PBS’s Gordon Peterson Suggests Dream Act Would Pass if Illegal Immigrants ‘Looked Like Norwegians’

 On Friday’s Inside Washington on PBS, during a discussion of President Obama’s failure to secure passage of the Dream Act in the Senate, after panel member Evan Thomas of Newsweek asserted that "stupid politics" was behind the bill’s defeat, host Gordon Peterson brought up a quip by humorist Jimmy Tingle that "if they all looked like Norwegians, there’d be no problem."

After introducing the segment with a clip of President Obama speaking favorably of the proposed law that would allow the children of illegal immigrants to obtain legal status and eventual citizenship if they go to college or into the military, host Peterson asked, "Why would you vote against that, Evan?"

Thomas blamed "stupid politics" and complained that the proposal is being "held hostage" by those who want to secure the border first. Thomas: "Stupid politics. I mean, there’s got to be immigration reform. It just hangs over all the head of this. We’ve got to reform, this is a small attempt to cure a small but real problem. But what hangs over it is the need to do a larger reform of the immigration system. We got to find some way to get better control of our borders, we do-"

Peterson interrupted to note that South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham had voiced an unwillingness to vote for "anything until the borders are secure," prompting Thomas to add, "But it’s held hostage."

After the Newsweek columnist recounted the country’s need for more immigrants who are highly skilled, Peterson brought up the Jimmy Tingle comment about Norwegians as he turned to liberal columnist and panel member Mark Shields. Peterson: "Jimmy Tingle said if they all looked like Norwegians, there’d be no problem, Mark."

Shields agreed: "I think there, I think there’s a lot of truth in that, but 10 percent unemployment has helped secure the borders. Let’s be very honest about that. The flow has slowed down considerably.I think there, I think there’s a lot of truth in that, but 10 percent unemployment has helped secure the borders. Let’s be very honest about that. The flow has slowed down considerably."

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, December 24, Inside Washington on PBS:

GORDON PETERSON: That’s President Obama on the failure of the Dream Act to pass in this session of Congress. The Dream Act would give the children of parents who came here illegally a shot at a green card if they go to college of join the military. Why would you vote against that, Evan?

EVAN THOMAS, NEWSWEEK: Stupid politics. I mean, there’s got to be immigration reform. It just hangs over all the head of this. We’ve got to reform, this is a small attempt to cure a small but real problem. But what hangs over it is the need to do a larger reform of the immigration system. We got to find some way to get better control of our borders, we do-

PETERSON: Well, that’s what Lindsey Graham said: I’m not voting for anything until the borders are secure.

THOMAS: But it’s held hostage, yeah, all this, for instance, you know, one thing we really need to have is more visas for really smart people with high degrees to come work here, which is really a crushing need, but it gets held hostage to this larger immigration reform. We’ve got to get the big thing done.

PETERSON: Jimmy Tingle said if they all looked like Norwegians, there’d be no problem, Mark.

MARK SHIELDS: I think there, I think there’s a lot of truth in that, but 10 percent unemployment has helped secure the borders. Let’s be very honest about that. The flow has slowed down considerably.