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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Amnesty Battle: Change to Grand Compromise; Backlash: Did Dems Betray Voters
Aired May 23, 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: The first major change made to the Senate's grand compromise on illegal immigration. An amendment that would cut the number of temporary workers and the so-called guest worker program in half passed today.
We'll have complete coverage.
And some critics of the Senate's efforts say we should just concentrate on securing our borders and ports and enforce the immigration laws that are already on the books. Radical, but there it is.
And the new immigration plan may well provide widespread opportunities for fraud, background checks limited to 24 hours. If the government doesn't finish in 24 hours, you're on your way to legalization.
And we'll also be looking at what Senator Byron Dorgan has to say. He joins us.
And Senator Jeff Sessions, a leading Republican, he voted against the leading Democrat, Senator Dorgan's amendment. He says this legislation is so full of loopholes, it's a mess.
We'll be talking as well to Republican strategist Ed Rollins. We'll ask him whether this legislation marks the end of the Republican Party.
All of that, all the day's news, much more news straight ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Wednesday, May 23rd.
Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
The Senate today voted to cut the number of temporary workers to 200,000 in the so-called comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Today's amendment passing over the strong opposition of the Bush administration and big business. And the immigration proposal will open up new opportunities in this country for a wider black market and stolen identities and immigration fraud.
Lisa Sylvester reports on the senators from across the political spectrum now pressing for changes to this legislation.
Christine Romans reports tonight on the critics who want to secure our borders and ports and drop amnesty altogether.
Bill Tucker reports on what could become a major black market in the trafficking of stolen identities and fraudulent documents.
We turn first to Lisa Sylvester in Washington -- Lisa.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, as you mentioned, this was the first major change to this grand compromise, but certainly not likely to be the last. Today, senators spent most of the day tackling different amendments that would put some enforcement measures into this bill.
SYLVESTER (voice over): A loss for big business. The Senate voted 74-24 to cut the guest worker program from 400,000 workers a year to 200,000. Senator Jeff Bingaman pointed to a chart that showed how under the Kennedy-Kyl bill, the number of guest workers grows exponentially.
SEN. JEFF BINGAMAN (D), NEW MEXICO: So, by the eighth year, you have 3,158,000 people in the country legally working under this program.
SYLVESTER: Democrats and Republicans criticized the compromised legislation for giving guest workers every reason to overstay. Those workers would be directly competing with Americans.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This new group of second-class workers will replace the current group of undocumented immigrants, placing downward pressure on American wages and working conditions.
SYLVESTER: The fragile bipartisan coalition that crafted the bill survived the first amendment test. But the process of deleting and adding to the legislation has just begun. Senator Chuck Grassley invoked the memory of Roy Rogers to make that point.
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: He'd say, "Boys, saddle up, there is going to be a rough ride ahead for us."
SYLVESTER: Grassley introduced an amendment that would make it easier to deport visa holders who don't leave when their visa expires. And Senator Lindsey Graham offered a proposal to impose mandatory prison sentences ranging from 60 days to two years for illegal aliens who are kicked out of the United States and returned.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: And if you break our laws, you do so at your own peril and you're going to lose your freedom.
SYLVESTER: That set up an exchange between Graham and another sponsor of the legislation, Senator Ted Kennedy, who argued that the original bill is tougher.
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Who is being tougher on crime? We're listening to the senator from South Carolina and Georgia, we're really tough on crime! Who is tough on crime? Come on.
SYLVESTER: Senator Graham has been taking heat from his conservative base for working too closely with Kennedy. On the Senate floor, he tried to stand apart, at least a little.
SYLVESTER: And just within the last half an hour, an amendment that was introduced by Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire. That amendment passed on voice vote. Essentially, that would enhance some of these triggers.
These are the conditions that have to be met before the amnesty and the guest worker program will begin. It will now increase the number of border agents from 18,000 to 20,000, increase the number of vehicle barriers from 200 miles to 300 miles, and also add in additional detention bed space from 27,500 to 31,500.
Now, Gregg had accused the authors of this bill of essentially trying to meet an artificial deadline of 18 months instead of doing what is right for border security -- Lou.
DOBBS: And it's still 18 months after enactment. They are clear to move ahead, right?
SYLVESTER: It would be 18 months before they would be cleared to move ahead, and they would begin to process those applications -- Lou.
DOBBS: And so after all of this tough enforcement action today, there were still about 28 -- just about 1,800 miles short of having a border secured. And no requirement that that border be secured before putting this.
Is there any sense that you can detect of embarrassment in the United States Senate as to what is an absolutely charade that is going on now passing for lawmaking?
SYLVESTER: I think a number of the people who are watching this debate would take a look at this and be a little bit skeptical, Lou, because of the process, trying to ram this through. For instance, today, a number of the senators, they weren't even present in the room. They had to keep out calling for a quorum call. It does make you wonder where the senators are on this and if this is primarily for show and not for substance.
DOBBS: Well, heaven forbid.
Lisa Sylvester, thank you very much.
The White House and senator negotiators are prepared to hand amnesty to millions and millions of illegal aliens with this deal. But many are saying what's really needed is simply control of our borders and our ports, and enforcement of current immigration laws.
Christine Romans has the report.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Three hundred forty-seven pages and counting. It will be the third major immigration fix in about 40 years.
Chip Rogers is a Republican state senator from Georgia who says there's no reason to think this deal will work any better than the last.
CHIP ROGERS, GEORGIA STATE SENATE: Congress, it seems like every 20 years, would come up with some sort of new plan on how we're going to rewrite the law because we weren't willing to enforce the current law.
ROMANS: Like securing the border, tracking visa overstays, and fining employers for hiring illegal aliens.
REP. BRIAN BILBRAY (R), CALIFORNIA: We need to crack down on the illegal employers and get tough with them, and not just try to say we can do it all at the border.
ROMANS: Immigration reform in 1986 granted amnesty to at least three million and was billed as the end of illegal immigration. This deal promises to end illegal immigration by awarding Z visas to at least 12 million.
SEN. JIM BUNNING (R), KENTUCKY: A few senators and the administration have crafted a large-scale, get out of jail free pass.
ROMANS: Another amnesty, critics say, instead of real border security. But supporters say the Z visas are not amnesty and the whole deal hinges on securing the border first.
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The legislation actually commits more resources to border safety and security than has ever been committed in the history of the United States.
ROMANS: Three hundred seventy miles of fence, 18,000 Border Patrol agents. The bill assumes the border can be secured in 18 months.
ROMANS: But the critics of this deal say the political will is for amnesty, not for border security. And they say the White House and key senators have set up a false choice between their deal or mass deportations.
How about simply securing the border and enforcing the law, they say.
DOBBS: Well, how about that idea? This, in effect, cuts the size of the fence, that legislation passed last fall.
At this rate, 18 months for -- after the enactment. All of this would move ahead. In that time, based on the amount of fencing that they've put up so far, that would amount to just about -- I believe it would be an additional six miles of fencing over the course of 18 months, because that is what they have put up now, two miles of fencing.
This is amazing. I'm watching these senators, as all of us are, and listening to their comments. And it's as if they're taking it seriously on one level and actually think they're fooling the viewers, listeners and voters, who are watching this -- the charade.
It is remarkable. The idea of a false choice, I think, is exact, because you have the White House saying you can't deport 12 million or 20 million illegal aliens. And the other choice is to give amnesty, as if there is no middle ground, no rational center for this debate.
It is shocking that after what we went through in 2006, that we're watching this nonsense unfold.
ROMANS: If the laws weren't enforced the last two or three times with immigration reform, why would they be enforced next time?
DOBBS: Absolutely. We listen to this nonsense reach all the back to 1965, when we changed a nation of origin quotas and opened up to an explosion and chain migration through the '65 legislation. And, of course, Senator Kennedy one of the leaders of that as he was in 1986.
President Reagan saying we're going after those employers who are securing that border. The nonsense goes on.
I think the American people over the course of 40 years very patient, but ultimately we all wise up.
Well have more on the Senate's grand compromise on immigration. We'll be talking with leading Democratic senator Byron Dorgan. His amendment to kill the guest worker program failed because of a huge number of Republican votes.
Leading Republican senator Jeff Sessions will also join us. He voted against Senator Dorgan's amendment, and he also believes temporary should mean temporary.
And former White House political director, one of the leading Republican strategists in the country, Ed Rollins, will join me to assess whether the Republican position on this legislation is the end of the Republican Party.
And congressional Democrats failing to keep their promises to the voters who put them in office last November. Many Democrats are simply outraged at yesterday's compromise on Iraq funding without a timetable for withdrawal. They say it is a betrayal of the voters who put them in office.
Dana Bash has our report.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The question to Hillary Clinton was straightforward: Will she vote to fund the war without a plan to bring troops home? She ducked it.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today we're talking about this very important immigration issue. There will be time to talk about that later.
BASH: When pressed later by CNN, she snapped, "If I have something to say, I will say it."
The Democratic presidential contender has good reason to be cautious. Powerful anti-war groups are up in arms about Democratic leaders' decision to relent, sent the president to war spending bill with no timeline for troop withdrawal.
ELI PARISER, MOVEON.ORG: There is a price to be paid for Democrats and Republicans who endorse the president's failed strategy here. And I think, you know, that's what you're doing if you're voting for this bill.
BASH: MoveOn.org alerted its 3.2 million members to contact their representatives, and they're delivering this flyer: "Congress: Show some backbone on Iraq."
Leading 2008 presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have added pressure to vote no. Other contenders are hammering them from the left.
Any compromise that funds the war through the end of the fiscal year is not a compromise at all. It's a capitulation. Every member of Congress should -- every member of Congress should stand their ground on this issue.
BASH: But it is a wrenching decision, especially for Democratic '08 candidates who have made two conflicting promises. Do whatever it takes to bring troops home, but do nothing to put them in harm's way, like cut their funding.
OBAMA: I meet with a mother whose son or daughter is in Iraq and they are concerned not only about getting them home, but also concerned about getting them home safely.
BASH: Senator Obama told CNN he has not yet seen the final bill and he doesn't want to comment on it until he does. As for the two other Senate Democrats running for president, Joe Biden told reporters this afternoon he is going to vote for this war funding bill. Chris Dodd, he's going to vote no -- Lou.
DOBBS: Dana, thank you very much. Dana Bash from Capitol Hill.
Insurgents in Iraq have killed another nine of our troops in a number of incidents around Baghdad.
Eighty-one of our troops have now been killed so far this month, 3,432 of them killed since the beginning of the war. 25,549 of our troops wounded, 11,476 of them seriously.
New details tonight of an evolving U.S. strategy for Iraq. CNN has learned the military is shifting from what is termed a classic counterinsurgency to a strategy designed to end a civil war.
This new strategy would consist of brokering power-sharing agreements and local cease-fires trying to create pockets of stability that would hopefully slowly spread across Iraq.
A U.S. official close to that planning telling CNN that, "We have been focused too long on defeating the enemy. We need to bring him to the table."
Evolving strategy, indeed.
Up next here, why the grand compromise will provide widespread fraud and identity theft. Some kind of reform.
And some choice words on the immigration legislation from House minority leader John Boehner.
And former -- you don't want to miss that. And former justice official Monica Goodling testifying with immunity and impunity about her role in those attorney general firings. Riveting stuff. Stay with us.
DOBBS: The Senate's comprehensive immigration bill runs pretty perilously close to being an outright deceit in fraud.
And as Bill Tucker now reports, the legislation will make fraud and identity theft a booming industry.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The Z visa would transform an illegal alien into a legal resident in 24 hours, allowing the holder to stay indefinitely.
To get one, all an illegal alien has to do is prove that they've been working illegally in this country by submitting a pay stub or a bank receipt. A remittance receipt will do as well.
Fingerprints must be submitted, and a non-relative must swear out an affidavit that the illegal alien was here before January 1, 2007.
Critics note that the requirements are very similar to what was acceptable in the 1986 amnesty.
I think the people who drafted the Senate immigration bill are complicit in malfeasance. They've gone back and looked at every loophole, every opportunity for fraud we've had in the last 30 years, and expanded it, made it more possible, increased the chances for fraud, misrepresentation. It is as if foreign terrorism and 9/11 never happened.
TUCKER: After the materials are submitted, the government has only 24 hours to run a background check. And if the individual applying for amnesty has been arrested outside and not inside the United States, their fingerprints won't be on record.
KRIS KOBACH, IMMIGRATION REFORM LAW INST.: Whoever wrote this provision, giving the government only one day to figure out if a person is a criminal or a terrorist, has no clue how this information is actually maintained. You can't get that information in 24 hours. And if the federal government fails to get that information, all of us are put at risk by this bill.
TUCKER: And more good news for the illegal alien applying for amnesty. After the 24-hour period passes, those applying get valid Social Security numbers.
TUCKER: And the process even grants forgiveness for those who have been convicted of two misdemeanors. No medical exam is required.
And Lou, if the computer systems go down while they are doing the criminal background check, well, it doesn't matter because it's all good. The illegal alien gets a go anyway.
DOBBS: Yes, wouldn't it be interesting to find out who authored the specific, idiotic provisions of this legislation. I mean, the overall legislation, as I think I made pretty clear, are -- it's idiotic in its comprehensive nature, if you will. But some of these little elements are just bizarre, and certainly not in the interest of anyone in this country legally.
TUCKER: At one point, I accused a staffer of lying to me when she was running through some of these provisions in the bill. And she pointed the sections out where they are, in fact, written into the bill.
DOBBS: Unbelievable. I hope you were nice after that.
TUCKER: I was.
DOBBS: OK. And when you said that, you were just kidding anyway.
TUCKER: Of course.
DOBBS: Yes, right. Bill Tucker, thank you very much. Occasionally, candor in Washington actually coincides with accuracy. Some frank words, some choice words from House Minority Leader John Boehner.
The congressman said the legislation, the immigration legislation currently working its way through our Congress is, "A piece of (EXPLETIVE DELETED)."
You have the idea.
If you look at some of the provisions in this proposed new law, it's not hard to see why the minority leader is thinking and speaking the way he does. Among the worse provisions, one we just reported on in Bill Tucker's report. Illegal aliens would be given legal status just one day after their application is filed, even if the background check isn't completed. And it could not be in nearly every instance.
Other absurd provisions in this legislation, taxpayers unite. You'll be paying for the immigration attorneys to represent illegal aliens. How is that for a deal? You've got to love America.
Supporters of the legislation called the new Z visas temporary. What they don't want us to tell you is that the new visas can be renewed indefinitely.
And gang members, illegal alien gang members, are eligible for amnesty. The heritage foundation estimating there are, by the way, at least 30,000 illegal alien gang members in 33 states. All they have to do is say they don't want to be a gang member anymore and bingo.
The federal government with taxpayer money, your money, will be helping the Mexican government provide enough incentives like a decent education and health care for Mexican citizens to stay in their country. And another provision of this legislation, illegal aliens don't have to pay those cumbersome, nasty taxes.
This is, I think, what we would call a very, very generous amnesty program. A lot of folks would like to get a hold of this opportunity.
And a proposed new Security and Prosperity Partnership, the North American union, which would effectively erase borders among the United States, Mexico and Canada, would be given top priority, Fast Track for SPP.
Border security not first in this bill. We can't even find out what border security has to do with this legislation. It is all about amnesty.
And the proposed 800-mile-plus fencing on our southern border could be slashed to just 200 miles. The Senate bill incorporating the so-called Dream Act that gives in-state tuition to illegal aliens a benefit, of course, denied American citizens. Illegal aliens will, under the terms of this legislation, also be able on cut in front of everyone who have been waiting for years in their own countries for admission to the United States legally. Suckers.
And another outrageous provision. This bill highlighted in -- the Heritage Foundation released today its own list of worst provisions.
Get ready, because among them, amnesty for illegal aliens who were ordered deported. That was unfortunate. Heritage says our immigration courts could be effectively shut down with this legislation, as judges must close any immigration proceeding and allow illegal aliens to apply for amnesty.
Senator Jeff Sessions today also saying there are a number of other loopholes in this law. Among them, he points out learning English not required until the ninth year of amnesty. Illegal aliens will be eligible for the earned income tax credit. They don't have to pay back taxes, but they will be eligible for the earned income tax credit. A tax credit, by the way, of course, designed to help this country's hard-working men and women, citizens all.
And Senator Sessions will join me here later to tell us more about this legislation and his view of whether it should pass or not.
A new study providing most Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of this grand compromise on illegal immigration. A Rasmussen report showing that its national telephone survey found only 26 percent of Americans support this amnesty legislation.
Forty-eight percent say they are opposed, 26 percent understandably say they aren't show. And 72 percent of those polled say it's very important the government protect our borders and cut illegal immigration, which brings us to the subject of our poll tonight.
Do you believe the Senate, the White House and those who support amnesty for millions of illegal aliens are simply ignoring our existing U.S. law and the will of the American people? Yes or no?
Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. Results upcoming.
Up next, a former aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales goes to Capitol Hill for testimony. Did she help or hurt her former boss?
Several California enforcement officials saying they won't cooperate with immigration officials even if it takes criminals off the street.
We'll have that report.
And we'll talk with two leading senators opposed to the new amnesty legislation. Democratic senator Byron Dorgan, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, they are among our guests here tonight.
Stay with us. We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: The Justice Department's former White House liaison today tried to distance herself from the firing of those U.S. attorneys. Monica Goodling, given immunity, denied she played a major role in those firings, but she did admit to crossing the line.
Kelli Arena reports.
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Lawmakers had granted her immunity and were expecting Monica Goodling to finally shed some light on why those U.S. attorneys were fired.
MONICA GOODLING, FMR. JUSTICE DEPT. WHITE HOUSE LIAISON: I wish to clarify my role as White House liaison. Despite that title, I did not hold the keys to the kingdom, as some have suggested.
ARENA: Goodling says she did not know the reasons for firing those eight federal prosecutors and says she never discussed the process with top White House officials. But she did cause a potential new problem for the attorney general. Goodling said when she told Alberto Gonzales that she wanted to leave her job, he started to lay out what he remembered about the firings and asked her for a reaction.
REP. ARTUR DAVIS (D), ALABAMA: Do you think, Ms. Goodling, the attorney general was trying to shake your recollection?
GOODLING: No. I think he was just asking if I had any different...
DAVIS: But it made you uncomfortable?
GOODLING: I just did not know if it was a conversation that we should be having.
ARENA: Goodling also took aim at Gonzales's number two, Paul McNulty, saying his testimony before Congress was incomplete and inaccurate.
GOODLING: I didn't believe he was fully candid, and the point that I was trying to make is that I did give him some information. I didn't withhold information.
ARENA: McNulty shot back, saying her characterization of his testimony is wrong.
In another revelation, Goodling admits she hired some people for non-political jobs at Justice based on whether they were Republicans or Democrats. That could be a violation of federal law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was that legal?
GOODLING: Sir, I'm not able to answer that question. I know I crossed the line.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ARENA: Now, Republicans keep trying to end this all. Today, complaining about the amount of money that's being spent on this investigation without any proof of any illegal activity. But Lou, there is little chance of that happening.
DOBBS: Unfortunately, I think you're right. Kelli, thank you.
Kelli Arena, from Washington.
Monica Goodling graduated from Regent Law School. It was founded by televangelist Pat Robertson. She is one of 150 Regent alumni hired by the Bush administration since President Bush took office in 2001. A move that has raised a number of questions, especially since Regent Law School is ranked 136 out of the nation's 170 law schools.
The Louisiana Supreme Court ruled a man may be executed for raping an 8-year-old girl. The U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately decide whether to uphold the death penalty for the rape of children in this country. The court ruled in 1977 that execution for rape violated the Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment.
Up next here, Senator Byron Dorgan joins me. Senator Jeff Sessions as well. We will be talking about, you got it, comprehensive immigration legislation, or whatever you want to call what appears to be a travesty.
And Republican strategist Ed Rollins joins us. We will be talking about whether the Republican Party, which followed President George Bush into defeat in the midterm elections, is committing suicide with its position on this legislation.
And a county sheriff cracks down on criminal illegal aliens, but other local lawmen, they are breaking away, no matter how many criminals they take off the street. That report coming up next. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Orange County, California Sheriff Mike Carona is helping federal immigration authorities detain and deport criminal illegal aliens, but several local police chiefs are refusing to cooperate, saying they don't want to alienate illegal aliens. Casey Wian reports from Los Angeles.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): During the first four months of this year, Orange County Sheriff's Department turned over more than 1,600 criminal illegal aliens to ICE for deportation. Twelve percent of the county's jail inmates are illegal aliens. They cost local taxpayers about $17 million a year.
SHERIFF MICHAEL CARONA, ORANGE COUNTY, CA: These are individuals that shouldn't be back on the streets. Had we not caught them, they would have finished their local jail time, they would have been released and be back on the streets to commit some more crimes.
WIAN: Take alleged gang member Inocente Secundino, Jr. He is now wanted by Santa Ana police for a murder last July. Police say he is a Mexican citizen with no Social Security number. He's been arrested twice since 2001 on drug and weapons charges, but has never been deported.
Even so, Santa Ana Police Chief Paul Walters wants to leave the job of checking the immigration status of criminal suspects to ICE- trained deputies in the Orange County jail. That's where most, but not all, suspects arrested for serious crimes wind up.
CHIEF PAUL WALTERS, SANTA ANA POLICE DEPARTMENT: In the system we have currently, any of those serious defenders are going to be checked in the county system, and that's how we've had it in place for the last 15 years, and that's a system that works. We know that it works.
WIAN: Not in Secundino's case. Had his immigration status been checked during his previous arrests, he could have been deported, and Chief Walters would have had one less victim's family to console.
This week, the Orange County grand jury recommended that Santa Ana and five other large cities also begin checking the immigration status of every person booked in their jails.
EILEEN GARCIA, BORDER SECURITY ANALYST: I think it's a very good recommendation that all the cities -- the larger city jails implement the same program as what is happening in Orange County jails.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the Santa Ana Police Department...
WIAN: But Walters and other police chiefs say they want no part of immigration law enforcement, because they lack resources.
WIAN: Another reason is clearly political. Many police chiefs don't want to anger supporters of illegal aliens by being perceived as cooperating with federal immigration authorities -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well, in point of fact, local police, county sheriffs, state patrol work all the time enforcing federal laws, including immigration laws. Why should there be an exception here?
WIAN: They don't want the requirement. They say they don't have the manpower and the resources to check every single person who is arrested for immigration violations.
People on the other side of this suspect, though, that this is basically kowtowing to the illegal alien activists. Many of these communities have large immigration and illegal alien populations, Lou.
DOBBS: Casey Wian, thank you very much, reporting from Los Angeles. A major setback for senators looking to overhaul this so-called grand compromise on illegal immigration. Yesterday, the Senate voted 64-31 to defeat an amendment by leading Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan, the amendment aimed at eliminating the guest worker program altogether from this legislation.
Senator Dorgan joins us now from Capitol Hill.
Senator, my gosh, 46 Republicans lined up and just went after your amendment.
SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D), NORTH DAKOTA: They did. They did.
DORGAN: Well, you'd have to ask them. I don't know. You know? This so-called grand compromise, you know, bipartisan, with the president -- it reminds me again that bad judgment and bad legislation are close relatives. This is a horrible piece of legislation.
DOBBS: The idea that this guest worker program -- one of the things that buffaloes me is to hear the president of the United States say, among other things, we won't have border security until we have a guest worker program. Now, this president is capable of a lot of non- sequiturs, but that ranks high among them.
DORGAN: Well, you know something -- you know what the bill does. It says to 12 million people, including those that walked across on December 31st last year -- by the way, now you're legal and we will give you a work permit.
What does that say to all the folks out there who understood that we have a legal system for immigration quotas and have been working their way through that system? It says to them, you should have walked across on December 31st, or come in by airplane December 26th with no intention of going back, because this Congress would say, you know what, that was just fine.
DOBBS: It says to lawful immigrants and those who were following the laws of this country, and to -- in addition to, all American citizens, basically go to hell, and this president and this Democratic-led Senate of yours, Senator Dorgan, seem absolutely bent on this travesty of legislation. Why?
DORGAN: Well, it's Republicans and Democrats. You pointed out the Republicans voted in...
DOBBS: Well, those Democrats are running things, though.
DORGAN: I understand. I understand. But, look, in addition to the 12 million, they are saying, that's not enough. We want millions more who are not in this country to come in to take American jobs.
Now, I raised this -- I wanted to scrap that provision. I raised this on the floor. And here is what they said. The supporters of this legislation said this: They said, no, no, we have to have this guest worker provision, because if we don't, they will come in illegally.
I said, wait a second. You told me that you were going to secure the borders. How are they going to get in? They said, no, no, they are going to come in illegally if we don't have temporary workers. I said, what you're just saying to me is that you're not securing the borders. It's the same false promise that we've had for 20 years.
DOBBS: Senator, I don't know of many elected officials who've worked as hard and tirelessly or as long as you have in the interest of the American workers. The idea that the Democratic Party could be driving this charade, led by Senator Kennedy, led by President George W. Bush -- I mean, how in the world do your colleagues walk in to that august chamber and keep straight faces?
DORGAN: Well, this is a bipartisan mistake, and a serious one. And I've asked this question. You know, all the discussions here is about immigration. What about those millions of American workers who are, I think, wanting to ask the Congress, what about us? What about us? We work at the bottom of the economic ladder and haven't had an increase in the minimum wage for nine years; now you're saying you want millions to come in to take our jobs? So what about us? That is what Congress ought to be working on as well.
DOBBS: And I don't know what your constituents are saying, but I can tell you what the audience of this broadcast is saying in their emails to us -- they are absolutely appalled at what is happening in the nation's capital.
Senator Dorgan, we thank you. Do you think this legislation is going to pass?
DORGAN: Oh, I think it's got a long and tortured trail ahead of it, and some of us are going to try to dramatically change it or defeat it, one of the two.
DOBBS: Senator Dorgan, thanks for being with us.
DORGAN: Thanks a lot, Lou. It's good to be with you.
DOBBS: Coming up next, leading Republican strategist Ed Rollins on the politics of this amnesty legislation, led by the same man who took the Republican Party into defeat in the midterm elections. What does it mean for the future of the Republican Party? We'll be joined by leading Republican Senator Jeff Sessions. He's one of the biggest critics and opponents of this grand compromise. And that puts him, by the way, at loggerheads with his own party.
The new bill, a provision that makes English the national language of the United States. What does that really mean? Like so much in this bill, it means nothing. We'll tell you all about it. And a lot more straight ahead. Stay with us.
DOBBS: This nation is becoming increasingly bilingual. Retailers all across the country including Lowe's and Home Depot, now insist on in-store signage printed in both Spanish and English. Lowe's also features bilingual credit card applications, brochures and flyers. It is a bilingual company. Most major companies giving their calls the option of hearing information in either English or Spanish.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: [ speaking in foreign language ]
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for calling Cingular Wireless now the new AT&T.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: [ speaking in foreign language ]
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for calling Lowe's.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: [ speaking in foreign language ]
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for calling Chase.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: [ speaking in foreign language ]
DOBBS: According to the 2005 census, an estimated 31 million people in the country speak Spanish at home. Republican Jeff Sessions is an outspoken opponent of this new amnesty legislation. Senator Sessions, however, voted against the Dorgan Amendment to cut that legislation's guest worker program. He voted, instead, for another amendment the that cuts the number of guest workers by half. Senator Sessions joins me now from Capitol Hill. Senator Sessions, good to have you here.
JEFF SESSIONS, (R) ALABAMA: Good to be with you, Lou.
DOBBS: Let me ask you this. Why are the Republicans just hell- bent on this legislation?
SESSIONS: I just don't know. In fact, you know, I'm frustrated with some of the Republican positions, but you know, last year's terribly flawed bill, 60 percent of Republicans voted no and 90 percent of Democrats voted yes. But it really stuck to the Republican voters, I think, who were most disappointed in how it came out.
DOBBS: In some of the idiotic logic that has been applied in this legislation, the idea that President Bush has said that the guest worker program will make our borders secure. Senator Dorgan just said on this broadcast, this bill is supposed to establish border security, so why is the guest worker program necessary? You know, logic confounds itself here because there is frankly so much deceit and duplicity in this process that it's breathtaking in the extreme.
SESSIONS: It's hard to figure it out. But I really do believe a good immigration policy would have some effective guest worker program but this one, as it came out, is -- it was better after the amendment reduced it but still some major flaws. I'm very worried about it. But I think any good immigration program has to have some guest worker part of it. DOBBS: Senator, let me ask you this. You sound like you could support this legislation, even though it doesn't establish border security, port security, in point of fact, it gives earned tax income credit to people who don't have to pay back taxes. I mean, this is about as fouled up a piece of legislation as, you know, only Ted Kennedy and George Bush could of created.
SESSIONS: Well, it's disappointing to me that the framework they talked about just was not achieved in the final legislation that was brought forward. They've added -- there are a lot of things in it that just are not going to work. The merit base system is far too extenuated and unlikely to ever go into full force.
DOBBS: The merit -- the point system is what you advocated. The point system has been reduced to an irrelevancy here.
SESSIONS: That is basically true. It will be eight years before it really kicks in in a significant way. And I understand that Senator Obama announced today he was going to offer an amendment to sunset the point system which would shift it around so just 40 senators could block it being extended. To me that would be a death knell to any merit based point system of entry. So even that could be taken away.
DOBBS: Well, even that could be taken away. It looks like the best test -- and you've worked closely with the Heritage Foundation -- $2.5 trillion over 20 years for this bill? I mean, this is an obscene joke what is happening there. Are you going to oppose this legislation?
SESSIONS: Oh, yes. I don't see anyway that it's going to be fixed in a way that I can live with. I mean, I don't believe we should give people who come into our country illegally every single benefit we give to people who come legally. And, ultimately, this bill would do that so I oppose it on that fundamental principle. You just mentioned the Heritage Study. I think that was over a lifetime.
DOBBS: Twenty years. Over 20 years.
SESSIONS: I was thinking it was over the entire life. But, at any rate, the problem is that so many of the people that are here are uneducated and really going to cost the system a great deal over their lifetime. There is no doubt about it. I mean, a great deal!
DOBBS: To start at the beginning. The borders will not be secure, the ports will not be secure, and this kind of fiction, it is no wonder that Congress has a lower approval rating in the most recent Gallup Poll than the president of the United States, but it's a close race. Senator Sessions, we thank you for being here. We appreciate it.
SESSIONS: Thank you, Lou. Thank you.
DOBBS: Coming up, at the top of this hour, Wolf Blitzer in the "Situation Room." Wolf? WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Thanks, Lou. We have an exclusively report tonight on a horrifying discovery in Iraq. A torture training manual complete with gruesome images of brutal tactics. Also my interview with Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards. He had some harsh words for President Bush and some advice for his fellow White House hopefuls.
Also, the heated debate over immigration reform. It overheats, as you know, with a House Republican leader using a graphic expletive to describe the controversial bill. All that, Lou, coming up right here in the "Situation Room."
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Wolf.
And coming up here next, we will be talking about whether this legislation after the Republican party was devastated in the midterm elections under the leadership of President George W. Bush will now be committing suicide with its position on this so-called grand compromise on illegal immigration. Stay with us. I will be talking with Ed Rollins.
DOBBS: The politics behind this grand compromise legislation that is overwhelming Iraq war funding, it is overwhelming ethics reform, lobbying reform -- there are many who think it could mean the end of the Republican Party. I'm joined now by leading Republican strategist Ed Rollins, in Washington, D.C., former White House political director.
Ed, good to have you here.
ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Thank you, Lou. How are you?
DOBBS: I'm terrific. And -- but I have to tell you, I am befuddled. Talking with Senator Jeff Sessions, opposing this legislation, listening to Senator Mitch McConnell, listening to the president.
These are the same people last year, who put -- pushed the House membership over the edge with their deal on comprehensive immigration reform, and this president with the conduct of the war in Iraq. Why in the world are these senators paying any attention at all to what this titular leader of the party suggests they do?
ROLLINS: Well, first of all, let me just give you a couple of statistics. The president, a new poll out today, "National Journal"- Hotline poll, the president's number is the lowest ever, as they are in Gallup. They are down to 32 percent approval.
The right way -- people feel the country is on the right track or the wrong track -- 18 percent think this country is on the right track, which is the lowest number I've ever seen in my 40 years in politics.
More important for Republicans: From the last election, where 36 percent of the people identified themselves as -- self-identified as Republicans, it's down to 26 percent.
We're in third place. Independents are in second, and Democrats are moving up on us. So...
DOBBS: You know, Ed, we -- to add to those numbers, the CNN Opinion Research poll, our average of our polls over this almost five months here, have we got that graphic? I'd like to show the audience and Ed.
Here is the way people identify themselves in these polls that we've been running since the beginning of the year. Twenty-five percent Republican.
DOBBS: Thirty-three percent Democratic, 42 percent independent, just to validate what you're saying.
I mean, these parties, how can they be so arrogant as to ignore what people are saying in this country?
ROLLINS: Well, just -- the other statistic in the same poll, that was asked a question "do you think immigration levels should be increased or decreased?" Forty-six percent of the Republicans think it should be decreased, and another 26 percent think it ought to stay the same.
So 75 percent of Republicans think nothing should happen or it should be decreased, not increased, as this bill.
This 300-page bill could be the worst piece of legislation I've seen in 400 years. They don't know how much it cost. The vast majority of them haven't read any parts of it. And I think at the end of the day, it is going to change this country so dramatically and not benefit us in one iota.
DOBBS: Well, and in terms of the politics of this, with people registering as independent -- as you know, I've called ...
DOBBS: ... in my book, I said point blank, I can't understand why anybody would register as a Democrat and Republican. And I encouraged people to make a statement and not be taken granted -- not be taken for granted by either political party.
When we're seeing this number match up this high, why are these parties -- I know they're absolutely beholden to their corporate masters and the socio-ethnic centric interest that are driving the immigration legislation, but why in the world can't they see what is so clear as you lay it out?
ROLLINS: Well, they're playing Russian roulette with five shells in the gun. And I promise you before this next election, one of them is going to go off. And this could be the issue. We need to seal our borders. That's what the American public wants. We don't have to rush through at this point in time. There is 12 million illegals in this country, we don't even know who they are. Let's find out who they are. Let's seal the border first, let's make this in a two-phased program. We don't have to get this thing done by next week or the following week.
ROLLINS: This is a problem that is going to be with us for a long time, and there is no quick fix, and they don't even know how much it's going to cost. And that's the astronomical thing.
Just as Bush didn't want to believe his economic advisers who said the war is going to cost $200 billion -- it's now $500 billion -- they don't want to believe what this thing is going to cost.
And I think at the end of the day, the White House is so desperate for any kind of a victory that they're going to give us something that is going to be more of his legacy than anything else, a bad legacy.
DOBBS: President Bush seems to want a legacy, but who among us knew that he would want that legacy to be central in Mexico, rather than the United States of America?
Give us your best judgment here, if you would, Ed. This president is -- as you just pointed out, his poll ratings...
ROLLINS: They're only going down. One-fourth of Republicans have now defected from him. Even on the war issue, Republicans are moving away from him. They're clearly going to move away on this particular issue.
There is nothing that he can do in the next 18, 19 months to be a factor. He has committed to stay in Iraq, and that is obviously his decision to make, but he's going to destroy his party. And if his party basically doesn't burn the Bush pictures and move on and go try and develop their own strategy here, they're going to have a worse election in 2008 than they just had in 2006.
DOBBS: Perhaps one of these parties would choose to represent the middle class, working men and women and their families in this country. That would be novel.
Ed Rollins, thanks for being here.
ROLLINS: Thank you very much, Lou.
DOBBS: Coming up next, we will have the results of our poll tonight and more of your thoughts. Stay with us.
DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight: 97 percent of you responding that the Senate, the White House and those who support amnesty for millions of illegal aliens are ignoring not only existing U.S. law, but the will of the American people.
Time now for some of your thoughts. Lloyd in Texas said, "Since we don't enforce our current immigration laws, what makes us sure the laws will be enforced if the amnesty bill is passed?"
James in Florida, "I wish congressmen and senators and everybody else would stop saying the illegal aliens will pay a fine. They will not pay. If they've broken the law to get here, does anyone think they will abide by the new law? Why should they fear anything? We don't even know where 12 to 20 million illegal aliens are or who they are."
And Darrell in Illinois, "This morning, I went to Home Depot. When I entered, I was greeted with Spanish music and the majority of customers and associates only speaking Spanish. I've heard Home Depot is having a rough time. I wonder why."
And Darrin in Florida, "I have nothing but cynicism left for both major parties in America. The Republicans ignore the will of the people, and it looks like the Democrats don't have the guts to stop them. Perhaps it's time to start a grassroots third-party populist movement to serve the will of the people for once."
We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts at loudobbs.com. Especially those great thoughts.
Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow. Among our guests will be Senator Jim Bunning, an outspoken critic and opponent of this so-called grand compromise on illegal immigration. Senator Ben Nelson will also be here to give us his opinion on the legislation and where it's headed.
For all of us here, we thank you for watching. Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins right now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.
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