MSNBC/Telemundo Air Hour-Long Obama Town Hall Touting Illegal Immigration from the Left

On Wednesday night, liberal networks MSNBC and Telemundo teamed up to present a town hall on illegal immigration that featured President Barack Obama before a friendly auditorium of supporters and taking questions that ranged from softballs to ones from the far left that implored him to further expand his amnesty.

With the event hosted and moderated by Jose Diaz-Balart, who serves as the anchor of both MSNBC’s The Rundown and Telemundo’s Noticiero Telemundo, the nearly commercial free event (only commercial came at the 55-minute mark) included questions from Diaz-Balart (in English and Spanish), Twitter users, and members of the studio audience.

From the start, it was clear that Diaz-Balart was also on stage to play the role of advocate. In his second question to the President, he reminded Obama that “[w]e’re facing very real consequences and fear” due to his “actions” with “millions of people are in the balance here” based on what he chooses to do.

After a question from a U.S. Army veteran who has an illegal immigrant mother and one from Twitter, Diaz-Balart was back to ask the President “where was the contingency plan” to ensure that his executive action could have still gone into place despite a U.S. District Court Judge placing a stay on the measure. 

Later, one member of the audience who read a question was a Florida International University student and legal immigrant from Haiti who requested that the President “help us international student[s]” by including “us in your executive orders, maybe” to remain legal residents like the illegal immigrants currently being addressed.

Not satisfied with Obama’s response, Diaz-Balart jumped in to continue pushing from the left: 

[A]re you focusing mostly on the undocumented population, and through executive orders, could you not also include those that are here, that are participating already. Folks that came from Haiti, this horrible earthquake that hit five years ago, are you focused at all on that? 

In the program’s middle portion, the liberal MSNBC and Telemundo host quizzed Obama as to why he chose not to act on immigration when Democrats controlled Congress in 2009 and 2010: “[O]ne I get a lot over and over and over again is a question, Mr. President, when you had absolute control of Congress, you really didn't fight for immigration.” 

To that, Obama simply blamed both the need to first address the poor economy and his own party: “We pushed for immigration to be done, but ultimately, we could not get the votes to get it all done.” Add in a tweet about both parties “play[ing] political ping-pong with immigration,” and it all made for a stretch where the President was quite visibly angered.

However, the President was not to worry as Diaz-Balart quickly brought the discussion back to friendlier territory. Illegal immigrant and activist Erika Andiola demanded of Obama that her mother be included in his executive action since she’s ineligible to benefit from his order because none of her children are U.S. citizens and: 

[W]hat's going to happen to my family, given the fact that immigration reform is not going to happen anytime soon and we know that because of the politics in Congress, what's going to happen in the meantime when my mom and my family, if immigration comes to my house once again?

Looking to again challenge Obama from the left, Diaz-Balart stayed on that point: 

Many people ask themselves – cases like Astrid, Erika and other dreamers – if you create executive actions that judges are going to have to determine if they are legal, why not include the parents of these dreamers? And if judges determine the actions aren’t legal or constitution, well then they deal with that, but include them.

At the end of the hour-long infomercial, Diaz-Balart left viewers with a brief commentary concerning the event and the issue of immigration [emphasis mine]: 

This conversation that we had today with the President of the United States, on one subject, a subject that is very near and dear to the hearts of millions of people in this country. This is not statistics, these aren't numbers, these are families, directly affected by the decisions that are going on in Washington, in Texas, and throughout the country. It's important to remember that when we talk about immigration, and the immigration reform, it's about human beings, it’s about people like a veteran that was injured in Afghanistan and is now fighting because his mother is being deported. It is about families, it is about people and we will continue to have this conversation on MSNBC. Thank you for being a part of it. We're going to continue this conversation on The Rundown and throughout MSNBC. It's an important issue, one that I thank you for letting us be a part of your day. 

A portion of the questions asked during the MSNBC Special: A Town Hall with President Obama on February 25 are transcribed below.

MSNBC Special: A Town Hall with the President
February 25, 2015
8:08 p.m. Eastern

DIAZ-BALART [English Subtitle – question only in Spanish]: Regardless of what could happen with appeals and judges – this could take months – what about you, Mr. President? We’re facing very real consequences and fear – this is all because of your actions. For months you said you were going to dot the I’s and cross the T’s. Millions of people are in the balance here. What responsibility do you feel in what’s happened?

(....)


DIAZ-BALART: Mr. President, people in your own administration, legal experts predicted for weeks, really, that the Texas judge could probably rule against you and this can happen again. I mean, you just mentioned there are more than 25 people who have joined in – states who have joined in this legal process. In any and all of these other cases, these judges could also act the same way that this judge in Texas did. So, where was the contingency plan? I mean, did you have a contingency plan specifically? What are you going to do going forward as this process continues?

(....)

FLORIDA INTERNATION UNIVERSITY STUDENT AND HAITIAN BORIS GILLES: Hello, Mr. President. My name is Boris Gills and I'm an international student. I came from Haiti. [Inaudible] – the earthquake that ravaged my country in 2010. In 2011, I came here into the U.S. on a student Visa. Now I'm a senior at FIU. I'm graduating next semester with a double major in finance and international business. Like so many of us, like, international students, we don't know what to do. Our back against the wall. We're doing everything by the book, but yet, it feels like we're left out of every single reference, I mean, of every single thing going on. So now my question is, what is it that you can do to help us international student? Like, how can you include us in your executive orders maybe?

(....)

DIAZ-BALART: On a bigger question that Boris brings up that I want to extrapolate, in his case, is some people wonder, well, are you focusing mostly on the undocumented population, and through executive orders, could you not also include those that are here, that are participating already. Folks that came from Haiti, this horrible earthquake that hit five years ago, are you focused at all on that? 

(....)

DIAZ-BALART: Mr. President, I can't tell you the amount of questions that we've received, both on Telemundo and MSNBC, has really been extraordinary and one I get a lot over and over and over again is a question, Mr. President, when you had absolute control of Congress, you really didn't fight for immigration. And then when you had the situation where you lost majorities, then you take action. Is there political implications behind something that affects so many people, so close to their hearts?

(....)

DIAZ-BALART: Here's another social media question. Benson Owen from Houston says, “Why do Democrats and the GOP play political ping-pong with immigration when millions of American families suffer as a result? 

(....)

DREAM ACTION COALITION’s ERIKA ANDIOLA: [M]y sister is here, who actually qualifies for DACA extended, or would have qualified if it was implementing and my mom is also here. She was unfortunately left out of your executive action, since she doesn't have any citizen children, she has only dreamers as children and she is also in deportation proceedings and because of a previous deportation she had, and came back for us, she's actually a priority in your deportation directive and so my question to you is, what's going to happen to my family, given the fact that immigration reform is not going to happen anytime soon and we know that because of the politics in Congress, what's going to happen in the meantime when my mom and my family, if immigration comes to my house once again?

(....)

DIAZ-BALART [English Subtitle – question only in Spanish]: Many people ask themselves – cases like Astrid, Erika and other dreamers – if you create executive actions that judges are going to have to determine if they are legal, why not include the parents of these dreamers? And if judges determine the actions aren’t legal or constitution, well then they deal with that, but include them.

(....)

DIAZ-BALART: Thank you to Florida International University and thank all of you. This conversation that we had today with the President of the United States, on one subject, a subject that is very near and dear to the hearts of millions of people in this country. This is not statistics, these aren't numbers, these are families, directly affected by the decisions that are going on in Washington, in Texas, and throughout the country. It's important to remember that when we talk about immigration, and the immigration reform, it's about human beings, it’s about people like a veteran that was injured in Afghanistan and is now fighting because his mother is being deported. It is about families, it is about people and we will continue to have this conversation on MSNBC. Thank you for being a part of it. We're going to continue this conversation on The Rundown and throughout MSNBC. It's an important issue, one that I thank you for letting us be a part of your day.

NB Daily Immigration Liberals & Democrats MSNBC Daily Rundown Hispanic Media Telemundo Obama Watch Video Government & Press President Barack Obama President Obama Jose Diaz-Balart
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