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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Analysis of Presidential Address
Aired May 15, 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, the president in a prime-time address announces plans to send up to 6,000 National Guard troops to the United States Mexican border. We come to you live from that border with immediate reaction from all sides of the immigration debate that's dividing America. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Very windy early evening in San Ysidro, California, San Ysidro is the nation's busiest border crossing. We're live at that crossing. Right across from us Tijuana, Mexico.
Our panel tonight includes the brilliant actor Edward James Olmos, who supported the May 1st Day Without Immigrants demonstrations.
Next to him is Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project and co-author of the new book "Minutemen, the Battle to Secure America's Borders."
We'll be hearing shortly in Irvine, California from Representative Dana Rohrabacher.
In New York, we'll talk with our old friend Governor Bill Richardson, the Democrat of New Mexico, former U.S. Congressman and former ambassador to the U.N.
Lou Dobbs will be returning from his many duties today to join us.
In Miami is Maria Elena Salinas. She's the Emmy-award winning anchor for Univision and author of the new book "I am my Father's Daughter, Living a Life Without Secrets."
And in Washington, D.C., John Roberts, CNN's Senior National Correspondent.
Let's go around the horn for an immediate reaction -- Edward, what did you think?
EDWARD JAMES OLMOS, ACTOR, ACTIVIST: He's got a big problem. He's not going to be able to tame either side. I don't think he's going to be able to understand himself until he's out of office and it's going to be a long time to (INAUDIBLE).
KING: You would consider yourself on the liberal side of this right? OLMOS: Not really. I consider myself on the human side of this. We really got to take into consideration that there are a lot of human beings that we're talking about and we're talking about laws and we're talking about trying to enforce our society as we know it. But we're also talking about a problem that's not going to go away until they deal with the problem in Mexico.
KING: Simply put what did you want him to do?
OLMOS: I would like him to have it out with Fox and have it out with the government of Mexico and tell them to put up the money if they want to -- they should be stopping their own people from coming over here if they (INAUDIBLE).
KING: Jim Gilchrist with the Minutemen (INAUDIBLE)?
JIM GILCHRIST, MINUTEMAN PROJECT FOUNDER: I have to dovetail with Edward James Olmos on that. There was no mention, Larry, of any reforms, economic, socially, politically or otherwise for Mexico. That's the primary goal I think that should be considered in any legislation however that can be carried out. Also, I believe this is nothing more than an illusion that the problem is taken care of. This -- the president...
KING: Are you saying you two agree?
GILCHRIST: Oh, yes on that yes, the humanitarian aspects. The Minuteman Project has never been anti-humanitarian. We've only been immigration law enforcement advocates.
KING: Did you consider this amnesty?
GILCHRIST: Yes, absolutely amnesty.
KING: You did?
GILCHRIST: It is opening the groundwork. Certainly it's the perfect storm for a third party to take residency in the White House in 2008 or at least have a very good chance of it.
KING: You can say...
GILCHRIST: Both Republicans and Democrats are complicit in ignoring our immigration laws for almost 40 years now.
KING: You can say you were disappointed?
GILCHRIST: Oh, yes, yes, and it was everything I expected it to be just another head fake.
KING: Governor Richardson your thoughts?
GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: Well, I'm very skeptical as a border governor that deals with this issue every day of the National Guard deployed at the border. We need more border patrol agents, more sensors, more equipment.
I need the National Guard in New Mexico to help with forest fires, emergency preparedness. The problem is that many of these guardsmen their mission is not border security. I'm concerned that they're tired from Iraq and Afghanistan. What we need is more border patrol agents and we're not getting them from the Congress and the federal government.
On the positive side, it seems the president endorsed a legalization plan for the eleven million undocumented workers in America. That's encouraging. The fact that he also wants to see the law enforced of knowingly -- those that knowingly hire illegal workers should be punished and penalized that's positive.
Maybe on the positive side the fact that the president is waging in, wading into this issue, means that he's pushing the Congress to move in a comprehensive immigration plan, more border security, but an earned legalization.
And, I agree with Eddie Olmos. Mexico needs to do more. They have to step up. They have to do joint border patrols with us. They have to find a way to help us with smugglers and I believe that Mexico has not stepped up.
KING: Maria Elena, I'm trying to find somebody here that likes it, Maria Elena what did you think?
GILCHRIST: They're not going to help us with smuggling.
MARIA ELENA SALINAS, EMMY-WINNING ANCHOR, NOTICERO UNIVISION: Well, for me honestly I only saw two new things in this speech. I only heard two new things. One of them is that he was trying to please both sides of the issue in one same speech.
Normally I hear him talk about the benefits of immigrants to this country and what they contribute to this country when he is south of the border and when he's north of the border usually President Bush is trying to please the more conservative views on immigration. Tonight, I saw him trying to please both of them at the same time, which is really a very difficult juggling act.
And then, of course, the other new thing is that sending 6,000 National Guardsmen to the border, now I understand that the main goal is, of course, to try to please conservatives, those who have a more conservative view on immigration.
But, at the same time, I think that the message that you send to immigrants is not a very good message because let's face it the United States is at war with terrorists, not with immigrants.
We use National Guardsmen, mostly right now, to go to Iraq or Afghanistan to fight against terrorists and who are they going to be fighting against at the border, poor Mexicans, poor Central Americans? The poorest ones are the immigrants who cross the border who can't afford to come by plane like the majority do.
KING: John Roberts, what will be the reading on the Hill?
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that the president's trying to walk a really fine line here unlike Solomon who divided the baby. The president is trying to stick the baby back together again, as Mary Elena was saying, to appeal to conservatives on this idea of border security and then at the same time appeal to moderates and appeal to a segment of the Hispanic vote that wants a humane immigration process, one that allows temporary workers and one that would also give people who are already in this country illegally a path to citizenship.
That's also a proposal that big business likes as well because it's a great labor pool. But can the president bring the two sides together? It's pretty safe to say that if he gets what he wants out of an immigration bill in terms of the guest worker program and this path to citizenship, he will satisfy that segment of the Hispanic population in this country that wants to see that. But, at the same time, he's going to upset conservatives even with this application to have some 6,000 National Guard put down there on the border.
The White House went into tonight's speech fully understanding that it may upset some conservatives. That's why they were pushing so hard on this idea of border security. But one of the problems that some people may have, and I'm wondering what Governor Bill Richardson might think about this, is that the National Guard won't be put down there for substantial rotations of months at a time as they have been when they go to Iraq and other war zones.
They'll basically be doing their required two-week annual training on the border, so you're going to have a constant rotation of people going in and out of these border states and will be they be able to learn procedures on the ground? Will they be very effective in slowing down the cross-border traffic?
Because anybody who's with the military knows that the longer you stay in a place up to a point the better able you are to operate because you get to know it very well.
KING: We'll get Governor Richardson's response to that, lots more with the panel ahead on this very special edition of LARRY KING LIVE coming to you from San Ysidro, California at the border between Mexico and the United States with Tijuana right over there. And we'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're a nation of laws and we must enforce our laws. We're also a nation of immigrants and we must uphold that tradition which has strengthened our country in so many ways. These are not contradictory goals. America can be a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We'll check in with other panel members momentarily. But let's check in with Bill Tucker. He's in Laredo, Texas at the U.S.- Mexican border. Laredo has seen a massive influx of illegal immigrants racked by spillover violence, drug trade. What's the reaction there Bill?
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well you know, Larry, they have asking, pleading and begging for additional resources for years down here, so there's a part of the community, the law enforcement community and the local political community that welcomes this.
But there's another part of the community that quite frankly, Larry, is amazed because no one from the federal government, no one from the Bush administration called up and asked them and coordinated anything with them, so they don't know the details.
They don't know what the president wants to do. They don't know how he sees the National Guard fitting in with these people down here and they're a little puzzled. They want to hear more in the way of details.
And they'd like to see some of the requests that they've been asking for, for awhile, in terms of more bodies for local law enforcement for the border patrol, better communication packages for the groups being granted and given to them, the money for that being given to them but they're not seeing that and what they've got right now is a plan that's short on details they haven't been told about.
KING: Thanks, Bill.
Let's check in now with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher who has just got into our studios. I believe he's in Irvine, California. Congressman, I must tell you that so far the consensus has not been very positive. What's your read?
REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, I'm afraid the president has again missed a great opportunity to establish an honest dialogue and try to find some real compromises.
First of all he's playing these word games about massive deportation again, which no one is advocating and does not do anything to further an honest debate. And then he talks about amnesty in a way and with a definition that nobody in the world agrees with.
I mean the fact is if you normalize someone's legal status who is in this country, meaning if they are here illegally and you make them here legally that is an amnesty.
Now whatever they call it, it is a normalization that will create a huge magnet to draw more people into our country. And, anybody who's -- if he's bolstering the border he's just negated that by increasing the magnet by normalizing the status of illegals in this country.
So, I'm very disappointed in the president's speech, although I give him credit for a couple steps forward but the benefits of those steps are overwhelmed by the negative result of normalizing someone's legal status who is here illegally.
KING: Lou Dobbs, the anchor of CNN's "Lou Dobbs Tonight," are you surprised to learn, I know you've been focusing in a lot of places, that this entire panel, liberal, conservative, up, down, all of them seems thus far to be disappointed in this speech? Are you?
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm disappointed because of the expectations, although low, were certainly higher in terms of the specificity I think most Americans would have liked to have heard.
Two hundred and eighty million Americans want to know, Larry, that our borders are secure. They're not despite 12,000 border patrol agents who have that responsibility across 7,500 miles of border.
It's an unreasonable task to put before them. It is one that -- a border that to the south is being violated by three million illegal aliens a year. This president did not lay out a concrete proposal to deal with border security. In terms of immigration reform...
KING: And did that...
DOBBS: I'm sorry, Larry.
KING: And did that surprise you? Did you expect more?
DOBBS: I certainly did and the fact that he would move forward the National Guard and then suggest that they will be in some sort of adjunct rear echelon role it's peculiar at best and in my judgment poorly considered.
Four and a half years after September 11th, Mexico is the number one source of heroin, meth, cocaine, and marijuana. We also have a war on drugs that we're losing and a first step in at least engaging in that war would be to control our borders.
And, as I have said throughout, you cannot reform immigration unless you control immigration. You can't control immigration unless you secure that border and it is an absolute, to me, disgrace that this Congress, this president, both political parties have refused to take the necessary steps to secure those borders and ports.
KING: And, Eddie, if he's right the question is why? Why have they not taken those steps?
OLMOS: Because there's economics involved, you know. This is a very, very difficult situation. We're not talking about humanity anymore. We're talking about economics and the people -- look it, since there were two people on the planet they've been migrating to try to find how to exist and how to survive ever since there have been two.
Now this has not changed. Now we've built laws. We're in 2006 and we're trying to get ahead. But I got to tell you right now there's no way of stopping this unless you really stop what's making them leave and come here in the first place. You must make Mexico a first world country. You must make Central America a first world country.
KING: But they're not going to do that.
OLMOS: They will if -- it's going to take a while.
KING: I'll get to Jim's thoughts in a minute. We'll come right back with more. The panel is all assembled. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: The United States must secure its borders. This is a basic responsibility of a sovereign nation. It is also an urgent requirement of our national security. Our objective is straightforward. The border should be open to trade and lawful immigration and shut to illegal immigrants as well as criminals, drug dealers, and terrorists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Welcome back. We're at the border in San Ysidro, California, the southernmost point in California before you head into Tijuana, Mexico, a very windy early evening here. The fence is behind us designed earlier to keep as many out, although it doesn't seem to have worked very well.
Back with our panel but first let's check in, in Washington, with David Aguilar, chief of the United States Border Patrol. Aguilar began his career with the Border Patrol in 1978 as an agent in Laredo, Texas. What do you make of tonight's speech with the idea of a deployment of National Guard to assist you folks?
DAVID AGUILAR, CHIEF, U.S. BORDER PATROL: This is a great thing for us, Larry. It's going to enhance our capabilities, increase our resourcing, and make for a better and more secure border.
KING: What kind of help do you need the most?
AGUILAR: Well, right now one of the most important things that we have going for us and that's going to come with this deployment is a capability to build infrastructure. And there are some cases of the border where we have trouble even accessing or having mobility along our nation's borders, building tactical infrastructure, roadways to get to the border and things of this nature.
In addition to that is having these troops deploy as our eyes and ears manning some of our camera systems and manning some of our sensor systems, things of this nature. They will become a tremendous force multiplier for us.
KING: How do you react to those who say, David that the situation is out of control?
AGUILAR: Well, Larry, we're not arguing that the border is not -- is under control. We, in fact, recognize that the border needs greater control. That is one of the reasons that these troops are deploying so that we can transition to additional border patrol agents, additional infrastructure that we're going to be building, additional technology that is also coming as we work towards our five- year plan. This is an acceleration of the resources that are badly needed on the border.
KING: What do you make of catch and release?
AGUILAR: Catch and release is not a good thing. We are working towards ending that. We have been in that mode, if you will, for about eight months. There are certain things that have to be taken into consideration.
One is that there are certain legalities that we're working with, old cases, for example under the Orantas (ph) case were El Salvadorians where we cannot apply what is known as expedited removal because of a pending case that goes back to the years of the Civil War in El Salvador. We're working to overcome that. We are working to overcome some countries that are reluctant to take back their citizens when we do apprehend them.
But let me make this point. When we started expedited removal it was taking upwards of 80 to 89 days to remove people from this country. We have now moved that down to about 15 to 18 days in many cases so we are working towards ending catch and release, going towards catch and remove.
KING: What do you make of the Minuteman Project?
AGUILAR: Well, one of the things that I've said all along is that the Minutemen have actually done one thing that was very positive and that is help bring attention to the situation that has existed on the border.
Now one of the things that is critical to understand is that when these civilian groups deploy they capture a lot of attention of the nation. I have used the example in the past that I have had officers actually shot and very grievously wounded on the border and major media will not pick it up.
But yet these individuals show up at the border under umbrellas, in lawn chairs, taking nothing away from them, but major media picks up on it. So, if they have done one thing they have brought attention to the border.
KING: Thank you, David, David Aguilar, Chief U.S. Border Patrol.
What do you make of what he said Jim Gilchrist, the founder of the Minutemen?
GILCHRIST: That was the primary reason I founded the Minuteman Project, Larry, was to bring national awareness to this crisis. And as far as what the president's proposals, I'm not interested in proposals.
And I think I'm speaking for a couple of hundred million Americans. We're no longer interested in proposals and empty rhetoric and promises and laws that will not be enforced.
We want results, results. We want to see the laws actually enforced. We want to see employers of illegal aliens go to jail. We want to see a lot more -- actually some pressure brought against Mexico to clean up their act and stop this wholesale dumping of their population in foreign countries, predominantly the United States.
KING: Are you optimistic or pessimistic?
GILCHRIST: I'm pessimistic until I see results and that's going to take a couple of years. I would like to see 25,000 more border patrol agents and a couple of thousand more prosecuting attorneys and investigators and administrative staff for ICE so that they can simply have the manpower and womanpower to enforce the laws for which they're charged. They've been deliberately deprived of the money that they need.
KING: What's that pin?
GILCHRIST: This is Deputy David March. He was murdered by illegal alien Armando Garcia on April 29, 2002, a little over four years ago. He was harbored by Mexico. They refused to apprehend him for four years until the public through the Minuteman Project, through John and Barbara March, his parents, and through the March for Justice Foundation, put enough pressure on -- along with Steve Cooley, L.A. County D.A., put enough pressure on our government to put enough pressure on the Mexican government to apprehend him and now he's awaiting extradition but it took four years, twice deported, two-time convicted felon.
KING: Before we check in with Keith Oppenheim in El Paso at the border there, what does Ed Olmos think of the Minutemen?
OLMOS: Well, as long as they stay, you know, non-violent I think that everybody has a right to do whatever they need to do and I think they brought attention to a problem that is a big problem and I think that what they are talking about right now is something that is understandable. I personally have a real fear of violence breaking out like there's going to be a march on May 19th in Washington, D.C. and I know that I think he said...
OLMOS: You guys are -- are you guys marching on the 18th?
GILCHRIST: No. No.
GILCHRIST: We had an assembly, a rally on the...
OLMOS: The 18th?
GILCHRIST: ...the 13th -- 12th, I'm sorry.
KING: But you don't support violence. You don't support violence?
GILCHRIST: Oh, absolutely not, no. We want respectable and peaceful resolve.
OLMOS: Peaceful, exactly.
GILCHRIST: It can be done. It will just take time.
KING: Let's go to El Paso, Keith Oppenheim, CNN reporter is in El Paso at the U.S.-Mexico border and he's been getting local reaction from people on the United States side. What do you hear Keith?
KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, there's a lot of anxiety about the military being involved with the Border Patrol in any way. And when I reminded people when speaking to them that by law the plan cannot have the National Guard in a law enforcement role in some cases it was as if people really didn't hear that part of it because their fear is, their perceptions are is once you let the military in that it can lead to an escalation. And instead of having a defensive line out here along the U.S.-Mexican border, it becomes in their view more of an offensive line -- Larry.
KING: Lou Dobbs, do you remain pessimistic?
DOBBS: I'm not particularly optimistic I'll put it that way the idea that this president had an opportunity tonight to talk honestly, straightforwardly to the American people, to all of us, and say that this is a problem.
He acknowledged for the first time the problems of illegal immigration. I thought that was healthy. But to not straightforwardly say he's going to solve a problem.
We have a great crisis in this country in addition to the immigration, illegal immigration crisis and the port security crisis and that's a crisis of governance, Larry.
And I truly believe that most of us want to see this government begin to function. It's time to end the public relations nonsense, the posturing and the explaining and the rationalizing a failure to perform.
The American people are being disappointed on so many levels by this government, this administration and in fairness the previous administrations, the previous three administrations in terms of border security, in terms of illegal immigration. But this society of ours right now is demanding results and this government is dysfunctional at best.
KING: We'll get a break and be back with more of our panel on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE from San Ysidro, California. Don't go away.
KING: We're back at the border in San Ysidro, California across the way from Tijuana, Mexico, discussing the president's speech tonight and the aftermath of it. We'll go back with our panel members and check in with Governor Bill Richardson, Democrat of New Mexico. Governor in all honesty, what do you do with 12 million illegals?
RICHARDSON: Well what you do is create an earned legalization plan based on good behavior. What's the alternative, to deport them? To declare them criminals as the House of Representatives has? What you would do is in the McCain-Kennedy bill, which I believe is the most practical, you set up standards, benchmarks.
If they speak English, if they pay back taxes, if they pay fines for coming in illegally, background checks, if they participate in civic activities. You put them to the back of the line, not ahead of those that are trying to get here legally.
You find a way to keep them here if they do jobs that Americans don't do. I believe that's a good sensible, practical step that the United States Senate is moving forward. But I want to just say, as a border governor, Larry, in this plan tonight, I was never consulted so those people in El Paso shouldn't feel bad.
We, the four border governors were informed two hours before and my big question for instance as a New Mexico governor, is from the 6,000, how many are going to be from New Mexico or come into New Mexico? They couldn't give me an answer on that. There are a lot of specifics that are not dealt with. It seems that this policy is being made on the fly and that's what's discouraging.
KING: Maria Elena Salinas, does that surprise you, that the governor of a key border state was not informed?
SALINAS: No, it doesn't surprise me. I think that we get a lot of surprises from this administration many times. But you know, I heard Mr. Dobbs just a moment ago say that Mr. Bush was not being honest and I didn't take advantage of that.
Now I am not one to defend any politician, Democrat or Republican, but I do have to say to his credit, that I've been following the immigration issue for many, many years. Mr. Bush has been very consistent with his position. I don't think it was any different tonight.
He has always said that he's against blanket amnesty and he reiterated that tonight. He has always said that he is for some kind of a program that will put together willing employers with willing employees and that's again what he reiterated tonight.
I think one of the most important things he said was his fifth point, bringing out the fact that this is a melting pot and talking about being careful as to the tone, trying to make the tone of this debate a little more civilized.
Mr. Bush said, let's not remember that we're talking about real lives, let's not forget that we're talking about human beings and every human being has dignity and value. And this debate has been getting so out of hand and the picture that we're seeing at this moment with you, Larry, at the border and us focusing on this discussion on the southern border, I think is leading to tension in the Hispanic community. Where now you're getting a majority of Latinos in this country, not only undocumented immigrants, but legal immigrants and U.S. citizens of Latino origin, that feel that this debate is affecting their families.
It's really getting out of hand and I think that we need to be careful and tone down the debate because this is just creating more racial profilings, discrimination and reports on more hate crimes.
KING: Congressman Rohrabacher, does she have a good point?
ROHRABACHER: Well she has one good point in that this is not just an issue with Mexico and we shouldn't just look at this as the Mexican border issue.
I held hearings in my subcommittee last week and it was pointed out that about 20 percent, about four-to-five million illegals are people who've come here legally with visas from other countries. For example, from China where we have millions of illegals coming in.
So it should not be looked as the Mexican border problem. But let me -- so that's true and I think that we should all go out of our way to make sure that this is not an illegal Mexican issue. This is an illegal immigrant issue.
No. 2, however, this rhetoric that she's talking about, yes, people are having heated rhetoric when they say things like, "Oh, our only issue is are you going to have amnesty or are you going to have massive deportation?" Who the heck has ever advocated massive deportation? That is the most dishonest tactic that we just heard from our president and I'm sorry for my friend Bill Richardson as well. No one is advocating that. What we advocate...
KING: ... Well what do you advocate?
ROHRABACHER: Well it's not an easy thing but no solution is easy. But it is the way this will work. You make sure that No. 1, yes you control the borders. But once these people are here, these 15-to-20 million people, they should not be taking the jobs of Americans and they should not be getting the education money, the health care money, the housing subsidies, and all the other things that we provide American citizens. If we cut them off from that, from the benefits and the jobs, there will be a trend going in the right direction. They will start leaving. This idea about a massive deportation is intellectually dishonest and they're trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people.
RICHARDSON: Well I just look at the bill that Dana sponsored and the House passed, and it's very clear. It makes felons out of the 11 million undocumented workers and secondly, what about their kids? Two-thirds have children that are U.S. citizenship.
ROHRABACHER: Why aren't you concerned about our children? RICHARDSON: That citizenship is revoked. And I think that's wrong. You put up a wall on the border, America the country that tears down the Berlin Wall, that stands for freedom. Let's have more border enforcement. Those border security agents, massive number more. That's what we need.
ROHRABACHER: You can build a 100-foot wall high border fence if you want and electricity and all the unmanned airplanes and beef up the border guards, but if you keep giving a treasure house of benefits, you keep giving -- these are very good people coming to the United States. These are wonderful people, but we can't afford to give them our education dollars. Education in our state, I don't know about your state, Bill, is going to hell because of illegal immigration as well as health care and criminal justice.
KING: I've got to get a break, Dana. We'll be right back with more. We're at the -- and you can see how heated this is and gets more heated. I want to ask John Roberts when we come back, when did this all happen? Were we talking about this a year ago? Why now? Don't go away.
KING: Before we meet a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist of "The Los Angeles Times," a quick question for John Roberts. Why all of this now, John?
ROBERTS: Well, Larry, it's not really all of a sudden now. I mean, this was a huge problem back in the 1980s, which is why Ronald Reagan instituted the 86 amnesty, which a lot of people say created problems in it of itself because it attracted more even more illegal immigrants to this country.
In the year 2000, this was an issue that President Bush campaigned on. Remember he was talking about a guest worker program back then. He had Vicente Fox over to the White House as his first official state visit. I remember being on the south lawn of the White House as they talked at length about immigration.
And then September 11 happened and the war in Afghanistan happened and the war in Iraq happened and it sort of fell off the president's radar screen. And it affected the relationship between him and Vicente Fox. But, you know, conservatives have been putting a lot pressuring on the president to do something about the problem of illegal border crossings.
And he has been forced to confront this because he has no choice with his ratings in the polls now being in the low 30s, with the Republicans thinking that they could lose control of Congress, they are saying do something about this Mr. President and do it now.
KING: We welcome now, joining us here at the border, Sonia Nazario, she is the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist of "The Los Angeles Times," author of an extraordinary book, "Enrique's Journey: The Story of A Boy's Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite With his Mother." To write the book, Nazario traveled to Honduras and then followed the same dangerous route Enrique took to reach the United States. She wrote on the top of seven freight trains up the length of Mexico, lived with the almost constant threat of being beaten, raped or robbed.
You certainly have the experience of going through what so many have gone through. What was your reaction to this speech?
SONIA NAZARIO, L.A. TIMES: AUTHOR "ENRIQUE'S JOURNEY": Well, I think, first, we have to acknowledge that we do have a modern day exodus. There are 8,050 people who enter the United States illegally every year. When I was on those freight trains, there were 100, 200, 300 people on top of every freight train heading north from Central America from Mexico. So it is a movement of humanity north.
Now, the evidence shows that border enforcement has not worked. The goal is slow that flow of immigrants coming now. We have tripled the number of border patrol agents on the border since the crackdown began in 1993. We have tripled the amount of money spent, and during that period of time since then the numbers of illegal immigrants have only grown more rapidly.
What people along those migrants routes really talk about what would work is employer sanctions and that means not only having sanctions for people who hire immigrants who are here illegally but enforcement of those. That means that people will be actually fined, and that has not occurred in the United States.
And secondly, that we really have to deal with the push factor, what's driving people to come from Central America and Mexico, and the fact is that people there talk about the need for the United States to really have a foreign policy centered around immigration. No one is talking about this.
But where we really work with these countries, whether it is through trade preferences, let more of their goods into the United States or other means to help create jobs for these people. Most immigrants do not want to come to America, they want to stay in their countries with their families with everything they know. And we need to help those countries do that.
KING: So was he not in focus?
NAZARIO: I think that those are really the two main issues that need to be addressed strenuously for the flow to really begin to slow. And the real question is if there is tamper proof identification, will the federal government actually enforce the laws?
So far, they have proven unwilling to do that. There is virtually no enforcement of the laws that are currently on the books. So you can't blame Americans for questioning will this administration or any administration enforce any kind of employer sanctions in the future. They've been unwilling to take away from employers what they wanted, which is cheap compliant workers from the south.
KING: What was it like to go through what you went through? NAZARIO: Incredibly difficult, very hard to see what people are willing to go through to reach America. There were people who lost legs and arms to the trains. The trains are ruled -- the tops of the trains are controlled by gangsters in the south of Mexico, by bandits alongside the tracks. And people are willing to do anything to reach America.
KING: Because opportunity, jobs.
NAZARIO: Well, a lot of people I wrote about were mothers, single mothers who were coming north and children who were trying to follow them many years later. These women -- and really we don't talk about how a lot of immigrants coming to the U.S. are women and children.
And these women are single mothers, and they listen to their children's cries of hunger at night. And they can only feed them once or twice a day. And they do what almost any parent would do in that situation, they go north knowing they can make money and they can feed their children. And their children have a chance of perhaps going to school perhaps past the third grade.
KING: Thank you Sonia. Sonia Nazario, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist of "The Los Angeles Times." The book is "Enrique's Journey: The Story of a Boy's Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother."
Let's check in with Anderson Cooper. A.C. is always somewhere. And tonight I'm at the border, and he is an Chicago.
What are you doing there?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're looking at illegal immigration here in Chicago and really all around the country tonight. We are staying on the story, the battle over the border. We will be getting our first look at voter's reaction to President Bush's ideas for immigration reform. We are working on a new CNN poll. The results are just coming in. We will have that at the top of the hour, see how people feel about sending national guard troops to border.
And we will gauge if the president's proposals will become law with the best political team in the business. A whole lot to cover, Larry, in the hour ahead.
KING: That is Anderson Cooper the host of "AC 360." It comes up at 1 Eastern, 7 Pacific.
And we'll be back at the border. Don't go away.
KING: We are in San Ysidro. In our remaining moments, we'll try to get final comments from every member of the panel, but something is happening right now as we speak.
Edward Olmos, what is this? What are we looking at? OLMOS: We're looking at some of the people, I guess, that are getting ready to come across in the evening.
KING: They're coming across for the evening?
OLMOS: They could be just for the evening, but I'm sure they will probably stay here for a while.
KING: If they were coming across for the evening to do what?
OLMOS: I'm not sure. You know, they are coming across. You can see them walking now.
KING: Now, there's no one around here to stop them, right?
OLMOS: I don't see any...
KING: But we just passed border patrol cars pulling up here. In fact, there is a border control car right behind you.
OLMOS: Well, they are looking at them now.
KING: Now, are they going to go get them?
OLMOS: You have to go to remember one thing in all of this. These people are coming across here, and they are going to continue to come across here until the problem is fixed. I don't know where they are coming from. I think, you know, Sonia said it very well, and I think that everybody has agreed that the problem starts with the understanding of why they have to come here in the first place.
KING: Jim, doesn't that concern you, why do they have to come?
GILCHRIST: Oh, yes, because they're economic refugees. These are not invading barbarians.
GILCHRIST: They're economic refugees from -- impoverished, coming here certainly to try to find a better life. But there are 6.5 billion people in the world, Larry, half of them impoverished, and the United States of America cannot take care of all of them.
OLMOS: But the first-world nations across the planet are suffering from the same exact thing. And I know that Dobbs, Lou, said it already, that this is a world problem, this is not just the United States and the southern border.
KING: And it is, Lou Dobbs, humanitarian, is it not?
DOBBS: I think it's...
KING: You wouldn't call -- do you call them criminals?
DOBBS: No, as a matter of fact, I'm the only one sitting around our respective cameras, Larry, who actually said to James Sensenbrenner, I absolutely oppose criminalizing illegal aliens. I think it's foolhardy to make them felons.
I do think that we should make felons out of every illegal employer of illegal aliens.
And I think while we extend ourselves -- and I'm also probably I think -- I'll throw this out, see what the reaction is -- I think I'm the only one on this panel who's actually worked with migrant workers in the fields, with beans, potatoes, hay in my youth. I know them to be good and decent people.
But I also know 280 million U.S. citizens are good and decent people, and it is the job of this Congress and this president to secure those borders for the protection of those people, and to end the exploitation of this illegal labor, and to carry out policies throughout this hemisphere that will be helpful and productive for these people, and to not continue the fiction that this is not a problem of Mexico.
Mexico is the source of nearly all of the heroine, cocaine, meth and marijuana imported into this country. We have to deal with that at the border. We have to stop this illegal immigration. Our policies have to be intelligent, but our first responsibility is to take care of working men and women in this country, U.S. citizens.
Our educational systems are overwhelmed. We talk about ICE, the fact that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Larry, cannot even begin to deal with the criminal...
DOBBS: ... serious criminal illegal aliens (inaudible) in the country.
KING: Ed Olmos wants to ask you something.
OLMOS: Lou, I was just going to ask you, because you're hitting the nail right on the head. If I was to ask you why is it that a corporation can go anywhere in the world to find the cheapest labor that they can, but a worker can't go where the work is?
DOBBS: Because that worker has a family foundation.
KING: Well put.
DOBBS: And people keep talking, you know, free markets make for democracies. That is one of the great libertarian mindlessness -- mindless theories that are brought in both parties, Ed.
The fact is, this political system of ours, in the United States, is what makes our economy possible. Democracy, our free enterprise democracy makes this economic system possible. It is not the inverse. You know, we need to treasure it and respect it as we must our citizenship and the security of our people.
OLMOS: But we end up -- we end up exploiting. We exploit -- our corporations go off and exploit. KING: So who's the criminal?
OLMOS: The criminal becomes the exploiter, in the exploitation of the United States of America corporations...
KING: Quickly, Lou, I have got to take a break.
DOBBS: Very quickly, the real victims here are those who are trying to flee governments that are indifferent in this hemisphere into our country. But the victims here are working class, working men and women in this country, who are finding they're in competition not only with illegal labor here, but with the lowest priced labor throughout the world. And that's unconscionable, and it's a fiction we can't allow to continue.
KING: I have got to get a break.
We'll be right back with our remaining moments on this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE from San Ysidro, California, on the border between Mexico and the United States. Don't go away.
KING: Governor Richardson, what do you think of the guest worker idea?
RICHARDSON: I support it. I think it makes sense. It's part of a legalization effort that is practicable, that deals with workers coming into this country, doing jobs that Americans in essence don't want to do. Whether it's in agriculture, the service industry or construction.
My positive view of what's happened tonight -- and maybe this is the only positive view out there among a pessimistic group -- is that even though I disagree with the president's approach on the National Guard, the fact that he is engaged and involved for the first time, providing some leadership, saying we need border enforcement and a legalization plan and cutting down on illegal employers, maybe will be the impetus for a bill in Congress that is sorely needed. Those governors of us here on the border, you guys talk about it, but we have to deal with this every day, and we need a comprehensive immigration bill. Maybe the president, the positive side is that he's provided the first step in getting a comprehensive bill.
KING: Maria, Maria, you favor the guest worker idea?
SALINAS: Yes. I agree with Bill Richardson in one of the most important things, which is now the ball is in the court of the Senate, and then of course in the House of Representatives. I think now, it's up to them. I think they need to, one, try to put feelings aside, try to put emotions aside, if they can, try to put politics aside, and it is time for them to sit down and find legislation that is realistic, that is enforceable and that is humane.
Everything else, I think, is just a part of this debate, but really, it's them who really need to sit down and try to do this. And eventually, I think we need to forget about Vicente Fox, because Vicente Fox only has a few months in power. Remember that there's elections in less than two months in Mexico, and I also agree with Sonia and Eddie Olmos in saying that we really need to get to the root of the problem south of the border, which is (inaudible).
KING: Congressman Rohrabacher, we have less than a minute. Where do you think it's all going to end? Where is it going to go?
ROHRABACHER: Well, first of all, Sonia has touched all of our hearts. We're talking about a woman who cares about her child.
But let me be very clear here. We care about these people as well, but we have to care about our own people. We have limited resources -- health care resources, education resources, law enforcement resources. And for us to lower the quality of life for our own people, in order to help that poor lady down in Latin America is wrong. And that doesn't make us any less caring. We can't solve all the problems of the world. And what we've done here, is in the name of doing that, we're bringing down the quality of life of the average American. Middle-class Americans now, their salaries are going down...
KING: Congressman, we're out of time.
ROHRABACHER: And (inaudible) down.
KING: I've got to cut you. Thank you, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and thanks to our guests here and all of our panel for being with us. We'll be back tomorrow night, inside, with another edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
Now, we head up to Chicago. Anderson Cooper is standing by with more of the same. "AC 360" is next -- Anderson.
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