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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Amnesty Deal Blasted: Opposition From Left & Right; Worker Verification Doubts; Rewarding Illegal Alien Students
Aired May 18, 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, rising opposition to that so-called grand compromise on our immigration crisis and border security crisis, just a day after it was announced with great fanfare on Capitol Hill. Critics say it's time for this administration and those pro-amnesty senators to get real.
We'll have complete coverage. One of the bill's leading opponents, Congressman Brian Bilbray, is among our guests.
Also, the illegal immigration compromise will require employers to verify all new hires within 18 months, but the existing electronic verification system, we're told, is riddled with problems. Will it ever work? Who knows?
And the government of Mexico fighting a war against the drug cartels, and the government of Mexico is losing.
We'll have all of that, all the day's news, and much more straight ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Friday, May 18th.
Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
The Bush administration's effort to the impose pro-amnesty legislation on American citizens tonight facing an uncertain future at best. That so-called grand bargain on comprehensive immigration reform is facing already blistering criticism, even from members of the pro-illegal alien lobby.
At the same time, there is rising criticism of one of the bill's key provisions, an electronic system that would verify new hires. A pilot program already in use is a failure.
Lisa Sylvester reporting tonight on the wide and expanding criticism of this grand compromise.
Jeanne Meserve reporting on concerns that electronic verification of employment simply won't work.
And Christine Romans reporting on a little known provision of that bill that would give illegal students advantages denied American citizens. We turn first to Lisa Sylvester -- Lisa.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, senators have not seen the final language of this bill because amazingly, it's still being written. Yet, lawmakers will be expected to vote on it in less than a week.
SYLVESTER (voice over): This is the draft version of the new bill, hundreds of pages that read like a legal document. The White House is pressing Republicans to back the legislation.
CARLOS GUTIERREZ, COMMERCE SECRETARY: We have to involve the problem, and we can't be sitting here for the next several years debating the word "amnesty".
SYLVESTER: But conservatives are not lining up.
BRIAN DARLING, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Conservatives feel like they were betrayed. We've been talking for the past few years about comprehensive immigration reform, we've been talking about it not containing amnesty.
SYLVESTER: But in the draft legislation, illegal aliens would be given immediate status through a Z visa. They can bring in their children, spouses and parents, and eventually seek a green card and citizenship. A guest worker program allows an additional 400,000 low- skilled workers into the United States.
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: I'm not going to vote for any bill that's got amnesty in it. And this bill's got plenty of amnesty in it.
SYLVESTER: It's not just Republicans who are voicing concerns.
SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D), NORTH DAKOTA: I intend to try to strike the guest worker or temporary provisions. We don't need millions of additional people coming into this country for low wages.
SYLVESTER: The draft bill also has lots of loopholes and waivers. For example, the Department of Homeland Security secretary can approve a waiver to allow illegal aliens to bring in additional family members for humanitarian purposes or to ensure family unity.
ROSEMARY JENKS, NUMBERSUSA: For just about every rule there is a massive exception. The exception a lot of times is big bigger than the rule. So, yes, there are loopholes everywhere you look in the bill.
SYLVESTER: With a hefty document and little time for scrutiny, many of those loopholes may not be uncovered until after the vote.
SYLVESTER: Republicans are ripping the provisions that have been made public. Take, for instance, the so-called triggers. These are conditions that have to be met before the guest worker program and Z visa program could begin.
It calls for 18,000 border agents, but they just have to be hired. They don't actually have to be trained. And the employment verification system, they have to have the tools in place, but employers don't have to start using those tools before the amnesty program begins.
So a lot of loopholes -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well, this is nothing, in my estimation, of what I've been able to assess from it -- and I've gone through this afternoon poring over some of those pages, as you have. This is gamesmanship.
It is far less than an approach to an opportunity for a grand assimilation and resolution of our border security and port security crisis. A grand opportunity missed more than a grand compromise, in my opinion.
Lisa, thanks very much.
Lisa Sylvester from Washington.
This so-called legislation, once it is formed fully, faces rising opposition outside Capitol Hill from pro-border security groups, from open borders advocates as well. The National Border Patrol Council, which represents our Border Patrol agents, said, "As long as any people or contraband can enter our country illegally, our borders are not secure at all."
The AFL-CIO is saying, "All workers will suffer because employers will have available a ready pool of labor they can exploit to drive down wages, benefits, health and safety protections, and other workplace standards."
And the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops saying, "We have concerns about the historic shift away from family unification as the back bone of our immigration system."
Even illegal aliens themselves questioning this grand compromise that would require them to leave and then come back later. One of them telling CNN, "If we leave, what will happen to our jobs?"
On the issue of jobs, the new so-called comprehensive immigration reform compromise would require employers to ensure all employees have the right to work in this country legally. But it appears the computer system under this government proposal is riddled with considerable problems, from prone to frequent errors, to simply won't work.
Jeanne Meserve with the report -- Jeanne.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the big question is, will employers have the tools they need to verify that their workers are here legally? (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
MESERVE (voice over): Traci Hong was 10 years old when her family immigrated from South Korea. She has been a U.S. citizen for 15 years. But when a new employer used a government pilot program to check her employment eligibility, they were told she couldn't work in the U.S. legally. Ironically, her new job was with the House of Representatives Immigration Subcommittee.
TRACI HONG, ATTORNEY, HOUSE IMMIGRATION SUBCOMMITTEE: So I had to take my passport, first go to the House Judiciary Committee's personnel office, then to the House Personnel Office, then to the Social Security Administration. And then sort of round and round and round again.
MESERVE: Hong's case got straightened out. But critics say the electronic verification program called Basic Pilot isn't ready for widespread use. Right now with 16,000 employers signed up to use it, critics say it has an error rate of about 11 percent.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D), CALIFORNIA: Maybe that doesn't sound like that much, but if it's 11 percent of all the people employed in the United States, it's over 20 million people who are Americans who would be told you're not allowed to work.
MESERVE: A more fundamental flaw, Basic Pilot cannot detect when a worker is using documents and information that belong to someone else. Case in point, although Swift & Company meat packing participated in Basic Pilot, recent immigration raids of to their plants netted more than 1,000 illegal workers.
The program is being upgraded to give employers photos to help with verification. President Bush got a look this week. But critics are unimpressed. They say Basic Pilot cannot do the job.
JAMES CARAFANO, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: It's just like taking a -- taking a local baseball team and saying, OK, go to the World Series. It's just not going to work.
MESERVE: The Department of Homeland Security maintains the program is effective. They say its accuracy rate has improved to about 95 percent. And the departments says it could grow quickly to help ensure that people working in the U.S. are doing so legitimately -- Lou.
DOBBS: So, which is it? Is it an error rate of 11 percent or 5 percent?
MESERVE: You know, I wish I had the final answer on that. The Department of Homeland Security says that 11 percent figure is from an old report. They say it's improved to 5 percent, and they maintain it is continuing to improve all the time.
They point out this is a pilot program. It was put in place to work out the bugs. They say step by step, they're doing that -- Lou.
DOBBS: And the leadership in the Senate and the White House want a vote on this legislation in the Senate by the end of next week, with all of that going on just in this one component of it?
MESERVE: Apparently so, Lou. A lot to do.
DOBBS: Indeed. Thank you very much. We appreciate it.
The idea that another component of the illegal immigration compromise could reward tens of thousands of illegal alien students in this country concern some critics. The bill could give illegal aliens an advantage denied American citizens who are struggling to pay those high college tuition costs.
And as Christine Romans now reports, the issue the subject of a hearing on the so-called Dream Act on Capitol Hill today.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The Dream Act, a fast track to a green card and in-state tuition for students in the country illegally, now alive in the Senate immigration deal.
Tam Tran came to the U.S. when she was six. Her family was denied political asylum.
TAM TRAN, UCLA STUDENT: Without the Dream Act, I have no prospects of overcoming my state of immigration limbo. I'll forever be a perpetual foreigner in a country where I've always considered myself an American.
ROMANS: It's meant for students like these whose parents brought them here illegally as children.
REP. HOWARD BERMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: You didn't make a decision to be in this country. You had -- you had essentially no role in that decision.
ROMANS: But there are serious concerns the Dream Act gives illegal aliens discounted tuition that other Americans don't get.
CHRIS KOBACH, IMMIG. REFORM LAW INST.: It discriminates against those students who are here lawfully. Indeed, under the terms of the state statutes, and under the terms of the Dream Act, in order to qualify for the benefits, you have to be illegally present in the country.
ROMANS: And puts those students ahead of millions of others waiting legally in line.
REP. DAN LUNGREN (R), CALIFORNIA: What do you say to someone who, let's say, was from Vietnam or the Congo or somewhere else, who didn't come here illegally, but stayed in their country and waited for the number to come up?
ROMANS: A question at the heart of the entire illegal immigration debate.
ROMANS: We're told by Senator Edward Kennedy's office -- he's a big proponent of this -- that the language is still being written. Current federal law is clear. States may not give benefits to anyone illegally in the country unless that benefit is given to all American students regardless of which state they live in. That may change if of the Dream Act, as it looks like it's going to be, is included in this compromise.
DOBBS: Well, and let's go one step farther. Despite that federal legislation and regulation, there are states already providing that very same benefit to illegal aliens in this country.
ROMANS: That's right.
DOBBS: What in the world are these people thinking about? The immigration system is riddled with all sorts of inequities, frustrations, and just complete obstacles to lawful immigration that makes it extraordinarily difficult for people who want to come to this country legally. At the same time, this grand compromise would put those illegal aliens absolutely ahead of them in the line to become -- to acquire legal status.
ROMANS: And that was one of the themes of this hearing today, are you in essence rewarding people for this behavior and sending a message that in 20 years, we're going to be doing the same thing again?
DOBBS: Well, anyone with any sense outside of Washington, D.C., would know that the answer to that question has to be in the affirmative.
Thank you very much.
Time now for our poll. Our question tonight is: Do you believe that the U.S. border with Mexico should be certified as secure before even considering changing any part of current immigration law? Yes or no?
Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results here at the conclusion of the broadcast.
Up next, a leading opponent of the illegal immigration legislation and yesterday's grand compromise. Congressman Brian Bilbray joins us. He says any plan that rewards illegal behavior is amnesty.
Also, deadlock in the negotiations over a new funding bill for the conduct of the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
That report. And Congressman John Murtha, one of the most powerful Democrats, is accused of threatening another congressman as lawmakers battle over earmarks for their home districts. Pork to most of us.
We'll have that story.
Stay with us. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: Well, White House and congressional leaders today, they failed to reach a compromise on funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Negotiations ended without agreement. Both sides accusing the other of wrecking the talks. The White House and Congress trying to reach an agreement by Memorial Day.
Dana Bash has the report from Capitol Hill.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was all smiles at the start of this high stakes meeting. The president's men and Congressional leaders trying to hammer out an agreement on how to fund the war.
At the end, the only thing they agreed on was this.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The meeting was disappointing.
REP. STENY HOYER (D), MARYLAND: Our meeting earlier this morning was a great disappointment.
BASH: What happened behind closed doors?
Democrats put on the table a war spending bill with a time line for troop withdrawal, which the president already vetoed. They tried to sweeten the offer by saying he could waive those deadlines.
The White House said no.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: The answer we got time after time in the meeting that we had this morning is the president would take no responsibility. That's too bad.
JOSH BOLTEN, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The Democratic leaders did talk about having time lines for withdrawal
We -- we consider that to be not a -- not a significant distinction. It -- whether waivable or not, time lines send exactly the wrong signal to our adversaries, to our allies and, most importantly, to the troops in the field.
BASH: Democrats say they also offered to drop billions of dollars in domestic spending the president opposes if he would accept the Iraq withdrawal time line. The answer again?
REID: No. Everything was no.
BASH: On its face, a surprising breakdown.
All sides share the urgent goal of agreeing on a war spending measure by Memorial Day -- only a week away. And Democrats have privately admitted for weeks they know Mr. Bush won't sign anything with deadlines attached.
But the new majority remains under intense pressure from anti-war voters not to give in and sources familiar with the strategy say Democrats are trying to show they're standing their ground until the eleventh hour.
PELOSI: The difference between the Democrats and the president was the issue of accountability. He will not accept any accountability.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BASH: Now, the White House made an offer, too, a funding bill that would certainly set benchmarks for the Iraqis. And it would also threaten to cut off economic aid for Iraqis if they don't meet those benchmarks.
Now, this is something that didn't pass the Senate -- excuse me, didn't pass it. It got a majority of Senate votes. Just last week, Democrats did not accept that, but, Lou, we're told by Democratic sources that may be pretty close to what they end up sending the president next week -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well, the Senate also rejected timelines in its legislation. Why is the majority leader taking deadlines to the White House knowing, A, that both the president will reject them, and he did not win sufficient approval in the Senate for those deadlines?
BASH: That's exactly what the White House asked today, why are you sending us something that the president -- or at least put on the table something that the president already vetoed. And the Democrats say, look, we gave you a little bit of a sweetener, we gave a waiver.
But look, this is a high-stakes wire act. This is a kabuki dance. And that's what you just saw there. They know that they have to figure this out, and they have to figure it out soon, because they're bumping up against their own deadline. And that is next week.
In fact, Tuesday, they have to have this on the floor of the House -- Lou.
DOBBS: I guess we couldn't put this under the heading of responsible governance on the part of either the White House or the Congress, could we? Don't answer that.
BASH: I won't. DOBBS: Thank you very much.
Dana Bash from Capitol Hill.
DOBBS: Insurgents have killed eight more of our troops in Iraq over the past 48 hours. Five of our troops killed in Baghdad, three in Diyala province, north of the Iraqi capital.
Fifty-eight of our troops have been killed so far this month, 3,409 of our troops killed sincele beginning of the war. 25,378 of our troops wounded, 11, 365 of them seriously.
Our commanders in Iraq today said they will continue searching for three missing soldiers until they are found. The three soldier, all members of the 10th Mountain Division based in Fort Drum, New York, abducted from their position south of Baghdad last Saturday.
Six thousand American and Iraqi troops searching for those soldiers. Officials say the troops were following a number of leads, but many of those leads turning out, of course, to be dead ends.
A leading opponent of the war in Iraq, Congressman John Murtha, faces a reprimand tonight after some remarks he made to a fellow congressman over earmarks. Pork to you and me.
Republican congressman Mike Rogers accusing Murtha of threatening to block any earmarks that he proposes. That dispute began when Rogers objected to one of Murtha's earmarks in the intelligence bill, $23 million for the National Drug Intelligence Center, which is in Murtha's district. Rogers claims Murtha retaliated and threatened to block any of Rogers' future earmarks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE ROGERS (R), MICHIGAN: He came to this -- our side of the aisle and basically said, you know, you're not going to participate in the defense appropriations bill in any way for now or forever. And when I asked him, "Gee, to clarify, that's just not the way we do it here. You're not trying to make me afraid, are you?" He said, "That's the way I do it here."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Well, Murtha's office responded with this: "The committee and staff give every Democrat and Republican the same consideration. We have extensive hearings, and every request is carefully considered."
Rogers says he will be introducing that reprimand in the House Monday.
Up next, Congressman Brian Bilbray, a vocal opponent of the Senate's so-called grand compromise with the White House on amnesty joins us. Also ahead, Mexican drug cartel violence is skyrocketing and spilling over to our side of the border.
The federal government ineffective in protecting our food supply, among other things. Some states are now taking action on their own to protect their citizens.
We'll have that special report, a great deal more straight ahead.
We're coming right back. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Federal agencies proving ineffective in keeping contaminated foreign food out of our country and away from consumers. The law requiring country of origin labels has been pushed back twice. It's still not in effect.
And as Kitty Pilgrim now reports, some states not waiting for the federal government to wake up. Those state governments are taking action on their own.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Made in China. Many manufactured products are labeled with country of origin. Most food is not. And with pesticides and contaminants from China and other countries turning up in the human food chain, the American consumer is at risk.
JOE MENDELSON, CENTER FOR FOOD SAFETY: We found product after product of substances that are banned here in the United States that come in with illegal product or traces of it.
PILGRIM: Who is to know a bottle of sauce labeled "Made in Texas" may contain agricultural products from Mexico that were then bottled in Texas? Blended honey products could be from all over the world.
Imported agricultural products can carry diseases. For example, researchers faced with dying bees in this country are looking for contaminants that may have been imported from overseas in royal jelly used to propagate bee colonies.
DIANA COX-FOSTER, PENN STATE UNIVERSITY: So there is a chance to have something brand new, a new virus or a new disease coming in, in that manner.
PILGRIM: Labels of origin are required for beef, lamb, pork, fish, fruit, vegetables and peanuts. But enforcing the 2002 law has been delayed twice. Most products can go unlabeled until mid-2008.
Some states are acting now on their own, protecting their industries from contaminants and disease. For example, meat-producing states Wyoming, Kansas, North and South Dakota require all meat retailers to clearly label imported meat with country of origin. Catfish-producing states Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi are doing the same with imports of catfish.
PILGRIM: Now, most of the states who have stepped forward to require labeling are acting in self-interest. They're trying to boost their home products. But it also helps the consumer to be able to make an informed choice, something that consumers cannot do nationally because the law that passed in 2002 has not been implemented -- Lou.
DOBBS: And not implemented because?
PILGRIM: They got pushed back several times because people are not interested in having that happening.
DOBBS: Because the lobbyists are kicking Congress's butt and forcing them to do exactly what they mean.
Kitty Pilgrim, thank you very much.
Time now for some of your thoughts.
Thousands of you e-mailing us about the immigration crisis compromise, the grand compromise, if you will.
Don in Illinois said, "Lou, I am sick right now. I'm sick of our elected representatives ignoring those who voted them into office in favor of those who financed their campaigns. I'm sick of the pandering to lawbreakers under the guise of being humane. I'm sick of the silent majority remaining silent while their country is being sold down the Rio Grande."
"I'm sick of our president and congressmen being for sale to the highest bidder."
Robert in Oregon said, "Lou, it looks like American taxpayers are going to get shafted by our own government again, which is nothing new. Mexico dumps its responsibility for providing jobs and health care for its citizens on the United States, thanks to the corporate lobbyist-loving Congress."
And in response to our poll question asking if you believe that our senators and congressmen should be required to certify under penalty of perjury that they and their staffs have read all legislation before they vote on it, Albert in Florida wrote in to say, "Congress does not need to read the new immigration bill. Most of them would not understand it anyway. And they've been told how to vote."
We'll have more of your thoughts here later in the broadcast, including your reactions to my discussion with the leadership of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
And up next, a violent escalation of drug cartel violence and wars in Mexico. Some of that violence spreading to this side of our border with Mexico.
We'll have that report.
And more on the Senate's so-called grand amnesty compromise. We'll be talking with Congressman Brian Bilbray, a vocal opponent.
And we'll be talking with our distinguished panel of political analysts and strategists.
And a mother of three put on trial facing 80 years in prison for lying about where she lives so her children could attend a better school. We'll tell you about truth, justice and the American way. And we'll tell you about the idiot who prosecuted her.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: You got to hand it to Felipe Calderon, the president of Mexico. He's trying and trying very hard to deal with an out of control drug industry in his country. Illegal drugs. The war between the drug cartels and Mexican troops escalating the toll from what has been an especially violent week, includes government officials, soldiers, journalists and innocent civilians.
And as Casey Wian now reports some of the violence spreading to our side of the border.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just 20 miles south of the Arizona border, the deadliest battle so far in Mexico's war against the drug cartels that control much of the country. Twenty two people in the Sonoran town of Canonea (ph) are dead after a federal troop stormed a ranch Wednesday. Fifteen drug cartel members, five policeman and two civilians.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We find ourselves terrorized.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Very, very bad. It's a very peaceful town. We have never seen this here.
WIAN: But it's happening throughout Mexico. In the capital Monday, gunman assassinated Jose Lugo, a top antinarcotics official in the attorney general's office.
RICARDO NAJERA, MEXICAN ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE (through translator): We're working very hard to find out what's caused this violence and we hope to have a quick response to the situation.
WIAN: The Mexican government's response has been to deploy 22,000 federal troops to battle drug traffickers nationwide. Still, violence is escalating. Kidnappings occur regularly, including this week's abduction of a Mexican television news crew.
So far this year more than a thousand people have been killed by drug cartels according to Mexican media reports. And the violence is spreading to U.S. border communities. The governors of Arizona and New Mexico wrote President Bush this week demanding more Border Patrol agents.
GOV. BILL RICHARDSON, (D) NM: When there's an open border with illegal flow of workers, it breeds other bad people, like drug lords that take advantage of a porous border. And they're violent. And they want to get their drug product in.
WIAN: The drug violence has become entrenched in Mexican popular culture. Videos like these on YouTube set narcocorido (ph) music to images to drugs, weapons and dead bodies. They are a celebration of the drug cultural and the drug lords now battle for control of a third of Mexico's states. Casey Wian, CNN, Los Angeles.
DOBBS: Well, Congressman Brian Bilbray, the chairman of the House Immigration Reform Caucus says the Senate's so-called grand compromise would reward illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship. He wants to know what part of illegal the Senate fails to understand. Congressman Bilbray joins me now. Good to have you with us, congressman.
REP. BRIAN BILBRAY, (R) CA: Great to be here, Lou.
DOBBS: Well, I don't even know where to start, to be honest with you. The idea that the Senate had an opportunity to secure the borders. To do real, real honest, direct work without gamesmanship. And to really deal with the illegal immigration crisis. What happened?
BILBRAY: Well, obviously, they're not looking to the south and seeing what's happening in the Mexico, because the drug cartel is also the cartel that's smuggling in illegal aliens. And for the two governors to propose that they want to fight it, when Mexico put the troops at the border to fight this cartel. And you don't see the governor supporting that. I think what's happened is, the senators have gotten so wrapped up in any proposal has to move, they're willing to sacrifice the basic concept of the rule of law, which is the foundation of our -- not only our free society, but our prosperous society.
And to find excuses to reward illegal immigration. And then think that is somehow going to send a message that is going to help us control illegal immigration. Absolutely absurd, but this is Washington.
DOBBS: Here is what Senator Jon Kyl, one of the most respected senators had to say. And let's listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JON KYL, (R) AZ: And from my perspective, it's not perfect. But it represents the best opportunity that we have in a bipartisan way to do something about this problem. And if we had not gotten together, as Republicans and Democrats, to develop this bipartisan consensus, we can be assured that there would not be a bill passed this year and probably not next year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Senator Kyl has been tough on border security, at least has talked tough on border security. What's going on?
BILBRAY: What's going on is that Senator Kyl believes if we don't do something right now to stop, first of all, the pattern of chain migration where people can bring in their cousins and their adult brothers and sisters and their uncles that we will end up being overwhelmed with chain migration. And we have to change that system and go back to the concept those who are going to contribute and have the kind of skills we need to be here.
So he feels so strongly on that he's willing to compromise on the issue of rewarding those who are here illegally. And so I think it's a really tough call he's making. I think it's a very dangerous one, though. I think that he's really made a mistake here, even though he means well.
DOBBS: Well, let me ask this, the idea that Senator Harry Reid says this bill has to be passed by the Senate by next Friday. The bill is just now coming out. We don't know in what form. I suspect, based on what I've read, it is an incomplete form, certainly.
What in the world is the rush? I mean, he's effectively asking the United States Senate to take up some of its most critical legislation in a generation, certainly, on border security, and on dealing with illegal immigration and ask them to pass legislation, to vote on legislation, that they haven't even read.
BILBRAY: Absolutely. And in fact, it's scary to think that someone will say I want this thing passed within a week of the time that hopefully it will be written down so you can read it.
What it really says is, I don't want anybody to be able to read this. I don't want time for the American public to react. I want to slam dunk this so fast that nobody gets to read the lettering of the law. And what's scary, is when you hear comprehensive, when you hear big mistakes, I mean big legislation, you're going to see big mistakes and terrible ones. For one that's already been announced giving in- state tuition to illegal aliens. My children are paying out of state because I refuse to show more documentation than an illegal has show and I think every American should be outraged.
DOBBS: There's plenty here to question and certainly to discuss, assuming the good Senator Reid gives his colleagues an opportunity to read it. The House, Nancy Pelosi has said, the speaker has said, without 70 Republican votes in the House this doesn't go anywhere. What's going to happen?
BILBRAY: I think the real line here is, everybody's got to talk to their congressman and say, look, draw the line and make sure that the Z amnesty is not part of any bill you that vote for. And if there's a Z amnesty in there you have to vote against it no matter what your excuses could be.
DOBBS: Congressman Bilbray, thanks for being here.
We want to remind all of our viewers to go to loudobbs.com, our Web page, we'll show you thousand contact your district, your congressman whatever district he or she is in, and as well as your U.S. senator and express yourself, your views on this potential legislation.
A reminder to vote in our poll as well, the question is -- do you believe the U.S. border with Mexico should be certified as secure before even considering any changing any part of U.S. immigration law? We'd like to hear from you on this issue. Go to loudobbs.com. We'll have those results upcoming here shortly.
Now, a story about truth, justice and the American way. Three of our very favorite things.
A jury in Georgia exhibiting great common sense and judgment this week while a prosecutor there showed very little of either. In the case of a mother he charged with lying so that her children could attend better schools.
Janine Echols (ph) of Cobb County, Georgia was arrested. She was placed in jail for five hours last year, charged with lying about where she lived. Mrs. Echols, a working mother, said she never meant to deceive Marietta school officials. She just wanted her children to attend good schools where in-laws could also care for them also school.
But the Marietta's assistant district attorney Grady Moore decided to make an example of Mrs. Echols, charging her with 16, count them, 16 felony counts of lying punishable by as much as 80 years in prison. Grady even told a jury Mrs. Echols needed to be punished because, quote, "a lie is a lie," end quote. Jurors took almost no time to see this case as an example of prosecutorial excess and madness. The jurors acquitted Ms. Echols of all charges and Grady, just please, just once, go up on the mount, talk to yourself, get in touch with reality and find a sense of proportion. And Mr. district attorney there in Cobb County, you need to slap him around just a little bit. I mean figuratively speaking. And you should be ashamed.
Up next, Democrats and the Bush administration are celebrating a victory with this so-called immigration reform grand compromise. We'll be talking with our panel of political experts about more madness in Washington. Stay with us.
DOBBS: I'm joined now by James Toronto, he's editor of opinionjournal.com. I'm joined as well by none other than Michael Goodwin of the "New York Daily News" and Democratic strategist, Democratic national committeeman, one of the Democratic stuff, Robert Zimmerman. Good to have you all here.
James, you haven't been with us in a while. Ed Rollins is gallivanting around a different coast. Let me ask you this. You've got to be excited about this grand compromise, it suggests that the illegal immigration crisis is over. Our borders and ports are secured. You are thrilled are you not?
JAMES TORONTO, OPINIONJOURNAL.COM: I'm delighted. I think there are problems with this. There are ways in which it is the worst of worst worlds. For example, you've been talking about amnesty, but in order to get citizenship under this bill, as I understand it, you have to go back to your home country and pay a $5,000 fine. I think that's probably too big a burden for a lot of people who work as farm workers or construction workers. So they're just going to remain illegal.
DOBBS: So you're happy.
TORONTO: I'm thrilled.
DOBBS: Michael Goodwin.
MICHAEL GOODWIN, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": I think it's really sort of a grand bargain or a grand compromise, I think it's a grand desperation. I think the president desperately wants to have some victories. And the Democratic Congress has seen numbers fall as well. So I think both of them have a reason to try to make a deal on things. They did it on trade. Now, they're trying to do it on immigration. And they're certainly trying to do it on Iraq.
So I think they all think, the country sent us here to work together, let's work together, even if it means we do the wrong thing. Let's do something.
DOBBS: That's one of the scariest summations of why the country sent them there. I, fool that I am, thought the people sent them to do the nation's business, to represent the men and women of this family of this country who work and make the country work? I guess I'm ... GOODWIN: I guess it depends on how you define the people's business. They define it as making deals so that they look like they're getting something done.
DOBBS: Well, you've got to be thrilled, Robert Zimmerman. You've got Senator Harry Reid out there, you've got Senator Kennedy telling this is a ...
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Senator Kyl, Senator McCain. For those of my friends who wish for bipartisanship, I guess the message is, be careful what you wish for.
DOBBS: Well, this is going to be - this is your boy's deal. And your girl's deal in the case of the House.
ZIMMERMAN: And President Bush's deal.
DOBBS: Why do you want to drag the president into this?
ZIMMERMAN: I just want to be bipartisan.
DOBBS: Do you like this deal?
ZIMMERMAN: Look, on the level, of course not. It's not good in its present form under any scenario.
What's intriguing about it going forward is that Nancy Pelosi, the speaker, is insisting on 70s Republican votes before it moves forward. I think what also is interesting to watch, for the first time now, you're hearing members of the Senate and House talk about the fact that border and security has to come first before immigration reform does.
DOBBS: When you look at the outline, as I have in this afternoon, there are more outs for more triggers and more exceptions, including chain migration, this thing gives the Department of Homeland security an opportunity to waive all of that and perhaps put together a big chain of his own. This is, at best, I can say, it's an insincere effort.
ZIMMERMAN: It reminds me of the bill that your program exposed last year, the fence along the Mexican America border. And it sounded good, both parties hailed it. Then we looked at the fine print. It was full of loopholes you could drive Humvees through.
GOODWIN: On Iraq also, the Democratic proposal to have the timelines, but the president can waive them. It's nothing but a compromise. He doesn't want them, we do. Let's put them in but he can take them out.
This is not real legislation. Everything is in the nature of a compromise so everybody can say we have a deal.
DOBBS: Why can't we come together, James Toronto, you have a sense of beyond Washington, a sense to the marketplace and business. Why it is that this Congress, this president has lost the capacity for sincere, direct straightforward actions in the interest of the American people and the United States without, without a can't or any kind of a slanting for political partisan advantage? Why can't there just be the national interest? Are we such fools to think it's possible?
TORONTO: Well, because we have an election coming up in 2008 and both parties are trying to find advantage.
DOBBS: But, my God, does this give our elected official officials the right to behave like lying, thieving charlatans?
TORONTO: They can behave that way if they want and we can vote them out if we want.
GOODWIN: I think one of the keys is, Lou, that everyone in Washington right now is unpopular.
DOBBS: By the way, let's point out, as unpopular as this president is, and he's at historic lows, Congress is at a lower approval rating, for God's sake.
GOODWIN: Well, that gives them an incentive not to do things that are right or good, just to do things so they can hide behind them.
ZIMMERMAN: Let's remember something, regardless of Congress' standing, the pulpit belongs to the White House and the president.
DOBBS: You're done. You're done, Robert. That worked for a long time. This congress is now a coequal partner in this government. With the speaker of the House with this majority leader, you have responsibility.
ZIMMERMAN: No argument.
DOBBS: And that is it.
ZIMMERMAN: No argument. But there's a difference here, Lou. Ronald Reagan was able to forge great compromises ...
DOBBS: Some would argue that this president wouldn't know how to use a bully pulpit as well.
ZIMMERMAN: Unfortunately, that's the tragedy. Reagan and Clinton could go over Congress and reach the American people and force a compromise. This president doesn't have the credibility to do so.
DOBBS: That's fine. That's a nice partisan statement, Robert. Well done.
ZIMMERMAN: Happen to believe it.
DOBBS: And I'm not in anyway accusing you of insincerity, just full-throated partisanship. The issue here is what in the world is the Democratic leadership doing? You're just thrown over the voters who back in last year's midterm elections moved a number of Democrats, highly visible Democrats as well as freshmen Congress into place to work with workers and the families, and you're watching them line up with the treasury secretary, and the U.S. trade representative of this administration, and saying we're going to do these free trade deals, we're going to get fast-track authority?
GOODWIN: I think that's a potential misreading of the election. Most of the votes for the Democrats were really against Bush. This was not for the Democrats because they didn't run on anything. They ran against Bush. So the votes were against Bush and Republicans. Not for the Democrats.
ZIMMERMAN: But the burden of proof is on the Democrats in this Congress. And that we agree. While I'm disturbed by the movement towards fast track, I have seen Democrats take the issue, whether it's for minimum wage, whether it's for trying to change the mission in Iraq. I think that's worth noting.
DOBBS: James Toronto gets the last word.
TORONTO: I have a feeling this immigration compromise is not going to end up passing. Because as you pointed out earlier in the show, everyone has a complaint about it. And I think in the end there will probably be enough opposition that it will probably have trouble getting through the Senate where it needs 60 votes.
DOBBS: James Toronto, we thank you for giving us opportunity to leave this discussion on a hopeful and bright horizon of optimism before us. Thank very much, James Toronto, good to have you here, Michael Goodwin and Robert Zimmerman. Thank you, sir.
Coming up at the top of the hour, THE SITUATION ROOM and Wolf Blitzer. Wolf?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thanks very much, Lou.
National grief and a personal loss. The family a soldier killed in Iraq in that ambush speaking out now for the first time.
Also, modern science shedding some new light on the assassination of John Kennedy. Find out why some researchers now say there is new evidence that there may have been more than one killer.
Also, Prince Harry barred from going to Iraq. And now also reportedly, barred from bars. We're going to have details of a royal warning.
And the former President Bill Clinton's surprise meeting with one of his most unrelenting critics, Rush Limbaugh. You might be surprise at what the talk show host is saying about it. All of that, Lou, coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
DOBBS: Wolf, thank you very much.
Deep sea explorers saying they found what could be the richest shipwreck treasure in history, half a billion dollars. I don't know about you but this has always been one of my fantasies, to find sunken treasure and these folks did it up right. Five hundred thousand gold coins in a warehouse in Tampa, Florida. A local marine exploration company saying it raised those coins from the ocean floor. The company, much to its great credit, not saying exactly where over the Atlantic it found the coins or the shipwreck, but it does say the coins may have come from a 400-year-old ship discovered off the coast of England.
DOBBS: Up next, our weekly tribute to our men and women in uniform. Heroes are next. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Now, "Heroes," our tribute each week to the men and women who serve this nation in uniform. Tonight, we introduce to you Marine Lieutenant Andrew Kinard. The lieutenant was severely wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq. But as Barbara Starr reports, this remarkable young officer continued to command his troops even though he was gravely wounded.
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Six months ago, Lieutenant Kinard stepped on an IED in Iraq, bleeding with massive shock and abdominal injuries he still was all Marine, giving orders to establish a security perimeter.
LT. ANDREW KINARD, U.S. MARINE CORPS: I was told I was saying it so much that my marines were saying, sir, be quiet, we got it. Do something else. So I started telling jokes.
STARR: Few can imagine the physical and emotional pain this 24- year-old now endures.
KINARD: My left leg was taken all the way off completely. And my right leg, I still have a small little portion remaining above the knee, so that hopefully, one day, I'll be able to walk on walk on prosthetics. And hopefully, be able to stand as tall as I used to be.
STARR: He talks with remarkable candor.
(on camera): Do have you any different feeling about Iraq now, having come back than you did before you went?
KINARD: I don't think so. I had the same feeling before. You know, maybe sometimes, bitter thoughts about it. You know, that's when I'm just feeling down.
STARR (voice-over): This extraordinary young man is blunt about what he says the years ahead will bring him.
KINARD: A decision to wake up every morning and make a choice, you know, hey, I'm going to get up today and I'm going to improve myself and get better and continue to push. You know, so I'm going to have to make that decision for the rest of my life.
STARR: But as he copes with so much, still, plenty of Andrew's humor shines through.
KINARD: This is a neat t-shirt that I just got. On the front it says "Marine for Sale." And on the back, it says ...
STARR (on camera): Can I pull it down?
KINARD: Yep, absolutely. It's like what "25-50 percent off, some assembly required." I thought it was a funny shirt so I'm wearing it.
STARR (voice-over): But always a Marine. He's already figured out how to come to attention. Barbara Starr, CNN, Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
DOBBS: We'll be right back.
DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight, 94 percent of you say that you believe the U.S. border with Mexico should be certified as secure before our Congress even considers changing any part of U.S. immigration law. Let's take a look at some of your thoughts. Thousands of you e-mailing in about our interview with Richard Cohen and Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
A sampling from Matthew in Oregon. "I attend a private international medical school in Mexico. I can tell you first hand that the prevalence of TB and leprosy are absolutely huge in Mexico by any measurement. So much so that they have separate hospitals just to manage the large number of patients. It's easy to follow the footprints of why those numbers have increased in the United States. You've highlighted a point the public needs to be aware of."
And Pat in Michigan. "Dear Lou, I was appalled at the way the Southern Poverty lawyers are attacking you for you statements on illegal aliens. We U.S. citizens no longer have any say in how this country is run and I am outraged. I watch your program every day and I am proud that you take a stand for those of us who have no voice. Keep up the good work."
Sam in Florida said, "Lou, if you are getting under the skin of the Southern Communist Law Center, you're doing a good job."
Meanwhile, Oscar in New York wrote, "You are nothing but an insecure racist with friends in high places who enable you to continue plaguing immigrants on TV. Hope you die soon. This coming from all the immigrants you hate."
Not many of those letters opposing that -- my position, but the ones that we did receive were hateful, indeed. Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow. For all of us, thanks for watching. Have a great weekend. Good night from New York. THE SITUATION ROOM begins now with Wolf Blitzer. Wolf?
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