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Mexican Death Row Inmates Could Get New Trials; America's New Underclass

Aired March 28, 2005 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Tonight, U.S. sovereignty at risk, a landmark case at the Supreme Court. It -- will the question be the nation's highest court allowing an international court to impose its will on our judicial system, and determine at the same time whether we can execute 51 convicted killers?
America's new underclass. Who says illegal aliens only take jobs that Americans don't want. Millions of American citizens are now facing unemployment and poverty, in part because of the massive invasion of illegal aliens.

And flunking out, the escalating crisis in our education system, teachers and administrators simply doing a lousy job. Students are dropping out at an alarming rate. Tonight I'll be talking with one of this country's top school administrators.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS, for news, debate and opinion, tonight.

DOBBS: Good evening. The Supreme Court today heard arguments in a case that could determine the independence of our entire judicial system from foreign interference.

The International Court of Justice says 51 Mexican nationals on death row in this country were improperly denied access to their consulates. President Bush supports the international court's declaration, but the state of Texas says the international court has no authority to stop the execution of Jose Medellin and other killers.

Lisa Sylvester reports.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In June 1993, 16-year-old Elizabeth Pena and 15-year-old Jennifer Ertman took a shortcut home. They were brutally raped and murdered as a part of a gang initiation.

Jose Medellin's guilt was never in doubt. He confessed in detail to participating in the crime and was sentenced to death. But Medellin is now asking the U.S. Supreme Court for a new trial, because the Mexican Consulate was never notified of his arrest as required under the Vienna Convention.

DONALD DONOVAN, ATTORNEY FOR JOSE MEDELLIN: The United States has agreed to obligations in the Vienna Convention that are critically important to its own citizens, as well as important to citizens abroad.

SYLVESTER: The International Court of Justice sided with Medellin, saying 51 Mexicans on death row in various states deserved a new trial. The Bush administration agreed, putting the federal government on a collision course with Texas and other states.

But Texas and a federal appeals court dismissed the international court ruling and said the administration overstepped its authority.

TED CRUZ, TEXAS SOLICITOR GENERAL: Medellin is asking the United States courts to hand over their authority to determine U.S. law to the International Court of Justice. He is asking the U.S. courts essentially to abrogate U.S. sovereignty in the interest of an international tribunal.

SYLVESTER: The victims' families also point out Medellin waited until after trial to cite his right to consular notification.

RICHARD SAMP, ATTORNEY FOR PARENTS OF JENNY ERTMAN: Mr. Medellin's current appeal is a last-gasp effort to try to overturn a conviction, based on a technicality when all else has failed.


SYLVESTER: While President Bush agreed the 51 Mexicans are entitled to new hearings, he also withdrew the United States from the protocol that gives the International Court of Justice authority over the United States in the future -- Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Lisa Sylvester, reporting from Washington.

For more now on this very important critical case, I'm joined by our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeff, good to have you here. This case, the idea that the United States judicial system would be subservient or subordinate to an International Court of Justice, or the world court, is mined-boggling.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, and it's also just the tip of the iceberg. When you look at case after case, the Supreme Court is looking at whether international institutions or, in some cases, foreign law can influence the decisions in the Supreme Court. It came up in the juvenile death penalty case earlier this year. It's here now. Case after case, it's under consideration.

DOBBS: You mentioned the juvenile death penalty case, which last month the Supreme Court, by a 5-4 decision, decided that juveniles in this country cannot be sentenced to death, and in so doing, laid it out very clearly -- the majority -- that they were relying in part on what other nations, international law was holding.

TOOBIN: And Justice Kennedy, who wrote that opinion, explicitly said one of the factors we are considering is the fact that so few cases allow the execution of 16 and 17-year-olds. We are going to determine our law based in part, not entirely, on the fact that there is this international consensus.

DOBBS: In this instance, President Bush -- and some accuse the Bush administration of playing some politics here, even though we are a signatory on the '69 conventions, of playing politics and interceding in the 51 death row cases, and then within days withdrawing from that convention. What's going on there?

TOOBIN: Well, that -- that is peculiar, because it was sort of that they realized that they had to -- or they felt they had to apply the convention in this case, but they didn't want to have to do it again. So they have asked for new hearings for these 51 convicted murderers. Not clear that they'll all get them, but they're going to -- they have basically said no more.

DOBBS: Is it your judgment that the Supreme Court, upon hearing the arguments today, will go forward in this case, or will we see an actual balance, which sometimes is too infrequent in this country, between states' rights and federal law?

TOOBIN: My sense of the argument -- of the oral argument today is that the court is going to try to punt on this issue and say that, because the court has granted hearings to these new 51 -- to these 51 people, we don't have to decide the difficult legal issue of whether they're legally entitled to do it, so this case may end up in a standoff, but the but issue of international law is not going away.

DOBBS: And the likely disposition in terms of the 51 convicted murderers?

TOOBIN: New hearings is likely, not necessarily new sentences.

DOBBS: And the success of those hearings?

TOOBIN: Different -- some of them undoubtedly will get their sentences reduced from -- from the death penalty. Many of them probably will have their death penalty sentences reaffirmed.

DOBBS: Jeffrey Toobin, as always, thanks for your analysis, your insight.

TOOBIN: The huge invasion of illegal aliens into this country over the past several years, millions every year, could soon create a new underclass of poor Americans, whether legal or not. Illegal aliens are now competing directly with millions of U.S. citizens for jobs, forcing many into unemployment and into poverty, and the numbers are staggering.

Christine Romans has the report.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This neighborhood is home to a developing underclass of American citizens, Americans who have been displaced by illegal aliens.

Terry Anderson has watched it happen. He's a mechanic and talk radio host in South-Central L.A. He's outraged that illegal aliens are knocking Americans off the lowest rungs of this economy.

TERRY ANDERSON, MECHANIC/RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I know at least 50 construction workers who are out of work now. Why? Because they've been displaced by illegal aliens. Do they still want to do construction work? Yes, they do.

Those men were put on this Earth to work with their hands and do construction work, but they cannot do it, because illegal aliens are going in there and working for a third of their wage. It's not fair.

ROMANS: The Center for Immigration Studies estimates that 42 percent of low income African-Americans are in job categories with significant competition from illegal aliens. It's 40 percent for low- income whites.

Illegal aliens are taking over janitorial work, construction sites, restaurants and meat packing plants and production lines. Two million African-Americans and five million whites are in direct competition with illegal aliens for their livelihood, but in Washington and on Wall Street the mantra is illegal aliens are good for the economy.

ROY BECK, PRESIDENT, NUMBERS USA: There is a net gain to the economy overall from -- even from the illegal immigration, but it's gained by transferring wealth from the poorest of America to the wealthiest. And what kind of country do we want to be? Do we want to grow our economy by making our poor workers poorer?


ROMANS: Hispanic-Americans are the first to be displaced, since illegal aliens tend to move into Spanish-speaking neighborhoods first. Next come low income African-Americans, then low income whites. It's a cruel pecking order, Lou.

DOBBS: It is a cruel. It is exploitive by any definition, and Professor George Morehouse at Harvard University has estimated the cost from immigration, legal and illegal, as you know, to be about $200 billion in depressed wages for the poor workers in this country. It's absolutely untenable.

And a Congress that will not discuss the minimum wage for those workers most in need of an income in direct competition. We're going to continue to follow up on this, I assume, Christine, through the week?

ROMANS: You can bet we will.

DOBBS: All right. Christine Romans, as always, thank you.

Illegal aliens are taking jobs from American citizens even though many illegal aliens have little or no education. The Census Bureau now says more than half the Hispanic and Latino immigrants into this country over the past four years did not complete high school. In point of fact, about one third of those immigrants had no more than an eighth grade education. A rising number of Americans are protesting our broken borders and the escalating illegal alien crisis. A key issue, of course, is corporate America's support of illegal aliens. In fact, American business is at the center of this crisis.

The protesters' latest target is a credit union that accepts Mexico's matricular consular identity card, a card that is easily forged, easily abused.

Casey Wian reports from Riverside, California.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A growing number of Americans are taking to the streets to protest corporate policies catering to illegal aliens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're supporting illegal immigration.

WIAN: This rally led by Citizens' Alliance for a Secure America, or CASA, their target was Altura Credit Union in Riverside, California, just one of hundreds of financial institutions that now accept Mexico's matricula consular as valid identification.

ARNE CHANDLER, CASA: They're accepting matricula consular cards which both the FBI and Homeland Security has said are not reliable means of identification here. And we all know they're basically issued to those that are here illegally.

WIAN: Despite that, the Treasury Department allows banks and credit unions to accept he matricula consular. CASA wants credit union members to move their accounts to financial institutions that refuse.

SHARRIE CHANDLER, CASA: The credit unions are owned by the credit union members. And I doubt that they're aware that their board of directors is selling them out, that they are supporting federal lawbreakers.

WIAN: Altura executives refused an on-camera interview. In a statement, Altura said, "We do not support illegal immigration into this country. If the demonstrators have concerns with the immigration policies of the United States, then they should be demonstrating against the U.S. government, not against credit unions."

Members we spoke with supported Altura, and even illegal aliens.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We let them in -- they come into the United States, you've got to let them go somewhere.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These people are working for our country, our economy is based on what they give us. If they want a place to be able to cash a check, I think they should have one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. WIAN: Those ideas are thoroughly rejected by the growing number of citizens demanding secure borders and enforcement of immigration laws.

(on camera): Altura says its policies are consistent with California law. And until those law change, Altura says it will continue to accept the matricula consular.

Casey Wian, CNN, Riverside, California.


DOBBS: Well, as we are exporting jobs in this country, we are importing labor. Now, why 10,000 more American jobs could be filled by foreigners in this country in spite of congressional limits that should have prevented their hiring.

And China's toxic export. Cheap Chinese imports are threatening our economy. Now China's latest export may be threatening your health.

Those stories are next.


DOBBS: Tonight it is important to note that in this country we still do not have the same number of jobs that we had five years ago. Part of the reason is that we are exporting jobs and we are importing labor.

New outrage tonight officer the controversial H1B visas, visas given to foreign nationals who come to work in this country. The Department of Homeland Security has approved 75,000 new visas for foreign workers this year. It turns out that's 10,000 more than was authorized by Congress.

Bill Tucker reports.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It would seem that there is no more an ardent supporter of jobs for foreigners than the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. Apparently, the bureau has approved 10,000 more petitions for H1B visas than Congress authorized.

That's 75,000 visa applications approved versus the cap of 65,000. And these aren't mowing the yard jobs either. These are jobs for architects, engineers, jobs in medicine, biotechnology and computer programming.

A letter from Senator Charles Grassley questioning the action was sent to the Citizenship and Immigration Services, expressing disbelief, saying, "It discourages me to hear that Congress' limit may have been ignored." Grassley also asked for a timely response. Twenty-two days later, he still has no response. When we contacted the bureau, it said it's still formulating a response. But the agency's critics are much quicker to respond.

RON HIRA, IEEE-USA VICE PRESIDENT: It's extremely hard to get reliable numbers on how many H1Bs are here, which companies are using them in which occupations, what H1B workers are being paid. And no one even knows how many hundreds of thousand of H1B workers are here right now, let alone the new folks coming in.

TUCKER: A spokesman for the Citizenship and Immigration Services calls the issue complex and difficult.


TUCKER: But it comes down to this... two government agencies have issued separate reports saying the H1B visa program needs better controls to protect American workers. The reports are from the Government Accountability Office and the Department of Labor, the most recent of which is two years old, and still nothing has been done.

And, by the way, Lou, this is not the first time that CIS has blown past its cap and exceeded the cap for H1B visas by 20,000 in 1999.

DOBBS: Well, this is a contest between a bureaucracy and the United States Congress, which presumably has the appropriate authority here. You know, as you were reporting, all I could hear ringing in my ears was President Bush saying "Jobs that Americans don't want."

Architecture, medicine, biotechnology, engineering? There aren't many Americans who wouldn't want those jobs.

TUCKER: Oh, no, there's not. And a lot of the problem with this program is there is no transparency, Lou. A company that hires workers doesn't have to disclose their H1B visas, doesn't have to tell you what kinds of jobs that they have.

DOBBS: And as Vice President Cheney last week pointed out, referring to illegal aliens in that case, but it appears that that applies as well to some of these visa holders as well, we don't know who they are, we don't know what they're doing, we don't know anything about them. And somebody, somebody at Homeland Security and Immigration should, one would think, be slightly embarrassed. One would hope.

Bill Tucker, thank you, sir. Appreciate it.

We have reported extensively here on the rise of China, politically, militarily and, of course, economically. China is also quickly becoming the world's largest polluter. The Chinese factories that are producing those cheap imported goods destined for this country and the rest of the world are also polluting the very air that you and I breathe.

Stan Grant reports from Beijing.


STAN GRANT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Beijing on a bad day, you can barely see, you can barely breathe. And it is heading your way.

JIM HARKNESS, WORLD WIDE FUND FOR NATURE: Environmental issues now are really all global issues. They're no longer something that you can solve by living in Aspen because it's a beautiful place.

GRANT: Indeed, there are few places to hide. These NASA photos from 2002 and 2004 showing clearly China's toxic clouds. In 1998, dust from China's Gobi Desert was visible snaking across the Pacific all the way to North America.

And it is not only dust. Mercury from power plants and factories across China and other parts of Asia find its way into lakes and streams in the U.S.

China already spews out more greenhouse gases than any nation on Earth, bar the United States, and is expected to overtake the U.S. within 20 years. That means the air in the rest of the world is going to get a lot dirtier.

Already, researchers say pollution wafting into the United States accounts for 30 percent of the nation's ozone. It is so bad it threatens to partly cancel out the billions of dollars already spent improving U.S. air quality. China is looking at ways to clean up its act, passing a law to boost the use of renewable resources, but it is not enough.

DAI QING, ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST (through translator): The main resource we use now is coal. Its air pollution has not only affected China, but the whole world. Sun power and wind power are all quite good, but they account for a small percentage of China's energy resources.

GRANT (on camera): One of the big problems is simply education, making people aware of their environment, the dangers of pollution, and what they can do to make a difference.

(voice-over): And it is often children who are paying the price. Illnesses like asthma are rampant. Asian chemical emissions have doubled in the past 20 years. If nothing changes, the dust and smog these kids breathe in, in Beijing now will already about waiting for them when they get home.

Stan Grant, CNN, Beijing.


DOBBS: And economically, a new wave of cheap Chinese textile imports is flooding into this country. China says it's apparel imports into the United States jumped almost 150 percent last month from February of last year. It is the second month the textile imports have surged following the expiration of global quotas. Cheap Chinese textile imports have already devastated the American textile industry and destroyed literally hundreds of thousands of American jobs.

The Bush administration says it is monitoring the situation.

Germany is also suffering from overseas outsourcing of jobs to cheap labor markets. Tonight, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is calling upon German corporations to stop exporting jobs to cheap foreign labor markets. Schroeder says cuts in corporate taxes and other incentives have created excellent conditions for companies in Germany, and he says it's time to stop ranting about moving production offshore and start investing in Germany itself. Germany's unemployment rate reached its highest level in decades last month, 12.6 percent.

Coming up next here, desperate new pleas to save the life of Terri Schiavo. We'll have the latest for you on that story from Florida and a great deal more.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: In just a moment, the father of Terri Schiavo says it's not too late to save her life. We'll have a live report from Florida.

Now here are some of the other important stories we're following tonight.

At least 300 people are dead after a massive earthquake off the coast of Indonesia. The earthquake with a magnitude of at least 8.2, triggered panic and tsunami warnings around the already devastated Indian Ocean rim. Many of those tsunami warnings have now been canceled, and as best we can determine, none materialized.

Authorities in Minnesota have arrested a juvenile in connection with the deadly school shooting on the Red Lake Indian Reservation last week. Officials released no other details about that arrest. Police say the 16-year-old shooter in the case killed his grandfather and eight others before turning the gun on himself at the high school.

Pope John Paul II today missed an Easter Monday prayer reading for the first time in his 26-year papacy. The pope did appear from his Vatican window yesterday, but a cardinal read his Easter blessing because the pope's voice is too weak. The 84-year-old pontiff underwent a tracheotomy last month.

Today is Terri Schiavo's 11th day without food and water. Supporters of Terri Schiavo are in Washington today. They're calling for action from leaders in Congress. Schiavo's family today made a desperate plea to authorities in Florida, telling them not to give up on their daughter.

Susan Candiotti reports from Pinellas Park, Florida -- Susan.


Yes, we learned from the attorney representing Michael Schiavo, Terri Schiavo's husband, as he described it, "Obviously death is near. Whether it is imminent is another question."

Also, some additional information from a news conference from that same lawyer this afternoon. We learned that Terri Schiavo received two doses of morphine by suppository, most recently on Saturday, apparently because of moaning, among other reasons. We are told it was the lowest dosage possible. And another dose of morphine was administered to her a week before that.

We understand from that same lawyer that she has had no urine output. Remember, she has not been given any liquid since the feeding tube was removed.

Also, that Michael Schiavo has decided in the last few days that, contrary to some reports, the chief medical examiner here in this area will perform an autopsy on Terri Schiavo after she dies, because, according to the lawyer, they want to answer any questions the public might have about the extent of brain damage to Ms. Schiavo. The attorney described her condition and also the conditions in her room, with soft music playing, among other things.


GEORGE FELOS, MICHAEL SCHIAVO'S ATTORNEY: Mrs. Schiavo's appearance to me was very calm, very relaxed, very peaceful. There was no -- I saw no evidence of any bodily discomfort whatsoever.


CANDIOTTI: Within minutes of that news conference, a response from the Schindler family, Terri Schiavo's parents, sister and brother. According to Terri's sister, after visiting with her, she described Terri as being very vocal, never so vocal, according to her sister.


SUZANNE VITADAMO, TERRI SCHIAVO'S SISTER: The look on her face is "please help me," and that's exactly what I get from her when I'm in there, "Please help me."


CANDIOTTI: Also, a visit to Capitol Hill this day from Reverend Pat Mahoney, a supporter of the Schindler family, visiting with various leaders there and asking them why Congress has not yet acted on subpoenas issued before the feeding tube of Terri Schiavo was removed, now about 10 days ago. They wanted to know why those subpoenas have not been acted upon requiring her to be called to Capitol Hill to respond to various issues. No response so far, as far as we know.

And finally, Lou, we also learned this, a side effect of some of the drama being played out here at the hospice. A grade school not far from here actually went so far as to relocate its 600 grade school students to another location because, according to school spokesmen, the scene out here has become a little too dramatic, some of the signs a little too graphic for those young children -- Lou.

DOBBS: Indeed, there is not -- this entire event not surrounded by great -- great dignity. Thank you very much, Susan Candiotti, reporting from Pinellas Park, Florida.

A major report on the United Nations multibillion-dollar oil-for- food scandal will be released tomorrow. That report is expected to be highly critical of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. One official said investigators will criticize Annan for his failure to address his son's apparent conflicts of interest. Annan's son Kojo was employed by a Swiss company that won a United Nations contract in the oil-for- food program.

That official said Annan will also be criticized for his failure to identify problems among U.N. staff, problems that extend to sexual impropriety.

India today blasted the United States for offering to sell those F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan. The Indian defense minister declared the proposed deal could have negative consequences for India's security. The United States has offered to sell Pakistan two dozen F- 16s as a reward for Pakistan's support in the global war against radical Islamist terror. The Bush administration says it's also willing to sell F-16s to India, as well.

Turning to our extensive reporting on the fight to keep driver's licenses out of the hands of illegal aliens, and potentially, terrorists, in this country, my guest tonight is sponsoring a bill in Oregon that would require anyone applying for a driver's license to prove their U.S. citizenship. State Representative Scott Bruun says the bill is not anti-immigrant, but rather anti-terrorist, and joins us tonight from the state capital of Salem, Oregon.

Good to have you with us.


DOBBS: What makes this bill necessary? Oregon is one of, I believe it's one of nine states, that does not have a citizenship requirement. What makes it important to do this now?

BRUUN: A couple reasons, not the least of which is, as you mentioned, the terrorism aspect. Listen, in a 9/10 world -- we know that illegal immigration happens, we know that people, at least in Oregon, are being licensed without legal standing, and in a 9/10 world, maybe we can shrug our shoulders, no harm, no foul, but in a 9/11 world, we just don't have that luxury anymore. We absolutely have to make sure that law enforcement folks, not only here in Oregon, but when using Oregon ID elsewhere in the nation, can have that confidence that the Oregon ID is actually a valid ID with real standing behind it.

DOBBS: I know that there have been hearings on your proposed legislation. Law enforcement -- what is the position of law enforcement in Oregon? Do they see a need for this legislation? BRUUN: Yes, in fact, this bill originally came to me from a Portland Police officer who is a long-time friend of mine. Now, I have to say that he didn't come here under the approval, if you will, or the disapproval, he came on his own from Portland Police, but he came here to say that this is a real problem for them. And, once again, it goes back to understanding the standing. They get a legal ID, a legal Oregon ID, it's not a fake document, it's a real document, but they have to have the confidence to make sure that the person representing that document is here legally, to make sure that document is actually worth what it says it's worth. That's the problem that Oregon has right now, and apparently we're one of only nine states that do it this way. When it came to me, I was actually surprised that we didn't require this before we issued driver's licenses.

DOBBS: I think, Representative Bruun, based on our viewer response, and I think many of our viewers have been surprised at how many states do not require -- or did not require -- that is changing rapidly -- proof of U.S. citizenship.

Do you support, for example -- because you say that you're not anti-immigrant, and I know from personal experience, that saying that you're not anti-immigrant is not sufficient for many people. Amongst the issues out there are the jobs bill, the DREAM Act, the president's so-called guest worker program, which many people consider to be nothing more than amnesty. Do you support those pieces of legislation?

BRUUN: Well, let me say that was one of the real concerns -- when that came to me, that was my biggest concern: could this be construed as anti-immigrant? That means a lot to me. Just to let you know, one of -- my chief-of-staff, as a matter of fact, is a legal immigrant from South America. I took this to her beforehand, before we went forward to have the bill written. I took it to her and I said, does this pass the smell test with you? Not only did she affirm that this was a good bill in her mind, but she said from her position as a legal immigrant, somebody who has gone through the loopholes and has jumped over the hurdles -- and they're extensive when you're talking about the State Department or I.N.S. -- someone like her -- she feels she went through the normal process, she thinks it's unfair that folks can come in and not go through the legal process.

America is a place that people rightly want to live, and if it's a place worth living for, it's a place worth fighting for and traveling to, we have to expect the people to go through the normal, legal process to become citizens, which is great, or become legal immigrants.

DOBBS: Absolutely. I think most people would agree with you on that. What has been the reaction, because, as you know, there are open borders advocates. I'm sure that in Oregon, the agricultural interests, many of the big employers there have got to be just shouting you down, because they're the ones hiring illegal aliens. They're the ones exploiting those folks. We focus on the illegal aliens, but these employers are the ones we really, really need to focus on as well. BRUUN: That's right, and the Oregon census in 2000 -- or the U.S. census in Oregon in 2000 -- indicated that 2.6 percent of the Oregon population, of the total population, is illegal immigrants. There's no doubt there's a huge economic strength in our immigrants, both legal and illegal, and yes, we can talk about it, but there's no questions that there's extensive illegal immigration that's going on in Oregon, and it would be naive to say anything other than the fact that these illegal immigrants are providing a bulwark of our economy, especially the agricultural economy that you mentioned.

I do support -- you alluded to earlier -- the effort that President Bush is going through with the guest worker program, and I know there's pros and cons, there's absolutely pros and cons, but I think it's at least heading us in the right direction to start taking care of a problem, which is a problem not just in Oregon but throughout the nation. I support those efforts. I also support a bill in Utah that's been...

DOBBS: Representative...

BRUUN: I'm sorry. Go ahead.

DOBBS: Finish your sentence, if you would, but we're really out of time.

BRUUN: Oh, I was going to say, there's a bill in Utah that would give people, even if they don't qualify for a real driver's license, would give them the right to drive. It couldn't get you on an airplane, can't get you into other states.

DOBBS: Driver's licenses... And Utah is spelling out very clearly, it's a privilege and not the same thing as a driver's license.

We thank you very much for being with us, Representative Bruun.

BRUUN: Thank you, sir. Appreciate it.

DOBBS: Coming up next here, our educational system is flunking out when it comes to poor and minority students in this country. I'll be talking to the superintendent of California schools, who says Governor Schwarzenegger is at least partly to blame for the education crisis. Stay with us.


DOBBS: As you know, we report extensively here on the education crisis in this country. California is certainly one state where the educational system is in dire, dire emergency. Nearly half of California's black and Hispanic high school students drop out, that according to a recent Harvard University study. The state ranks 44th, in fact, in the nation, for the funding that it allocates for each public school student.

Joining me is the man in charge. He's Jack O'Connell, he's the state superintendent for California schools, joining us live tonight from Ventura, California.

Superintendent O'Connell, good to have you with us.

JACK O'CONNELL, STATE SUPERINTENDENT, CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS: Very nice to be with you. Greetings from a windy Ventura, California.

DOBBS: We appreciate you standing out there in that wind to try to discuss part of the issues here. You just had to be -- particularly given that your information was quite different -- shocked at this Harvard University study showing just atrocious, atrocious dropout rates, particularly for young black and young Hispanics in your school system.

O'CONNELL: Actually, Lou, I'm grateful that the study has been concluded. I think that's going to give us even more data that we need in order to quantify the exact nature of the problem, and the extent of the problem. I first called for significant high school reform a little over two years ago, and we've been slowly making progress, but I'm very appreciative of the folks from Harvard, their interest -- they're providing us with this data which I think will further contribute to many of the high school reform measures that I've been sponsoring and supporting for the last couple years.

DOBBS: Superintendent, of the people I talk with, many of them in, well, the Hispanic community primarily, but also in the African- American community, working hard at the margin, if you will, trying to help a select group of students.

What in the world are we going to do? We- the problem gets worse every year. We cannot simply write off a generation of young people. And what's happening in California, unfortunately, is not singular in the United States. It's happening nationwide. There have to be, there have to be solutions that are readily implementable and can be brought to bear. Are there?

O'CONNELL: Yes, Lou, there are. And that's why we need to have smaller learning communities. That's why we need to have more rigor, more relevance in our curriculum. We need to have more rigor in our career and technical education classes.

Students have to feel connected. I'm a teacher myself. In fact, I taught school, grew up not far from where we are on -- here today on this windy day.

And we need to do a better job of preparing students for the future. We don't want to lose one generation of students. In fact, we don't want to lose one student. We have to make sure that students feel more connected.

That's why I'm so pleased that President Bush is now talking about high school reform. The National Conference of State Governors, the National Conference of State Legislators, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, they've been out in the forefront as well.

And so that's why today in California we really do have a struggle. It's a struggle over, should we make an investment in education, which is investment in the future, or are we going to shortchange education, as some are suggesting?

DOBBS: Let me ask you this. According to this study, the Harvard study, showing that the overall graduation rate is approximately 71 percent, that is 16 percentage points lower than what the official Department of Education rate was, showing a graduation rate of 87 percent.

How can we have these kinds of disparities? How can we have a situation in which administrators are going to school to learn skills that are absolutely irrelevant to running a school, but just solely for the purpose of getting more money?

O'CONNELL: Well, we clearly need to make school more relevant. We need to do a better job at preparing students for college, if that's their choice, for their careers, if they wish to go straight into the workforce.

And the bottom line, Lou, is, we need to make sure we're preparing students to be more effective citizens in our participatory democracy.

And the reality is, we don't know the exact dropout figure. Here in California, we do not have what we call a student identifier system. So many students leave high school, transfer to another school, and they do not inform the school from which they're leaving. Many students might take a GED test or an equivalency exam, or move out of state and reenroll in another school system.

We are in the process of putting together that student identifier system. We hope to have that within a year. And then we will have more accurate data.

But bottom line, Lou, is our dropout rate in California -- it's too high, and our graduation rate here in California is too low.

DOBBS: Without question. And about one (INAUDIBLE) -- just nationwide, one in 10 teachers in this country, just about, are qualified to be teaching mathematics and natural sciences in the K through 12 grades.

It's extraordinary that we have created a system in this country, and I don't want to just simply criticize California, as I say, there are plenty of school systems in this country in real crisis as well. But the fact that we're not even -- we're educating teachers about education rather than educating them in the subjects that we want them to educate our young people in.

How in the world -- what will it take to get people talking honestly about what needs to be done to bring education to young people in this country?

O'CONNELL: We need to try to do a better job of engaging communities. We need to value and respect the teaching profession again, our paraeducators, our site administrators. It's simply critical that we move forward. I sponsored a high school summit here in Sacramento about four months ago. Four thousand people came. That just shows you the dramatic need, the dramatic desire for high school reform.

DOBBS: And Governor Schwarzenegger, I know you've been critical of him. Do you think he's going to be helpful in the future?

O'CONNELL: Well, I'm disappointed in his initial budget. I still believe that he wants to do the right thing for public education, he certainly says that. But I have to tell you, I'm terribly disappointed with the state budget that he's put forward. It significantly underfunds public education.

We had an agreement with the governor a little over a year ago, $2 billion in cuts for this current year, if you would fully fund public education this year. And regrettably, he's about $2.5 billion short. Regrettably, Governor Schwarzenegger's broken his promise with the students of California.

DOBBS: Superintendent, we've got to go, but we'd like to bring you back. Maybe we can invite Governor Schwarzenegger to join us, and the three of us have a conversation about what you can do there. I'll referee that.

O'CONNELL: Lou, I'd enjoy that, I'd enjoy that very much. Thank you.

DOBBS: Thanks a lot, Superintendent Jack O'Connell.

Now tonight's poll. Do you believe U.S. public schools should be teaching only in the English language, yes or no? Cast your vote at We'll have the results for you later here in the broadcast.

Coming up next, your thoughts on the escalating immigration crisis in this country.

And why the nation's largest and most influential labor union is protesting the privatization, at least private accounts, and Social Security reform.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Taking a look now at your thoughts, Roger Compton in Klamath Falls, Oregon, wrote to say, "I am outraged that the U.S. president calls Americans patrolling the Mexican border vigilantes. Maybe Senor Bush and his no-Mexican-left-behind policy would do better south of the border he fails to protect."

Mike Mandrell of Prophetstown, Illinois, "Thank you for your reporting on the Minuteman project. If our government isn't going to protect our borders, then it's the people's right to do so. After all, it's our country, not the government's." We should point out, by the way, that the best definition of this project, for at least us, has been referring to the Minutemen not as vigilantes, but rather undocumented border patrol.

Dave in Muddle -- rather, Mundelein, Illinois, wrote in about our poll question Friday, which was, Should Congress receive retirement benefits equal to those of the citizens they represent? Dave wrote in to say, "Wrong question. Wrong question, Lou. Since Congress is representing the multinational corporations and the top 1 percent, they are receiving benefits equal to that of their constituents."

Nancy Drysdale in Las Vegas, Nevada, said, "Dear Mr. Dobbs, My great-granddaughter's father is in Iraq. Yesterday in the mail, they received from him, 'Support our troops' gel bracelets. Upon looking at them, I was appalled to read, 'Made in China.' The significance of these being worn to show that we do support our American troops dictates that they should be made in the good old U.S.A."

I couldn't agree more with you.

Robert Gaston in Lexington Park, Maryland, said, "At the end of every broadcast, it is your custom to show the results of that day's poll, and in every case, the results indicate that the vast majority of your viewing audience is clearly opposed to the direction our country is heading. Why is our government in direct opposition to what appears to be obvious to the rest of us?"

I wish I could figure that one out along with you.

We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts at Each of us -- each of you whose e-mail is read on this broadcast will receive a copy of my book, "Exporting America." And if you want to receive our e-mail newsletter, sign up on our Web site,

Next, why the nation's largest union is vehemently opposed to private accounts and Social Security reform, as annunciated so far by President Bush. The Secretary of Treasury of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka joins me next, here. Stay with us.


DOBBS: This week the nation's largest labor organization is planning a multistate protest against the president's plans and proposals for private accounts and Social Security reform. The AFL- CIO will hold protests outside of offices of Charles Schwab, Wachovia, and other supporters of the privatization plans.

My next guest is the number two official at the AFL-CIO, Secretary Treasurer Richard Trumka.

Good to have you with us tonight, from Washington.

RICHARD TRUMKA, SECRETARY-TREASURER, AFL-CIO: Thanks, Lou, thanks for having me on again.

DOBBS: To go after Charles Schwab, Wachovia -- you've had some success of getting others to retreat from an association that was created to support the president, the business association, business organization that was created to support the president's plan. Is that success what's spurring you here?

TRUMKA: Well, it helps. Some of the investors, Waddell-Reed, Edward Jones, have come to their senses and said, privatization is a bad deal, particularly the scheme, the risky scheme that's been proffered by the president. So Charles Schwab and Wachovia are the last two that are really supporting the pro-business lobby of the Alliance for Workers' Retirement Security. So, we'll be having demonstrations and rallies in over 75 cities around the country to shine the spotlight on their efforts to privatize Social Security and weaken Social Security in the long run.

DOBBS: Richard, we talked obviously with Schwab and Wachovia; both say that they do not have a position on Social Security. Why are you targeting them specifically?

TRUMKA: Well, first of all, all of their officials, Chuck Schwab goes back a number of years in favor of privatization, of Social Security private accounts. They are part of the two business groups, the Alliance for Workers' Retirement Security, whose executive director says, there's no reason to be part of this unless you support privatization of Social Security. They are in the forefront of this effort to privatize Social Security, but they create these front groups so that people won't know.

So, what we're simply asking them is, tell us the truth, give us the information, show us what you have done, who you invest in, in these groups. They refuse to do it, because the facts would lead to the inevitable conclusion that they do support privatization, because they stand to gain $1 trillion in fees over the lifetime of this program.

DOBBS: What was that number again?

TRUMKA: $1 trillion in fees is what will go to Wall Street if we privatize Social Security.

DOBBS: We should point out that organization is the Alliance for Workers' Retirement Security, and you're calling them a front?

TRUMKA: Yes, they were created for privatization. They're headed by a guy by the name of Derrick Max, who is out front. It gives cover to these companies like Schwab, who give them money, and let them go out and lobby for it, and they try to say to the rest of us, well, we don't have a position on it. But they were also -- Lou, they were also at the White House in November, with a group of business people, pro-privatization business advocates, trying to give cover and advance the president's plan. So, we know they're part of this effort.

DOBBS: When were you last at the White House representing American working men and women?

TRUMKA: Well, let's see, it hasn't been for several years. DOBBS: Well, Richard Trumka, we thank you for being with us. We look forward to the campaign and we'll see how it all works out, as they say.

Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO.

A reminder to vote in our poll tonight -- do you believe U.S. public schools should teach only in the English language? Yes or no, cast your vote at We'll have the results of the poll and a preview of what's ahead, here tomorrow, coming up next. Please stay with us.


DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight: 88 percent of you say U.S. public schools should be teaching only in the English language, 12 percent of you say they should not. That's our poll, that's the broadcast for tonight. Thanks for being with us. Please join us here tomorrow. The escalating crisis at our nation's borders, and why there are still gaping holes in security, along both the Mexican and Canadian border. We'll have our special report, and I'll be joined by Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, who has led efforts in Congress to crack down on holes in security at the border, and within the country, in particular, in the case of real ID. And Michael Garcia, the head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, will be our special guest, and I'll be talking with the president of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund, Cesar Perales, who says I'm anti-immigration. I'll be talking with him, and we'll try to communicate with one another, and assure him why that is simply not the case. I hope you'll be here, looking forward to tomorrow night's show already. For all of us here, good night from New York. "ANDERSON COOPER 360" is next.


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