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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Bush: Iraq's New Cabinet is a 'Watershed Event'; U.S. Forces in Fierce Fighting With Taliban in Afghanistan
Aired May 22, 2006 - 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: Good evening, everybody.
Tonight, President Bush tells Americans to prepare for more days of challenge and loss as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan escalate and the number of American casualties rises.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Monday, May 22nd.
Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
Tonight, more than four years after the beginning of the global war on terror, President Bush is warning of more days of challenge and loss ahead. But the president today also noted that the new government established in Iraq over the weekend is a watershed event. And the president acknowledged there have been setbacks and missteps in Iraq, but he insisted the swearing in of that new government in Iraq is a major turning point in defeating the insurgency. President Bush today hardly mentioned the war in Afghanistan, where radical Islamist insurgents have launched a new major offensive against U.S. and coalition troops.
Ed Henry reports from the White House.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The president's poll numbers dragged to historic lows because of Iraq. He's trying to pivot off this good news from over the weekend, boost his own standing, but also boost the political fortunes of fellow Republicans heading into the midterm elections.
As you noted, what's significant is that, you know, he's not trying to paint too rosy a scenario here, but he is being cautiously optimistic. He is acknowledging U.S. missteps in Iraq, and also he's stressing that the progress is incremental.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our nation's been through three difficult years in Iraq, and the way forward will bring more days of challenge and loss. The progress we've made has been hard fought and has been incremental. There have been setbacks and missteps, like Abu Ghraib, that were felt immediately and have been difficult to overcome. Yet, we have now reached a turning point in the struggle between freedom and terror. HENRY: Now, CNN has confirm that British Prime Minister Tony Blair will come to the White House later this week for some talks with the president. It's interesting, because Tony Blair is right now in Baghdad, the first world leader to actually visit Iraq since the national unity government took office. Significant also because British officials traveling with the prime minister are saying that they are now looking at getting all foreign troops out of Iraq within four years.
DOBBS: American casualties in Iraq have risen. One of our Marines killed in combat in Al Anbar Province, west of Baghdad.
2,455 of our troops have been killed in Iraq, 18,088 of our troops wounded. Of those, 8,302 seriously wounded.
Insurgents today also killed 16 Iraqis in a series of attacks across Iraq. Many of those Iraqis were killed in car bomb explosions.
In Afghanistan, U.S. air strikes today killed as many as 80 radical Islamist insurgents in a battle in the south part of the country. The air strikes followed some of the heaviest attacks by radical Islamist insurgents in more than four years of fighting. Two hundred and thirty-four American troops have been killed in and around Afghanistan since the war began.
Jamie McIntyre reports from the Pentagon.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For days now, U.S. troops have been involved in fierce fighting in southern Afghanistan, where U.S. commanders say the Taliban has come back stronger this year than last. And for the third time in a week, U.S. troops attacked and killed a large number of suspected Taliban fighters near the village of Azizi in Kandahar, one of three southern provinces where Taliban forces have been flooding in with money and weapons.
The U.S.-led coalition says a combination of attacks by Air Force A-10s and ground operations Sunday night and Monday morning resulted in the deaths of up to 80 suspected Taliban, including what it says were 20 confirmed Taliban fighters, as well as 60 other people with suspected terrorist ties. But local officials say some of the casualties, at least 16, were civilians caught in the fighting when Taliban forces took up positions on their roofs and in their houses.
This man says there were 24 victims among them. Two men were killed and one woman. The rest were all children.
The U.S. acknowledged some civilians might have been killed, but a statement issued by the U.S.-led coalition said, "The coalition only targeted armed resistance, compounds and buildings known to harbor extremists. Coalition forces must retain their ability to defend against fire emanating from known enemy positions." The upsurge in violence comes as some 6,000 NATO troops prepare to take over responsibility for security in the south later this summer. But the U.S. will retain the lead in the hunt for Taliban and al Qaeda.
LT. GEN. KARL EIKENBERRY, COMBINED FORCES COMMANDER, AFGHANISTAN: The United States military will maintain its counterterrorism forces to strike al Qaeda and its associated movements whenever and wherever they're found.
MCINTYRE: The U.S. military says body counts are the wrong measure of success in a military campaign. Nevertheless, U.S. commanders pointed out that the Taliban in Afghanistan have suffered what they called extraordinary losses in the last three or four weeks. Several hundred Taliban fighters killed, along with the capture of what the U.S. military calls a midlevel Taliban commander -- Lou.
DOBBS: Jamie, thank you very much.
Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon.
Turning now to our illegal immigration and border security crisis in this country, the Senate today moving closer to passage of a bill that would give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens in this country. President Bush and the Senate leadership demanding that senators pass the legislation by the Memorial Day Weekend. But some influential senators are refusing to give up their fight against that demand and that legislation.
Louise Schiavone reports.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The senator from California.
LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): From the left and the right, a couple of the Senate's big guns took aim at the measure before them, charging it doesn't pass the common sense test. Take the plan to send back at least four and a half million illegals in the U.S. in less than five years.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Why would someone who is already living here clandestinely, working, and already active in their community voluntarily come forward and register with the Department of Homeland Security and leave the United States to join this program with no certainty they can get back and...
SCHIAVONE: Feinstein proposes an orange card system, featuring photo and fingerprint as part of an electronically coordinated guest worker system, requiring initiation fees, annual self-reporting, and a clean conduct record. But for some, it's still too much like amnesty.
SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: And I'm not prepared to vote for amnesty again. SCHIAVONE: Iowa Republican Charles Grassley apologized to the nation for his vote for an amnesty provision 20 years ago, when the number of illegals in the U.S. was just a fraction of what it is today. And one week after President Bush signed a huge tax relief bill into law, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee said the proposed treatment of illegal aliens was ridiculous.
GRASSLEY: Aliens illegally in our country only have to pay three of the last five years in back taxes. Now, let me ask any taxpayer, any taxpayer in this country, wouldn't you like to have the choice of only paying taxes out of three out of any five years?
SCHIAVONE: Like so much of the bill, said Grassley, it doesn't pass the common sense test.
SCHIAVONE: Lou, the Senate is off to a slow start this week, and given the pace in the escalating tone, it's difficult to imagine the body will meet its final goal of a vote by Friday -- Lou.
DOBBS: Louise, thank you very much.
Louise Schiavone, from Washington.
Still ahead here, Mexico's utter hypocrisy on the issue of illegal immigration and even legal immigrants in Mexico. We'll have that special report.
And among my guests tonight, a leading critic of the Mexican government's double standards and rampant corruption.
Also, is it racist to suggest that English should be the official language of the United States? I'll be talking with one of the most outspoken critics of that proposal, the national president of LULAC.
And Congressman William Jefferson fighting accusations that he took bribes of at least $100,000 and then hid the money in his freezer.
We'll have that story and a great deal more, coming right up.
DOBBS: The government of Mexican President Vicente Fox tonight continues to criticize the United States over its treatment of Mexican illegal aliens in the United States. What the Fox government refuses to disclose is Mexico's deplorable treatment of illegal aliens in their country and even its legal immigrants.
Casey Wian reports.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Welcome to Mexico. Well, not really. Immigrants in Mexico are denied many basic rights guaranteed to native-born Mexicans.
J. MICHAEL WALLER, INSTITUTE OF WORLD POLITICS: They also discriminate against people who are even naturalized citizens of Mexico. There's a lot of foreign immigration into Mexico, especially from Asia, and these people will never have the same rights as a native-born Mexican citizen.
WIAN: Legal immigrants can't hold jobs in the Mexican government or join the military. Foreigners can't own property near Mexico's coast or borders. They can't even join the clergy. Yet Mexico's government continues to complain about U.S. proposals to control illegal immigration, with no response from the Bush administration.
MARK KRIKORIAN, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: The idea that Mexico is criticizing us for unduly harsh immigration measures is laughable. The problem here is that we are not standing up for our own national interests, not that Mexico is pursuing its national interests.
WIAN: Immigrants in Mexico are also banned from politics. May 1st clearly demonstrated no such restriction in the United States.
The people who took to the streets want to be involved, want to be citizens, and want to register to vote.
WIAN: In fact, the featured speaker at this recent citizenship and voter registration drive was Renan Almandarez, a former illegal alien who now promotes amnesty as a Los Angeles deejay. Nicknamed "El Cucuy," Spanish for boogeyman, Almandarez is revered by Latino politicians seeking to expand their constituencies.
FABIAN NUNEZ (D), CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLY: El Cucuy, myself are committed to this time around registering over one million immigrants here in California and throughout the Southwest.
WIAN: California, for example, doesn't require voters to prove they are citizens. Mexico does, and voters must carry a secure I.D. card. Some states allow illegal aliens to have driver's licenses. In Mexico, driver's licenses are available only to legal residents.
The Mexican constitution also allows the government to expel any foreigner from the country for any reason and without due process. U.S. immigration courts often have trouble deporting even violent criminals.
WIAN: Mexico's tough treatment of immigrants is now winning approval from the international community. On Friday, the United Nations elected Mexico president of the new U.N. Human Rights Council. Vicente Fox's government says it's a recognition, Lou, of Mexico's foreign policy and diplomacy.
DOBBS: Why is it, do you suppose, Casey, that this broadcast almost alone is reporting on the ultimate hypocrisy, the corruption and the incompetence of the Mexican government, and the temerity of that government to even hold forth on the treatment of its citizens in this country?
WIAN: Well, I can't speak for other broadcasts, Lou, but I can -- I can sure speak to why the Bush administration has an interest in not holding Mexico's feet to the fire. They are afraid that if they criticize Mexico too harshly, that a more hostile government to the United States, if you can imagine that, will emerge in the next Mexican election -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well, that would explain perhaps what's happening now, but it hardly explains what's been going on over the last just about six, seven years.
Casey, thank you, as always, for that excellent report.
Casey Wian, from Los Angeles.
President Vicente Fox will continue, of course, to lobby on behalf of his citizens working in the United States when he travels to this country next week. This week, rather. The president of Mexico arrives in Salt Lake City tomorrow. Utah's governor, a strong supporter of guest worker programs.
On Wednesday morning, President Fox stops in Yakima, Washington, and tours an orchard.
In Seattle, he will visit a health clinic for migrant workers and meets with business leaders there.
In Sacramento, President Fox will address a joint session of the California legislature and will meet with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger before returning to Mexico Friday evening.
That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. Which do you believe should have the first and highest priority: making more efficient the current system for legal immigrants in this country, the president's guest worker and earned legalization path proposals for illegal aliens, or, three, establishing true border and port security?
Please cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results later here in the broadcast.
It is important for all of us, of course, to let our elected officials know how we feel about a lot of issues, including immigration reform and border security. And to help you contact your senators and congressmen on any issue, please go to our Web site, loudobbs.com, and that will give you take you -- give you e-mail links to your senators and your congressmen.
Small business owners tonight say they are finding it impossible to compete against larger competitors that are able to hire cheap foreign labor under the H1B visa program. This visa program, destroying the careers of middle class workers all across this country, and it's now jeopardizing the future of our nation's small businesses.
Bill Tucker reports. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This fire station and three others in Bloomfield, New Jersey, are getting wireless broadband networks. The work being done by a small businessmen using American engineers. But most of the jobs Oscar McKee bids on he loses for one simple reason: wage costs.
He bids against companies who use engineers here on H1B visas, a visa originally designed in part to allow companies to hire foreign workers when no Americans were available. In McKee's experience, the program is abused and the wages paid by his competitors are dramatically less. Independent studies back that up.
PAUL KOSTEK, FMR. IEEE-USA PRESIDENT: The salaries that H1Bs are being paid tend to be $13,000 a year less than the average salary that a U.S.-based engineer would receive.
TUCKER: That's a hefty price advantage, but the way McKee sees it, it's not just a price advantage, it's destructive.
OSCAR MCKEE, O-MC SIGNAL RESEARCH: They are lowering my standard of living, whether it's me as an engineer, whether it's me as an employer of engineers. They are lowering the standards of the entire technical workforce in this country.
TUCKER: McKee says the problem is that the H1B program has no oversight, which leads to the abuses. His experience is not unique, but he does have a congressman who is listening.
REP. BILL PASCRELL (D), NEW JERSEY: I've seen too many people in my own district who have been forced out of jobs because of H1B workers. I've seen people in my district who have been forced out of jobs by the L1.
TUCKER: The L1 visa is a separate guest worker program which has no caps. It's apparent that few in Congress care, which only rubs salt in the wound.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's our government that's allowing that to happen. You know, it isn't us. It's the law that was written that's not being really enforced.
TUCKER: Instead of stepping up enforcement, the Senate is getting ready to expand the H1B program.
TUCKER: Current immigration legislation would raise the cap on the H1B program to 113,000 from the current 65,000. And Lou, that cap would automatically increase every year thereafter by 20 percent each year that the cap is hit.
DOBBS: Twenty percent a year?
TUCKER: Yes. DOBBS: And the Heritage Foundation reports that we're going to see immigration, as it's currently laid out in this country, legal immigration, go up by 66 million. A minimum of 66 million over the next 20 years. Irrespective of any other -- anything else, it doesn't include natural population or illegal immigration, because obviously there's no border security proposal either.
What is Congress going to do here? Tell me something.
TUCKER: They are going to do something. They are going to increase the limits on the H1B program so we can bring more foreign workers in.
DOBBS: You know, as we sit here and we laugh at the absurdity of this, I mean, as you're reporting, I mean, American citizens are getting hammered on this.
DOBBS: On a -- on a host of issues in this country. What's it going -- has anybody got a sense of what it's going to take to wake up Congress to what they are doing with the visa program?
TUCKER: Well, you listen to the -- listen to the man in the piece, Oscar. His standard of living is being hurt. The standard of living for the engineers he hires are being hurt. If that doesn't wake them up, Lou, I don't know what it's going to take to get our elected officials woken up.
DOBBS: And the immigration system in this country is so broken that people coming into this country, primarily from Mexico and Central America, working in agriculture, the horse industry, who have visas, who have entered the country legally, have to leave the country in order to have that visa extended and apply for its extension. And this Congress is talking about in that sense moving as many as 20 million illegal immigrants to the head of the line. And keep saying they are not moving anyone to the head of the line.
It's an absurdity beyond even the beginning of understanding.
Bill, thank you very much.
Coming up next here, Congressman William Jefferson snared in Washington's widening influence-pedaling scandals. He's a Democrat in what has been up to this point a Republican game. And snared in a remarkable raid by the FBI. We'll be telling you about that.
And I'll talk with Congressman Darrell Issa about the government's failure to prosecute the human smugglers trafficking in illegal aliens.
Stay with us for that and a great deal more, coming right up.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: The FBI executed a stunning raid this weekend, and for the first time apparently in American history the FBI raided the Capitol Hill office of a sitting congressman. Their target, Congressman William Jefferson, suspected of bribery and fraud.
Dana Bash reports.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Congressman William Jefferson came back to Washington and his Capitol office the FBI raided over the weekend and insisted he is innocent.
REP. WILLIAM JEFFERSON (D), LOUISIANA: There are two sides to every story. There are certainly two sides to this story.
BASH: FBI agents spent 18 hours in Jefferson's office hunting overnight for evidence to back a bribery case the government's been building for 14 months against the eight-term Democrat.
JEFFERSON: Because I will not get into the facts.
BASH: The congressman, who hasn't been charged with anything, won't tell his side of the story now, but the government told theirs. This 82-page affidavit supporting the search warrant details evidence, including the congressman being secretly videotaped outside this Virginia hotel taking $100,000 in $100 bills from a businesswoman- turned-FBI informant according to a government official.
When the FBI raided his D.C. home three days later, it found $90,000 of that cash stuffed in a freezer in "various frozen food containers wrapped in aluminum foil." The breathtaking narrative details multiple taped conversations with the informant, including Jefferson at one point laughing as he says, "All these damn notes we're writing to each other as if we're talking as if the FBI is watching."
The affidavit alleges the congressman took hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and used his office to help a small technology company he had a stake in to secure business in Nigeria and Ghana.
BASH: The congressman tonight is standing firm, saying that he was -- will not resign, despite the fact that some Democrats, we understand, are privately pressuring him to do just that, because they, of course, want to use this issue, corruption against Republicans, in this election.
And one more note, Lou. You mentioned that this -- we believe this is the first time the FBI has raided a sitting congressman's office. The congressman today said that he thought this was a major violation of the separation of powers, and that it's something that actually some Republicans here are agreeing with.
Senator Bill Frist, the Republican, of course, majority leader, said he is concerned about this, that his lawyers are looking into it. But we are told by an FBI official that they actually did issue a subpoena for what was in the congressman's office eight months ago and that was ignored -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well, Dana, I'm sure a lot of people, perhaps cynical and something of wags themselves, would say it's hard to believe over the course of our history with the number of those who have -- have taken a bribe in this country, that it would be the first time that the FBI had ever entered the congressional offices.
Is there any -- any thought on that issue?
BASH: Well, I think that the idea is that what normally happens is that there -- that congressmen get subpoenas, and that they turn over the documents that the FBI, that prosecutors are looking for through that course. Through the subpoena course.
In this case, we understand that that did happen and he didn't turn this information over. That according to an FBI official.
The attorney general, I should mentioned, actually talked about this today. He says he understands that this is an unusual step, but he said also that these are unusual circumstances -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well, we certainly hope so, the culture of corruption are not.
Thank you very much.
BASH: Thank you.
DOBBS: Dana Bash from Capitol Hill.
Taking a look now at your thoughts.
Dough in California wrote in to say, "We've trained thousands of our troops to protect South Korea's border and they've had great success for the past half-century. Is it now time that we should use these trained troops to protect our border?"
And Randy in Georgia, "I'm sorry to say that most of my Baptist brothers and sisters don't care much for you. It seems that as long as President Bush is against abortion he can give our country to Mexico, China or anyone else and still get their vote. I think that when Americans get up every morning we all collectively take a stupid pill to get us started."
Some days are worse than others.
And Ray in Massachusetts, "If we allow one more illegal alien to stay here ahead of the people waiting legally in line in their native countries we may as well order 200 million white flags from China."
Send us your thoughts at loudobbs.com. We'll have more of your thoughts here later in the broadcast. Coming right up, the Border Patrol memo you were not supposed to see. Congressman Darrell Issa, who thought it important enough to release that document, is our guest.
U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says he's committed to enforce each and every one of this country's laws. His record appears to tell a somewhat different story.
And I'll be taking with a leading member of the Hispanic community who says making English the official language of the United States will endanger public safety in this country.
Stay with us. A lot more ahead here.
DOBBS: There's new evidence tonight that U.S. Border Patrol agents are increasingly questioning their mission and purpose as they work each day trying to catch illegal aliens and illegal alien smugglers. An internal Border Patrol memorandum recently made public by Congressman Darrell Issa of California says Border Patrol agents working in El Cajon, California, are demoralized by the lack of prosecution of illegal alien smugglers.
The memo says of the almost 300 suspected illegal alien smugglers arrested at that Border Patrol station in the 12 months that ended September 2004, only six percent of them, six percent, were prosecuted by the federal government for smuggling illegal aliens. It directly blames the U.S. attorney's office for refusing to aggressively prosecute those human smugglers.
Congressman Darrell Issa joins me tonight from San Diego.
Congressman, good to have you here.
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: Good to be back on, Lou.
DOBBS: Congressman, the idea that the border patrol should have to put up with this, what's the answer here? You've written to the White House, to -- tell us what officialdom in Washington is saying.
ISSA: Well, unfortunately, you know, nobody will say this is typical or it isn't typical. You know, there's only three answers to prosecuting 6 percent. One, is, it only happens at this checkpoint. I doubt it. Two is, it only happens in Carol Lam's area. That's possible. Three is that this is the reason that we can't get a handle on illegal immigration.
The border patrol cannot possibly catch all the people who want to come over the border. But they can, if they are allowed to, catch the coyotes and over time destroy the people who facilitate this activity. That dramatically drops the sophistication and the effectiveness of people coming over our border illegally.
And that's exactly what Carol Lam has refused to do for more than a year. It's the reason that I was given this information was so that I could begin to get facts that up until now I have not been able to get.
DOBBS: That's incredible that a congressman can't get information on an issue of this critical importance, particularly as it affects your constituents, indeed the whole country, but certainly your constituents. Let me tell you what the U.S. attorney for the southern district of California, Carol Lam, as you mentioned, sent us today.
This statement, quote, "Representative Issa has been misled. The document he calls a border patrol report is actually an old internal border patrol document, relating to a single substation that has been substantially altered and passed off as an official report. Many of the comments of the document to which Representative Issa refers are editorial comments inserted by an unidentified individual, and they were not approved by or ever seen by border patrol management."
What's your thought?
ISSA: Well, obviously this internal memo was seen by border patrol management. As a matter of fact, my staff has been told by people in the border patrol that they've been told to stop keeping these kind of internal records that, if you will, this 2004 figure may not be available today.
On Thursday, though, the immigration subcommittee of judiciary were holding a hearing, and one of the big questions that I'm going to have is, why wouldn't you know these percentages? Why wasn't this made available?
Lou, for the first three years I was in Congress, I argued that the secondary checkpoint, some 70 miles, several of them, north of the Mexican border were not cost effective. We paid for extensive studies, and the one thing that came up there was, oh, we don't have statistics on how effective these things are.
DOBBS: You know, it's just -- as you look at the madness, the absurdity, the inefficiency, the ineffectual nature of government, I mean, it is stunning what we are doing as a sovereign nation to control our borders in the way in which we are under staffing, under equipping the border patrol and our prosecutors aren't prosecuting.
Our federal immigration courts are overwhelmed, and we have a Senate trying to figure out whether English should be a national language or should it be a common and unifying language. This is unbelievable.
ISSA: Lou, you're absolutely right. And the one thing that I always bring up is, that the border patrol themselves, the men and women who stand at the border, if they were given the reasonable ability to do their job and if they were backed up with prosecutions, we could be doing an awful lot more with the existing resources we have.
I'm for adding new resources but don't be fooled. Six thousand national guardsmen with very conflicted capabilities of what they are going to do isn't the answer. Prosecution of these coyotes would absolutely have dramatically reduced the pressure on those men and women.
DOBBS: Well, congressman, I'm going to have to end by giving myself the last word on this one, if I may. I won't do that, I'll let you react.
ISSA: Of course.
DOBBS: I think the idea of putting 6,000 guardsmen on the border in an adjunct, rear support, possibly unarmed role on the border is nothing more than an absurd fig leaf and a political veil, which seems to be the specialty right now of Washington, rather than coming up with concrete, definitive answers and solutions. And this is one that needs it now, a solution.
ISSA: Absolutely. And 25 judges and 50 prosecutors would do -- and some more jail cells would do far more than 6,000 symbolic national guardsmen, you're absolutely right.
DOBBS: Congressman Issa, it's always good to have you with us.
ISSA: Thank you.
DOBBS: Thank you very much. We appreciate it.
ISSA: Thank you, Lou.
DOBBS: Coming up next, does speaking English endanger public safety and violate states's rights? Is it eve racist? My guest is Hector Flores at the League of United Latin American Citizens. We'll be talking about those issues.
And President Vicente Fox lectures the United States on how to treat illegal immigrants in this country. Why do illegal immigrants have to leave Mexico to make a living? Why does the government of Mexico have moral standing to talk about anything, another government does anywhere? We'll have that report just ahead.
And Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says he has an obligation to enforce the law, especially against journalists. I'll be telling the attorney general about some laws that we think he might begin to consider enforcing, including that one. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Senator James Inhofe's proposal to recognize English as the national language of the United States set off a firestorm of protest. Senate Minority Leader Senator Harry Reid called it un- American and racist, and the League of United Latin American Citizens jumped into the fray.
In a letter to Senator Reid and Senate Majority Leader Senator Bill Frist, LULAC predicts the Inhofe amendment will, quote, "deny the rights of U.S. citizens." It undermines, quote, "state's rights and endangers the public safety."
Hector Flores is the national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens joining me tonight from Dallas, Texas.
Hector, good to have you here.
HECTOR FLORES, PRESIDENT, LULAC: Good to talk to you today, Lou.
DOBBS: Hector, I mean, that's pretty strong. You know, there are two forms of this legislation, as you well know. One talking about a common and unifying language, one a national language, neither has any effect on anything. Why are you so exercised by it?
FLORES: Well, like anything else our founding fathers, you know, were also perplexed about what language to adopt, and thank goodness they didn't adopt any languages whatsoever, even though we know that English is the language of government. It's the language of business in the world. I don't think there's any need to.
I think these are distractions from the real important issue, which is immigration reform. I think it only takes away from the dialogue of the public discourse that is turning sour on everybody.
DOBBS: I think it's interesting, though, that this harmless gesture in the sense that it has no effect on anything. Senator Inhofe or anyone else had said this is going to be the official language, it's going to have you a powerful impact. But, Hector, how do you square it up with the fact that 31 nations have English that their sole official language, that Mexico has an official language of Spanish, what makes us different from Mexico in that regard? I don't understand the standard.
FLORES: Our nation is a land of immigrants, unlike Mexico and unlike the other countries that you mentioned. In fact, as you mentioned earlier, the -- not only, you know, the immigration flow from Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean is very significant, has been for over 100 years.
So, the population, many, many of those that -- well, we have -- let's go back a little further than that, Lou. Think about 1565, St. Augustine and think about the languages being spoken here. We had native languages. If we are going to go start adopting languages perhaps we ought to adopt one of the first languages that spoken here, like Navajo, this is how absurd this debate is what I'm saying.
DOBBS: There's a big difference, though, this is the United States of America, a government formed, that encompasses all of the United States, all 50 of them. It is the only -- it was the first democracy in this hemisphere, certainly, and it is the oldest in the world. The idea that English could -- how would it deny the rights of U.S. citizens to declare it an official language, a national language?
FLORES: While a lot of immigrants are learning English, probably more rapidly than any other time in our history, in fact, we worry about that. Our children, by the third generation, will be strictly English dominant. That is the case.
DOBBS: Why are you worried about that? Why are you worried?
FLORES: We want them to learn not only English but other languages.
DOBBS: I'm more worried about the first two generations not learning English well enough to assimilate quickly. Is that a counter-concern?
FLORES: We want -- LULAC from its inception, our core objective is to make people as mainstream as possible. We've always believed if you are going to be in this country you have to learn English and you got to be mainstream and be a good citizen and obey the laws of this country et cetera.
There are still people here, my grandfather, third generation, he was dominant Spanish in my home. Spanish was the dominant language. If he were to go to the hospital or ask for police services, if he were stopped by an officer, he could not communicate in English, and thank goodness I understand the value of knowing English and you need a good education and you must be versed in English as you all know.
DOBBS: All four of my kids speak Spanish, so I understand that. But what I don't understand is the resistance to English as the official language. The suggestion that nothing else would change. The fact is English is the language of this nation. And most Hispanics speak English. By far most. So, I don't understand the issue at all. Why there would be any resistance to it.
FLORES: Well, I think, again, I will stand on the position that our goal is there is no need, I think, to establish any language whatsoever as the official language. We are already, by practice and tradition, all agree that English is the language that everybody must use. Why come up with a law? I thought that this government, the least intervention in our -- in our regular business and in our lives is more rules and laws.
DOBBS: Now you sound like one of the libertarian Republicans or Democrats, you know.
FLORES: I'm not.
DOBBS: I wanted you to be more activist and out there, Hector. How about the idea of endangering public safety if English were the official language?
FLORES: You know, we've done some studies, Lou, where people are racially profiled just by their skin tone. You stop somebody that can't communicate in English, and our officers, and I come from a law enforcement background, there's a problem there. It has been a problem even on the border.
DOBBS: I don't understand. If English is the official language, what has that got to do with racial profiling?
FLORES: Because, whenever you stop somebody, they are going to expect people to be conversant in English, and it is going to take people a lot longer.
DOBBS: If you are stopped in Mexico, wouldn't you expect the officer to be speaking to you in Spanish?
FLORES: These are people that are already American citizens, Lou. We're not talking about Mexico, we're not talking about any other country.
DOBBS: I'm not talking about any other country either. Irrespective if you are an immigrant of Mexico or a natural -- a native --
FLORES: I'm not here to defend any other country, Lou, I'm only trying to tell you --
DOBBS: I'm just asking you -- the only reason I can't understand how it would involve public safety. What it would be different if it were the official language?
FLORES: I don't see any need for us to -- in fact there are a lot of efforts by many cities and municipalities to try and give officers the opportunity to learn at least --
FLORES: -- basic commands in Spanish so they are able to communicate with the people you represent and serve.
DOBBS: The only possible reason that I could imagine for not wanting English to be the official language -- and, again, remember here, folks, the senate is not even talking about making it the official language. There's not enough courage in the -- in the U.S. Senate or directness or forthrightness to say official language, they are talking about national language. But, Hector, I don't understand. Unless there is an alternative language to put forward as the official language, how could anybody object?
FLORES: Again, I think our belief is that there is more important things, you know, to do, like you mentioned earlier in your program. I think we need to fix the border and go on from there.
DOBBS: Amen, brother.
FLORES: And work on these. But I don't think throwing into these, that appear to be extremists now, you know, discussions and talking points and I think there's more important, substantial things like you have mentioned, you know, earlier in your program.
And like anything else, I think it's probably going to disrupt any possibility of consensus on a comprehensive immigration bill, such as --
DOBBS: Let me ask you this. We're out of time, Hector? What do you think, are we going to see legislation come out of the senate by the end of this week?
FLORES: I doubt it. The sense of feeling that I have is I doubt it. I think the elections in November, you know, are looming on the horizon. I think that a lot of these amendments are going to bar, you know, coming to some consensus for the 60 votes necessary in the Senate. But this is Hector Flores speaking here.
DOBBS: And we're delighted to have him speaking here on this broadcast. Hector Flores, the national president of LULAC. Thanks for being here.
Journalists could go to jail for telling what the government is doing with your tax dollars and what it might be doing inappropriately. In an interview with ABC News, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said he could arrest the "New York Times" journalists for revealing the government's warrantless wiretapping program. Here's what he said.
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ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We have an obligation to enforce the law and to prosecute those who engage in criminal activity.
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DOBBS: Imagine that. Since Attorney General Gonzales feels an obligation to enforce the law, here are a few laws that I would suggest he consider enforcing.
The attorney general could enforce the sovereign responsibility to secure our borders and to stop 3 million illegal aliens from entering this country ever year. He could begin prosecuting human smugglers, those trafficking in drugs and illegal aliens across our border, primarily our southern border.
Attorney General Gonzalez could collect $400 million in fines that communist China owes for criminal trade practices. Communist China is destroying Americans jobs, farms and industries and the federal government is doing nothing. The attorney general could enforce the law to stop businesses from hiring illegal aliens and he could be enforcing the laws on document forgery and identity theft.
For example, in 1999 the federal government filed 417 cases against employers of illegal aliens, in 2004 it filed three. America's national sovereignty is the basis for our laws. The attorney general could enforce the law by protecting our sovereignty. Just a few thoughts, attorney general, and I am delighted to hear you want to enforce our laws. Unfortunately, you put it forward in the context of simply journalists reporting, and there is that First Amendment thing that we still think is relatively important to the freedom of this republic.
A reminder now to vote on our poll. Which do you believe should have the first priority? Making more efficient the current system for legal immigrants, the president's guest-worker and earned legalization path proposals for illegal aliens, or establishing true border and port security? Please cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results coming up in just a few minutes.
Up next, a disturbing look inside Vicente Fox's Mexico. One of the country's leading experts on Mexico exposes the real truth behind Fox's push for illegal alien amnesty in the United States. That and a great deal more, including why he is not so thrilled with border security. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Coming up at the top of the hour, "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer. Wolf?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Lou. Cold-hard cash and accusations of corruption. The FBI says it found $90,000 in a congressman's freezer. Was he on the take?
Plus brace yourself for the big one. The hurricane forecast is now officially out. Are we really prepared? Max Mayfield, the director of the National Hurricane Center, he's here in "THE SITUATION ROOM."
And millions of veterans have their private information stolen. You're going to find out what you can do to protect yourself from fraud. All that, Lou, coming up right at the top of the hour.
DOBBS: Well thank you very much, we look forward to it.
My next guests, one of the nation's leading expert on Mexico, a fierce critic of the Vicente Fox government. George Grayson is professor of government and Latin American studies at the College of William & Mary, joining us tonight from Williamsburg, Virginia. Professor, good to have you with us. Let me...
GEORGE GRAYSON, PROFESSOR, COLLEGE OF WILLIAM & MARY: Good evening, Lou. Or should I say, buenos tardes.
DOBBS: That's just fine. In your recent editorial, you said, "Mexico's shame, if activists really want to highlight the impediments to opportunities of Mexican-Americans, they should concentrate their ire on the government south of the border and self-serving elite with which it works hand in glove." Professor, you wrote a very disturbing editorial and an honest, straightforward one. Why is it that the Americans, the government, the American society at large, doesn't want to look at the real nature of what is happening in Mexico?
GRAYSON: I think we prefer to patronize the Mexicans or buy into their victimization argument. Mexico has everything, Lou: oil, gas, gold, silver, copper, beaches, historical artifacts. If Taiwan could lease Mexico for 20 years, we gringos would soon be whining about the colossus in the South.
DOBBS: That's one of the things you point out and most people don't recognize are the natural resources of Mexico are extraordinary. The economy right now is the 14th largest, yet in terms of taxes that excluding, it takes in only about 10 percent of its GDP, which is only slightly higher than Haiti, which means there is no social safety net. There is no basic level of social service for the Mexican people.
GRAYSON: That's right. And the tax code is just riven with loopholes. It reminds us of the U.S. But at the same time, it means -- it means that there is precious little money devoted to education and to health care. And these are the two prime movers for social mobility and economic opportunity.
DOBBS: But, professor, why should the Mexican government spend all of that money when they can move approximately 15 percent of their population, their least educated people, into the United States and their poorest and have them be taken care of under our economy and our system of Social Security and safety net?
GRAYSON: Well, it's a completely irresponsible policy, Lou. But it's one that works. And you know, we have nothing to apologize for in terms of immigration. We admit almost one million legal immigrants to this country each year.
GRAYSON: And yet we're somehow made to feel as if we are oppressing the Mexicans.
GRAYSON: Let me add one quick point here, Lou.
DOBBS: Sure, we've just a couple of moments.
GRAYSON: Mexico has a guest-worker program with Guatemala, 40,000 Guatemalans come into Mexico each year as guest workers. Why then, if they won't give jobs to their own people, why are they crying for an expansion of a guest-worker program in the United States?
DOBBS: I think we all know the answer to that. It comes in the form of a little over $20 billion in remittances from Mexico's citizens living in the United States. Many of them, most of them, in point of fact, illegal.
Professor George Grayson, we thank you very much for being here. I hope you'll come back soon as we continue to explore this issue, whether or not the Senate and its manifest wisdom or whatever word you'd like to insert instead of wisdom, decides to pass legislation on amnesty for illegal aliens in this country this week. Professor, thank you.
GRAYSON: Thank you, Lou.
DOBBS: Still ahead, the results of our poll, and more. Please stay with us.
DOBBS: The results of our poll, overwhelming, 96 percent of you say the first priority and the highest priority of this government should be to establish true border and port security.
Taking a look now at more of your thoughts. Elizabeth in California: If it is a requirement to learn the English language to become a citizen, then why is my California ballot in both English and Spanish?
Rick in California: Lou, I love my country, but I hate the treason coming out of our U.S. Senate. How dare they give our country away?
Send us your thoughts at LouDobbs.com. Thanks for being with us here tonight, please join us tomorrow. For all of us here, thanks for watching. Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" starts right now with Wolf Blitzer. Wolf?
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