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Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow Spar Over State Of The Union, Immigration Proposal

02/13/2013 09:18 am ET

Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow did not agree in their assessment of President Obama's comments on immigration during the State of the Union on Tuesday.

After Obama's address, Matthews ticked off the things he liked about the speech — but came down on the president's immigration proposal.

"I don’t know if he closed any deal on immigration tonight," Matthews said. "I think that's going to be his biggest issue this year. He didn't talk about enforcement. He didn't talk about what he needs in terms of teeth to actually make the law work. The reason we have an immigration problem right now is that we have had illegal immigration all these years. There’s nothing in his proposal to stop it."

Maddow countered that Obama had talked about border security, but Matthews said that he has "never believed in" that approach. He argued that real solution lies in "some way of stopping illegal hiring."

"[Obama] never even mentioned it," Matthews criticized. "It's the reason people come here and he never mentioned it and I don't think he'll ever get a deal until we deal with illegal hiring."

Maddow argued that illegal immigration has actually been on the decline. "The president is a president who is presiding over net negative illegal immigration because the economy has been so soft we have not been attracting people," she said.

"Having recessions on a regular basis is not a solution to illegal immigration,” he responded. “And I don’t think you make a deal unless you make an offer, and I don’t think he made an offer to the Republicans on immigration."

Maddow noted that there were some Republicans in the audience who applauded during Obama's talk of immigration, but Matthews wasn't buying it. "They're on television," he said.

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