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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Protests Against Proposed Immigration Crackdown
Aired May 1, 2006 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, hundreds of thousands stage massive protest rallies, job and school boycotts, from coast to coast as illegal immigration divides America.
We've got all the latest news and heated debate with CNN's Lou Dobbs, who's been putting this issue in the spotlight for months; New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson; Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist; Janet Murguia of the Hispanic American Civil Rights Group the National Council of La Raza; reporters covering immigration rallies from New York City to Chicago to Los Angeles, and more, all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Hi everybody and welcome to LARRY KING LIVE. Empty businesses meant crowded streets today in America's major cities as millions marked what's been labeled a day without immigrants.
In extreme Southern California, the border crossing was closed for a time. Thousands of marchers clogged the San Ysidro Port that usually sees about 50,000 vehicles pass through.
In Chicago, at least 400,000 people rallied for immigrants' rights. As with other locations, the Chicago crowd was overwhelmingly Hispanic but also included immigrants from Ireland, Poland and elsewhere.
In Manhattan, Broadway became a sea of flags as thousands marched to make an impression on behalf of immigrants. One gathering spot for the protesters was Union Square Park.
And, here in Los Angeles, a lot of commuters stayed home, so highway traffic was minimal. But, in L.A. it was human gridlock as hundreds of thousands skipped work and crowded the streets.
CNN's Anderson Cooper is in the middle of the activity in Los Angeles right now. Anderson, what's the latest?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, this is actually the second demonstration that has taken part today. As you know, there was one earlier at city hall. According to law enforcement personnel, that attracted about 300,000 people.
What's amazing about this demonstration late tonight is that I mean as far as the eye can see there are people, many of them in white tee shirts. It is literally a sea of white tee shirts as far as the eye can see. We're at Wilshire and La Brea. There are some speakers now speaking. But I mean it looks -- there are tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people just coming in this direction. It looks like there's no let up. They still continue to come.
I don't have an official estimate of how many people are at this second demonstration. Earlier we had heard that city officials were asking people with children, for kids to still go to school and, if they wanted to attend the demonstration, to attend this one in the afternoon when school was out.
But the figure Los Angeles officials were giving us earlier was that about a quarter of the kids from sixth grade to 12th grade had actually skipped school today and there were a lot of people, a lot of young people, a lot of families at a demonstration earlier. Larry, it seems to just be growing right now at this hour here in Los Angeles.
KING: Thanks, Anderson. We'll check in again at the bottom of the hour.
Senator Bill Frist, the Majority Leader of the Senate, Republican of Tennessee, in all of this let's try to be succinct. What do you favor as the answer to this problem?
SEN. BILL FRIST (R), TENNESSEE, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Larry, I favor and I believe the majority of the American people favor first and foremost strong border security. We've got to tighten up the borders first and foremost.
Secondly, interior enforcement and by that we mean enforcement at the place, at the workplace, inside, inside the country where employers enforce the law of the land. We are a nation of laws.
Then, third a strong temporary worker program and that addresses the economic issue we want and immigrants should come into this country legally under a temporary program.
And then the fourth component of this comprehensive reform needs to bring the 12 million people who are here illegally, illegally today, give them the opportunity to come out of the shadows those four components. That's what I mean by comprehensive reform and that's what I'll take back to the floor of the Senate here in about two weeks.
KING: Lou Dobbs what do you favor?
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: I favor, just as Senator Frist said and I've said for some time, you cannot reform immigration if you can't control it. You can't control it unless you secure your borders and ports.
And this Congress, the House, the Senate, both parties Republicans and Democrats, this president and the previous president have all been derelict in securing our borders.
Four and a half years after September 11th we are still on your broadcast, Larry, talking about securing our borders. In my judgment that is simply unconscionable and it is not what the American people deserve.
KING: And, Lou, what about the already here illegals? I guess what do they estimate 12 to 14 million?
DOBBS: Well, the estimates run anywhere from 11 to 12 million to 20 million. A Bear Stearns study, Larry, last year put the number at nearer 20 million. And the fact is we're in a situation where our Senators and our Congressmen and this president are going to be deciding public policy without even knowing how many people are here.
But the great concern for me is that there be a humane response but the greatest concern of all is that the American working man and woman, our middle class, be protected in whatever form that legislation takes.
And, certainly our national security be protected and the only way in the world I could support any kind of immigration reform is as a condition precedent absolutely secure our borders, absolutely secure our ports. No security is ever perfect but this is the least the American people deserve and that is our very best efforts.
KING: Janet, what about those already here, illegally here but millions here? Obviously you can't put them on a bus and send them back. What do you do?
JANET MURGUIA, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF LA RAZA: Well that's right, Larry. We need to be practical and we need to be effective. And I think the compromise bill that's pending before the Senate I think recognizes that we can't round up 12 million people that you have to be able to find a way to provide not amnesty because we're not talking about amnesty.
The bill that is on consideration right now would basically say that folks would have to step up basically pay a fine, go back to the end of the line, agree to learn English and it would be anywhere from ten to 12 years before they could apply for citizenship.
That's not amnesty. That's a way for them to earn their legalization and go through appropriate background and security checks to do so and we think that has to be an essential part of a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
KING: Before we hear from Bill Richardson, obviously Lou Dobbs doesn't agree, why not?
DOBBS: Well, I agree with the idea to be practical and effective. I would just suggest to Janet and to others that there is nothing practical about doing background checks on anywhere from 12 to 20 million people with the current staffing of the citizenship and immigration service, with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which as Janet knows, has only 5,500 agents. The homeland security apparatus is inadequate to all of this.
This is all smoke and mirrors and a sham being perpetrated in my opinion. The compromise legislation that we saw those Senators stand up Thursday, the Hagel-Martinez compromise legislation, was an utter sham. There was not a dime appropriated in either the president's budget or the appropriations committee to move forward with it.
KING: Bill Richardson -- hold on. Let Bill say something. Governor Richardson, where are you in all of this?
GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: Well, I have to live with this issue every day. I'm a border governor. Six months ago I declared a border emergency because of violence, because of drugs, illegal workers coming in so I experience this every day.
You got to do four things; one, dramatically tighten border security, more border patrol agents, more equipment, dramatically more detection efforts. Secondly, you have got to penalize employers that knowingly hire illegal workers and we're not doing it, the laws being enforced.
Third, we have to have a new relationship with Mexico. Mexico needs to step up and do something, joint border efforts on smuggling, on a number of other issues relating to job creation at the border.
And then lastly, you have to be realistic. We've got 11 or 12 million undocumented workers. What we need is to set up an earned legalization plan based on good behavior.
What are you going to do? Are you going to deport 11 million people? You can't do that. So, you set some standards of good behavior, not amnesty, but citizenship after a certain number of years, based on learning English, paying back taxes, a background check. The frustration is spilling out into the streets on this issue.
RICHARDSON: And one of the big problems, Larry, is as a border governor in the states the federal government, the Congress has not stepped up. The biggest, biggest issue facing America now, the hottest political issue is immigration. It's divisive.
The Congress needs to act. I am a little concerned with the House bill which has felons of each of these 11 million people, which creates a law that is totally the wrong approach.
KING: All right. Let me get a break. And, as we go to break, Kris Van Cleave is a reporter with XETV and earlier today a demonstration took place where he is there, San Ysidro, California, what happened Chris?
KRIS VAN CLEAVE, XETV REPORTER: Well, good evening, Larry. Demonstrators actually managed to shut down the border crossing here at San Ysidro, one of the busiest in the country, certainly the busiest in California. Let me step out of the way. You'll get a sense for really what is no waiting at the border, which never happens here, Larry. Traditionally, 50,000 cars a day pass across the U.S.-Mexico border here today only a trickle.
That's because at about one o'clock today the U.S. Customs Service had to actually shut down this border crossing because the first of demonstrations on the Mexican side of the border, several hundred people who gathered in Tijuana were pounding on cars. That prompted the Customs Service to bring down some metal barricades for security purposes.
Then we saw demonstrations on this side of the U.S.-Mexico border which were largely peaceful, largely demonstrating around the San Ysidro area. However, in the last couple of hours we did see some people try to form a human chain around the U.S.-Mexico border here. Police broke that up.
Now a number of the demonstrators have moved up into San Diego proper. There is another rally going on in Balboa Park as we speak. But largely, Larry, people have stayed peaceful out here. We have seen this affect a number of businesses, particularly smaller businesses, restaurants, fast food chains.
Some landscaping companies we talked to today all said they were seeing many fewer people show up for work than would normally be the case. A lot of taco shops, for example, are closed in the San Diego area.
Schools also tell us some of them are seeing three times the number of absentees than they normally would. However, while there have been thousands and thousands of people in the streets here the city has also seen a number of organizations and other employers tell people to stay at work or you will lose your jobs.
In fact, we talked to some grocery store workers who were wearing white tee shirts as a form of solidarity because if they missed today they would be fired -- Larry.
KING: Thanks, Kris. We'll go to break. And when we come back lots more and we'll hope to include your phone calls as well.
By the way, Governor Richardson, Lou Dobbs and Janet Murguia will be with us for the full hour, Senator Frist until the bottom of the hour. Don't go away.
KING: We're back.
Senator Frist, logically do you see an answer coming here?
FRIST: You know, Lou -- Larry, I did. If you listen to Lou it's border, border security first and we are, and I do take some exception, we're addressing that aggressively. We spent about $10 billion last year to put another 1,500 border security guards down, another 1,800 detention beds.
Last Tuesday, we invested another $1.9 billion to support the infrastructure, which is necessary along our borders in terms of unmanned aerial vehicles, surveillance, infrared sort of technology we know that we need along the border. And this summer in the so-called appropriations process there will be a third investment to address the border issue.
We're going to have comprehensive reform come out of the United States Senate and we're going to address what Lou has put forward on tightening the border, what Janet talked about addressing the 12 to 15 million people in a fair way to come out of the shadows, recognizing that not all of those people are the same and to address the issue of what Bill Richardson said of the workplace enforcement.
We got to get rid of that magnet that attracts people over that border because no matter how high that fence is they're going to go over it or under it if we don't have that comprehensive approach.
KING: Does the president support that bill?
RICHARDSON: You know he's been very careful not to endorse any particular amendment or bill to date but what he has told all of us in a bipartisan way, and this is a bipartisan bill, it's a bipartisan bill, that he supports strongly comprehensive reform that addresses the border, the workforce, the temporary worker program as well as bringing those people out of the shadows.
KING: Lou, does that satisfy you?
DOBBS: Well, I think Senator Frist has done a remarkable thing. He's managed to satisfy everyone from Governor Richardson to Janet Murguia to me on this broadcast.
But to me the issue is and my criticism was of that compromise that was announced, Mr. Leader, Thursday three weeks ago in which none of that had been put together.
I compliment both you and Senator Judd Gregg, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, for coming up with the amendment, the Gregg Amendment, to put that $1.9 billion forward on border security absolutely essential and it is a terrific beginning.
My concern and I think the concern of lots of other Americans, some 250 million of us who happen to be legal and vulnerable to radical Islamist terrorism and have been for four and a half years is if you cannot secure these borders or if -- let me rephrase it.
If you cannot as a condition before dealing with reform of immigration law secure or borders, how in the world can we actually have reform if another 11 or 20 million illegal aliens can cross our borders? That's my question.
KING: Hold it guys. Hold it guys. I'll have you respond. I want to get a word in with Jorge Ramos at Union Square in New York City who has to leave us shortly. We got to get another break. And I want to hear again from Janet and Governor Richardson.
Jorge, are you there and what can you tell us?
JORGE RAMOS, UNIVISION NEWS ANCHOR: Yes, what I can tell you, Larry, is that the boycott, the demonstrations and the TV coverage have made visible to what has been invisible to many Americans for many, many years. It is almost impossible to spend one day without benefiting from the work of undocumented immigrants.
I mean they harvest the food that we eat. They build the homes where we live. It is very important to understand their contributions to the economy. And (INAUDIBLE) we go to a hotel or to a restaurant maybe we don't see them but we depend on them.
Well today we saw them and thanks to the demonstrations I think there's a shift in public opinion and the most important thing is that there's a shift finally in the opinion of many members of the Senate that at this time might consider the possibility that it was impossible two months ago to legalize 12 million undocumented immigrants.
KING: Thank you, Jorge, Jorge Ramos, anchor for Univision's evening news on the scene at Union Square in New York City.
We'll be right back.
KING: Governor Richardson, Senator Frist says that you will get what you want in this bill and it's going to happen, buy it?
RICHARDSON: Well, let me just say that I know Senator Frist is trying really hard and I commend him but, you know, this talk about how we're getting all these new border patrol agents, I was promised as Governor of New Mexico through the appropriations bill 265 new border patrol agents for the New Mexico-Mexico border, which is only 180 miles.
This was months ago. They're yet to arrive. We've spent $20 billion in the last few years on border enforcement and it's not doing much. I declared a border emergency. The governor of Arizona did the same.
So, I just want the Congress to deal with this issue comprehensively. And when I look at the House of Representatives where I served for 13 years and I see the Republican House passing one bill and the Senator and the Senate passing another bill that looks OK, am I going to get what I want? I'm not sure.
I look at the House of Representatives bill that makes a felon out of every undocumented worker, 11 million. What about the two- thirds of them that have kids? They were born in the U.S. They're U.S. citizens. Are we going to take that back? Are we going to deport them? We're going to build this wall?
So, I sit here frustrated dealing with this issue every day. It's a divisive issue. Look at these demonstrators. They're good people. They're frustrated. They just want to live in America and have a decent life and I don't see why we can't just put the Democratic and Republican politics aside and treat them as human beings but set up some benchmarks. Earn legalization based on good behavior.
Senator, I hope you can succeed in doing that but the president needs to take a leadership role and he's not doing it. He's making the right statements but he has to get in there and tell members of his party, especially in the House, to do something along the lines of what the Senate is doing. Otherwise, we're going to get a very, very bad result.
KING: Before Senator Frist replies, Janet are you confident you're going to see change?
MURGUIA: Well, we hope so. I think if these marches and demonstrations have shown anything it's that people I think have been so frustrated that they feel that they can come out of the shadows to show that this is really important.
And they really do I think question and are very concerned about this House bill, the Sensenbrenner bill, which we think by offering enforcement only as an option by criminalizing their status here and making them felons and anybody else who helps them felons is certainly not the way to go.
I think we need to make sure that we do have enforcement and security but it cannot just solely be a conditional precedent, as Lou talks about. We need to make sure it's comprehensive. We've put a lot of money, billions of dollars, into enforcement and we can see that by doing that alone there's no payoff.
We need to make sure that we take care of the issue in a comprehensive way by allowing earned legalization for those 12 million who are here and a guest worker program that helps us deal with the future flow of immigrants.
KING: Senator Frist, should the president be more definitive?
FRIST: Well, you know, we were just at the White House last week, a bipartisan group and, again, this is not a partisan issue or at least it's not in the United States Senate.
KING: But should he be more definitive?
FRIST: Well, he's been definitive. He says that he is for comprehensive reform. He recognizes it's a national security issue. It's an issue of compassion. It's clearly an economic issue as we look at our own economy itself.
And he says he wants to look at it comprehensively. That's really his orders to us and that means border security, interior enforcement, a temporary worker program and treating the 12 million people in a fair way. Much of the debate will be in the Senate of what that means, bringing people out of the shadows, those 12 million people. What the amendment was or this compromise that Lou mentioned basically said that those 12 million people are a diverse population.
Forty percent have been here longer than ten years and what we're doing our best to do is treat that population with compassion. Don't give them amnesty but do give them the opportunity, those people who have been here longer than five years, to have a probationary period and earn citizenship over an eleven-year period of time.
KING: Lou, do you think the president is indecisive?
DOBBS: I think the president is certainly not indecisive but certainly incomplete and ambiguous in his leadership. First, there is no establishment that we need a guest worker program, except in the area of agricultural workers. We already have one. It's called a visa program. And the H programs work very well.
All an employer needs to do is go through our immigration system to do that, so I don't understand the president's affection for guest worker programs when we have one that works or should work.
Secondly, there's no assurance that anything that was proposed or passed would work any better than what we've got. And what's most troubling to most Americans I believe, Larry, is that this government and both parties and this president and this Republican leadership in both the Senate and the House, Senator Frist, have refused to insist upon enforcement of our laws in this country.
We have immigration laws on the books that would have resolved nearly every aspect of this over the past decade. And, the American people I believe just don't understand why there isn't a will within those we elect to represent working men and women in this country, the middle class, and arguably the most under represented group of people in Washington, why this government isn't working to protect them when we're talking about homeland security and a war on terror.
KING: The Senator will be leaving us right after this segment, so he'll have the last word in this segment -- Senator.
FRIST: Well, no, I think the criticism of the fact that we are two things, a nation of laws and we've not enforced the laws but, Lou, not just the law on the border but also at the workplace where we are a magnet attracting people.
DOBBS: You're absolutely right.
FRIST: And I agree enforcement has to be first and foremost. That magnet has to be eliminated. And I also think the criticism is correct is that we have failed miserably. Our borders are porous.
I've been down on that border, 400 people picked up that night, every night along that one sector. For every one person picked up there are two or three who sneak in. We don't know who they are. We understand it and I heard Governor Richardson say that right now the aid or the money, the investment is not getting there and all I can pledge is that we've got a plan. Border enforcement, invest aggressively.
Last year, this year (INAUDIBLE) $1.9 million yesterday but also we have to bring those people out of the shadows and have a strong temporary worker program.
KING: Senator, thanks so much for joining us.
FRIST: Good to be with you. Thank you, Larry.
KING: Senator Bill Frist.
Lou Dobbs, Governor Richardson, Janet Murguia will remain and we'll be joined by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California.
Don't go away.
KING: You're watching a live scene as the protests continue throughout the Los Angeles area.
Let's reintroduce the panel in New York is Lou Dobbs, the anchor of CNN's "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT." His program has focused a lot of time and attention on the issue, he describes as America's broken borders.
In Albuquerque is Governor Bill Richardson, Democrat of New Mexico, former congressman and former U.S. ambassador to the U.N.
In Washington Janet Murguia president and CEO of the National Counsel of La Raza. The NCLR is the largest national civil rights and advocacy organization for Latinos in the United States.
Joining us now is Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Republican of California, chairman of the International Relations Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
First, let's get another update from here in L.A. with Anderson Cooper, who I believe is still in La Brea, right?
COOPER: That's right, Larry. La Brea and Wilshire, the demonstration here continues, no sign of letting up. Thousands of more people keep arriving. The crowd is sort of swirling around. There are speakers speaking, but a lot of people can't really hear what they're saying, but it doesn't really seem to matter them.
They wanted to be here. They wanted their numbers to be noted, and they are making a very conscious effort to have American flags this time. At the earliest demonstration there were a lot of Mexican flags. You still see Mexican flags out here, as well some Salvadorian.
The organizers are making a big effort to put an American face on this, American flags, and try to get the message across that many of these people here are citizens, and those who aren't want to be -- Larry.
KING: Thank you, Anderson Cooper. And, by the way, Anderson Cooper will have a very special program called "24 Hours on the Border." That is tomorrow night, his program called "24 Hours on the Border."
Congressman Rohrabacher has watched the first half hour of this program, so I will ask him to comment on what he has heard and has this protest impressed you?
REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R), CALIFORNIA, VOTED FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM BILL LAST DEC.: Well the protest should impress every American. The fact is that we have got hundreds of thousands of people in our streets now indicating that there are millions, perhaps as many as 20 to 25 million illegal immigrants in our country.
Who has been watching out for the interests of the American people? Certainly not this president, in terms of illegal immigration, and his predecessor, certainly not the people in the United States Senate, that are now preparing this compromise piece of legislation.
What we've got -- this has been a disaster for the average American. Lou is absolutely correct. They have bid down the wages of the middle class. Here in California, we see our education system is breaking down, the health care system is breaking down. Our jails are filled with illegals.
Who's been watching out for the interest of the American people?
KING: But you can't deport 20 million people.
ROHRABACHER: Well that is -- you know, and that this is the central question. And I have to tell you, what upsets me when I hear the president make that argument and all of the others who have made that argument on you show now and have been doing it for days, it's a totally disingenuous argument.
No one has ever advocated that to solve the problem we need sweeps through minority communities or massive deportation. All we have to do -- and what is the answer? The answer is really easy in terms of a simple answer, but it is hard to implement.
We have to make sure that people who come here illegally don't get the jobs, and Bill Richardson has already mentioned that. I'm proud to see that he is one Democrat that is mentioning that.
But no. 2, that we quit giving benefits. Why do people who come here illegally get the same education, health care, food subsidies and I might add their kids get free meals at schools, housing subsidies. These kids -- these people who come from other countries here illegally, have a treasure house of benefits. As long as we give it to them and they get jobs here, they will actually not stay.
KING: So you would cut all of this out and then what?
ROHRABACHER: If you focus on that, through attrition, after a number of years, they will go home because now, we aren't giving them a benefit for staying here.
KING: Janet, you buy that?
MURGUIA: Well, no, I don't actually. I know that's no surprise to the congressman. But the fact of the matter is that he would have you believe that these workers are here and that they are not paying taxes.
But the facts of the matter is that they are. We have a record both with IRS, through the taxpayer numbers of money over the tune of $300 million in taxes that was last recorded 2001. We also note from the Social Security administration that at least $515 billion is paid into the suspension file, which means that there are benefits that are never claimed because of this money that is going into the system.
There's dollars going into the system that these folks are contributing, they are paying taxes, they are doing important work, they are making important contributions. And we need to figure out a way for them in a practical way.
Congressman said the problem is implementation. Well, bingo, we need to figure out a way. If we pass the law, how we're going to implement it.
DOBBS: May I just say and I have the highest regard for Janet Murguia. But on a couple of things, the amount of taxes paid into the Social Security, by the best estimate, the highest I have seen is $7 billion a year. The cost to taxpayers in terms of social services, medical care, emergency room care, safety net costs, as Congressman Rohrabacher was referring to are extraordinary, in the area of $50 billion.
I don't believe it's productive to try to put forward the benefit in economic terms of illegal immigration to America and to Americans because the costs are straightforward. The benefits accrue to the illegal employer.
And frankly, if every illegal employer of illegal aliens in this country was forced to shut their doors because they'd been exploiting illegal labor, I wouldn't shed a single tear. And I assure you the economy would not change by more than a half percent maximum.
RICHARDSON: Well, here's my point, Lou, I live on the border. So does Congressman Rohrabacher in California and Arizona and New Mexico. You know, you guys keep talking about all of these amorphous issues. I have to deal with this issue everyday. And look at these demonstrations, look at what's happened in the last few weeks. This is a huge issue. What Dana suggested basically is for the 20 million is basically starve them out, leave them alone and then they'll go home. That's not going to happen.
So what has been proposed in the Senate is a sensible plan, it's not perfect. It basically says give them earned legalization through good behavior and let's set those benchmarks. They're going to be messy. But if you have background checks, make them learn English, pay back taxes, pay a fine for coming in here illegally. That's the only practical thing you can do.
KING: I have got to get a break. Then we will come back with Lou and the congressman.
Let's check in at Grant Park in Chicago. Bob Arya is there. He is a reporter with CLTV, Chicago Land's Television. It was quite a day there, wasn't it, Bob?
BOB ARYA, CLTV REPORTER AT SITE OF RALLY IN GRANT PARK, CHICAGO: It certainly was, Larry. This is the calm after the storm, and the immigration rally was quite a storm here through downtown Chicago. The official numbers coming out, 400,000, according to the city. Organizers say it was more like a half a million.
And no matter which number you go with, it was impressive, but not all that surprising for Chicago, given the fact that it has one of the largest Latino populations in all of the United States.
I think what surprised most people was the number of people that came out of the shadows. As many of your guests have been talking about, a lots of the folks that have been really shying away from cameras to talk about their illegal status were out in force today, and they felt they were compelled to do so, to try and put some faces with numbers.
We had a man, for example, a 53-year-old who had been in the country for 17 years, sending money back to his family, his four children and wife in Mexico, hasn't seen them in 15 years, wanted to relate the hardship to people to show them this was no easy road for any immigrant who is here illegally or otherwise.
Certainly also, there is no fighting and no arrests, but there were plenty of people who were giving other opinions. Along of folks along the side of the road offering up their thoughts, anti- immigration in many respects. Larry, we can talk more about that later.
KING: Thanks Bob Arya on the scene in Chicago. We'll be right back with more of our guests right after this.
KING: Congressman Rohrabacher, don't the words of Janet and Governor Richardson impress you at all?
ROHRABACHER: No, they don't. And Governor Richardson, who I know very well, he's a good friend of mine. And again, as a Democrat, he's criticizing the House, once we passed something that was tangible and a tough bill. And I would say it's not even strong -- anywhere near as strong as I would like to have. He's criticized us for moving forward on this issue. But that's the way it is. Half the Republicans have been watching out for business, bidding down labor costs, which is what business wants, and almost all the Democrats have been wrong every time a bill comes up.
And just a note about Bill's point about declaring these people to be felons. What we need in order to correct the situation and get things flowing back in the right direction, what we need is to make sure that local law enforcement officers are able to help. Everybody is going to have to participate in stopping illegal immigration. Thus, we have to make sure -- and we don't need to make them felons; you could make it a misdemeanor, which I'm sure the House is perfectly willing to compromise -- but you have to have a legal status in order to let local police involved on the issue.
KING: Lou, everyone talks against amnesty, and I know we are a Judeo-Christian nation, so I don't mean this as a cheap shot, but doesn't both those faiths -- both those faiths preach forgiveness? Why don't we forgive?
DOBBS: You know, this is complicated enough, Larry, without taking it to theological...
KING: I'm just trying to hang you up a little.
DOBBS: Well, you're doing fine, but I am going to retreat from the -- I believe in the separation of church and state mightily.
KING: OK. No forgiveness.
DOBBS: No, you know, I -- in terms of forgiveness, whom do we forgive? Do we forgive the Republican and the Democratic Party who basically told the middle class in this country and working men and women and their families to go to hell? Do we forgive four administrations who permitted this problem to exist? Who do we forgive? Do we forgive Ted Kennedy, Senator Kennedy, because he failed to stand up in 1986 and instead gutted the enforcement provisions of the 1986 amnesty? Do we forgive the national news media for today reporting immigrant rights, immigrant demonstration, immigrant boycotts when what they're talking about is illegal immigration?
KING: Well, how about the immigrants?
DOBBS: The immigrants themselves?
KING: The illegal immigrants, yeah.
DOBBS: You know, there are people in this country, wonderful people -- and I'm the only one, I'm pretty sure, on this broadcast of yours tonight who's actually worked with migrants in the fields, and bean fields, potato fields, hay fields -- I know these people to be great people, hard-working, wonderful people. But the fact is they've broken the law. And those people who have been here -- and I don't know what the magic number is, is it seven years, is it 10 years -- they deserve a path to citizenship if they can demonstrate, validly demonstrate that they have lived the life of a productive, contributing, positive American citizen. I truly believe that.
But I do not believe that anyone should portray 250 million legal citizens in this country and let us get gamed by this failure to secure our borders and to make certain that we're not going through this entire process again in four years.
In other words, I don't trust the Democrats, the Republicans, the House, the Senate or this president on this issue. And they're going to have to show, I believe, the American people.
KING: Well said. Do you agree, Congressman, that some day they should be allowed to become citizens?
KING: Not at all.
ROHRABACHER: No, not at all. The fact is that if we normalize their status, whether you're giving them citizenship or not, which is another disingenuous way to talk about it. If you normalize someone's status who is here illegally, all you're doing is putting up this huge welcome sign, that everyone in the world -- and by the way, Lou's absolutely right, we're talking about good people -- these are wonderful human beings. But we have to have our allegiance to the American people...
ROHRABACHER: ... to the good people here, and those are going to be -- normalizing their status...
KING: (inaudible) give them a chance to become citizens...
ROHRABACHER: No, what happens if we do that, there's this huge sign, and you are going to have 20 million more people here. And it's almost out of control now. Already, the middle class is suffering because of this. The wages are lower. People aren't getting hired, et cetera, et cetera.
KING: Let me get a break and we'll be right back. Don't go away.
KING: Let's take a caller. To Livermore, California, hello.
CALLER: Hello. My question is for Lou Dobbs. And actually, I have a couple comments that I'd like the panel to answer.
KING: Go ahead. What's the question? CALLER: OK. The first question is, Mr. Dobbs, you know, earlier I heard you, and I truly respect your position, I think you're on the right track. But you know, I'm curious as to why you're equating the Mexican immigration issue with protecting our borders against terrorism? These people are not coming over as terrorists. They're coming over looking for employment.
KING: All right, Lou?
DOBBS: The distinction is it all springs, frankly, from border security. We would not have a terrorist threat across those borders, or at least a minimal terrorist threat, if we had those borders secured. The fact they're not secure permits illegal immigration.
The massive influx of illegal aliens across particularly our southern border estimated as high as 3 million a year is clear demonstration how porous those borders are. We have to, first on national security grounds secure those borders and ports to protect us against terrorists. If we're going to reform immigration, we have to control it. If we're going to control it, we have to take control of those borders.
KING: Governor Richardson, do you really fear terrorists coming through Mexico?
RICHARDSON: We have to be sure that isn't the case. Here's what I am sure. That is that drugs come in, violent people come in, smugglers come in that bring in drugs and illegal hoards of people. It's happened on my border. What I do believe we need, as I said before, haven't discussed it much. Mexico needs to do more and step up.
What is necessary, border enforcement. More border patrol agents, aerial vehicles, detection equipment. We've done a bad job of protecting the border. There could be some terrorist coming in. The border is so porous.
You can't do that without dealing with the other 11 million in a sensible, humanitarian way, that is an earned legalization program.
KING: Janet, you agree?
MURGUIA: Absolutely. I think Governor Richardson has done as good a job as we could be hoped for in a border state. The fact that he's saying he needs help and leadership from the Congress and the president on this ought to be a rallying cry.
This is not a partisan issue and the American people don't want this to be a partisan issue. They want a bipartisan solution. We have a consensus around a bill in the Senate. The other piece that Congressman Rohrabacher referred to earlier about local enforcement of immigration laws, that should be of concern to many us.
The majority of local law enforcement officials reject this responsibility and have limited resources to do the work in front of them. They have a trust factor with the community, to put them in the role as enforcing our border immigration laws, I think, is a recipe for disaster and we need to be careful before we pursue that.
ROHRABACHER: If you normalize the status of the people here illegally and you keep giving them all kinds of benefits, for example the Senate bill provides in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. We're subsidizing anybody who can get across to a college education. We're going to continue to have a massive, out of control flood of illegals into our country.
MURGUIA: Congressman, you can't have it both ways. You say these folks are a drag on our system. These kids beat the odds, they graduate from high school, all they want to do is contribute to this country and you want to take that opportunity away from them when all they've done is manage to beat the system and succeed.
ROHRABACHER: We have a limited amount of money in this country for education, we have a limited amount of money for health care. It should be going to American citizens.
MURGUIA: These kids-are in grade school and high school and they've graduated.
ROHRABACHER: Their parents brought them here when they were illegal.
We have parents all over the world and they are wonderful parents with wonderful kids. We can't take care of all of them. The limited resources we have are for the Americans.
KING: Culver City, California. Hello.
CALLER: Hello. I wonder if anyone thought of this? Wouldn't it stop a lot of illegal immigration if The Constitution was changed to read that children born of illegals are illegal instead of immediate American citizens. I'm a nurse and I've seen them present on the doorstep ready to be delivered.
DOBBS: It is absolutely correct. I believe it's the 14th Amendment putting references to persons rather than to citizens. If that language were changed instantaneously, the status, obviously, of those so-called "anchor babies" would change. So you're absolutely right, ma'am.
KING: We'll take a break and be right back with this edition of LARRY KING LIVE, a subject that will not go away. Don't go away.
KING: One more call, West Hollywood, California.
CALLER: Larry, I had two issues I'd like for the panel to comment on, if they could. I think many Americans would agree with me, this issue is not about immigration. Legal immigration worked fine for this country for 200 years. This is about 300 million people coming across the border, estimated a year, in complete disregard to our laws. Homeland Security has been a complete failure. I'd like to know where the billions of dollars have gone when we have 3 million people coming across the border. It's estimated by ICE that 50,000 of them were from hostile countries in the Middle East last year.
KING: Congressman, we only have a minute left. Why are so many coming in?
ROHRABACHER: We have given a treasure house of benefits to good people from all over the world to come here.
KING: Why wouldn't they come?
ROHRABACHER: Why wouldn't they come, that's right. We have to make sure we don't say they're bad people. Because we would come if we were in the same spot. The job of our government is to watch out for the interest of the American people, not good people.
KING: Lou, are you optimistic or pessimistic?
DOBBS: I am optimistic we're beginning to engage honestly in this debate. I think we're moving beyond some of the superficialities to the really issues, which are this nation's sovereignty, worrying about the working class men and women, coming to terms with the fact we must deal with the national interest and common good period.
KING: Governor, optimistic or pessimistic.
RICHARDSON: I'm very concerned. The Republicans in the House, they control the House, they control the Senate, the president controls the White House. I think, just on your program, Lou, you saw the deep divisions between Senator First, who is trying to craft a moderate solution, and Congressman Rohrabacher, very able conservative, who I think has an extreme position and a president that says the right things but doesn't want to engage. I'm concerned.
KING: Janet, we will definitely have you back. Sorry we ran out of time.
Tomorrow night, a man you haven't seen in quite a while. The former Secretary of State James Baker will be our special guest tomorrow night.
Now, returning for two hours on the streets of Los Angeles, I don't know how he does it, Anderson Cooper is next with "AC 360." Mr. Cooper, it's yours.
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