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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

Debate Over Driver's Licenses for Illegal Aliens

Aired November 29, 2007 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Wolf.
Tonight we're reporting on a new study showing the United States is the most welcoming nation in the world. But a third of our immigrant population now is in this country illegally. We'll have that report.

And eight states give driving privileges to illegal aliens despite what is nothing less than a national outcry against the practice. Incredibly other states want to join, but a governor in the Midwest says not in my state. He'll be among my guests tonight.

And China's rising trade surplus. Toxic exports and an aggressive military buildup, so what is Washington, D.C.'s response? It's allowing China to dictate U.S. policy; all of that, all of today's news and much more, straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Thursday, November 29. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. The radical Islamists of Iran's Revolutionary Guard will be taking charge of Iran's naval operations in the Persian Gulf. The United States has labeled the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, now the group will be sharing Gulf waters with U.S. Navy ships.

And President Bush today warned Democrats in Congress that failure to fund our military could soon force cutbacks in military operations. The president demanding Congress approve funding before the Christmas recess. We begin our coverage tonight with Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Lou, it is not just that the U.S. Navy is now sailing in the same waters as Iran. There are real concerns here at the Pentagon about keeping a vital waterway open.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR (voice-over): Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, the most radical wing of its military is now taking charge of Iran's naval operations in the strategic waters of the Persian Gulf. That news was disclosed by the Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during a visit to the Army War College.

ADMIRAL MICHAEL MULLEN, CHAIRMAN OF JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: It has got two navies. One is IRGC-led and the other is Iranian Navy and essentially to give the entire Gulf to the IRGC over the next four or five years. That's a big deal because I think part of the leading edge challenge with Iran is the IRGC.

STARR: The U.S. has labeled Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization and levied sanctions for its involvement in Iran's nuclear program as well as smuggling weapons into Iraq and Afghanistan. Mullen has reason to worry. Near the sensitive Iraqi oil terminals IRGC troops are occupying a sunken barge using it as observation post. One-fifth of the world's oil supply passes through the narrow Strait of Hormuz and Iran's ability to shut down the passage is improving.

MICHAEL O'HANLON, THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: You would need anti-ship cruise missiles, maybe some quite diesel submarines, maybe some undersea mines the sorts of things that a paramilitary organization like the Revolutionary Guard might well be able to handle.

STARR: U.S. concerns date back to March when the IRGC seized 15 British Marines and sailors who were conducting routine ship inspections. Now when the U.S. Navy or other coalition troops board merchant ships an armed helicopter flies overhead and a heavily armed patrol boat is nearby.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: Mullen has made it clear he still wants a diplomatic solution to the problems with Iran but privately senior U.S. military commanders say there's plenty of U.S. military fire power to challenge Iran if it comes to that. Lou.

DOBBS: Barbara, thank you very much; Barbara Starr from the Pentagon.

President Bush today met with military officials at the Pentagon. President Bush warning Congress of the dire consequences of its failure to fund our military and one of his strongest challenges yet of the Democratic leadership of Congress the president said that Congress should approve a spending bill without strings and before the Christmas recess. Ed Henry has our report from the White House. Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the president ripping into Democrats for dragging their feet, essentially charging that American lives are now at risk because the Pentagon is trying to stop a terror attack what he called, quote, "another day of destruction on American shores". Democrats have been pushing a plan, as you know, the give the president another $50 billion in war funding for Iraq and Afghanistan but only if Mr. Bush agrees to a provision that says most U.S. troops will be pulled out of Iraq by the end of 2008.

Mr. Bush of course will not agree to that. And he said it's time to get the money to the troops without any strings attached. The president asserting that Defense Secretary Robert Gates can only shift money in various Pentagon accounts for so long saying that basically Mr. Gates will soon have to start laying off civilian employees and freezing some defense contracts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Pentagon officials have warned Congress that the continued delay in funding our troops will soon begin to have a damaging impact on the operations of this department. The warning has been laid out for the United States Congress to hear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: Now, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid fired back that if the president really wants to get the money to the troops he should be ready and prepared to sign a bill that would also start sending them home re-declaring quote, "Bush Republicans have indefinitely committed our military to a civil war that has taken a tremendous toll on our troops", but the president at the Pentagon today said that now at a time when the U.S. military is making security gains on the ground in Iraq is not the time to be delaying this funding. Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Ed; Ed Henry from the White House.

Outrage in Congress tonight over communist China's recent refusal to allow U.S. Navy ships to stop in Hong Kong. Congressman Duncan Hunter, ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee and a Republican candidate for president wants the White House to take the threat posed by communist China seriously and to respond accordingly.

Congressman Hunter said in a letter to the president that these latest incidents show that "China is embarking on a new more confrontational relationship with the United States and we need to be prepared. Your upcoming fiscal year 2009 budget must include an appropriate investment in technologies to ensure our military remains prepared to meet the challenges that we will face with a China that has become more aggressive militarily."

Congressman Hunter, as I mentioned is the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee and so far he has not been paid the courtesy of a response by the White House.

Turning now to the war in Iraq. Insurgents in Iraq have killed another of our troops. A soldier killed by small arms fire in Baghdad. The other soldier killed in a vehicle accident. Thirty-six of our troops have been killed in Iraq so far this month; 3,880 of our troops have been killed since the war began; 28,582 of our troops have been wounded; 12,804 of them seriously.

The U.S. backed president of Pakistan sworn in today as a civilian president, a day after he gave up command of his country's army. President Musharraf promising to lift the state of emergency next month. Musharraf said elections would take place in January. Musharraf imposed emergency rule earlier this month creating a crisis that threatened Pakistan's stability. President Bush praised Musharraf for giving up his military post. The White House concerned that instability in Pakistan would indeed threaten the global fight against radical Islamist terrorists. Rising opposition today to the policies of Venezuela's anti- American president, Hugo Chavez. Tens of thousands of Venezuelans flooded the streets of Caracas. Caracas jammed with marchers opposing a referendum that would eliminate term limits for Chavez effectively turning the country over to him and turning the country into a socialist state.

The referendum scheduled for final conclusion Sunday; rallies for it against the referendum have been taking place across Venezuela as Chavez pushes for total control of Venezuela's government.

Coming up here next, America, the most welcoming nation in the world still and according to a new study many immigrants are taking advantage of our welcome. Bill Tucker is here with our report. Bill.

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, record numbers of immigrants and some very disturbing trends. The details are coming up. Lou.

DOBBS: Bill, thank you very much.

And Senator Hillary Clinton wants the federal government to speed up the citizenship process. She warns of prejudice unless that doesn't happen -- unless it is happening. We'll have the story and the illegal alien drug smuggler whose testimony sent two border patrol agents to prison today back in court. We'll tell you what happened.

Stay with us. We continue in one moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Well, the presidential candidates in both political parties have now discovered that illegal immigration is a critical and important issue for Americans and anyone who doubts that illegal immigration is a tremendous and rapidly escalating crisis need only look at the most recent study of Census Bureau numbers. That study shows this nation is experiencing the highest level of immigration legal and illegal in three generations. And as Bill Tucker now reports more than half of the 10 million people arriving in the United States over the past seven years have arrived here illegally.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TUCKER (voice-over): No other nation is as welcoming to immigrants as the United States. Thirty-eight million people living in the country are immigrants. That's one out of every eight Americans. Not since the days of Ellis Island have immigrants represented so much of our population, but not all immigrants are here legally.

One-third of them are here unlawfully and since 2000, more than half of those entering the United States have been illegal aliens. The Center for Immigration Studies analyzed data collected by the Census Bureau in March of this year. The analysis is revealing and raises some tough questions. STEVEN CAMAROTA, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: When we looked at rates of poverty, health insurance coverage and welfare use, it reminds us that when people say all that matters is a willing worker and a willing employer. That's not all that matters. There are many other things.

TUCKER: Such as the impact on poverty rates, social services, health care and schools.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the things that has been going on in a lot of schools is a lot of overcrowding. And what we found was that in the last 20 years immigration accounts for all of the increase in school enrollment in the United States.

TUCKER: Twenty percent of illegal immigrants lack any health care insurance and all immigrants account for 71 percent of the uninsured since 1989. While immigrant households are more likely to have someone in the house with a job, the poverty rate is sharply higher in immigrant households than it is in native born households and one-third of immigrant households use it at least one welfare program. The primary reason for these problems comes down to a poor education. Since 2000, 35.5 percent of immigrants never finished high school. They are fit for only low wage, low skill jobs.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCKER: And that represents a huge shift in historic trends. Thirty years ago immigrants coming to this country were more likely to have a college degree than native born Americans. Lou, today that is clearly not the case.

DOBBS: Now who did this study?

TUCKER: The Center for Immigration Study looked at data provided by the Census Bureau, March...

DOBBS: Well I have to say that what I resent here on the part of the Census Bureau and the center is this conflation again of immigrants and illegal immigrants. Frankly, as we bring in people lawfully into this country, as a matter of public policy, I don't think any of us should care one way or the other about their education level, any of that, or the number of programs, social programs that are being employed.

The issue here is illegal immigration. This government, this federal government, and each of its agencies refuses to deal with the distinction between legal and illegal immigrants and we should never be a part of that conflation and that purposeful obfuscation on the part of those who are pro-amnesty, pro-open borders and pro-massive illegal immigration at any cost to the United States.

Those are dramatic numbers. But again, I just -- I'm deeply concerned that this Census Bureau, this federal government is not making a distinction between legal and lawful immigrants. Of course, more than two million people entering the country lawfully every year. Thank you very much. Bill Tucker. Senator Hillary Clinton tonight is demanding that the federal government speed up the process of U.S. citizenship. Right now applicants for naturalization have to wait at least a year and a half to become citizens of our nation. Senator Clinton says that's much too long.

In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, she warned against prejudice of perspective voters. "These delays, she said, are unacceptable. The senator writing, I urge you to devote all the necessary resources at your disposal to the prompt and efficient processing of these applications. These prospective citizens should not be prejudiced because the Department of Homeland Security failed to plan appropriately."

Now, I have no idea what the senator is trying to say there. But I can tell you this, she needs a new wordsmith. Any such delay, as the senator is talking about, of course, will keep many from voting in next November's elections. And apparently that's of some great concern to the senator, who, having served in the United States Senate now for some time might have taken note that the agency responsible for citizenship and immigration services agency has been a mismanaged, absolute disaster for years now.

And that naturalized citizens have been trying to contend with that -- those delays and frustration for some time while the senator and Senator Obama and others have been pushing for comprehensive immigration reform. Perhaps they might have considered doing something about that clumsy, poorly-led department within a clumsy and poorly-led Department of Homeland Security.

Let's take a look now at some of your thoughts. Geret in Nevada said, "Dear Lou, last night's presidential debate was nothing more than a joke. Major issues were purposely avoided. American citizens deserve better. Your common sense assessments are our only salvation." Thank you.

And Jenny in Georgia, "Do you think the congressional supporters of immigration amnesty would be as hospitable to me if I migrated to their back yard with my tent? Do you think they would open up their personal property border to me? I would just need a few services from them, water, electricity, occasional use of their shower, kitchen and medicine cabinet. Do you think they would give me a free pass to their country club? Why not, they seem so generous with our country's border."

And Al in Pennsylvania, "Lou, after many years of being a proud USMC veteran, a love of family and country, something still was missing. Our red and blue just don't get it. They must be blind, stupid, and deaf. I'm now becoming a good old red, white and blue Independent." Welcome aboard and we hope you'll think about it.

And we'll have more of your thoughts here later in the broadcast. Each of you whose e-mail is read here receives a copy of my new book, "Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit".

Coming up next, new twist in the case of two border patrol agents serving lengthy prison sentences convicted on the testimony of an illegal alien drug smuggler. We'll have that special report and illegal immigration flares up as the hottest issue in the Republican presidential race. The fireworks have begun. Let's see where it all leads.

All of that and much more as we continue here; stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: New developments tonight in the case of the imprisoned former border patrol agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean. The illegal alien drug smuggler who helped send those agents to prison will remain in jail, at least for now. At the same time, a federal judge has unsealed legal filings in the appeals of those two agents; documents that prove the serious miscarriage of justice in this case. Casey Wian has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Admitted drug smuggler Osvaldo Aldrete Davila will remain in an El Paso prison jumpsuit for at least another week. The illegal alien was shot by a former border patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean in 2005. Davila remained free until this month thanks to an immunity deal with Texas U.S. attorney Johnny Sutton who prosecuted the agents.

Prosecutors prevented jurors from hearing about two other drug loads Davila allegedly smuggled into the United States in addition to the 750 pounds of marijuana he was transporting the day he encountered the border patrol agents. Davila's testimony helped send Ramos and Compean to federal prison for more than a decade.

JOE LOYA, RAMOS FATHER-IN-LAW: If Johnny Sutton had arrested Mr. Davila 25 months ago as he could have and should have, we wouldn't be going through this and probably Ramos and Compean wouldn't be behind bars.

WIAN: Thursday an El Paso magistrate judge gave Davila's attorney a week to submit written arguments supporting bond for the drug smuggler. Meanwhile, the effort to free the agents continues in the New Orleans Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which this week unsealed legal filings in the case. Attorneys for Ramos and Compean allege several mistakes including the omission of Davila's drug smuggling history during the trail, the alleged misapplication of a law requiring a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for using a gun during a crime and accumulative effect of more than a dozen trial errors.

REP. TED POE (R), TEXAS: Our desire is that the court of appeals reverse the case; send it back for another trial where the jury gets to hear all of the evidence that the first jury was not entitled to hear.

WIAN: Former Texas Judge Poe and two other U.S. congressmen submitted a brief in the case concluding "the integrity and public reputation of the judicial proceedings in the trial have been put in jeopardy and cannot be allowed to stand."

Lawmakers have also started a letter-writing campaign to new Attorney General Michael Mukasey requesting he conduct quote, "a full- scale review to rectify this injustice."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WIAN: Ramos and Compean appeal will be heard Monday morning in New Orleans. Meanwhile, the drug smuggling case of Osvaldo Aldrete Davila is scheduled for December 20th and will be heard, Lou, by the same judge who presided over the convictions of the border patrol agents. Lou.

DOBBS: Well that judge who approved -- you know we -- who approved the sealing of those documents and that evidence has much to answer for. And the fact is we put up that there was an omission of Davila's drug-smuggling history. The fact is there was a suppression of that drug-smuggling history and an unconscionable suppression by both U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton and that federal judge.

WIAN: And it is the first issue raised in the appeals brief by the lawyers representing the border patrol agents. It's very clear that they think that this is a reason that this conviction can be thrown out and have a new trial for the agents, Lou.

DOBBS: Absolutely and the misapplication of the gun law against sworn law enforcement agents, it is mind-numbingly ridiculous that this U.S. attorney's office under Johnny Sutton prosecuted under that law and that the judge permitted it.

(CROSSTALK)

DOBBS: Every legislator we talked to in the United States Congress who was associated with that law and its creation has said exactly that.

WIAN: And so did Congressman Ted Poe, who we talked to today about that very issue. He is a former judge. He said they would be derelict in duty if they weren't carrying their weapons, those law enforcement officers. This law was intended to go after criminals, drug smugglers, not law enforcement officers in the line of duty, Lou.

DOBBS: Well there is every hope that this -- the appellate court will reverse this decision, send this back for retrial and a trial that will be fair and not the manufactured nonsense put forward by an over zealous deputy U.S. attorney general who was given freedom to carry out a malicious prosecution, a persecution in my judgment of these agents.

It's absolutely an outrage. And hopefully these two agents and their families will begin to move toward justice in this case, although it's difficult to find a way in which to hope that this system will begin to work, but we'll try and we will hope that there will be a resolution here soon for them. Casey...

WIAN: Absolutely. DOBBS: ... thank you very much. We appreciate it; Casey Wian reporting.

Coming up next, some states continuing the outrageous practice of giving away permits to drive to illegal aliens; we'll have a special report.

And the governor of the state of Missouri wants to do something about the issue. He joins us.

And illegal immigration heating up in the debate in the Republican presidential race, how about that. All of the presidential candidates now taking notice that the majority of American citizens favor border security and an end to illegal immigration; kind of nice. We'll have the report.

And the United States allowing communist China to dictate U.S. policy; we'll have that report and more straight ahead.

Stay with us. We're coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's proposal to give away New York drivers' licenses to illegal aliens was defeated several weeks ago. But other states are trying to give away driving privileges as well to illegal aliens and even as some of those states move to tighten up their requirements, others are trying to figure out a way to give special driving certificates to illegal aliens. Christine Romans has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The driver's license is the key to the kingdom in this country, to register to vote, purchase a gun, board an airplane or enter federal buildings.

BRIAN ZIMMER, COALITION FOR A SECURE DRIVER'S LICENSE: If you simply present a driver's license, there is an assumption that you are a lawful resident, or a U.S. resident.

ROMANS: The Coalition for a Secure Driver's License says states should not give drivers licenses to illegal aliens.

ZIMMER: Some of these states have been just really licensing machines and at least a couple of showing restraint.

ROMANS: Eight states provide official driving privileges to illegal aliens. Perhaps the most prolific, Oregon, is moving quickly to reverse the practice. And congress, Senator Norm Coleman, a Minnesota republican, has sponsored a bill to prevent any state from licensing anyone who cannot prove legal status. "Providing illegal immigrants with a driver's license affords them access to bank accounts, airline flights, and other resources that the 9-11 hijackers used to attack this nation." New York Congressman Pete King, also a republican, has introduced similar legislation in the house. But supporters of licenses for illegals, like Maryland State Senator Paul Pinksy, say these drivers are not terrorists and licensing them is a matter of public safety.

PAUL PINKSY, MARYLAND STATE SENATE: We in Maryland think those people are decent, reasonable people who have to get to work. If we say you can't have a license, are they going to stop driving? Will they not get auto insurance? Will they leave the scene of an auto accident?

ROMANS: Maryland has issued drivers licenses to illegal aliens for four years but the battle over drivers licenses may be shifting. Some states like Illinois are considering certificates instead of full-fledged licenses for illegal aliens. They could not be used for identification and would not be valid outside of the state.

Now, the Coalition for a Secure Drivers License says states are getting the message that it is time right now to toughen up standards and require proof of legal status for a driver's license. But what's happening here also is that states as well, some of them are moving instead to a certificate for people who can't prove legal residency as a way to get around the outrage from their constituents but still address what they say is a problem which is millions of people on the road.

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: I was just in Chicago as you know, and I will tell you the people in Chicago are a lot smarter than their governor, Mayor Daly is suggesting, and their little democratic machine there in that state. Everyone knows what is going on here in each of the states. Pinksy, the slate legislature there, he's being disingenuous. They know exactly what they're doing. They're giving defacto citizenship through credentialing, in this case with driver's licenses. It's got to be stopped. It's an outrage and affront to legal immigrants in this country, more than 2 million a year. It's an affront to American citizens. It's an affront to the rule of law.

ROMANS: Senator Pinksy in Maryland was pointing out that they've been doing it pretty much for four years without much of a fuss but that it's becoming more divisive in the state. He did admit that.

DOBBS: Divisive, it's wrong. I don't care what the device or division is, the fact is it's wrong. The public policy should be based on what is correct and lawful. It's that straightforward. Thank you very much, Christine. This is amazing. It's going to be interesting to see how this unfolds. Christine Romans, thank you.

That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. We want to know what you think. Would you support legislation that cuts off all federal money to states that give or does give licenses to illegal aliens? Yes or no? We'd like to hear from you. Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com Results upcoming.

Five weeks to the Iowa caucuses and illegal immigration has now emerged as, if not the most, one of the most but one of the most contentious debating points in the wide open republican race. It's already flared up in the democratic campaign. The r candidates addressing the issue in last night's face-off in Florida. It became the most watched primary debate in cable news history. Let's take a look at one exchange, one of the most heated of the night, between Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you take the holier than thou attitude that your whole approach to immigration was ...

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Immigration is not holier than thou it's the law.

GIULIANI: It jus so happens you have a special immigration problem that no one else here has. You were employing illegal immigrants. That's a pretty serious thing. They were under your nose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOBBS: Well Gloria Borger joins us now, our senior political analyst. That was a pretty strong exchange. Does Mitt Romney have such a problem?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Mitt Romney says that the person he employed to do his yard work or whatever it is, was somebody who may have hired illegal immigrants. He made the point in the debate last night, Lou, he said what do you want me to do, go up and see if they speak with a funny accent or something like that.

DOBBS: That's pretty silly.

BORGER: Well, yeah.

DOBBS: But then, again, silly would describe much of this presidential debate on the republican and democratic side.

BORGER: Lou, as you well know, immigration has become a real fault line in the Republican Party. I think it's about to become one in the Democratic Party as well. You saw that really played out in this debate last night. You saw between Romney and Giuliani, the two fellows fighting, one would argue the most likely guys fighting for the nomination, fighting over this issue which, by the way more than 80 percent of the voters in the state of Iowa say they care about. Obviously it became hot and heavy. You know that Romney has accused Giuliani of operating a sanctuary city, which is why Giuliani accused Romney of having a sanctuary mansion. That's the kind of level of the debate. It goes to a larger issue which is how does the Republican Party come down on immigration.

DOBBS: It's a smaller -- in point of fact, a much smaller issue for many candidates running for the republican nomination than it is for the entirety, democratic candidates, all of them in support of comprehensive immigration reform.

BORGER: I think Hillary Clinton discovered the hard way at that presidential debate in Philadelphia when she couldn't give an answer on drivers' licenses that it's also an issue view for democratic voters, that lots of democratic voters, independent voters, who by the way, are going to be very important in the general election ...

DOBBS: They'll be decisive, Gloria.

BORGER: Exactly. Which is why lots of democratic -- one democratic pollster in particular said the candidate who becomes a nominee of the Democratic Party ought to do what Bill Clinton did with welfare reform in the early 1990s and make it a democratic issue. Come out with a policy and say this is what I believe in immigration reform and go for it. Whether a democratic candidate will have the guts to do that, who knows.

DOBBS: I'll make you a bet right now. You name the amount.

BORGER: I'm not a gambling woman, Lou.

DOBBS: All right. Let's look at the fact. Last night's debate, here on CNN, became the most watched debate in history, cable history. What does that say about -- is that a resurgence of interest in the republicans? Because in the preceding months the republicans were drifting along and there was great enthusiasm and interest about the democratic candidates.

BORGER: I think that could be, first of all, that we're getting closer and closer to some real caucusing and some real voting going on out there and you see that the audiences for the debates are going up and up. I also think the format was really interesting last night, Lou. Maybe they are sick of us journalists and maybe the public out there wants to see what the public wants to ask the candidates. I think that the You Tube debate allowed for that to happen.

DOBBS: I think there are two messages. One is you better hope I'm right and it's about the resurgence of the interest of the Republican Party at a time when I for example thought they were ebbing considerably. And the second thing you better hope is that we journalists are asking the questions that the American people want to hear instead of indulging in the kabuki dance nonsense that has marked partisan politics for the better part of the quarter century. It's nice to see that shift. Of course, I exempt all of us on CNN from that.

BORGER: Of course.

DOBBS: Gloria, thank you very much.

BORGER: Sure.

DOBBS: Our senior political analyst.

Coming up next here, we just reported on some of the states trying to give away drivers licenses to illegal aliens. Joining me next the governor says, hell no.

And communist China sets the terms for trade policies on the part of Washington. We'll have a special report and a discussion with leading experts on China. All of that and more, asymmetrical trade, asymmetrical military buildups. I wonder what that means?

Stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Turning now to the debate on the illegal immigration crisis, I'm joined by Missouri's Governor Matt Blunt. Governor Blunt proposed a ban on licensing illegal aliens in his state and joins us tonight. Good to have you with us, Governor.

GOV. MATT BLUNT (R), MISSOURI: Good to be with you, Lou.

DOBBS: The idea that you're suggesting is that there be a state initiative to ban the practice of giving drivers licenses to illegal aliens in your state. Why take that approach?

BLUNT: To clarify, Missouri law, we do not issue drivers license to illegals and provide punishments that don't exist to assist illegals from obtaining a drivers license. Missouri families can me about scheme concocted in New York. It might sound like a good idea in Washington, D.C. or New York City but it doesn't make much sense in Missouri. They want to ensure that we're protected against that now and in the future.

DOBBS: Well, as it turns out, it didn't make much sense in New York either. Just about 3/4 of all New Yorkers oppose such a proposal and the governor withdrew that proposal. But what I was really asking, Governor, is why choose an initiative rather than move it legislation through the state legislature.

BLUNT: Well, that would be just a small source of confusion then. It actually a change in our statute and what I proposed is legislation that would clearly state, clarify, that we don't in Missouri issue a drivers license to illegals and that we're going to punish people who try to assist illegal from obtaining a license.

DOBBS: What has been reaction from your constituents in Missouri to your proposal?

BLUNT: It's overwhelming support. Missouri understands benefits of citizenship should be reserved for legal residents and not people that are breaking our laws or flouting our immigration laws.

DOBBS: Well, the Kansas City Star had some harsh words. Let's take a look at what they had to say. Governor, I know you are familiar with it but our viewers perhaps are not. "Missouri doesn't have a problem," it says, "With illegal immigration." Accuses you of scape-coating illegal immigrants. "The governor should stop the hate mongering and focus on improving his record on Missouri's most pressing problems." My, my, my. The Kansas City Star, hate- mongering. Are you hate mongering?

BLUNT: I don't think so in the least. Missourians are a people that we recognize and we respect. Legal immigration, we understand that legal immigration is good for our economy and enriches our culture. When people come here illegally that creates problems. Missourians are frustrated with illegal immigration that has occurred over the past couple years and are demanding results. Washington is not responding. That means states have to do more. The Kansas City Star and I have a difference of policy. They think that we don't need to qualify it. I think we do need to clarify in Missourian law that we don't provide illegals with a drivers license.

DOBBS: All right. Well, Governor Matt Blunt, we thank you for joining us.

BLUNT: Thank you.

DOBBS: A reminder, to vote in the poll. Would you support legislation that cuts off federal money to states that give licenses to illegal aliens? And at the top of the hour upcoming is "OUT IN THE OPEN" with Rick Sanchez. Rick.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: I'm in Miami. My home town. This is an important story not just because of Sean Taylor. I mean you know, everybody know this kid was an unbelievable athlete, shot and killed, 24 years old. It's remarkable the reaction we're getting on this story but it's something much bigger, Lou. It's about what's going on in the inner cities in the United States where African American young men are dying in alarming rates, in fact, 15 times more so than white men that's for anybody under the age of 25. It's an important story from the standpoint of what's happening in our country. I'm going to dig in to some of the things going on in south Florida, some of the new developments and I also talked to some people no one has spoken to, the fiancee of Sean Taylor and father of Sean Taylor who is a police officer in Florida City, as you probably know. We'll bring you a lot of details and of course everything else that goes with it. Lou, back to you.

DOBBS: Rick, it sounds like a very good program. Look forward to it. Thank you. Rick Sanchez tonight reporting from Miami.

Up next, our government calls it a break through in the trade war with communist China. Did the U.S. in fact cave in to Chinese interests? We'll have that special report and I'll be joined by a panel of experts on U.S. China relations. Stay with us. We're coming right back.

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DOBBS: Hang on. The Bush administration today announced what they're calling a breakthrough in trade relations with communist China. The so called deal will do, however, very little for American manufacturers who are competing against cheap Chinese imports that we bring here and as Kitty Pilgrim reports now, it does nothing to address most of the asymmetrical trade relationship with communist China. We're being played for fools, folks.

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. trade office congratulating themselves of their gentle approach to trade with China is superior to hard-line tactics. SUSAN SCHWAB, U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE: What we have done will actually benefit U.S. manufacturers and workers. What we should avoid is needlessly hostile relationships with China which will in the long run only hurt U.S. workers and consumers.

PILGRIM: The agreement eliminated subsidies foreign-owned factories in China, say Japanese, Korean or even U.S. factories or factories that are joint ventures between foreign companies and Chinese companies but a closer look at details reveals the agreement will not cut state subsidies on most Chinese-owned factories. Most Chinese-owned factories which are heavily subsidized by the government are still free to turn out cheap products for the U.S. market. The U.S. Business and Industry Council which represents small businesses says this agreement is worthless.

ALAN TONELSON, U.S. BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY COUNCIL: This is agreement is joke. It's a joke on American domestic companies. It's a joke on their workers and it's a joke on any member of congress who believes that this is an adequate substitute for the much deeper changes we need in China trade policy.

PILGRIM: The agreement does not address China's undervalued currency which automatically gives Chinese manufacturers an unfair trade advantage. Senator Debbie Stabenow's office today said, "It's astonishing to me that as China continues to export unsafe, counterfeit products and manipulate their currency, this administration would point to this voluntary agreement as a victory." Congressman Duncan Hunter's office today said, "This really doesn't do much at the end of the day and this development in no way satisfies Congressman Hunter's concerns with respect to trade with China." This comes just in time with the next Bush administration trip to China in mid December. The entourage of high level talkers on the trip includes secretaries of treasury, agriculture, commerce, health and human services, the head of EPA and a score of other officials all headed to China for more talks.

DOBBS: Well, hopefully that gaggle of geniuses from this administration are going to Beijing to seek advice and counsel how to run effective government because they could certainly use the help. I hope they are not going there to beg for mercy from the communist government of Beijing because mercy is probably not what the Chinese have in mind. It's about all of this delegation is capable of securing, would be a cry for mercy. Thank you very much Kitty Pilgrim.

Well joining me is Richard Fisher. He's the vice president for the International Assessment and Strategy Center, joining us from Washington, D.C. Here in New York, Gordon Chang, author of "The Coming Collapse of China." Gentlemen, thanks for being here. What do you make Of Susan Schwab if we can be more specific here said -- let's take a listen to what she had to say.

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SCHWAB: At its core, this case was about standing up to American manufacturers and workers. The trade subsidies we challenged created significant disadvantages for U.S. products in our home market, in China and in third country markets.

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DOBBS: There's your U.S. trade representative. Gordon, your thoughts.

GORDON CHANGE, "THE COMING COLLAPSE OF CHINA": Well you know, Susan Schwab said this is a victory for dialogue but it's victory all right but it's a victory for Beijing. These subsidies were WTO illegal. Very clear. They should have been eliminated in December 2001 when China joined WTO. We didn't file a trade case until February of this year. What were we doing for half a decade? The other thing about this is that there is no compensation for American workers or businesses hurt by these subsidies.

DOBBS: And it doesn't affect Chinese factories or manufacturing facilities. Rick.

RICHARD FISHER, INTL. ASSESSMENT & STRATEGY CENTER: China is really trying to dispel gathering anger, not only in Washington and the congress, but also in Europe, at rising trade deficits. This announcement was very well timed, coming at the end of a major European summit, and just before the next American exercise.

DOBBS: You're not suggesting that this administration is playing public relations games on behalf of their favored Chinese trading partners?

FISHER: Well, this is going to be yet another exercise in engagement, engagement in which there is great deal of talk; too many details, and no solution.

DOBBS: And meanwhile, our trade deficits with China continues unabated, and point of fact and our dependence on the Chinese for many of our imports and basic products continued to in fact worsen.

Let's turn to our wonderful trading partners, the Chinese, who the government of China just disallowed two of the U.S. mind sweepers from entering a port, a safe harbor from a storm, just refused the USS Kitty Hawk, the carrier task force from making a port of call in Hong Kong so that the sailors aboard the Kitty Hawk could meet with their families. What in the U.S. administration are puzzled? They are puzzled, this administration.

CHANG: Well you know the big story the navy was just confounded. We have an assumption we are nice to the Chinese they will be nice to us. But the Chinese are ruthlessly pragmatic. They are not impressed by gestures of friendship. They respect strength. Right now in Beijing they don't look at as Kitty Hawk, they are look at us like kitty doves.

DOBBS: We'll continue with Gordon Chang and Rick Fisher in just one moment. Stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: We're back. The subject is red storm rising, an increasingly aggressive communist China, which Bush administration seems incapable of either understanding or responding to. I'm joined now by Richard Fisher from the International Assessment and Strategy Center and author Dr. Gordon Chang, "The Coming of the China Collapse."

Let's go to you, Rick. The Bush administration says it's just a misunderstanding. Has this administration even a remote clue what it's doing?

FISHER: This administration has been trying to engage China militarily for almost two years. And it has got in very little in return and the refusal of the Kitty Hawk and the two mind sweepers was really a slap in the face. For the Chinese foreign ministry to have told us within the last 12 hours that these ships were refused because of our support for freedom in Tibet and freedom in Taiwan is actually a very hostile message. We are being told that a humanitarian gesture to our sailors was refused because we are free, because we support freedom. This is a wakeup call. And it needs to be heard in the White House.

DOBBS: The only people whom I speak frankly who are delusional are members of this administration, members of the democratic leadership is congress who haven't got a clue about U.S. relations. Gordon, what is the message here, what is the policy decision, what is strategic direction that we can expect China to follow?

CHANG: In late 2006, senior Chinese leaders abandoned their keep a low profile policy that they followed for about three decades. What we saw on Thanksgiving, the insult to the U.S. Navy, really is a direct consequence of a change in approach. We're going to have more of these incidents and they will be more serious unless we adopt a more resolute approach to them.

DOBBS: The timidity, the passivity that marked this administration's response, the expression by the United States Navy and the Pentagon of confusion and bafflement at the act that is to a person on the street a clear insult, is that timidity, Rick, going to invite greater incidents like this?

FISHER: Absolutely, Lou. The - as the Kitty Hawk was nearing Hong Kong, the Chinese navy had just completed perhaps its most complex exercise using two fleets, many new warships. These exercises were designed to place a blockade on Taiwan, free Taiwan, and to sink aircraft carriers like the Kitty Hawk. When China starts moving its nuclear ballistic missile submarines to Hinet (ph) Island, they very well might set up a toll booth, and that will be interesting to watch.

DOBBS: Do you suppose that the general staff in the Pentagon, including senior Navy admirals will be confused and baffled about the intent of the Chinese at that point, Gordon?

CHANG: Well, I think that the message is getting through even to the Pentagon. The Navy of the four services had always had the most optimistic approach to China, but admirals have gotten really mad about this, and so there might very well be a new policy in the Navy, and we certainly need that.

DOBBS: Well, and I do hope that the Bush administration will be willing to relent just a bit at the margin on its preference for commerce above all else. Perhaps would engage some consideration about our national security, perhaps just as a passing thought, if possible.

Gordon, thank you very much. Gordon Chang.

CHANG: Thank you.

DOBBS: Rick Fisher, thank you, sir.

FISHER: Thank you.

DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight: 97 percent of you say you would support legislation to cut off federal aid and money to states that give licenses, driver's licenses to illegal aliens.

Let's take a look at some more of your thoughts. John in New Hampshire: "You are a breath of fresh air in the present morass of political obfuscation. I hope that through your efforts, we can build consensus, reduce extremism, and return to the basic principles that have made this country great."

Let's quickly name those two fundamental principles - individual freedom and equality. Equality of rights, equality of opportunity, educational and economic. We can coalesce around those two national values.

And John in Georgia - "As a self-proclaimed Dobbsian independent, I'm watching both parties debates in hopes that somebody might make some sense. Would you mind sending each candidate a copy of your book, "Independents Day," so that they could get a clue as to the direction our country is taking. Thank you, Citizen Dobbs, for all you do."

That's a great idea. I'll pay for it out of my very own pocket. We will do exactly as you suggest. And thank you for the suggestion.

We love hearing from you. Send us your thoughts at loudobbs.com. Each of you whose email is read here receives a copy of "Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit." And I'll be shipping it off to all those candidates, even maybe - you know what, let's send it to Congress, too. Thanks for being with us tonight. Join us here tomorrow. For all of us, thank you for watching. Good night from New York. "OUT IN THE OPEN" with Rick Sanchez begins right now.

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