U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, the only immigrant in the U.S. Senate, on Thursday praised President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration.
The Hawaii Democrat, who as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee was responsible for several provisions in a Senate immigration reform bill that stalled in the U.S. House, made an appearance on MSNBC's "All In with Chris Hayes."
I think this was a really big step for all of the advocates for immigration reform. And what the president did tonight gives all of us hope.
And as you mentioned, I came here with a very courageous mother when I was not yet 8 years old. We were very poor. I certainly didn't speak any English. But she had a dream that by bringing us to this country and working hard, that she could make a better life for herself and her children. And that is the dream that immigrants have.
And comprehensive immigration reform was purposeful work for me as a member of the Judiciary Committee. And what the president did tonight, as a I said, gives some 5 million people that chance to come out of the shadows, to be able to work, to be with their families, to be with their children, to pay their taxes, and be a part of our community in the way that we all dream about.
Asked by Hayes whether Obama had "poisoned the well" by taking executive action, rather than going through Congress, Hirono said:
I don't buy that at all, because we had over a year after the Senate passed its comprehensive immigration reform bill for the House to take action.
There is absolutely nothing preventing the House of Representatives from coming forward and working with the president and -- again -- with the Senate to pass comprehensive, sensible, humane immigration reform.
So for those who are saying that this is going to poison the well, you know what? I hope that that is not a self-fulfilling prophecy, because the president has said very clearly, this is a temporary approach, and what we need to do is to have comprehensive reform that will enable 11 million people to be on a path to citizenship and be a part of our economy.
Asked by a panelist about attitudes toward immigration among Republican voters nationally, particularly those who live in communities with large immigrant populations, the senator said:
Aside from the native peoples who were here, the rest of us are immigrants. Most of us trace our ancestry not very far back to another country. For myself, I am a first generation.
And we know that the majority of the American public -- they want comprehensive immigration reform. They want these 11 million undocumented people to be able to come out of the shadows and be a part of our communities, pay their taxes, take care of their children.
The majority of the people in America want that. I think it's the Republicans who are not hearing that message. And I hope they do after the president takes this step and all these people can come out and be able to pursue the American dream.
But, again, this is temporary ...