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Arnold's Immigration F-Bomb

Latinos are up in arms over the most recent round of audio tapes leaked out of Arnold Schwarzenegger's office that show the Governator engaging in a very frank and thorough discussion of the immigration issue. Condemnations are ranging from offensive and outrageous" to "abhorrent." But after you read the LA Times piece, go spend a few minutes reading the full 24 page transcript of Arnold's conversation (also provided by the Times, to their credit) , which paints a vastly different and more interesting picture of his views.

Here is some of what Governor Schwarzenegger said that caused such a huff, starting with questions about what to do if Mexicans in the United States on some kind of work visa program stay in the country and refuse to return home to Mexico and leading into a comment about the Simpson-Mazzoli bill:

GOVERNOR: Do you go back then and chase them down? Do you then make them criminals for staying here? Do you put them in prison for staying here? Do we have the prison beds, and do we have the supervision? Do we have enough of the personnel in the prisons, in the county jails for this stuff, to feed them and to guard them and all of those things? Do you round them up? Do you send them back?

Q: Well, those are the nitty-gritty detail questions that need to be answered in Washington. But I think --

GOVERNOR: But the most important thing here is -- you see, that's the interesting thing about it. That, for instance you call the 'nitty-gritty detail', but that actually is the biggest issue. Because why? Because our government in 1986 --

Q: The amnesty.

GOVERNOR: Has f***** the American people.

Q: Yeah, we've got twice as many illegals --

GOVERNOR: You see, because what happened, they said, "Look, we came up with a solution."

Q: Right. M-hmm.

GOVERNOR: And now 20 years later the government comes up again and says, "We are going to work on a solution."

Q: It's worse now.

GOVERNOR: And what happened was with the solution is that they said that if we give them amnesty and if we solve this, and we are going to go and track them down if anyone comes in here illegally, and we'll send them back, and the people that are providing jobs will be punished and all. No one enforced the law.

And later Arnold says this about assimilation:

GOVERNOR: It is changing, but in reality, I tell you. We can talk about what do we say when we get asked in an interview, and there are certain things you can't say. And one of the things that is, I think, tough for the American people to digest is that Mexicans, because it's next door, are holding onto their tradition and to their language much longer than the Polish did when they came over here, and the Germans and the Austrians when they came here, the French when they came here, because that was like you wanted to go and become part of America so quickly that you tried to learn the language. The older generation had always much more difficulty, as much as I have more difficulty getting up to speed with the computer. The older generation that is kind of like still with this new technology kind of stay away from it. But my son is on the computer and everything, and he's much better in English than I am, and he's 12 years old. So that's just the way it is. But I made an effort. But the Mexicans don't make that effort. See, they are building, as you saw down there -- you were down there, right, with the Mexican shopping mall?

Q: You bet.

GOVERNOR: Which is like a --

Q: Plaza de Mexico.

GOVERNOR: Which is like the -- yeah, the Plaza de Mexico, which is like a growth.

Q: On our side?


Q: (SS) Linwood.

GOVERNOR: In Linwood. I mean, it's spectacular, when you see that shopping mall. Literally I felt I was in Mexico City, because I was in Mexico City for months and months and months doing my movies there. And it felt like I was down there. Everyone only spoke Spanish, every shop was in Spanish, every sign was in Spanish. They create a Mexico within California.

Q: You bet. And it's not just in that area. It's in (SS)

Q: Oh, I know.

GOVERNOR: And so you have to now bring all your brochures and everything in Spanish, all your government forms in Spanish, and all of this and all of that. So we have to make an effort, and I think that annoys people in California. It annoys people in America. They say, "Look, you want to come in here as a guest, but then behave as if you are a guest. That if you come --" I always compare the country to a house, your home. If you have someone coming to your home, he's going to say, "This family wakes up at 6:00 in the morning, and then they leave the house, or they go out running and all this. If I stay here I think I should get with the program here, you know? That's the way it is. And it's really funny what I've seen here in the Dehlson's house. Everyone does chores here. It's wild.

Q: They do?

GOVERNOR: Kids go and take out the trash, and the wife is doing the cooking, and Gary is there, he's going out shopping to get the food while she's doing the vegetables ready, he's getting the steaks. And so and so and doing this, and the grandmother is over there putting the flowers -- everyone is doing something. I'd better get with the program. So if I'm smart now, if I'm the guest, I go to his wife and I say, "Hey, what can I do?"

Q: That's true.


Q: That's a big part of it, absolutely.

GOVERNOR: Because I'm not going to say, "Well, in my house, I sit there and I read all day, no matter what happens around me, I read." Well, when you are a guest you don't want to go and sit in a chair while everyone is working and you keep reading your book because you love your novels. You go and get up in this one hour, at least you will then go and make an effort here, because I'm a guest here. Or, let me go out and get the flowers, to the wife, to the lady of the house. "I'm going to get some flowers for doing all of this," with a little message on it. So you do certain things. But what do we see in return? We see protestors carrying the Mexican flag.

Q: Carrying the Mexican flag.

GOVERNOR: And stepping on the American flag, and speaking in Spanish and talking about, "We are here and we're going to stay." So now imagine, someone coming to your house and he has no place because his house burned down next door. Now, he comes to your house because of the misery he went through, or she went through, comes to your house now and you say, "Come on in here for a week or two weeks until you get going." And that person comes out and says, "I'm not going to move anymore. You know, something, Gary? I'm here to f****** stay."

Again, I urge you to read the whole transcript, not just the parts that are generating the most heat in the press. Arnold remains very pro-immigration but, like most everyone else, is grappling with the complexities of solving this very contentious issue.