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Special Report

All-Star Panel: The politics of immigration

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," June 25, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
 

BRET BAIER: We told you what the administration said, the White House press release, and the action by the DHS. Here is what Mitt Romney said about the Supreme Court ruling. He was out at Arizona in a fundraiser. Off-camera he said, "I would have preferred the Supreme Court give more latitude to the states, not less. And there are states now under this decision have less authority, less latitude to enforce immigration laws, and it's really, it's become a muddle. But it didn't have to be this way."  He went on to say President Obama has failed to provide leadership on immigration and it represents a broken promise, especially with a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate at the beginning of his term. 

We're back with the panel, Fred, the politics of this, how it plays for Governor Romney and President Obama? 

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, I don't think non-enforcement of immigration laws is a good policy for Obama to be running for re-election on. Even the centerpiece, this one that was one upheld by the Supreme Court, supported by 65 percent, but not by Obama. He still made a statement today warned how he worried about how it will be applied. And I don't think that this ruling today is going to help anymore among Hispanics. Obviously the president is also doing very well among Hispanics. 

But here is what sort of irked me. For the president now, to come out and say we have to have comprehensive immigration reform, something he said every year of his presidency that he would produce a bill on, and now he is calling for it, is hypocritical in the extreme. If he really believes that, there are three Republicans who are the most active in 2007 to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill, John McCain and Jon Kyl of Arizona, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. He could call them and say look let's get together. We could compromise on this and we could do it now. Has he done that? Of course he hasn't done that. Back in 2007 he was voting for poison pills for the bill, the bill that year that would have made it impossible to pass. 

BAIER: Juan? 

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: Just before we lose track of reality here, the fact is President Obama has deported more illegal immigrants than anybody. He has done a tremendous job of enforcing the law. So let's not say, oh it's selective -- 

BAIER: Actually, under the 287G program, they deported 30,000 to 40,000 suspected illegal immigrants.

WILLIAMS: Correct.

BAIER: That program ended today. But go ahead --

WILLIAMS: I'm just saying, that is the record. And it cost him politically in the Hispanic community to have been so aggressive, more aggressive than predecessor in deporting illegal immigrants, just stay in touch with reality, and not someone from someone who was born yesterday but someone who is not a conspiracy theorist, and someone who was born in the United States. 

So let me just say, to Fred's point, it's not selective enforcement. What with have here, and I think you see this from Mitt Romney talking about we don't want -- we are taking away authority of the state. The president does want immigration reform. President Bush wanted immigration reform. And the same trio you mentioned -- 

BARNES: The difference is President Bush tried to get it. 

WILLIAMS: And the same trio you mentioned, they worked with President Bush. And what happened? It was blocked by Republicans. 

BAIER: Ok, but Mara, to Fred's initial point, the Democratic House, Democratic Senate, the first year-and-a-half was spent really on health care, not immigration. 

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Well, no doubt that health care was the first two-year priority. It's also true as Fred points out that this Arizona law is supported by about 60 percent of Americans. However, 75 percent of Hispanics don't like it. And this is the problem for Mitt Romney. He dug himself in a hole in the primaries. He went very hard right on immigration. He used it as a battering ram against Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich. He said he would veto the DREAM Act. Now the president is putting a version of the DREAM Act into action, through an executive -- not executive order but an executive action --

BAIER: In fact, in the debate in Arizona he said he thought the law was --

LIASSON: The Arizona law was a model. He said he would never have brought this suit. And he also talked about self-deportation, and the fact is that Republicans need to win about 40 percent of the vote to win states like Colorado and Nevada. Maybe Romney thinks he has a path to 270 without those states and there very well might be one, but he is in a deep hole with Hispanics. And everything that has happened in the last couple of weeks has only helped Obama with Hispanic voters. 

BAIER: Charles? 

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Let me just say as someone not a day old but who is also a native American -- native born, I'm not Elizabeth Warren here -- that I think ultimately this is going to be a wash, the ruling today will be a wash, I think, because it's a mixed one. I don't think it has a real political impact. 

The political impact was Obama's unilateral implementation of the DREAM Act, which was a coup among Hispanics. But I think people are overlooking the fact that two to one among non-Hispanic Americans, they favor the law in Arizona. And I think standing up on this issue and requiring that the administration administer the law and carrying it out will carry a lot of whites, will offset the Hispanics. I think ultimately it's a wash. 

BAIER: Gallup has a new poll out saying Hispanics are very concerned about the economy more than immigration, also this week. 

Up next, if I can keep it tight, predictions for what could be the biggest news day in Washington in quite some time.

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