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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Bush Makes Pitch for Immigration Legislation; T.B. Traveler Raises Security Concerns; Defense Secretary Makes Asian Trip; Hillary Selling Out Middle Class?; Candidates Appealing to New Hampshire Independents; Lindsay Graham Tries to Sell Immigration Reform to Home State
Aired June 1, 2007 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go to Lou in New York -- Lou.
LOU DOBBS, HOST: Wolf, thank you.
Tonight, President Bush makes a new effort to sell his so-called grand compromise on illegal immigration reform to skeptical voters, skeptical constituents and lawmakers. Is the president now playing the race card? It sure looks like that's what he's doing. We'll have complete coverage.
And Senator Hillary Clinton tries to bolster her presidential campaign, trying to -- apparently, appease Silicon Valley executives on the issue of H1-B visas for foreign workers. Is Senator Clinton selling out our middle class? We'll have that special report.
And the FDA issuing a warning about possibly contaminated toothpaste from -- you guessed it -- communist China. And you might be interested to know that this warning comes two weeks after other countries in this hemisphere told their people about the risk from Chinese toothpaste.
We'll have all of that, all the day's news and a lot more, straight ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion, for Friday, June 1. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
President Bush today fired a new broadside at his critics, the critics of his so-called grand compromise on illegal alien amnesty, President Bush asserting that opponents of his so-called reform plans are trying to frighten the American people. The president said, quote, "America must not fear diversity."
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Robert Gates today blasted critics of U.S. military policy toward community China, Secretary Gates saying the United States is determined to remain a Pacific power.
Ed Henry reports tonight from the White House on the president's strong defense of his grand compromise on illegal immigration. Jeanne Meserve reports on rising concerns about this country's ability to stop dangerous diseases from crossing our borders. And Jamie McIntyre reporting from Singapore tonight on the defense secretary's blunt warning to communist China.
We begin with Ed Henry at the White House -- Ed.
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, as you noted the president tried to crank up his sales pitch today by turning the heat up on lawmakers. As you mentioned, he specifically almost goaded lawmakers by saying America must not fear diversity, but he also challenged Congress, saying they need to show political courage here and, in his eyes, do the right thing by passing this legislation.
Clearly, this is because the president has been on the defensive. He knows full well that this legislation is in peril as the Senate restarts their debate next Tuesday.
Senate supporters of this legislation, of course, have been hearing an earful about this compromise as they go back home for the Memorial Day recess. The president clearly also acknowledging today that, with such a complicated issue, there will be parts of it that are not popular. But he said that critics of this bill cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you want to kill a bill, then you just go around America saying, this is amnesty. Those are some words that elicit strong reactions from our fellow citizens.
Amnesty is when a person breaks a law and is completely forgiven for having done so. This bill isn't amnesty. For those who call it amnesty, they're just trying to, in my judgment, frighten people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Now to give you an idea of how the White House plans to try and hammer that very same message over the next week as the Senate restarts its debate, the press secretary here at the White House, Tony Snow, has decided not to accompany President Bush to Europe next week for the G-8 submit.
Instead, Tony Snow will be traveling in the western part of the United States, various big cities, giving speeches to chamber of commerce's (sic). Also doing local media interviews, pushing back against critics of this legislation, urging them to pass it. It gives you an idea of how the White House is trying to push back, Lou.
DOBBS: Well, that's some interesting rhetoric, Ed. Does the president say anything about this study that he ordered up from the General Accountability Office or GAO or anywhere else for the fiscal impact of this bill? Some private think tanks, for example the Heritage Foundation, putting the cost of this legislation, as it's now written, at $2.5 trillion over three decades.
I mean, that's not about scaring people. That's not about frightening people. It's not about diversity. It's about the bald facts. Is there anything in this campaign by the White House that deals with the facts?
HENRY: Well, he did not mention those studies that you asked about. He didn't talk about the costs of it. Instead, he's trying to deal with what he believes are the facts in terms of moving forward.
He believes, and he called today, that -- he said the system is broken. I think obviously, you've reported on and on about that. You also believe the system is broken. Obviously, there are different viewpoints on how to move forward. But that's what the president dealt with today. He certainly did not mention those studies about the cost of it, Lou.
DOBBS: Ye. That's -- I was afraid that might have happened. I'm sure that we can expect that to come forward from -- from the executive branch soon. Ed Henry, thank you very much, reporting from the White House.
New concerns tonight that our wide-open borders mean that this country is highly vulnerable to all sorts of contagious diseases, those concerns heightened by the failure of customs and border protection agents to stop an American citizen with a highly dangerous form of tuberculosis from entering this country from Canada, despite an alert with his name and passport specifically identified.
Jeanne Meserve has our report.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The customs and border protection officer at Champlain, New York, waved Andrew Speaker and his wife across the border because they didn't look sick, say sources familiar with the investigation, even though an alert on the officer's computer screen told him to stop them.
A top homeland security official says protocols were violated: "The system is very clear on what should have taken place. That was not followed in this circumstance."
Senator Charles Schumer blames understaffing and a lack of training.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: You can have the best computer system in the world, but if the people on the job aren't properly trained and don't execute their job properly, that great computer system will go for naught.
MESERVE: According to a homeland security official, the officer involved had, quote, "a pretty extensive career" and had received a lot of training.
The union that represents CBP officers has complained that public health issues were not receiving adequate attention and training. Homeland Security says the training is significant.
But a CBP officer is not a doctor. And right now, public health personnel are present at only 20 of the nation's 326 ports of entry, mostly at airports. One expert says we shouldn't expect to stop disease at the border.
DR. MARGARET HAMBURG, NUCLEAR THREAT INITIATIVE: There is no amount of money that we could invest to shore up our borders against infectious disease threats. That's the only way to make ourselves safe, is to address disease control measures nationally and globally.
MESERVE: One lesson homeland security has already learned: there should be better information sharing throughout North America. Canadian authorities did not find out about Andrew Speaker until almost 12 hours after he left their country -- Lou.
DOBBS: Jeanne, I don't think any reasonable person would expect our Border Patrol agents to make a diagnosis of a man or woman's health upon entry into this country.
But I believe that all of us would expect that Border Patrol agent or customs official or whomever would be involved to at least take a look at the alert and the notice on the computer when his name or her name would come up and say, wait a minute.
That is what happened here, is it not?
MESERVE: That is exactly what happened here. And that is why there is an investigation into going -- going on into what happened here. They're looking not only at the individual but I think also at the systems to see if there's some redundancies or other sorts of protections that need to be built in that they don't have now.
DOBBS: Jeanne, thank you very much. Jeanne Meserve reporting from Washington.
The man at the center of this tuberculosis incident, Andrew Speaker, today apologized to other passengers aboard the aircraft he flew for possibly exposing them to the disease.
Speaker is now being treated at a specialized hospital in Denver, Colorado. Speaker's new father-in-law, Robert Cooksey, interestingly enough, works at the Centers for Disease Control, specializing in research, interestingly enough, on tuberculosis and other diseases. Cooksey says he is not the source of his son-in-law's tuberculosis, and neither, he says, is the CDC.
Turning now to Iraq, our military today said insurgents killed three more of our troops: one of them today, two at the end of last month. One hundred twenty-four of our troops killed in Iraq in the month of May. That is the third highest monthly total of the entire war.
Three thousand four hundred seventy-six of our troops have been killed since the beginning of the war; 25, 681 troops wounded; 11,526 of them seriously.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates today warned communist China and other nations that the war in Iraq will not distract the United States from the Asia Pacific region. Secretary Gates on a tour to Singapore admitted he is worried about China's rapidly military build-up and modernization.
Jamie McIntyre reports from Singapore.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With 160,000 troops bogged down in Iraq, another 27,000 in Afghanistan, the U.S. is battling the perception in Asia that it's distracted and has lost its focus on the strategic challenges of the Pacific region.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Singapore on his first official visit to the region, hoping to dispel that belief as a myth.
ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We've been an Asian power, a Pacific power for a very long time. And we intend to continue to be one.
MCINTYRE: The message comes on the heels of a just-released Pentagon report detailing China's rapid military build-up, a build-up that appears to go well beyond its desire to intimidate Taiwan into reunification.
Why, the U.S. wants to know, is China developing a missile that, as demonstrated in the successful January test, can knock a satellite out of orbit? And what is China's motive in modernizing its nuclear arsenal with longer range, more survivable mobile missiles?
GATES: Tell us more about where you're headed, what are your intentions? That's the real issue.
ADMIRAL TIMOTHY KEATING, U.S. PACIFIC COMMANDER: If there aren't better ways of communicating intent as the secretary mentioned, the likelihood of a miscalculation increases.
GATS (on camera): At this conference the United States is not pressing the case that China is a growing threat. Instead, it is taking the low key approach, hoping to encourage more Chinese cooperation.
One positive sign, said U.S. officials, is that China has sent the head of its military intelligence, Lieutenant General Zhang Qinsheng, to attend the gathering, something it hasn't done in recent years.
Jamie McIntyre, CNN, Singapore.
DOBBS: And coming up next, many Americans are turning their backs on the Republican and Democratic parties. They're declaring themselves independents. We'll have a special report on the impact of this powerful shift away from two parties on the presidential election campaign of 2008. Also, Senator Hillary Clinton apparently selling out some interest in her battle to win the Democratic Party's nomination. We'll have that story.
Pro-amnesty Republicans, such as Senator Lindsey Graham, well, they're having something of a hard time selling that grand compromise and their perspective to the constituents who put them in office. We'll have that special report on the good senator.
Stay with us. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: Senator Hillary Clinton is under fire for comments she made last night in California. Appearing before a crowd of executives in Silicon Valley, Senator Clinton spoke out in support of bringing in even more cheap foreign labor.
Casey Wian has the report.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Senator Hillary Clinton told Silicon Valley executives she wants to create more high- tech jobs in the United States. But for now, she's advocating more of those jobs go to immigrants from India and China.
That remark was interrupted with the loudest applause heard during her campaign speech.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am reaffirming my commitment to the H1-B visa and increasing the current cap. So let's just face the fact that foreign skilled workers contribute greatly to what we have to do in being innovators.
WIAN: Already, corporate America has used up its allotment of H1-B visas for 2008, 65,000 high-tech workers and another 20,000 with advanced degrees. Clinton did not specify how many more foreign workers she would allow, but she did propose ideas for creating more home-grown technology talent.
CLINTON: We need to treat our young scientists and engineers with respect and provide real rewards. They should know that our country needs them, because, in fact, we do.
WIAN: Those ideas included national standards for math and science education, more funding for National Science Foundation grants and even a reality television show to bring what she called sex appeal to science and math.
But perhaps the Senator should begin with the basics, such as spelling. On the same day a 13-year-old from nearby Danville, California, was crowned national spelling bee champion...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are correct for the championship. WIAN: ... behind Senator Clinton, as she spoke of the need for more education, a slogan reading "New Jobs for Tommorrow (sic)", but tomorrow is spelled incorrectly, with two "M's." For the record, Senator, it's T-O-M-O-R-R-O-W.
WIAN: The Silicon Valley leadership group which hosted the speech says the graphic for that misspelled banner came from the Clinton campaign. The campaign did not return our call seeking comment on the gaffe -- Lou.
DOBBS: Well, maybe they could open up -- maybe they should use one of those H1-B visas, bring in a scholar for the senator.
That's incredible. The Senator is certainly one of those most well-read and well-informed of the candidates. She is -- and I don't know if you had the opportunity to talk with the campaign -- is she unaware that 7 out of 10 of those H1-B visas are going to Indian companies for outsourcing? Is she aware that four out of five of those jobs are level one, not level four, high school jobs?
WIAN: We didn't get a chance to speak with the Clinton campaign. They didn't return our phone calls.
But what I can tell you is that one of the folks who was -- one of the executives in attendance at that speech says the group -- the executives in Silicon Valley are getting tired of candidates treating Silicon Valley like an ATM. So perhaps Senator Clinton is giving them a hint of a return on their investment, Lou.
DOBBS: Well, I'm sure the ATM aspect of it is not -- is not something she's given up on either. But it looks like it is a straightforward swap. But not one that makes a lot of sense for the American worker. Thank you very much, Casey Wian.
DOBBS: Let's take a look at some of your thoughts now.
Philip of California said, "They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Time to get out the straightjackets for Congress."
Michael in North Carolina: "President Bush's statement today regarding the so-called immigration reform bill reminded me of a used car salesman trying to sell me a true lemon."
Jeff in Kentucky: "Bush keeps saying there is no way to enforce the law and round up millions of illegal aliens. Does that mean if there are enough people breaking the law, say like not paying taxes, that they won't bother enforcing those laws either?"
We'll have more of your thoughts here later in the broadcast. Send us your thoughts at LouDobbs.com. As we've reported here, the number of Americans who identify themselves as independent voters is on the rise. According to an average of CNN/Opinion Research Corporation polls, this year, 42 percent of Americans now consider themselves to be independent.
Thirty-three percent identify themselves as Democrats. Twenty- five percent now say they are Republicans.
Candy Crowley joins me from New Hampshire, the site of this weekend's presidential debates, and has more on the rise of the independent -- Candy.
Candy Crowley, can you hear me?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I can hear you, Lou. I heard you talking about the numbers. And it basically mirrors what's going on here in election.
A lot of talk in elections years, as you know, about Republicans and Democrats. But here in New Hampshire, it is independents that carry the day. Consider that in 1980, the Ronald Reagan era was beginning. New Hampshire was a solidly conservative Republican state.
Mighty number of things have changed since then, Lou. We now have the situation where Republican membership is declining in New Hampshire. Democratic membership going up a bit.
But there are about 43 percent of New Hampshirites who consider themselves to be independents. Of those, about 70 percent say they will be voting in the Democratic primary this year, meaning they had a huge, huge opportunity here to help select who will be the next president of the United States.
As a result, what you see is all of these Democratic campaigns out there playing to the independent vote of New Hampshire. We see an increasingly anti-war and increasingly anti-Bush flavor to the campaigns of Democrats.
Now, Republicans will tell you, Lou, that they believe that independents do not make up their minds until the very end, and there is a lot of data that does suggest that.
But one of the -- one of the candidates here who is really hurt, apparently, by the independents going over to the Democratic side is John McCain. Because as you know, he had a huge victory here in 2000 when the independents flocked to him. Now, because of his war stance, he may be losing those independents.
DOBBS: Candy, the -- the role of the independent in New Hampshire, if they're going to express themselves through the Democratic primary, are we to infer from that, then, that they're going to basically, all but 30 percent abandon -- abandon the Democrats, move over to the Republicans?
CROWLEY: Well, you know, it will be interesting to see exactly how this plays out. As you know, in New Hampshire, independents can vote in either primary that they want. They just come in and show their independent card and vote in whatever primary there is.
Now the 30 percent that are left could still be in play. Independents, like Republicans and Democrats, seem to switch back and forth between candidates.
There is some data from the University of New Hampshire here that shows that a lot of this is coming from John McCain. The McCain camp, again, will tell you that, look, independents are like other voters. They don't make up their minds till the last minute.
DOBBS: Well, that last minute is a long ways away.
CROWLEY: It is, isn't it?
DOBBS: Thank you very much. Candy Crowley from Manchester, New Hampshire.
DOBBS: And this Sunday, CNN, WMUR and the "New Hampshire Union Leader" will be presenting the first of the two presidential debates. Be sure to join us for our special coverage. It begins Sunday evening with a special two-hour edition of this broadcast at 5 p.m. Eastern.
The Democratic candidates to debate one another vigorously immediately after our broadcast. That begins at 7 p.m. And Republicans face off next Tuesday.
We'll be broadcasting live from New Hampshire for both debates. You don't want to miss this.
Up next, Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the masters of the universe behind the grand compromise for amnesty, is trying to push that bill now on his voters. And how are his constituents responding to his hard sell? We'll tell you.
And a warning tonight about communist toothpaste from China. The toothpaste may contain toxic chemicals. Just the latest in a long list of contaminated products originating in China. We'll have the story. We'll tell you what your government is doing to protect you.
Stay with us. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: The architects of this new grand compromise on illegal immigration legislation are having a tough time selling that bill to their constituents. Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the handful of outspoken Republicans who helped in the efforts, spent the week defending that measure in his home state of South Carolina.
Andrea Koppel tells us how it went.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: What's in season? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Strawberries.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): But Senator Lindsey Graham wasn't really looking to buy. He'd come to the Greenville farmer's market to sell.
GRAHAM: The best thing I can do for South Carolina and this country is taking a broken immigration system that nobody can understand and rely upon and make it work.
KOPPEL: Work for many South Carolinians usually means farming, peanuts, vegetables or fruit. Agriculture is the state's second largest industry. It depends on cheap foreign labor.
Just days before the Senate resumes debate on immigration reform, which could allow up to 200,000 temporary workers a year into the U.S., Graham's pitch? Passing the bill is critical to South Carolina's economy.
GRAHAM: It is in jeopardy if we do not act quickly to make sure that the farmers of the future can have the work force they need.
KOPPEL: A work face essential to farmers like Carlos Wingard, who says he supports Graham, even though the bill is far from perfect.
CARLOS WINGARD, VEGETABLE FARMER: We're willing to give up some of what we want so we can get a workable program to get -- for us to get affordable labor into the country.
KOPPEL: But just down the street, truck driver Steve Zehr wasn't buying it.
STEVE ZEHR, TRUCK DRIVER: You can put all the spin on it you want, it's still amnesty and it still stinks.
KOPPEL: This may be Republican conservative country, but that didn't stop Republicans at the party state convention from booing Graham last month because he struck a deal on the immigration proposal with liberal Democrats like Senator Ted Kennedy.
GRAHAM: There are some people tell me, I'll never vote for you again if you do this. Well, if I based every decision as a senator on that statement, I would do nothing. So what I'm going to do is lead.
KOPPEL (on camera): Still, Graham confidently predicts that when the bill goes to a vote in the Senate this month, it will pass. But between now and then, he and other lawmakers will have to do a lot more selling.
Andrea Koppel, CNN, Washington.
DOBBS: Senator Graham's colleague from the state of South Carolina, Senator Jim DeMint, says that bill could be a disaster for the Republican Party. He opposes the amnesty legislation, saying it undermines the rule of law in this country.
Up next here, President Bush intimates Americans are afraid of diversity. Who in the world does he think he's talking to? We are the most diverse nation on the planet. We'll have that special report.
And Democratic and Republican presidential candidates preparing for their election debates. We'll preview the debates with three of the country's best political analysts. And we'll try to figure out what in the world the president is thinking.
And we'll tell you about that toothpaste from communist China and why this country's consumers get a warning on it two weeks after a lot of the other folks in this hemisphere.
Stay with us. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: The latest rhetoric from President Bush appears to be turning the debate on illegal immigration and his reform legislation into a debate over race and diversity.
If that bill should become law, the nation's immigration bureaucracy may not be able to handle the demand.
Bill Tucker reports on the president's taking of the fight personally, as he pressures his conservative base for support, after insulting them. Lisa Sylvester reports on why -- the Customs and Immigration Service will be able to deal with an unexpected crush of visa applicants.
But, first, we turn to Lisa Sylvester -- Lisa.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, we have a situation here with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, where they are just overwhelmed with applications. They have managed to go through a backlog of past applications, but now they have the prospect of having to deal with a new immigration plan. And many critics are wondering how they will manage it all.
SYLVESTER (voice-over): If the Senate bill becomes law, as many as 20 million illegal aliens would be given immediate probationary status. And each would be eligible to apply for a new Z visa.
The federal government would have to check when those millions of illegal aliens enter the country their work histories, conduct background checks, and collect the appropriate fines and fees. Sounds like a lot of work? That's not all.
The federal government would also have to process tens of thousands of guest workers and their families, under the Y visa program, tracking when they entered, how long they can stay, and whether their visas can be extended. Most of the work will fall on the federal agency the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
DR. STEVEN CAMAROTA, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: The immigration bureaucracy, if this bill goes through, is going to be hit with a tsunami of paperwork. And there's no indication that they're able to handle it.
SYLVESTER: USCIS Director Emilio Gonzalez, in an interview in March, admitted, they're working with antiquated computers and technology.
EMILIO GONZALEZ, U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES DIRECTOR: We need to modernize. We need better facilities. We need better training. We need better technology. All that has a price tag.
SYLVESTER: USCIS is seeking a fee increase to handle its existing workload, independent of the current immigration proposal.
On the Senate floor, Senator Jeff Sessions urged his colleagues last week not to pass legislation that is unworkable and will swamp the system.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R-AL), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: We have been passing bills. They have had loophole after loophole, gimmick after gimmick, impossibility after impossibility. And they have never worked.
SYLVESTER: Worst-case scenario, according to Sessions and other critics, will be if the applications are merely rubber-stamped, and a terrorist slips through the mountains of paperwork.
SYLVESTER: And that actually did happen after the 1986 amnesty. An Egyptian illegal alien who was working as a New York taxi driver submitted an application for amnesty as an agricultural worker.
His application was approved, and he later was convicted for helping plan the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center -- Lou.
DOBBS: The idea that the CIS, the -- the Citizenship and Immigration Service, can't handle this, why is there this apparent disregard for that fact in the executive branch?
It's been -- by the way, we should take some count. Over the past six years, this president, his administration has had the ability to fix this, and hasn't even come close.
SYLVESTER: There's a real disconnect between what members of the Senate are talking about and reality here. And many people who watch and observe the process, we -- we all know that it's going to be very difficult for USCIS to be up and running and to process these applications.
And that's why many people fear that this will be a rubber- stamped process, and that there won't be the scrutiny that this really deserves.
DOBBS: In other words, another part of a piece of legislation that now has 100 amendments already that is laughable on its face.
Lisa, thank you very much -- Lisa Sylvester from Washington.
The debate on illegal immigration, border security and what to do about it all appears to be, in some quarters, turning in to be a debate over race.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Bill Tucker has our report.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president is making it personal, even though he says he doesn't want to.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will do my best to make sure that this debate does not denigrate into name- calling.
TUCKER: President Bush has been striking a different tone in interviews with reporters, telling "The Houston Chronicle" -- quote -- "The truth of the matter is, a lot of this immigration debate is driven as a result of Latinos being in our country" -- in blunter words, if you oppose the immigration bill, you're a racist.
REP. TED POE (R), TEXAS: This bill has nothing to do with race. It has everything to do with legalizing illegal conduct. The whole word, key word, is people are in the United States illegally.
TUCKER: The issue of race was underscored again at a news conference on Friday.
BUSH: America must not fear diversity. We ought to welcome diversity.
TUCKER: Perhaps someone should explain to the president, we are a diverse country. One in every three Americans is considered a minority. Latinos make up 14.8 percent, followed by blacks at 13.4 percent, and Asians at almost 5 percent.
The United States issued almost half-a-million immigrant visas last year to people from literally every country, as well as another 5.8 million non-immigrant visas, including students and guest workers; 1.25 million people also became legal permanent residents last year, the majority of those from Mexico.
The founder of the group You Don't Speak For Me feels betrayed by the president's comments.
ALBERT RODRIGUEZ, FOUNDER, YOU DON'T SPEAK FOR ME: He calls everyone that is opposed to the amnesty bill that he created a racist.
Well, let me tell you, Mr. President, I'm not a racist, as you can see. I'm part of this great nation, a patriot of this nation.
TUCKER: Over 600,000 foreign nationals became naturalized U.S. citizens in 2005.
TUCKER: The simple, straightforward message is, race is not the issue. Legality is -- Lou.
DOBBS: Legality and a president who thinks he has to instruct.
I mean, I -- I don't know how out of touch this president is. But, for him to sit there before that group of people and say that Americans should even consider diversity as an issue -- this is the most diverse society on Earth. And to speak in that patronizing, condescending, and, frankly, in my judgment, inarticulate fashion of his, whether it's studied or just a reflection of his own talent at speaking, it is, I think, just reprehensible.
And I can't even imagine what this administration, this president is -- I can't imagine what they're thinking. But it sure as heck isn't about anything that -- about a country that -- that I know. And we're going to be dealing with that issue here later.
Bill Tucker, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
That brings us to the subject of our poll: Do you believe the, as president intimated, that Americans fear diversity, yes or no? Cast your vote, please, at LouDobbs.com. We will have the results here in just a few moments.
One of the architects of the 1986 amnesty law is Senator Alan Simpson. He joined me here last night. And I asked him to take a look at the current legislation. And he laid out the problem rather succinctly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Let's put this in the context of the 1986 immigration -- the amnesty. I have said -- created just a straightforward syllogism. I have said, you can't reform immigration laws in this country if you can't control immigration.
And you can't control immigration if you don't control our borders and our ports. And I have said that, if anyone will defeat the logic of that syllogism, I will sign on to whatever the heck they have got to offer.
What do you think?
ALAN SIMPSON, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Well, I will buy the -- I will buy the drinks at Cassie's Supper Club, too...
SIMPSON: ... because that is absolutely correct.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: That from one of the two principal architects of the 1986 amnesty legislation, and one of the finest and, I think, most respected senators to serve on Capitol Hill.
One more consequence of our open-borders policy and illegal immigration crisis is garbage, lots of garbage. You hear environmentalists talk about not wanting to build a fence along our southern border for environmental reasons.
Well, get this. Cleanup crews in southern Arizona have hauled about 250,000 pounds of trash -- that's a quarter-of-a-million pounds of garbage -- away from the border area. But that figure, according to federal authorities, represents 1 percent of the estimated now 25 million pounds of trash dropped by illegal aliens crossing the border from Mexico.
Environmentalists, by the way, who are concerned about the impact of that border fence might take a look at the reality on the ground as we face it now.
The Food and Drug Administration tonight is warning consumers not to use toothpaste from communist China. That toothpaste may contain a poisonous ingredient, DEG. Its primary use is in antifreeze and solvents.
The FDA advises consumers to throw away all toothpaste that is labeled entitled "Made in China." The FDA decided to examine the products two weeks after several other nations in this hemisphere banned the toothpaste, seeking to protect their consumers.
The FDA intercepted one shipment of toothpaste entering this country that contained DEG. Some retail sampling turned up products with the poison.
Some of the brands in the FDA warning include Cooldent Fluoride, Cooldent Spearmint, Dr. Cool, and Everfresh Toothpaste. They're generally sold at discount retailers.
For more on this alert, please go to our Web site, LouDobbs.com. And we have laid out the products that are suspected of containing this toxic ingredient.
And thank you, again, FDA.
Up next: the presidential candidates preparing for the New Hampshire debates. Three of the best political analysts in the country join me next.
And, later, "Heroes," our weekly tribute to our men and women in uniform who serve this nation. This week, we introduce you to Sergeant Micheaux Sanders, a great story.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: The Republican National Committee has decided to fire all of its telephone solicitors -- the RNC facing a 40 percent drop in small-donor contributions and an aging phone bank, we're told, that is also too costly to update -- all of its phone solicitors out of work immediately -- "The Washington Times" reporting, donors are rebelling against the Republican Party support of the president's amnesty proposals.
Joining me now, three of the very best Republican strategists, former White House political director Ed Rollins, Michael Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, "New York Daily News," Democratic strategist, Democratic National Committee man Robert Zimmerman.
And your candidate can't spell?
ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: My candidate spells very well.
ZIMMERMAN: But, you know, Lou, the issue here was -- Hillary Clinton's very committed to maintaining educational standards. And this was a very good way of highlighting the need to have standardized testing.
DOBBS: So, she brought on to her campaign somebody who was at sort of remedial reading?
ZIMMERMAN: Look at this way. There was No Child Left Behind. Now there's no advance man left behind. That will be the next proposal.
DOBBS: And your Republican National Committee can't raise money? ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, they can raise money. But, when the small donors start backing away, that's -- that's more effective than a poll.
And I saw it when I was running the Congressional Committee when Bush's father broke the tax pledge, and that just something that had been built up over 20 years just stopped overnight. And that is what is happening today. Republicans at the grassroots are very unhappy about this immigration bill.
DOBBS: Why is this president and this Democratic leadership -- and I don't care what any one of these men or women involved in this say -- we have statements of fact and we have statements of estimate and forecast. We have statements of analysis.
They know that this is junk. Why are they pushing it?
MICHAEL GOODWIN, "THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": Well, I think it's -- they're both acting out of weakness, Lou.
I think that both -- the Democratic leadership in Congress doesn't have much to show for its election victory last year. And President Bush, of course, is so low in the polls, that his pants are showing. So, I think that both sides are kind of grasping at straws. They're hugging each other, trying to get something done.
And, so, it's in their interest, the leaders, to get it done, but it may not be in America's interest.
DOBBS: The -- and the Democratic leadership in the Senate, hell- bent on pushing this thing through, with the same cast of characters who ramrodded the 1986 amnesty legislation, with the signature of President Reagan, how stupid do -- do these people think, the Democratic leadership, the Republican White House -- I mean, is this just an effort to insult every American?
ZIMMERMAN: You know, I think Mike makes a very good point. This is about political leadership wanting a deal more than they want a good result. And I think that's the problem here.
And I think Democrats are missing a very unique opportunity to highlight their commitment to border and port security, because they're now being tarred with this bill, which is, by every standard, unworkable.
I was with a group of moderate and conservative freshman Democrats, and they were -- in the House -- and they were quite clear that they felt this bill was going down. And Speaker Pelosi said, she's not moving on it until there are 70 Republicans lining up for it.
DOBBS: Alan Simpson last night, the author of -- the co-author of the 1986 amnesty legislation that became law, I mean, he laughs at this thing.
ROLLINS: Well, I have heard him privately say it was the worst thing he ever did.
And I think Alan is a very decent man. And I think he did it for...
ROLLINS: And I fought -- fought very hard and long with him over that bill.
But, at the end of the day, it did not work. And it's still the law of the land. And it did not work.
ROLLINS: And I think the reality here is, I feel there's no guarantee that they're going to basically spend money on the border security.
This -- Bush and his team want the 12 million illegals to have citizenship. And, after that, it doesn't matter.
ROLLINS: They will never appropriate -- 12 or whatever -- they will never appropriate the funds, just as he promised to put 10,000 more border people on, when there's 2,000 a year supposed to go, and he puts money in for 200.
And he's actually, we might point out, sending a couple of hundred to Iraq for border security.
ROLLINS: I didn't realize that the security -- that people were trying to get into Iraq illegally. I didn't realize that was the big issue, which is -- I thought people were trying to get out.
DOBBS: Well, and they're also going to -- they need another 200 for security for all the candidates running for president. What are we up to now?
ZIMMERMAN: I think Senator Simpson made a point in your interview last night, where he said the best -- the country with the best border security is Mexico.
GOODWIN: On the southern border.
ZIMMERMAN: That's right. That's right.
ROLLINS: I still go back -- I made the point here, 60,000 people were hired instantaneously for the transportation and safety administration to go through your luggage at the airports. If we were serious about our borders, we could have hired 10,000 and 15,000 in a heartbeat.
DOBBS: Are we serious about government in this country? Because, I have to tell you, when I watch what is happening in this administration -- and I'm talking about political, as well as governing -- when I watch what is happening with various agencies, whether it's the FDA, the USDA, we have got Central American countries taking better care of their consumers, in the instance of the communist Chinese toothpaste, than the United States Food and Drug Administration.
What in the world are we doing here?
GOODWIN: Well, listen, I think the nondenominational argument against George Bush is incompetence. I don't think you have to be a Democrat to think that's he's -- an incompetent administration.
And I think that is the large problem. You pick up almost any rock in the federal government now, and you're going to find a mess. And, so, I think that, more than anyone else, is undermining respect for government, trust in government. And I think that's what the next president is going to have to try to fix, is be a competent administrator, as well as a great leader.
ZIMMERMAN: But I think the good news is that the American people take their government seriously. And you're looking at a record level of interest in this upcoming presidential election. And I think that is very important.
DOBBS: You think they're taking a real interest?
ZIMMERMAN: You look at the record number of donations in both parties, record number of contributors, the extraordinary viewership...
ZIMMERMAN: ... behind these debates, yes.
ROLLINS: They're counting down the days to Inauguration Day. And it's 598, in case you were interested.
GOODWIN: Well, I think the interest is great. I'm just not sure that we're ever going to get back to sort of holding the feet to the fire...
GOODWIN: ... on routine things.
I mean, I think that...
GOODWIN: Somebody's going to have to rebuild the government -- governmental infrastructure...
GOODWIN: ... after -- in Homeland Security and those sorts of things.
DOBBS: Look, when you have got Michael Chertoff spending his time lobbying Congress on all sorts of presidential initiatives, instead of securing the -- I refuse to say the homeland -- instead of securing this nation's borders and maintaining our sovereignty, we have got a major issue.
DOBBS: But let's go to that issue of independence. As Candy Crowley reported in New Hampshire, that number is rising, the number of Republicans declining. And there's been a slight uptick in Democrats. Nationwide, as we reported, it's rising.
Is that really -- and I will tell you, it seems to me that...
ROLLINS: Here's where it's critical.
John McCain won the New Hampshire primary in 2000, because independents voted for him overwhelmingly. Every independent up there, 80 percent, are now saying they're going to vote in the Democratic primary.
Once you vote in a primary, once you vote for someone, the inclination is to vote again in the fall for that person you voted for.
ROLLINS: And a great young senator like John Sununu basically is sitting up there, and going to be very vulnerable, I think, to this independent surge that is there.
ROLLINS: And McConnell or anybody else can say, we're not...
DOBBS: Even though he has been, I think it must be fairly said, very independent in his action.
ROLLINS: He has. He's a great...
ROLLINS: But McConnell saying, we're not going to lose a single Senate seat, well, these guys didn't think they were going to lose any Senate seats the last time.
ROLLINS: And they're in the minority again.
DOBBS: Well, they didn't -- you know, McConnell and the boys didn't think they were going to lose a seat. And First...
DOBBS: ... they threw away how many House seats, and let the House take the -- the rap.
ZIMMERMAN: Well, New Hampshire had historic Democratic gains in 2006. And I think the important point is, even if registering independent, the point is, they're involved and they're taking a role. And that's what counts.
DOBBS: You get the last word.
GOODWIN: Well, look, I hope turnout is high in all these primaries. I hope a lot of people do come out.
GOODWIN: But I think it doesn't end with the election. I think that's what we have discovered...
GOODWIN: ... is, we have to stay on top of them all the time.
DOBBS: I join you in that hope for the turnout to be high.
But, before that, I hope that we have a choice of candidates who are highly -- highly qualified, motivated, and are concerned about truth, justice, and the American way. That -- and then we will -- then I will worry about the
GOODWIN: Hear, hear.
DOBBS: Then I will worry about that darned turnout.
Thanks. Appreciate it, Robert, Michael. Thank you, Ed.
DOBBS: A reminder to vote in our poll: Do you believe, as the president intimates, that Americans fear diversity? Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We will have the results here in just a few moments.
Up next: "Heroes," our tribute to our men and women in uniform serving the nation -- tonight, the remarkable story of a remarkable man.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: And now "Heroes," our weekly tribute to the men and women who serve this nation in uniform.
Tonight, we want you to meet Sergeant Micheaux Sanders. He risked his life in battle to save his comrades just days before he was due to leave Iraq.
Kitty Pilgrim has his story.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sergeant Micheaux Sanders joined the army two weeks after he graduated from high school. He was sent to Iraq right after basic training.
SERGEANT MICHEAUX SANDERS, U.S. ARMY: I tried not to think about it when I was there. I had to go day by day. I accomplished every mission for that said day. The time goes by faster.
PILGRIM: As a tank loader, the first six months of his tour were relatively quiet. But then it all changed.
SANDERS: Insurgents started coming out, and rallying them up, wanting us to get out of Iraq. They started attacking us. So, once that started happening, we started getting more -- into more and more conflicts.
PILGRIM: Just four days before he was to leave Iraq, a major attack again.
SANDERS: That day, we were all relaxing, packing our bags, getting ready to go. We get a call from 1st Cav. A unit had got ambushed in Sadr City.
PILGRIM: So, they rode out to rescue their comrades.
SANDERS: The Humvee is turned over. You had -- cars were blocking the road, so we couldn't get through, had people on the roofs shooting at us, grenades getting thrown at us, RPGs getting shot at us. Anything they had, they used against us.
PILGRIM: The battle raged for hours.
SANDERS: We were out of ammunition through about the third time going through. We were out there with no ammunition, still fighting. Picked up a rock, and started throwing them, until we were out of rocks. PILGRIM: Nothing stopped Sergeant Sanders, not even a gunshot wound to the arm.
SANDERS: But they were trying to keep me on base, so I couldn't go back out. I told them, no, they got to keep on fighting.
PILGRIM: They fought until they rescued their men. Sergeant Sanders has since served a second tour in Iraq, and expects to return again in 2008. He fights for those soldiers who have been killed.
SANDERS: It motivates me to go back and keep fighting harder and harder to honor their memory. That's all we can do while we're out there.
PILGRIM: Kitty Pilgrim, CNN.
DOBBS: Sergeant Sanders received the Purple Heart. He was awarded the Silver Star for his brave conduct.
Coming up next here: the results of our poll, more of your thoughts.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight, 93 percent of you responding that Americans do not fear diversity, as the president intimated in his remarks today.
Let's take a look at some of your thoughts.
James in California: "Lou, when did you change to a comedy news hour? With all the insane logic people throw at you, your responses make me laugh at their ignorance. Keep up the good work."
And Darrel in Illinois: "Lou, if you're being attacked by the far left or far right, you're doing something right for this country. Keep up the good work."
We will sure try.
Thank you for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow.
Thanks for watching. And, for all us, we wish you a very pleasant weekend. Good night from New York.
"THE SITUATION ROOM" begins now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou.
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