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Tom Brokaw On Meet the Press: ‘The Hispanics Should Work Harder at Assimilation’

On Meet the Press, venerable news anchor Tom Brokaw made what may seem a surprising statement about immigration Sunday when he argued “the Hispanics” should “work harder” at assimilation. It surprised some on Twitter, for sure, or at least inasmuch as it was he, and not fellow panelist Hugh Hewitt, who made the remark.

In the closing segment of the show, the guests were discussing what might bring Americans together. Hewitt offered opposition to Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro as a point of potential unity, drawing skepticism from host Chuck Todd. PBS correspondent Yamiche Alcindor suggested that there will be bipartisan agreement about the wall to “actually talk about facts and, maybe, try to get on the same page.”

“I interviewed the mayor of McAllen, Texas,” Alcindor recounted, “where the president went to have his example, to say, ‘This is where we need the wall.’ The mayor said, ‘We don’t need a wall. We have issues here. But Yamiche, I’m here to tell you that a wall is not going to solve them.’ So I think there’s an issue here with people not understanding that facts aren’t being agreed upon.”

Todd said “the problem is in Wyoming and in South Dakota, they think they need a wall. And in Texas and in Arizona, they don’t,” and Turned to Brokaw.

“A lot of this, we don’t want to talk about. But the fact is, on the Republican side, a lot of people see the rise of an extraordinary, important, new constituent in American politics, Hispanics, who will come here and all be Democrats,” said Brokaw. “Also, I hear, when I push people a little harder, ‘Well, I don’t know whether I want brown grandbabies.’ I mean, that’s also a part of it. It’s the intermarriage that is going on and the cultures that are conflicting with each other.”

Brokaw continued, departing from relating the voices of others and contributing his own.

“I also happen to believe that the Hispanics should work harder at assimilation. That’s one of the things I’ve been saying for a long time,” he said. “You know, they ought not to be just codified in their communities but make sure that all their kids are learning to speak English, and that they feel comfortable in the communities. And that’s going to take outreach on both sides, frankly.”

NBC’s Kristen Welker interjected with a reference to Republican Rep. Peter King telling her that the “fringes” should be ignored.

Hewitt added, contradicting Alcindor, that there will be “no compromise, unless there is a long, strong, double-layered fence about 700 miles long. That is the minimum that is necessary.”

Alcindor, though, referred back to Brokaw’s comment, characterizing what he said as “troubling.”

“I would just say that we also need to adjust what we think of as America. You’re talking about assimilation,” she said. “I grew up in Miami, where people speak Spanish, but their kids speak English. And the idea that we think Americans can only speak English, as if Spanish and other languages wasn’t always part of America, is, in some ways, troubling.”

Watch the clip above, courtesy of NBC News.

UPDATE: Brokaw has tweeted a response.

[Featured image via screengrab]

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