MSNBC's Contessa Brewer on Thursday didn't try and hide her opinion on illegal immigration, spinning such lawbreakers as having a "pivotal role in making our country work." The News Live host interviewed Antonio Villaraigosa, the mayor of Los Angeles and opined, "They do all kinds of jobs that keep our economy going, that keep us fed, our houses clean, our gardens tended and the like." [Audio available here.]
Brewer appeared absolutely baffled by the fact that most Americans agree with Arizona's new immigration law: "When you're looking at removing those people from the system, it's odd to me that you would get so much support."
Continuing her rather lengthy assessment, the anchor offered this rather loaded question: "Why do you think there's so much support for this law when the consequences of removing those estimated 12 million illegal immigrants could devastate our economy?"
Brewer did press Villaraigosa with one tough question. She wondered, "So answer if you will for me, because here's the two critiques that I hear all the time. One, that it affects safety and security and two, they're taking jobs away from legal, U.S. citizens." But, this perfunctory effort came after making her own opinion very clear.
Just two days ago, Brewer weighed into another thorny issue, lamenting the fact that the failed Times Square bomber was a Muslim. Going on the Stephanie Miller radio show, she complained, "I get frustrated...There was part of me that was hoping this was not going to be anybody with ties to any kind of Islamic country."
A transcript of the May 6 segment, which aired at 12:15pm EDT, follows:
CONTESSA BREWER: President Obama pledged to start work this year on immigration reform, responding to the new Arizona law that cracks down on illegal immigrants. Here's what he said at the White House yesterday.
BARACK OBAMA: I want to say it again, just in case anybody's confused, the way to fix our broken immigration system is through common sense, comprehensive immigration reform. We need bipartisan support. But, it can be done and it needs to be done.
BREWER: At a march in Phoenix last night, reverend Al Sharpton led the crowd with candles. Critics believe the law will lead to racial profiling. The state's NBA basketball team is also getting involved. Last night, the team wore Los Suns on their jerseys to honor the Latino community. Antonio Villaraigosa is the Mayor of Los Angeles and joins me now. Mayor, I know you disagree with this law, but how else would you suggest dealing with the problem of illegal immigration?
ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA (Mayor, Los Angeles): Hello, Contessa. It's great to be on your show again. Look, what we've said is tht a federal responsibility under our U.S. Constitution. It should remain solely within the responsibility and the jurisdiction of the federal government to fix our borders. There's no question that we have a broken immigration system. As the President said, we have to fix that broken immigration system. We have every right to secure our borders in a post September 11 world. But, we need to do so in a rational way, in a way that respects the human rights and the democratic rights of the people in this country, whether they're legal or not.
BREWER: The people who are here illegally have a pivotal role in making our country work. They do all kinds of jobs that keep our economy going, that keep us fed, our houses clean, our gardens tended and the like. When you're looking at removing those people from the system, it's odd to me that you would get so much support. I mean, nationwide, the polls show more than half of the people think that the Arizona law just about gets it right. Why do you think there's so much support for this law when the consequences of removing those estimated 12 million illegal immigrants could really devastate our economy?
VILLARAIGOSA: Not only devastate our economy, the estimates are that it would cost the United States of America more than $280 billion to deport 12 million people. We would leave five million citizens, children, here in the United States. No country anywhere has ever deported that number of people. It boggles the mind. Yes, we need to fix our broken system, but that way is the wrong way to go. Now, 70 percent, according to the Pew study, which has done a study of attitudes of people about immigration, say they want a comprehensive immigration fix that secures our border, that addresses the fact that people can't just get citizenship automatically, they have to wait at the end of the line and have to have paid their taxes. They can't have committed serious crimes.
BREWER: So answer if you will for me, because here's the two critiques that I hear all the time. One, that it affects safety and security and two, they're taking jobs away from legal, U.S. citizens.
VILLARAIGOSA: Again, we have a right to address this issue, but we have to do so comprehensively. We can't do it state by state and we can't do it in a way that violates the constitutional rights of the people of Arizona. It just doesn't work that way. That's why the President is right in moving forward and saying that the Congress needs to pass comprehensive immigration laws that respect our human and civil liberties, but also secure our borders.
BREWER: Yeah. Well, getting all those people with very different views on how best to tackle immigration could be the problem. Mayor, it's good to have you on the show. Thanks.