The War on Immigrants

Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal joins Mehdi Hasan to discuss the unprecedented danger that the Trump administration poses to immigrants.

Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

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The Trump administration is targeting children — migrant and refugee children — to achieve its policy goal at the border, crack down on immigration, and placate its far-right base. Whereas the Obama administration kept undocumented children with their parents at emergency shelters and family facilities and “initiated a program designed to allow families more freedom while awaiting deportation hearings,” splitting children from their families is the official policy of the Trump administration. Since last October, more than 700 children have been forcibly separated from both parents at the border and more than 100 of them have been under the age of 4, according to official figures obtained by the New York Times. This is not a side effect of having a tough immigration policy; this is the goal of the policy as White House Chief of Staff John Kelly let slip on NPR last month, “The big name of the game is deterrence.” Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal, an immigrant herself, joins Mehdi Hasan to discuss the Trump administration’s immigration policies and the unprecedented danger it poses to immigrants and people of color.

Representative Pramila Japayal: I’ve seen U.S. citizens always be questioned about their patriotism and their loyalty. You know, I’ve been here since I was 16 years-old, and that is the vast majority of my life, because I’m 52 now, and I still find people questioning why I’m here.

[Musical interlude.]

Mehdi Hasan: I’m Mehdi Hasan. Welcome to Deconstructed.

This week, a topic close to my own heart: immigration. It’s always bothered me as a progressive, that center-left parties in the West, whether the Labour Party back in the U.K. or the Democrats here in the U.S. never seem do enough to make the case for immigration, and are always too quick to throw migrants — and more broadly, people of color — under the bus.

Immigration has also become a very personal issue for me since I became an immigrant myself for the first time in my life. Yeah, I’m the idiot who became a Muslim immigrant to the U.S shortly before the election of one Donald J. Trump.

And my guest today, rising Democratic star Representative Pramila Japayal, one of the few immigrants elected to Congress, agrees with me that this president poses a clear and present danger both to migrants and to people of color.

PJ: He is a racist. Maybe at one time in his life, he was willing to confront that racism within himself more. But I don’t think you could say some of the things that he says unscripted and not be racist.

MH: So this week, the war on immigrants.

President Donald J. Trump: They’re bring drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists.

DJT: And this is why we call the bloodthirsty MS-13 gang members exactly the name that I used last week. What was the name? [Crowd yells: “Animals!”] Animals.

DJT: Chain migration provides a gateway for terrorism.

DJT: We’re going to be guarding our border with the military. That’s a big step.

DJT: Extreme vetting. Extreme, oh, it’s going to be extreme.

DJT: Suspend the Syrian refugee program and keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country.

MH: So that’s Trump’s horrific rhetoric on immigration, but his policies are even worse.

According to official figures obtained by the New York Times, since last October, more than 700 kids have been forcibly separated from both parents at the border. More than 100 of them have been under the age of 4. In fact, they’re even going after children as young as a year old. There have been actual stories of toddlers, of babies, being literally ripped from the arms of their undocumented parents — in many cases, their refugee parents — and put in detention while their parents are prosecuted.

I want to call this behavior shameless, but that would imply that the people doing this — the Border Patrol agents, the ICE agents and the people who order them to do it, the members of the Trump administration — have any shame to begin with. They clearly don’t. To target families, to target children in this way, is barbaric, it’s brutal, it’s inhumane.

Chris Hayes: Immigrants arriving on the border often seeking asylum are having their children ripped away from them. Immigrants and civil rights groups are saying they have never seen anything like this.

Lee Gelernt: They put her in a makeshift hotel with the daughter for four days, and then they say to them, “We want the daughter to come in the other room for a second.” The daughter goes in the other room. The mother then hears the child screaming, “Please, please don’t take me away from my mommy.”

MH: Remember: this is not a side effect of having a tough immigration policy; this is their tough immigration policy. This is the goal. This is the objective. They may claim otherwise in their official statements, but let’s be clear: the reason they’re separating parents from their kids is to act as a cruel deterrent to others who might want to come here “illegally.”

In fact White House chief of staff John Kelly let slip on NPR last month, saying, and I quote, “the big name of the game is deterrence.” Deterrence.

So yes, this administration is using kids, targeting kids, migrant kids, refugee kids, the most vulnerable of the vulnerable, the most powerless of the powerless, to achieve their policy goal at the border, to crack down on immigration, to placate their far-right base.

And yet I’ve heard a lot of people say this past week or so: “Well, what about Obama? There’s no point just blaming Trump, Obama did similar things. A lot of these abuses began under Obama; a lot of these policies began under Obama.”

And just recently, as my colleague Jeremy Scahill reported on Intercepted earlier this week, the ACLU put out a report showing how kids who came to the U.S. from Central America between 2009 and 2014, under Obama, were put in detention by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, where many of them were beaten, assaulted, even threatened with rape. Now, Obama should have stopped that, clearly. He should have held those agents to account, not given them a pass. But the fact is that Obama didn’t order those agents to assault those kids; Trump is ordering federal agents and Homeland Security officials to forcibly break up families. In fact, he’s getting mad at them for not breaking up more families.

So look, bad things happened on Obama’s watch and his immigration record was, yes, in many ways, horrific. I know that: I was writing about it and doing TV segments on it long before Trump was elected president. Obama was the original deporter-in-chief. According to one count, he deported more people from the U.S. than all of the presidents of the 20th century put together. He presided over awful abuses of migrant children in detention as documented by the ACLU, among others.

But what Trump is doing now is not ‘the same’ as what Obama did. It’s not even a continuation of Obama, let’s be very clear about that: facts matter. Splitting kids from both their parents, breaking up families, is a clear departure from what Obama did, from what George W. Bush, from what Bill Clinton did. The Obama administration, for example, kept undocumented kids with at least one of their parents at emergency shelters and family facilities. They also, to quote a recent NBC report, “initiated a program designed to allow families more freedom while awaiting deportation hearings.” But “the Trump administration ended [that] program last summer.”

So just keeping on invoking Obama for all his many sins on this issue and others — yes, it absolutely acts as a reminder that the entire system needs changing, that ICE needs reforming or, ideally, abolishing, but it also distracts us from the way in which what Trump is doing is so unique, so unprecedented, so unethical and disgusting. Yes, the immigration system was broken before Trump came to office. And yes, every president has been bad on this issue. But no other previous president has pushed such an openly white nationalist agenda. Ask almost any immigrant or person of colour and they will tell you that what is happening now is beyond Obama, beyond even George W. Bush. We are living in a very different, very dangerous, very dark era right now.

I mean, just as an example: Obama’s last two attorneys general — whatever you think of their individual records — were a black man, Eric Holder, and a black woman, Loretta Lynch. Trump’s attorney general is a man, Jeff Sessions, who was named after the president of the confederacy, who has used the N-word and called the NAACP “un-American”; who was deemed too racist to be a federal judge by a Republican-led Senate in the 1980s. And Trump may be mad at Sessions for not shutting down the Russia investigation but on immigration, they both sing from the same racist, authoritarian, white nationalist hymn sheet.

It’s not just Jeff Sessions either. Listen to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who if he’s not slamming immigrants for being quote “too lazy to get off their asses,” is insisting that their too uneducated, too rural to fit into America. Here he is being interviewed on NPR last month:

John Kelly: They’re also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States. They’re overwhelmingly rural people. In the countries they come from, fourth, fifth, sixth grade educations are kind of the norm.

MH: In that same interview, Kelly complained that those same immigrants “don’t speak English,” and said that that is “obviously a big thing.” Yeah, a big thing. And yet, John Kelly’s own great-grandfather came from rural Italy in the late 19th century and was still unable to read, write or speak English 18 years after arriving in the U.S..

Trump’s own grandfather, Friedrich Trumpf, couldn’t speak a word of English when he came here from Germany in 1885. Some might say Trump still can’t speak English himself!

So look: when it comes to immigration and immigrants, these people, Trump and his cronies, are not just heartless racists, they’re brazen hypocrites, too.

[Musical interlude.]

MH: But here’s my question today: What if there were more immigrants in Congress, making immigration policy, debating immigration reform, offering a different perspective on this issue? The U.S. population is at least 13 percent foreign-born, and yet only 4 percent of members of Congress are foreign-born, are immigrants.

One of them is my guest today, who was actually born abroad and came to this country as an immigrant, to study, as a teenager from India. She became a U.S. citizen, an immigration rights activist and, in 2016, the first Indian-American member of Congress, from the state of Washington.

Pramila Jayapal has been called “a rising star in the Democratic caucus” by Nancy Pelosi and a “leader of the … resistance” by the Nation magazine. She packs a serious progressive punch and doesn’t take crap from anyone — least of all right-wing Republican men:

Representative Don Young: I’m deeply disappointed in my good lady from Washington. She doesn’t know a damn thing about what she’s talking about … And I really am disturbed. You may not know me, young lady, but I’m deeply disturbed. I am still talking.

PJ: The gentleman has already impugned my motives by saying that I don’t know a damn thing about what I’m talking about.

DY: I didn’t say “damn.” You said it.

PJ: He’s now called me young lady. And Mr. Chairman, I ask that he take down his voice.

MH: So earlier, I went to her office on Capitol Hill to sit down with Congresswoman Jayapal to talk immigration, racism, Donald Trump and even the future of the man she backed for president in 2016: Bernie Sanders.

[Musical interlude.]

MH: Congresswoman Jayapal, thank you so much for joining me on Deconstructed.

PJ: I’m thrilled to be here.

MH: This is a nation which prides itself on being a nation of immigrants, on its diversity. And yet, we’re sitting here in Congress, on Capitol Hill, it’s not a very diverse place. It’s got even fewer immigrants in it. What impact do you think that has on Congress to have so few people who are immigrants in its members making laws, making policy on immigration?

PJ: Well I think this is the problem with not having any kind of diversity in all of our institutions and Congress is the prime example of that. I don’t think you make as good laws when you don’t have people that represent the diversity of the population. I always say it’s not just that the pictures look better when we’re in them — and they do look better — but it is also that we bring different experiences with us. We have different stories to tell. We chair hearings differently. We propose different legislation.

But in this moment we have a president who is using the bully pulpit of the White House to really fuel that anti-immigrant hatred. And, you know, when the president gets up and says “Latino” and the whole crowd boos, that is I think a real problem.

MH: And the right of their party, does seem to have taken it up, the far right, on this issue. Because there was a time when Republicans thought, oh, we need to reach out to Latinos and we need immigration reform. and now that’s all gone.

PJ: That’s all gone.

MH: That civil war was won by the right of the party. In your party, the Democrats, we know where the Republicans stand now.

PJ: Yeah.

MH: Are the Democrats united when it comes to immigration policy? When it comes to issues like protecting the Dreamers, the 700,000-odd undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as kids, protecting them from deportation for example. Is there unity in your party?

PJ: There is unity in the party. I think the question is, you know, how strong are we willing to make that unity in order to pass legislation. And I think we’ve held out in the House pretty well. I mean, we have won the public opinion debate on the Dreamers. But actually, we had won the public opinion debate on comprehensive immigration reform back in 2013 when the Senate passed a bipartisan bill, 67 bipartisan votes, which is hard to imagine today.

Democrats are united around the Dreamers. I think that Trump has put the question before us so starkly that you cannot choose the other side.

MH: That’s true. Can the Democratic Party win this debate or at least have a credible position on the immigration debate, especially progressives in your party like yourself ,without reckoning with the Obama legacy? Because Obama was dubbed the deporter-in-chief by immigration advocacy groups, it was a world you inhabited for many years. He did deport something like 2.5 million people or more, more than all of the presidents of the 20th century combined. Has the Democratic Party come to terms with that?

PJ: Maybe not as much as it needs to yet. We’ll see when we have power.

I was one of the people that called Obama deporter-in-chief — that was when I was an activist — but I do think that President Obama — I miss him deeply, I should say that first —

MH: I think we all miss him. We’re in a position where we’re missing George Bush and Ronald Reagan.

PJ: Isn’t that bizarre? I know.

MH: It’s depressing.

PJ: But it is true that he and other Democrats have not helped us on the immigration issue. I’ve worked on this issue for 15 years, and I can tell you that when I first started working on it in 2000, 2001, not a lot of Democrats were with us.

MH: You’ve been dubbed one of the leaders of the #resistance against the president and some of the kind of democratic norms that he’s breaking. You spoke out on the House floor in objection to the Electoral College result certifying Donald Trump’s victory. You also did not attend his inauguration. Is that because you believe Donald Trump to be an illegitimate president of the United States?

PJ: I believe that — I don’t know about the word illegitimate — but I believe that Donald Trump should not have been president had a whole host of things happened, from voting rights abuses at the ballot box, which is why I challenged the Electoral College certification, to, you know, all of what we’re finding out around collusion of foreign governments in the election.

I do believe that he is in violation of the emoluments clause. We have not had any hearings on any of this — and I’m on the Judiciary Committee. But I believe that he has committed impeachable offenses.

MH: Trump, of course, has offered this deal to Democrats, this trade, that if you fund my ludicrous border wall, I will give an extension to DACA —

PJ: Except he didn’t. Except he didn’t.

MH: Well, let’s take it for granted that he doesn’t mean what he says, but then you do hear congressional Democrats as recently as a few days ago, I was listening to one saying, you know, they’d be open to that deal because, OK, you can get rid the wall later, but we can save DACA now.

PJ: Yeah. Yeah.

MH: Are you one of those Democrats that would do a deal?

PJ: I have been against the border wall, but more importantly I’m against all of the other things that he’s been proposing. In the grand scheme of things, the border wall is a symbol that’s a very, very important symbol, but I am way more troubled about the mass deportations, the mass detentions.

You know, he says that he would take that, but in fact that is the deal that Chuck Schumer offered him — without talking to most of us — but that is the deal that Chuck Schumer offered him and he said no. He’s actually been offered that deal multiple times. What he has come back with every time is a moving target. The latest moving target is he wants to cut family-based immigration — legal immigration — he wants to cut legal immigration to the United States by 50 million people over the next five decades.

MH: What do you think — it’s a long list — what do you think the worst thing, the most egregious thing he has said or proposed in the field of immigration policy since coming into office? What one thing jumps out at you, as someone who campaigned on this before you became an elected politician?

PJ: That is such a difficult question because there are so many egregious things. But I think probably the most egregious to date has been the ripping apart of children from their mothers at the border. And, like I said, I’m almost hesitant to say this because, you know, what about calling African nations “s-hole countries” and things like that, but in terms of policy, the ripping apart of families broadly, and then most recently, the ripping apart of babies from their parents.

MH: Tell me about your own story, your own journey. How did you end up in the U.S. as a 16-year-old immigrant on your own?

PJ: Yeah. It’s a strange thing. I was born in India and I grew up in India and Indonesia and a little bit in Singapore, and my parents, when they sent me here, for some reason, you know, most Indian parents, as you know, would have, if given the choice, would have sent their kids to the U.K. because of the colonial influence. And my dad, for whatever reason, always believed that the United States was the place that I was going to have the most opportunity. So they had about $5,000 in their savings account — literally — and he said: “You’re going to the United States, and I want you to have the best education, I want you have opportunity.” He really wanted me to be a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer. Those three professions.

MH: Classic. The classic Indian trio.

PJ: Exactly. And so I came here for college at the age of 16 by myself, and I don’t think I ever fully understood what a sacrifice that was for my parents — not just financially taking everything they had, but also just emotionally — until my son turned 16 and then I thought about what that meant to send your kid across the ocean and know that they might never come back. And because of our broken immigration system, it took me 17 years to become a U.S. citizen. By the time I had become a U.S. citizen, it was too late.

MH: 17 years?

PJ: 17 years.

MH: You’ve been a citizen for many years.

PJ: I have.

MH: You’re now a member of Congress.

PJ: Correct.

MH: And yet, I read somewhere that even now you have this nagging doubt or thought at the back of your head that one day somehow your citizenship might be taken away from you.

PJ: I do. I do. I haven’t said that in a while, but it’s still true.

MH: Why?

PJ: It’s a strange thing. I guess because I have seen that happen, not necessarily to U.S. citizens, but I’ve seen U.S. citizens always be questioned about their patriotism and their loyalty.

You know, I’ve been here since I was 16 years old and that is the vast majority of my life, because I’m 52 now, and I still find people questioning why I’m here. I get told to go back to my own country. The other day I was on C-SPAN’s program where, you know, a Congress member answers questions for half an hour.

C-span Host: Steve in Reno, Nevada. Republican line. Hi.

PJ: And I was asked by a caller if I’m a U.S. citizen.

Steve: I just wanted to know if the Congresswoman herself is a U.S. citizen.

PJ: I had to just laugh —

PJ: Yes, absolutely, you have to be a U.S. citizen to be in Congress.

PJ: — but that is of course what we go through.

MH: I’m amazed how calm you stayed. I would’ve told him to f off. But you’re a member of Congress, I’m a journalist.

PJ: Yes, well, sometimes — but I think that that is the bind we’re always in. If we respond and we get annoyed.

MH: Then you’re the angry brown person.

PJ: Exactly. Exactly. You know exactly what I’m talking about.

MH: Where do you stand on the Donald Trump racism debate? Is he merely an enabler of racism as some say, or is he an actual racist himself? We know that he’s a hero to the white nationalists, but some people balk at actually calling him a white nationalist.

PJ: He is a racist. He is a racist. I don’t believe you can say all the things that he says and not be a racist. Maybe at one time in his life he was willing to confront that racism within himself more, but I think that he has allowed all of those things to be fueled and flamed by playing to a base, that’s true.

He is an enabler as well, but I do believe he’s a racist. I don’t think you could say some of the things that he says unscripted and not be racist.

MH: So, you mention the base as well. How much the other big debate, which a lot of us journalists are having and politicians, is how much of a role do you think anti-immigrant sentiment, anti-minority sentiment, racial resentment political scientists call it, how much did that play in the election of Donald Trump? Because there is this divide. Some of us are saying: It was race. Others are saying: No, it was #economicanxiety, and there’s this kind of divide.

From where I’m sitting, the studies I’ve seen, it does seem to be much more cultural, racial, than it was economic in terms of getting people out and making the impact that Trump had, especially in kind of “white working class communities.”

PJ: I think that fear and racism rear their heads when there is a personal feeling of being left behind. It would be much harder to blame somebody if you were already doing well, but so many people are looking for somebody to blame.

Another time that I was on C-SPAN, I had this white-collar man in some Midwestern state call me and say, you know, just go off.

Caller: They took my grandkids’ jobs, they took my kids’ jobs, run them out of business. They need to be deported, just like their parents.

Blaming immigrants for the loss of jobs and the fact that his son was unable to get a decent job. And I said, you know, I feel your pain. I hear that you are in a lot of pain.

PJ: It sounds like you’re in a lot of economic pain. And that is true across the country.

PJ: And I tried to validate that sentiment and say what we were doing around that. But then immediately turn around and say: “But, you’re wrong to blame immigrants.”

PJ: To blame immigrants is completely wrong. And here’s why it’s wrong.

MH: Do you think that works? Do you think Democrats have found a language and a strategy to get through to some of these people, some of these Trump voters, some of these alienated people who are blaming immigrants for all their problems, immigrants are taking jobs, immigrants are taking welfare — it’s funny how you can take jobs and welfare at the same time — immigrants are committing all the crimes. Can you get through to them and change their minds or is that a lost cause? You should actually focus on getting your own base, your own communities of color who didn’t vote in the last election, should that be the priority or should you actually spend precious time and energy trying to get through people who you’re not going to be able to get through to.

PJ: Well, I actually don’t know that they’re, they’re different messages. We just did a poll for the progressive caucus that I led in 30 swing districts across the country. We tested what we call progressive messages: things like Medicare for all, things like free college without debt, these are ideas that resonate with independents as well as with what we call progressive surge voters, people who have never voted before.

I’ve always been focused on actually the progressive surge voters, because I think we’ve gone in the opposite direction.

MH: That’s fair. I think a lot of people in your party who go further, and actually, I’m from the U.K., you have Labour Party there for many years, including people like Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, who did this kind of dog whistling to the right which, again, we understand your concerns.

You often hear center-left politicians in the West say, “you know, these voters they have legitimate concerns,” when often they don’t have legitimate concerns, if they’ve been fed some media or misinformation or, you know, Fox News propaganda. And people of color or immigrants hear that and feel like they’re being thrown under the bus by some progressives.

PJ: Right.

MH: They’re saying, “Well, they don’t have a legitimate concern. Why not call a spade a spade?” Plus, tactically, does it ever work to meet a racist in the middle, to kind of say: I’m going to meet you halfway?

PJ: Well, I think the question is everybody that is in the middle, are they all —  Like, here’s an example: you know, my state is a jungle-primary state and so there were two Democrats running last year in the election. And I figured, well, there’s 20 percent of people who are Republicans, I’ll go out and talk to them. I actually have some people who voted for Trump, who voted for me, who actually believe in DACA.

So there are some people that we can get. I have never been afraid to call people out. But I also believe that there are times when you can call people in. And we have to make sure that we’re pulling those people in — not at the expense of calling out racism. I won’t do that. But I will help people to come in and recognize that economics, you know, we need to give them somebody new to blame. And —

MH: That’s a very good point. People do feel that someone should be blamed for what’s going on.

PJ: Somebody should be blamed. And they’re right about that!

MH: Yeah.

PJ: We should blame the biggest corporations, the people, the wealthiest individuals. I just read the other day that three Americans have the combined wealth of 50 percent of American people. What kind of a country has this become that in that is what we see?

MH: It wasn’t the people in DACA who crashed the economy in 2008 or invaded Iraq in 2003.

PJ: No. But if you listen to their hearings on Judiciary Committee, we just had a hearing the other day, a couple months ago, on how the opioid crisis is created by illegal immigrants — their words — illegal immigrants.

MH: In the next year or so we’re going to see more and more Democrats — Senate Democrats, Democratic governors, mayors, maybe, members of the House — making it clear they plan to run for president in 2020 maybe against Donald Trump. They have to declare their candidacies in the next year or so. Do you believe Bernie Sanders should be one of them? You endorsed him last time around. Do you think he should run again in 2020?

PJ: I think Bernie is an incredible guy. You know, I think he really brought forward all these policies that people said couldn’t win, that, you know, he and we that supported him were too idealistic. And I always say: Who ever got big things done with small ideas? I mean what is wrong with having a big vision. Many of these ideas have been tested in other countries and I think we have him to thank for putting that forward.

I think they’re going to be a lot of people that run and we’ll have to see whether he runs, whether other people run. Certainly, I think he has a very big following and a big name that would be hard to beat, but we have to see, you know, who comes up. And I stay in very close touch with him. I am doing bills with other people that are potentially running for president as well — Kamala Harris and I have done several bills together and I, you know, think Elizabeth Warren is fantastic. I’m doing a bill with Cory Booker. So we’ll see what happens there.

MH: Do you think Bernie would have beaten Trump? It’s a great question on the left?

PJ: I don’t know. I’m typically not somebody who does a lot of the “what-ifs” just because … why? You know, it’s nowhere we are. So — I don’t know. But I certainly think that we might have gotten some people that voted for Trump.

MH: And just to come full circle, do you think it’s unfair that someone like yourself can never run for president, the natural-born citizen clause?

PJ: [Laughs.]

MH: I mean, not just to flatter you to say you’d make a great president, but just on the specific, kind of constitutional issue, there is a clause in the Constitution, the natural-born citizen clause, which prevents someone like yourself, an immigrant to the United States, from running for president. Isn’t it time to change that in a country that is a nation of immigrants?

PJ: I think it is. I think it’s a strange clause. And I think that, you know, we have a lot of people who don’t even think about running for office because they say, “Oh, I’m not considered an immigrant.” And, in fact, when we run and when we tell our stories, there are some consultants out there who say, “Oh, don’t talk about being brown, don’t talk about being an immigrant.”

For me, I’m proud. I’m a proud immigrant. I’m one of only a dozen members of Congress who are born outside of the United States. I think that gives me a view on globalism, on international diplomacy, on war, on public health on all these things that other people don’t have. And so —

MH: So on that note, and last question: What is your advice to an immigrant listening to this interview, whether documented or undocumented, who’s maybe living in fear or is anxious about their status, or just is fed up with having to go through this anti-immigration environment we’re living through, what do you say to them?

PJ: I say hang in there. I say that this country has been resilient about how we’ve come around. We’ve made so many mistakes. We’re a country born on slavery, after all. And so we have — and we took land from Native Americans to establish this country — so the whole conversation about immigration and anti-immigrants is bewildering to most of my tribal leader friends.

So I just say to people: Hang in there, be strong in yourself, think about who you are, think about what you want to do and, you know, don’t let anybody back you down, because that is when they win is when they back us down. So we’ve got to stand up strong, tell our stories, be proud of who we are and recognize that this is a tough moment. But courage is not what comes when it’s easy. Courage is what comes when things are hard. And so these are the moments for us to really be courageous. And immigrants that I know, undocumented and documented, are some of the most courageous, most resilient, smartest, most resourceful people that I have ever had the privilege to work with. And so I say: We just keep fighting and we will win. It just may take us some time.

MH: Pramila Jayapal, thank you so much for joining me on Deconstructed.

PJ: Thank you.

[Musical interlude.]

MH: That was Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. And that’s our show.

Deconstructed is a production of First Look Media and The Intercept, and is distributed by Panoply. Our producer is Zach Young. Dina Sayedahmed is our production assistant. Leital Molad is our executive producer. Our theme music was composed by Bart Warshaw. Betsy Reed is The Intercept’s editor in chief.

I’m Mehdi Hasan and you can follow me on Twitter @mehdirhasan. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to the show so you can hear it every Friday. Go to to subscribe from your podcast platform of choice: iPhone, Android, whatever. If you’re subscribed already, please do leave us a rating or review. It helps new people find the show. And if you want to give us feedback, email us at Thanks so much!

See you next week.

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