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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Subpoenas Showdown: Battle Over U.S. Attorneys; Fight Over Iraq: Dems Want Withdrawal
Aired March 22, 2007 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, HOST: Tonight, lawmakers and their allies in corporate America have launched their latest attempt to force an amnesty bill for up to 20 million illegal aliens through Congress. The co-author of the amnesty legislation, Congressman Luis Gutierrez, is among our guests here tonight.
Also, illegal immigration helping to drive a population boom all along our southern border with Mexico. And those illegal aliens could have a tremendous impact on our democracy and our elections.
We'll have the story.
And what's left of our middle class faces a major new threat from communist China. Beijing preparing to challenge American commercial aircraft makers with technology supplied by, you guessed it, American aircraft manufacturers.
We'll have that special report, all of the day's news, a great deal more, straight ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Thursday, March 22nd.
Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
Tempers rose in the Senate today as Democrats demanded that White House officials give public testimony under oath in the showdown over the firing of U.S. attorneys. Judiciary Committee chairman Senator Patrick Leahy said President Bush is, "... not the decider for the United States Senate."
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, for his part today, declared he will not resign.
The White House also refused to give ground. It said, "We're not negotiating."
Dana Bash reports tonight on the escalating showdown between Congress and the president.
Suzanne Malveaux reports on the White House's blunt refusal to negotiate.
And Andrea Koppel reports on Democratic efforts to challenge the president on another front -- the conduct of the war in Iraq.
We turn first to Dana Bash -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, as you said, the Senate Judiciary chairman took a direct jab at the president today. He said, he may be the decider for the White House, but he's not the decider for the United States Senate. That's just before Democrats took another step towards a constitutional clash with the White House.
BASH (voice over): It may have been frustration. It may have been a negotiating tactic. But the Democratic chairman's tone was angry.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: No, what -- no -- what we're told we can get is nothing, nothing, nothing. We're told that we can have a closed-door meeting with no transcript, not under oath, a limited number of people, and the White House will determine what the agenda is. That, to me, is nothing.
BASH: Like the House did a day earlier, Senate Democrats authorized subpoenas for Karl Rove and other Bush aides to testify about why federal prosecutors were fired. The subpoenas won't be sent yet. Democrats just wanted a bargaining chip.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: It will only strengthen our hand in getting to the bottom of this.
BASH: Senators sparred over the prospect of a constitutional clash with the White House. Most Republicans calling it too soon to threaten subpoenas.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: Do the informal interviews that they have suggested. And if that is not sufficient, then we would be in a position to articulate with specificity, perhaps, a basis to justify a subpoena.
BASH: The committee's top Republican suggested sending the White House a counter-offer. But the Democratic chairman said, why bother, since the president's offer seemed to be take it or leave it.
LEAHY: They made very clear through his spokesman that it said non-negotiable.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: A press secretary getting tough doesn't mean that he can't be softened up. If you mean a senator getting tough, now that's another matter.
LEAHY: You mean that the president would purposely mislead us?
BASH: That led to this observation...
SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: This is high school. This is about who can make somebody bloodies, who can make somebody look bad. A no is not always a no. My wife said no the first four times I tried to take her out on a date.
BASH: Now, Democrats may now have the power to subpoena the president's top aides, but the question is, will they actually use it? The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, said today that he thinks if Congress doesn't negotiate a solution with the White House by the time Congress comes back from spring break -- that's in mid-April -- he thinks Karl Rove and other top Bush aides should be subpoenaed -- Lou.
DOBBS: Dana, thank you very much.
We're going to be learn more about what's going on. I'll be be talking with the Senate Judiciary chairman, Senator Patrick Leahy here later. He will explain the Democratic strategy in this legal, political and what some call a constitutional showdown.
The Bush administration today refused for its part to make any concessions to Congress. The White House said it has no intention of allowing current and former White House officials to testify in public and under oath. The White House said Congress does not have the constitutional oversight responsibility for the White House.
Suzanne Malveaux reports from precisely there, the White House -- Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, today we heard from the White House. They flatly rejected Senator Arlen Specter's compromise for some sort of closed testimony, and at least had these conversations be accessible by limited transcript, some sort of record here. So the White House position has not changed when it comes to this deal.
What has changed, however, is somewhat of a the one. We saw a tone that was dramatically different than yesterday, toned down, if you will. And it is really a part of this White House's effort to cajole those members of Congress. A, to accept their deal. And B, to lay off the attorney general, Alberto Gonzales.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This initial position is a significant compromise in this sense -- we could have said, no, we're not going to do it. We're not going to share White House deliberations. And we could have cited any number of legal precedents.
What we have said instead is that we're going to help you assemble every document and every -- and make available every individual, both at the Justice Department and the White House, you need to hear from. And you'll be able to measure every single data point, every single communication.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I'm not going to resign. I'm going to stay focused on protecting our kids. There's a lot of work that needs to be done around the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Now, Lou, really the thinking at the White House, and really the gamble that they're taking here, is they believe that Democrats in Congress have just as much to lose as the White House does. One person saying, look, you think this is going to be a lame duck presidency. It's also going about a lame duck Congress if they take this all the way and they wrap it up inside of the courts.
They say, look, try to get an immigration reform bill passed, or a minimum wage increase. Or even a bill regarding the Iraq war. They say it is given that the president is going to be gone in two years. They say members of Congress, some of them, too, may be gone in two years as well -- Lou.
DOBBS: It would be interesting to see what the public reaction to all of those possibilities might be.
Suzanne, thank you very much.
Suzanne Malveaux from the White House.
Congressional Democrats tonight trying to step up their political assault on President Bush's conduct on the war in Iraq. The House today began debating a war spending bill that would require the withdrawal of all our combat forces by the fall of next year. But Democrats remain deeply divided over the direction of this war.
Andrea Koppel has our report.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The biggest resistance isn't coming from the other side, from Republicans who are mostly united in opposition. But rather, from a handful of undecided Democrats, including freshman Keith Ellison of Minnesota, Indiana's Brad Ellsworth, and Georgia's Hank Johnson. In fact, Republicans accuse Democratic leaders of adding billions in sweeteners to the bill's already steep price tag in hopes of buying some votes.
REP. DAVID DREIER (R), CALIFORNIA: It enjoyed such limited support on the other side of the aisle, that it had to be laden with unrelated -- unrelated pork in order to win enough votes to have any hope of passing.
KOPPEL: That said, the list has grown shorter. In the last day or so, anti-war Democrat James McGovern of Massachusetts, who had been on the fence, said he now supports it.
REP. JAMES MCGOVERN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I've come to the conclusion that defeating the supplemental bill before us today would send a message to George Bush and Dick Cheney that they will continue to have a free pass from this Congress to do whatever the hell they want to do.
KOPPEL: And McGovern is not the only one who has just come onboard.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congressman Cumming's office?
KOPPEL: Maryland's Elijah Cummings, another anti-war Democrat in his seventh term who sits on the Armed Services Committee, says he's been getting mixed signals from his constituents. Some urging him to support the bill, others lobbying against it. Now Cummings says he's decided to vote yes and insists Democratic leaders didn't twist his arm.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: And I've also come to the conclusion that I do not have the right to remain silent on this war. And a vote against the supplemental would cause us to have what I would call a strip-down bill, and there would be no voice saying, Mr. Bush, please stop this war immediately.
KOPPEL: And tonight, House Democratic leaders insist momentum is in their direction, moving in their direction. Earlier today, the fourth ranking Democrat, Rahm Emanuel, told me they would need about one or two more votes to get to that 218. And Lou, he was expressing confidence that they'll get there by tomorrow -- Lou.
DOBBS: OK. Earlier estimates had suggested that the Democrats need as many as 10 Republicans and as many as 40 Republicans in the House. It's interesting to see the math of all of that as we move closer, apparently, to some action on this legislation.
Andrea, thank you very much. Andrea Koppel from Capitol Hill.
Insurgents in Iraq have killed three more of our troops, a soldier and a Marine in Al Anbar Province, and a soldier in western Baghdad. Sixty-three of our troops have been killed so far this month in Iraq, 3,229 of our troops since the war began have been killed, 24,187 of our troops wounded. 10,772 of them seriously.
Still ahead here, troops in Iraq and Afghanistan say their lives are at risk because of unreliable weapons. General David Grange joins us.
Also, presidential candidate John Edwards today made a very personal announcement. Also one that is very political.
We'll have the story.
And the Congress and the corporate elites, they're not giving up by any stretch of the imagination. Again, trying to force amnesty legislation for as many as 20 million illegal aliens in this country through Congress.
We'll have complete coverage.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: New evidence tonight that insurgents in Iraq have access to huge quantities of bomb-making materials. U.S. government auditors now say nearly three million tons of munitions from Saddam Hussein's military are still unaccounted for. Those munitions are being used to kill our troops.
Jamie McIntyre reports from the Pentagon.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In Baghdad, a jarring reminder that Iraq remains awash in weapons after four years of war. An insurgent rocket caused no injuries, but prompted the new U.N. secretary-general to duck for cover during a press conference in the supposedly secure Green Zone.
It's the latest example of Iraqi insurgents' seemingly limitless supply of arms, which a new GAO report blames on poor pre-war planning. In particular, the failure of the U.S. to secure Iraq's vast weapons stores back in 2003.
DAVI D'AGOSTINO, GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE: These munitions looted from unsecured conventional munitions storage sites have been the source of explosives for the majority of IED attacks.
MCINTYRE: The Government Accountability Office says it doesn't know how much weaponry is in the hands of insurgents, but says the U.S. has destroyed only 417,000 tons out of an estimated 3.25 million, leaving more than 2.8 million tons unaccounted for.
The Pentagon says it's doing the best it can.
ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The entire country was one big ammo dump. And there were thousands of these sites. And, so, you know, we're doing our best to try and find them.
MCINTYRE: A separate audit by the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction also faulted lack of planning for poor management of the $400 billion spent so far in Iraq. But Stuart Bowen also told Congress that after his latest inspection, he's seeing real progress for the first time in almost two years.
STUART BOWEN, SPECIAL IG RECONSTRUCTION: That cautious optimism is a good sign and something that I had not returned from Iraq with I guess over the last 20 months.
MCINTYRE: The U.S. military also reported progress on another front, arresting two brothers it says were behind the spectacular attack in Karbala in January that killed five U.S. soldiers when insurgents posed as Americans. The Karzali (ph) brothers are also said to be linked to a network that is smuggling Iranian-made IEDs into the country. And at least one of brothers was an associate of Muqtada al-Sadr, the anti-American cleric -- Lou.
DOBBS: Jamie, thank you very much.
Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon.
A rising number of our troops are complaining about the reliability of the military's latest rifle, the M4. Our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan say the M4s have a tendency to jam in combat because of the fine sand and extreme temperatures in those environments. Some of our troops are expressing their anger in military newspapers.
One Army sergeant wrote to "DefenseNews" complaining about the Pentagon's leadership, saying, "If they're so confident about the reliability of the M4, why not go to Afghanistan, pick up an M4, and go out on a few patrols themselves?" The sergeant added, "They should see how they feel after their weapons jam in combat. Some of the serious moments in my life were when my weapon went down."
Despite those complaints, the Army plans to buy another 100,000 M4s next year. However, Delta Force operatives have already scrapped the M4. Delta Force now uses a new rifle, the 416 made by Heckler and Koch.
Joining me now, General David Grange, former special operations leader, one of the country's most distinguished and decorated military commanders.
Good to have you with us, General.
BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Thank you, Lou.
DOBBS: This M4, what do you think?
GRANGE: Well, I've used an M4 variant since Vietnam -- an M15, M4 variant. A good weapon. I've used it a lot.
Most often it was reliable, but I have had jams. And the problem in combat is, if you don't have the confidence that when you pull that trigger, that one bullet is going to be successful for you, then there's a problem. But all weapons jam.
DOBBS: Then why is -- I understand, but why is the Army going ahead with this if they're having these kinds of problems? We all recall that the M16 in its earliest days were jamming in Vietnam. But why go ahead?
GRANGE: Yes. Part of the problem is -- I'm sure is money. Right now, to replace all the M16, M4s in the United States Army is about $1 billion.
Now, my view on that is, so what? That's maybe one airplane? And we're talking about thousands of troops having their individual weapon that they fight with? One thing you don't cut corners on with troops is boots, helmets, weapons. You don't have to worry about the food so much and all the other comfort items. But you've got to have those things, and you have to have the best.
DOBBS: Well, it's two-tenths of one percent of all of the money that's being spent in Iraq and Afghanistan, for crying out loud. What should the military do here?
GRANGE: Here's what should be done. There's some great weapons out there. You've got the H & K 416 that you mentioned. You have an upgraded Colt M4, the one we're talking about, but upgraded. You have the Bushmaster variant of the M4.
Those three come to mind. They're all very good weapons.
Have a shoot-off. And the shoot-off should not be done by a testing facility for the military. The shoot-off should be done by combat troops just like we used to do in the Rangers when we selected the best machine gun they have. And that's how we got it.
Let the troops shoot it off, pick that weapon, and then put the money behind it and get them in the hands of the troops. There's some experimental weapons out there, but they're way down the road. They need the weapon now.
DOBBS: General Grange, good to have you with us. I'll tell you, it is -- it leaves everybody heartsick to continue to be facing these issues of equipment, their capability, and for some idiot at the Pentagon to be watching an infinitesimal part of a budget that has been expended there when it could be helpful to our troops.
Thank you very much.
General David Grange.
GRANGE: Thanks a lot.
DOBBS: Still ahead here, a heartbreaking announcement from a Democratic presidential candidate. We'll tell you what that announcement means for his campaign and his wife.
Congress provides its amnesty agenda for illegal aliens in this country, up to 20 million of them. Two congressmen introducing legislation that would allow illegal aliens to remain in America and receive American citizenship. One of the sponsors of that legislation, Congressman Luis Gutierrez, joins me here.
Stay with us for all of that and a great deal more straight ahead.
DOBBS: Senator Barack Obama's campaign still insisting tonight it had nothing to do with an Internet video portraying Senator Hillary Clinton as big brother, a takeoff, or a rip-off of the 1984 famously portrayed Apple Computer commercial. The man who posted the video online is or was employed by the company working for Obama's campaign. He's since been resigned or fired, depending on whose view you accept.
Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards today announced that his wife's cancer has returned. His campaign, however, will go on, and he says it will go on strongly.
The former senator made that announcement with his wife Elizabeth by his side. Mrs. Edwards was first diagnosed with breast cancer towards the end of the 2004 presidential campaign. She will undergo treatment but will continue to campaign for her husband, she says, whenever possible.
The Edwardses today made a personal matter public. And some are arguing that it was in some part political. In the past, we've seen wives vowing to stand by their husbands and continuing to campaign. But this candidate says he will stand by his wife.
Bill Schneider now has more on today's announcement from the Edwardses.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Elizabeth Edwards has been called John Edwards' greatest campaign asset. That may have been true today with her display of courage and confidence.
ELIZABETH EDWARDS, WIFE OF JOHN EDWARDS: We're going to always look for the silver lining. It is who we are as people, and we will continue to do it.
SCHNEIDER: Was she making a political statement? Of course. Just by showing up.
E. EDWARDS: One of the reasons to do a press conference as opposed to a press release so that you can see, I mean, I don't look sickly, I don't feel sickly.
SCHNEIDER: Her husband was making a political statement, too, by not saying anything about his campaign, until he was asked.
QUESTION: ... suspend any activities, fund-raising, travel?
JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No.
SCHNEIDER: A campaign is a series of tests. Edwards portrayed this as one more.
J. EDWARDS: The maturity and the judgment that's required of the president, especially in these historic times, requires the president to be able to function and focus under very difficult circumstances.
SCHNEIDER: This proves something about him, his wife said.
E. EDWARDS: He has an unbelievable toughness, a reserve that allows him to push forward with what needs to happen.
SCHNEIDER: Edwards hopes success in the early contests, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina, will propel him to victory. Success in those contests depends on personal campaigning, something Edwards was very good at in 2004.
KATHY SULLIVAN, CHAIRWOMAN, NEW HAMPSHIRE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: People in New Hampshire, when they got to know John Edwards, really started to like him.
SCHNEIDER: That could be even more true this time.
J. EDWARDS: We will be in this every step of the way together.
SCHNEIDER: Edwards has been criticized in the past as a rich self-styled populist who lives in a big mansion. But it's going to be very hard for anyone to portray him as out of touch with the real life problems ordinary people face -- Lou.
DOBBS: A very difficult decision for the former senator and for his wife. And, of course, we all wish her the very, very best.
Thank you, Bill.
According to a recent CNN-Opinion Research poll, Edwards ranks fourth right now among the Democratic candidates for the party's domination. Twelve percent of registered Democrats say they would vote for Edwards, putting Edwards behind Al Gore, who has not, of course, announced that he would run.
Up next here, new census figures shows how up illegal immigration could influence elections and our democracy.
And a new bill in Congress welcoming even more illegal aliens into this country and making it easier for them to obtain citizenship.
All of that and more straight ahead.
DOBBS: The latest census figures show the surge of illegal immigration is causing huge population increases, specifically along our southern border. And as Casey Wian reports, the influx of illegal aliens is raising now serious questions about their rising influence on our future elections.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Maricopa County, Arizona, is the nation's fastest-growing county, according to the Census Department. From 2000 to 2006, the Phoenix area added nearly 700,000 residents, more than a quarter of them immigrants. Although Arizona's Proposition 200 prevents non-citizens from voting, they could significantly impact future elections. That's because population, not citizenship, determines voting districts. Arizona is likely to gain at least one congressional seat in 2010.
KAREN OSBORNE, MARICOPA COUNTY ELECTIONS DIRECTOR: What is of concern is trying to keep pace with the growth. And we're required to change our voting precincts and expand our voting precincts. And then every time you add a new congressional district, then all of the lines have to change.
WIAN: The census figures don't distinguish between legal immigrants and illegal aliens, but Southwest border counties are swelling with both. Nearly half the new residents of Harris County, Texas, the second fastest-growing county, are immigrants.
And in southern California, there's clear evidence legal and illegal immigrants are replacing long-time residents. Los Angeles County has added a net total of 429,000 people since 2000, including births, deaths, and people moving in and out. During that time, more than 740,000 left L.A., while 624,000 foreign immigrants moved in. Similar patterns occurred in Orange County and San Diego.
DAVID LUBLIN, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: We sometimes also see partisans using people who can't vote as what I like to call filler people, that is people to sort of fill in the extra people needed to make up a district, along with people that favor their political party.
WIAN: It's a redistricting trick that can be used by Republicans and Democrats.
WIAN (on camera): Border states say it's entirely appropriate that large numbers of illegal aliens could help them gain congressional seats. They say they need the extra representation. Because they're the ones stuck with the costs, the federal government's failure to secure the border, Lou.
DOBBS: Any government -- federal government reaction to these numbers which also, of course, influences districting for the U.S. Congress?
WIAN: No, I haven't heard any federal government reaction, Lou.
DOBBS: I didn't think so but I thought I'd ask. Casey, thank you very much. Casey Wian.
Each state, of course, receives lots of money as a result of the population survey. The states receive as much as $200 billion a year based on those population figures. California wants more of that money. California, tonight, is complaining that the Census Bureau undercounted its population by 1 million people. That alleged undercount could cost California as much as $5 billion over the next decade. So why would there be any discrepancy at all in the numbers? Well, the federal headcount is based on income tax returns. Not everybody, no matter what anybody tells you, files tax returns, especially illegal aliens.
The State of California, on the other hand, estimates its population, based on the number of drivers licenses it issued. And we know how easily illegal aliens can obtain those, actually skyrocketed and far exceeds the official federal level.
A new groundbreaking study tonight on how illegal immigration is straining our legal system and law enforcement agencies. For over a month, the Sheriff's Department in Southern California's Orange County flagged all newly arrested people for possible immigration violations. They found that 10 percent were in the country illegally. Fifty-six of the 639 illegal aliens faced aggravated felony charges, 425 felony charges.
Congress is reviving the amnesty agenda. Just a few hours ago, the Senate leader announced the Senate will take up immigration reform in May. Earlier today, two congressmen showed us exactly what that does mean. Introducing new legislation that would grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens living in this country. Lisa Sylvester now reports on the plan to give away American citizenship.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): House members Luis Gutierrez and Jeff Flakes are the architects of the first major immigration bill introduced in Congress this year.
REP. JEFF FLAKE, (R) AZ: And the planets are finally aligned, I think, to get this done.
SYLVESTER: The bill would invite 400,000 new guest workers in every year, double the cap in last year's Senate bill.
Those new workers and their immediate family would be eligible for citizenship after five years. That's on top of the 12 million plus illegal aliens in the United States who would be granted amnesty after paying a $2,000 fine and back taxes and enrolling in English classes.
There is a new condition called a touchback. Illegal aliens would have to leave the United States, even if it's just for a day. That's drawing ridicule from some on Capitol Hill.
REP. TOM TANCREDO, (R) CO: It doesn't say you have to go to the country of origin. You just have to go out of the country a little bit. It's a vacation. It's called a vacation in anybody else's language. In the bill, it's called "touchback." It's idiotic.
SYLVESTER: Others are taking issue with the so-called guest worker program.
ROSEMARY JENKS, NUMBERSUSA: It's not a guest worker program. It's a foreign worker importation program that will be permanent, 400,000 a year. It will devastate low income, low scale workers in this country, particularly minorities and recent immigrants.
SYLVESTER: The bill would require employers to try to hire U.S. workers first. And U.S. companies would not be able to import foreign workers to areas with high unemployment.
The bill also calls for establishing for a mandatory employment verification system, hiring more border agents and developing a biometric employment card for new foreign workers.
SYLVESTER (on camera): The bill's sponsors have the work cut out for them. First, they have to shepherd this legislation through the House Judiciary Committee. Neither Flake nor Gutierrez sits on that committee. Then, they have to convince conservative Democrats to back what many Americans see as an amnesty bill and then they need to convince a number of Republicans to support the legislation. Right now, they only have six republican sponsors. Lou?
DOBBS: All right, Lisa. Well, we're going to be talking with one of the sponsors of that legislation here in just a few second. Luis Gutierrez, congressman from Illinois.
That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. Do you believe as Congressman Flake does that, quote, "The planets are finally aligned," end quote, to give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens in this country? Yes or no? Please cast your vote at loudobbs.com. The results upcoming.
Today, Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez, along with Congressman Flake introduced the Strive Act of 2007. The bipartisan legislation promises to overhaul immigration, much as the same way that the Edwards-McCain - the Kennedy-McCain bill promised to do.
The Strive Act contains what some call a controversial provision requiring illegal aliens to leave the U.S. and to return legally.
Congressman Gutierrez is a strong supporter of amnesty for as many as 20 million illegal aliens in this country and he joins us tonight from Capitol Hill. Congressman, good to have you with us.
REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ, (D) CA: Thank you, Lou, for having me.
DOBBS: This legislation, this is actually, what, the third time, that you've introduced legislation?
GUTIERREZ: This is the second time we've introduced bipartisan legislation. We introduced it in the 109th and now in the 110th Congress.
DOBBS: What is -- I guess I have to ask you straightforwardly, what is the point of introducing this legislation again at this point? What is the first thing you want to accomplish? GUTIERREZ: The first thing I want to accomplish is end illegal immigration in the United States of America. And I want to fix our broken immigration system.
That's why this is a comprehensive. There's over 700 pages in this bill. It deals with everything from smart border security. Smart border security. And smart border security. Putting more patrol agents. Using a biometric cards so we know who is in the country. It's untamperable. Workers - we're going to know who those workers are. We'll have the thumbprint. We want to know and secure America.
We also put more provisions in it so we can fight against those who deal in illegal immigration. Those who are involved in gang and drug activities are also included in the bill.
And at the same time, we want to invite those to come out of the shadows and participate fully in our economy. And I think I shared with you before, Lou, I have yet to see a proposal that's going to sweep 11, 12, 13 million undocumented workers off our streets and send them back to their countries of origin.
So I want to fix the broken immigration system. And I know you keep saying it's amnesty. And I keep thinking to myself, you know, if I forgot, or just overlooked a past offense, maybe that's amnesty.
But this is really an earned legalization program where they pay a fine, $2,000. And I'll just end with this before your next question, you know, usually, our law has stated in the past, in order to become an American citizen, you had to learn English, you had to take civics class and you had to pass the test.
GUTIERREZ: Now we're saying if you want to become a permanent resident of the United States after joining this program for six years, then you have to show that you're English competent and have a civics understanding of our nation.
DOBBS: I think that's wonderful. I truly do. I think that's a wonderful requirement. But help me through a couple things. Is there anything in the legislation that requires that our borders and ports, I mean, be secure?
GUTIERREZ: Yes, we have triggers. We have triggers in the legislation.
DOBBS: All right.
GUTIERREZ: And well get that over to you. And what our legislation says is, before you can start any new worker program, inviting new workers to this country, or before you can even engage in legalization of those that are already here, the Department of Homeland Security has to establish that the new technology is in place. That it's available. That the funding is there. That the Border Patrol agents are -- so there are triggers. That biometric card, you don't have a biometric system that guarantees ...
DOBBS: Congressman, in all respect, you and I, we've known each other a long time. We disagree with each other about a lot of things. But you and I can agree with, I think, this, the Homeland Security Department is a screwed up mess. And can't even implement the U.S.- Visit program.
In the Citizen and Immigration Services has a backlog that is numbered in the millions of people trying to get into this country legally. And the second part is, we've heard Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security talk about sometimes, maybe we'll get to operational control. Not too sure.
Democratic leaders of the Congress, that they want to implement the fence. Then people talking about a virtual fence. Does anybody really think the American people are so stupid as to be gained again on the issue of border security?
GUTIERREZ: Here's what we have, Lou, we put the money for virtual fences, for new cameras, for new sensors, for new patrol agents, to gain control of our border. I think essential to gaining control of our border is stopping the flow of people trying to cross that border.
So we have a new program that says, look, here's the way to get to the United States legally to get that job that you so desire. Therefore you don't have to try to cross that border and endanger your life and endanger the lives of our agents so we can focus on the terrorist element that's trying to come into our country.
DOBBS: How about this instead, just as a thought -- make it an absolute requirement, rather than triggers as you put it. Let's try something new in Washington. Let's talk about results.
Once, once that it could be certified that our borders and ports are secure. And we could set a number for that, to demonstrate that it is not wide open. That actually, our borders are being enforced, how about that? Rather than -- as a standard, rather than as a trigger?
GUTIERREZ: Well, we think the trigger has caused those standards to -- of course, if you're going to say that those who are going to certify Homeland Security are incompetent, then you and I will never reach a conclusion about who is going to certify that the triggers are being in place.
DOBBS: Well, if you think I'm going to be in any way sad by listening to anything that this secretary of homeland security says about nearly anything, you would be correct.
Let me just show you something, if I may. Because I get kind of curious about this. If we could, let's take a look at the number of people that come into this country legally every year. Can we do that? We'll look at full screen so the congressman can see this.
There's a lot of distortion here. I think it's important to get these facts out. Two million people legally admitted to the United States each year. In addition - 14 percent of those, by the way, those people given permanent residency are from Mexico. Two million people legally admitted to the United States. Four hundred thousand skilled foreign workers and their families receive H-1 visas each year.
Nearly 900,000 other legal foreign workers are admitted on some type of employment visa. Six-hundred sixty thousand student visas are issued every year. And 455,000 people given temporary employment transfers.
Help me out. What are we trying to do here? I mean, we have -- we have an -- lawful immigration system that brings in 2 million people a year, plus all of these other workers that overwhelms any other immigration system in the world. All of Russia, all of the European Union combined can't even come close to matching our immigration levels. And that's a population 40 percent higher than our own. Help me out.
GUTIERREZ: Well, I can help you out. I will look at those figures. I hope you -- It's a lot. I can't see them up on the screen. I can only ...
DOBBS: I was hoping you could see them?
GUTIERREZ: I can't. I can only look into the camera. I can't see them. I would love to evaluate them, Lou. Come back, talk to you some more about that. But my initial ...
DOBBS: Congressman, you're one of my favorite people. You're always welcome here.
GUTIERREZ: Thank you. But kind of my initial reaction, is a lot of those people overstay their visas. We've got to stop that. And they are compounding the problem of undocumented workers. That's probably why a lot of them cross the border, they come here legally, overstay their visa.
We have got to deal with that, Lou. I want to deal with that in a very serious manner, that's why we need the biometric system. So you can't just jump from job to job. You need a system that you say, you know, this card, you can't alter it, you can't fake it, you can't counterfeit it.
And the lesson, Lou -- I just want to tell your reporter, I am on the Judiciary Committee, the committee of jurisdiction. The Democratic Caucus put me on the committee so that could help move the legislation forward.
DOBBS: Let me say two things. One is congratulations.
GUTIERREZ: Thank you.
DOBBS: And I apologize for our error.
GUTIERREZ: No ... DOBBS: Thank you. Congressman Luis Gutierrez. Come back next week. We'll talk some more.
GUTIERREZ: Thanks. I look forward to it.
DOBBS: Thank you.
Coming up next, the powerful head of the Senate Judiciary Committee joins us, he's determined that White House aides talk under oath and on the record about the dismissal of those U.S. attorneys. We'll be talking to Senator Patrick Leahy here next.
And the war on the middle class. China taking more jobs away from the American middle class. Thank you, U.S. government.
This time, our aircraft industry under attack by its own policies and practices. And a town under siege, Hazleton, Pennsylvania, forced to defend itself in federal court. We'll tell you about it as that trial winds down. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Middle class Americans already reeling from job losses and stagnant wage facing another new threat.
You can argue it's from communist China or the U.S. government or corporate America or all of the above. For the first time, Beijing is planning to produce large commercial jetliners to compete directly with American aircraft manufacturers. Kitty Pilgrim has the story.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Communist Chinese leaders and executives at Boeing work well together. Last spring, Chinese President Hu Jintao told Boeing workers at a U.S. plant that the relationship was a win-win situation. But Boeing is giving China both jobs and technology in return for China's patronage.
A practice known as offsets.
NICHOLAS LARDY, INSTIT. FOR INT'L ECONOMICS: The Chinese would agree to buy a certain number of aircraft and in return, Boeing and or Airbus would offer them a contract to produce a certain part of the aircraft. So in that process, they gained experience, and certainly, they will build on that as they move to produce an indigenous airliner.
PILGRIM: Every Boeing aircraft produced today has Chinese made parts, including rudders, tail fins, horizontal stabilizers and wing panels.
Boeing Thursday wasn't able to say how much of each aircraft is made in China but its Web site labels the parts clearly.
Boeing boasts that China has a, quote, "important" role in its newest, flashiest 787 Dreamliner that will have 25 percent foreign content. That foreign content means lost U.S. jobs. Some 300,000 in the last 15 years in the aerospace industry overall. That as Boeing is now training 30,000 people in China.
THOMAS BUFFENBARGER, PRES., INTL. ASSN. OF MACHINISTS: We keep giving up bits and pieces of the technology, of the abilities, the engineering and the innovation that we have created in this country. And we're getting to the point where we finally can say we gave it all away.
PILGRIM: Industry analysts say China will have to work hard to catch up. But China is getting better at absorbing U.S. technology and turning out its own products.
PILGRIM (on camera): Now Boeing says it protects its intellectual property and it's continually working to improve its long-term competitiveness. A company official said they welcome the potential competition from China and won't change their strategy because of it, Lou.
DOBBS: Well, that's pretty darn clever, don't you think. I think it's amazing. Because of these offsets which is basically giving away -- you know, it would be as if Mercedes were giving away part of its plant in order to build its cars here. This is not rocket science. The relationship between the United States and communist China represents the largest single transfer of wealth and intellectual property and our knowledge base, the greatest transfer of wealth and knowledge in the history of the world. And we've been warning precisely the occurrence which we're reporting here tonight for years. Kitty, thank you very much. Kitty Pilgrim.
A reminder now to vote in the poll, Do you believe as congressman Flake does that "the planets are finally aligned" to give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens in this country? Yes or no. Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We will have the results for you here in just a few minutes.
And closing arguments in the landmark trial against the small town of Hazleton, Pennsylvania. The ACLU today said again the town is treating illegal aliens as scapegoats. Hazleton's attorneys say illegal aliens are destroying their town.
Bill Tucker has more for us now from outside the courthouse in Scranton.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The lawyers gathered for closing arguments. Wit Walczak, head of the ACLU in Pennsylvania taking up the duties for those suing the city to stop Hazleton from enforcing its ordinances. He attacked them as scapegoating the illegal aliens in Hazleton.
WITOLD WALCZAC, PLAINTIFF'S ATTORNEY: To blame them for all of Hazleton's problems is really unfair and why the term "scapegoat" really does apply.
TUCKER: He told the court that Hazleton's problems won't go way even if every illegal alien is banished
Walczac argued that ordinances as they are currently drafted do not provide for due process protection. And ultimately are unconstitutional, violating the federal government's right to regulate immigration.
Attorney Kris Kobach, countered in his closing arguments for the defense that the ordinances are constitutional because they're compliant with federal law, don't conflict with federal law and in no way are an attempt at regulating immigration.
He added that nearly not liking an ordinance is not grounds for declaring it unconstitutional.
KRIS KOBACH, DEFENDANT'S ATTORNEY: There are lots of ordinances passed all over this country that people are not happy about. That is not good enough under the law to strike down an ordinance.
TUCKER: After two weeks in court all the participants were happy to see the trial come to its conclusion. But the importance of the trial was under scored by Hazleton's mayor on the steps of the courthouse.
MAYOR LOU BARLETTA, HAZLETON, PENNSYLVANIA: I realized that we're not fighting for Hazleton anymore. We're fighting for people all across the country.
TUCKER: Estimates vary widely but there are some 60 to 100 communities considering similar ordinances.
TUCKER (on camera): And it's going to be a while before those communities know the outcome of the case, Lou. Speaking with attorneys on both sides of the issue, they say it will be at the end of the May at the earliest before this judge hands down the decision. And then regardless of the outcome, this case will be appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia and potentially on to the Supreme Court. Lou?
DOBBS: Bill Tucker, thank you very much. As you gave us coverage throughout the trial. And your voice managed to make it all the way through, but just barely. Thank you very much. Bill Tucker.
TUCKER: You're welcome.
DOBBS: Get feeling better.
Coming up at the top of the hour, THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER. Wolf?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thanks Lou, nuclear power and a key U.S. ally in a dangerous part of the world. Tonight, warning signs, Pakistan's president may be losing some of that political power.
Also, he's out of a job, but he's proud of it. The real story behind the man under that hugely popular YouTube ad against Hillary Clinton. He is speaking out.
And caught on tape, a very scary moment in Iraq earlier today, everyone is OK. CNN's Jeanne Moos shows us some other famous flinches.
All of that, Lou, coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
DOBBS: Thank you, Wolf.
And Judiciary Committee Senator Patrick Leahy joins us next on the showdown with the White House. Stay with us.
DOBBS: The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee today received the legal authority to subpoena White House aides, possibly forcing them to testify publicly and under oath on the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys.
Senator Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee joins us now from Capitol Hill. Senator, thanks for being here.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY, (D) VT: Good to be with you.
DOBBS: You now have the authority to proceed. You can subpoena Rove, Miers, other top aides. Are you going to do so?
LEAHY: Yes. We're going to start with Mr. Sampson next week. I have testimony from him. He was the one who ...
DOBBS: Kyle Sampson, the chief of staff ...
DOBBS: ... for Alberto Gonzales.
LEAHY: And the one who everybody wants to point fingers at. He is, as you know from the press conference, started to point the fingers back. We'll talk with him. We'll ask him questions in open session. Under oath. We'll ask everybody questions in open session, under oath.
Next month, Attorney General Gonzales will be there in open session, under oath. And I've said that's why I want everybody. You know, when you stop to think about it, it's the best way to do it. Both Republicans and Democrats get to ask the questions. It's totally fair.
DOBBS: The White House says, White House press secretary Tony Snow, as you know, said that their offer to provide the top officials on what would effectively be a background basis is extraordinarily generous. How would you characterize it? LEAHY: It's not generous at all. It's totally inadequate. What he has said is, we'll let some people come, answer limited areas. Behind closed doors. No transcript. Not under oath. Don't let the public in. Only a few members.
Oh come on. If they want to be open and honest about this, they'll do it openly and honestly. This is not -- We're not here to play some kind of games. We're just trying to find out how this - what -- why this was done. Why there are people that seem to be trying to interfere with prosecutions that are under way around the country.
DOBBS: The suggestion has been made a number of times. In the Clinton administration, more than -- well, initially, he fired 93 U.S. attorneys and another almost 30 other U.S. attorneys were fired in the second term. Going into the second term. Why is this ...
LEAHY: Well, and President Reagan fired the same number when he came in. President Carter, the same number when he came in.
LEAHY: They change, especially when you change administrations. The U.S. attorneys change. They're there for usually a four-year term. These people were appointed for a second four-year term. What bothers me, we find, one, when the highest rated U.S. attorneys in the country was yanked out to put in a protege of Karl Rove. Another one had just prosecuted a very, very prominent Republican. And was investigating others. And suddenly replaced.
It raises -- remember, the president -- the president has the power to fire U.S. attorneys.
LEAHY: He doesn't have the power to fire the justice system. Nobody does.
DOBBS: And I take your point. But at the same time. Let's assume that you were to find that the president had in Attorney General Gonzales who basically seems to be strikingly uninformed about what was happening with just about 10 percent of his U.S. attorney staff, let's say you find out that they didn't like the way something was being handled. Or it was for political reasons rather than, you know, whatever the reason may be. Is this ...
LEAHY: If that's the case, they're free to come and tell us that.
DOBBS: I guess what I'm asking, when you get through with all of this, what do you expect to be the result, because this is going to take weeks and weeks and the country's time, your valuable time is going to be consumed. So will the White House's.
LEAHY: I can think of other things I'd rather be spending time on. DOBBS: Sure.
LEAHY: But I also want to make sure whoever the next president is, that they respect the independence of the U.S. attorneys. I was a prosecutor for eight years. I know how important it is to is have independent ones. I don't care if you have a Democrat or a Republican in the White House. I want them to allow the prosecutors - you know what happens, Lou, if you start shading, politically shading how the prosecutor acts, it affects everybody all the way down to the cop on the beat and you and I, you and I cannot be guaranteed that we're going to have equal justice.
DOBBS: Well, I love the concept of equal justice and I would sure like to see it and I would sure like to see this Justice Department attempt a little bit more of it.
We thank you very much, Senator Patrick Leahy.
LEAHY: Good to be with you.
DOBBS: The results of our poll quickly. Ninety-three percent of you say the planets are not finally aligned to give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. Thanks for being with us. Good night from New York. Here is Wolf Blitzer and THE SITUATION ROOM. Wolf?
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