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McDonald's Worker Helpline: Get Food Stamps; Obama Speaks on Immigration Reforms

Aired October 24, 2013 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: OK, I just wanted to be transparent so that everybody knows that. And you know the first question people always ask, when they find out about your endeavor, is why not just get another job?

NANCY SALGADO, MCDONALDS'S EMPLOYEE: I believe that you know we deserve better pay because we work hard and we multitask. And our jobs now are like $8.25 everywhere you go. And I enjoy my job but I think I should get paid better.

COSTELLO: McDonald's has responded to this recording and I want to read to you what the company says. So this is a quote from the company. Quote, "The McResource line is intended to be a free confidential service to help employees and their families to get answers to a variety of questions or provide resources on a variety of topics including housing, child care, transportation, grief, elder care, education and more."

You weren't really asking questions about any of those things. So I guess McDonald's is saying you know we -- we did what we could for her. We -- we told her that there are other resources to help. Did that comfort you at all?

SALGADO: It didn't, because my first question was like, you know, I need help you know with my -- you know how winter is hitting. You know where can I have the help and they just directly wants to -- do you have any kids? You know you can apply for like, SNAP and you can apply for Medicaid, you know. They never went further with any other questions. Like they just directly told me, you need government assistance.

So they're realizing that they're paying their employees a really low wage, which not fair.

COSTELLO: Well we wish a lot of luck to you. Nancy Salgado, thank you so much for joining me this morning. I sure appreciate it.

SALGADO: Well thank you for having me.

COSTELLO: You're welcome.

COSTELLO: Right now at White House, President Obama is about to speak on one of his top priorities -- immigration reform, he's expected to call on lawmakers to complete work on measures aimed at strengthening America's borders while also offering a path to citizenship for the millions who are here illegally.

We will go live to the President as soon as he begins speaking. So let's head to Washington and Jake Tapper. Good morning, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol, how are you?

COSTELLO: I'm good. It's interesting the President is talking about immigration on the day this congressional hearing is going on over the Obamacare exchanges.

TAPPER: Are you suggesting that they're trying to change the subject?

COSTELLO: Oh no of course not.

TAPPER: Carol, Carol well the truth of the matter is that while there's no doubt the administration would love to divert the spotlight to something else and President Obama will pick on a group that's held in a pretty dismal view on most Americans, those who are holding up immigration reform.

He's going to try to ramp the pressure on Congress, still reeling from the public relations disaster, the partial government shutdown and that debt crisis. Jim Acosta is right now at the White House.

Jim, the President is going to be calling for bipartisan work on reforming immigration law. How likely is that post shutdown?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well it's going to be very difficult Jay. I mean that is one of the things that the President said the other day he'd like to get done by the end of the year in addition to a budget and passing a farm bill, and that is comprehensive immigration reform.

You know the thinking inside the White House is that, hey, they passed it out of the Senate. That was promising but getting out of the House -- that is going to be the challenge. And I've talked to administration officials who believe that it's really in the Republican Party's interest to get this passed out of the House.

The demographics for the GOP are not promising, heading into next year's midterm elections and -- and certainly not heading into the Presidential elections. They look at the fact that Mitt Romney was really trounced when it comes to Latino voters by the President and so they feel like it's in the Republican Party's self-interest to get immigration reform passed.

But not everybody takes the macro view, Jake. Over in the House a lot of those GOP lawmakers, especially conservative ones are looking at what's going on inside their district. And inside their district there may not be a ground slow of support for passing immigration reform.

But we do expect the President to layout some of the principles that he'd like to see passed in immigration reform. One of those principles is a path to citizenship, and that is very much at odds in terms of what they would like to get passed out the House. Although Darrell Issa, a Republican lawmaker, out of California, chairman of the House Oversight Committee he has talked about his own bill that he is going to be putting forward. However, that talks about a path to legal status; so, a long way to go for both parties to sort of bridge that divide Jake.

TAPPER: Jim what's the feeling inside the White House in terms of whether or not the shutdown and the divide that that brought out in the Republican Party -- for want of a better term the establishment Republicans versus the Tea Party. A lot of the same people on either side when it comes to immigration reform that were at odds within the Republican caucus on the government shutdown and the attempts to defund Obamacare through the government shutdown -- does the administration think that individuals -- that that fight is more likely to help matters when it comes to immigration reform or hurt them?

ACOSTA: Well they certainly think it's going to help in terms of passing a budget. They certainly believe and they point to what statements -- the statements that have been made by top Republican congressional leaders like Mitch McConnell, saying that there won't be another shutdown. They feel like that's a pretty strong indication they can get through this budget process in the next several months but that really doesn't lend any hope to the immigration process.

You know, they sort of point back to these demographic issues of the Republican Party and saying you know if the Republicans don't pass immigration reform, how bad is that going to be for the Republican Party heading into next year's midterm elections and also most especially in 2016.

But Jake there's also pressure for the President here as well. Remember Latino leaders were pressing for this in his first term. This is something President Obama pledged to do when he was running for President back in 2008 -- all those years ago. And he still hasn't gotten that done. So that is why the President has said he wants to put the pressure on Congress to get this done by the end of the year.

But that is such a daunting task Jake when you look at all the issues right now with Obamacare. The problems with the Web site and then just getting a budget through the regular order process that they said they would like to do in the next several months. And not to mention a farm bill, that you know is something that is normally passed in Congress without much controversy was controversial this year.

So no question about it, Jake, lots of bad blood, poor relations between the White House and Republicans in the House and that does not bode well for immigration reform. To be quite frank, I think that they would like to get it done. I'm not sure how hopeful or optimistic they think it will get done at this point -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right indeed Jim Acosta at the White House thanks.

While we wait for the President, let's take a look at two new polls gauging rather Americans support for immigration reform. The polls are from CBS News from this week. More than three-quarters of those polled say they favored a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants if they met certain requirements such as passing criminal background checks, learning English and paying back taxes.

But more Americans 50 percent think securing the nation's border should be a higher priority than the issue of addressing the status of undocumented immigrants.

Gloria Borger comes in now to talk to me about these results. Gloria you spoke with Senator John McCain on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" about getting immigration reform passed. Let's take a listen to what he said.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: My response is that we still -- and that we're the architects of this comprehensive immigration reform -- want you to pass legislation, the House Representatives to pass legislation. We can sit down, work this out, 11 million people living in the shadows in this country is not an acceptable situation. We urge you to address this issue with us together and we respect your views.

But to do nothing, I think, is a grave disservice to the American people and sooner or later, we will have to address this issue in a comprehensive fashion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Gloria, that's President -- I'm sorry. That's former Senator, former presidential candidate John McCain, speaking to House Republicans, basically pleading with them to pass something on immigration reform.

BORGER: Yes.

TAPPER: These are a lot of the same divisions we have been seeing over the last few weeks when it comes to the government shutdown. The question of course is does this struggle over the government shutdown which brought out a lot of the same divisions help John Boehner and those who want to do something on immigration reform, John McCain or hurt?

BORGER: You know I'm going to be a little counterintuitive here. I believe, actually, that this may help John Boehner get something through the House to -- to a certain degree.

Senator McCain was responding to a comment by Republican Raul Labrador who said it would be crazy for the House Republican leadership to enter into negotiations with the President on immigration.

And that's -- that's his position. But I think, look, those Republicans, the "hell no" caucus, fought a fight that resulted in a decline in popularity for the Republican Party as a whole. If they want to become a presidential party and not just a congressional majority in the House, they need to do something about Hispanic voters. You've talked to Mitt Romney about it. I've talked to Mitt Romney about it. One of the things he blames the most for his presidential loss is the fact that the Republican Party did not reach out to Hispanic voters.

John McCain suffered that -- that same fate as well when he ran for the presidency. So Boehner, who tends to be a national Republican, who lost this last fight very openly and very blatantly by siding with this one part of his caucus just may decide that he needs to do something for the party as a whole.

I'm not saying he's going to pass a comprehensive bill that was passed in the Senate. But I do believe that if you look at these polls, people want border security and an eventual path to citizenship. And I think there's a way to try and get that out of the house. And he may have to go without a majority of his majority.

TAPPER: Gloria, one of the things I hear from Republicans on the Hill is they look at Obamacare.

BORGER: Yes.

TAPPER: And they look at the way President Obama has delayed certain provisions, provided waivers for others from Obamacare and they say how do we know that President Obama wouldn't do the same thing when it comes to immigration reform?

BORGER: Right.

TAPPER: How do we know that he wouldn't ultimately take less seriously of a provision to secure the border and more seriously a provision to provide a path to citizenship?

BORGER: Yes. You know I think that's a -- that's a real concern. And that's why I believe that you should never pass these huge pieces of legislation by -- on a lop-sided vote with just the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. The reason there is such skepticism about the President's health care reform plan is that it was passed by Democrats, period OK.

So if you're going to do something on immigration reform in which the entire country has an interest and a concern and as a stakeholder in it, then I think what you need to do is look for something that's passed by both parties so that, in fact, everybody has a stake in it.

And we haven't been able to do that on anything, hardly anything in the last decade or so. I think we really need to kind of look at immigration reform as something that everybody has a stake in.

And so if the President can't get everything he got in the senate bill, OK fine. Start with border security, which is more important to Republicans and then, you know, have a timetable. Move on to other things. And make it realistic and make it so that everybody has a buy-in. I think that's so important and that's what's been missing. TAPPER: Of course, Gloria, as you and I have discussed President Obama in the Senate when it came to health care reform did make a big effort to bring in Republicans --

BORGER: He did.

TAPPER: -- although ultimately -- ultimately it was futile.

Chief political analyst Gloria Borger thanks. We're going to take a very quick break. We're watching the White House, waiting for President Obama to speak. We will bring it to you live when it happens and we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: We're watching the White House East Room right now where individuals are going to be standing behind President Obama during his address on immigration reform are slowly starting to file in. And when they are set and in their places, President Obama will come out and we will bring you his comments live.

I want to bring in two contributors to CNN, Ana Navarro and Maria Cardona to talk about the President's remarks.

Ana, I remember Jorge Ramos, our friend from Univision, talking about "la promesa de Obama", the promise that President Obama made to the Latino community to bring up immigration reform in his first year --

(CROSSTALK)

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That was pretty good, Jake.

TAPPER: Do you like that? And it was a broken promise. He did not bring up immigration reform. How resentful or not resentful is the Latino community about that promise now given the fact that President Obama has been making an issue?

You know what -- we'll come to that -- we'll come to your answer after. We're peeking at the door at the East Room right now, we expect President Obama to come out any second. Ana, why don't you just start and I'll cut you off rudely as soon as he pokes his head out. Is it still an issue --

NAVARRO: It's not going to be the first time, my friend. Look I think it was -- it was certainly a big issue right before the elections and I would tell you it's part of what led to President Obama doing the forced --

TAPPER: Here he is, Ana. I'm sorry. Hold that thought. Hold that thought Ana. Here is President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to talk about immigration reform.

(BEGIN LIVE FEED)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you very much. Good to have you here everybody Good morning. And welcome to the White House. Today I'm here with leaders from business, from labor, from faith communities who are united around one goal, finishing the job of fixing a broken immigration system. This is not just an idea whose time has come, this is an idea that's been around for years now.

Leaders, like all of you, have worked together with Republicans and Democrats in this town, in good faith, for years to try to get this done. And this is the moment when we should be able to finally get the job done.

Now it's no secret that the American people haven't seen much out of Washington that they like these days. The shutdown and the threat of the first default in more than 200 years inflicted real pain on our businesses and on families across the country. And it was a completely unnecessary self-inflicted wound with real costs to real people and it can never happen again.

But even with the shutdown over and the threat of default eliminated, Democrats and Republicans still have some really big disagreements. There are some just fundamentally different views about how we should move forward on certain issues.

On the other hand, as I said the day after the shutdown ended, that's no reason that we shouldn't be able to work together on the things that we do agree on. We should be able to work together on a responsible budget that invests in the things that we need to grow our economy and create jobs even while we maintain fiscal discipline. We should to be able to pass a farm bill that helps rural communities grow and protects vulnerable Americans in hard times.

And we should pass immigration reform. We could pass immigration reform. It's good for our economy. It's good for our national security. It's good for our people and we should do it this year.

Now everybody knows that our current immigration system is broken. Across the political spectrum, people understand that. We've known it for years. It's not smart to invite some of the brightest minds from around the world to study here and then not let them start businesses here. We send them back to their home countries to start businesses and create jobs and invent new products some place else.

It's not fair to businesses and middle class families who play by the rules when we allow companies that are trying to undercut the rules work in a shadow economy to hire folks at lower wages, with no benefits or no overtime so that somehow they get a competitive edge for breaking the rules. That doesn't make sense.

It doesn't make sense to have 11 million people who are in this country illegally, without any incentive or any way for them to come out of the shadows, get right with the law, meet their responsibilities and permit their families then to move ahead. It's not smart. It's not fair. It doesn't make sense.

We have kicked this particular can down the road for too long. Now the good news is this year the Senate has already passed an immigration reform bill by a wide, bipartisan majority that addressed all these issues. It's a bill that would continue to strengthen our borders. It would level the playing field by holding unscrupulous employers accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers.

It would modernize our legal immigration system so that even as we train American workers for the jobs of the future, we are also attracting highly skilled entrepreneurs from beyond our borders to join with us to create jobs here in the United States. It would make sure that everybody plays by the same rules by providing a pathway to earn citizenship for those who are here illegally -- one that includes passing a background check, learning English, paying taxes, paying a penalty, getting in line behind everyone who is trying to come here the right way.

So it had all the component parts. It didn't have everything that I wanted. It didn't have everything that anybody wanted. But it addressed the core challenges of how we create an immigration system that is fair, that is just, that is true to our traditions as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants and that's passed the Senate by a bipartisan majority.

So here's what we also know that the bill would grow the economy and shrink our deficits. Independent economists have shown that if the Senate bill became law over the next two decades, our economy would grow by $1.4 trillion more than it would if we don't pass the law. It would reduce our deficits by nearly $1 trillion.

So this isn't just the right thing to do. It's the smart thing to do. Securing our borders, modernizing our legal immigration system, providing a pathway to earn legalized citizenship, growing our economy, strengthening our middle class, reducing our deficits -- that's what common sense immigration reform will do.

Now, obviously, just because something is smart and fair and good for the economy and fiscally responsible and supported by business and labor and the Evangelical community and many Democrats and many Republicans, that does not mean that it will actually get done. This is Washington, after all. So, everything tends to be viewed through a political prism. And everybody has been looking at the politics of this.

And I know that there are some folks in this town who are primed to think "Well, if Obama is for it, then I'm against it." But, you know, I would remind everybody that my Republican predecessor was also for it when he proposed reforms like this almost a decade ago. And I joined with 23 Senate Republicans back then to support that reform. I would remind you that this reform won more than a dozen Republican votes in the Senate in June.

I'm not running for office again. I just believe this is the right thing to do. I just believe it's the right thing to do.

And I also believe that good policy is good politics in this instance. And if folks are really that consumed with the politics of fixing our broken immigration system, they should take a closer look at the polls because the American people support this. It's not something they reject. They support it. Everybody wins if we work together to get this done.

In fact, if there's a good reason not to pass this common sense reform, I haven't heard it. So, anyone still standing in the way of this bipartisan reform should at least have to explain why. A clear majority of the American people think it's the right thing to do.

Now, how do we move forward? Democratic leaders have introduced a bill in the House that is similar to the bipartisan senate bill. So now it's up to Republicans in the house to decide whether reform becomes a reality or not.

I do know -- and this is good news -- that many of them agree that we need to fix our broken immigration system across these areas that we just discussed. And what I've said to them -- and I'll repeat today, if House Republicans have new and different, additional ideas for how we should move forward, then we want to hear them. I'll be listening.

I know that Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, those who voted for immigration reform already, are eager to hear those additional ideas. But what we can't do is just sweep the problem under the rug one more time. Leave it for somebody else to solve some time in the future.

You know, rather than create problems, let's prove to the American people that Washington can actually solve some problems. This reform comes as close to anything we've got to a law that will benefit everybody now and far into the future. So let's see if we can get this done. And let's see if we can get it done this year.

We've got the time to do it. Republicans in the House, including the Speaker, have said we should act. So, let's not wait. It doesn't get easier to just put it off. Let's do it now. Let's not delay. Let's get this done. Let's do it in a bipartisan fashion.

To those of you who are here today, I want to just say one last thing and that is thank you. I want to thank you for your persistence. I want to thank you for your activism. I want to thank you for your passion and your heart when it comes to this issue.

And I want to tell you, you have to keep it up. Keep putting the pressure on all of us to get this done. There will be moments -- there are always moments like this in big efforts at reform where you meet resistance and the press will declare something dead. It's not going to happen. But that can be overcome.

And I have to say, Joe, as I look out at this room, these don't look like people who are easily deterred.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think so.

OBAMA: They don't look like folks who are going to give up. You look fired up to make the next push. And whether you're a Republican or a Democrat or an Independent, I want you to keep working and I'm going to be right next to you to make sure we get immigration reform done. It is time. Let's go get it done.

Thank you very much, everybody. All right.

(END LIVE FEED)

TAPPER: President Obama making the case for immigration reform in the East Room of the White House, surrounded not only by staffers and Vice President Biden, but supporters of immigration reform -- a coalition across the political spectrum.

Jim Acosta, senior White House correspondent for CNN is on the lawn. Jim, I didn't hear anything from the President that was new other than I did hear him reaffirm this new language we're hearing, instead of a pathway to citizenship, a pathway to earned citizenship.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right.

TAPPER: New terminology -- new-ish terminology, talking about how those who get in line under this planned immigration reform plan passed in the Senate would have to pay taxes, a penalty, learn English and get in the back of the line.

But was this just an attempt to put some pressure on the House or is there something more substantive that will come out of the White House today?

ACOSTA: I don't think anything more substantive -- Jake. I mean what we heard the President say is something that he said many times on the subject of immigration reform and I would suspect that you heard him say this before as well.

But what we did hear from the President I think is sort of laying out the political case, some of the political arguments that we're going to hear in the next several months. Essentially, he is basically putting it on House Republicans, which sounds awfully familiar. Sounds like the debate over the shutdown and the potential debt default that the country just went through.

It's not really the Senate's fault as to what's happening here. They passed an immigration bill. They got it out of the Senate by a bipartisan -- with wide bipartisan support. It's the House that's the issue here and we heard the President sort of laying that out, talking about that during those remarks.

But the other thing that he also said Jake, is that this is an issue that has been lingering out there for some time. It's not an issue whose time has come. He said it's an issue that we've been kicking down the road for several years now.