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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
GOP Critic of President Bush Wins California Special Election; Bush Striking Out; Rising Anger in Congress Over Mexico's Hypocrisy; Brian Bilbray Interview; Ben Nelson Interview
Aired June 7, 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: Tonight, President Bush is pushing illegal alien amnesty and voters are pushing back. We'll be talking with a Republican who won a special election in California.
And our exclusive report on the potential for massive voter fraud in our midterm elections, the vulnerability of electronic voting systems to fraud and the role of Venezuela in those elections.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Wednesday, June 7th.
Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
Tonight, voters sent President Bush and the U.S. Congress a powerful message, saying amnesty for illegal aliens and our lack of border security is unacceptable. Republican Brian Bilbray defeated his Democratic opponent in a special election in southern California after saying border security must be the country's top priority.
President Bush today insisted his amnesty plan is not amnesty and that his way is the only patriotic way to solve our illegal immigration and border security crisis.
John King tonight in Del Mar, California, reports on Brian Bilbray's election victory, its likely impact on the national debate on illegal immigration.
Ed Henry reports from the White House on the president's increasingly desperate battle to save his so-called comprehensive immigration reform plan.
And Lisa Sylvester reports from Washington tonight on one congressman's plan to make our immigration laws mirror the laws of Mexico.
We turn first to John King in Del Mar for a report on the Bilbray victory -- John.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou what is stunning about this victory is not that Brian Bilbray won -- this is an overwhelmingly Republican district, so he was supposed to win in the eyes of many -- but how he won. This Republican candidate for Congress won by directly attacking the immigration views of the Republican president of the United states. As the votes began to turn in his favor last night, Bilbray told us in an interview that he was in trouble until he decided to emphasize border security first and foremost when it comes to immigration reform, and not only paint his Democratic opponent as soft on illegal immigration, but to also paint the Republican president as just as soft, maybe more so.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN BILBRAY (R), CALIFORNIA CONGRESSMAN-ELECT: The president proposing amnesty was absolutely a big problem. And, in fact, it wasn't until I was able to highlight the fact that I did not agree with my friends in the Senate or my friend in the White House on amnesty, that they really saw the polls start supporting me strongly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And now, even as the president of the United States travels the country trying to build public support for an immigration compromise on his terms, Bilbray says the lesson of his election will be that he will now go to other Republicans, incumbents in the House, Republican challengers around the country, and say that if they want to win this election, they should emphasize border security first and they should stand up to the president and his allies in this fight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILBRAY: Don't listen to the Senate and don't listen to the White House. They mean well, but they are not listening to the people. And those of us in the House of Representatives by nature are the voice of the people, and the people really have spoken quite clearly, I think, in this election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now, most House conservatives that view the president's plan as amnesty were in no mood to compromise to begin with, but they are immediately taking from Bilbray's victory a sign that they should not compromise at all, that they should hold firm to their position heading into the November elections, which, of course, will significantly undermine the president's effort to broker a compromise this year.
We should be clear, though. Even as Mr. Bilbray and Republicans celebrate holding this seat, there are signs of trouble for the Republicans. Not just a feud between this candidate and the White House on immigration.
Mr. Bilbray got 49 percent of the vote. His democratic challenger got 45 percent. That's nine points better than she did in the election of 2004.
So Republicans say they definitely realize that this is an example of how they will have trouble motivating the conservative base to turn out in this midterm election year, but, Lou, I'll tell you this, as they study ways to try to turn out those voters, Mr. Bilbray now joining the growing Republican chorus that says one thing not to do is to cut a deal with the president on his terms when it comes to immigration -- Lou.
DOBBS: John, thank you very much.
John King from Del Mar, California.
The winner, Brian Bilbray, joins us here later in this broadcast.
In Arizona, Governor Janet Napolitano vetoed legislation that was intended to crack down on illegal immigration. That legislation passed by both houses of the Arizona legislature would have granted state police the power to arrest illegal aliens on criminal trespass charges and would have tightened penalties against employers of illegal aliens, and would have denied new state benefits to illegal aliens.
The speaker of the Arizona House says Governor Napolitano is thwarting the will of her people with her veto. But Napolitano, who is up for re-election this year, says the bill "offers no constructive new ideas and instead filled with unworkable or unconstitutional provisions."
This is Governor Napolitano's 115th veto since she took office only three and a half years ago.
President Bush today acknowledged that the battle over illegal alien amnesty is the ultimate stumbling block, as he put it, to his so-called comprehensive immigration reform. During a visit to Nebraska, the president blasted critics of his amnesty agenda. President Bush said harsh, ugly rhetoric can divide the country and make us forget the values that made America great.
Ed Henry reports from the White House.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One day after alleging his critics are using the word amnesty as a scare tactic, President Bush fired back at conservatives calling for massive deportation of immigrants.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It makes no sense at all to say we can find people and, you know, run them out of the country. For some, I guess, that sounds appealing. It's impractical. It's not going to work. And it's not necessary, in my judgment.
HENRY: The president asserted again he's not for amnesty, insisting his plan does not let illegal immigrants off the hook.
BUSH: You have got to pay a fine for being here illegally. You have got to learn the English language pay your debt to society. And if you choose to be a citizen, you can, just you wait in line at the back, not in the beginning.
HENRY: While pushing back on amnesty, the president is offering conservatives some olive branches, talking tough on border security at a Tuesday stop in New Mexico. And after touring a Catholic charity center Wednesday in Nebraska, the president stressed the need for assimilation, teaching immigrants American values and culture before they earn citizenship.
BUSH: I saw a place where people were learning to speak English and learning the civic lessons of what it means to be an American citizen.
HENRY: But the president stumped the students when he asked how many father/son teams have served as President of the United States. After noting his own father was the nation's 41st president, Mr. Bush revealed the other duo.
BUSH: Juan Adams, Isolito Juan Q (ph).
HENRY: The president said he's still hopeful that the impasse over immigration reform can be broken, but right now, that looks like an uphill battle against many in his own party -- Lou.
DOBBS: Ed, thank you very much.
Ed Henry from the White House.
In Congress, there's rising anger tonight over Mexico's blatant interference in our national debate in illegal immigration and our border security. Congressman John Linder is sick of the Mexican government's hypocrisy. He says it's time for the United States government to demand more respect from the government of Mexico. And to make his point, Congressman Linder has introduced legislation that would make our immigration laws mirror those immigration laws of Mexico.
Lisa Sylvester reports from Washington.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): President Bush has been talking up border security this week. But at least one lawmaker says, if the White House were serious about solving the nation's illegal immigration crisis, it would follow Mexico's lead. Yes, Mexico. The United States' southern neighbor has some of the toughest illegal immigration laws on the books.
Representative John Linder has introduced legislation that would adopt restrictions similar to Mexico's.
REP. JOHN LINDER (R), GEORGIA: Well, I thought I would put a bill in the hopper that just totally mimics what Mexico has, with tough punishments, felonies, deportation, and let's get it in the mix and talk about it.
SYLVESTER: Among the provisions, the government would tightly regulate the entry and exit through U.S. borders, whether through land, water or air. The Department of Homeland Security would create a national population registry and maintain a record of every person who is not a U.S. citizen or national. And unlawful entry would be punishable by a $9,000 fine and up to two years in jail instead of being treated as a civil violation.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform says a double standard on illegal immigration has long existed.
DAN STEIN, FED. FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM: Why should Mexico be able to make these demands on us for amnesty when it has its own very tight and highly enforced immigration controls? Why can't we just have the same immigration laws that Mexico does? And I think people really deserve an answer to that question.
SYLVESTER: The legislation is a long shot on Capitol Hill. But the bill's sponsor hopes that House and Senate conferees considering immigration reform will take note of Mexico's tough stance and perhaps use it as a model for gaining control of the United States' broken borders.
SYLVESTER: A study by the Law Library of Congress found that in addition to Mexico, Sweden, Switzerland, Brazil, Egypt and Japan all have stiffer penalties against illegal immigration than the United States -- Lou.
DOBBS: Lisa, thank you very much.
Lisa Sylvester from Washington, D.C.
Coming up here next, the illegal alien amnesty movement is trying to run a Texas sheriff out of town. And yes, they're playing the race card. We'll have that special report.
And the astounding story of a California woman whose identity was stolen by more than 200 illegal aliens. We'll have her story.
And Brian Bilbray, the winner of the special congressional election in California, joins us, telling us how important border security and illegal alien amnesty will be in these upcoming midterm elections.
President Bush loves amnesty, but please don't call it amnesty. Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska will be joining us, and he will call it what he says is the correct definition.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: Tonight, our nation's elected officials are ignoring a widening identity theft crisis that threatens all U.S. citizens. Illegal aliens are stealing the identities of American citizens so they can remain and work in this country illegally. One northern California woman says her identity was stolen more than 200 times by illegal aliens. Casey Wian has her story.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Audra Schmierer has been a stay-at-home mom for six years. Now that her son is in school, she wants to return to work. So she applied to a temp agency.
AUDRA SCHMIERER, ID THEFT VICTIM: They called me three or for hours later and said, "Mrs. Schmierer, I don't understand why you're applying. You already work here."
WIAN: At a big tech company, a similar experience.
SCHMIERER: There's my driver's license, my passport, my Social Security card. I gave them everything. And she said, "Well, really, how can you actually prove you are you? What if those people have the same documentation you do?"
WIAN: Schmierer has discovered more than 200 illegal aliens throughout the United States are doing jobs Americans supposedly won't do by using her Social Security number. They work in fast-food chains, cosmetic companies, even receive dividends from Microsoft.
SCHMIERER: I started to gather all this information and really found out how extreme the situation was. It's scary.
WIAN: Her ordeal began last year with a bill from the IRS for nearly $16,000 in back taxes for a job in Texas. She lives in Dublin, California.
SCHMIERER: My husband was actually quite upset. He asked me when I had ever been to Texas.
WIAN: She tracked down the illegal alien whose phony tax return triggered the IRS bill. He told her he bought her Social Security number and a fake green card at this Texas flea market.
SCHMIERER: I don't under how illegal aliens can come across here and commit a felony -- identity theft is a felony -- and be excused from that felony to continue living their life when I cannot live my life.
WIAN: By January, Schmierer faced a $1 million IRS bill. She was temporarily detained by Customs, returning from a foreign business trip with her husband. And her Social Security account now shows a zero balance, erasing 14 years of work before her marriage.
SCHMIERER: Social Security right now sends me to IRS. IRS sends me to Social Security. Every now and then, they'll send me to the FTC, whom I have a case with.
No one wants to do anything about it. Right now, I have nowhere to go.
WIAN: Schmierer spends several hours a day trying to clear her name. The IRS has cancelled her bill, but Social Security won't give her a new number. She says all 35 employers she's contacted have refused to take action against the workers using her number.
SCHMIERER: It's cheap labor, and they don't care.
WIAN: Neither do most senators. John Ensign brought Schmierer's case to their attention, and they still approved Social Security benefits for illegal aliens using stolen identifies.
SEN. JOHN ENSIGN (R), NEVADA: The crime of identity theft and Social Security fraud are not victimless crimes. The victims of these crimes are American citizens and legal immigrants.
WIAN: And in this case, the victim is the granddaughter of a World War II veteran who emigrated legally to the United States from Guadalajara, Mexico.
Meanwhile, the Social Security Administration says it investigates reports of fraud but wouldn't say if it's investigating any of the cases related to Audra Schmierer. The IRS says it can't penalize employers who believe they are accepting legitimate Social Security numbers -- Lou.
DOBBS: Of course not. Not in the system that has been created by our elected officials.
Casey, we can only hope that every one of those senators who voted for amnesty so proudly are watching her story and your report here tonight. We thank you very much. Appreciate it.
Casey Wian from Los Angeles.
Tonight, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have shut down a New York City-based operation that sold fake marriage documents to illegal aliens in order to help them obtain green cards. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says one of the leaders of that operation is none other than a federal immigration employee.
Officials say conspirators made more than $1 million in profits. Thirty people are under arrest tonight for taking part in the operation.
The Veterans Affairs Administration tonight admits that its identity theft crisis is much wider, much bigger than previously disclosed. The VA now says the names, birth dates and Social Security numbers of more than two million military employees were stolen from the computer of a Veterans Affairs' employee earlier this year.
That includes nearly 80 percent of the U.S. active duty military force. This is a significant increase from what the VA reported over the weekend, when it disclosed the data from only 50,000 active duty personnel had been stolen.
When this crisis broke last month, the VA said only personal data from millions of military veterans had been stolen, and it waited almost two weeks to offer its report and alert the public.
A battle is shaping up in Texas between supporters of illegal immigration and the sheriff of El Paso County. Illegal immigration and open borders advocates say the sheriff is using racial profiling to enforce immigration law. The sheriff says he's enforcing the law.
Bill Tucker reports.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's stops like these that have forced a showdown between El Paso County Sheriff Leo Samaniego and the Border Network for Human Rights. Sheriff Samaniego says his deputies are just enforcing the law.
SHERIFF LEO SAMANIEGO, EL PASO COUNTY, TEXAS: The law in the state of Texas allows a driver's license checkpoint. You can check insurance and, you know, if you come across something else, of course, you have the right to enforce whatever law is being broken.
TUCKER: The Border Network for Human Rights sees it differently. They say the stops are checkpoints meant to catch illegal aliens.
They call them intimidating exercises in racial profiling by a department which is roughly 75 percent Hispanic, and they say they've collective signatures demanding that Sheriff Samaniego resign. Yet, while calling for the sheriff's resignation, the group did not return repeated phone calls. But the head of the Texas Senate Hispanic Caucus has been speaking out.
State Senator Juan Hinojosa sent a letter to Texas Governor Perry reminding him, "The mere illegal presence of someone in the United States is a civil immigration violation, but not a criminal offense." Hinojosa goes on to say that, "Sheriff Samaniego's raid and roadblock approach to immigrants undercuts the ability of local law enforcement to ensure the public safety, because it discourages both legal and illegal immigrants from seeking help from the police."
The sheriff says the charge doesn't hold water.
SAMANIEGO: If you have a group that's complaining about us doing our job, of course they are going to throw in all kinds of insinuations. If they have something to hide, then, by all means, they should be afraid. Because we're out there.
We're enforcing the law. And, you know, if you're a law-abiding citizen, you have no reason whatsoever to worry about what we're doing.
TUCKER: Sheriff Samaniego is the head of the Texas Border Sheriffs Coalition.
TUCKER: The sheriff's office is crying foul over the charges, saying they are motivated by politics, noting they are mostly driven from the offices of one state senator, Ellet Shapley (ph), a candidate that the sheriff refused to support in his re-election bid.
And Lou, as it turns out, not every member of the Texas Hispanic Caucus is pleased about that letter. They were not aware of and it some of them did not approve it before it went to Texas Governor Rick Perry.
DOBBS: The letter from Hinojosa?
DOBBS: Well, State Senator Hinojosa has a lot of explaining to do, it seems to me. He's outrageous. And it seems to me like the people of El Paso County should be very proud of a sheriff that -- who is doing his job at a time when not many are, frankly. He's -- we've gotten to know him pretty well over the course of the past couple of years.
What's the reaction in the press there?
TUCKER: The press there has come out in favor of him. There was a column on Sunday just recently in "The El Paso Times," where a columnist came out and said, "Sheriff Leo Samaniego screwed up bad." What was he thinking trying to enforce the law, in essence, and warning citizens that they should be careful, because they are going to be looking for a new sheriff.
DOBBS: And there is one little point here. The sheriff's department is receiving state funds for the purpose of...
TUCKER: Enforcing the law.
DOBBS: Enforcing the law, immigration law included.
Thank you very much, Bill Tucker. It's remarkable. You've got to love Texas.
That brings us to our poll tonight. If you had to base your vote in November on one of these issues, which would it be: border security, illegal immigration, the war in Iraq, gay marriage, the economy?
We know it's unrealistic to suggest that there only be one, but we're curious to see what that one issue would be. And if you would, please cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll have the results later here in the broadcast.
Coming up next, after you cast your ballot, who counts the vote? You may be surprised. They live in Caracas, Venezuela. American democracy for sale. In fact, it's been sold. Our special report coming up.
Brian Bilbray wins a seat in Congress by promising to boost border security and block amnesty for illegal aliens. He's our guest here next.
Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DOBBS: Straightforwardly, electronic voting machines are putting our democracy at risk, vulnerable to fraud. As we've been reporting on this broadcast, a Venezuelan company owns one of the leading supplier of electronic voting machines, and that company has ties to the government of Venezuela's strongman, Hugo Chavez.
Kitty Pilgrim reports.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This vote was cast in yesterday's primaries in New Mexico. This vote was cast in Venezuela's recall election in 2004. The same company, Smartmatic, owns the electronic voting systems used in both elections.
Many experts say those voting machines were manipulated in Venezuela to give President Hugo Chavez a victory. Exit polls done by the U.S. firm Penn, Schoen & Berland had Chavez losing 41 percent to 59 percent. But the next day, Chavez declared victory, reversing the score, saying he won 59 percent of the vote.
GUSTAVO COLONEL, FMR. VENEZUELAN CONGRESS MEMBER: Everything was computed in favor of the government. So, the only explanation is that the Smartmatic machines had been programmed in that way.
PILGRIM: A Harvard mathematician crunched the numbers on the Venezuelan election.
RICARDO HAUSMANN, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: I think that the preponderance of the evidence is that there was a fraud in the election. It had to be the Smartmatic system.
All these machines talk to a central computer and report on their results. And in that -- in that mechanism, as they communicate with the center, the central machine can report everything.
PILGRIM: Antonio Mujica (ph) and his partner Alfredo Anzola (ph) received a small business loan from the Venezuelan government only months before the recall election. These corporate registration documents from Venezuela show the Venezuelan government owned 28 percent of the stock of another company they started, Vista (ph), which adapted voting software for the Smartmatic machines in the 2004 elections.
The same document shows a Chavez government minister, Omar Mantillo (ph), was on the board of directors. The Chavez government gave Vista, Smartmatic and another company a $91 million contract to run voting machines for the 2004 election.
The next year, the owners of Smartmatic bought Sequoia, one of the top electronic voting system companies in the United States, for $16 million. That company provided some of the electronic voting machines in yesterday's primary elections.
PILGRIM: Smartmatic says its machines provide error-proof elections, but watchdog groups some members of Congress are saying there's no way this situation should remain unexamined. They want the Treasury Department to review the sale of Sequoia to Smartmatic, and they say that the integrity of the U.S. voting system is at stake.
DOBBS: Well, let's be clear. It is absolutely demonstrable that with the use of electronic voting machines in which we do not have verifiable receipts and a way of independently auditing those votes -- democracy is at risk anyway as we approach the midterm elections. To have the involvement of a Venezuelan government-owned company involved in Smartmatic and Sequoia is -- is absurd. And the idiots at the United States Treasury who are refusing to investigate this and who permitted the sale to go ahead should be held accountable.
PILGRIM: It is truly unbelievable, Lou. And it absolutely needs to be re-examined.
DOBBS: Where is the State Department in this?
PILGRIM: We put in calls to the State Department, and they have not really responded in any way. They say they can't really comment on this.
DOBBS: They can't really comment? Can they do anything?
PILGRIM: I'm not sure.
DOBBS: Kitty, thank you very much.
Remarkable. Terrific reporting.
Taking a look now at some of your thoughts.
Julie in South Carolina, "Lou, where can I get a copy of the gay agenda? I've never seen a copy of it and neither have any of my gay or lesbian friends."
Dan in Florida, "I really do believe if we focused on health car and the approximately 50 million Americans who don't have health insurance instead of gay marriage, then the mental health of this country will improve."
Ella in North Carolina, "Broken borders, broken promises, broken presidency, broken Congress. And I'm broke, born in the USA and looking for one of the jobs Americans won't do."
And Dixie in Oregon, I'm tired of hearing that illegals do the work that Americans won't. Yesterday, President Bush said foreign workers put roofs on in August. I have never heard of an American roofer that wouldn't put a roof on in August. Those statements are wrong and insulting to Americans."
We'll have more of your thoughts coming up here. Send us your thoughts at LouDobbs.com.
Tonight, Google is having second thoughts about collaborating with the government of communist China and its censors. Google's Chinese Web site blocks topics communist authorities disapprove of such as democracy, Taiwan, human rights.
Now Google's co-founder, Sergey Brin, says the company compromised its principles by caving in to the communist government and its censors. He even says Google may change its policies and pull out of the market. We invited Sergey Brin to join us on the broadcast, to discuss the principles, upheld and broken. He declined.
Coming up next, new violence in Iraq. More of our troops have been killed. We'll have the latest from Iraq.
And President Bush pushes illegal alien amnesty in Nebraska. Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska isn't buying any of it. He's our guest.
And Republican Brian Bilbray ran against the president's amnesty agenda and won. He's headed for Congress tonight. He's our guest. Stay with us.
DOBBS: In a moment, I'll be talking with Brian Bilbray, the winner of the special election in southern California and what his victory means for the president's amnesty program.
But, first, other important stories tonight. Six more of our troops have been killed in the war in Iraq, four were killed fighting insurgents and two were killed in what the military calls non-combat related. 2,481 of our troops have now been killed in this war. The United States today said Iran must stop enriching nuclear fuel during any negotiations on its nuclear weapons program, but it appears Iran could possibly be allowed to resume nuclear activities in the future.
And President Bush's efforts to convince Congress to support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage failed. Supporters of the proposed amendment failed to win enough votes in a key procedural vote.
Tonight Brian Bilbray is heading back to Washington after winning yesterday's special congressional election in California's San Diego County. Bilbray, a former Republican Congressman beat Democratic opponent Francine Busby, 50 percent to 45.
He ran on a strict border security, anti-amnesty platform. His victory is evidence that illegal immigration will be a determinative issue in some, at least, in this year's midterm congressional elections. Brian Bilbray joins us tonight from San Diego. Good to have you with us, Mr. Congressman-elect.
BRIAN BILBRAY (R), CONGRESSMAN-ELECT OF CALIFORNIA: Thank you very much, Mr. Dobbs. DOBBS: The issue of border security, the issue of illegal immigration, in your judgment, how important to the outcome of the election?
BILBRAY: Absolutely essential. I mean, to the point of my campaign signs had written right across them tough on illegal immigration. I made it very clear the difference between my opponent and myself. She supported the amnesty proposal of the Senate, and I supported Mr. Sensenbrenner, that she supported Social Security benefits for illegals and I totally opposed it. And she supported automatic citizenship for the children of illegal aliens and I was the original sponsor of the birth right citizenship bill to stop that procedure.
DOBBS: The issues in San Diego, obviously, also go to Duke Cunningham's corruption and his sentencing for those misdeeds. There was an expectation, at least in the Democratic party, that the, quote, culture of corruption of Washington, D.C. would certainly enliven and enhance the campaign of Busby. How do the voters of San Diego county react to that issue?
BILBRAY: They react to the issue that the greatest scandal was not about Cunningham but actually about 11 million to 12 million illegal aliens in this country, demanding that law abiding Americans change our laws and that if you really want to talk about a culture of corruption, if you give amnesty to 11 million to 12 million, which we'll end up with 30 million or 40 million people here, because somebody broke the law, that's the way you create a culture of corruption, by rewarding people who have broken our immigration laws.
DOBBS: Well, let me, if I may, ask you to watch and listen to this statement today, and our audience here to President Bush's words on amnesty. If we could roll that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm against amnesty. And, I understand words in politics and words are trying to frighten people, but if the comprehensive approach I've outlined when people think about it, it makes a lot of sense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: The president today, Mr. Bilbray, your reaction. He says he's not talking about amnesty.
BILBRAY: If you look in the law dictionary, Black's, and look at what the '86 law said, and it said they paid a fine, they have to learn the language, they have to go through a process, exactly what's being proposed today. The law dictionary calls it amnesty.
And I don't think there's much more we have to say about that. It's almost the basis, I guess the Sonny Bono who is a good friend of mine, when I served in Congress, said what don't you get, what don't you understand about illegal? I guess the time has come that we have to tell people to look at the Black's legal dictionary and say what it is it you don't understand about amnesty.
DOBBS: Well, you have been unequivocal and as clear as someone could ask you to be about the issue of a fence along our southern border, saying it should be built from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico. What do you think the prospects will be for that occurring?
BILBRAY: Well, Mr. Dobbs, you got to understand I grew up on the Mexican border. I grew up right north of Tijuana, and I saw the crime and the problems before Duncan Hunter built the fence in the neighbors down there.
One of the most dangerous neighborhoods in America, the Tijuana River Valley, is now one of the safest, because Mr. Hunter was brave enough to get the United States government and the National Guard to build a fence there, and I think we should build it, when and where we need it, everywhere we need it.
DOBBS: Brian Bilbray, congratulations on your victory.
BILBRAY: Thank you very much.
DOBBS: Still ahead, President Bush in Nebraska today, as we've reported, pushing amnesty for illegal aliens. He won't find support from senator Ben Nelson, one of only four Democrats to oppose the Senate amnesty legislation. Senator Nelson will be here next.
Three of the nation's top political analysts join me to examine election results. Illegal immigration, the role of wedge issues in the upcoming midterm elections and campaigns. Stay with us.
DOBBS: President Bush today in Nebraska pushing amnesty for illegal aliens, but Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, says the president's amnesty push is a danger to this nation, and it must be defeated.
Senator Nelson is one of only four Democrats who voted against the Senate's so-called comprehensive immigration reform legislation last month, joining Senator Robert Byrd, Senator Byron Dorgan and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan to reject the illegal alien amnesty bill. Senator Nelson joins us tonight from Capitol Hill.
Senator, good to have you here.
SEN. BEN NELSON (D), NEBRASKA: It's my pleasure, Lou. Thank you.
DOBBS: The president today making much in your home state of the fact that amnesty isn't amnesty. How do you react?
NELSON: Well, I just have to, quote, let's say, Senator Grassley and former Attorney General Meese, who were back here in '86, when the amnesty bill was passed, and they said it was amnesty then, and it's amnesty now. So I think that we're -- it's more than being worried about words. You have to focus on what it is that they are trying to do. And what we are going to have is a bill that the Senate passed that you can't square with the House version in conference. There are problems that are already arising in the conference.
And if you don't do that, we're not going to secure our borders so you're going to have more illegal immigrants coming across the borders, you're going to have more meth in Nebraska, and that's a big issue. Eighty percent of our meth comes from Mexico.
DOBBS: Mexico is the principal source -- not only in Nebraska, but nationwide ...
DOBBS: ... of meth, of heroin, cocaine and marijuana. And we still do not have our borders secured four-and-a-half, almost five years now after September 11. The United States Congress, the United States Senate, the president of the United States, have not seen fit to secure our borders on purely national security grounds, leaving illegal immigration out of it. How in the world are American voters to react, whether Republican or Democrat?
NELSON: Well, I think, you know, what the American people are asking for is to shut the back door to illegal immigration so you can open the front door to legal immigration. But to do that, you've got to secure the borders first.
NELSON: And this do-everything bill that seems to be hanging up the conference is going to end up where we don't have any action to secure our borders.
DOBBS: Senator, let me show you something, and all of us something, and ask you to listen to this. This is what the president was saying today, in your -- in Nebraska, about employment of illegal aliens.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Amnesty means you are automatically a citizen. I don't think that makes sense. It's not fair to those who have waited legally. We got a lot of people waiting to be citizens here, and they've done -- they've adhered to our laws, and they are in line.
They are in a citizenship line, and I think it would be unfair to those who have been here legally to say to those who have been here illegally that these folks get ahead of you in line. That doesn't make any sense to me, if we're a country that's going to uphold laws.
I guarantee you many employers here in the state of Nebraska, people in the agricultural sector, people in the hospitality sector, understand the need to have a rational plan that will enable them to have somebody here on a temporary basis to do the jobs Americans aren't doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Senator, your reaction to the president's comments?
NELSON: Well, I think the president is trying to impress upon the American people how important immigrant labor is, but we can have that immigrant labor legally as opposed to illegally, and that's what I think we're all trying to do.
Shut the back door to illegal immigration through securing the borders and open the front door. We understand the need that we have in this great country for legal immigration, for the work that they are doing. But we need to make sure that it's legal.
DOBBS: You're a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. We have taken a look at a number of studies, because one of the protests is that we need guest-worker programs and that we have to have low- wage competition, the lowest end of the wage scale in this country, so that people can benefit from labor that is, frankly -- let's be honest about it -- being exploited here, illegal aliens in particular.
But our review of the research shows that if you raised wages by about $7 an hour, above the $9 right now in produce in particular, that would add 10 cents to a head of lettuce in this country. Isn't that a small price to pay for the dignity of the workers, whether they are from Mexico, the United States, wherever they may be from, and consumers in this country?
NELSON: Well, we're caught in an unusual situation. Obviously, we want to be competitive in the world with our agriculture, and so they are very concerned about having the cost of -- the input costs go up and they want to keep it at the lowest possible level.
But I do think that you the could bring workers in, and at a reasonable level of compensation, still accomplish, as you're suggesting. But, that's a very difficult thing, and it's going to take some time with agriculture to be able to make this work. But, we can do it with legal immigration, not with illegal immigration.
DOBBS: And that depends, as we've discussed, on the reforming immigration based on the ability to control it, which can only be founded on control and security of our borders and ports.
NELSON: There is a way to do this, and that is to split the whole immigration legislation into two pieces.
NELSON: The border security first, that piece could be put in place. And then the rest of it could be held in abeyance until the border is secured.
DOBBS: But, senator now ...
NELSON: Then you can work your way through it. DOBBS: ... senator Kennedy and Senator McCain and Senator Specter and Senator Frist, the president, they would be in horror that you wouldn't be talking about comprehensive then.
NELSON: I have a great deal of respect for the president and my colleagues, I just happen to disagree, but I think you can do this.
DOBBS: Senator, I think you're right. There's so much that could be done with just a little reason and some leadership. Hopefully, somebody's listening to you. Senator Ben Nelson, thanks for being here.
NELSON: Thank you, Lou. It's great to be you.
DOBBS: A reminder now to vote in our poll. If you had to base your vote in November on one of these issues -- we know it's unrealistic but for the purpose of sort of trying to understand what everybody's thinking right now, if you had to base your vote on one issue right now, what it would be? Border security, the war in Iraq, gay marriage, the economy, illegal immigration? Please cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll have the results coming up here at the end of the broadcast.
Coming right up, how will the president's push for comprehensive immigration reform and the assertion of wedge issues influence the outcome of our midterm elections? Three of the best political analysts in the country join me. Stay with us.
DOBBS: My friend Wolf Blitzer and "THE SITUATION ROOM" are straight ahead. Wolf, tell us about it.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou.
A new headache for the White House. It is coming from the president's own party. The Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee has just fired off a heated, angry letter to the vice president complaining about the NSA surveillance program. We'll go live to the White House for this developing story.
And the U.S. versus the U.N. The United States right now, locked in a new war of words with top officials from the United Nations.
And my special interview with the archbishop of Washington. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick talks about America's battle over gay marriage, illegal immigration and more. You might be surprised at what he says when it comes to civil unions.
All that, Lou, coming up right at the top of the hour.
DOBBS: Thank you, Wolf.
Outrage tonight over comments by conservative political commentator and author Ann Coulter. In her new book, Coulter strongly criticizes a group of women whose husbands were killed in the World Trade Center attack on September 11th. The women push for an independent commission to investigate the September 11th attacks. Coulter calls them witches and says they enjoy their husband's death.
New York's Governor George Pataki, Senator Hillary Clinton and many others are blasting Coulter's remarks. Ann Coulter will be on this broadcast tomorrow. We'll be talking to her about why she says what she says. Talk about her critics, and her new book "Godless: The Church of Liberalism."
Joining me now, godly people all, to discuss this week's events, particularly the election and it looks like where we're headed is Diana West, she is columnist for "The Washington Times" and Ed Rollins, and I'm confusing our director because I'm just going in the order in which -- Juan Gonzalez, columnist with the "New York Daily News."
Ed Rollins, let's start with you. This election, we just heard Brian Bilbray, the winner, he said categorically and unequivocally in his view, border security and no amnesty for illegal aliens.
ED ROLLINS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it was a critical issue in that district. He ran very hard on the issue. His opponent was pretty weak on the issue. But, more important, it is a Republican district and he ran on Republican issues. He also talked about fiscal control. He ran away from the president. Asked Cheney not to come into the district and he said I'm going to be the kind of Republican that I was when I was there with Newt Gingrich.
DOBBS: And John McCain stiffed the guy, while at the same time endorsing him, he was supposed to make an appearance, Juan, he went away to talk about immigration to a Hispanic activist group rather than joining up with Bilbray, because he wouldn't support the McCain/Kennedy bill.
JUAN GONZALEZ, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: But I don't think that the Bilbray vote was exactly a mandate in a strong Republican district. He spent twice as much money as the Democratic candidate.
DOBBS: Whether we are talking about Bilbray, any other election of the president of the United States, I'm not one of those guys, Juan, who believes in mandates for any election.
GONZALEZ: But what I'm saying is that I'm shocked that on the platform that he ran, such a heavily Republican district with so much money, that he barely got 50 percent of the vote.
DOBBS: Yes but my gosh, he had started out with 15 percent of the primary, right? Fifteen percent in the primary. He built quite a -- just about 35 percent to get there. That was a pretty remarkable performance.
DIANA WEST, WASHINGTON TIMES: Well, I think what would have been significant, Lou, is had he lost, then we would have been able to say border security is not a winning issue, and running against the president is not...
DOBBS: ... Is a bad idea?
WEST: Right. And there was a third candidate in the race who got just five percent of the vote, but he was also a border security...
DOBBS: Right. But the minutemen and others backed away from that independent candidate. But the issue is culture of corruption. What's going on here, Juan? Is there just so much corruption in both parties that that's not going to play?
GONZALEZ: Yes, I don't think that sticks. Democrats don't go very far hanging corruption on the Republicans when the culture of Washington is corruption for both parties. So I don't think that is one that's going to get much traction, for any candidates.
ROLLINS: The only thing that was very telling, is with the exception of Iowa, voter turnout was dramatically low. Big gubernatorial primary in California, dismal turnout. I think voters across this country are really perturbed at the whole process and the way that they're showing it "I'm not going to participate." And if this continues in November, and November may very well turn out into an anti-incumbent, it may, "I don't like any of them, I'm not going to vote for any or them or I'm going to vote against them, who are there."
DOBBS: You might be a mistake being anti-incumbent, but it would be a smaller mistake. Dana, the president, the secretary of state coming out with a plan for Iran, with, of course, Russia, China, and the European Union offering nuclear technology to Iran so long as they don't enrich uranium. Good idea?
WEST: Bad idea. In fact, I personally voted against it in 2004, because John Kerry had the same idea. It was in his prescription for what I will do as president.
DOBBS: Now say that again.
WEST: It was quite shocking. John Kerry promised that as president, he would provide peaceful, so-called, nuclear technology to Iran in concert with other powers. And in order to ferret out their true intentions. So now we see this replaying two years later in a Bush term, and it's terrible.
DOBBS: We're going to be back with Diana West, Juan Gonzalez and Ed Rollins in just one moment. We'll have the results of our polls. Stay with us.
DOBBS: We're back with our panel, Juan Gonzalez, let me ask you. Going forward the president is saying his amnesty plan isn't amnesty. He's saying that 6,000 national guardsmen on the border is enough. How is this going to play?
GONZALEZ: My view of this bill right now, we agree on one thing. I think the Senate bill should be killed. Both bills should be killed. I think that at this stage, that the concessions that have already been made by the Senate in their version of immigration reform are so extreme at this point that I favor...
DOBBS: The concessions?
GONZALEZ: ... yes, I favor defeating the bill. I favor defeating the bill and let the elections go on in November and revisit this issue with a new Congress next year. Because the bill that's going to come out of the Sensenbrenner/King reconciliation is going to be much closer to the Sensenbrenner/King bill than it is the current Senate version, if anything comes out.
DOBBS: What about Senator Ben Nelson's idea? Let's secure the borders first and then deal with illegal immigration? You won't go for that?
GONZALEZ: Well, you're acting as if the two things are separate. The reason why there has been such an increase in illegal immigration is because we don't have a clear and open policy of getting more illegal immigrants here.
How many times have we deported millions of Mexicans? 1950s, Operation Wetback. 1930s, a few million Mexicans were sent back then. The immigration policy constantly changes depending on the political forces at play in Washington.
DOBBS: Diana West, I want to give you the last word.
WEST: Well, I think that immigration policies change according to the needs of the country.
ROLLINS: The last -- I'm sorry.
DOBBS: Go ahead.
WEST: Well, and I think the needs of the country are yet to be determined, which is why there is so much turmoil over this bill.
DOBBS: Ed once awhile, you get the last word.
ROLLINS: The last word is that election yesterday will basically embolden Republicans in the House and they're not going to back off where they are, so it's the Sensenbrenner bill or it's nothing.
GONZALEZ: Better nothing.
DOBBS: Better nothing says Juan Gonzalez. Ed Rollins, thank you very much for being here. Juan, thank you very much, Diana West, thank you very much, appreciate it.
WEST: Thank you.
DOBBS: Finally tonight, the results of our poll. And 24 percent of you say if you had to base your vote in November on one of these issues, and we understand it's unrealistic to even suggest such a thing, but it would be based on border security -- 47 percent said illegal immigration, 21 percent said the war in Iraq, one percent gay marriage, eight percent said the economy. Now those are interesting results and we appreciate you taking the time to vote.
Taking a look at a few more of your thoughts.
Marshall in Oklahoma: Lou, I wonder if it would improve the current catch and release program if illegals were held accountable for not returning to their hearings. I know it was just a dream.
And Joseph in California: Lou, you need to work on expanding your vocabulary. It seems that recently you've been using the word "insane" entirely too much.
Ed Marcella in Florida: What a great president we have. He secured our borders and saved our marriages, all in one day. Mission accomplished again.
And Jeff in Arizona: Lou, is it our immigration system that's broken or the Congress and the office of the president? Enforce our borders, ports and laws. Could it be any more simple?
Thank you for your thoughts, send them to us at LouDobbs.com. Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my book, "Exporting America." We thank you for being with us here tonight. Please join us tomorrow when Ann Coulter will join me.
She's launched a blistering attack against the September 11th widows and other outrageous statements. We'll find out why. Please join us. For all of us here, thanks for watching, good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" and Wolf Blitzer begin now, Wolf?
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