Columnist and author of “Adios, America” Ann Coulter debated immigration with former MSNBC host Joy Reid and Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) on Friday’s broadcast of HBO’s “Real Time.”
The discussion began with Maher and Coulter debating the number of illegal immigrants in the US, and the prior immigration system in the US. Coulter said that, “We used to have an immigration policy where we would choose the best in the world, and that was changed,” Maher rebutted, “Well, we would choose the whitest in the world.”
Coulter continued, “Look, the pre-1970 immigrants were more educated, made more money, were more likely to buy houses, and 30% of them went home. Now, no one goes home, they go on welfare, and they are far more likely to be on welfare than the native population, I think a nation’s policies should be concerned with the people already here, and that includes the immigrants who came last year and the year before. It should be people who live here benefit, not to become the battered woman’s shelter of the world, where we’re bringing in the hardest cases, and the wife beaters, and single mother with eight kids.” Maher responded that he didn’t think those assertions were born out by statistics, because Coulter said there were 30 million illegal immigrants, while government stats say there are 12 million. Coulter argued that her number from Bear Stearns is more accurate than the Census figure that the 12 million came from because “people who have trekked thousands of miles, left their families behind, broken laws, stolen Social Security cards, are not going to be filling out government surveys.”
Maher answered that he still thinks that number is high, given lower birthrates among Mexican women, and “I’ve read everywhere that actually the net immigration from Mexico in the last seven years has been zero.” The two then agreed to suppose 30 million is correct, Coulter stated, “the point at issue is, should America’s immigration policy be used to benefit the people already here, or should it be benefiting Pakistani pushcart operators, illiterate in their own language, never mind ours, who come here, go on welfare, commit terrorism, engage in crimes. Why wouldn’t you look out across the world, like a sports team does, and try to get the crème de la crème?”
Gutierrez was then offered a rebuttal that Coulter was “revving up, you know, it’s a like a Latino registration machine,” and warned “you’re never going to take the White House with this kind of politics ever again–.” Maher then told Gutierrez “that didn’t exactly answer her question.”
Reid then responded, “We were earlier talking, and touched on the issue of slavery. Ever since the forcible removal of millions of African-Americans from chattel slavery, this country has been importing new slave labor because this country wants, and runs, and is fueled by cheap labor,” a point Coulter agreed with. Reid added, that cheap labor was and continues to be drawn from Mexico by “people who are on your side, big agriculture…the big corporate interests who want people to come here.” Coulter reacted that she is not on the side of big agriculture or large corporations, and Maher pointed out that Coulter agreed with Reid’s point in her book.
Reid continued, “Once we bring people here, people’s family members, people who’s families are born here are American. Both my parents are immigrants. So, I take great exception to any kind of negative characterization of them, I had one come from Africa, one came from the Caribbean, when they came here, they came for the same reason that everyone does, for opportunity, for education. And when they’re contributing to our society, and they have a child here, like me, I’m a first-generation American and I’m fully American, despite the fact that both my parents were born outside of [the United States].”
Coulter then responded, “that also doesn’t answer my point though it buttresses one of the main points I am making. Yeah, this is cheap labor.” Maher then asked why the book’s title isn’t more critical of Republicans. Coulter responded that the book itself is “far more of an attack on Republicans, on big business, on the Chamber of Commerce, than it is on the left.” Maher agreed that this is true.
Coulter again re-iterated that the US’ immigration policy should focus on its citizens, not other countries’. Gutierrez argued, “all the fruit you eat, all the vegetables you eat, they are all picked by foreign labor.” Coulter jumped in, “they can be picked by machines. … These are all people who are going to be on welfare soon.” After a long period of crosstalk, Maher finally took over the discussion.
He asked Coulter what Geraldo Rivera thought of the book, she said that he liked the book because of her praise of Puerto Ricans for making the US “more vibrant.” She continued, “In other words, we didn’t need 30 million Mexicans, we already had African-Americans, and I mean African-Americans, not immigrants. And we already have the Puerto Ricans.” And “I’m just stating, we didn’t need the 1965 Act for all this vibrancy we’re getting because we’re getting a lot of crime and welfare use.”
The discussion concluded with Maher asking Coulter how she could justify her immigration position in light of her Christianity, to which Coulter answered, “you don’t have to take homeless people to sleep in your bed to prove you’re a Christian. This is our home.” Maher disagreed, saying that he thinks Jesus Christ would like people letting the homeless sleep in their beds.
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