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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Aired May 2, 2007 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, HOST: Tonight, we're at the Penn State Hazleton campus in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, for what we think will be a very special hour, our special report, "Broken Borders."
Hazleton is a small community nearly 2,000 miles from our southern border with Mexico. But, while it's far from our border, it's at the center of our illegal immigration and border security crisis.
Tonight, we're going to examine this community's efforts to deal with the harsh realities of illegal immigration. We will tell you about the facts of our national illegal immigration crisis. And we will have a vigorous and open debate, with all viewpoints represented, and some potential solutions to this crisis, with our audience here, with advocates on both sides of this issue.
Please stay with us for this very illuminating hour.
ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: "Broken Borders."
Here now from Hazleton, Pennsylvania, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you, all.
Good evening, everybody.
Only one day after thousands and thousands of people took part in pro-amnesty marches all across the country, our national debate over illegal immigration and border security is -- is confused and sometimes as confounding as ever.
The national media, if I may say, appears hell-bent on obfuscating the issue, frequently equating legal immigration with illegal immigration. But the facts are clear. There are as many as 20 million people in this country illegally.
And the Bush administration and the Democratic leadership on Capitol Hill seem determined to impose a massive illegal alien amnesty on American citizens, with little or no regard for the consequences.
Communities such as Hazleton are now taking action on their own, precisely because the federal government has failed to secure or borders or to enforce our immigration laws. Hazleton passed ordinances barring local businesses and landlords from hiring or housing illegal aliens.
But Hazleton is facing powerful and well-funded opposition from, among others, the ACLU and a considerable number of the illegal alien amnesty and open borders lobby.
The fight here is being closely watched by communities all across this country, as Bill Tucker now reports.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is estimated that somewhere between 60 and 100 communities have passed or tried to pass regulations cracking down on illegal aliens.
Pahrump, Nevada; Escondido, California; Covington, Kentucky; Cherokee County, Georgia; Valley Park, Missouri; Beaufort County, South Carolina; Riverside, New Jersey; Farmers Branch, Texas, are just a few. All of them face threatened lawsuits by deep-pocketed opposition led by the ACLU, PRLDEF, and MALDEF.
So far, only Hazleton has taken its fight to court, and the outcome is being closely watched by city officials who are waiting to model their ordinances based on the ruling.
DOBBS: Bill Tucker reporting.
And joining me now, Hazleton's mayor, Lou Barletta.
Good to have you with us, Mr. Mayor.
LOUIS BARLETTA, MAYOR OF HAZLETON, PENNSYLVANIA: Good evening, Lou.
DOBBS: And good of you to -- to let us join you.
And John Trasvina, he is the president and general counsel of MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and MALDEF, of course, fighting to stop communities from introducing such ordinances as Hazleton has passed to crack down on the impact of illegal immigration.
And Kris Kobach is a constitutional law professor at the University of Missouri in Kansas City. He represented Hazleton in the legal battle against the ACLU and other groups.
And I want to just say thank you all for being here.
Mr. Mayor, I have spent a little time in your community today. It's a beautiful community. The people I met, both here at Hazleton Penn State and also the people around your community, are absolutely welcoming and couldn't be more hospitable.
Let me ask you this. Is your -- would you say, your community healing from the impact of this conflict, or is it worsening? Give us -- give us a status report.
BARLETTA: Well, actually, it was amazing, Lou. Immediately after we passed the ordinance, we witnessed many people leaving in the middle of the night, actually packing up their belongings and leaving.
So, you know, we would -- it would be fair to assume that those that left so quickly were illegal aliens who were just fleeing to another city.
DOBBS: All right.
Well, I want to turn to the audience and ask for your questions.
Where are we turning to here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good evening, sir.
Good evening, everyone
I am a retired school teacher, public school teacher. And I do live in Hazleton.
I have a question. My question is -- by the way, my name is Antonio Rodriguez (ph). I apologize for not mentioning my name...
DOBBS: That's fine, Antonio (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My apologies to you.
My question is, if the -- if the city of Hazleton is not successful in federal court, and it is ordered to issue punitive compensation to the plaintiffs, which will be in the millions...
DOBBS: OK. We need a really -- please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question is, to what extent -- to what extent will the federal -- federal government, mainly the executive branch, will reimburse or at least help the...
DOBBS: All right. I think we have got it.
Antonio (ph), thank you very much.
Mr. Mayor, that question seems directed straight at you.
BARLETTA: Well, you know, I truly believe the goal of the -- the 25 lawyers that are suing this little city is to bankrupt our city, and obviously to stop other cities from around the country from following.
But what they didn't anticipate is that this small city is not going to back down. American people across the country are helping the city of Hazleton fight this fight by sending cash, $10, $20. Today, Lou, we are nearing over $300,000 from citizens across America. That's how important it is.
DOBBS: John, are you trying to bankrupt Hazleton?
JOHN TRASVINA, PRESIDENT, THE MEXICAN AMERICAN LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND: Lou, we're trying to get the city of Hazleton to protect the Constitution.
TRASVINA: This is not a homegrown idea. It didn't start with this mayor. It started out in California. We defeated it there.
And cities and towns across the country are defeating this idea. Every judge has looked at this ordinance around the country. Every state court judge, federal court judge, Clinton appointee, Bush appointee, has said, no, it violates the law.
There are other ways that cities and towns can deal with immigration. Cities like Indianapolis, cities in -- in Iowa and Nebraska, they're welcoming immigrants, helping them assimilate, helping them into the community.
TRASVINA: Those cities and towns in North Carolina, also, are thriving, not the division that I see in this town.
KRIS KOBACH, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI: Actually, that -- what he said is not...
KOBACH: It's -- if -- if we want to talk about the law, actually, what courts have ruled -- no court has ruled a final order on any ordinance similar to Hazleton. These are simply temporary restraining orders, which are preliminary, before a trial begins.
But, if you look at the actual hard rulings, the decisions we have, the Supreme Court precedent in 1976 said very clearly that a state or a city can impose penalties on employers of illegal aliens.
KOBACH: Just last summer, we won a suit in Arizona, defending a 2005 Arizona law imposing penalties on the smugglers of illegal aliens. So, the law is on Hazleton's side.
DOBBS: Right. KOBACH: And, so, even though the other side may have lots of money and -- that they're throwing at this small town, trying to bankrupt them, in the end...
KOBACH: ... we will prevail, because the law is on Hazleton's side.
DOBBS: And that case is obviously -- we're awaiting the decision of what is a district court judge. And, from what I understand, there is a view, at least abroad in this community, Mr. Mayor, that that judge may have a view that is -- I won't color that view by suggesting a bias, but the fact is, it's going to be a difficult case, some believe, as you know.
BARLETTA: Well, we figured that it would be difficult.
But, if I can just go back here, if we're going to have an honest debate tonight...
DOBBS: We're going to.
BARLETTA: ... I -- I think we need to, from the very beginning, separate immigrants from illegal aliens. Now, you know...
TRASVINA: And your ordinance can't do that.
TRASVINA: You can't do that under your ordinance, Mayor.
BARLETTA: Excuse me. Excuse me.
TRASVINA: You can't do that under your ordinance.
BARLETTA: Excuse me. We, too, welcome immigrants to Hazleton. Illegal aliens are something totally different.
John, do you make a distinction between illegal immigrants and immigrants?
TRASVINA: Yes. That's why we need comprehensive reform.
BARLETTA: But you didn't say illegal...
BARLETTA: You said immigrants.
TRASVINA: And that's why we need Washington to move forward on -- to turn illegal immigrants into legal immigrants.
TRASVINA: Those are law-abiding citizens...
TRASVINA: ... except for the fact that they don't have legal status.
DOBBS: I'm going to turn -- yes, sir -- to the audience.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (OFF-MIKE) Stevens (ph) .
Under the principle of federalism, why could not the Federal Immigration Act be amended to allow the state and local governments to detain illegals without seeking permission from the federal immigration...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... and to allow county judges to deport? And that way, the local governments that have the problem would have a remedy.
DOBBS: Kris, you want to begin?
Well, actually, that is a very good question. State and local entities already have the authority to make immigration arrests and then transfer them to the custody of the federal government for deportation. The question is, could the federal government pass a law to allow states to actually deport? They could. There's no reason why not.
KOBACH: And the principle of federalism that operates here does allow state and local governments some room for action, as long as they're not standing in conflict with Congress. And that's precisely what Hazleton is doing.
TRASVINA: We have never allowed local communities to deal with foreigners, the same way we don't have a local military policy or foreign policy.
Dealing with foreign individuals...
DOBBS: Right. TRASVINA: ... is something that the federal government does country to country.
BARLETTA: Well, that's not entirely true.
When a foreigner is arrested for dealing narcotics, obviously, it -- they can be arrested on a local level.
DOBBS: Gentlemen, we're going to come back.
TRASVINA: Right. All the laws apply to individuals.
DOBBS: We're going to be back with these gentlemen in just a moment, and our audience, with more of your questions.
We will also be examining what are now gaping holes in this country's security along particularly our southern border with Mexico. We will be talking with some of the country's leading authorities on border security.
Stay with us. We will be right back.
DOBBS: Welcome back to our town hall meeting tonight. We're coming to you from Penn State Hazleton.
Hazleton, the community, is leading the battle against illegal immigration, stepping in where the federal government has simply failed to perform its duty.
Hazleton's mayor is Lou Barletta. He is with us still here.
And joining us now is Dr. Agapito Lopez. Dr. Lopez is a member of the Governor's Advisory Committee on Latino Affairs and vice president of the Hazleton Latino Association, one of the plaintiffs, by the way, in the lawsuit against the city and the mayor.
And Lazaro Fuentes, he's the president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Lehigh Valley, also opposed to Hazleton's ordinance, and, as he put it, brought in the folks who are preserving the Constitution, in his view.
I want to turn to our -- I want to say, first, welcome to you both, and thank you for staying here with us, Mr. Mayor -- and turn to the audience for questions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. My name is Marisol Velez (ph). I'm a very active member of this community, also a member of HALT. And I am a youth director in one of the parishes in the community.
And my question is addressed to Mayor Barletta.
As a youth director in the community, I'm very concerned over the innocent victims of children and adolescents whose parents are being deported or otherwise persecuted, while they are U.S. citizens. Their children may be citizens. And what will happen to them? Will they be forced to deport and then violate their own rights as a U.S. citizen?
And what is going to be addressed concerning their rights as U.S. citizens and concerning racial profiling?
DOBBS: Thank you.
BARLETTA: I, too, am concerned about our youth. And, again, because our federal government has not protected us and protected our borders, this is a problem today.
But there's another factor about our youth. And I'm trying to protect those in Hazleton from gangs such as MS-13, from drug dealers who are selling drugs on playgrounds, illegal aliens, again, who are trying to destroy the lives of our young people.
And, when people move to Hazleton, they come here for a better life. And I have an obligation to protect them.
DOBBS: Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Bill Schmidt (ph). And I'm a retired local union business manager from the IBEW, where you spoke.
And I also believe that discrimination against anybody by their color or their culture is patently unfair. However, I believe that this is more of a population issue than an immigration issue.
And I would like to address to you, what do you think our country can do to accommodate people endlessly coming into the country, and still maintain our environment and our -- and our quality of life?
DOBBS: And to who were you addressing that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To you.
DOBBS: OK. I'm glad you saved the simple one for me.
DOBBS: I think, first of all, that, when we talk about discrimination of any kind, I -- I think there is one -- you know, it's always very difficult to say zero tolerance. But, when it comes to discrimination in this society, there has to be a zero tolerance for discrimination.
In terms of the illegal immigration issue and border security, I think there also has to be a zero toleration of those federal officials who fail to uphold their oaths of office and enforce U.S. law, whether it be at the border of the United States, because, after all, we are in the sixth year of a war against global terrorism.
We are bombarded with messages about the reasons to be afraid of terrorism. Yet, this administration has not secured our borders.
DOBBS: The second -- I'm sorry.
LAZARO FUENTES, PRESIDENT, HISPANIC CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF LEHIGH VALLEY: If I could jump in here.
DOBBS: No, you may not.
DOBBS: But I will be glad to tell you -- turn it over to you just as soon as I finish my last statement.
FUENTES: Sure. No problem.
DOBBS: And, on the issue of immigration, we have -- immigration law is a matter of public policy. And the fact is that the United States Congress, nor this administration, and, in fairness, neither the previous administration, nor the previous Congresses, have insisted upon enforcement of those laws.
That -- that is to their great shame, and to our great calamity as a nation, because we're having to wrestle with issues that have been long settled in this country.
FUENTES: What's -- what's being discussed here...
FUENTES: What's being discussed here is the enforcement of federal law by local officials, and, more importantly, local officials asking store owners and asking landlords to -- to be able to -- to identify people that are illegal.
And you're saying that you're calling for zero tolerance. How do you propose that they do this? What they're doing is that they're looking at people.
FUENTES: What we're finding in Hazleton is that people are being denied access because of their color, because they're -- because people believe that they may get in trouble if...
(CROSSTALK) DOBBS: Well, let me just -- let me ask this.
Mayor Barletta, if you found that anyone was being denied any right because of their ethnicity or race, what would you do?
BARLETTA: Well, that's absolutely ridiculous to even suggest that. In fact...
DOBBS: I'm not suggesting it. I'm asking, if you found it to be the case, what would you do?
BARLETTA: Well, it would not be tolerated. We do not -- there is no race in illegal here. Illegal is illegal, regardless of....
FUENTES: How do you determine...
FUENTES: How do you determine it? Well, how do you determine -- if there's no race in illegal, then how -- what...
DOBBS: Let's bring in Dr. Lopez.
DOBBS: He's been very quiet and constrained here.
FUENTES: ... to determine...
DOBBS: If I may, gentlemen.
DOBBS: Dr. Lopez.
DR. AGAPITO LOPEZ, VICE PRESIDENT, HAZLETON AREA LATINO ASSOCIATION: Yes.
The legality of -- of the people is something that is very difficult to determine, because of the positions that are placed. The thing is, you cannot distinguish from -- the great wave of people have been Latinos. And you cannot distinguish who is a documented and who is undocumented.
And the problem is not that it...
LOPEZ: The problem is that the interpretation of the public has been that...
DOBBS: So, you're suggesting that landlords and employers would make that decision based purely on ethnicity, rather than documents?
FUENTES: Do you have another way to look at it?
LOPEZ: Well, the...
DOBBS: Well, no, I'm asking the question, if you don't mind.
DOBBS: Just a moment. I'm talking with Dr. Lopez.
LOPEZ: The thing is...
DOBBS: Is there a way -- are you suggesting that employers and landlords would only resort to looking at one's ethnicity in deciding that, as apparently some people have in this country, that illegal equals Hispanic, Hispanic equals illegal?
LOPEZ: The message that has gone through to the -- to the massive amount of people is that Latinos are identified as illegal, because that has been the great wave that has come into town. About 10,000 new immigrants have come to the...
DOBBS: Mr. Mayor...
BARLETTA: They're misleading the public.
Our ordinance does not allow landlords or businesses to determine anyone's immigration status. Only the federal government will make that determination. So, there are no store owners who are required to check any documents. And you know that's not true.
But the real people who are being discriminated are people like -- like Joe Farrow (ph) over there, an 82-year-old gentleman who drove from New Jersey to talk to me this week because his two children cannot find work. The American workers are the ones who are being discriminated against...
BARLETTA: ... because illegal aliens are taking their jobs.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
DOBBS: We get -- OK.
Hector (ph), you get the last word.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My son-in-law can't find work. We had to leave New Jersey. He's a carpenter's (INAUDIBLE) We had to leave New Jersey, because he couldn't get work. Illegal immigrants are taking his work.
DOBBS: Thank you, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... got to move again.
I lost $130,000 on my house in New Jersey to get out of there to come to Pennsylvania, where he could get some work. The same thing is happening now. They are working...
DOBBS: Thank you, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... for half the price he -- that he could get.
Now, Mr. Dobbs...
DOBBS: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... I don't wear these because I need weight. I wear them because I served in the United States Army.
DOBBS: Thank you. Thank you, sir. Sir...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... came here in irons and chains and were slaves, and...
(CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... to work for nothing. And I want documentation for aliens.
DOBBS: Thank you, sir.
DOBBS: Hector (ph), I want to give you the last word. And then we're going to take a quick break.
FUENTES: I don't think anyone is debating the fact that the federal government's immigration policy is broken. I think that we need to see the federal government step up and...
FUENTES: ... and do the right thing by -- by our nation and provide immigration reform.
DOBBS: OK. I think everybody here agrees...
FUENTES: But it's important that we understand that this country has 4 percent unemployment right now. This is a supply-and-demand issue. This is -- they're not here because there aren't jobs. They're here because there are not enough workers right now in this country...
FUENTES: ... to fill the jobs that are available.
DOBBS: I wish you hadn't gone there. I wish you hadn't gone there, because what I have to say to you is just simply the facts. And we're going to put the facts before one another here tonight.
And, Lazaro, the facts are these. The four industries in which illegal aliens constitute the predominant employment are leisure and hospitality, restaurants and hotels, landscaping, and construction. And, in those four industries, wages have declined for the past four years.
Now, I think what we have to do here tonight is stick to the facts, stick to the issues, and come together. What we're not going to do, and we're going to -- and -- because we have got too many high- charged folks, like yourselves, up here, and this gentleman from New Jersey, and all of these folks in this audience.
You know, we can come together if we can get serious about dealing with the facts.
FUENTES: Well, how do we explain 4 percent unemployment in the nation...
DOBBS: I don't have to explain it. I don't have to explain it.
FUENTES: ... and talk about a crisis?
DOBBS: You don't have to explain it.
The fact of the matter is that wages in this country have been stagnant for nearly 30 years. This is about the quality of the jobs, the wage levels, and where we're going as a nation.
And the fact that economics indicate that we have a surplus of labor, rather than a deficit, is something we have to pay attention to. Is it determinate on the issue? No. But it's part of the facts that we all have to come together on and deal with honestly.
And we're going to continue doing that in just one -- I will give you the last word.
FUENTES: Well, it's -- what we need in this country is unity. The things that are happening in these small towns, like Hazleton, are disunifying.
This country needs solutions, like you're talking about. We need to look at this as a real issue, as a practical issue.
DOBBS: This is being approached as a -- I -- I couldn't agree with you more.
But let's be honest. On both sides in the far polar extremes of this debate, there is racism. There is radicalism. And the fact is, in the center is the truth and the reality from which the American people govern.
But, if we don't get honest about what we're talking about here, talk about a nation of laws, as well as a nation of immigrants, don't talk about the fact that Mayor Lou Barletta had to take leadership in this community to deal with this issue, because the federal government, at the behest of some of the most powerful political forces in this country, have refused to enforce our borders, and have refused to enforce our immigration laws, we are in trouble.
DOBBS: And we're going to be right back.
(APPLAUSE) DOBBS: When we come back: The English-Only movement is gaining momentum across The country. To what effect? I'm not sure. But we're going to find out.
And we will look at the failure of the federal government to secure those borders and what it means to communities like this one we're pleased to be in tonight, Hazleton, Pennsylvania.
We will be right back.
ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: "Broken Borders."
Here again, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Thank you.
A number of our states have made English their official language. The drive to make English the official language in the United States has been gaining support.
Kitty Pilgrim has the story.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The phrase has become part of everyday life; 47 million people, 18 percent of the U.S. population, speak a language other than English at home.
And critics say bilingual education in the schools was a disaster. Students were learning both English and their native language poorly. In recent years, California, Arizona, Massachusetts, and other states have been moving to replace bilingual education with English immersion and English-only programs.
Many immigrants applaud the move. One poll found, 63 percent of immigrants want their children educated that way; 29 states have made English their official language. And a bill introduced this year to make English the official language of the United States has attracted 100 co-sponsors.
DOBBS: Well, joining me now -- and we're going to discuss, among other things, that issue about English-only in this country -- is Brent Wilkes. He is the national director of the League of United Latin American Citizens. And he says people should learn to speak English, but English-only laws aren't, in his opinion, the answer. Also joining us, Anna Arias. She is commissioner of the governor's advisory commission on Latino affairs and president of the Hazleton Area Latino Association. She says the United States has always been a multi-lingual country and should remain so.
Good to have you both with us.
ANNA ARIAS, HAZLETON AREA LATINO ASSOCIATION: Thank you.
DOBBS: Anna, let me begin, if I may, with you. You are very opposed to these ordinances. What has been your experience with them? Why are you so opposed?
ARIAS: I feel that these ordinances totally are unconstitutional, and requiring an English-only policy in Hazleton is not fair to those who do not speak the language and are legal residents in this country, and in some cases U.S. citizens. Mayor Barletta has to know and common sense should tell you that when someone needs to learn English, it takes time.
ARIAS: It takes time. It doesn't happen suddenly when you get off a plane. It takes time and it takes money. And it takes education.
A lot of people here are working 12 hours, and it is very difficult for them to go to school.
We at the agency that I work at, Catholic Social Services in Hazleton, have a program. We asked the mayor for funds for that program, and he didn't even answer our request. You did not even honor that. Yet you want to make the city an English-only city, and make it hard on those documented people that are applying for permits to fix a building that they buy...
DOBBS: Well, do you understand English only to mean that you could not speak another language?
ARIAS: That's what he wants. English only in local government here in Hazleton. That is what he's proposing.
DOBBS: Oh, OK.
I think -- Brent, would you like to clarify what English only means in your comprehension?
BRENT WILKES, LEAGUE OF UNITED LATIN AMER. CITIZENS: Let me do that, Lou. But first, let me say that I'm shocked and appalled at the comments by the mayor today. He said that -- he gloated here that he -- overnight, immigrant families had to pack up and leave his town, overnight. And I think that is -- this day and age -- this is not 1950s, Lou. This is 2007. And for a white mayor to gloat that immigrants are leaving his town, that is wrong. I hope you can at least agree with me that it's unseemly at the very least. It's unseemly. Now, second, let me answer your question, because this is very important. English only is -- official English would require the government -- whatever government it is we're talking about...
WILKES: ... to only be able to communicate with its citizens in English.
WILKES: It really doesn't have much of an impact on the acquisition of English, and that's my major complaint. There are -- as you said -- 29 states that have already passed official English. Not one of them can show a scintilla of evidence that a single immigrant has picked up English because of that. However....
DOBBS: Now, you said -- you said immigrant.
WILKES: Yes, yes.
DOBBS: And I don't know -- we're going to turn -- where is Mayor Barletta? I'll let you respond to what Brent just said. But you said immigrant. Did you mean immigrant or did you mean illegal immigrant? Or do you make a distinction between the two?
WILKES: I make a big distinction. But you know what, you don't, Lou. And neither does the mayor, because English only impacts legal immigrants just as much as it impacts illegal immigrants. It has no distinction. If you're here legally and you speak another language, you're going to be impacted by this law...
DOBBS: I'm going to speak English to you, Brent. Are you ready?
DOBBS: You have never heard me confuse immigrant and illegal immigrant.
WILKES: Lou, does English only impact only people that speak -- that are illegal immigrants, or does it impact legal immigrants too?
DOBBS: No, just responding to what you said about...
WILKES: Does English only impact legal immigrants or not?
DOBBS: To my...
WILKES: Yes, it does.
DOBBS: To my reasoning, if they were legal immigrants, and one of the requirements would be that they speak English, why should it?
WILKES: It impacts them because if they don't speak English yet, they're learning English and they go to their government to get help for something, that government cannot respond to them in their language. It denies them basic services.
DOBBS: How many languages...
WILKES: And they're here legally, Lou.
DOBBS: Let me ask you...
WILKES: Why shouldn't they be able to get their language and the language that they understand? Now, look it, the thing is, it doesn't work. If...
WILKES: Hold on a second. If you want to teach English...
DOBBS: Well, no. Now, wait a minute. Wait a minute. I've given you a lot of time.
WILKES: Why don't you teach English? We're with you on that, Lou. We want to help people learn English. We teach 50,000 people English every year through our educational centers across the country. Ask the mayor how many people he's taught English. Mr. Mayor?
DOBBS: You can respond.
BARLETTA: Sure, Lou. You know, before they criticize the ordinance, I believe they should read it. The ordinance is not -- the ordinance is not English-only, sir. It is English as the official language, and it is only to preserve and protect the English language, because everyone knows that those that cannot speak English are less likely -- are more likely to fail academically, socially and economically. It is to preserve and protect the English language.
In the city of Hazleton, Lou, in the year 2000, the budget for English as a second language was $500. Today, it is $1,145,000.
WILKES: Listen. Everyone knows that...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me. Do you know how much money that these communities make? (inaudible).
ARIAS: I started seven years ago working for the court system here, and I started making $40 an hour. If I was not bilingual, I wouldn't have been able to make that kind of money. So that's the difference when you speak more than one language. You become bilingual. Why not? The more you know, the better you are.
BARLETTA: Well, Lou, we are encouraging people to -- to speak multiple languages.
ARIAS: That's not what you want with English only.
BARLETTA: But the official language...
DOBBS: Folks, I have got to break this. I want to turn to some -- I want to turn to some civilians here, some folks in the community who have got some questions. Where are we? Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... superintendent of the Hazleton area school district. In the past four years, we've seen our student population grow from roughly around 8,000 to currently over 10,000 students. Obviously this...
DOBBS: I'm sorry, could you say that again?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our student population has gone from roughly around 8,000 to now over 10,000 students.
Obviously that has effected the number of teachers that are required and the classroom space that is needed to accommodate those students. Most of that burden is being placed on the local budget, tax budget, and I was wondering if there is anything on the horizon for the federal government to help the school districts that are struggling with supplying the needed services for those students. Our ESL staff has gone from four or five teachers to currently 23 teachers, and most of that is all being supported through local tax dollars. And, again, I was wondering, are there plans in the future to support the growing population that is entering the schools?
DOBBS: Anna, Brent, is that an issue that concerns you?
WILKES: It is a big issue. In fact, we've supported every effort to help provide local assistance to communities that are impacted by immigration. We think that's only appropriate. It's done in other areas as well.
But the key thing you're missing, too, is, you know, property values in this town have almost doubled since immigration started coming into this country. The -- the job market is better. The mayor himself touts the economic revival of this town.
You know what? That's tax revenue going to the community. Why can't that tax revenue be used to provide some support to the people who are creating that economic impact?
ARIAS: Exactly. Exactly.
DOBBS: I'm sorry. Who is the next question? Yes, ma'am. Yes, ma'am. Oooh, easy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That would be different (ph).
Good evening and buenos noches. My name is Laurie Sedeclimo (ph). I'm a volunteer and former director of Hazleton area literacy volunteers. The ordinance originally included English as the official language of Hazleton. And city hall removed forms available in Spanish, which were only reintroduced by court order. If the ordinance was only meant to hurt undocumented individuals, not Latinos in general, why remove the Spanish forms for licenses and permits, which only hurts documented Latinos? The undocumented were not coming to city hall.
DOBBS: Mr. Mayor, we're going to have to get you a microphone.
BARLETTA: Well, the ordinance is not meant to diminish any language, but are we to produce documents in multiple languages? We have a large Eastern...
BARLETTA: We have a large Eastern European population in Hazleton as well.
So, again, we have said that we will help anyone that needs help when they come to city hall.
But, you know, you talked about property values. But what you didn't mention was that Hazleton's population grew by 50 percent, but our earned income tax remained the same. Population grew by 50 percent, and our income tax remained the same.
DOBBS: Thank you very much. We're going to -- did you want to say one thing quickly?
WILKES: I just want to say, if you want to solve a problem, we can help do that. Our organizations are actively teaching people English. That's the solution. You don't punish people because they don't know English.
DOBBS: How much do you charge?
WILKES: We help them learn English.
DOBBS: How much do you charge?
WILKES: Nothing. It's free.
DOBBS: I think you guys should put together a deal.
DOBBS: We'll be right back in a moment. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Recent massive raids on factories and plants and other businesses around the country have led to the arrests of thousands of illegal aliens in this country and charges against their illegal employers. Imagine that.
As Lisa Sylvester now reports, those raids are raising serious questions about corporate America's efforts to save money by using cheap, illegal alien labor.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New Bedford, Massachusetts. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested 360 illegal aliens at the Michael Bianco textile plant. The company's owner, the payroll manager and plant manager were charged with conspiring to hire illegal aliens. ICE agents allege company officials knew that many of their employees were using phony green cards.
Until recently, companies that hired illegal aliens had little to worry about. The federal government looked the other way, and the average fine was less than $2,000. Now, employers can be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for harboring illegal aliens. The number of criminal charges against corporate officials has increased from 25 in 2002 to 718 last year.
DOBBS: Joining me now for more on the role of corporate America and the use of illegal alien labor and the consequences of the conflicts we face because of this illegal alien and illegal immigration crisis is Robert Rector, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. He's done extensive research on the projections of the impact of illegal immigration on this country, and a number of the legislative proposals before us.
And professor George Grayson, professor at the College of William & Mary, an internationally recognized authority on the politics and the economy of Mexico. And let me tell you, he knows quite a bit about this political economy as well.
And John Morganelli, district attorney for Northampton County in Pennsylvania. Mr. Morganelli is the first district attorney in the nation to use the state criminal code to fight illegal immigration.
And joining us tonight is T.J. Bonner. He's the president of the National Border Patrol Council, the organization representing all 11,000 U.S. Border Patrol agents. Good to have you all here.
Let's start with the role of corporate America in exacerbating this crisis. Mr. Morganelli, you prosecuted -- you have used the criminal code. To what degree do you see illegal employers as responsible for the illegal immigration crisis?
JOHN MORGANELLI, DA, NORTHAMPTON COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA: Well, Lou, what I see is that they know -- it's a wink and a nod. The employers know these people are illegal. They take these phony Social Security cards which are often invalid numbers or numbers that are issued lawfully to other American citizens. They take phony green cards. And it's all about cheap labor.
And the reason my office got involved in this, Lou, is because identity theft by illegal aliens is a huge crime in the United States. It's -- American citizens' Social Security numbers are being utilized by random. And you may not even know that you're a victim of it. And we see this all across the country. And in my county, thousands of people were arrested using fraudulent documents, four or five different names, four or five different (inaudible) names. DOBBS: Give us a sense of how broad the problem is nationwide. Is it different than the experience in Northampton County, Pennsylvania?
MORGANELLI: Absolutely not, because these are national figures. National figures show -- the U.S. Government Accounting Office recently released identity theft, growing problem, one of the major causes is illegal aliens using other peoples' information.
DOBBS: T.J. Bonner, you're the problem. You and all those 11,000 Border Patrol agents. If you were doing your job, our borders would be secure.
T.J. BONNER, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL: Oh, that it were so, Lou. 11,000 agents to cover 8,000 miles of border, 24/7, translates to a few thousand at any given time out there. The real problem is...
DOBBS: (inaudible). A lot of people are saying -- wait a minute. The border with Mexico is just 2,000 -- actually, just a little under.
BONNER: Two thousand, and another 4,000 between the United States and Canada, and then you have some coastal areas. And we don't patrol all of the coastal area.
DOBBS: You know, people forget that when we talk about Border Patrol and adding another 50 percent.
Let me ask you this. Why can't the United States Border Patrol get the resources, the manpower and the commitment of its leadership to secure that border?
BONNER: We're the United States of America, Lou. We can put a man on the moon and bring him back safely. We can secure borders halfway across the world. If the will were here, we could secure our borders tomorrow. It's all for lack of will.
DOBBS: Professor Grayson, Mexico is -- to this country, I mean, what I can (inaudible) is why there isn't a will. We have an illegal immigration crisis. Mexico is also the largest source of methamphetamines, heroin, marijuana and cocaine entering the United States. Why in the world isn't there a will to secure that border?
GEORGE GRAYSON, COLLEGE OF WILLIAM & MARY: Lou, Mexico's elites live like maharajas. But they spend extremely little on education and health care and transportation to upgrade the quality of their citizens. They pay about -- as a percent of gross domestic product, the same percentage that Haiti pays, 10.4 percent. So as a result, even though it's an immensely wealthy country -- gold, silver, beaches, oil...
DOBBS: Wait a minute, Professor.
GRAYSON: ... they prefer to neglect their problems at home, turn a blind eye to them, and let U.S. taxpayers pick up the tab. DOBBS: Well, let me ask you. It has always struck me -- and I want to get your expert view -- that we treat Mexico rather paternalistically, that we don't expect Mexico to be a full partner in anything, whether it is the war on drugs or whether it is the security of that border. And as a matter of fact, the remittances from illegal labor in this country back to Mexico is now the largest source of their national revenue, along with oil revenue, and we have a $50 billion trade deficit.
Do you believe that we have sort of a paternalistic, condescending view toward Mexico, that does not require equal partnership on the part of what is the wealthiest country in Latin America?
GRAYSON: I think we do, but at the same time, the Mexicans believe that they're doing us a favor, because they claim that Americans won't do many jobs in this country. And what we found -- and "The Wall Street Journal" reported this in February -- "The Wall Street Journal," of course, is virtually an open borders publication. They found a...
DOBBS: Their op-ed page certainly.
GRAYSON: Their op-ed page, yes. But their news reporters found that there was a chicken processing plant in Georgia, and it was raided by the federal authorities, and they had to advertise for American workers, Lou. Can you believe that?
GRAYSON: They got 400 applications, and they hired 200 Americans, most of whom were African-Americans. They were quite willing to take the job, provided that there was safety in the workplace and there were decent wages and there was job protection.
DOBBS: These darn American citizens. They want things like worker safety. They want absolute rules in the workplace, and they want to be paid a living wage.
GRAYSON: It's outrageous, Lou.
DOBBS: You can't trust the American workforce. And I've got to tell you, it reflects badly on all of us that we permitted this crisis, in my opinion, to occur. It reflects badly that in 2007, we're watching the exploitation of labor, with the absolute complicity of the elites in this country and the elites in Mexico.
Robert Rector, let me just say to you. I know that you've studied comprehensive immigration reform, so-called. I love the fact -- it's the only thing I've ever heard of in Washington that's comprehensive. What I love is the attitude that's -- the lawmakers representing everyone in this room and around the country, they're comprehending comprehensive.
What in the world will amnesty, in your judgment -- because I know you've studied it and you've studied it since last year. What does amnesty for anywhere from 12 -- and I love this, we can't even say what the number is -- 12 to 20 million illegal aliens in this country. What is the cost of amnesty? The fiscal cost of amnesty for illegal aliens in the country?
ROBERT RECTOR, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Illegal aliens cost a lot at the present time, but if you give them amnesty, one effect is that they will all have access to Social Security, Medicare, this program called Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid when they retire, OK?
So the real impact of amnesty would be -- let's say you have 12 million people. You give them amnesty. The impact of that, the net requirement cost alone would be negative $2.5 to $3 trillion. Negative $2.5 to $3 trillion.
DOBBS: $2.5 to $3 million?
RECTOR: Yes. And that's with 12 million. You're taking 10 million people and putting them into Social Security. That is one of the biggest budget impacts -- that is the single budget -- biggest budget impact I've seen in a quarter of a century. It's fantastically expensive, and it is fantastically irresponsible for Congress to be contemplating that, and they don't have a clue in the world, they don't care what it will cost.
DOBBS: I think everybody here is shocked to think that anyone in Congress would have -- not have a -- excuse me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible) for not having the labor force that it's going to need for the next 25 years. That's irresponsible. That's irresponsible.
RECTOR: You know what? If you look at low-skill immigrants, OK, which most illegals are, in fact, in every stage of their life cycle, they take more in benefits than they pay in, in taxes. Every single year of the...
DOBBS: Okay. That -- whoa, whoa, whoa. We're going to -- wait, wait. We're going to be back. We'll be back. We'll have more from our audience here in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and the audience will be asking the questions. We'll be right back. Thank you all.
DOBBS: Well, we're back in Hazleton. I want to go quickly to Lazaro Fuentes. You had a question?
LAZARO FUENTES, HISPANIC CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Well, my question has to do with Colorado. We hear talk here of -- of labor and the...
DOBBS: Quickly (inaudible).
FUENTES: We hear talk of labor and the fact that the American needs these jobs. And Colorado passed a law, an anti-immigrant law, an anti-illegal immigrant law, and now they're having to use prisoners, 60 percent of which are African-American...
DOBBS: Does anybody want to respond to that? We've got so little time.
RECTOR: I think the reality is that in each field where illegal immigrants labor, about 80 percent of the workforce in that field is -- is non-immigrant. So to say that Americans...
RECTOR: Is native-born.
DOBBS: All right.
RECTOR: So to say that Americans won't do that work...
DOBBS: Well, in construction, it's down.
DOBBS: In construction, it's now declined...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not saying that they won't do that work. I'm telling you...
DOBBS: Chris, your turn.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Basically, illegal immigration is the mother of all unfunded mandates. Every time the federal government fails to assure the security of that border, some government has to pick up the tab. And as Mr. Rector has pointed out, Hazleton is a microcosm of what happens at the state level. The services that have to be outlaid and to be provided for the illegal alien population are so much higher than the minimal tax revenue that we gain.
DOBBS: I want -- yes, John Morganelli.
MORGANELLI: Yes, you know, Lou, when we arrest these illegal aliens, they're on -- the construction trades are getting hammered. Carpenters, laborers. They make $25, $35 an hour in those kind of jobs. On the job sites, the illegals -- $5, $6, $7 an hour, and it's having an impact in the construction trade.
RECTOR: Each -- each low-skilled immigrant -- and illegals are predominantly low-skilled immigrants -- that comes across to the United States, if they bring a family with them, the net cost that they impose on the taxpayers, benefits received minus taxes, is over $1 million over their lifetimes. It's fantastically expensive.
DOBBS: OK, we're going to have to take a break. We'll be right back. Penn State, Hazleton. Stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: Our illegal immigration crisis, as you can tell, it is difficult. The conflicts are deep, and the arguments spirited. But I truly believe that one of the things that we should all take away from this evening is that despite some of the passions, some of the anger, some of the outright frustration and occasionally deep division, we do have the ability to come together on this issue. But it's going to require honesty, and frankly, a great deal more honestly than your policy makers, our lawmakers in Washington, have certainly advanced.
We thank you very much for illuminating the issue with us here tonight. We thank Penn State Hazleton, Mayor Barletta, the town of Hazleton and all, all of its citizens and residents for making us feel so welcome. For all of us here in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, good night.
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