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January 31, 2013

Host: José Cárdenas

Congressman Ed Pastor

  |   Video
  • A conversation with Arizona Congressman Ed Pastor about immigration reform, the debt ceiling, gun control, and other issues.
  • Ed Pastor - Congressman
Category: Government   |   Keywords: pastor, congressman, ,

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Jose Cardenas: Thank you for joining us. Democratic U.S. representative Ed Pastor was reelected to his 12th term in Arizona's reconfigured 7th congressional district. He is here tonight to talk About the latest from capitol hill and current events.

Ed Pastor: Thank you for the invitation.

Jose Cardenas: Always an honor to have you. It has been awhile. I want to start with the big event that happened since the last time you were here. That of course is the elections. Let's focus first on Arizona, the new makeup of the representation. It is now in the house of representatives, 5-4 democrat, is that a surprise.

Ed Pastor: No, when we started on the redistricting, obviously the objective was to get the max that we could in terms of democrats. And working with people who knew how to deal with redistricting, the maps and logistics. We felt that the map that was finally adopted by the redistricting commission would give us the result of 5-4.

Jose Cardenas: What about the Carmona election, and the race, did you expect it to be closer?

Ed Pastor: I expected Carmona to actually win. I felt that he had a great shot after the primary, tough primary that Jeff flake had. My disappointment I think one of the problems was that during that primary season, Carmona did not have an opponent and he could have used probably that time to identify himself in a positive manner, but for whatever reason, the money that the Senate campaign committee had promised him had not come down. I think it would have been a lot closer if the strategy had been different.

Jose Cardenas: Do you see a future for him at Arizona politics, state level or running for Senate?

Ed Pastor: I understand that he probably is looking for a governor's race. I have heard that. I don't know. The next election for Senate, I'm sure you will have many other young politicians who are around and may want to run for that seat. It will be probably a bill that will be more crowded.

Jose Cardenas: Going back to Congress and specifically the house of representatives, the democrats did pick up seats. Arizona is one example of that. But still the minority party. What do you see in terms of grid lock going forward? Are there still great concerns there?

Ed Pastor: It was interesting. The last three major votes, fiscal cliff, the debt ceiling, lifting of the debt ceiling or postponing it, and the hurricane, relief money, was basically passed by a majority of the minority. And at one time, the speaker, speaker Boehner said that the legislation would pass from the house with the majority of the majority, first three major bills that have passed in the house this year have been with the majority of the minority. So, that means 88 to 100 democrats have voted for the legislation and has made it basically a bipartisan effort.

Jose Cardenas: What do you see going forward though? Is that simply a reflection on those particular issues, republicans realize they're going to get the blame, if, for example, the government shuts down. Do you see them being more cooperative?

Ed Pastor: It is not a matter of cooperation. I think the deal is the leadership of the caucus, working with the caucus and trying to find the best way to govern, and if they stay with the objective of majority by the majority, then they're going to have difficult times passing legislation that would pass the Senate. And so I think we have shown that we can do bipartisan legislation if this leadership of the republican caucus allows the Congress to do its will. Bring a bill out and see where it goes.

Jose Cardenas: Let's switch to the Senate. With respect to Arizona, we lost one ever the most senior members of the Senate in senator Kyl and now you have senator flake. What do you think will be the difference there?

Ed Pastor: Well, I think senator Kyl obviously had the seniority, and he was in the leadership position. He was the second person in the republican caucus in the Senate. And obviously Jeff is a new member. But Jeff already has got himself in the judiciary and the foreign OPS committee, and other committees that are important, and I think Jeff is going to work his way and be involved in the national scene in many issues.

Jose Cardenas: One of the big issues facing Congress is perhaps one of the most controversial you can have and that is gun control in light of the Newtown tragedy. Where do you see that one going?

Ed Pastor: It will be interesting. In 1994, when we had the vote on banning assault weapons, I supported the ban and it passed. And since then, I think things have changed dramatically in terms of the politics of the second amendment, the interest groups, etc. But people are becoming cognizant that gun violence is something that we need to address. I believe that on the checking, universal checks may be something that may happen. You may have something to deal with, mental health situation, but when you get to the subject, possibly magazine capacity, might be a -- but when you get to banning the assault weapon, I think that will be very difficult only because special interest groups that are unequivocal in terms of the second amendment.

Jose Cardenas: What about some of the other tough fiscal issues coming up? Debt ceiling got pushed down, but the sequestration in March.

Ed Pastor: Sequestration was something that nobody wanted. That was a deal we made a year ago because we were wanting to lift the debt ceiling at the time. Legislation that passed. My assumption is that you -- you have two events coming up. Sequestration, and also the continued resolution that funds the government for 2013 is going to expire in March. And so I would hope that the house and the Senate decide to work on the continuance of the government from 2013 and use bill -- some type of legislation that would bring the cuts that are agreed to between the democrats and the republicans so that sequestration will be avoided and at the same time avoid a government shutdown.

Jose Cardenas: A lot of talk this last week about the president's inaugural speech. Complaints from republicans that he was overly aggressive, but as some of -- intent on annihilating the republican party. What is your take on what the president had to say?

Ed Pastor: I think he realizes that, like any second termer, re-election is not a priority because it is not going to happen, and so I think now he needs to -- and wants to deal with legislation, he thinks it is important. Since he won re-election and he won convincingly with -- I think he is going to want to put his mark down and say, you know, I'm willing to fight for some of these things in the second term that may be the first term I would not have stood so tall.

Jose Cardenas: A part of his Victory, many thing attributable to the Hispanic vote, which he won overwhelmingly. That seems to have influenced a number of other things as well. We will get to the most important one perhaps, immigration. But before we do that, controversy by the diversity into the president's cabinet. He is losing two Hispanics. Your thoughts about that is that an issue?

Ed Pastor: Well, it is an issue. He wants to have his cabinet look like America. And the fastest population that is growing in this country is the Hispanic population. So I think he is -- secretary LaHood, secretary of transportation, is not going to continue. So, I don't know what is going to happen to commerce and department of energy. So, there are still other cabinet positions that the president is going to have an opportunity to look to the Hispanic community and possibly select not only more Hispanics, but women. You may see the first gay cabinet member. So I think president is going to have more opportunities down the road to be able to add more diversity to his cabinet.

Jose Cardenas: Congressman -- name mentioned for a possible replacement --

Ed Pastor: The interest is coming from the environmental groups. And so, I think that that is a possibility, but obviously there are other people that also are being considered and many of them are western governors. We will see, hopefully I would be very happy if he became secretary of the interior, because obviously it would be very beneficial to Arizona and we have a history of Arizonans become secretary of interior, so Raul, it he makes it, our country will be well served by him.

Jose Cardenas: The big issue this week, immigration. Bipartisan group of senators announce their plan on Monday, and President Obama gave a speech on Tuesday outlining his. They seem to be very similar. The president expressed support generally for the senator's proposal. What is your take on all of this?

Ed Pastor: I think both groups indicated that dealing with immigration goes back many years. And many of the principles that both of the groups brought out were discussed and passed years -- in past years and past legislation. There is similarity, but I would tell you that the devil is in the detail, because legislation has to be written and will be written with some detail, and so from the principles, you know, you have to get to the detail. One of the things that I saw with the bipartisan group was they connected border security with the pathway to legalization. And I found that somewhat disappointing because border security deals with how do you secure the border and to me it is a separate -- separate and apart from the issue of pathway to legalization because you're dealing with people who have been here in many cases many years and brought over by children and now have families, U.S. citizens, and so I was disappointed with the coupling of those two issues.

Jose Cardenas: Any disappointments in the president's proposal?

Ed Pastor: Well, I think one of the matters that needs to be discussed both by the republican bipartisan group, as well as the president, is that the reality that this country is going to need workers in the future. Our population is dwindling. We are not producing kids like we did. If we want to have a robust economy, reality is that we are going to need foreign workers at all sectors, and not just the brightest and -- and neither one of them have talked about what they're going to do in terms of the Visas that would allow some of the guest workers to come in. What would be the rights and privileges that they would have. And so I -- still great -- you want to secure the border, you want to make sure that there is a way that a person who wants to work, wherever that person is coming from and has a willing employer and all of them talk about having an employer that has responsibilities to verify, if you -- if you feel the work force, then there won't be a need for people to cross undocumented. I think security can be built with a strong program, guest worker program.

Jose Cardenas: A lot more to talk about. Thank you so much.

Ed Pastor: Thank you.

Immigration Reform

  |   Video
  • A discussion about the Bipartisan Senate plan and President Obama's proposal on immigration reform from Reverend Warren Stewart Senior, pastor for the First Institutional Baptist Church in Phoenix and co-chair for the Black/Brown Coalition. Joining him are Chairs the Board of the National Immigration Forum: Danny Ortega, attorney and chairman for the National Council of La Raza; and Lisa Urias, co-chair for the Real Arizona Coalition.
  • Danny Ortega - Attorney and Chairman, National Council of La Raza
  • Lisa Urias - Co-chair, Real Arizona Coalition
  • Reverend Warren Stewart Senior - Pastor, First Institutional Baptist Church and Co-chair, Black/Brown Coalition
Category: Immigration   |   Keywords: immigration, reform, senate, ,

View Transcript
Jose Cardenas: For the first time in Years there was a serious Talk on getting Congress to Act on immigration reform. A bipartisan group of senators announced their plans, which included a path to citizenship for 11 undocumented people. President Obama spoke in Las Vegas, putting his full support to a comprehensive overhaul of U.S. immigration laws. Here is what some of the senators and President Obama Had to say this week.

SOT: 11 million human beings who are here undocumented, vast and enormous majority of whom have come here in pursuit of what all of us would recognize as the American dream. That is what we endeavor to move forward here on.

I am the most optimistic I have been in sometime -- I recognize there are difficult challenges ahead. I get the sense of a spirit and commitment that is far beyond what I have seen in sometime.

Elections. Elections. The Republican party is losing the support of our Hispanic citizens, and we realize that there are many issues in which we think we are in agreement with our Hispanic citizens. This is a preeminent issue with those citizens. In Espanol, vamonos --

A process that includes passing a background check, paying taxes, paying a penalty, learning English, and then going to the back of the line behind all of the folks who are trying to come here legally. That is only fair. All right. So, that means it won't be a quick progress. But it will be a fair process.

Jose Cardenas: Here with me tonight to Talk about the proposals from the Senate and the president Is Danny Ortega, attorney and chairman for the national council of La Raza. Lisa Urias, cochair for the Real Arizona Coalition. And the Reverend Warren Stewart, senior pastor of the first institutional Baptist church in Phoenix, cochair for the black/brown coalition. He also chairs the board of The national immigration Forum, an advocacy group in In Washington, D.C. Welcome all of you to "Horizonte." Start with you, chairmanship is relatively new what --

Warren Stewart: A sister who I worked together with for many, many years, contacted me two and a half years ago, pastor Stewart, we want you to help us on this immigration issue. This is a justice issue, of course, and I have been about justice all of my ministry here. It was a natural for me. It is a justice issue, moral justice issue that needs to be addressed because it deals with our human brothers and sisters.

Jose Cardenas: One of the most prominent organizations working on this issue. You were -- what did you think of the president's speech?

Warren Stewart: The president instead of giving particulars was very human. Very down to earth. A phrase he talked about, it is not us versus them. Remember that we used to be them. Talking about immigrants. So, he put it at a very humane, touchable level that it -- it is a life issue. This whole immigration that we have to fix and repair.

Jose Cardenas: Any concerns about the senators proposal?

Warren Stewart: No. We know that they will have to work on it to get it through the Senate and then over to the house. Our concerns are more of what is going to happen in the house than the Senate?

Jose Cardenas: Danny, as the Congressman put it, not on our show but in one of the newspaper interviews, the devil is in the details. And there are a lot of details that aren't discussed in either proposal. What do you think is missing right now?

Danny Ortega: I think the Senate plan has got that problem. If you really look -- they say path to citizenship, the only real path to citizenship that they define is for dreamers and for people who have been working in agriculture. The whole idea that we are going to wait to make sure that the border is secure before anybody can get a pathway to citizenship, makes it so indefinite that it could never happen. That is where I think --

Jose Cardenas: In the meantime, though, people will have probationary status.

Danny Ortega: Probationary status and then legal residency status. You want the process to citizenship and the words in one of the headings of the plan and you look at the details -- dreamers and AG jobs, that is something that we have to work on.

Jose Cardenas: And the Emphasis in the senator's proposal, contingent upon securing the border.

Danny Ortega: There are just so many contingencies. I think they don't want to say we support the path to citizenship. And I think all contingencies are pointing in that direction. I tell you I am encouraged by the plan. I think it is a good first step. I wouldn't dismiss it. It would have been the -- this could be the plan. Before I begin to criticize anything about this plan, I want to see what is over there on the right and with the house of representatives.

Jose Cardenas: Any criticisms of the president's proposal?

Danny Ortega: No, actually the president was I think more liberal of the plans although he continues with the enforcement policies. I like the fact he has a specific definition on when people can become citizens. I think they're pretty similar, but his is going to be tougher than even the Senate plan.

Jose Cardenas: He has been criticized for not saying more about temporary guest workers.

Danny Ortega: Yeah, I think it is important for us to talk about that a little bit more. It depends on what area of temporary workers you want to talk about. The more you talk about temporary workers the more you talk about protection of the workers. You have a little tension in allowing them to come in at the will of the employers. So that to me is a hot issue and one that has to be -- you have to be very delicate about. Should have been delicate about the path to citizenship but it wasn't but on the guest workers, I think that is where the problem is.

Jose Cardenas: Lisa, you and Danny had both been working on the real Arizona coalition, coming up with the S-A-M-E, same proposal, give us background on that?

Lisa Urias: Same platform developed with the Arizona coalition to respond to the issue of immigration. As you know, Arizona is considered the bellwether state on the issue of immigration. And a lot of folks involved in the coalition to try to advance -- the platform, in some ways very similar to the senators platform and president's platform -- the whole goal of it is to come up with ways -- legalizing the 11 million here currently undocumented. Finding a way to define what a secure border means at every port of entry in the United States and changing the Visa system. We need Visa reform to ensure that the U.S. has what it needs to engage in a vital economy.

Jose Cardenas: The real Arizona coalition as I understand it is a broad-based group. You have Montgomery on one side and others like Daniel Ortega who might be considered not necessarily politically in the same part of the room, but -- and business groups.

Lisa Urias: Absolutely. Really started with an economic platform. Because we wanted people to understand that the vitality of America is the fact that we have immigrants coming to this country. From our inception, immigrants have driven this economy and this culture of America. This beautiful experiment that we started many, many years ago called America. It was driven by immigrants who came here who risked everything for that land of opportunity. We know that from the inception and to today, immigrants are a vital part of this economy. We started with the business voice and then brought in other folks, law enforcement, civil rights groups, faith groups, others, justice O'Connor has been participating with us because we wanted to be sure that we had all voices at the table participating in the process and giving us their input.

Jose Cardenas: Where do you see Arizona going, what role it will play in the immigration debate?

Warren Stewart: Arizona has been the negative forefront and we are trying to reverse that with leadership coming within Arizona. I'm a part of the black/brown coalition, a group of community leaders from all levels that are saying that we have more in common than we have uncommon, and we join together to speak for justice issues for all people, but especially people of color. We are trying to take the leadership and we hope that and we see that our senators, our congressional delegations, some of them will follow suit. I even heard the governor speaking about she supports comprehensive immigration reform about two weeks ago. And that is movement.

Jose Cardenas: All right. I think the reverend may be right there, Danny, but the governor qualified her commitment by saying when she is satisfied that the border has been secured. And that is the criticism made by the bipartisan senators proposal, contingent on securing the border, to be determined by a commission --

Danny Ortega: You know, every proposal has to have a little bit for everybody. And securing the border first is the language of the right in terms of their constituency. Path to citizenship is the language to the left. At the end of the day we have to figure out what we have in common, and if part of getting a plan through is making sure that the border is secure, I'm for it. Okay. How you define it is where the problem is at. One person sees it one way and another person sees it the other. If we could come up with a definition acceptable to all on what control of the border means, maybe that is where we have to start. The problem is that some people are using it as a pretext for knowing that it will never happen and therefore we could never have immigration reform.

Jose Cardenas: Are you optimistic that we will see --

Danny Ortega: I am very optimistic. If you look at what the senators did yesterday and what the president did, we just need to wait for the house to come forward and see what they want. I think it is imperative for everybody, irrespective of a party to come up with a plan and more so for republicans than anybody else.

Jose Cardenas: Almost out of time. I understand same is working on a possible summit. What might that cover?

Lisa Urias: We are hoping to have a national summit here. We hope that maybe our senators would participate, or at least one of them, to talk about these issues. We have been doing summits all around the state over the last few years to talk about immigration reform with people from a national platform who have very inciteful suggestions and input into the process. We hope to do that here sometime within the coming months.

Jose Cardenas: I'm sure we will be talking about this for some time to come. That is our show tonight. For all of us here at "Horizonte," I'm Jose Cardenas, have a good night.