Chris Matthews claimed that House Republicans who recently passed a bill that would apparently criminalize undocumented immigrants, their employers, and those who provide aid to them "have a right to fear" a "cultural change" that would result in their home states and towns "becom[ing] overwhelmingly Mexican."
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On the March 30 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews claimed that House Republicans who recently passed a bill that would apparently criminalize undocumented immigrants, their employers, and those who provide aid to them "have a right to fear" a "cultural change" that would result in their home states and towns "becom[ing] overwhelmingly Mexican." Matthews was responding to a suggestion by guest Amy Goodman that "the Republicans who passed the House bill" are "afraid" that the United States will soon have "a majority Latino population." After Goodman -- the host of the nationally syndicated radio program Democracy Now -- remarked that "I think about the United States as a country of immigrants" and that there "is no reason to stop that tradition now," Matthews challenged, "Do you live in a Mexican neighborhood?"
Matthews later suggested that "90 percent of this country" agrees with the "viewpoint" that "I didn't move to Mexico; Mexico moved to me, and I'm complaining about it." He added: "If these were northern Europeans pouring across the border, nobody would care."
From the March 30 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, which also featured conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt:
GOODMAN: Chris, I think we have to have a comprehensive, humane immigration policy. But I think right now, what the Republicans who passed the House bill, for example, are afraid of -- they're afraid of the fact that in a couple dozen years, we're going to see a majority Latino population in Arizona --
HEWITT: That's nonsense.
GOODMAN: -- in Texas, in Florida, in New Mexico.
HEWITT: They're afraid of a dirty bomb.
MATTHEWS: But why shouldn't they -- why shouldn't they fear that?
GOODMAN: And that's why the Republicans are so desperate they want to build a fence.
MATTHEWS: Wait a minute, why shouldn't they fear that? They have a right to fear that. Cultural change is not something any society accepts easily, or even with any kind of positive feelings about it. Why would anybody accept a cultural change in their own state?
MATTHEWS: I want Amy to answer this question. Why is it wrong of anybody to say I don't want the town I grew up in to become overwhelmingly Mexican? Why is that wrong? You may not share that view, but why is that wrong?
GOODMAN: I guess I think about the United States as a country of immigrants, of people --
MATTHEWS: Of course!
GOODMAN: -- who have come here for refuge all over the world, and there is no reason to stop that tradition now. It only enhances what this country could represent. I am not saying that anyone at any time should be able to come over the border. I'm saying we have to have a comprehensive discussion about this that is not led by punitive measures that criminalize human beings.
MATTHEWS: Do you live in a Mexican neighborhood?
GOODMAN: I live in an integrated neighborhood of many different people.
MATTHEWS: No, I'm asking a particular question. Now, let me ask you this question, because a lot people in small towns in California grew up in a town, all of a sudden it's going from 20 percent Hispanic and nobody complained -- it probably went to 30 percent, but when it becomes 70 and 80 percent or over 50, they say, "Wait a minute, I didn't move to Mexico; Mexico moved to me, and I'm complaining about it."
Now, that's their point of view. It's not my point view necessarily, but that's a point of view that apparently is reflective of about 90 percent of this country, and certainly 90 percent of the Republican Party.
HEWITT: No, that's not true. Chris, that's not true. I don't believe that. I absolutely do not believe that. The culture issue is not the issue. It's a security issue. I live in Southern California.
MATTHEWS: It's a security issue?
HEWITT: Santa Ana is the largest --
MATTHEWS: But Amy's right, they don't cause the terrorism.
HEWITT: No, it is the largest concentration of Mexicans living outside of Mexico is in Santa Ana. I live five miles from there; it does not bother me in the least. It does not bother most Californians. It's always-- California is a mixed society, majority-minority society. That's not the issue.
The issue is the stress on social services. It's wildly expensive. Health care is extremely expensive. But more importantly, I think this immigration debate is being driven by the vast majority of Americans and certainly in the Republican Party by a concern that a dirty bomb is going to come over that border, and then it will be too late to change it, and then the wall will go up. We can stop that.
MATTHEWS: I disagree. I think -- I think it's ethnic, I think it has to do with the change in cultural realities of this town like Watsonville in California that overnight changed completely, and the people don't want that kind of change.
HEWITT: (inaudible) the Central Valley, I just drove through it, those vegetables have been picked for decades by Latinos. It's not the culture issue.
MATTHEWS: I disagree.
HEWITT: It's the economy issue, and it's the --
MATTHEWS: If these were northern Europeans pouring across the border, nobody would care.
Anyway, thank you, Amy Goodman. Thank you, Hugh Hewitt. We all disagree, I guess.