CNN's new morning show New Day hosted only one member of Congress – a Democrat – to discuss the immigration bill on Friday. Co-host Chris Cuomo interviewed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and pushed for Congress to "get this done."
Cuomo let the Senator dodge his question on border security, but pinned her down when asking why amnesty wasn't granted to even more illegal immigrants. "Why leave out a whole year's worth of people who have come into the country?" he asked the Senator.
"On that issue, though, there's a date, right? December 31st, 2011. If you came after that, right now, you wouldn't get any amnesty, right?" he had asked. "But, Senator, why leave out that group?" he followed up.
Gillibrand dodged Cuomo's question on border security, but he didn't follow up. "Here's the question: $50 billion added to secure the border. Does anyone in the room, anyone who's making this deal believe that that will make our border completely impermeable?" he asked.
However, Gillibrand replied "Well it's certainly an investment in our nation's security," before changing the subject to the bill's economic benefits. Cuomo didn't press her any further on border security.
Cuomo finished by pressing Congress to "get this done": "Do you think that the lawmakers down there have the concerns of the people on their mind here, that they won't make this a football? That they'll get this done? They understand it's just too big an issue to just play politics with?"
Below is a transcript of the segment, which aired on June 21 on New Day at 8:04 a.m. EDT:
CHRIS CUOMO: We're going to be joined right now by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. She's live on Capitol Hill this morning. Senator, thank you very much for joining us. Two big issues to get to. We want to talk about immigration and we want to talk about assault, sexual assault in the military and what is or is not being done about it. Let's start with immigration. You know the deal, of course. You know all the particulars better than I. Here's the question: $50 billion added to secure the border. Does anyone in the room, anyone who's making this deal believe that that will make our border completely impermeable?
Sen. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-N.Y.): Well it's certainly an investment in our nation's security. But one reason why this bill is so important, Chris, it's really going to strengthen our economy. You're going to have an increase in people earning the minimum wage, so they'll be actually part of our economy. They'll be investing in Social Security and Medicare. They'll actually have much more economic input in terms of high-skilled workers.
So, there's so much opportunity here for the economy and that's one of the reasons why I think folks should focus on it. And for New Yorkers, it's also about our families. It's about our community. Our country was founded on immigrants, and part of our strength as a nation is because of our diversity.
CUOMO: Well, there's no question that one of the upsides to having people in, is that they become taxpayers like everybody else. They get their services. They pay for things. And that's a concern. On that issue, though, there's a date, right? December 31st, 2011. If you came after that, right now, you wouldn't get any amnesty, right? Those people are left out.
GILLIBRAND: Well, what the bill tries to do is create a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million folks that are actually here. And that is so important for family reunification and for peace of mind, so that families know we have a way to get from A to B, to become American citizens, to be part of the economy, part of the system, learn English, do all the things that we think is important part of being an American. And that process in and of itself creates security and stability for a lot of communities.
CUOMO: Sure. But, Senator, why leave out that group? Why leave out a whole year's worth of people who have come into the country?
GILLIBRAND: I think those who are negotiating this bill just need a framework for moving forward. And that's what they've proposed. And I think it's one that's workable. They are also trying to fix the visa system. So, if you are coming in after or coming in in the future, there's a real process by which you can apply, get in line, and make sure that you have a pathway to become an American, as well.
CUOMO: Do you think that the lawmakers down there have the concerns of the people on their mind here, that they won't make this a football? That they'll get this done? They understand it's just too big an issue to just play politics with?
GILLIBRAND: I think so. You know, particularly the DREAM Act, Chris. We have young people who are brought to this country over the last several years that no other nation is their home. They are here in our grade schools and high schools and they want to get a college education or they want to serve in the military. And those young people are part of our future, they're part of our families.
So, I just think this is a moral issue. It's an issue that really defines who we are as Americans and I think people can come together for many reasons around this, not just that it strengthens our national security, but really does invest in our economy, but is more about who we are. So, I'm very hopeful.