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Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) appeared on Telemundo’s Enfoque with Jose Diaz-Balart this weekend to talk about politics, the sequester, and immigration reform. Warner is a moderate Democratic Senator who is up for reelection in 2014. Warner has made it clear he supports immigration reform and recently invited a DREAMer to be his guest at President Obama’s State of the Union speech. His support shows that a path to citizenship truly is the centrist position on immigration reform.
Below is a translation of their conversation–the immigration piece is toward the bottom. Sen. Warner emphasized that immigration reform must come with a path to citizenship, and predicted that the legislation has a good chance of passing this year. Watch the video of the full interview here.
Jose Diaz-Balart: We’re going to start with what happened last Friday, in English they call it sequester, or automatic budget cuts. How important or how difficult could these cuts be for our community?
Sen. Mark Warner: These cuts were set up to be the stupidest trigger possible. It says every program, whether it works or not, gets equally cut. For example. for the Navy, 975 programs will be cut equally. In many cases we are going to cost taxpayers money – when we have to break contracts, where there are multiple purchases and similar agreements. In research, if a project has already taken 4 years, and 3 years have gone by–if you can’t do the last one then you drop the entire research project. If there are no meat or food inspectors then grocery prices will go up, especially for the Latino community. We are going to see see drastic cuts in Pell grants, in student aid, school lunches, and health care services. There has to be a way to do this in a smarter manner. We need to be able to reach an agreement that will cut $2 trillion of the debt but that will require a more tolerant reform and smarter budget cuts.
Diaz Balart: Senator, you’ve always been part of the group of legislators that we consider can talk to the other side of the aisle and can reach an agreement. Why have people in Washington not been able to accomplish what you’ve been able to accomplish in your career?
Warner: That’s a very good question. Everyone across the country asks, why can’t both parties compromise? The Democrats must say we’re going to reform these subsidies, social security and Medicare; the Republicans must be willing to say we’ll have more revenues, and neither party has done this. Unfortunately, now the American people will suffer because we haven’t been able to reach an agreement.
Diaz-Balart: Especially in places like Virginia that has so many members of the armed forces of this country. It’s a state that does a lot for the well-being of this country, and now it’s going to see cuts to the armed forces.
Warner: Not only this, but out of the entire government, Virginia will lose more than any other state.
Diaz-Balart: Let’s talk about immigration reform. How do you see immigration reform for this year?
Warner: I think that we have an opportunity to accomplish it. It’s important to realize that our immigration system is broken and we must have a way for people to earn citizenship. There are bipartisan groups that are still meeting, I believe. We have to pass a bipartisan bill through the Senate if we want any hopes to pass it in the House. But there are difficulties, there are issues about how to make sure that the 11 million people without papers have this path–while adressing what will happen with those people already in line. Howe do we ensure that we can verify someone’s identity? After reform is passed, we can check someone’s legal status, and employers will have to do this. These are people that are just here trying to find a job. I think that this is the year and I think the next 60 days will be very important to see if we can get a bill.