Immigration activist and founder of Define American Jose Antonio Vargas appeared on Friday, March 30, 2017’s 10 p.m. EST broadcast of HBO‘s Real Time with Bill Maher to discuss his views on the fact that he is, according to Bill Maher himself, “risking deportation” because he “is not completely legal” (which means he’s “illegal“) and he’s “one of the 2.5 million undocumented residents of California – 800,000 of whom live in L.A. County.”
Here’s a transcript of what Vargas told Maher during the interview segment on Real Time:
Bill Maher: All right, he is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and founder of Define American. Please welcome Jose Antonio Vargas!
Jose! How are you, sir? How are you doing? Great to see you!
[Jose walks onto the set and sees Maher and his panelists Gen. Michael Hayden, Fmr. Sen. Rick Santorum, and Neera Tandem sitting across from Bill. He shakes Maher’s hand and immediately begins to sit next to Maher.]
Jose Antonio Vargas: Great to see you!
Maher: Ok, first of all, I have to thank you here. I know you are literally risking deportation because you are not, uh, completely legal. Is that correct?
Vargas: Yes, uh, so I am one of the 2.5 million undocumented residents of California. 800,000 of whom live in L.A. County, so thank you for inviting me. [audience claps for him]
Maher: Well, we hope, uh….we hope that this is….
Vargas: I don’t know…I thought I’d talk to Roger Stone. I guess we’ll try to figure this out.
Maher: Yeah. Hahaha. Not a bad guy to have on your side. Um, so what about the, the fact that Jeff Sessions is going after sanctuary cities? This is a sanctuary state pretty much. And, first of all, please tell us what means: “sanctuary.”
Vargas: Well, actually I think…[snickers]…we have so politicized this issue that I think it’s really important that we define our terms, right?
Maher: [interrupting Vargas saying “right”] Yes.
Vargas: So it is safer, right?, for all of us – documented and undocumented U.S. citizens – if undocumented people who live here can feel comfortable reporting, talking to the cops, right?, saying, “Hey, something’s happening! Something..!” Right now in L.A. the LAPD —
Maher: [interrupting Vargas] And they’re not.
Vargas: [picking up where Maher interrupted him] — reported 25% decrease in, um, reporting rapes in the, in the Latino community because there is fair that, once you report somebody, ICE might come get you. Right? And, and for me to like – the bigger issue is here, and you know Jeff Sessions the former Governor of Alabama, who believes in states’…
Maher: [interrupting Vargas who said “who believes in states'”] The former Senator of Alabama.
Vargas: [standing corrected] Ah, the former Senator of Alabama who believes in states’ rights when he was Governor…I mean, when he was Senator of Alabama. The fact this overreach telling the federal government telling – for the federal government to tell the states how they can protect the residents [stammering here] is hypocritical at worst, but to me [stammering here] I actually think it’s important. You mentioned this. Right now there’s gonna be this bill in front of Governor Jerry Brown’s desk, asking him to sign the California Values Act that would declare California a sanctuary state. I think that, given that this state is home to a fourth of the country’s undocumented population, and in this state, nearly half of all children are have at least one immigrant parent, right?
I hope Jerry Brown signs that into law.
Maher: So… [audience claps]
Maher: [immediately after applause dies down] But how many people can come here? I mean, I often think of America like a lifeboat and a lot of the world is a raging ocean. So everybody wants to get into the lifeboat, and certainly, um, everybody has a right to be happy in the world. But, if too many people get into the lifeboat, then the lifeboat goes down.
Vargas: Having traveled to Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, it’s not like we don’t have, I mean, immigrants come to this country and build businesses. There’s actually room. When immigrants come here documented or undocumented, they start businesses. I, for example, I’m a business owner. I employ 15 U.S. citizens. I mean, 15 people are here, um, as U.S. citizens, and I provide jobs as an undocumented person. So, I think it’s for me a matter of the fact that there is no path. You know, someone right now on Twitter is saying, “Why can’t this guy just get legal?” [chuckles a bit] Probably, right?
The fact that there is no path for people like me to actually fix this, get in line wherever the line is, and try to get legal and do right by the law….the fact that there is no way to do that.
Maher: Also [interrupting], also there’s the hypocrisy angle.
Vargas: [interrupting quickly] Yeah.
Maher: You mentioned this, but this was in paper in the L.A. Times. [reading his blue card] “Wages rise on California farms.” [looking up and at Jose, comments while looking at his blue card] Listen to this. There’s a labor shortage.
Maher:[reading his blue card] They’re “giving laborers benefits normally reserved for white-collar professionals, 401(k) plans, health insurance, subsidized housing, profit-sharing bonuses.” [Looking up at Jose] Still not tempting white people to do yard work. [Looks at his audience] White people do not want to do yard work. [Looks back at his card] That’s what it comes down to.
[Looks at his card and comments] The president of Titan Farms, a peach grower. He [reading his card] “advertised 2,000 jobs from 2010 through 2012. He hired 483, 109 didn’t show up, 321 quit in the first two days. Only 1, only 31 lasted the whole season.” He said, “We’ve never had one come back after lunch.”
Vargas: So…can you imagine..?
Maher: This is the issue here.
Vargas: [interrupting] Can you imag?
Maher: [interrupting back] Really, to me, is that they don’t want these people here,
Vargas:[interrupting quickly] Yes
Maher:[continues] but they won’t do the job, and they will not admit it. [pounds on table]
Vargas: And we put out….and we put out a sign outside the U.S.-Mexico border, saying, “KEEP OUT!,” and 10 yards in, what do we say? “HELP WANTED!” Right? Right?
Maher: [chuckling] Right. Yeah.
Vargas: Can you imagine? Look at L.A.! Look, this city cannot function without undocumented workers. That’s the state…
Maher: [interrupts] No.
Vargas:…[continues] of Texas. 1.8 undocumented million in the State of Texas. Can you imagine undocumented people not working in the State of Texas? Half of the construction industry depends upon that. [some people in the audience claps]
This is why I think the opportunity to be here. I ever tell you… I cannot….I cannot overstate the level of fear, the level of confusion that our families.. My grandmother is probably watching right now, going like, “Why is he on television? He should be in hiding!” [audience laughing] So I can’t overstate that enough. Actually, my, my being here is my form of resistance. I will not be scared! [audience cheering] I will not be scared to be public and out in a county that is my own.
The question now is, all of you here – all of you now watching, how are you going to provide sanctuary to us in your churches, at your schools, at work? 11 million people. 11 million undocumented people live within the 43 million immigrants –
Maher: [interrupting] You think the churches should do it?
Vargas: – in this country [answers Maher’s question] Well, actually right now there’s this woman Jenette Visgarin in Denver. She has taken sanctuaryata Unitarian Church because the Catholic Church that she belongs to, um, did not want to help her out. She’s gone through all these churches, and she’s like…
Maher: [interrupted him] They’re, they’re providing sanctuary to the priests. [audience laughs, and Maher turns to and looks at Rick Santorum] Sorry, Rick. So sorry.
Vargas: [laughs] I’d love your thought on that.
Here’s the show’s Overtime segment:
Here is the March 17th L.A. Times in the form of 15-part pics:
The arguments contained in the article and the Maher interview with Vargas should give anyone a good reason why there should be open immigration and that immigration, not the State, should be the steward of free market labor.