Below is the English-language transcript of Fusion and Univision News’ interview with Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate, Bernie Sanders. If you have any questions, please contact Jose Zamora: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Programs: America with Jorge Ramos " Fusion
Al Punto with Jorge Ramos " Univision Network
Content: Interview with Bernie Sanders, Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate
Air Dates: Sunday, August 2, 2015 on Al Punto with Jorge Ramos
Tuesday, August 4, 2015 on America with Jorge Ramos
JR: Jorge Ramos
BS: Bernie Sanders
JR: Thanks for talking to us.
BS: Thanks for having me.
JR: When I was telling my team, and I work with millennials, that I was going to talk to you, no one is talking about your age. You are 73; you’re going to turn 74. That’s amazing because people think of you as a young person.
BS: Thank you, that’s a very nice thing to say.
JR: Do you get that on the campaign trail?
BS: I’ll tell you. One of the exciting aspects of the campaign is that we have been attracting a lot of young people. And that makes me feel very good " a lot of energy in the campaign.
JR: The last time we talked you told me that you were going to beat Hillary Clinton, because of the Iraq vote. You thought, back then it was very important… Do you still think that she’s not inevitable, that you can beat her?
BS: Oh, absolutely. No question. I think every day we are doing better and better. We started off with a disadvantage, not a whole lot of people knew who I was. But every day I think there are more people who know who I am and what our program is: the fact that we’re talking about the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality, creating jobs, making public colleges and universities tuition free, healthcare for all. As people hear that, they’re saying: yeah, that’s the kind of program we need.
JR: Are you putting her to the left? Are you exposing her weaknesses? In other words, that you’re better on TV, better on the campaign trail, getting more money from small donors.
BS: Well, it’s not a question of pushing her to the left. We are speaking to the needs of the American people. What the American people know is the rich are getting much richer and almost everybody else is getting poor. We know that youth unemployment is just horrendously high. A study came out recently, Hispanic youth unemployment, 36 percent; African-American youth unemployment, for kids who graduate high school, 51 percent. People understand that we need to create jobs. We got a program to do that.
JR: But are you exposing her weaknesses?
BS: I think by telling the truth we are forcing her and other candidates to respond to that reality. I’ve come out for a $15 minimum wage. Because I don’t think people can survive on $7.25 an hour or $9 an hour. I think she’s moving in that direction too.
JR: Senator, did you have to rectify your position on the Black Lives Matter Movement. In other words, that you were not sensitive enough at the beginning, to the fact that many young African-Americans were being killed by the police.
BS: This is a huge issue. I don’t know if I had to rectify my position. My position for 50 years has been a strong advocate for justice and for civil rights. But what we are seeing every day now, it appears, is unarmed Black people getting shot in the head in a car. We just saw that; Samuel Dubose the other day. Sandra Bland being dragged out of her car, thrown in jail, dead three days later for the crime of not signaling a right turn. And I think people are saying we need real police reform. We've got to control the use of force. We have to deal with the issue of why so many of our young people are in fact in jail. And why we have more people in jail than any other country.
JR: Why were you not allowed to talk in one event, when Black Lives Matter members--?
BS: But you know what the discussion was, what I was supposed to talk about, was immigration reform, which is obviously an important issue itself. I don’t want to go over that, but the point is that we have got to be addressing the issue of racial justice in America. We have made progress over the years, but what we are seeing in terms of police departments, in terms of discrimination, tells me that we have a long, long way to go.
JR: In other words, you can represent the African-American community?
BS: I think my agenda is very, very strong for the African-American community, for the Hispanic community. And I think the better we get known in terms of what our positions are, the better we’ll do.
JR: You were recently asked about open borders. And you said it was a right-wing idea, that it would make everybody poor in America. But one article said that you sounded like Donald Trump.
BS: That’s, you know, this is…
JR: But that suggestion that, immigrants would take jobs from Americans.
BS: No, no, no. We have to be very careful about this one.
JR: Yes, we have to.
BS: My father was an immigrant. I believe absolutely in a comprehensive immigration reform. I think we have to bring 11 million undocumented people out of the shadows. But do I believe, does any member of Congress believe, does any Presidential candidate believe, that you simply open the borders, and you have millions of people who are unskilled coming into this country. Does anybody believe that?
JR: No candidate wants open borders, but the suggestion that immigrants will lower wages and take away American jobs is wrong. You know it’s wrong.
BS: Yes, I know. But that was the question that I was responding to. Some journalist-- what about open borders? This is not a good thing. The answer is no. Open borders is not a good thing.
JR: How about immigrants, do immigrants lower wages? Are immigrants creating a bad impact on American borders?
BS: No, what we have right now " here’s the concern that I have: for example, in terms of undocumented workers… I went to Immokalee, Florida; you know what takes place in Immokalee, Florida? That’s where the tomato workers are. I stood with the undocumented tomato workers, held a hearing in Washington D.C. to demand decent wages and decent working conditions. And we had some success. We've made some improvements. If we did not have undocumented workers today in America, do you know what would happen? Probably a large part of the agriculture sector of America would collapse and other parts of the economy would collapse. The job right now, what our function is, is to provide legal status for undocumented workers as quickly as we can and move toward a path toward citizenship. That is what we have to do. On the other hand, when you have 36 percent of Hispanic high school graduates who are unemployed, 51 percent of African-American kids who are unemployed, do I think it’s a good idea to open the border and bring in unskilled workers? No, I don’t.
JR: As a Democratic socialist would you support the idea of an immigration agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico similar to the one the Europeans have, with no visas, with the European community?
BS: That is something I would have to look at. I can’t give you an answer right now.
JR: So you would consider the possibility of…
BS: I would consider anything. But this is what I will consider and what I will tell you. That one of the reasons we have seen many people from the South come over the border is because of NAFTA. NAFTA, which I voted against by the way, was terrible in terms of what it did to small farms in Mexico, driving people off of the farms into the cities and eventually into America. But the whole issue of immigration, how we effectively deal with it, how many immigrants we should have coming into this country. Again, my dad was an immigrant. I believe in immigration. Immigration makes America stronger. This is an issue that needs to be thoroughly discussed.
JR: So you would consider the possibility of the free flowing of workers between Canada, U.S. and Mexico?
BS: I will look at all ideas with regard to immigration. It depends on the state of the economy. I don’t want to make any specific commitments now.
JR: Donald Trump said in an interview that he would move out all undocumented immigrants. He’s proposing mass deportations, is that how you interpret that?
BS: Yes. I know, I think that’s an outrage. It is literally beyond belief that somebody in the year 2015 would be saying things like that; it is an outrage.
JR: Did you see that in a poll you are beating Donald Trump nationally?
BS: Yeah, I did. And not only Donald Trump; in another poll we’re beating Jeb Bush and Scott Walker as well.
JR: So that means to you what?
BS: It means that we’re electable; it means that we can win this thing. It means that we have a message that’s resonating. And one-on-one against the Republican candidates, we can win.
JR: Are you going to watch that debate on Thursday?
JR: Who will you be interested in…?
BS: Look, the bottom line is I am interested obviously in what takes place. But here at the end of the day what the Republican party stands for, with a few nuances, is more tax breaks to the billionaires and millionaires, cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, and by and large bad positions on immigration reform.
JR: What do you make of the recent videos from Planned Parenthood? Do you think " is it legal and ethical to sell fetuses for scientific reasons?
BS: Well, they’re not selling fetuses. And this something, I think the tone of that discussion was unfortunate. But if the question is, do I support Planned Parenthood? I absolutely do. And Planned Parenthood is now providing vitally important healthcare, cancer screening, other types of healthcare services to some of the poorest people in America. And I will defend Planned Parenthood. I think a lot of this attack, to be honest with you, comes from people who simply do not believe that a woman should have a right to control her own body. That’s the motive.
JR: Have you seen the videos?
BS: I have not seen the videos. I’ve read about them.
JR: If you become president would you legalize the use of marijuana?
BS: That’s something that we’re looking at right now.
JR: And without Congress?
BS: In my state… Well no, you can’t do that. There are things that you can do, and obviously we have states in this country like Colorado which have gone forward. And the idea is there are impediments to what Colorado has done because they can’t use the money they get, put it in the banking system and so forth and so on. This is an issue that we will be speaking out on again. But I’ll tell you this; this is what I will tell you. I am deeply concerned about the impact of the so-called war on drugs. I am very concerned about the number of young people who end up in jail for non-violent crimes. This is an issue that we have to deal with.
JR: Would you mind if I ask you if you smoked marijuana?
BS: I have, a couple of times when I was a kid, didn’t do me much good. I ended up coughing a lot. But that--
JR: Is that a relevant issue?
BS: I don’t think so. I think that there’s significant numbers of people in this country that smoke marijuana.
JR: We got a picture for you. Do you remember this man?
BS: Who is that? Who is that funny man?
JR: 1981. What do you see here?
BS: Well, I see a guy who defeated all of the odds… Jorge, nobody expected me, nobody, that as an Independent I would be elected Mayor of the City of Burlington. We had to take on the entire political establishment " Democrats and Republicans. We did it. And I was re-elected and I was quite a popular mayor, and I think my administration did a pretty good job. What that picture tells me is a guy who took on everybody " political leaders, the big money interests…
JR: And that’s what you’re doing now?
BS: That’s what I’m still doing a few years later.
JR: One final question. You visited Cuba?
BS: Yes. Twice.
JR: Now for you Fidel Castro and Raul Castro, are they dictators?
BS: I think it is fair to say that there is very little democracy in Cuba. We want to see Cuba move toward a Democratic society. I support the President’s initiative to normalize relations.
JR: So it’s okay to have a relationship with dictators?
BS: We do that all of the time. My own view is that the present foreign policy has failed. It has failed dismally for the people of our country and the people of Cuba. It hasn’t worked; I want to see it changed.
JR: Senator, thanks so much. You know, I was surprised " did you ever " is it true that you had a record in 1987? Did you sing?
BS: Oh god, no. I didn’t sing.
JR: Was it a folk CD?
BS: I " yes it was. In the 80’s. Yeah.
JR: But what was it? Did you…
BS: I worked with a band; a local band on some folk music.
JR: Alright. Thanks so much for talking to us.
BS: Thank you.