Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 6, Episode 23 - Legal Immigration - full transcript

Legal immigration is a term which was repeated throughout the Trump presidency. But John Oliver explains its absurdity as well as why people resort to illegal means to enter the country. He...

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Welcome to Last Week Tonight !
I'm John Oliver.

Thank you so much for joining us.
A quick recap of the week.

A busy one: John Bolton being fired
as national security adviser,

Mike Pence telling people

he was bitten so hard
by the horse American Pharaoh

that he nearly collapsed,
to which I say, good horse...

To the latest Democratic
candidate debate, where Joe Biden,

in responding to a question about the
legacy of American slavery, said this.

We bring social workers
into homes with parents

to help them deal
with how to raise their children.

It's not that they don't want to help.
They don't know quite what to do.

Play the radio.
Make sure the television, excuse me,

make sure you have
the record player on at night.

The phone...
make sure the kids hear words.

Shit !
That is Joe Biden saying "television",

then replacing it
with "record player",

and then, barely stopping himself
from saying "phonograph."

Let's all remember
that very funny moment

when Biden sends a concession
telegram to Trump next November.

But instead of focusing on that,
let's instead move on to Russia,

voted home
of the world's sexiest president

by "Please, I Have A Family,
Do Whatever He Says ! Magazine".

There were city council elections,
and the run-up to them had been tense

because Putin's United Russia Party
has been declining in popularity,

and, and by sheer coincidence,
the Central Election Commission there

decided to ban many
opposition candidates from running,

setting off a summer
of protests in Moscow

with thousands of attendees
and mass arrests.

Putin tried to dispel concerns
over the suspicious lack of candidates,

arguing it was actually a good thing.

In some countries there are 30, 50,
even 100 candidates.

It doesn't mean they do better work.
It's quality not quantity that counts.

"I mean, look at Netflix."

"You have choices,
but where is quality control ?"

"What is 'Frontier' ?
What is 'The Order' ?"

"What is 'Malibu Rescue' ?
What is 'Workin' Moms' ?"

"What is 'Back with Ex' ?"

"How does this business model work ?
Somebody explain it to me."

To combat Putin's thumb
on the scale,

opposition leaders like Alexei Navalny,
encouraged supporters to vote tactically,

supporting any candidate
that could beat a pro-Kremlin one.

It seems to have worked,

with the ruling party losing a third
of its seats in Moscow's city council.

Navalny and his associates have since
been the target of government raids

and he has some really good ideas
as to why that might've happened.

Putin got really upset
because of the tactical vote

and that his sweet child,
the United Russia Party,

has been busted in Moscow
and seriously beaten in the regions.

Yes, he is upset
and he is stomping his little feet.

"Stomping his little feet."

Not only is that comment very brave,
it also made me genuinely curious:

does Putin have little feet ?

I did what any normal,
reasonable person would do

and I looked up Putin
on wikiFeet.

The results are in and look
at this guy's tiny little feet !

You just wanna gooch 'em !
You wanna gooch those little piggies !

This little piggy went to market,
this little piggy stayed at home.

This little piggy had borscht,
this little piggy had none.

And this little piggy
went "wee wee wee"

all the way to a prison camp
in Siberia.

What did that little piggy do ?
We'll never know.

Shut up about the little piggy.

With elections rigged
and dissent suppressed,

some Russians came up with creative
ways to express their frustration.

Perhaps the most entertaining one
concerned a rapper named Timati.

On the off chance that you are not one
of his 14 million Instagram followers,

let me give you
a taste of what he's like.

He seems
sort of fun and harmless,

dressing like a ski patrolman
whose first aid kit is full of Rohypnol,

and posting videos like this.

That's fine, but, but honestly, I'm not
sure everybody wants to be like you.

Because if they're at all like me,
everybody would like a lot more

than zero layers of protection between
their genitals and high-speed water.

Timati also really likes
these collectible bears. Seriously.

He really, really, really, really,
really likes these collectible bears.

He loves them. This is his home. Those
bears watch him sleep. And he, them.

This seems like a harmless obsession
for a young boy of 12-going-on-36

until you realize that some of them,
like this Coco Chanel bear,

apparently can run
upwards of $28,000 at auction.

Which is ridiculous. It seems
like Timati has every bear ever made.

Except, I actually know for a fact
that he doesn't, because, behold:

the rarest bear of all.

What do you think, Timati ?

Everybody wanna be like me.
Everybody wanna be like me.

But look, before you find yourself
becoming a fan of Timati,

you should know,
he hangs out with friends

like Chechen dictator-slash-failed
cat owner Ramzan Kadyrov,

and his best friend is President Putin,

as you can tell from one of his songs:
"My Best Friend is President Putin."

My best friend is President Putin.

My best friend is President Putin.

We get it.
I gotta say though,

it is genuinely jarring to hear
a rap song that is so pro-authority.

It's like if N.W.A.'s biggest hit song

had been called:
"Hip Hip Hooray for the Police."

So, you might justifiably ask
at this point,

"What the fuck has Timati got to do
with Moscow's local elections ?"

Just before they took place,

he and fellow rapper Guf, real name,
put out a video called "Moscow".

It was a classic Timati-Guf collab,
if I ever heard one, and I haven't.

The song featured lyrics like:

Moscow is "the city
that doesn't hold gay parades"

and "I don't go to protests
and talk bullshit."

In the midst of a fraught election,
people did not react well to that.

"Moscow" became the most
down-voted video on Russian YouTube.

The backlash got so bad,
Timati posted,

"I am deleting this video
to stop this wave of negativity,"

which, if we've learned anything
from the internet, always works.

Guf claimed he'd been tricked
into participating in a political video,

putting out this Instagram statement.

I had no idea that we had mayoral
elections the day before yesterday.

I was told that we need
to wish the city a happy birthday

because we are Muscovites,
and it would be nice.

I fell for that bullshit.

Yeah, sorry, Guf,
but you done goofed on this one.

Although it was Moscow's
872nd birthday, which is traditionally

the "make a homophobic jock jam
for the government anniversary".

Many Russians are understandably
frustrated with their government,

and they're taking that frustration
out wherever they can

even on a medicalgrade fuckboy

with a sadly incomplete
toy-bear collection.

While I doubt the opposition
is gonna topple Putin anytime soon,

it is encouraging to see them able
to keep him on his tiny little toes.

And now... this !

And Now Maria Bartiromo's Guests

Will Never Let Her Forget
What September 11th Really Means.

It helps to remember where we were,
what we felt,

who we talked
to on September 11th of 2001

and also how we felt on
September 12th of 2001, 17 years later.

You're sure right. Mitch ?

- Three words: happy birthday, Maria.
- Mitch. Thank you for that.

Yes, happy birthday.

I would be remiss if today I did not
remember the fallen heroes on 9/11

and together with all of the massive
legion of fans across this country,

if we did not wish Maria Bartiromo
a happy birthday.

Say a prayer for all who are lost,
thank a cop and a fireman,

and to you, Maria,
happy birthday.

No. I don't, yeah, no.
Let's not do that.

Now, I can't believe you.
Thank you !

You brought this cake ?
Thank you, Dick !

I have the worst birthday ever.

My husband calls it "The International
Day of Sadness" all the time.

But I appreciate you thinking of me
on this... It was my birthday first.

Moving on. Our main story tonight
concerns: immigration.

It's the system that brought you
Albert Einstein, Yo-Yo Ma, and me.

And yes, obviously:
fuck, marry, kill, respectively.

Immigration is the subject that Trump
campaigned on the hardest

and as president,
his tone hasn't exactly softened.

I told my people yesterday,
our country's full.

We're full, our system's full,
our country's full.

Can't come in. Our country is full.
What can you do ?

We can't handle anymore.
Our country is full.

Can't come in. I'm sorry.

He's right. Our country is full.
I mean just take a look at it.

The thing is absolutely packed.

There is simply no room, here.
Maybe if one of these guys dies,

but until then,
there's just nothing we can do.

But look,
it is obviously not that simple.

And in Trump's more
reflective moments, seen here,

he claims that there is one kind
of immigration that he wants:

legal immigration.

The thing that he and his political
allies will tell you they love.

I want legal immigration.
I want great people to come in.

I want legal immigration.

I believe legal immigration
is good for our country.

I believe illegal immigration isn't.

My views on immigration are simple

and I've summed them up
many times in just four words:

legal good, illegal bad.

I do not like that man Ted Cruz.
I do not like him in the news.

I do I not like what he just said,
I do not like his boxy head.

I do not like him wearing glasses,
I do not like him kissing asses.

I wish he'd never get one vote.
That man Ted Cruz can lick my scrote.

But look, here's the thing,
if we take all of them at their word,

we actually agree on this:
legal immigration is good.

That is a popular opinion,

both among those who see immigration
as foundational to America,

and among economists who largely
agree that it increases economic growth.

About 13% of the people
in this country are immigrants,

three-quarters of whom
are here legally.

So this system affects a lot of people.

With the talk about illegal immigration
the flaws in the legal pathway,

which arguably help fuel illegal
immigration-often get ignored.

So tonight, let's talk about
our legal immigration system.

There are a lot of misconceptions
about a process

that most Americans
have never experienced.

A key misconception is captured
in a phrase that you hear all the time,

both from politicians
and from ordinary voters.

We want to let people in legally.

Get in line and we want
to let people in legally.

They have to do it the right way.
They have to get in line.

Come legally
and wait in line like all of them.

There are a lot of people from
all around the world that are in line

and waiting to come in here,

and I don't think that they
should be able to come in

ahead of all these people that have
been really struggling to get here.

Right. "Get in line."
I know that is an appealing phrase,

but it's significantly
more complicated than that,

as you could probably tell
from that woman's reaction.

I'm guessing the closed captioning
for which is probably, "The fuck... ?"

Because the truth is,
for those who want to come here,

there is no one line to get in,
the lines that do exist

can be prohibitively long
or have sudden dead ends,

and for many people
there simply isn't a line at all.

If you're thinking: "My ancestors
waited on line" not necessarily.

For America's first hundred years,
there were no federal immigration laws,

so coming here "the right way"

basically just meant not slipping
as you walked down the gangway.

Now, since then,
our immigration system has evolved

into one with complicated
and convoluted restrictions.

Take country caps. When it comes
to most types of green card

which allow you to be a lawful,
permanent resident

no more than 7% of immigrants
accepted each year

can come from any one country.

What that means
is practice is that big countries,

with a lot of would be immigrants,
like China, India, and Mexico,

are subject to the same numerical caps
as tiny ones like Malta,

which is so tiny,
that's actual size.

In fact, that's actually Malta.

We borrowed it and put it in this box
to show you how small Malta is.

And it's not just numerical caps.

The system has a lot of restrictions
on who, exactly, can come here.

The best way to understand it

is that there are just four paths
to permanent residency or citizenship:

family - you're related
to someone who's already here,

- you were offered a job here,

good luck - you won the visa lottery,
which I'll explain later,

or bad luck - you're a refugee
or seeking asylum.

And the number of people going through
each path is by no means equal.

Proportionally, they should probably
look a lot more like this.

Let's start with the way
that most immigrants come here:

family sponsorship.

About 2/3 of green card holders
come through the family based system.

Which makes sense.

Families provide support,
and some, I'm told, like each other.

But to Donald Trump,
family-based migration is a scourge,

as you can tell
from how he refers to it.

Chain migration is not a good thing.
Chain migration is bad.

We have to end chain migration.

Then you have chain migration.
Chain migration.

A guy comes in,
stone-cold killer, in many cases

a guy comes in, and then you
have to bring his aunt,

his uncle, his father,
his grandfather, his grandparents,

his third niece
by a different marriage.

That is so wrong
in so many ways,

it would be hard
for a fact-checker to assess it.

Couldn't even be described

by The Washington Post's
"Bottomless Pinocchio",

which sounds like an all-nude
strip club for wooden puppets.

Bringing family members over
is not as easy as Trump makes it sound.

You can only sponsor close relatives,
a spouse, child, sibling or parent.

No aunt, no uncle, no grandparents,
no third niece by a different marriage.

Anyone who comes in has to pass
rigorous background checks,

which tends to weed out
any "stone-cold killers".

And that "chain", as you should
not put it, can move very slowly.

Those country caps apply to many
categories of family-based immigration.

If you're trying to bring
your sibling over from China,

the government is processing
applications from 2006.

If they're in India, 2004.
From Mexico, January of 1997.

That's 22 years ago !

And who knows what they'll be
doing 22 years in advance ?

Aside, of course, from Pat Sajak.
He'll still be standing by a wheel,

selling vowels he doesn't own,
until the fucking sun dies.

The family-sponsorship system
is still too permissive for Trump,

who wants to limit it
to just spouses and children.

Meaning, you could no longer sponsor
your parents to immigrate here.

Although, he seemed fine
with one high-profile exception.

President Trump's in-laws slipping
in and out of a federal building

where they took the oath
of U.S. citizenship.

Sources tell ABC News that
First Lady Melania Trump

sponsored her Slovenian-born parents,
Viktor and Amalija Knavs.

Chain migration !

That is obviously hypocritical,
I know it's not the important here,

but Melania's mom is 74,

making Trump exactly one year younger
than his mother-in-law.

While there are plenty of spouses
who probably should be

closer to their in-laws,
that is simply not the way to do it.

So that is the family-based path,

which only works if you have
a close relative in America,

and it doesn't hurt if she's in
a loveless marriage with the president.

If that is not an option for you,
you try the employment-based path.

The way that pathway
usually begins is,

an employer in America sponsors you,
you come on a temporary work visa.

But it is temporary.
You might be able to renew it,

but there can be limits on how
many times you can do that.

Even getting a work visa
in the first place can be difficult.

You have to fit
within narrow categories.

There is R-1,
for religious workers.

P-1A, that's for athletes.
H-2A, that's for farm workers.

C-3PO for effete British robots.

And R2-D2 for their
common law husbands.

It's a complex system !
I came over on an O-1 visa,

which is for persons with extraordinary
ability in the arts

and I know what you're thinking...

I know what you're really
thinking deep down and fuck you !

Certain work visas are so hard to get,
highly skilled people get turned away.

Take Kunal Bahl,

the founder of a successful Indian
company called "SnapDeal".

He went to college in the U.S.,
and watch as he's interviewed

at a conference in India, about why
he ended up creating a company there,

rather than staying here.

I got a job at Microsoft
and I was quite happy,

the Indian tech guy
wanting to work in Microsoft

and they applied for my visa,
which got rejected.

Now you're stuck and
getting deported to your country !

You decided to start a company here.
Thank god.

I'm glad that that story
worked out well for India.

But it's frankly not a great
result for America, is it ?

Who educated him, and then forced him
to go innovate somewhere else.

I respect Kunal Bahl for not going

full "Pretty Woman" on a U.S.
immigration office.

"Big mistake. Huge."

It is worth noting: just getting
a work visa does not mean

you're going
to end up staying here.

Converting it into a green card
can be difficult to impossible

depending on your skill level
and where you're from.

You need your employer to choose
to sponsor you again

and there aren't many
green cards to go around.

Around 140 000 of them
are granted every year.

Think of getting a work visa as getting
a back stage pass to see BTS.

It'll allow ya to hang around,

but you're probably not gonna end up
becoming part of the band.

I can tell you from experience:
living on a visa can be stressful

and involves having to jump
through endless, costly hoops.

I used to have to file for extensions
to my visa every year,

hoping they'd be granted and had
to leave the country every 11 months

to go to the American embassy
in London to get a physical stamp

allowing me to travel.

I was constantly worried that
I would not be allowed to come back.

Even when you are approved
for a green card,

there might not be one available
for you because those country caps

also apply to employment-based

So, if you come in from, say, India,

your estimated wait time
can be ridiculously high.

A boy living in America finds out
how long his dad might have to wait.

So, your dad has applied for a green
card for himself and your family

and the U.S. government looked
at his application and approved it.

There's a waiting line for green card
and that line is really long for India.

Very well it'd be about 60 years
by the time your dad gets a green card.

If I'm doing my math right...

Dad will be over 100
and I'll be 71 ?

Well, nearly. Your dad'll be dead.
But yeah, you will be 71.

Or dead. You could be
as dead as your very dead dad.

But overall,
your point is a good one there, kid.

The family and employment paths

make up 80 percent
of legal immigration.

What about if you are not related
to somebody here

and you aren't highly skilled ?

That brings us to the luck categories.
If you are lucky,

you could come to America through
the "diversity visa lottery",

which I'll let the president explain
what it isn't.

They call it "visa lottery".
I just call it "lottery",

where countries come in and
they put names in a hopper.

Common sense means they're
not giving you their best names.

They're giving you people
they don't want

and then we take 'em out
and where they do it by hand,

probably what's in their hand
are the worst of the worst.

No time to break down how wrong
everything he just said was,

but suffice to say: Trump can expect
a visit from Bottomless Pinocchio.

Everything about what
he just said is wrong.

The country the person comes from
is not involved,

they don't give us anyone,
the people who win are vetted,

and it's not done by hand.

22 million people applied in 2017.
Does he honestly think we made

one of those spinning bingo hoppers
for 22 million Ping-Pong balls ?

Anybody who lives in a country with
low immigration rates to the US

can enter themselves into
a computer-run, non-bowl-based lottery

for the chance to win
a "diversity visa".

Out of the millions of people
who enter, only 50 000 win.

Your odds of winning that lottery
to come into the country

are about the same as your odds
of getting shot once you get here.

Basically, if you win:
congratulations ! For now.

The visa lottery is the longest
of long shots.

Which brings us to our final
category here: bad luck.

Refugees and asylum seekers
fleeing terrible situations.

America has long prided itself,
with some reason,

on the fact that it's led the world
in terms of refugee resettlement,

accepting more refugees annually
than any other country.

But Trump does not care for that.
He has attacked the asylum system,

and while Obama set the annual cap
on refugees at 110 000

in his last year in office,

Trump slashed it
to 45 000 the next year

and 30 000 the year after that.

At this rate, next year's cap
will be reduced to just Zaid.

Trump will probably make his
campaign slogan: "Get Rid of Zaid."

If you're thinking Trump might have
a change of heart

if he just heard what some of these
refugees are fleeing, you're wrong.

Take Nadia Murad, a Yazidi woman
who was abducted by ISIS in Iraq.

She fled to Germany
after they killed her family,

won a Nobel Prize for her advocacy
and got to tell her story

to Trump's face in the Oval Office.

You're about to see the second time
she's specifically mentioned to him

that her family was killed and watch
how little he has been listening.

All this happened to me, they killed
my mom, my six brothers...

- Where are they now ?
- They killed them.

What are you doing ?
"Where are they now ?"

She just told you three
fucking words ago.

That is the U.S. president displaying
indifference to human suffering

rivaled only by robots
and house cats.

And they really don't give a shit.
Things could get even worse.

Trump's White House is weighing

whether to cut the number of refugees
we admit to zero next year.

And if they do that, tell me:

what is the right way
for refugees to come in, then ?

That is the point here.

For all of their talk about how fine
they are with legal immigration,

this administration has worked
to reduce it across the board.

In his first year,
Trump supported a bill

that would've cut legal immigration
into this country by half.

While that bill went nowhere,
he's made countless procedural tweaks,

gumming up the process
for coming here legally.

The time to process an application
has jumped 46 percent since 2016.

Some immigration attorneys are calling
those changes "the invisible wall".

Last month,
Trump put another brick in that wall,

when the administration issued
the "public charge rule",

making the path to permanent residency
much more difficult

for any would-be immigrants who fails
to meet income standards

or is deemed likely to use public
assistance like food stamps,

public housing or Medicaid.

That could change who gets to call
this country home,

advantaging the well-off

and disadvantaging anyone they
ever think might have greater needs.

When Ken Cuccinelli, director of U.S.
Citizenship and Immigration Services,

was asked how this could square
with America's ideals,

his answer wasn't great.

Would you also agree
that Emma Lazarus' words,

etched on the Statue Of Liberty,
"Give me your tired your poor"

are also part of the American ethos ?

They certainly are.
Give me your tired and your poor

who can stand on their own feet
and not become a public charge.

Hold on there.
That's not what it says, is it ?

You can't just add lines to a poem
that invalidate its premise.

You can't say:
"In the words of Emily Dickinson:"

Because I could not stop for Death
He kindly stopped for me.

And then we totally fucked a lot,
Death has a big, fat Dick.

You're fundamentally changing
the intended meaning.

It's not just that his addition
is terrible.

What he took out is important:
"Give me your tired, your poor,"

"Your huddled masses
yearning to breathe free."

America at its best isn't about
who you are when you arrive,

it's about who you want to become,
the yearning part counts.

That doesn't have to mean

that everyone who wants
to come gets to come.

If you are going to say
"get in line" to people,

make sure they have
a line to stand in.

Now, these are the only
pathways that exist.

We should be having
a serious conversation

about whether they work smoothly
enough, which they do not,

if it's a balance between categories
and if we've defined them correctly.

Trump has made it pretty clear
that his ideal system would be

in two tiers, split evenly between
rich Norwegians and future wives.

I think a lot more people
should be let in in general,

but I will admit: this is subjective
and I am biased here.

I have been through this system,
it's rough.

When I finally got my green card,
it was sent to "The Daily Show"

and they surprised me with it
at work, presenting it to me

with a slice of apple pie
and a Budweiser as a joke.

I was so relieved,
I nearly burst into tears.

I had been worried about
my immigration status every single day.

And I was very lucky,
I had a lot of help,

and more importantly,
I had a path to come here.

It's the path that has led us all

to "Sad Zazu's Mildly
Interesting Explain Train."

For many people, there is no way
to "come in the right way".

If I was one of them, and Trump told me
to just get in line

and come in the right way,
I would've been well within my rights

to quote the other immortal
words of Emily Dickinson:

"Hope' is the thing with feathers,"

"Also, you don't know what the fuck
you're talking about, you idiot !"

"Death has a big, fat Dick."
And now, this.

Prepare To Be Interrogated By
Investigation Discovery's Joe Kenda.

I'm Lieutenant Joe Kenda.
I never know where a case will lead

but I'll never stop
until it's solved.

I treat people fairly
but I'm also ruthless.

I can be quite intimidating
when I want.

Do you think he walked out of your car
and ran into a knife six times, Mike ?

Run that by me again, Eric !

You understand what that means !
Mark, I'm embarrassed for you.

Kevin, I'm starting to have
a relationship now with you.

Christopher, I could
kiss you on the mouth.

Well, my, my, my, Danny.

Well, my, my, my.
Well, my, my, my, you lying little...

If it walks like a duck and quacks
like a duck, it's a duck.

Don't monkey
with somebody else's monkey.

There's a tooth fairy,
maybe there's a blood fairy.

When I leave, I'll have
somebody's ass in my briefcase.

I don't trust anybody. I don't trust my
mother and she's dead for 11 years.

That's our show. We're off next week
for the Emmys. Goodnight !