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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

Dangerous Access; Illegal Alien Giveaway; Homeland Insecurity

Aired April 15, 2005 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, dangerous access for dozens of illegal aliens hired to work on United States Navy ships in California. We'll have a special report on how those illegal aliens were hired and how our government has so far failed to capture most of them.
And then homeland insecurity. Some parts of this country are spending their homeland security money on projects that have very little to do with protecting our nation against radical Islamist terrorism. We'll have that special report as well. And the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee joins to tell us how his new legislation will solve the problem.

And then the high cost of so-called free trade. A leading member of the National Farmers Union says CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement, will devastate American farmers at a critical juncture for our farming industry. He's our guest tonight.

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

DOBBS: Good evening. Stock prices today plunged on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrials fell almost 200 points. That the worst single day decline in nearly two years, in fact.

The Dow over the past three days has fallen more than 400 points. A new report today showed consumer confidence at the lowest level in a year and a half. All of the major markets suffered huge losses on the week.

Turning now to our nation's immigration crisis. Tonight, the Homeland Security Department says dozens of illegal aliens had access to one of our nation's most sensitive and secure military facilities. The department says 86 illegal aliens worked for a California contractor, a contractor that repairs U.S. Navy ships at the naval station in San Diego.

Twenty of those illegal aliens have been arrested. But the government says it has no idea where the other 66 illegal aliens are.

Bill Tucker reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eighty-six illegal aliens found work here, painting ships at the naval station in San Diego. That is more than half of the payroll at Naval Coating, the contractor which hired the illegals.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were able to only find and arrest 20, two of whom have been deported before. One after being convicted of drug smuggling. The arrest part of a crackdown by ICE agents in San Diego, home to three military bases.

MICHAEL UNZUETA, ICE SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: We're going into these employers and these businesses and checking their employee records. In San Diego, we've reviewed somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 or more companies. We've looked at about 13,000 employment records, and of that, we've made 168 arrests.

TUCKER: Naval Coating had no comment. But ICE showed off the false documents the employees use to get hired, including false Social Security cards.

This latest group of arrests follows the arrest of illegal aliens working on a nuclear reactor in Florida. Twenty-seven illegals working at Piedmont Triad International Airport, 14 illegals working at Logan International Airport, and three illegals with state-issued ID cards work for a company servicing vendor machines in the state prison at Chino, California.

JAMES CARAFANO, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: The most dangerous terrorist attacks are what's called insider attacks. It's people who -- you know, most security systems are designed to keep people out who have bad intent from getting in. But if you have an insider, somebody who has a badge who get in, they can do terrible things.

TUCKER: It may seem obvious, even alarmingly simple. But more alarming is that the law only requires an employer find two pieces of ID acceptable, such as a driver's license and a Social Security number. There is no legal requirement to check Social Security numbers.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCKER: Equally disturbing are the penalties involved. Unless a pattern of willful hiring of illegals can be proved, there are no criminal penalties. A first offense is a civil penalty, and you can be fined, Lou, not less than $250 and not more than $2,000.

DOBBS: Well, aside from the idiocy concerning all those penalties, the fact that a U.S. naval shipyard is sitting there with security so lax that this could occur, I mean, that's abominable.

TUCKER: Well, the security requirements actually are on the contractor. The contractor's supposed to do the background checks, and when they are let in, they go through two checkpoints. But the background checks are the requirement of the contractor.

DOBBS: That's a U.S. naval base -- forgive me.

TUCKER: Yes, it is.

DOBBS: It's on the U.S. Navy to make certain that doesn't occur. Thank you, Bill Tucker. Incredible.

Well, as we is reported here extensively, the millions of illegal aliens in this country are enjoying many benefits designed for U.S. citizens, including, of course, education. Tonight, Florida is the latest state to consider legislation that would allow many illegal aliens to attend state colleges for largely discounted in-state tuition rates. Critics say the bill will only harm students who are in fact American citizens.

Lisa Sylvester reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Florida's students save as much as 75 percent off the cost of a community college education if they're eligible for in-state tuition rates. The Florida legislature is considering a bill that would give children of illegal migrant farm workers access to the lower rates when they attend state schools. Proponents held a rally last month lobbying for the legislation.

REP. JOHN QUINONES, FLORIDA LEGISLATURE: Students that want to advance themselves and want to create themselves opportunities to be better citizens should not be hampered.

SYLVESTER: But critics question the logic of rewarding families who broke the law in the first place. State Senator Mike Haridopolos is also a history professor at a Florida community college.

SEN. MIKE HARIDOPOLOS, FLORIDA LEGISLATURE: If a bill like this passes, it will cost people who are regular Florida residents, who've worked hard, played by the rules, and paid their taxes, they would literally get left behind. And as a teacher, I just don't want to send that message to our students here in the state of Florida, nor do I want to send that message across the United States.

SYLVESTER: Eight States currently allow illegal aliens to receive in-state tuition rates, even though U.S. citizens from outside the state do not qualify for the discounted tuition.

JOYCE TARNOW, FLORIDA FOR A SUSTAINABLE POPULATION: That's not fair to the people of the United States of America who have children, who are having a hard time paying the cost of tuition, and sometimes do not qualify for some of the financial aid programs.

SYLVESTER: The Florida bill passed the first level of committee hearings unanimously, but opponents say public opinion is on their side. And once the word gets out, they're confident this bill will never become law.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SYLVESTER: A lawsuit has been filed in Kansas opposing the in- state tuition law that passed there last year. The lawyer who brought the case says granting lower tuition rates to illegal aliens is barred by a 1996 federal law. The judge is expected to rule in that case by the end of May -- Lou.

DOBBS: Lisa, thank you very much. Lisa Sylvester from Washington.

The invasion of illegal aliens into this country and the war against radical Islamist terrorism comes as the Department of Homeland Security faces a new spending crisis. This week, Congress took on the intensifying debate over how to divide up the billions of dollars in security spending.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Who should get more homeland security money, high population cities in high-traffic areas, or rural communities off the beaten track? Congressional hearings ask just that. The new head of homeland security, Michael Chertoff, this week testified he wants to allocate more funds based on risk assessment.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: We can't afford to waste the money by, you know, just making everybody feel good like they got a little piece of something. It's got to be driven by a sense of priorities about what we have to worry about the most.

PILGRIM: Chertoff, new on the job, is reexamining the way the Department of Homeland Security has been doing business. Congress is considering reconfiguring the formula for allocating money.

MAURICE SONNENBERG, FMR. VICE CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL COMMISSION ON TERRORISM: But the high-risk areas, which are well known, it becomes very important to place the money where the most damaged and the highest lethality could have the greatest toll.

PILGRIM: Yet now allocations for Wyoming for first-responder preparedness are $37.74 per capita. South Dakota, $26.32. But New York, $5.41. And California, $4.97.

Some projects are going forward. Major cities have held preparedness drills in recent months. A billion dollars has gone to help first responders be able to communicate. But charges of nonessential projects, what critics call pork barrel projects, abound.

The Department of Homeland Security stated today, "Since the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, we have endorsed and encouraged an allocation of resources based on risk and threat. Unfortunately, these efforts have stalled in Congress in previous budget battles."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Now, some of the so-called pork had been drawing headlines. But upon examination, the funds were directly allocated by Congress in one case, or in some cases by the Justice Department. However, critics argue there are many small cities and towns that may need more guidance on choosing exactly what purchases are allowed under the Department of Homeland Security rules, Lou. And they have been stretching them.

DOBBS: You are kidding. You are kidding.

PILGRIM: They are definitely stretching them when you look at the list.

DOBBS: Oh, come on. I mean, that guidance? They need common sense and a sense of responsibility. Let's not play that Washington game.

PILGRIM: Yes. Well, it certainly is -- many places just use it as an excuse to upgrade their current...

DOBBS: Exactly, as you've cited there.

PILGRIM: Yes.

DOBBS: Kitty, I'm already -- I'm starting to wag my head already. We're very -- we're only nine minutes into the broadcast. Kitty Pilgrim, thank you very much.

We'll have much more ahead here tonight on the debate over which area should receive the most and the least funding for homeland security. We'll be joined by the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and he has, he says, the answer.

Also ahead here, tonight, god and politics, why the Senate's majority leader is joining forces with religious leaders in a battle that is bitterly dividing the U.S. Congress.

And a shocking example of your taxpayer dollars used to ship American jobs to cheap foreign labor markets.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Talk about high-risk politics. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has agreed to take part in a telecast organized by some of the most influential Christian conservatives in the country. The made-for-TV service is expected to criticize Democrats for blocking the president's judicial nominees. Some conservatives say the Senate Democrats' filibuster of judicial nominees is a filibuster against people of faith.

Ed Henry reports tonight from Washington -- Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, good evening.

Senator Frist is edging closer and closer to using the so-called nuclear option in changing Senate rules to ban the use of filibusters to block those judicial nominations. This is a major cause for the right, which believes Democrats have been abusing the filibuster to block some of President Bush's nominees from getting on to the federal bench.

And Senate Democrats, though, say this is just a naked power grab by Senator Frist. And today they blasted the senator for agreeing to participate in that religious broadcast you mentioned.

In that broadcast, these leaders will allege that Democrats are using the filibuster against people of faith. And next weekend's event is being organized by the Family Research Council. It will originate at a mega church in Kentucky. And a flyer for this broadcast shows a person holding a bible in one hand and a judicial gavel in another.

Liberal activists claim Frist is improperly injecting religion into politics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RALPH NEAS, PRESIDENT, PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY: What Bill Frist is doing is dishonest, it is disruptive and destructive. And he should be ashamed of himself. And we've asked him to withdraw from this event and not give any credibility to people who are playing this religious card, this religious McCarthyism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: Now, Senator Frist's spokesman, Bob Stevenson (ph), told CNN that if Democrats are so concerned about mixing religion and politics, they should have spoken out against Senator John Kerry, delivering so many speeches in African-American churches during the last presidential campaign.

And the sponsor of this upcoming event says conservatives are merely defending the right of judicial nominees to get a straight up- or-down vote in the Senate rather than having to cross a 60-vote threshold.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY PERKINS, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: We have judges who, if they went to the Senate floor for a vote, would pass. They would receive over 51, 52, 53, 54, 55 votes. But they're being blocked by a handful that simply will not allow an up-or-down vote.

And that is trampling upon the Constitution, and it's wrong. And it's wrong to target these people because of their personal beliefs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: But Senate Democrats insist this is not about principle. They say Senator Frist is really voter motivated by a desire to win conservative support in advance of a likely presidential run in 2008 -- Lou.

DOBBS: Well, with all of those charges and cross-charges, Ed, let's sort something out here. The Republicans were also filibustering against President Clinton's nominees, were they not?

HENRY: Well, technically they were. They did not use filibusters, per se. But what they did was they used anonymous holds against dozens of Clinton nominees. So you're right, effectively they were filibusters, they just didn't call them filibusters.

DOBBS: So this is hardly a new circumstance that requires a nuclear option, should that be the choice of Senator Frist and the Republican Party and the White House.

Secondly, what is the difference between, for example, a Democratic candidate, presidential candidate, in this case, John Kerry, going out and campaigning in black churches around the country, and in this case a potential presidential candidate, Senator Bill Frist, going out and campaigning with evangelical Christians?

HENRY: First point, Lou. The bottom line here is that both sides do that. And as you mentioned, both side have been playing this game of blocking these judicial nominees.

It's just gotten to the point now with Republicans running the House, Senate, and White House, they're very frustrated that they can't get their nominees through. But back in the Clinton years, they were blocking dozens of judicial nominees. And in this case, Democrats point out that they've actually confirmed -- or at least voted and allowed straight up-or-down votes on 205 out of 215 judicial nominees for President Bush.

So that's 95 percent of them have actually gone through. So we're really fighting over about 5 percent of them.

DOBBS: And as you note, though, this is really about the higher courts, the appellate level. And the average there is considerably less. Thank you very much, Ed Henry, reporting from Washington.

We've reported here for more than two years on the thousands of American jobs being exported to cheap overseas labor markets. Tonight, a simply stunning example of your taxpayer dollars being used to ship American dollars to cheap foreign labor markets.

This time it's the voice of America. A broadcaster funded by you, the American taxpayer, moving its Washington-based overnight shift to Hong Kong. That's right, Hong Kong, China.

In an effort to cut costs, eight highly-skilled English news- writing positions funded by the United States government -- that is you and me -- are being moved to communist China. All to save $300,000 each year.

Coming up next, tax deadline. President Bush has promised to reform the tax code in his second term. On this April 15, many Americans say they're more than ready for a little reform. We'll have that story for you.

And then the battle over which parts of this country need the most money to protect against terrorism. The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee has the answer. And he's our guest next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: More than 130 million of us will have filed tax returns by the deadline of midnight tonight. Nine million of us will file last-minute requests for extensions before the deadline tonight.

President Bush made tax reform one of the centerpieces of his second-term agenda. You remember that, of course. But with his national tour now to push so-called Social Security reform, little attention has been paid by the administration to the tax code.

This week, the president's tax reform advisory panel said the tax code is in a dismal condition. This just in.

White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's why we need simplification, and that's why we've got to make sure everyone pays their fair share.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush is pledging to simplify the country's massive tax code. But this year taxpayers filing their returns could be just as confused as ever.

MAX SAWICKY, TAX ANALYST: It is seven times longer than the bible. I mean, that's just a lot of stuff. And there's just page after page not only of the law itself, but also the regulations that go with it. And it's written in ways that frankly I can't understand.

MALVEAUX: This from the man appointed by President Bush, who's in charge of recommending how to fix the broken tax code system.

SAWICKY: We're going to look at value-added tax, we're going to look at the national sales tax, we're going to look at the flat tax.

MALVEAUX: It's the alternative minimum tax, or AMT, that Max says will most dramatically affect taxpayers in the coming years, forcing them to pay more.

SAWICKY: This is a stealth tax code. Most people don't understand or don't know that we really have two separate tax codes for individuals in this country.

MALVEAUX: One tax code offers tax breaks, deductions, and accounts for inflation in determining how much someone owes the government. The other, the alternative minimum tax, does not. Under its formula, taxpayers generally owe more.

Now only the wealthiest Americans are subjected to the higher tax system. Most of those making between $200,000 and $500,000 a year. But tax analysts say because of the way the AMT is set up, it soon will begin to hit many in the middle class. Within 10 years, more than 75 percent of taxpayers with an income of $50,000 and up could be subjected to this higher tax calculation.

(on camera): The president's panel must submit its recommendations by the end of July. But the question remains whether or not it will get much of a hearing.

The president has already staked out reforming Social Security as the centerpiece of his domestic agenda. And so far, Congress has had little appetite to take that on.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: And our quote of the day, of course, is on the subject of taxes. It's one of my favorites by comedian-writer Dick Gregory. He said, "I wouldn't mind paying taxes if I knew they were going to a friendly country."

Coming up next, the debate over funding for homeland security. I'll be talking with the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

And I'll be joined by a member of the National Farmers Union who support the a bill that would grant status to a million illegal farm workers, but he doesn't much like that Central American Free Trade Agreement. We'll try to reconcile all of this.

And how a radio was more powerful than a rifle in combat for one hero who we celebrate tonight. We'll have his story when we continue.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: The chairman of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security and I will be discussing a bill he's introduced in just a moment. But first, here are some of the other important stories this evening.

Twenty people are dead, more than 50 injured in Paris, after a five swept through a hotel. Police expect that death toll to rise. A preliminary investigation reveals the fire was an accident.

Nations in the European Union today did not agree to a lift 15- year ban against selling weapons to China. The ban was imposed after the Chinese military stopped student protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989. The United States has said that lifting that ban would only cause more instability in Asia.

And the World Health Organization says about two-thirds of a deadly flu virus sent to laboratories in 17 countries has been destroyed. But the World Health Organization is still trying to locate samples supposedly sent to labs in Mexico and Lebanon. As we've reported here tonight, Congress is debating how billions of dollars in federal homeland security funding is distributed, and whether or not it's misdistributed. Congressman Christopher Cox says those funds are currently distributed based on arbitrary formulas and population alone.

For example, Wyoming, with the population of 500,000 people, receives about $38 per capita, while New York, with a population of 19 million, receives only about $5 per capita for its first responders. Congressman Cox has introduced legislation that would distribute funds based on risk. He's the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee joining us tonight from Capitol Hill.

Congressman, good to have you with us.

CONGRESSMAN CHRISTOPHER COX (R), CHAIRMAN, HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: Happy to join you, Lou.

DOBBS: The formula that you would put in place, you think it would go -- would create some rationality in equity than obviously for the way these funds are being spent?

COX: Yes. The idea is to get away from the formula approach. Instead of a formula distribution based on every state getting the same amount and then topping it off according to population, we would instead make 100 percent of the fund grants on the basis of risk. That is, we'd take a look at what our intelligence is telling us about terrorist capabilities and intentions, we'd take a look at our own studies of our own vulnerabilities, and we'd take a look at the consequences of different kinds of terrorist attacks and put the money at that intersection.

DOBBS: Of course, Mr. Chairman, one of the things that occurs to me is Congress and the U.S. government are hardly quick adapters, if you will. And terrorist changes and threats and, therefore, the risk could change rather quickly. How would you deal with that fact?

COX: Well, in fact, that is why we want this to be a simple (ph), flexible system, not one that's rigid in formulaic. Right now, the money is going out to every state equally to spend almost as they see fit, and the lack of consistency in the way the moneys are spent means that the nation itself is not prepared.

We've got to make sure that we have preparedness norms, that we build towards those, so that when terrorists do attack, if they make it through our defenses, if we're unable to prevent those terrorist attacks, we are in fact prepared.

DOBBS: Do you expect that you're going to be able to move this legislation through?

COX: I do indeed. You know, this was a central recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. They wanted to make sure we made terrorism preparedness grants on the basis of risk.

And just recently, Lee Hamilton testified before our committee again to that effect and endorsed our legislation. It's been endorsed by every single Republican and Democratic member of the Homeland Security Committee, and we have a markup of this legislation. That is, we are going to pass it out of our committee next week, and it should be on the floor the following week, the floor of the House.

DOBBS: Well, if -- I'd like to turn to two other issues if I many, Congressman. And the first is, as you know, 86 illegal aliens in a secure area working on U.S. Navy ships. What is your reaction to these events and these incidents which seem to be mounting every week?

COX: Well, the good news is that these incidents are amounting every week because now people are looking for these anomalies and uncovering them.

The bad news is that they exist at all. And of course they ought to. What we need to do is start from scratch and take a look at our entire system of dealing with immigration, look at that from border security standpoint, and recognize that border security and homeland security are one in the same.

DOBBS: Congressman, in terms of border security, it is remarkable that we continue to hear people say that we're improving security when we've got 3 million illegal aliens, as you well know, crossing our borders last year alone. What are we -- and the number of people who are saying we simply can't protect this nation's borders nor our ports. Do you accept that kind of, whatever you would call it, acceptance of the status quo to put the nicest terms I can think of on that thought?

COX: I don't expect it. And I can't accept it as chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.

Obviously, the events of 9/11 are a book for us, an open book for us to study. We want to make sure that that pattern or anything like it can never be repeated again. When people say that a lot of illegal crossings are occurring, and once people are in the country, and we miss them, we have to give up, I object to that as well.

There is no reason in the world that immigration in customs enforcement, which looks internally at people who have broken the law and are here illegally, cannot work in an integrated and more close way with customs and border protection which guards the borders. One of the things that we're looking at on the Committee on Homeland Security is merging CBP and ICE, that's also under study in the department. And we're not going to study it very long. I think we are going to move on this very quickly.

DOBBS: Good for you and we appreciate you being here.

The chairman of the homeland security committee Congressman Christopher Cox, thanks.

COX: Happy to join you, Lou.

DOBBS: Tonight's thought is on protecting this nation. "If the protection of the United States is relied upon, the United States must exercise such control as will enable this country to protect its national interests."

Taking a look now at some of your thoughts.

Louis Burt in Broomfield, Colorado wrote to say, "the Minuteman Project in Arizona is just one small step toward regaining freedom in American. It's doing the job the government can't seem to do right."

Bob in Garland, Texas said, "the very idea of the Mexican Army helping illegals cross the border into the United States should send alarm bells ringing through the halls of Congress and the Pentagon."

Ralph and Lori Price in Avenel, New Jersey, "the Minuteman Project should be expanded to 365 days a year until Washington gets the message."

And Russell in Los Osos, California, "what is law when it is not enforced? That you have the courage to speak the truth about illegal immigration without any hint of racism is both refreshing and inspirational. I'm so glad you don't let people get away with misdirection and marginally relevant arguments that distract from the very pure and central issue of illegal immigrations. It is illegal."

And Frank in New York, "I haven't yet heard anyone ask this, is there any other country in the world that has allowed 10 million illegal aliens to cross its borders? If not, then why are we the only one? And what do you think Mexico would do if 10 million American crossed over into that country?"

Well, the answer to the first two parts of that question are no, and the third, we can only speculate.

We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts at loudobbs.com. Each of you who's e-mail is read here receives a copy my book "Exporting America. And if you would like to be our e-mail newsletter, sign up on our Web site, loudobbs.com.

A one of a kind animal at Sealife Park in Hawaii is no longer one of a kind. That's because the only known whale-dolphin mixture has given birth to a baby wholphin. The wholphin, who has not yet been named, is 1/4 false killer whale and 3/4 bottlenose dolphin. It gets complicated, I know.

Her mother was born 19 years ago after a 2000 pound false killer whale surprisingly mated with a 400-pound dolphin. Park researchers expect the baby wolphins father is a 15 foot Atlantic bottlenose dolphin.

You may remember that another strain mixture -- this one in Miami -- that's where Hercules the liger is living and living large. He's, of course, half lion, half tiger. Hercules is 10 feet long and weighs 900 pounds. And he's becoming one of that city's most unusual attractions.

Coming up next here, a leader of the National Farm Union -- he's joins us to tell us why he's against the Central American Free Trade Agreement, but in favor of a bill that would make thousands of illegal alien farm workers legal.

And then, our weekly salute to our men and women in uniform, "Heroes." How one member of the Washington Air National Guard saved his own life and the lives of others in his unit when they were under attack in Afghanistan. His story is next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: My guest tonight says trade agreements are working against Americans. And he says we need to make certain our U.S. trade RealNetworks are looking out for the best interests of American consumers, taxpayers and, of course, farmers. But Tom Buis supports the Ag jobs Bill which would grant legal status to at least a million illegal migrant workers. Some might say it is not in the best interest of Americans. We'll find out.

Joining me now from Washington, Tom Buis. He is vice president of government relations for the National Farmers Union. Good to have you with us.

TOM BUIS, NATIONAL FARMERS UNION: It's great to be on, Lou. Thank you.

DOBBS: Well, let's talk about the Central American Free Trade agreement. A lot of people are saying we really need that. And a lot of other folks are saying what we don't need is another outsourcing agreement. And what we don't need is anymore free trade that results in any greater deficits. What's your take?

BUIS: Well, we think it's just a continuation of the failed trade policies of the past ten years. We don't see any benefit for Americans, especially not America's farmers or ranchers, not consumers and not taxpayers.

We're at the point where American agriculture is facing competitive imports that really threaten our food production here in the United States. And we don't see the benefits.

DOBBS: You don't see the benefit -- and in point in fact, this is the first time that we're going to see U.S. farm imports rise to a level that our exports can't match up. What's going on?

BUIS: Well, again, it points back to the trade agreements. They're very one way. They open our markets to competitive imports and the United States farmers can't compete. Our exports aren't keeping pace, because we have to compete with countries that use lower labor costs, they have lower environmental and health standard. And oftentimes, many of them manipulate their currency in order to give them an edge in international markets.

DOBBS: Well, those son of a gun, cheating like that, that's terrible.

Let me ask you something, Tom. You know 29 years of trade deficits -- and I've just got to ask you the question -- I have talked with CEOs with politicians -- why doesn't somebody get the fact this isn't working? You spend a lot of time trying to persuade folks for your union, your association, the farmers, this is pretty straightforward stuff. Who is, and for what reason, refusing to get it?

BUIS: Well, I think you have to look at what's the objective? I mean, these trade agreements benefit some Americans, probably American companies that do the trading. But farmers aren't benefiting, there's no better fact than that than worldwide about $1 billion a day is spent to prop up farm income. So we're not getting the price from the marketplace whether we're in the United States or a developing country. Same thing.

DOBBS: Well, let's turn to that Ag jobs Bill. How in the world can you support that?

BUIS: Well, our support for the Ag jobs bill, Lou, is because we think -- well first of all, it's not -- it's addressing the symptom, it's not addressing the cause. And second...

DOBBS: Well, we've got a long tradition, here, recently of dealing with symptoms rather than causes, don't we?

BUIS: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. We think we need a broader comprehensive approach, but oftentimes in agriculture we are left with this piecemeal approach. America's farmers...

DOBBS: Well, let me ask you this, Tom. Let me ask you this. The fact is, you were talking about, this is going to -- the CAFTA will benefit U.S. multi-nationals. It's effectively another outsourcing agreement. Why in the world should we buy into the farmers who want to exploit illegal labor and simply legalize, give legal status to illegal aliens? I understand the farmers are in many cases dependent upon them, but why not do the right way?

BUIS: Absolutely. I think the right way is the correct way, but we have, and no one has put together a comprehensive approach, Lou. And this bill does bring together the labor issues, the human rights issues. It brings a lot of the workers under legal protections of U.S. labor law, which should benefit them. We're not -- a lot of family farmers do not use immigrant labor, but I think, again, you have to look at trade agreements. Why are we having to compete with the labor -- for in CAFTA countries where they pay $2 a day. And why in the world...

DOBBS: I quite agree with you. I think the bottom line if I can say this -- we're out of time. But let me just say this, why in the world, we don't pay a fair wage for all labor in this country? Whether it's labor on the farm or whether it's labor in any part of this society. And why in the world should we force our work men and women to compete with cheap foreign labor? It makes no sense at all does it.

BUIS: It does not. And we're with you 100 percent on that.

DOBBS: All right. Good to have you with us, Tom Bus.

BUIS: Great to be with you, Lou.

DOBBS: At the top of the hour, on "ANDERSON COOPER 360" a special look at nation's gang capital. Anderson Cooper, joins us now to tell us what that's all about.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Lou, thank you very much. We're taking a look at gangs in America, in your communities. We're going to take you inside the heart of the gang and show you a community struggling to stop them. I'll tell you the story of a mother who lost both of her sons to gang life, and a young man who says he has nothing else to live for but his gang. It's a fascinating look at gangs in America. That's coming up at the top of the hour -- Lou.

DOBBS: And all too increasing phenomena in this country. Look forward to it.

"ANDERSON COOPER 360" straight ahead at the top of the hour.

Still ahead, I'll be talking about of this week's headlines with our newsmakers tonight. The remarkable story of Master Sergeant Kevin Whalen who was ambushed in Afghanistan by radical Islamist terrorists. We'll tell you how he survived and how the military honored him for his conduct and his bravery. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Joining me now four colleagues in the craft four of the country's very best. From Washington, Ron Brownstein from the "Los Angeles Times."

Karen Tumulty, "Time" magazine.

From Boston, Roger Simon "U.S. News & World Report."

And here in New York, Jim Ellis "Businessweek" magazine.

Good to have you all here. It's been a busy week. Lets start with the day's events which are really the culmination of a lot of down days on Wall Street. A market that dropped 191 points on the Dow.

JIM ELLIS, "BUSINESSWEEK": People are starting to lose confidence that the economy's going to stay sort of straight. What it's happening now is that the consumer's finally getting tired. He's starting to say, I've got to stop spending, and maybe start thinking about savings. They're starting to react now to higher gas prices, to the fact that a lot of people think that their jobs aren't secure. And so this is coming at a bad time for particularly the administration's been trying to sell the idea in an ownership society you want to own stocks. Well, people who look at the stock, they're seeing all stock gains of earlier part of the year are gone now. We are basically back down now to 2005 lows. And a lot of people are wondering, maybe you don't want to invest. Maybe you don't want to put your money out front now. And you might not want to depend on your retirement on that. DOBBS: Let me turn to you, Roger Simon, the ownership's society. We now have a bankruptcy piece of legislation that makes it tougher than ever for people who are bankrupt in this country. And half of those, according to most study, just about half of those bankruptcies are the result of overwhelming healthcare costs and healthcare crisis in a family. What is going on in Washington that that sort of thing with 20 plus rates by credit card companies results in legislation like this?

ROGER SIMON, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": It was -- it's a bad bill. This was a victory for the credit card companies and the healthcare industry, and for big money lobbyists. It is very easy in America, even if you have health insurance, to have all that spent up and wiped out by a catastrophic illness, to be forced to spend every cent you have, and then face losing everything, including your house because you can't declare bankruptcy to get out from it under it. It's a very, very tough bill.

DOBBS: Do you agree, Karen.

KAREN TUMULTY, "TIME" MAGAZINE: I think so, but in the issue here really is health care reform. But the fact is that's expensive and it's difficult. So I do think this being bill being passed against a backdrop in which corporations are dropping their employees' healthcare, where Medicaid roles in most state, Medicaid cost are higher than the cost they're spending -- they spend on education. And you see big company, like Wal-Mart, essentially putting their employees on the Medicaid rolls.

DOBBS: Ron, quickly, give us one piece legislation, one act by this administration, one act by the Democratic Party or the Republican Party that's in support of working men and women in this country right now, and that is not a direct funnel conduit straight from the wishes of corporate America?

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Well, let's see here. Carrying the brief for either party. Look, this is a period where business is ascendant in Washington. You have a Republican majority in an administration that generally believes less regulation is better. That they rely on the market to produce social goods. That's the whole idea of the ownerships society to really move people from a reliance on government from -- or, for that matter, their employer for healthcare or retirement toward the market. And really, Lou, this is the great debate. What administration argues is that what they call ownership and increasing opportunity. Many believe is a transfer of risk and with the bankruptcy bill as the backdrop, what you're seeing is, what some call the end of sort of the collectivization of risk and moving it back to individuals.

DOBBS: Transfer of risk. You know, corporate America goes out and creates NAFTA and wants to create CAFTA and the World Trade Organization. They want all of these free trade agreements which corporate America's protected on intellectual property, gives them an opportunity to protect themselves if they outsource jobs. But that is market of based economics. And if anyone wants to preserve the American way of life and jobs in this country, that is protectionism. Sort that out for me, Jim Ellis.

ELLIS: Well, I think that a lot of people, you know, we all heard about the culture wars, maybe 10 years ago. I think what we're going through now is a big war in America over what is the role of government? And basically, I think that the administration ideologically believes that the government should not be responsible for lots of things. I think that that runs counter to what at least public opinion polls show, and I think that's one of the reasons that the president's had such a hard time moving the needle on Social Security.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, you know, Lou...

DOBBS: Go ahead.

BROWNSTEIN: I was going to say, the public is very conflicted on this. You know, when you ask about the broad question, do you want more government or less, do you believe the government is too intrusive, the small government side wins that argument. When you get down to the specifics, many of the individual programs, as Jim said, like Social Security, like Medicare, continue to be popular. What the president did very effectively in this reelection campaign was bundle the argument together. He said, I trust the people; my opponent trusts the government. And that was a persuasive argument.

But now, as we are back to the specifics, here on Social Security, you find that there is a support for a safety net, especially since more and more Americans are increasingly dependent on the market...

(CROSSTALK)

DOBBS: Well, you call it support. Roger Simon, Ron calls it support for a safety net, which I didn't even know was in dispute, in terms of a program that's been around for 65 years -- 60 years. The fact of the matter is...

BROWNSTEIN: Seventy years.

DOBBS: What is it, 1960 -- 70 years. Finally get to 1935. Roger, the idea that this administration has squandered political capital, as the president wanted to put it. He has actually raised opposition to any suggestion of a change in Social Security. What are the political ramifications?

SIMON: It's why Democrats are happy today, or relatively happy. It's the bright spot on their horizon, that for two terms now, a Republican administration has not really done much to promote American jobs or American business. And all these free trade agreements have had one effect, one effect only. It's to keep goods cheap for the American consumer. It doesn't create jobs in this country. It doesn't increase American exports. It makes imports to this country cheap for Americans. If Americans are outraged by buying cheap foreign goods, they can show it by stop doing it.

DOBBS: That would be one way to do it. Let's turn to the other issue that Senator Bill Frist apparently is going to appear on an evangelical Christian broadcast, and basically highlighting the Democratic Party's opposition to those of Christian faith in the judicial nomination process. I guess that's an awkward way to put it, but there it is. What's your reaction, Karen?

TUMULTY: Well, I think that Senator Frist has really been having trouble finding out what message he wants to convey here. Because of course, just a few days ago, he was trying to distance himself from Tom DeLay, and to express support of an independent judiciary. This is a very blatant play to the base. And he's definitely got an eye here on 2008.

DOBBS: And Roger, let's close with you, because "The Boston Globe" having to apologize for a story of the Canadian seal hunt. Turns out it never happened. What in the world is going on up there in Boston?

SIMON: It's terrible. It should be a death penalty offense in journalism. You don't print stories that haven't happened yet. You just wait until they happen, you print it then.

DOBBS: Wait a minute, Roger, I want to write that down. We do not print stories...

SIMON: Look, it's the nature of print journalism that we're one day behind the stuff that we're reporting. But what you do is you say I think -- or rather on Saturday, a seal hunt is planned. You don't say it took place if it didn't take place.

DOBBS: Well, those are journalistic words to live by. I assume everyone is in concurrence here. I think we can close this week off on a note of happy harmony.

Jim Ellis, thanks for being here. Ron, Karen, Roger, thank you very much.

"Heroes," how one guardsman earned himself the Silver Star for bravery in combat. His story is next here and a preview of what's coming up Monday. Please stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: And now our weekly salute to the men and women who serve this country. "Heroes." Tonight, the story of Master Sergeant Kevin Whalen, a member of the Washington State Air National Guard. His brave actions during combat in Afghanistan saved not only his life, but the lives of others in his unit. And he received the Silver Star. Casey Wian reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MASTER SERGEANT KEVIN WHALEN, WASHINGTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD: Huskey, this is 2-0...

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At Camp Murray outside Takoma, Washington, Master Sergeant Kevin Whalen tests a radio. It's a routine job, but he knows how critical it can be on the battlefield. Whalen saw combat with the 116th Air Support Squadron in Afghanistan, fighting Taliban and al Qaeda forces. Whalen was manning a grenade launcher when he was ambushed, hit in the abdomen and nearly died.

K. WHALEN: I felt the burning, and I pulled it out and looked at what was left of the bullet, and I was like, wow, that could have been it.

WIAN: Whalen tried frantically to reload the weapon, but it had been destroyed by bullets. He scrambled for his rifle. As he did, another round hit, this time piercing his arm.

K. WHALEN: I knew instantly what had happened. It knocked me into the turret. I looked down to check my arm and I could see the blood already spreading in my uniform.

WIAN: Whalen dressed his own wound and tried to call for help. His radio was destroyed.

K. WHALEN: I had to get hold of the other satellite communications radio, which is on the right side of the vehicle closest to the enemy fire.

WIAN: He summoned air support and then told them where to drop the bombs to end the ambush, saving the lives of others in his unit. Whalen's heroism that day earned him the Silver Star.

K. WHALEN: I feel like in a lot of ways, I was surrounded by heroes. The team I was with was an incredible group of warriors.

WIAN: For Whalen's wife, Laura, a reservist herself, news of the medal was huge. She never wanted to know just how close she came to losing him.

LAURA WHALEN, WIFE: I was just so proud of him. And then it was like, OK, sit down and tell me the whole story, because I hadn't been ready until then to hear the whole story of what had happened on that day.

WIAN: Whalen's happy to be home now, with Laura and daughter Mikaela (ph), but he intends to continue his military career.

Casey Wian, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: And that Silver Star, awarded to Master Sergeant Whalen, was the first awarded to a Washington State guardsman since the Vietnam War.

Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us here Monday for our special report, "Broken Borders." We'll report on the tremendous strain that illegal immigration is placing on our court system. And one congressman is calling for an investigation into the enormous financial burden imposed by illegal aliens on U.S. hospitals. He's our guest.

And two Sierra Club members will be here to debate whether the Sierra Club should be pushing for tighter restrictions on immigration, both legal and illegal, into this country, and its relevance to our environment.

For all of us here, have a great weekend. Good night from New York. "ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts right now -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Lou, thanks very much. Have a great weekend.

END

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