Immediately following Barack Obama’s State of the Union broadcast on MSNBC, “Hardball” host Chris Matthews told anchor Rachel Maddow that the president’s proposal for tackling illegal immigration were inadequate.
“[I] don’t know if he closed any deal on immigration tonight,” Matthews said. “I think that’s going to be his biggest issue this year. He didn’t talk about enforcement. He didn’t talk about what he needs in terms of teeth to actually make the law work. The reason we have an immigration problem right now is that we have had illegal immigration all these years. There’s nothing in his proposal to stop it.”
Matthews did allow that there was much he liked in the speech — fixing the voting system, rebuilding American infrastructure, attacking the sequester, investing in science and the drawdown in Afghanistan.
But even as Maddow protested that Obama had talked about border security, he said that isn’t the solution.
“I never believed — that’s a Pat Buchanan solution,” Matthews replied. “I never believed in border security. It is about worker permits. It’s about biometric ID cards, some way of stopping illegal hiring.”
Obama “never even mentioned it. It is the reason people come here and he never mentioned it. And I don’t think we’ll ever get a deal until we deal with illegal hiring — never get a deal.”
Maddow said Obama has been in power at a time when illegal immigration is on the decline.
“The president is a president who is presiding over net negative illegal immigration because the economy has been so soft we have not been attracting people,” Maddow said.
But Matthews wasn’t satisfied.
“Having recessions on a regular basis is not a solution to illegal immigration,” he said. “And I don’t think you make a deal unless you make an offer, and I don’t think he made an offer to the Republicans on immigration.”
“He said how we’ll benefit politically — how the Democrats will. But I tell you, I want the thing fixed, not just talked about. I don’t want the issue. I want the solution.”
Maddow pointed out there were some GOP members of Congress who applauded during Obama’s immigration portion of the address. But Matthews suggested that was a product of being in front of the camera.
“They’re on television,” he said.