Immigration Battle

In "Immigration Battle," a special two-hour feature film presentation from FRONTLINE and INDEPENDENT LENS, acclaimed filmmakers Shari Robertson and Michael Camerini take viewers behind closed doors in Washington's corridors of power to explore the political realities surrounding one of the country's most pressing and divisive issues.

AIRED: October 20, 2015 | 1:54:16

>>Tonight, a special presentation from Frontline

and Independent Lens.

>> Tonight, I'd like to talk with you about immigration.

>>Inside the halls and inner offices of Congress.

>> Ain't nobody fell in love with immigrants yesterday.

>> The time is... >> Now!

>>The fight over immigration.

>> How do you make it self-enforcing so that it

doesn't depend on the whim of any president?

>>The secret negotiations.

>> All they're gonna be able to say if we don't get it done...

>> "You've waited six years, and now you can't wait two months."

>> "And now you can't wait two months," yeah.

Six years, you didn't do anything.

>>The debate.

>> We are not going to do the Senate bill.

>>The politics.

>> There were no leaks.

They were able to be extremely honest, like, "This is what

I can do, this is what I think needs to be done."

>>And how Washington really works.

>> I expect some House Democratic types to try

to shut it down.

>>For over a decade, filmmakers Sheri Robertson

and Michael Camerini have closely followed this fight,

revealing a rarely seen side of Washington.

>> I'm convinced that people in both parties wanted to fix

immigration, and we haven't yet.

>>Tonight, their newest film: "Immigration Battle."

>> I was gonna have some butter,

but I'm just gonna...

Butter, yeah.

It's probably a good way.

I was gonna have some bread, but then things stopped me

from having a piece of bread.

Are you ready?

Okay, let's go.

>> SHARI ROBERTSON: If you try to make a documentary

in Washington, you can find yourself filming events

without any clear idea of what's going to happen.

We're following a congressman into a press conference

an advocacy group has organized.

>> Luis, if it's okay with you,

could we have a few of the stories come forward?

>> I would love...

Number one, thank you.

Thank you for coming.

I was really looking forward

to meeting all of you.


Why can't we take...

>> Come on.

>> My dad, he's a U.S. citizen.

All my brothers and sisters are U.S. citizens too,

but my mom, now they want to take my mom away.

She's not a criminal.

>> I just think it's unfair to our family to suffer this way.

How about... I'm gonna tell this to the president.

What if one day, Immigration came to his house,

took his wife?

How would he feel?

How would his kids feel?

They are no one to take our families apart.


>> Um, we'll just do the best we can today because I know

that we're all very affected by the testimony of the children

and their parents today.

Ariana, you wrote this to me?

You want to read it, or you want me to me read it?

>> You.

>> You want me to read it?

It says, "I'm Ariana Vivas

"and I'm nine years old.

"I wish my dad is here.

"I wanna hug him and kiss him.

"Father's Day is coming and my dad is not here, so I could not

"give him a card.

"I need my dad so we can go to the park.

"The park we used to go before and celebrate birthdays.

We need immigration reform now to keep our families together."


It is so difficult to,

day in and day out, hear these incredibly painful stories

of the destructive nature of our broken immigration system.

Today, they're gonna deport 1,400 people and we're gonna

leave 200 to 300 American citizen children without a mom,

American citizen children without a mom or a dad.

And it goes and it doesn't stop, and the Congress talks and talks

and talks and talks, but doesn't act.

I'm gonna continue to work with my colleagues on the other side

of the aisle to bring about

comprehensive immigration reform.


And I wanna be absolutely clear with everybody here:

I gotta figure out a way to get 218 votes

so that we don't continue doing the kind of damage

and the destruction that we've heard from the children.

>> Mr. President, we are called today by the ancients,

the founders of the republic.

Are we really going to form a more perfect union?

Immigration reforms are always controversial.

Our Congress was created to muster political will to answer

such challenges.

Today we didn't, but tomorrow we will.

I yield the floor.

>> MICHAEL CAMERINI: That's how our last film ended,

with the collapse of an immigration bill in 2007.

Eight years is a lifetime in American politics.

Names are made and disappear.

That bill turned out to be Senator Kennedy's last fight

on the Senate floor.

The end of an era, one we'd been making movies about

since before 9/11.

The end of an era, the beginning of a polarization

that would come to define Congress.

But in no way the end of the national fight over immigration.

>> ROBERTSON: We left Washington.

We never meant to go back there.

Until, well, pretty much the day after Obama was reelected.

The big conclusion was that the Latino and immigrant vote

had made his win possible.

>> They've come from all over the country.

Thousands flock to the west lawn today

to push immigration reform...

>> It was your communities

that returned Barack Obama to the White House.

We delivered the votes that delivered the states

like Nevada, Colorado, Nuevo México, and Florida

to the Democrats, and these votes came

with a great deal of hope and trust.


The time is?

>> Now!

>> The time is?

>> Now!

>> ROBERTSON: Republican Party leaders were saying

"the time is now" too.

They saw that their party's survival might depend on fixing

its image with the growing number of Latino

and immigrant voters.

So finally, the stars seemed to have aligned

for Republicans and Democrats in Congress together

to fix the country's broken immigration system.

>> CAMERINI: By May, things are moving.

In seven weeks, the Democratic- majority Senate marks up

and passes historic bipartisan immigration legislation...


...with the toughest enforcement provisions ever put

in a Senate bill.

And most controversially and new, a clear path

to citizenship for almost all of the 11 million undocumented.

>> The yeas on this bill are 68,

the nays are 32.

The bill, as amended, is passed.

>> CAMERINI: That's the starting gun.

Now the House has to pass its version of an immigration bill.

If the House fails, the Senate bill expires with this session

of Congress, and the next Congress has to start all over.

So they've only got what's left

of the two-year life of this session of Congress,

and it's already July.

>> ROBERTSON: So from here,

what matters is all in the Republican-controlled

House of Representatives.

Everyone's expecting historic legislation.

And we decided to see what would happen.

We started walking those very long hallways

of Cannon and Longworth and Rayburn.

A lot of things had changed since we filmed here before:

more bloggers, more reporters, more secrecy.

Lots of doors didn't open, but we started.

>> The need for immigration reform is urgent and any attempt

by the House to stall on this important priority for voters

will be watched closely, especially by voters

from immigrant, Latino, and Asian-American communities

who marched to the polls last year

in support of immigration reform.

>> Ah, they missed the Chamber of Congress.

That would have been good.

A difficult group of people.

>> Okay, you're on mute.

I'm gonna tell them that you're on.

>> I don't even know what I'm...

>> So here's what we're doing.

Everything you've been saying today is great.

Marielena Hincapié from NILC is speaking, now she's moderating,

so you can chill out for a minute.

>> But then I can hang up after I finish?

>> Hold on, hold on, let me go through this.

>> I'm hungry.

>> I know you're hungry.

Can we get him something to eat, maybe?

I would love for you to stay for Q&A.

The reporters all want to ask you questions.

>> ROBERTSON: This is the office of Luis V. Gutiérrez,

Democratic congressman from Illinois.

>> I believe the American people have already...

>> ROBERTSON: What we'd been looking for was the story of how

House Republicans were going to fix immigration.

They hold the majority in the House.

And we were kind of surprised ourselves, but it turned out

Luis Gutiérrez was a Democrat right in the middle

of that Republican story.

>> It's just the hard metric that's worrisome.

>> CAMERINI: Behind closed doors, there's an ongoing

negotiation on immigration here in the House.

He's part of it.

>> It's not worth it.

>> CAMERINI: It's bipartisan,

and it's called the Group of 8.

But right now, things are getting difficult.

>> So I think if possible, boss,

it might be worth a one-on-one conversation with Judge Carter

before the bipartisan, just to see how much room,

because I think there might be some room with him,

and if we can move him...

>> Just to say, "What the hell?"

>> Yeah.

>> CAMERINI: A few months ago,

the Group of 8 was completely secret.

Staff and members trusted each other.

>> Because so much had never

leaked-- like, there was no leaks-- they knew that

what they were saying in that room wouldn't leak,

and so they were able to be extremely honest.

Like, "This is where I can go,

this is where I can't go,

this is what I can do, this is what I think needs to be done."

You know, it was in our interest to keep it kinda very,

very quiet.

It gave us room to work.

>> CAMERINI: Now, they don't have that room to work.

This year, the Group of 8 couldn't remain a secret.

There are reporters everywhere.

Behind that door, they're meeting,

and there's a growing suspicion Democratic leadership

wants to shut it down.

But as of today, the Group of 8 is still negotiating and trying

to put on a brave face.

>> The next step has to be the necessary step.

It's always to put the immigrant community

and the civil rights movement ahead of partisan politics.

>> And then practically, that means what?

What does that mean?

>> That means that we're gonna continue...

Got it, we kept it going.

Lord knows this is...

You know, I know the president won't be happy when he reads

that we're continuing to work.

>> ROBERTSON: We were surprised that the Group of 8's

big problem was coming from Democrats, but party leaders

and the White House had decided that any bill

from a Republican House would be too far right.

>> CAMERINI: To Republicans, Democrats' effort to slow down

the negotiations feel like politics, not policy.

The Group of 8 becomes 7,

then fizzles out.

For some Democrats, that's good.

They want the House to have no choice but to call a vote

on the Senate bill,

with its more generous path to citizenship.

And that's what advocates want too.

>> This is a moral stand for us.

>> Of course.

>> How could we say we're okay

with us getting citizenship and

we're gonna say, "Go ahead, deport our parents"?

>> Exactly.

You can just say, "Here's why we decided."

>> I really just want to focus on the morality of this.

>> ROBERTSON: They call themselves DREAMers,

these young people who were brought

to the United States as children, grew up here

and graduated from high school like everybody else,

but all without legal papers.

The name DREAMer comes from the DREAM Act, a law that never

passed in Congress, but would have given them legal status.

>> So as we hear and we move

into the House of Representatives in this fight

for immigration reform...

>> ROBERTSON: Now they're trying to be a political movement,

lobbying for legislation on equal footing

with Washington insiders like Frank Sharry,

who's been a leading voice among the advocates

for longer than we've been filming in Washington.

>> Now, after an election in which Republicans have been

spanked by Latino, Asian, and immigrant voters, they're

saying, "We gotta do something."

That's what Speaker Boehner said.

"Inaction is not an option."

So let's do something.

Well, here's my suggestion.

The Senate passed an important but imperfect bill

on a bipartisan basis that has an inclusive path

to initial legal status and an eventual and achievable path

to citizenship.

Right now, in the House of Representatives, there are more

than 218 votes for a similar bill.

It's like, give us a vote, dudes.


>> Our economy continues to struggle

with slow economic growth, high unemployment,

and stagnant wages.

ObamaCare's raising costs that's making it harder

for small businesses to hire.

In short, it's a train wreck.

>> CAMERINI: It's like a ritual.

He starts every Thursday press conference this way,

a quick weekly rundown of the Obama administration's failures.

Then the reporters change the subject.

>> With that, I'll take your questions.

>> Why...

>> Oh, sorry.


>> Thought you were going to Luke.

>> Go right ahead, ladies first.

>> Thank you.

>> Um, now...

>> He said ladies first.

>> Ladies first.


Remember, it doesn't cost anything to be nice.


>> Why should House Republicans be in favor

of immigration reform that possibly includes

legalization or citizenship for illegal immigrants

currently here when the argument on the Senate side

and among governors is it's in their political interests,

but in the House, just, I mean, 75% of House...

>> We have a broken...

>> 75% of the House Republican districts are majority white.

>> We have a broken immigration system.

We got a broken system that needs to be fixed.

>> ROBERTSON: Her question is

about the truth that's dawning on pretty much everybody:

75% of House Republicans don't

have to worry about Latino and immigrant voters.

Everybody knows John Boehner wants to do an immigration bill.

Nobody can figure out how he'll be able to.

>> Speaker Boehner, it's well known you guys got

your rear ends handed to you in the Latino community

in the 2012 election.

What does it say to the Latino community that the House GOP

is stopping this pathway to citizenship

after the Chamber of Commerce, the RNC,

many other Republican groups have said it's time

to get this issue behind us, it's time to modernize?

Do you not risk putting the Republicans at a disadvantage

with the fastest growing electoral voting group

for another generation?

>> Well, I didn't know this was an opinion show here.


Now I'm catching my breath.

We are not going to do the Senate bill.

I have said...

>> CAMERINI: Here's why he just said that.

He can't do the Senate bill.

For his Republican caucus, it's too identified

with President Obama and the Democratic Senate.

Even though he and the president talk regularly

about immigration-- it's a goal they share--

what he needs is a House immigration bill

the majority of his Republicans can claim as their own.

But he's not going to get every Republican vote,

so to actually pass a bill on the House floor,

John Boehner is going to need some help from Democrats.

>> Look at these shirts.

They're very similar, aren't they?

>> Yeah, they are.

>> Nice shirts.

>> What do you think?

Blue suits, black shoes, hm?

>> CROWD: Harry! Harry!

>> We got the memo.

>> Give 'em hell, Harry!

>> Ladies and gentleman, Luis Gutiérrez.

>> We need to say to them, "Bienvenido America.

Esta es tu oportunidad."


And so my commitment to you is to work tirelessly.

We have a bipartisan approach.

I've learned from the leader in the U.S. Senate.

We're working.

You know Senator Paul Ryan?

Paul Ryan said to me... pretty conservative guy, huh?

I think you need to understand how critical this all is.

He didn't see me in the gym two weeks after the election

and say, "God, you did everything you could, Luis,

to stop me from being vice-president."

That's not what he said to me.

You know what he said to me?

He said, "You're a Catholic, I'm a Catholic.

"We cannot have a permanent underclass of Americans

exploited in America."

And so all we're saying is there are men and women

in the Republican Party, there are men and women

in the Democratic Party.

I ask and implore the Speaker of the House,

let those men and women speak and bring justice

to our immigrant community.

>> CAMERINI: Maybe you've never heard of him,

but in Spanish media, Luis Gutiérrez is

the best-known Latino politician

in the United States.

>> ROBERTSON: The thing about Luis is he's a kid who was born

in Chicago and only spoke English until he was about 13,

when his parents decided to move back to the interior

of Puerto Rico.

So there he was, a foreigner in a tiny little mountain village

who couldn't get a date because his Spanish was so terrible.

He struggled for four years

until his high school realized

he was their ace in the national English competition.

He won hands down, and that was his big start.

He came back to the U.S. for college,

worked as a taxi driver,

and finally got into politics in Chicago only after

his house was fire-bombed

because he'd been protesting corruption.

>> CAMERINI: We'd known the congressman since our last time

in Washington, but he's a lot more famous now.

He makes his own political party nervous.

He's made it clear he's more loyal to immigrants

than he is to Democrats.

>> ROBERTSON: To Republicans who want to do immigration reform,

he's the Democrat they trust.

One of those Republicans is Trey Gowdy, ex-prosecutor,

Tea Party darling, the Republican Chair

of the House Immigration Subcommittee.

>> Mr. Chairman, real, sustainable immigration reform

has proven elusive to prior congresses,

and there's an emerging consensus within this Congress

that the current system is broken, and enforcing the law

strikes me as a reasonable place to begin.

>> You could leave that there if you want.

There's gonna be a legalization component, and Gowdy said

for those who arrived as children...

I mean, if you listen to them,

they're obviously talking about other components

of a legalization program.

I mean, this is a different place.

They're not saying, "This is all we're gonna..."

They went from the party of "We're for enforcement only"

to "Oh, don't worry, we're

getting around to the other part."

In other words, there's good stuff coming.

>> ROBERTSON: It's been weeks since the Senate passed

its bill, but no bill has even been introduced in the House.

With the clock ticking, he's looking for any sign

that Republicans will be open to writing a Republican bill

he can support.

His best bet is another member of the original Group of 8,

a conservative Cuban-American from Florida, Mario Diaz-Balart,

who's also frustrated by the failure of the group.

>> CAMERINI: To move forward now, Diaz-Balart

and Cesar Gonzalez, his chief of staff,

are going to have to start over.

And they're going to need an ally.

That person is Paul Ryan,

chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee.

Gutiérrez knows Ryan well enough to ask him to take the lead

in writing a Republican immigration bill.

We were hoping to film with him too, but Ryan's office wanted

to stay under the radar.

>> We're worried that the clock's gonna run out or we're

gonna end up in a fizzled blame game.

Now, we've been big supporters of the Group of 7, Group of 8,

like, "Let's do it."

I have to say at this point, we're worried.

>> Well, it's not going anywhere.

I've already thought, you know,

the Group of 7 wasn't gonna go very far.

So once I saw it falling apart,

I've continued to keep my...

I always kept a door open between the Group of 7,

Paul Ryan, and I said...

So my last conversation with him was very clear.

I said, "Paul, you gotta put together a proposal.

"Now, here's a group of things that are my must-haves.

You gotta put the group together and you gotta do this."

And they're doing it.

I gave them enough hope within a framework that if you do

these things, I can be your partner.

So go do it.

>> ROBERTSON: What he wants is legalization for everybody

with a clean record, and no prohibition on regular ways

of reaching citizenship.

>> People know that Paul Ryan and I talk, and everybody's

gonna know-- there are no secrets in this place--

and they're gonna know eventually,

"Well, they've always been talking."

But here are things.

And the one who gave me the must-haves is Trey Gowdy.

Trey Gowdy's hilarious.

He goes, "Well, you know, I'm not your lawyer, but if I were

"your lawyer, given that you're negotiating with us,

first you should give us a list of must-haves."

So I said, "Thanks a lot, Trey."

I thought that was very important, you know,

what are your principles, what are things that you can't...?

It's not the Senate version, it's a different architecture.

We think we can.

Now that leaves the Republicans in a place where they're

in charge, where you respect that they're the majority

in the House of Representatives, but you're also respectful

to your principles.

>> Right.

>> We have CNN in a few minutes.

>> Let's figure it out.

Keep working it out.

>> We know what they need and we know how much of a push

we can get on the Democratic side.

I know at the end of the day,

I've gotta have Mr. Gutiérrez there.

So I've got to move him as much to the right and then our guys

move them as much to the left as I can so we can get a number

of Democrats who actually want to deal with this issue

and actually want to find a solution

and then have them get to a point where they are acceptable

with this Republican version.

>> Tell them I'm going to be sticking around to march.

I'm not staying for the speeches.

>> You want to be at the top of the first program,

staying to watch...

>> We'll be there for the

program, we'll march.

>> Done.

>> What else, guys?

>> Can we talk a little bit about the state of affairs

with the secret group, what Ryan is in the center of, right?

Figuring out how real that might be this fall?

>> What we do with Ryan is he puts together a bunch of bills,

one of which is legalization,

and that's the one we join him on.

The legalization is good enough that I can go and say,

"We need to get in bed."

>> How did the last conversation go with him?

>> Went well.

He says they're continuing to work and Mario, apparently,

is continuing to work.

He said he feels sad that they're canceling their meeting


>> Yeah, I think Ryan's scheduler called here because

she didn't realize that you weren't part of those.

>> They're like, "Oops, sorry."

It's wishful thinking.

>> We gotta show some motion by you, and we can't be seen as,

"No, no, wait, we're gonna do a bipartisan bill, just wait

another couple of months," right?

That no longer works.

>> I mean, you know, there is this kind of sense

in the immigrant community, you know,

first we were gonna do immigration reform,

but then 9/11 happened.

And then we were gonna do it, but then...

>> There's always an excuse.

>> There's always something.

>> CAMERINI: What they're worried about is,

Latino and immigrant activists are getting impatient.

On the outside, it looks like nothing is happening.

The congressman is going to keep encouraging Republicans

on the inside while trying

to lead the movement on the outside.

>> There comes a point at which people are gonna say,

"What the (bleep)?"

>> What do we want? >> Immigration reform!

>> When do we want it? >> Now!

>> What do we want?

>> Everybody, if you're on that

side, you're subject to arrest!


>> CAMERINI: In Washington and around the country,

advocates try to keep the pressure on.

>> What we need is for some bill to be passed in the House.

>> ♪ The answer, my friend is blowing in the wind... ♪


>> No papers, no fear!

No papers, no fear!

>> CAMERINI: It's a campaign of confrontation

and civil disobedience.

Congressman John Lewis and other civil rights leaders

join Gutiérrez.

>> Let's all stand together right here.

John, right here.

Let's all stand together.

Right here, right here.


>> I don't think it is news to my friends

on the Republican side of the aisle that you don't win

every battle around here.

The place is tough and occasionally,

you get knocked down.

>> CAMERINI: On October 1st,

Congress shuts down the federal government in a fight

with the president over ObamaCare.

In the end, Republicans lose, and they're furious

with the president.

>> Those on the other side of the aisle say they don't trust

the president, can't work with him.

Well, okay, fine.

Then work with your colleagues on this side of the aisle.

You know, there are 435 of us.

We need 218 votes to pass a bill,

and the president doesn't get a vote.

>> Do I have the talking points?

>> I have your folder.

>> She has the folder for you.

>> Okay, all right.

Don't get nervous, Doug.

>> I'm not nervous.

>> We're okay.

>> We're winning.

>> We're winning.

We gave a good speech this morning.

I don't know if anybody's gonna hear it,

but we gave a good speech.

>> We sent it to everybody.

>> Good.

>> So the line that we took out that I wanna put in the next one

is about how you feel like you have to kind of sneak around

to have dinner with these guys.

>> I like it.

I like it.

Why is it?

When I had friends in high school, they were my friends.

>> "Unlike some of you (bleep),

"I don't mess around with my wife, but let me tell you,

"I feel like I'm sneaking around on my party

when I have dinner with you guys."

>> Right, why is it?

Now, I get it.

We can't tell people.

That's okay.

Maybe that's the way this has gotta get done.

But if those are the rules, those are the rules.

Call me anyways.


I got to go in.

>> It's like the war.

You know these guys love to pull the trigger on a war.

Except if it's Obama's war.

>> If it's Obama's, no.

>> Exactly.

>> But the greatest laugh I always get is if darkness,

right, just overwhelmed the Earth one day and Obama

had the key to light, he says, "I have a bill

that will bring sunlight,"

they'd rather live in darkness than have him bring the light.

It's just, they're so anti-Obama.


>> We won that election.

Everybody remember the pundits on election night?

It was like they woke up from the stupor, right?

They were all like, "All these Latinos voting!

Where'd they all come from," right?

But right, it was like election, "Really?


So today, you're gonna go challenge the Congress

of the United States to get off its butt and do its work.

I'm going to be here 'til the bitter end in this fight

with you.

Thank you so much for having me.


>> ROBERTSON: It's six weeks after the shutdown,

and nothing's happened with immigration.

Luis Gutiérrez hasn't heard anything from Ryan

or Diaz-Balart.

>> So, that was really good.

>> Thank you.

That was really hard.

>> That was hard?

>> Yeah.

>> Why?

Being up?

>> Yeah, being up.

It's hard.

>> Well, it doesn't show.

>> Just like, what the (bleep)?

>> Congressman, you're their hope pill.

>> I know.

Gotta figure out something new.

What's new?

What can we do new?

What can we do different?

How do we force them to give us a vote?

How do we force them?

>> ROBERTSON: It's gotten late in the year,

almost Thanksgiving.

The White House has given up on pushing the Senate bill.

But deportations continue, more than a thousand a day.

For advocates like the DREAMers, there's a growing desperation.

Their strategy is still,

"Keep putting pressure on the Republicans,

especially Speaker Boehner."

At 5:30 this morning, we're with them outside his house.

>> We welcome you all to this peaceful demonstration in which

we highlight the needs of our communities and honor

those families who will have an empty chair

at the Thanksgiving table this year.

In 2001, my mother and I sacrificed everything we knew

and arrived in Atlanta, Georgia.

11 million people in this country find themselves

in a similar situation,

but due to our broken immigration system,

their American dream has turned into a nightmare.

Speaker Boehner, your party, and specifically your caucus

in the House of Representatives,

has the chance to stand on the right side of history

by making dignity and family unity a cornerstone

of our immigration system.

The right choice is to recognize us as Americans

by providing us a pathway to citizenship...

>> Excuse me, but this is a residential neighborhood,

and I don't particularly like being woken up

in the middle of the night by you people!

Go home!

>> Many say that immigration reform is dead!

We know that this is not true!

>> ROBERTSON: Republicans in

the influential U.S. Chamber of Commerce

haven't given up on immigration reform yet either.

They've partnered with a group

called Bibles, Badges, and Business to bring hundreds

of pastors, sheriffs, and business

people from all over the country to Washington.

This morning, the visitors are learning how to lobby

from Washington professionals.

>> It's one of my pleasures to introduce Rebecca Tallent,

who, to belie her youthful good looks, she's one of the old

warhorses on immigration, some of these immigration battles.

So with that, Rebecca, I'll turn it over to you, and thanks

for all your work on this and moving the ball forward.

>> Thank you, Randy.

Republicans, I speak from experience,

love facts and persuasive arguments.

>> ROBERTSON: We've known Becky Tallent since even before

she was Senator McCain's immigration negotiator

in 2006 and 2007.

She's an expert on immigration legislation, and these days,

a key strategist on how to get a Republican bill

through the House.

>> We're in a very different place today than we were

when we started talking about this in April,

especially because everybody thought a bill would,

you know, especially folks on the left thought a bill would be

signed into law by August.

I think the advocates have struggled a little bit also

communicating with the House Republicans, is that they're not

trying to sell 'em on the policy.

I think there's good policy to sell 'em on

if you know how to do it.

Obviously, there's good policy to sell 'em on.

>> No question.

And there's reality.

>> Well...

>> You know, you just...

>> That's you.

>> You know, tell the people the truth.

We're not sending 12 million people anywhere.

How do we get a law passed?

I gotta meet with Ryan.

>> Thursday?

>> This week.

I'm trying to get where I can give him good advice,

and my good advice is

the Democrats have convinced themselves

if the bill doesn't have a pathway to citizenship,

the world will come to an end.

There will be a revolution.

>> There's space on that.

I think that if you said legal status for everyone,

path to citizenship maybe for the kids,

I think you could sell that to two-thirds of the House,

House Republican Caucus.

And I think that at the end of the day, the less radical

left-leaning advocates would say exactly what you said.

>> Speaker Boehner, a few blocks away from here,

there's some families that are doing a fast

for families about immigration reform.

As we speak right now, there's some children of immigrants

who are protesting in members' offices.

>> So I have talked for 13 months,

since the day after the last presidential election,

about the need for Congress

to tackle this very important issue.

I've been committed to it.

I'm still committed to it.

I've also made clear that...

>> ROBERTSON: Becky always told us John Boehner is

a true believer in immigration reform.

>> You know, are you gonna get the other 30 to 40 that aren't

necessarily his caucus to vote for something like...?

>> ROBERTSON: Well, John Boehner didn't get it done this year.

But as December begins, there's still another year left

in this Congress, and Speaker Boehner has just hired

Becky Tallent.

Everyone we know in Washington sees it as a sign he's serious

about passing an immigration bill now.

So we won't be able to film with Becky anymore for a while.

>> CAMERINI: But we know this:

the speaker's asked Becky to draft a simple set

of Republican principles simple enough to unify the caucus.

And he tells Paul Ryan and Mario Diaz-Balart to start

a whip count, to start lining up commitments

for their future bill.

>> ROBERTSON: They've just let Luis Gutiérrez know their plans.

>> Hi.

>> Hi.

What's next?

Okay, close the door.

They're moving forward.

They're not giving up.

Today they're saying, "We're meeting with them next week,

and here's what we're doing."

And they're working on getting 117 votes.

That's what they're working on.

Don't tell me, are people saying I'm crazy because I'm saying

that we just need to legalize people?

>> No, no, they're not saying you're crazy because of that.

>> Okay.

>> They're saying you're crazy for still having hope

that something's gonna get done.

>> Well, but that's my job.

That's part of the job.

I can't have this job if I don't do that.

I have to quit.

>> I understand.

And my job is to convince cynical-ass reporters

that they're being too cynical.

>> Right.

They're just like, "What the hell, what are they gonna do?"

That lady told me...

They tell me everywhere I go, "Don't you dare give up."

>> You don't think people

understand that out there?

They're hearing it.

They ain't hearing anybody give 'em some good news, but they go,

"Well, at least that Gutiérrez still says there's some."

If you're them, you're going, "Okay, listen to him."

>> ROBERTSON: The legislation the Republicans are working on

is tough-- tougher than the Senate bill,

with more punishment and more enforcement.

But for Luis Gutiérrez,

ending the deportations is more important than a perfect deal

that he believes is never going to happen.

>> CAMERINI: Democratic leadership worries

Gutiérrez will convince other Democrats

to sign on to a bad deal

and let Republicans score a political win with immigrants.

And Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi has called Gutiérrez

to meet with her tomorrow.

(gavel pounding)

>> This is the fake gavel.

The base of the Democratic caucus, they're with me.

They're with me.

Oh yeah, they're with me.

See, I think half of it is just personal.

Nancy Pelosi likes being in charge,

and they wanna be in charge.

And this happens in all movements,

people wanna be in charge.

They see it coming to the pinnacle of success

and now they wanna be in charge.

And I'm gonna tell Nancy Pelosi Wednesday morning, I'll say,

"Know what, Nancy?

"Don't tell me what it is people want.

"I have a funny feeling I know

"better than anybody in this (bleep) room what people want,

"because I've been doing this for a year.

"I didn't wake up Johnny-come-lately at the end

"and say, 'Oh, I left the Judiciary Committee

"'15 years ago, but now this is an important issue to me.'"

>> That's precisely what they're worried about.

>> But they need to be worried.

The only way they're going is they have to be worried.

And I'm gonna tell them, "Do not think that I will not spend

"every last ounce of my energy and my voice to make sure

that you gain absolutely nothing if you scuttle this issue."

I will travel around this country and tell people,

"You're gonna vote for a Democrat,

"vote for them for the minimum wage.

"Don't vote for them because of immigration,

because they're undeserving."

I can do that in your district,

I can do that in any district in this country.

You make people the enemy depending on your tone.

>> Yes.

>> I think we have to begin to lay it out.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> Ain't nobody fell in love

with (bleep) immigrants yesterday

and decide we're all gonna get together, kumbaya, okay?

You and I both know that.

Can you say that?

You can put them in...

We have to put those (bleep) in a box.

>> Hey, yeah, but you're in a different place than I am,

because I think a lot of what we need to do right now is be

a little bit more positive and little bit more encouraging

of the Republicans and not pointing

to what could be schisms within the Democrats yet.

>> I know that we have a lot of bad blood to bury

with the White House, but I actually think

the White House is more with you now

than they've been ever.

I think the president really wants something,

and he wants to give the Republicans the space

to get it done.

>> Setting modesty aside, I'm the best friend he's got

to get the signature issued,

because those people, they'll say,

"Oh, we're gonna triangulate the president.

"We're gonna stand up for immigrants

"and against everything else and try to ride this one

into the next election."

I know the president doesn't wanna do that.

>> So, um...

Okay, what really happened?

>> I thought it went pretty well, actually.

>> I think he laid the case out in a way that was

just impeccable.

>> It was good.

>> I'm not saying no citizenship for anybody.

I'm not talking about second- class status forever, right?

And I do...

I mean, I kind of feel like it resonated with them,

like they really didn't appreciate

what he'd been talking about.

>> She conceded to the boss,

"You are getting a citizenship for millions, so it's not like

you're giving up on citizenship."

He's like, "I never said I did give up on citizenship."

And so it was this...

>> ROBERTSON: This January seems filled with tensions

like that, as the whole town waits

for the next big announcement from Boehner's office

on his immigration plans.

Becky's kept her group's work completely secret.

For people who want immigration reform,

there are so many reasons to worry.

>> These principals, are you feeling pretty confident

they'll say, you know, no special path and legal status?

>> They're going to be unoffensive, general, short.

So they're pretty much

a precursor to legislation, to what's to come.

>> Here's what I believe.

We can all talk about what the Republicans can do

and what they can't do.

The fact is that the Democrats have no place to stand

because they didn't act when they had a majority.

>> I love it.

Every time you say that, I swoon.

Every time you say that.

>> They have no place to stand.

They now want the Republican majority to demand

that their caucus and their leadership take up an issue

which Democratic leadership wouldn't take up,

wouldn't take up.

We have to make a change, so tell me where you want to go.

>> So I'm worried about, how do we manage the press narrative

when the principles come out?

And because we've been so successful, maybe too successful

at framing reform as defined by a path to citizenship,

it's become the measure.

We've got a big job ahead of us with progressives,

with Democrats.

I even heard a rumor today

that Harry Reid is like, "We can't give up on citizenship.

No way, no how."

Well, that's just because he doesn't know!

You know what I mean?

It's like he's gotten the sound bites down, but he doesn't

understand that the community's desperate.

This non-negotiable (bleep) has, like, gotta go.

So we gotta win that argument.

Now it's legalization with some citizenship

versus legalization with a lot of citizenship.

>> Legalization for all.

>> This is what we want, legalization for all,

and citizenship, maybe it's for most, maybe it's for many,

whatever that word is.

>> I think your citizenship for many is key because even if you

enter the legalization program,

if you have a path, like you marry a U.S. citizen,

that's your path.

No special path with no special barriers.

>> Ooh, I like that.

There's a path, it's just there's no special path.

>> The president said, "I will always be

for citizenship for all."

I said, "Well, that's really nice while you deport

two million people, but..."

>> That's a good place for him to stand.

>> But, so that's what...

>> So they can actually be helpful in this.

>> Yeah, but...

>> And I think if he keeps saying "citizenship for all,"

but with the understanding that that's not what he's gonna get,

that's what gives the Republicans the ability to say,

"Look, we're not giving Obama what he wants."

>> What he wants.

>> CAMERINI: All last year, the president insisted he can't stop

the deportations; only Congress can.

He's given John Boehner room to try to pass a bill at the cost

of angering his Democratic base.

Today's the day John Boehner starts.

The annual Republican retreat will begin discussion

on those principles that Becky's written.

They balance strong enforcement with new legal visas,

but they also hold out hope for the undocumented

that they can become right with the law.

>> Yup, lotta tweets.

Boehner on GOP Conference on immigration: "These standards

are as far as we are willing to go," which since they're

so vague means absolutely nothing.

The evangelicals are happy.

"The House GOP leaders' immigration plan

doesn't rule out citizenship," but gee,

you would think that that would be kinda obvious, but it's not.

Tamar Jacoby called the principles

"a historic breakthrough and a game changer."

Steny Hoyer, number two man in the House: "House Democrats

are ready to do our part and work across the aisle."

You know, look, it's tough.

People are getting screwed.

You know, some day they'll be passing

Congressional resolutions apologizing

to how many immigrant families have been ripped apart

by the awful stuff we've done in the last 20 years.

And we're not gonna get a perfect bill, and more people

are gonna get hurt, but we have a chance to pass legislation.

No, it's not gonna be perfect, but it's gonna transform

immigrants here without papers,

who are considered criminals by many, into human beings

who are part of the family.

The Republican "60/40 anti, but it's loud versus thoughtful."

>> CAMERINI: Even though many members were fine

with the principles by the end of their discussion,

the majority wasn't ready to leap on immigration

in a midterm election year.

A week later, the speaker says it's going to be hard

to move forward, and blames the president.

The Ryan/Diaz-Balart whip count goes on hold.

>> ROBERTSON: We started filming in South Carolina around then,

thinking that getting out of Washington would help us

figure out why it's so hard for House Republicans

to do something about immigration.

>> If you don't get caught up in this Washington crap,

you turn into something different, you know?

You're still with the same people you'd be

when you were home anyway.

>> ROBERTSON: Mick Mulvaney got elected

as part of the Tea Party wave in 2010.

He went to Congress expecting to make a difference,

to get things done.

>> All you hear is how

the Democrats are shooting themselves in the foot

on all the issues.

I mean, the time is fantastic

for the Republicans, but yet, Republicans are not doing

anything to say, "What are we gonna do about those issues

that they're screwing up?"

>> Here's why we have that problem.

And this is one of the reasons

I was one of the 14 members who did not vote for John Boehner

for speaker.

John Boehner got his job by doing nothing.

John Boehner got his job in 2010 by being not Barack Obama.

The pushback against ObamaCare

and the bailouts and the stimulus was so strong

that it brought the Republicans into power.

So here's John Boehner thinking,

"Okay, well, I just didn't do anything and I won.

There's a business model I can understand."

John Boehner does it, and he tells you, "My job is to keep,

you know, to keep the majority."

Okay, that's (bleep).

His job is to make sure that the House runs

and we pass stuff, right?

So... can I say (bleep) when y'all are taping?

I hope y'all can edit that out.


>> CAMERINI: His town hall events these days usually focus

on questions about Benghazi or impeaching Obama, but a group

of young local pastors asked him to talk about something else.

>> I said, "I want to have a presentation without saying that

"I'm pregnant or a felon, because those are

"very easy things to screw up in Spanish,

so try hard not to say something stupid."





>> I'm trying to get my people energized around something

that doesn't really exist right now.

>> I think we're down to less than 5% of a chance, so...

We thought maybe Thanksgiving, maybe December, and then,

you know, they hired Becky and they seemed to be working

in the back room, and so there was that last faint hope,

but I think holding onto hope now borders on the...

>> There's nothing good happening here.

Actually, there's just nothing happening here.

>> ROBERTSON: The DREAMers have a history that got them here.

Right now, they have a temporary protected status

because during Obama's reelection campaign,

they attacked the president and staged sit-ins

in his campaign offices.

He finally responded with an executive order:

DACA-- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

The lesson they learned from that win

is that political pressure works.

>> I want to ask you to stand up

if you've lost a sibling to deportation.

I want you to remain standing and for all of us

to look around.

If you've lost a friend to deportation, stand up.

Look around.

If you fear you'll lose someone you love to deportation,

stand up.

Is that what we're fighting for?

>> Yes.

>> We're fighting because we want our families

to be together.

We don't want to be afraid that they might be taken from us.

That's what this is about.

And we've had a long year, right?

We had all of 2013 pushing for immigration reform,

it was passed in the Senate.

We've been fighting in the House to get them to take up a vote,

I mean, since June, right?

The Senate passed the bill in June, and then still nothing.

So how many of you think that the GOP really wants

to get this done, and that they're committed

to getting it done this year?

Raise your hand.

Look around.

So do we also know that...

I mean, based on what you have communicated to us

in your regional retreats, you believe

that there's one person who can give you what you want, right?

Who is that?

>> Obama.

>> Say it loud.

>> Obama.

>> So you believe that Obama can stop that pain,

you believe that Obama can stop the deportations,

but President Obama says that only Congress has the power

to stop deportation.

>> (booing)

>> I say (bleep).

He's about to hit two million deportations and he's telling us

that we have to wait for Congress to act.

And mind you, we were, you know, we were on that track.

But we've now reassessed and we've made a choice,

I think as a network, that there's nothing happening there,

and we can't waste our time.

We want to go after the administration full force

for their deportation.


Do you believe that we can stand up and fight back?

>> Yes!

>> What do we do when our families are under attack?

>> Stand up, fight back!

>> What do we do?

>> Stand up, fight back!

>> What do we do?

>> Stand up, fight back!

>> What do we do?

>> Stand up, fight back!

>> What do we do?

>> Stand up, fight back!

>> Undocumented!

>> Unafraid!

>> Undocumented!

>> Unafraid!

>> Undocumented!

>> Unafraid!

>> Up, up with education.

>> Down, down with deportation.

Up, up with education.

Down, down with deportation.

>> Whose freedom? >> Our freedom!

>> Whose freedom? >> Our freedom!

>> Whose freedom? >> Our freedom!

>> Whose freedom?

>> ROBERTSON: You don't often get to be there

at the historic moment.

But that speech was the pivot.

It launched the strategy that changed the year.

>> CAMERINI: United We Dream threatened a campaign to go

after Democrats and other organizations

who didn't come out against the deportations.

The largest Hispanic advocacy organization in the country,

the National Council of La Raza, NCLR, took note.

>> Fight political gridlock.

One week after saying he was ready to move forward

with immigration reform, Speaker Boehner seems to have pulled

the plug on legislation in the House.

"There's widespread doubt about whether this administration

"can be trusted to enforce our laws

"and it's going to be difficult to move

any immigration legislation until that changes."


Failing to enforce our laws?

For us, this president has been the "Deporter in Chief."

>> CAMERINI: From the minute NCLR president Janet Murguia

said it, "Deporter-in-Chief," the dominoes started to fall.

>> "The Deporter in Chief" is now a hashtag.

>> CAMERINI: By week's end,

nearly every high-ranking Democrat

right up to Chuck Schumer had shifted

from blasting Republican inaction

to criticism of the White House.

Except for the often-cautious Congressional Hispanic Caucus,

the CHC.

They remained silent.

The congressman's staff saw the political danger the CHC was in,

and came up with the idea of drafting a simple resolution,

to get the caucus on record.

They're meeting to vote on it right now.

>> It's in their very best interest to actually come out

with a resolution.

If the CHC cannot decide that they're opposed

to two million deportations...

given a week, they're going to be pilloried.

We are helping them to save their asses,

as far as I'm concerned, and Republicans aren't...

>> Doug, um...

>> So anyway...

>> ROBERTSON: They think they've done the CHC a favor

with this little plan.

But when President Obama's staff

gets word of the CHC resolution from a leaked story,

the White House interpretation is entirely different.

To them, it suddenly looks like Luis Gutiérrez is rounding up

a posse of Democrats to go after the president.

While the CHC is meeting, the president's office calls

and asks its chair and vice-chair--

plus Luis Gutiérrez-- to come to the White House.

>> What the heck?

>> Hi.

>> We're here, we made it.

>> There's a 5:30 meeting at the White House.

>> Oh, sorry.

>> All of this is highly unusual

and uncharacteristic of a simple resolution.

We recessed until after the meeting with the president,

to then take a vote because...

>> When are you getting back together?

Tonight? Tomorrow?

>> Of course, there's no staff, you know, don't ask me,

you know I'm useless without

a staff telling me when the next meeting is,

but that's what we voted on.

We're recessed.

>> Oh.

>> Garcia was like, "Luis!"

Garcia is funny, "You got 'em by the..." like they're looking

at me like... they're like they think they need to implore me,

because they think I'm gonna go,

"(bleep) that (bleep), we're voting on this now,

and I'm going now to the president."

That's where they believe I'm at.


You can tell; oh, they're in... they're in...

>> This was like the most innocent idea...

>> This is like, I kept going, this is an innocent thing

that we're doing.

It's so... I said, and...

>> We're catching up with Chuck Schumer.

>> Yeah, we're catching up with everybody else.

So they really do fear.

When I talk to them at the White House, with our buddy

at the White House, why isn't Bob Menendez coming?

Why aren't other caucus members coming?

"Well, the president wants to meet with you, because,

you know," and I think this... and you know what he told me,

"This is a great opportunity because I think

the two of you should be talking to one another."


>> That's lovely.

Another way to put it is,

You're gonna get wacked and we don't want no witnesses.


>> CAMERINI: We wait for almost two hours

while the congressman meets with the president.

>> Does he see you?

>> Yup.

>> Okay.

Oy, oh, it's cold!

>> That was long.

>> I know.

Well, so... we're gonna have a caucus meeting.

>> Right now? >> Yeah.

>> And here's what he told us.

Um, so this is not for public,


Republicans are saying we need until June, July, right?

>> Mm-hmm.

>> He's saying, "I need until June, July, right?

"Like I'll step up my efforts

within the confines of what is possible."

And he said, "Luis, you come back here in July.

"I'll either be signing a bill or we'll have decided

"that screw it, this ain't gonna happen.

"In the meantime, you meet with Jay Johnson and go through

"the whole series of things that you got with him, right?

"And then, uh, if you don't, um...

"you can say, 'That's not enough for us,' right?

And then you can keep challenging him."

>> So did the president actually ask you not to move forward

with the resolution today?

>> Yeah. Yeah, he did.

He... well, did he?

I'm trying to think.

Yeah, "don't do the resolution," right?

You should go that way.

Oh, you are.

His response is, "Okay, I hear you.

"I want you to meet.

"I've called my secretary of homeland security.

"I've asked him to look at a menu of things within

"that he can use,

what discretions he has to further..."

>> ROBERTSON: Nobody was expecting this,

but now it's obvious.

Obama's been holding off on lowering deportations

on his own, hoping Diaz-Balart and Ryan would succeed

with legislation.

But outside pressure is reaching crisis level.

If the president's going to give Republicans more time,

he's going to need some help from Luis Gutiérrez.

So they have a deal.

The congressman will try to hold off the advocates,

and keep the community focused on a legislative solution

until July 4th.

After that, there won't be enough time to start on a bill

before summer recess and elections in the fall.

If Republicans fail to introduce a bill,

Obama has promised Gutiérrez he'll take executive action

to cut back on deportations.

That's going to be the congressman's Plan B.

His first move: start the clock.

>> Madam Speaker, almost a year with no serious movement forward

on immigration reform in the House, I'm beginning to wonder

whether Republicans will get serious about immigration

before they run out of time.

Well, I want to be helpful, so I've done a little calculating.

Including today, we have 34 legislative days

before the July 4th recess.

If you don't act in the next 34 days, if you refuse to give

the president a bill he can sign

because you say you don't trust him to enforce immigration law,

even though he has spent more money and deported more people

than any president before him,

I believe he will act without you.

I saw it in his eyes when I met with him.

He didn't run for office

so that he could deport two million people

and put thousands of American children in foster care.

The president knows the kind of pain

that congressional inaction has caused

for families and children.

The president wants to be an emancipator, not a deporter,

and he will act if he has to.

If you give him no choice, this president is going

to take charge himself, as well he should.

So, once again, Mr. Speaker,

we offer a lifeline to Republicans:

Let's work together.

The American people are waiting.

>> Uh, you know, everybody is like out for blood

in the community.

Everybody wants something now and they want it now, right?

And so just having him talk about kind of setting up the...

you know, the clock is running and, Republicans,

you have this window to get something done

and every day you don't there are this many...

it's kind of like, you know, building pressure in theory

against Republicans, but it's, you know, no coincidence

that it's set up to... to mark July

as the time when the shift and a real demand comes

if there's no legislation.

>> CAMERINI: Very soon after Congressman Gutiérrez went

to the White House,

the president and Speaker Boehner talked,

and Paul Ryan and Mario Diaz-Balart got the word

from the speaker: Start that whip count again.

>> Congressman, how you doing?

>> How are you?

Good to see you.

>> Good to see you again.

>> Nice to meet you. >> You guys okay?

>> CAMERINI: We're good. >> You're sweating.

>> ROBERTSON: It's rain. >> Oh, is that rain?

>> CAMERINI: So now it's recruitment time for Diaz-Balart

and Cesar-- persuade fellow Republicans to support

a big immigration reform package

and persuade them that the time to do that is now.

>> So I think when people say, well, you know, doesn't matter

what we can do, particularly with this president.

He's not gonna enforce it...

Is a legitimate issue.

So the question and what we've been doing a lot of work on is,

can you hold this and future administrations accountable, uh,

when we're dealing with immigration reform?

I think we can.

>> CAMERINI: Here's the surprise.

The strategy is to target

the hard-core Tea Party conservatives

like Mick Mulvaney-- guys who have even voted

against Boehner in the speakership elections.

If they support the bill, it will be because it fits

conservative priorities--

secure the border first, end illegal immigration.

>> They're so frustrated with the status quo.

They're so frustrated with what it is now.

You know, I think it was Trey who was on television who,

you know, I think he probably stole it from you,

because that's just the kind of guy that he is,

but he's on television and he said,

"Look, what we have now is amnesty."

What we have now is a complete disaster.

I don't know if you're gonna fix it, but that's the key,

how do you make it self-enforcing

so that it doesn't depend on the whim of any president?

>> ROBERTSON: Here's what Cesar and Diaz-Balart are counting on:

if Tea Party stars support their bill,

the more cautious Republicans will follow.

>> You know, if their top guys are able to do it,

then that next tier feel like they can point and say,

you know, um, so-and-so is doing it, then I should be

able to do it, because, you know, he's one of the darlings.

>> I've heard a lot from Cesar, from Mario Diaz-Balart's

office, who's working with Casey and Paul Ryan, so anyway,

everybody has...

like the gum has been pulled out of the gears

and everybody is starting to work on their pieces again

and I actually think all this talk

about executive action,

whether they like to admit it or not is...

I feel like it's getting

people who want to get this done moving.

>> Mr. Speaker, I want to have a pop quiz.

The answer to every one of the questions is the same.

I'm going to read a quote and then you tell me who said it.

"These last few years we've seen an unacceptable abuse

"of power.

"Having a president whose priority is expanding

his own power."

Any guess on who said that?

Mr. Speaker, it was Senator Barack Obama.

How does going from being a senator to a president

rewrite the Constitution?

Mr. Speaker, I don't think there's an amendment

to the Constitution that I missed.

I try to keep up with those with regularity.

>> The president calls me:

"I'd like to see you at 5:30."


He says come the end of July... oh, he's going to do it.

He says, "Come the end of July, Luis..."

El me dice...

"Come the end of July, you bring your menu

and we're gonna start choosing."

Well, Papa, if you're him

and you know that all these people (bleep) are pissed

at you, denouncing, and you're

like going, "What the (bleep)?"

From his perspective, (bleep) 'em.

What you gonna do? Impeach me?

You said I was illegal.

>> I like him.

I've always liked him.

>> He's a legislator.

>> I've always liked him.

Good old FBI guy.

So you guys sit down with everybody and...

>> That's what we're doing.

Start tomorrow morning.

>> That's what we're doing.

>> Right. I get it.

>> I don't care what you do.

>> Like you do on any other things, okay.

>> Yeah, man, or you like to shut down and like everything


>> Shut down like you do, okay, we don't really like...

>> With the shutdown, it was wink, wink, and get it done.

>> But, you know, here's what I'm finding:

when we go through it, people say, "This is pretty good."

So now we're finally implementing it.

The ones that we know are not only with us, but that are

really with us, those guys, I want to see if they can help us,

in essence whip it, you know?

The ones that help 'em are like Mulvaney...

>> Mulvaney.

>> Mulvaney.


>> Is Mulvaney helping you?

>> Big time, he wants... yes.

>> He's from South Carolina.

"Hey, Congressman, why you have that meeting?"

He says, "Don't worry about it."

"But I couldn't understand it."

He says, "I wasn't talkin' to you."

(laughing): I wasn't talking to you.

>> But the good thing about him is his district is next door

to Trey Gowdy's.

>> Right.

>> Mulvaney is key to getting him, because he provides

the cover, because Mulvaney is seen as extremely far right.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> Mulvaney makes the Tea Party look like left wingers.

>> Yeah.

>> No, he does.

No, no, no, seriously.

>> But I feel good and I see an endgame.

>> Yes, knowing we have a plan.

>> This is where we're at now.

So after the speaker said, you know,

kinda the cold water stuff, you know, hold off,

so we held off for a little while,

they've kind of asked us to re-engage

and so Mario has begun to do outreach to a bunch

of different members depending on how, you know,

you know, the different groups, different coalitions

and then go from there and then, you know, see if we can...

The main thing that we're trying to do is, who can bring

other people aboard, on board?

>> ROBERTSON: David and Cesar are old friends.

They're both from Miami, grew up just a few blocks apart.

This is a pretty typical Washington moment.

David is the Democratic staffer, Cesar is the Republican,

and they're heading to appear on a panel together.

>> I'm going to be very nice to you,

I'm going to be very nice to Boehner.

I mean should I be nice to Boehner?

I think I should, huh?

>> Boehner's the one...

>> (bleep) I know.

I'm impressed.

>> I don't see how you guys move it, to be honest,

but, you know, I'm...

>> The leadership understand.

I mean like the meetings I've been on, they completely

understand the political issue and the policy issue, I mean.

I know, it's still tough, but...

>> I don't know if I can stick around that much longer, dude.

>> We're giving it... we're giving it 'til the end of June.

>> Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is my weekly reminder to House Republicans that they have

only 30 legislative days before the July 4th recess.

In that time they had better allow a vote

on immigration reform or the president will take

executive action to reform our immigration system.

Tick, tick, tick, the clock and the calendar march on.

Children want their moms and dads to be here to see them

achieve the American dream.

And of one thing I am confident.

If the majority leader fails to act, the president will,

and he will do so boldly.

The time is running out.

If you don't take action, the president will take action

to permit millions upon millions of undocumented immigrants

to be able to live safely in the United States of America.

It's your choice.

>> At this time, please join me

in welcoming Congressman Mulvaney to Berkeley County.


>> Thank you.

Thank you.

I want to talk about something that we don't talk

about much in the Republican Party, which is fruit.

I would like to talk about fruit, uh, because I got a piece

of fruit on my desk about a year ago.

An unusual piece of fruit, not something you ordinarily get

from South Carolina.

We get peaches on our desk all the time, sometimes you get

other stuff from around the country, but about a year ago,

I got a piece of fruit on my desk.

It was a cantaloupe.

Does anybody know why the cantaloupe was on my desk?

Trey Gowdy is the chairman of the Immigration Subcommittee

in the Judiciary Committee and was trying to have a discussion

about folks who are here illegally.

And Trey said, "Well, you know,

"I've actually met a couple of folks who have been here

"a long time, have gone through school

and are the valedictorians of their classes"

and was interrupted by another member of my party who said,

"Trey, you know, that's exactly right,

"but for every one of those who is a valedictorian

"in their party, there are 100 of them

"with calves the size of cantaloupes

"carrying 75-pound bags of marijuana

across the Southwestern border."

And certainly we can talk later on

about what a tremendous threat the, um...

the Southwestern border is right now.

But I want you to think about the message and the way

that message was conveyed by that member of Congress:

calves the size of cantaloupes

carrying bags of marijuana across the border.

The next day, I had a cantaloupe

on my desk, um, and it was brought there by a group

who were upset

by what that Republican member of Congress said.

Every single Republican member of Congress

got a cantaloupe on their desk within 24 hours.

Think about how angry we had made somebody to do that

with that statement.

Think about whether or not that person is ever, ever going

to consider voting for a Republican candidate ever again.

At some point we're gonna have to figure out that if you take

the entire African-American community and write them off,

take the entire Hispanic community and write them off,

take the entire libertarian community and write them off,

take the entire gay community and write them off, what's left?

About 38% of the country.

You cannot win with 38% of the country.

We need to stop celebrating the absurd in our party

and stop rewarding the outrageous and the stupid.

We have to figure out how to deal with it as a party.

We're losing too many elections.

We're writing off too many people.

I'll give you one last number.

Mitt Romney won Texas by 900,000 votes.

Pretty good.

There are three million Hispanic people in Texas who will be able

to register to vote before the next election, 2016,

three million new Hispanic voters who were not eligible

to vote in 2012, but will be eligible to vote in 2016.

If the next Republican candidate for president gets

the same percentage of the Hispanic vote

that Mitt Romney got, we will lose Texas,

not in 2024, not in 2020, but in 2016.

And if we lose Texas, folks,

I've got news for you, we're never going to elect

a Republican president again.

>> Charleston, South Carolina.

>> On Friday at 5:00, I was really worried.

>> Are you running for president?

>> A thousand people... no, no, no, no, I'm not.

No, I'm not.

>> You haven't declared your interest yet?

>> No, I'm here to make this a successful program.

>> Because it is a primary state, you know.

>> (laughing): No, I'm not.

>> CAMERINI: Secretary Johnson and the congressman have already

met several times since that White House visit back in March.

They seemed to hit it off right away.

The secretary has been conducting a review of how far

the president can legally go in changing deportation policies.

Legal scholars have told Gutiérrez

the president has Constitutional authority to protect

as many as eight million of the undocumented.

>> We welcome everyone to this morning's oversight hearing

on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

>> CAMERINI: But the news that Secretary Johnson is reviewing

options about who to prosecute, who to deport, doesn't sit well

with Republicans-- even those like Trey Gowdy, who might have

supported a legislative deal to extend legal status

to some immigrants.

>> ...individual basis.

>> Are there limits on the theory

of prosecutorial discretion?

Are there any categories of law that the chief executive

really actually has to enforce, and this time we really mean it?

>> As a lawyer I will tell you I believe there are.

>> Mr. Secretary, I will say this in conclusion:

I would urge you to help me find where that line is

between prosecutorial discretion and just deciding

you don't like to enforce a law.

>> I think that the legislative branch, in general,

whether it's the enforcement of immigration laws...

>> So Kate's gonna get the bread.

>> Why?

Because then I'm gonna eat it over there?

>> She's gonna meet us in the car.

>> Where's the car? >> Right downstairs.

>> Okay, so...

>> Down to one.

>> Here's the interesting thing.

What he said.

>> Juan Carlos?

>> He says, "And I just want to make sure

"that all our television viewers understand,

"Luis Gutiérrez isn't one to carry water for President Obama

or the White House position, so the fact that he is changing..."

>> Mmm.

>> ...should be something that we should make a note of today."

That's because they're gonna... they change.

You change, I change.

>> And nobody has...

>> So let me ask you a question.

>> No leaks?

No leaks.

>> No, we're good. >> No leaks.

>> Well, the White House believes

you guys are gonna come through.

>> We're gonna come through.

>> They do. They're in.

>> I mean, I told the White House.

They still...

It's a lose-lose.

>> They're completely politically tone deaf

to the House.

They have no understanding of the House.

>> No.

>> ROBERTSON: Out of the blue, a couple of days ago

the White House announced it had asked Secretary Johnson

to delay his review of deportation policy.

They said it was to give Republicans more time

to work on a bill.

The announcement upset both advocates and House Republicans.

>> And then when I talk to them about it, they're like, really?

It's an issue?

I'm like, how could you not realize...

>> Go ahead.

>> Some of us have had two months just low key,

which he's doing.

He's an... but you don't announce that you're doing it.

Because when he said, then he says,

remember the whole issue is that there's the distrust issue,


>> So you're... you don't think he should've announced

that he isn't gonna announce?

>> No.

Because let me tell you why.

Because let me tell you what that means.

>> I couldn't agree with you more.

>> Yeah.

Just shut up.

>> But it may not be.

>> The White House, we're not gonna do anything.

Piss off everybody.

>> But if this is...

>> Problem that doesn't exist.

>> I know.

>> Was it a problem for you guys for him to say...

Did he need to say it to you?

>> No.

We actually prefer he would be quiet.

>> Let me tell you, because let me tell you what he does.

So on the left, he pisses everybody off.

And on the right they say... wait a second.

>> But he's still gonna do something.

>> They say, oh, so the president is saying

that if we don't act... remember what some of the guys say,

they say we can't trust him, right?

He will violate the law.

And then he says, well, hmm, he says, "If you guys don't act,

I'm gonna violate the law."

And they're saying, "You see, this guy violates the law,

"because he's saying he's gonna violate the law

if we don't do something."

You imagine all they're gonna be able to say

if we don't get it done?

>> You've waited six years and now you can't wait two months.

>> And now you can't wait two months, yeah.

For two years... six years, he didn't do anything.

Nothing, for six years.

You were chained to the White House, right?

You were chaining yourself.

For five years, you were chaining yourself, you know,

cussing him out, no, not important.

And now, we have a window of two months, now.

It's like when he decides to, like, you know, oh, yeah,

after that, if we get it done, we're happy.

And if we don't get it done, go to town.

Go to town.


>> Until after this vote.

Wait a few months.

>> Yeah, I mean, he was our guy.

>> So, Luis, we are now so close, man.

>> I'm happy.

>> We are so close.

>> You got a good whip team?

>> We do.

They're committed and they're doing their job.

They're doing it like aggressively.

>> Yeah.

>> Um, we need to show the leadership our whip count.

>> Okay.

>> Cesar said that hopefully at the end of this week, right,

is when we'll be able to show them numbers?

>> So what they're doing is organizing Republicans

on a whip count to pass immigration reform,

something that Nancy Pelosi never did

during her four years as speaker.

She never ordered a whip count.

She never said, "I want a whip count and I want you to go

get the votes."

Never did it.

Four years.

That's... I'm impressed.


He's with us too.


He's with us too.

We're gonna get everybody in the end.

>> CAMERINI: It's Monday, June 9th.

After months of work

and countless one-on-one conversations,

Paul Ryan and Mario Diaz-Balart have carefully crafted

a bill they know the majority of Republicans can agree on.

They have the votes.

They make an appointment to see Boehner on Thursday.

>> ROBERTSON: Tuesday, June 10th.

Primary season is almost over.

Washington is slowing down a little.

The Diaz-Balart office meets for drinks after work

to celebrate their whip count.

Then it's 9:00 p.m., and a piece of news almost unimaginable

in Washington breaks.

A primary race that no one is even watching.

Eric Cantor, the House majority leader,

the guy widely expected to take over John Boehner's job,

has just lost his primary to a political unknown.

Dave Brat, the challenger, got a huge campaign boost

when conservative radio host Laura Ingraham adopted him

and made a hard line on immigration

his main campaign issue.

When they thought about it,

everybody on the Hill knew there were plenty of other reasons

for Cantor's voters to dump him,

but it was Brat's opposition to immigration

that got all the credit.

>> The show must go on.

>> The show must go on.

>> Who the hell knew?

Somebody deserves to be fired today.


I was like, why is it such a blow?

Why does it feel like

when the bill went down in two... you know,

like one of those moments when you're like...

you just feel like you were buried under bricks.

It's because I didn't want it to fail this way!

Like this was not part...

Fail after a struggle, whatever, but not fail like this.

>> ROBERTSON: Cesar.

>> Not exactly the day I had planned.

>> ROBERTSON: Did anybody?

>> No.

In our conversations with folks, we started to whip it.

You know, we were asking yes/no.

And we were getting the yeses.

The speaker already knew.

What our count was.

He found out.

>> CAMERINI: The news about Cantor wasn't the worst news

of the week.

>> Breaking tonight, disturbing new images

of the unprecedented crisis along our southern border,

where thousands of young children are surging across,

many without any parents, and the U.S. basically doesn't know

what to do with them.

The president is likely to take his pen and his phone

and do something.

His critics say that's how we got in this position

of these children and their parents believing

they could cross with impunity.

What say you?

>> Most of those who have made it to our border,

60,000 this year, a quarter of a million

estimated over the next two years...

>> CAMERINI: In just about a week,

7,212 Republican primary voters

in Eric Cantor's congressional district

and non-stop media coverage of a border invasion

told Republican House members all they needed to know.

The whip count commitments evaporated.

That pretty much finished off chances for an immigration bill.

>> ROBERTSON: And only a couple of dozen people knew

how close it had come.

>> It is time for the president to act.

We can wait no longer.

We've waited long enough.

It's time to act.

And we need to be out in front and ahead of this.

It's too long.

I mean they're gonna keep trying.


I mean it's nice to get a hug from Boehner.

No, it is nice.

You know, it's nice, and they're very nice to me.

The Republicans, they're very nice to me.

It's true.

We have built a lot of friends.

But I can't get them to pull the trigger.

I think it's just, it's just taking,

we've gotta build it up, because you know what'll happen

by the end of July?


>> And I figured out my career trajectory.

I want to be a former speech writer like Peggy Noonan

or Pat Buchanan or Michael Gerson.

>> Don't say Pat Buchanan.

I get your point, but let's not compare you ever

to Pat Buchanan.

>> We're both from Washington, D.C.

Um, so here's the concept, and I don't know whether the boss

will buy it, but "in April I put you on warning

"and now I'm throwing you out of the game.

"You're done.

"You had your opportunity to deliver.

"There've been a few flagrant fouls like blaming this

"on the president for not enforcing the law

"when he's deported more people,

"or exploiting these little kids coming across the border

"and now you're out.

"Democrats, the president is the only player left on the field,

and we're gonna make sure that he's..."

But don't you think that if Gutiérrez is doing like this

to the Republicans

that picture will be in every single paper in Spanish?

>> Where'd you get these?

>> I don't know.

>> Newspaper.

You don't remember?

>> No.

This is for the special World Cup edition.

>> So do you like the red card ejection, Susan?

>> I love it.

I love it.

>> Yeah.

>> It's current.

>> It's very hip, Doug.

>> It is choreography and the use of props, so, you know,

there's always a down...

Whoops, just a moment, Mr. Speaker!

>> Yeah, he has to do it, like very convincing.

>> We have to show him a few videos of it happening.

>> Yes.

>> Yeah, and I feel like you...

I think we should just... maybe we should just say

to Republicans, "You don't like it?"

>> In the absence of reform...

>> "You don't like it, and then freakin' change it,

pass a law that you'd like to see."

>> Yeah.

>> "Nobody is stopping you from meeting on this.

"Nobody's preventing you from coming up with the solution

"that you think is best for America,

"so come up with it... you losers.

You lame-os."

>> A year ago this Friday marks the one-year anniversary

of passage of the bipartisan Senate Immigration Bill

that passed with 68 votes in the Senate.

You know, Madam Speaker, I kept hoping the better angels

in the Republican Party would tap down

the irrational and angry angels blocking reform

the American people want and deserve.

And then the last straw.

As violence and poverty and gangs drive families

out of Central America, I see Republican members of Congress

and their allies and talk radio and TV taking advantage

of a humanitarian crisis to score cheap political points.

I gave you the warning three months ago

and now I have no other choice.

You're done.

>> Ooh!

>> No, no, no!

>> You're done.

Leave the field.


Too many flagrant offenses and unfair attacks

and too little action.

You're out.

Hit the showers.

It's the red card.

Republicans have failed America and failed themselves.

Mr. Speaker, it is now time for the president to act.

>> ROBERTSON: A lot of people were devastated

when Luis Gutiérrez gave up on legislation,

but Luis Gutiérrez always had his Plan B.

>> If we could do that, I think..

because look, I mean, you know what the ask is, right,

Secretary Johnson and Cecilia?

I mean the ask is use the memorandum

of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus on page four and five.

>> CAMERINI: They talked all summer and into the fall.

There's still no final decision on how many people

the president's executive order will cover.

The congressman wants him to go big, to give as many people

as possible a legal protection from deportation,

even if it's temporary.

Inside the White House, the work is slow.

Secretary Johnson is getting pushback from Justice Department

and White House lawyers, whose concern is keeping the president

within legal bounds.

>> It is anecdotal and... to the extent that we get it

from many sources, right?

>> What have we got now?

>> ROBERTSON: Congressman Mulvaney often conducts

his town halls on-line.

>> Next one is Penny Smith.

>> Penny.

"Is there anything done about illegal people

entering South Carolina?"

Ugh, okay.

Uh, Penny.

That's a 15-word question with a thousand-word answer.

>> Short answer is no.

>> But she did say, "Thank you for the time for doing this."

>> Yeah.

>> She followed up.

>> Any time, Penny.

>> I will always wonder as to whether or not

what happened on the Southwestern border was done

on purpose or was it an accident.

Because I don't know.

I don't have a gut feeling one way or the other as to whether

or not the president feared that there would be some type

of large agreement that he wasn't involved with

and that he didn't want it to go the way that it was going.

I don't know.

The question was really:

Do you want to do it now?

Do you want to do it later?

Or do you want to do it never?

And I think the thing that was encouraging was

before the meltdown on the Southwestern border,

it's fair to say that there were a majority of Republicans

who wanted to take it up now.

I was absolutely convinced

that there were Republicans and Democrats in the House

that wanted to fix the problem.

And that's kind of invigorating if you stop to think about it,

because so many times we face all these challenges

and you're not really convinced the other side wants to fix it.

I am convinced that people in both parties wanted

to fix immigration.

And we haven't yet.

(speaking Spanish)

>> Okay, so anything else?

>> CAMERINI: DREAMers had started out last year

demanding a new law that would give citizenship to millions.

Now they're just hoping the president can stop

the deportations.

>> Everyone is trying to work with limited information.

So we should just assume that something's gonna, some de...

because the press is going crazy over this...

>> CAMERINI: It's now November 19th.

Tonight Congressman Gutiérrez will have dinner

at the White House.

Tomorrow, the president will announce his plan.

People don't have the details yet,

but Republicans who've wanted immigration reform know

executive action will make it harder to start again.

>> Look, the positive thing is that I think it'll stop

some separations of families,

of American children whose parents might be deported.

I think that's a positive.

But it doesn't do long-term.

It doesn't secure the border in a real way.

It doesn't fix the system that has created the crisis

that we have today.

So it is, at best, a short-term Band-aid;

at worst, could make it worse

and could make it very difficult, even more difficult

to actually fix a system that we all agree has to be fixed.

>> He said, "I got four million.

"Uh, it's a down payment.

"I'd like to do more.

"But I couldn't use economic arguments.

"I couldn't extend... I had to use humanitarian arguments.

They needed to have some kind of presence in the United States."

I wanted to be like, here, thank you, this is great,

because this is what we have to do.

This is what we have to do.

We have to declare victory.

Our people are tired of one defeat after another.

We go out there quibbling about this, they're gonna say,

"Well,Luis Gutiérrez dijo que...

and that's how they're gonna feel.

I think we have to use who we are and understand who we are

within this and then at the end I told him,

"Mr. President, I want you to walk out of here

with the assurance"--

and that's why I'm saying it publicly here

in front of everybody else-- "that I'm...

"you're gonna be, you're gonna be proud to have me

as one of your top supporters."


>> So, Univision and Telemundo are desperate to talk to you.

>> All right.

Let's do it.

Guys, look what I got though.

Look what I got.

>> Ohh...

>> Shh.

>> Oh.

>> I went like this:

"Mr. President, I love being at this meeting so much,

"you're so great, and I gotta leave.



>> You are...

>> It's a historical meeting.

>> Yeah.

>> Yeah, it's a good thing that the doorknobs were attached

to the door.


>> It's a meeting, right?

...expressed himself this evening.

I have been, if not one of the toughest critics

of this president, certainly among the toughest critics

of this president when it comes to immigration policy.

I gotta tell you, tomorrow's gonna be an historic evening.

>> Okay!

>> We're just standing quietly.

It's kind of awkward.

We're never this quiet.

Where's my mom?

>> My fellow Americans, tonight I'd like to talk with you

about immigration.

For more than 200 years our tradition of welcoming

immigrants from around the world

has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations.

But today our immigration system is broken

and everybody knows it.

When I took office, I committed to fixing

this broken immigration system.

There are actions I have the legal authority to take

as president that will help make our immigration system more fair

and more just.

So we're gonna offer the following deal.

If you've been in America for more than five years,

if you have children who are American citizens

or legal residents,

if you register, pass a criminal background check

and you're willing to pay your fair share of taxes,

you will be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily

without fear of deportation.

You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law.

We're not going to deport you.

I know the politics of this issue are tough.

But let me tell you why I have come to feel so strongly

about it.

These people, our neighbors, our classmates, our friends,

they did not come here in search of a free ride

or an easy life.

They came to work and study and serve in our military, and,

above all, contribute to America's success.

Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger,

for we know the heart of a stranger.

We were strangers once too.

My fellow Americans, we are and always will be

a nation of immigrants.

That's the tradition we must uphold.

That's the legacy we must leave for those who are yet to come.

Thank you.

God bless you and God bless this country we love.

>> ROBERTSON: Nobody quite knew what would happen next.

And in a way, you could say that still.

Two weeks after the president's speech,

17 state attorneys general filed a lawsuit

against his executive orders.

Almost a year later, the whole thing is still tied up

in the courts.

So, America's immigration battle goes on.

But those new voters, those Latino and immigrant voters

who made such a difference in 2012,

their numbers are growing.

And there's another election coming next year.

>>Next time on Frontline,

correspondent Martin Smith explores a side of Syria

few have seen.

He travels with those close to the regime.

>> I'm good.

>>And questions the people who live there.

>> We have witness what happened in Iraq

and what happened in Libya...

>>A surreal assignment in the midst of a bloody war.

>> Am I your first American visitor?

>> Oh, yeah.


>> Have you ever dated somebody who was on the spectrum before?

>> Gangs or football?

It's a continuous struggle.

>> The path is good!

The future lies out there at the 50 yard line!

>> Make your own history!

Let's go, baby!

>> For more on "Immigration Battle,"visit our website


Frontline's "Immigration Battle" is available on DVD.

To order, visit or call 1-800-PLAY-PBS.

Frontline is also available for download on iTunes.


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