-I want to talk about immigration for a moment. There was very little
talk on immigration during your convention. But, you did say "I don't
know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant
child." Are you implying that maybe there should be a moratorium on raids?
-Well, what I've said, and I will repeat, is that raids are a publicity
stunt, they are a tactic to push people away from focusing on the
failures of the immigration system as a whole. What we have to do is to
have a comprehensive immigration plan that has strong border security;
that cracks down on employers who are taking advantage of undocumented
workers. The reports in Iowa, the meat packing plant, where you have
thirteen year olds who were working in the most dangerous of
circumstances. We've got to crack down on them, and we've got to
provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers, making sure
that they over time are able to earn their position here in the United
States of America.
"That is something that I am committed to doing as
President, but we got to stop demagoging the issue. The Republican
Party frankly has been much worse about trying to stir up fear, and
that fear often times ends up being directed at the Hispanic community
as a whole, in a way that I think is very unfortunate. We got to fix
the system, but we have to also remember that we are a nation of
-There are a couple of things that John McCain has said about you in an
interview on our network last week. He told us that you proposed an
amendment to the immigration reform bill that he co-authored that would
have killed it.
-Let, let let, let me...
-He said that you wanted to eliminate the guest worker program, and that would have killed the bill.
-Let me, let me be very clear about this, because this is a dishonest
comment by John McCain. The fact of the matter is that the two
amendments I proposed, number one was to make sure that we didn't have
a guest workers program in here that would allow people to come in, but
then be fired by their employees and deported without any cause
whatsoever. So, my interest is protecting the workers who come here,
that I think was the right thing to do.
"The second amendment that I had was to make sure that when we set up
employer verification system, that the employers actually have to check
and be serious and careful about who they are screening, so that they
just don't exclude people with Hispanic surnames. Because since there
was a four percent error rate in verifying whether somebody was
actually a citizen or not, you could have the situation where US
citizens with Hispanic surnames were getting fired from the jobs or not
getting hired, and I thought it was important to have that protection.
Now, if John McCain thinks that those things are unimportant, then that
is something that I am happy to debate. I think that most of your
viewers want to make sure that any immigration plan ensures that they
are not discriminated against.
-In short, he also said that you would unilaterally renegotiate NAFTA,
and that you are against every free trade agreement. Is it true? Are
you against free trade?
-Look, I, I voted for Peru, I have been supportive of a whole range of free trade agreements.
-Do you want to renegotiate NAFTA?
-What I have said is that I want to make sure that the side agreements
that exist on labor and on environment are placed in the agreement
itself, and are enforceable, the same way the corporate agreements that
are important to U.S. corporations are enforceable. Because... I think that is very important to
make sure that our free trade agreements aren't just good for corporate
bottom lines, and Wall Street, but they are good for workers, and we
make sure that those who are in the toughest situations are also
benefiting from free trade. You know, so, John McCain and George Bush
and I have a different philosophy. I believe in free trade, but I want
to make sure that it benefits people at the bottom and not just people
at the top.
-You've never been to Latin America, do you think that you can relate to
a region that you have never been to? Especially because it is our
hemisphere and it is a region that directly affects the security of our
-Well, I know John McCain likes to tap all his travels. It hasn't
prevented him from making a series of bad decisions. He had traveled to
Iraq, and yet wasn't clear about the difference between Shiite and
Sunni and ended up suggesting that we could go in there and be greeted
"I think he has not been supportive of policies that would make a
difference in Latin America. George Bush, who claimed that he had a
special affinity for Latin America, hasn't, he ignored Latin America
for the last eight years because of their obsession on Irak. I think
what is important for people to focus on who has the policies and is
serious about creating the kinds of alliances and partnerships based on
mutual respect that would allow countries both in Latin America and
here in the United States to grow, and that is something that I
consistently, and is something that I will promote when I am president.
-Are you planning a trip to Latin America?
-Absolutely, I'm looking forward to it.
-Thank you Senator.
I appreciate it.
Note: To read John McCain's interview in "El Punto", click here.
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