During special coverage of President Trump’s immigration speech on MSNBC Saturday, anchor Joy Reid interviewed former Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo. The discussion focused on President Trump’s immigration speech, with the two arguing about whether both sides or just Republicans deserve blame for the stalemate that led to a government shutdown.
As she tried to make the case that Republicans alone deserve the blame, Reid falsely claimed that Republicans blocked President Obama from passing immigration reform during his first year in office.
Curbelo, on the other hand, tried to argue that the Democrats deserve a fair share of the blame for the immigration stalemate in Washington. Curbelo talked about how he sponsored a bill in the 115th Congress that would have “increased border security” and provided “a path to citizenship for more than two million dreamers.” Reid asked Curbelo a rhetorical question: “why do you suppose it didn’t go anywhere?”
Curbelo answered her question, claiming that there were two reasons that his bill failed to pass. He cited the fact that “half of the Republicans voted against it” as “reason number one.” Reid responded with “correct,” indicating that she had no desire to hear reason number two: “all of the Democrats voted against it.”
Reid did not want to hear that. She had spent much of the discussion talking about the 2013 immigration reform bill known as “The Gang of Eight,” which derailed because of opposition from House conservatives. Reid blamed Ann Coulter for causing Marco Rubio to walk away from the “gang of eight” bill that he sponsored and began reading many of Coulter’s tweets in reaction to President Trump’s immigration speech; as she attempted to recycle the talking points of her fellow cable news personalities who blame Coulter for the shutdown.
Curbelo reminded Reid that “President Obama promised the Hispanic community” that he would work on immigration reform during his first year in office. Reid claimed “Republicans refused to allow any bills to go through. You know who was running the Senate.” Curbelo reminded Reid that "Democrats had 60 votes but the President promised that there would be immigration reform and nothing was delivered." Reid apparently didn’t hear him and continued to talk over him: “I see we’re doing politics but you know full well that Mitch McConnell would not allow...” Reid either forgot or chose to ignore that Harry Reid controlled the Senate from 2007 through 2014, not Mitch McConnell.
From July 2009 to February 2010, Democrats had a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority in the Senate and a majority in the House. In other words, Republicans would have had no power to stop an immigration reform bill. But the Democrats did not bring up an immigration reform bill. They chose instead to focus on socializing health care by passing ObamaCare. Following the 2010 election, Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives and picked up six seats in the Senate. Reid apparently does not want to admit that the Democrats missed their window to pass immigration reform and instead chose to pass Obamacare.
A transcript of the conversation is below. Click “expand” to read more.
MSNBC Special Coverage
JOY REID: And now joining us from Miami is former Republican Congressman from Florida Carlos Curbelo. Congressman Curbelo, let’s talk about this speech that we just heard. It was a ten, it was about a ten-minute address, nothing on the furloughed workers and those who are working without pay including working on Border Patrol; lots of talk of criminal gangs and drugs with no statistics to back that up. We just pulled our fine folks here, the producers here just pulled a University of Wisconsin study that is incredibly comprehensive without leafing through it here that says… I’ll just read one line of it. “Undocumented immigration does not increase violence, rather the relationship between undocumented immigration and violent crime is generally negative.” So that he’s quoting something that isn’t even true. What do you make of what he had to say today?
CARLOS CURBELO: Joy, I do think the President could have done more to acknowledge those workers. Down here at…in Miami, the TSA agents at Miami International Airport, the airport had an event for them the other day to give them lunch, essentially, because a lot of these people are struggling so I do think the President could have done more to acknowledge those people. I will say, Joy, for a long time it’s been obvious that the only way out of this showdown is a compromise that includes two major components. Number one, increased border security and number two, a solution for the DACA population. I do think that the President has taken a step in that direction and added the TPS population, which is very important to parts of the country like South Florida. So I don’t think that Democrats need to come out and embrace this proposal. But I do think it’s on Democrats to counter offer and to acknowledge this proposal and to not just continue refusing to engage. I think most Americans, setting aside the bases of each party, most Americans would like to see our leaders in Washington reach some kind of agreement, compromise, try to find some common ground. I do think the President gets a little credit today for moving in that direction after weeks of both sides just ignoring each other and quite frankly a lot of bickering and pettiness.
REID: Congressman, let me just push back just a tiny bit on that. First of all, Donald Trump didn’t put a new proposal on the table that or give... he, he is the one who ended TPS, he is the one who ended DACA. These were executive orders that he ended. So he took these things away and then shut down the government. There are more than a million people now if you add all of the ancillary businesses and contractors and others who are working without pay, who are suffering. And not because the Democrats and the Republicans didn’t come together, but because Donald Trump simply is…he shut the government down. So I don’t understand how you could say that this is a proposal where he gave something. He is the one who took away TPS and DACA. No?
CURBELO: Joy…I think, for example…
REID: And it is the Republicans who could reopen the government tomorrow. The House has already passed these bills. Your party, sir, could reopen the government today.
CURBELO: I think we have to be sincere, for example, about the TPS program. There is a reason it is called temporary protected status. For some individuals, this program has been the way that they’re legally in the country for over 20 years. Without question, we need a different solution…
REID: Hold on one second.
CURBELO: …for these individuals.
REID: One second, let me ask you a question…
REID: One moment. You represent Miami, sir. Is the crisis in Haiti over? Is the crisis for which TPS was extended…
CURBELO: No, no.
REID: …to them over? Is the crisis for Honduras, for which the TPS…
CURBELO: Absolutely not.
REID: Then if it isn’t over, then that is the reason it gets extended, no?
CURBELO: Which is why we need to provide a permanent solution for these individuals.
REID: That’s not what the President offered today.
CURBELO: The President today offered to extend TPS status for three years.
REID: To restore it.
CURBELO: Those renewals used to be for 18 months. This is a three-year extension and he did say that during those three years, he wanted permanent solutions for immigration. Look, Joy, I disagreed plenty with this President when I was in Congress. But I did also offer compromises on immigration that I think this country desperately needs. If both sides just say look, we’re not going to negotiate, we’re not going to talk to each other; this is our proposal, take it or leave it, well then, nothing is going to happen. By the way…
REID: Okay, Congressman, wait a second, hold on, we have limited time…
CURBELO: And that is why 13 years…real quick. That is why 13 years after the debate over comprehensive immigration reform started, the political system has nothing to show for it. Let’s make this time different. Let’s actually make life better for dreamers, for TPS recipients.
REID: Sir, okay, we don’t have…
CURBELO: And yes, let’s invest more at the border.
REID: Yeah, we don’t have time, really, for an entire speech. But I want to go back just for a moment because you talked about the need for comprehensive immigration reform. I think a lot of Americans agree with you on that and you sort of represented it as a both sides problem. But here is the challenge that I have to give to you. You are from Florida, you represented a district in the great state of Florida. Your junior Senator, now the Senior Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, who was part of the Gang of Eight, the process that he was a one out of eight members of was undermined not because both sides couldn’t come together, but because the Republican side, the right would not allow it to be done. He had to walk away from it after he was upbraided by Rush Limbaugh. Rush Limbaugh is in the same camp with one Ann Coulter. These are the people who are stopping Donald Trump from being able to do anything, including fund the government. He essentially walked away from funding the government because she told him to. Well this is what she is telling him to today, telling him today. Ann Coulter has come out and said, called what Donald Trump offered today, amnesty, said “let’s just amnesty them!” She has said “100 miles of border wall in exchange of amnestying millions of illegals,” these are human beings. “So if we grant citizenship to a BILLION foreigners, maybe we could finally get a full border wall.” She’s gone on and on and on. More amnesty, “we voted for Trump and we got Jeb!,” the Governor of the great state of Florida. “Trump says USA doesn’t discriminate immigrants based on race, sex, class, etc. but we DO discriminate on whether you live within walking…” it just goes on and on and on. If Ann Coulter wouldn’t allow Marco Rubio to do immigration reform and she wouldn’t, she won’t allow Donald Trump…Donald Trump to reopen the government, then how can you call this a both sides problem. It’s both sides of your party.
CURBELO: Joy, Marco Rubio filed a comprehensive immigration reform bill…
REID: And walked away from it. And walked away from it.
CURBELO: …with conservatives, with Chuck Schumer and others. I helped bring immigration legislation…
REID: He walked away from it, sir.
CURBELO: …to the floor last year.
REID: Sir, he walked away from it.
CURBELO: My bill, my bill included a path to citizenship…
REID: But can you, rather than talk to your bill can you answer my question, sir?
CURBELO: Because I was at…
REID: Your party has a conservative wing that won’t allow it.
CURBELO: Because I was a Republican in Congress and I filed legislation that increased border security and provided a path to citizenship for two million dreamers.
REID: Why do you suppose it didn’t it go anywhere?
CURBELO: For two million dreamers.
REID: Why didn’t it go anywhere?
CURBELO: Well, for two reasons. Number one, half of the Republicans voted against it and…
CURBELO: And all of the Democrats voted against it. And Joy, after that vote, I had some Democratic friends come up to me and say, hey, I thought this was a good bill but for political reasons I could not…
REID: So you’re saying the problem is not the right wing of the Republican party. Immigration reform, comprehensive immigration reform of the kind that Marco Rubio originally used to support before he changed his mind was supported by Democrats. It is the right wing of the Republican Party that said you are not allowed to do it, causing Senator Rubio to walk away from his own bill. You are saying that isn’t true?
CURBELO: Joy, what…Joy, what happened in 2008 after President Obama promised the Hispanic community in the United States…
REID: It could…Republicans refused to allow any bills to go through. You know who wa running the Senate.
CURBELO: Democrats had 60 votes.
REID: Sir, you know what happened. You know what happened.
CURBELO: Democrats had 60 votes, the President promised that there would be immigration reform and nothing was delivered.
REID: Okay. I see we’re doing politics. But you know, you know full well that Mitch McConnell would not allow…
CURBELO: Joy, you’re not letting me answer the questions.
REID: Well, we can’t, we don’t have to filibuster…
CURBELO: You won’t let me answer the questions. No, you are filibustering. You would make a great Senator. Are you going to run?
REID: I am not. Thank you very much. I really appreciate your time. It’s an interesting debate.
CURBELO: My pleasure.
REID: Thank you sir. Appreciate it. We’ll be right back.