Last night, PBS’s Charlie Rose interviewed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). During their discussion, Rose asked Pelosi about her opinion of the immigration bill in the Senate (which was defeated today).
Pelosi praised several provisions of the bill, but strongly criticized the bill’s vehement opponents on the radical right — especially on talk radio. Pelosi objected to their tactics saying that “talk radio, or in some cases hate radio…just go on and on and on in a xenophobic, anti-immigrant” manner. Pelosi noted that when it comes to bashing undocumented immigrants, “all of a sudden, all these people of faith are just very unforgiving.”
Pelosi’s characterization of the “xenophobic” and “anti-immigrant” dialogue on talk radio is well-documented. In recent weeks, Media Matters has highlighted several particularly egregious examples:
— Bill O’Reilly asserted that supporters of the immigration bill “hate America” and “want to flood the country with foreign nationals, unlimited, unlimited, to change the complexion” of our society. [Link]
— Michael Savage called a Hispanic advocacy group, National Council of La Raza, “the Ku Klux Klan of the Hispanic people” and said that La Raza “is the most stone racist group I’ve ever seen in this country!” [Link]
— Neal Boortz argued in favor of the controversial border fence, stating, “I don’t care if Mexicans pile up against that fence like tumbleweeds in the Santa Ana winds in Southern California. … [J]ust run a couple of taco trucks up and down the line.” [Link]
Though conservatives may take up 91 percent of the talk radio airwaves, talk radio is not representative of the American people, who broadly supported the key components of the legislation. More information about the radically conservative bias in daytime talk radio HERE.
ROSE: Let me move from foreign to domestic. Immigration. What’s going to happen this week, next week on an immigration proposal that both the president and Senator Kennedy both would like to see passed?
PELOSI: First, let me do something that may surprise you. Let me praise the president. I think he’s been very courageous in fighting for an immigration bill that will bring some order to the situation that is in our country. I think the president is doing what is right, what he believes is right, and it’s a tough fight in his own party.
The principles that we have on our — on the House side in terms of the Democrats are that we will secure our borders, we will have workplace enforcement, we will protect our workers, we’ll unify families, and we’ll have a path to legalization.
Some of those features are present in the Senate bill.
What’s going to happen this week? The Senate will vote as to — for cloture, as to whether they can end filibuster and go to debate on the bill. That will be on Thursday. And then they will go from there to see whether they have the votes to pass the bill.
Of course, we’ll be waiting to see if the bill meets the standards that we have, or what compromises we can make, because it is very important for us to have an immigration bill.
ROSE: And what do you think the likelihood of having one is?
PELOSI: It all depends on the leadership of the president of the United States. The problem he is having is largely in his own party on this, and it is — I’ve said it now for a year and a half — if the president wants the legislation, the legislation will pass.
ROSE: Have the proponents of this bill done a good enough job to sell it to the country?
PELOSI: It’s amazing. If you take individual pieces of the bill, the American people support it. There is an element in our — well, talk radio, or in some cases hate radio, where they just go on and on and on in a xenophobic, anti-immigrant…
ROSE: Calling it amnesty, amnesty, amnesty.
PELOSI: Amnesty, which it is not. And it’s interesting because my faith — I’m a Catholic and from San Francisco, which I’m proud to represent in the Congress…
ROSE: Via Baltimore.
PELOSI: Via Baltimore, Maryland, which I’m very proud of as well. And in both places, my faith was very important to me.
Song of St. Francis is the anthem of the city of San Francisco. St. Francis is our patron saint. And we always talk when there is hatred, we will bring love. His song, make me a channel — where there is hatred, may we bring love, where there’s despair, may we bring hope; where there is darkness, light. And to forgive is to be forgiven.
And all of a sudden, all these people of faith are just very unforgiving.
ROSE: They are not willing to forgive.
PELOSI: They’re not willing to say, OK, they made a mistake. Now, they have to pay all these fines, they have to do all of these things, which will require them to have paid their debt to society, but we will never forgive them. It’s not about amnesty. Amnesty…
ROSE: So why do you think they continue to hold that view?
PELOSI: I really don’t want to characterize anyone else’s motivation. I just think that they haven’t been blessed with the experience that many of us have with living in a mixed society, where we know that the future of America depends on this constant invigoration of people coming in. I think, justifiably so, they’re unhappy that people came in not strictly legally. Some came legally, maybe 30, 40 percent, but overstayed their welcome. So there’s an unhappiness about that, and I respect that.
But what we’re saying is, make them pay their debt to society, and then let’s get on a path to legalization, which is a long and circuitous one. They get at the end of the line of anybody waiting to become a citizen or to come into our country.
But what’s interesting about it is is that they really — I mean, what are we going to do with 12 million people? Does anyone want to pay the price of arresting them all? Are we going to send them all home when so much of our, whether it’s our agriculture industry or other industries, depend on their work? And now they have children born in America. But it is — it’s difficult, and I respect — as I say, I don’t want to mischaracterize. I know there are some who are exploiting this for reasons that are not highly motivated. But there are many people in our country who have legitimate concerns about obeying the law and respecting that.