana.  San Diego, America‘s finest city.  Thanks for coming to talk to America‘s finest students, who are all right here with us today.  Thank you for being here. 

I think that America is going to look very different because of the current wave of migration, not—it‘s not about undocumented immigration.  We have a very large Latino population now.  As that population continues to grow, we are going to see the face of America change. 

The nice thing is that every new wave of immigrants makes America‘s face more beautiful.  I think that is what is going to continue to happen, once we get past this sort of ugly phase of those tensions between cultures and different groups start to ameliorate, maybe in about a decade or so.  The next decade is going to be tough. 

O‘DONNELL:  Rosario, does that history give you any encouragement?  I mean, to see that we had other populations, the Irish and others, go through the same kind of negative reception that people are getting coming across our southern border now? 

ROSARIO DAWSON, ACTOR/ACTIVIST:  Well, that ends up being kind of part of our conversation that we continue to have of people coming up and saying, well, it‘s just the Latinos turn in line to get yelled at.  You know, the thing that we can go back to always is our own passions, is our own personal history.  For me, I was raised in a squat in the Lower Eastside, in an abandoned building.  My parents, being as tenacious as they were, said I will put in heat, water and electricity and move out of this slum apartment, so I can at least have an opportunity to provide for my child more than I can now. 

When the squats were taken over by the city, all of the rhetoric in the newspapers were saying that they were taking so much money from the city and that‘s why we had to get rid of these squatters.  These squatters fought back against a tank, an actual military tank that came down 13th Street.  They‘re fighting back with rocks and urine.  And there‘s helicopters going and SWAT.  Those empty buildings ended up being watched with 24 hour police surveillance for four years.  That cost the city millions of dollars. 

It‘s one of the things that fuels me right now.  We don‘t always hear our history even when it is happening correctly.  That‘s what is happening right now.  We are—these elections are being flooded with lots and lots of money and they‘re buying people‘s votes, because they‘re—elections are decided by a couple hundred, couple thousand votes.  When that happens, it‘s the person who is going to feel the most comfortable going in to vote, and has been talked to the most.  That‘s usually going to be a lot of Latinos and people who are feeling antagonized and they‘re not going to vote.  And then a bunch of people who are going and driving to the polls because of fear and anger. 

So you have a very small group of people who are deciding our history.  That‘s why it is important to get young people to be part of this decision making.  They‘re the ones who are inheriting this country.  They‘re the ones who are going to lead it out of this trillions of dollars of debt.  And they‘re the ones who are going to have to deal with getting a home, health care, education in this climate, regardless of the color of their skin. 

O‘DONNELL:  We are going to have to break it there.  When we come back, final thoughts on the immigration debate and where we go from here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O‘DONNELL:  Welcome back.  I‘m joined again by Maria Teresa Kumar, Professors Marcelo Suarez-Orozco and David Shirk and actress and activist Rosario Dawson. 

I want to go to the front row, to Frank Sharry.  Frank runs an organization called America‘s voice.  It‘s an organization focused on communications and media in the immigration debate.   What do you think, quickly, Frank, gets lost in the way the media treats this issue now? 

FRANK SHARRY, “AMERICA‘S VOICE”:  We mainly focus on is there a problem when we all agree there‘s a problem.  We don‘t focus enough on what‘s the solution.  We talk about comprehensive reform.  We need to define it.  It combines strong enforcement at the border, cracking down on bad actor employers who engage in illegal hiring, and giving people here who are illegal and not criminal, a chance to become Americans by meeting certain requirements. 

Then you have to reform the immigration system going forward so we have a 21st century system.  That‘s why two-thirds of the American people want it.  Quite frankly, the only thing that‘s lacking is the political will to do what the public wants. 

O‘DONNELL:  At Voto Latino, you are certainly trying to get Latinos to the polls.  It‘s a nonpartisan group.  But what is the impact you expect in a larger—if you could get a larger Latino turnout? 

KUMAR:  Well, I think 2012 -- everybody‘s trying to figure out how to win the 2012 election.  You need at least 44 percent of the Latino vote.  And we need to change the rhetoric. 

Lawrence, we all recognize that a perfect bill, no one is going to be completely happy with.  But as Frank said, it‘s broken.  I think that‘s what we heard from Mike Cutler and that‘s what we heard from guests, is that it‘s broken and we need to fix, and we need to tone down the debate and actually have a conversation and fix the problem. 

When we talk about 12 million undocumented, we‘re talking about four percent of the population, right?  It‘s not just Latinos.  It‘s South Asians.  It‘s Chinese.  We have to bring them into the conversation and humanize it.  Because at the end of the day, if we don‘t humanize it, and we keep talking just statistics, we fail ourselves as Americans. 

O‘DONNELL:  Professor, a lot of misinformation flows in these conversations.  What can we do in the media to try to keep the dialogue within the bounds of reality? 

OROZCO:  Lawrence, to paraphrase Harry Truman, immigration is too important to leave it to the politicians. 

KUMAR:  Yes. 

OROZCO:  We need a national conversation.  We need a rational national conversation.  I applaud you for beginning what will be a process of re-encountering, rediscovering the fundamental essence of what our country has stood for in the eyes of the world over the last 200 years, the opportunities, the fundamental human agency that gets mobilized when people pick up to join a society of consent, a society of loss, a society of rules, that welcomes newcomers. 

Germany today has a real immigration headache.  Most of the issues we are contending with are issues that, with good faith and with a mature rationale engagement from the political class, we can fix.  No American politician will say what the German chancellor said two weeks ago;

Immigration in Germany failed. 

Immigration in our country has not failed.  We invented the computer because of an immigrant.  We developed the basic medical technologies for the bypass because of an immigrant.  If you Google—

KUMAR:  Google is an immigrant. 

O‘DONNELL:  We‘re running out of time.  Rosario, I just want to get a quick final take from you and what your take-away is from this discussion we‘ve had here tonight. 

DAWSON:  I believe that we—it‘s a really healthy thing to get more people to be a part of this conversation.  It shouldn‘t just be politicians who are having this conversation outside of us.  We need to take it not only and have it in our homes, but we also need to take it out.  We need to march to the polls and make sure people really hear us. 

Once again, when you start talking about going, well, in this past election, you can see in the midterm election there‘s a rejection of this, and moving towards that—again, you‘re talking about just a couple hundred or a couple thousand people making these votes that are determining our history. 

If you want to see what real people, every single day have done in this country, read “A People‘s History of the United States.”  And it‘s not just about people who are in political standings that really are talking about what American values are.  Sometimes American values are really separate from what‘s actually happening in politics. 

O‘DONNELL:  Our professors have books to sell. 

And tonight, of course, Maria Teresa Kumar will get the last word.  Go ahead, Maria Teresa.

KUMAR:  The last word.  I think what is most important is we have to recognize that this is an opportunity that is before us, an opportunity to actually modernize our immigration system, bring in the best and the brightest, who consent to come here—they‘re not forced.  They consent to come here.  And build off of that, so that we can continue being a force to be reckoned with in the 21st century. 

O‘DONNELL:  I want to thank all of you for participating tonight, especially our guests, Maria Teresa Kumar, my partner here on the program.  Thank you for joining us here tonight on the beautiful campus of the University of San Diego, and, of course, you out there in television land watching. 

As you know, the immigration debate has been part of the American conversation for a couple of centuries now.  Of course, there is much, much more to say.  We‘re going to make sure that all sides continue to be heard right here on MSNBC.  Good night from San Diego. 

END   

Copyright 2010 CQ-Roll Call, Inc.  All materials herein are protected by

United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,

transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written

permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,

copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>Watch The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell each weeknight at 10 p.m. ET