WASHINGTON WATCH: Rep. Maxine Waters On Immigration Reform; Pres. Obama Addressing The Black Agenda (VIDEO)

Roland Martin talks with Rep. Maxine Waters about immigration reform, President Obama speaking specifically to the Black agenda and diversity in the President’s cabinet.


MR. MARTIN::  Hello, and welcome to “Washington Watch,” the Hollywood Edition.

Stars gather here this week for the 44th annual NAACP Image Awards, which will air next Friday on TV One at 8 p.m. Eastern.  We’re here because we were nominated for an award for the fifth, consecutive year.  But while we’re here in the City of Angeles, we figured it was a good time to visit with one of the city’s and the nation’s angels.  Some folks on Capitol Hill would call her that.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, welcome back to “Washington Watch.”

REP. MAXINE WATERS:  Thank you.  I’m so glad you’re in my town.

MR. MARTIN:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.

Let’s – let’s get right to it.


MR. MARTIN:  This week, we saw lots of discussion on Capitol Hill dealing –

REP. WATERS:  That’s right.

MR. MARTIN:  — with gun control, gun violence.  Immigration is also at the top of the agenda.  The President spoke about it this week.  We saw this bipartisan plan – [unintelligible] – in the Senate.

You have a unique vantage point because of how your district is made up –


MR. MARTIN:  — in terms of black and Hispanic.


MR. MARTIN:  Will we see a real plan when it comes to immigration reform as a result of the November elections, where Republicans got dusted, and they said, “We can’t keep losing Latino votes”?

REP. WATERS:  Well, the time has come, and the President has seized this moment, and there will be a real immigration plan.  There’s not much difference between the Senate and what the President has proposed.  It’s kind of general now.  You don’t see all of the details.  You see Rubio, for example, pushing back and talking about you must have security first; but in the final analysis, all of that’s going to come together.  There will be an immigration plan, and it’ll be credible.

MR. MARTIN:  Now, whenever I brought this up on –


MR. MARTIN:  — my radio show, when I had it on WVON in Chicago, nine out of ten callers – African-Americans – they were not feelin’ immigration reform.  So, there’s a very interesting disconnect, if you will, from black political leaders; black civil rights leaders; and regular, ordinary people, who’re saying, “Look, those are a lot of jobs that we used to have.”

And so how will you get the regular, everyday brother and sister to say, “No, you need to be on board with this”?

REP. WATERS:  Well, you know, these issues are issues that are evolving.  And as you know, we had a lot of African-Americans who had difficulty coming along with gay issues, for example.  But the fact of the matter is life is such that people come to the point that they realize what it is.

You have 11 million immigrants.  They’re not going to be deported.  They’re here in this country, and all they have to do is get citizenship.  There will be some requirements, and some of those requirements the President talked about a little bit.  They’ll have to go to the back of the line.  You’ll have some other issues, like guest worker concerns, et cetera.  But in the final analysis, we’ll all come to the point [of] realizing we’ve got to live together in this country.

This is a country of immigrants.  These immigrants are going to have a path to citizenship, and it’ll all work out.  It has to.

MR. MARTIN:  I want to shift to another conversation –


MR. MARTIN:  — and that is you mentioned in terms of what has happened when it comes to LGBT issues –


MR. MARTIN:  — what has happened when it comes to Latinos –


MR. MARTIN:  — where Democrats and Republicans are embracing that.

I had Andrew Young – Ambassador Young –


MR. MARTIN:  — on the “Tom Joyner Morning Show” on Inauguration Day.


MR. MARTIN:  And he said, clearly, it is time for this president to specifically speak to a black agenda.  What do you want this president to do specifically for black folks, but also what this Congress should do when you look at black unemployment, when you look at 53 percent of black wealth wiped out because of the home foreclosure crisis, when you look at … black teens as well?  There are some serious issues on the table.

REP. WATERS:  Well, the fact of the matter is the President gave an unusual speech at his inauguration, and it is being called “liberal” by many on the black –

MR. MARTIN:  A “progressive manifesto.”

REP. WATERS:  — “progressive” – all that, because what you saw is a president who moved toward defining what he cares about a lot more than we’ve seen in the past. And in doing that kind of defining, we see that he’s paying attention, that he’s going to move forward in a very aggressive way.  And I’m convinced that he is going to deal with the African-American issues, the gay issues, the Latino and immigrant issues – all of that that he has been constrained sometimes, to do it in the way that he’d like to do it because he was being pushed back so hard by the right and by the Tea Party, and being demonized, et cetera.  He’s gotten through these first four years.  The next four years, I think you’re going to see all of these issues dealt with a little bit differently.

MR. MARTIN:  And what I’ve made clear to our viewers and listeners –


MR. MARTIN:  — is that, look … the inauguration represented the beginning of his second term k—


MR. MARTIN:  — but it also represented the countdown [to] the end of his presidency.

REP. WATERS:  That’s right.

MR. MARTIN:  And the reality is, like anything else, you[’d] better get what you can while he’s there because, look, come 2016, that’s it.

REP. WATERS:  Well, you know, I don’t know; and I think some people are missing something here.  The President has put in place an organization that contains the kind of database that no one has ever seen before in life.  That’s going to be very, very powerful, and whoever –

MR. MARTIN:  In terms of the Organizing for America that he’s now shifting to become a 501(c)(4).

REP. WATERS:  — that’s right.  That’s right.  And that database will have information about everything on every individual in ways that it’s never been done before.  And whoever runs for President on the Democratic ticket has to deal with that.  They’re going to have to go down with that database and the concerns of those people, because they can’t get around it.

And he’s been very smart.  I mean it’s very powerful what he’s leaving in place, and I think that’s what any Democratic candidate is going to have to deal with.

MR. MARTIN:  How often are you communicating with the President and also the Congressional Black Caucus, saying, “Look, this is clearly what we are advancing for our constituents”?

REP. WATERS:  The Congressional Black Caucus has met with the President.  Mr. Cleaver, who served as our president of the Congressional Black Caucus [has] met with him.  He understands what our concerns are.  He’s never said no to our concerns.  A lot of people have said, “Well, you know, we’d like to see more in the first four years,” but the fact of the matter is the Congressional Black Caucus feels very comfortable now that we’re going to see a lot done by this president.

MR. MARTIN:  Lots of talk about diversity within his cabinet.


MR. MARTIN:  You thoughts on the makeup?  Folks say, “Wait a minute.  Your head of the CIA, secretary of state, chief of staff, head of Treasury – all white males.  When are we going to see some African-Americans, women as well?”

REP. WATERS:  Well, this is very early.  I mean he has not even given his address yet –

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

REP. WATERS:  — to Congress, and this is January, and he’s got a few more months to work with these appointments.  I’m convinced that, given all of this talk, that it’s going to be a diverse cabinet with more women, more African-Americans, certainly more Latinos, et cetera.  But this is just January, and so between now and, say, June or July, I think you’re going to see those names and those persons put before the Senate.

MR. MARTIN:  And something tells me if we don’t, you probably won’t be quiet about it.

REP. WATERS:  Well, you know, I have [a] tendency to try and speak truth to power.


MR. MARTIN:  That’s the softest she’s spoken on that issue before.

REP. WATERS:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN:  Congresswoman, we certainly appreciate it.  Thanks –

REP. WATERS:  You’re certainly welcome.

MR. MARTIN:  — a bunch.  All right.  Appreciate it.

REP. WATERS:  All right.