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LOU DOBBS TONIGHT

Irresolvable Conflicts; Stimulus Delayed Again; Tiny Porky Amendments; Working against the U.S.

Aired February 12, 2009 - 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: Wolf, tonight the latest setback for President Obama as he tries to build a cabinet and govern a nation. President Obama's choice to head the Commerce Department, Senator Judd Gregg has withdrawn. At issue, who controls the Census, the stimulus package and the whims of Senator Gregg?

Also tonight, the final version of the stimulus bill, again delayed tonight, Democrats and Republicans battling it out over pork. Democrats say, are you ready? They want to actually read this bill.

And Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, he says Americans still don't care about what he called tiny, porky amendments. Tonight we know you do, so we'll show you what Congress is trying to hide in "Lou's Line-Item Veto".

Also tonight a landmark trial in federal court nearing a verdict, a group of illegal aliens suing a rancher and claiming he violated their civil rights.

Also tonight, Senate Democrats using the stimulus bill to kill the most effective tool to fight illegal immigration, E-Verify. Supporters of E-Verify say the fight is far from over. Senator Jeff Sessions, Congressman Lamar Smith (ph) join us. We'll have all of that, all the day's news and much more straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Thursday, February 12th. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. Another blow to President Obama's promise of bipartisanship and his efforts to build a cabinet, is there some sort of political voodoo curse on the post of commerce secretary? Republican Senator Judd Gregg unexpectedly pulled out of consideration to run the Commerce Department, citing irresolvable conflicts as he put it.

Gregg is now the third cabinet nominee to drop out. President Obama tonight is on the road selling his so-called economic recovery plan. President Obama warned of dire consequences unless the plan, which has been rammed through Congress without regard for constraint or responsibility, is signed into law quickly -- our senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry, with the report from Springfield, Illinois. Ed?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, the president is coming here to talk about his political hero, Abraham Lincoln, who pulled the nation together. But as you noted, he's now dealing with a distraction in his efforts to try to bridge the partisan divide. This is now yet another cabinet hiccup for the president.

You'll remember he's already looking for a health secretary after Tom Daschle dropped out. His first pick for commerce secretary, Bill Richardson, had already dropped out. Now the second pick, Judd Gregg dropping out. He said that basically there are irresolvable conflicts here. Judd Gregg did a press conference a short time ago over the spending projects in the stimulus package, but also, as you mentioned, over who is going to control the Census.

There have been some indications that the White House was going to rest control of the 2010 Census out of the hands of the Commerce Department. That important politically because the Census helps decide reapportionment for which states are going to have a certain number of seats in the U.S. House. That's a big, big matter. And Judd Gregg said basically based on all of this, he could not serve as commerce secretary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JUDD GREGG (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: I realize that to withdraw at this point is really unfair in many ways. But to go forward and take this position and then find myself sitting there and not being able to do the job the way it should be done on behalf of the president, not 100 percent, it would have been an even bigger mistake.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: What's interesting is that the White House is taking the gloves off a little bit now. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, putting out a written statement saying that it was Senator Gregg who reached out to the president and quote, "offered his name for the job originally." Gibbs saying that during the interview process, Senator Gregg had assured the White House that despite past division over various policies, he would be onboard with the president's plan.

Gibbs adding, once it became clear after his nomination Senator Gregg was not going to be supporting some of President Obama's key economic priorities, it became necessary for Senator Gregg and the Obama administration to part ways. We regret that he has had a change of heart, so clearly the White House pointing the finger at Senator Gregg. We're told by Senator Gregg himself that he informed the White House just a couple of days ago that he was going to be pulling out, that basically over the stimulus package and who was going to control the U.S. Census in 2010. He decided he could not operate independently enough and that the promises of bipartisanship were not there, Lou.

DOBBS: Yes, there's a lot going on here, isn't there. Judd Gregg is a man -- you can call him either a free spirit or a bit of a flake -- here is a man who in 1995 voted to kill the department that he apparently sought out and now sought out the post with a Democratic president to lead. That is the Commerce Department. I mean, that is bizarre. HENRY: Well, what is also very difficult for this president is the fact that he is planning for early March, fiscal responsibility summit, where he was going to be talking about how to rein in federal spending in the wake of all these federal bailouts, because of the growth in these entitlement programs like Medicare. And he had held up Judd Gregg as somebody who had a very fiscally conservative voting record in the United States Senate, and he was going to be leading the efforts to receipt out to Republicans on the Hill to help reign in spending.

(CROSSTALK)

HENRY: That is no longer there...

DOBBS: There's also this, Ed. There is also this and that is that with the appointment of Senator Gregg, Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff, obviously made a play for the Census Bureau, because he didn't like the idea of Gregg being in the cabinet. So that had to play a role as well. True?

HENRY: Republicans very concerned that Rahm Emanuel, who by his own estimation, is a real political operator, used to run the House Democrats' campaign committee. Clearly, you know, is somebody who had politics as well as policy in mind. And that led to a lot of concerns among Republicans, not just Judd Gregg, but a lot of Republican leaders were pressuring the White House saying, look, Rahm Emanuel is going to try to take control of the Census, Lou.

DOBBS: Yes and that was a clear expression of a lack of confidence in Gregg on the part of Rahm Emanuel, as well as perhaps the president himself. Thank you very much. Ed Henry.

The so-called stimulus bill is also dividing the Democratic Party tonight, the Democratic leadership in Congress already failing to win Republican support for this massive spending bill, only three Republican senators voting for it. Tonight some Democrats demanding a delay in the final vote after another secret closed-door meeting held early this morning -- our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash with our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REP. VIRGINIA FOXX (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Has the bill been made available to the Democrats in the chamber?

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Congresswoman Virginia Foxx knew full well the answer to her question was no.

REP. ED PERLMUTTER (D), COLORADO: I have highlights of the compromise. That's what I have.

BASH: For that reason, House Democrats forced their leaders to delay voting on a $789 billion stimulus bill until they can actually read it. REP. DAN MAFFEI (D), NEW YORK: What I want to know is, is the -- are the resources actually going to be used for what we say we want them used? Are they going to actually create jobs? I think they will. But I want to make sure and I want to make sure that these jobs are coming to my district.

BASH: House Democrats are most skeptical about money for education. The stimulus package sends some $50 billion to states to help prevent cutbacks in education and other services. But many, like Democrat Dan Maffei wanted money targeted for school construction, and he's not sure now if his district will get it.

MAFFEI: We you know are trying to build a new technical high school in my district precisely to do the kind of things that would stimulate the economy and help get our economy into the 21st century.

BASH: Still, members of the Congressional Black Caucus who were very worried stimulus funds would not reach constituents who need it most say they're satisfied.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: We're going to be able to take home some real, real help to all of those constituents who have been waiting for so long to get their government to just give them a hand up.

BASH: Stimulus programs they point to, $4 billion for public housing projects, $4 billion for job training, and $7.2 billion to bring broadband Internet service to the underserved.

REP. JOHN CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: That's very exciting for us and for our communities.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Now, this deal between the House and Senate was finalized yesterday afternoon. But just moments ago, Lou, we actually finally have gotten the legislation, 575 pages. So all of those members of Congress who say that they are going to read this before they vote they're going to have a lot of work to do overnight. Because the House is saying that they're going to vote tomorrow. And the Senate they're trying to do the same thing, either late tonight or tomorrow morning.

DOBBS: Well you know, you have to give the Democrats credit who insisted upon this delay in the vote. But they had asked for 48 hours, as I understood it originally. They've got really a piddling amount of time and hardly sufficient time to thoroughly understand a piece of legislation that has been crammed down their throats. Is there any sense -- I mean what is the sense there on Capitol Hill?

BASH: The sense is surprise. Because most people thought that they were actually going to get this massive piece of legislation this morning, Lou. I mean this deal was done yesterday. But it has taken all day and into tonight to get this done, because they were still wrangling and still a little bit of confusion, I think, over what was agreed to behind closed doors between the leaders in the White House. That's why it took so long. So you know it's been very interesting that these lawmakers, particularly the new lawmakers, saw the lessons of those who voted for the so-called TARP legislation, the bailout. And people didn't read it and didn't know what they were voting for. And that's why you saw people like Congressman Dan Maffei, who is a freshman saying hold on a second, I'm not voting for anything until I actually take the time to read it.

DOBBS: Yes, it is also impressive to hear a freshman congressman talk about he's going to be building schools in his district, which is really the purview of local government and should normally be picked up by local taxpayers. Dana, just one thing, Senator Gregg's withdrawal from the commerce nomination is apparently good news for Senate Republicans, but is it really?

BASH: You know what, it is. He has been around here for some time, more than a decade. And he is somebody who is respected and really relied on by his leadership for his information and his knowledge of the economy. He's been sort of an interesting character in that they have tried to get him into the Republican leadership for many, many years. And he has always resisted.

And it's because of the fact that he has been so independent. So maybe that should have been a little bit of an indicator if he was trying to reflect on the kind of person he is. He didn't want to be in the Senate Republican leadership, how tough it would have been -- to him to be in the administration of the other party, Lou.

DOBBS: Yes, you would have thought that would have occurred to among other people, certainly Senator Gregg, who apparently was first to approach the Obama administration for the job.

BASH: Well there seems to be some dispute over that. I was at that press conference with Senator Gregg today and he said that there was revisionist history as to who approached whom. He did say that there was an intermediary. We understand that might have been the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid. But he pushed back a little bit about the fact that he was actually lobbying for the job. It may take a little time to sort that one out to see who's telling the truth there.

DOBBS: Yes, I mean there's so much -- I was only half kidding when I raised the question as to whether there's some sort of political voodoo curse on commerce secretary for this administration. Thanks a lot. Appreciate it. Dana Bash.

BASH: Thank you.

DOBBS: We would like to know what you think about the political voodoo curse on the post of commerce secretary. Our poll question is who wins with Senator Judd Gregg's announcement today, Republican senators or President Obama? We'd like to know how you interpret this. Cast your vote at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results here later.

Up next, special interest lining up against American workers as the push for cheap foreign labor intensifies. Also ahead, something special for the naysayers and the doomsayers in Congress and the White House, tonight we have good news, hopeful news to report on the economy and remember you heard it here first. There will be no depression. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: As is our want (ph), we closely examine every element of this so-called economic stimulus package in "Lou's Line-Item Veto". Last night we reported that Senator Schumer commented that Americans quote, "Don't care about tiny, porky amendments." But it is those tiny porky amendments that are adding up to about an $800 billion bill for American taxpayers. Kitty Pilgrim now reports on just whose special interest projects are going to be getting your tax dollars.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When it comes to pork in the stimulus bill, some on Capitol Hill seem to be counting on ignorance, apathy or indifference.

SEN CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Let me say this to all of the chattering class, that so much focuses on those little tiny, yes, porky amendments. The American people really don't care.

PILGRIM: Not really. Public watchdog groups have targeted what they describe as earmarks in pork that they hear are going into the final version of the bill, $30 million to protect endangered wetlands around San Francisco, home to the salt marsh harvest mouse (ph), a pet project of Nancy Pelosi's. Pelosi's office says it's about clean water, a better environment and creating jobs.

Six hundred million dollars for energy-efficient vehicles, including electric golf carts for neighborhood travel, $400 million for health prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, $10 billion to the National Institute of Health, a particular interest of Arlen Specter who has long campaigned for such funding, or $2 billion for a rail system Senator Harry Reid has been pushing for.

VERONIQUE DE RUGY, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: We knew that Harry Reid has managed to actually earmark $8 billion for a rail line system that's four times higher than what was voted on in the Senate bill on Tuesday.

REP. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: Senator Chuck Schumer referred to the quote, "porky elements of this bill" and we're learning about millions for golf carts and this morning learning about millions of dollars to protect San Francisco mice.

PILGRIM: Those kinds of earmarks don't sit well with Michigan, with its double-digit unemployment in the manufacturing sector.

REP. THADDEUS MCCOTTER (R), MICHIGAN: When you see how little has been done for the auto industry, how little has been done in other areas of the manufacturing base, and yet you turn around and see money, billions spent on things such as global warming, what you're really going to start seeing is how does someone who's a blue-collar machinist all of a sudden become a meteorologist (INAUDIBLE) study global warming overnight? The intent of the bill was to create jobs.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PILGRIM: Now final numbers aren't in yet, but states will end up with more than $50 billion in block funding. Many in Congress will argue that these are worthy projects. But the concern is that earmarks are being air dropped into the final version of the bill. And this money will go into all kinds of pet projects. Lou?

DOBBS: I guess at this point those little rats or mice or whatever the heck they are there in Nancy Pelosi's district, I guess they would qualify as pet mice now or pet rats or whatever the heck. This is really ridiculous. I give credit to those Democrats who had more guts, frankly, than some of the Republicans, particularly Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Arlen Specter to say, wait a minute, maybe you know since we've been elected to represent the American people, we actually should read legislation. This could be perhaps a watershed moment. I may be accessibly hopeful here, but I'm going to remain so.

PILGRIM: I think there will be a lot of reading tomorrow when this thing is...

DOBBS: Somebody will be burning the midnight candles or oil or whatever cliche we can work in there. Thanks very much, Kitty.

Tonight we have our own preliminary analysis of just how much of this bill is pork and how much is stimulus. I've been asked by a number of people to put this up as a simple pie chart. As a matter of fact, a caller to my radio show today suggested this idea. We want to give him credit, because it really is something that hasn't been done.

Here's the deal. As we look at this -- of the $800 billion piece of legislation, about $330 billion is spending. You can interpret that as stimulative or not. There is $270 billion of tax cuts and credits. And then there's about $200 billion of the legislation that is potentially pork projects that could potentially increase. The number could easily increase as we find out more details about this huge spending plan.

I hope you will consider calling and e-mailing your senators and congressmen to let them know what you think about this legislation. Please go to our Web site, loudobbs.com where we have hopefully for your convenience and ease provided contact information for those folks, their e-mail addresses as well as their telephone numbers.

Up next here incredible video of a homeowner defending himself against a violent home invasion, we'll have that report. We'll be talking about the rights of Americans to defend their homes and use firearms.

And more and more Americans are losing their jobs. But business special interests are still pushing for -- are you ready -- more foreign workers. We'll have that report here next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Some good news on the economy tonight, retail sales unexpectedly rising one percent in the month of January, that after six straight months of decline. The jump in retail sales, by the way, is the biggest increase in more than a year. Most economists were expecting sales to decline nearly a full percent in January after the worst holiday sales season in four decades. They were obviously surprised.

And we are delighted to be able to report to you more positive signs about the economy. Of course, you probably won't hear a lot of this amidst all of the dire talk by a lot of leading elected officials talking about catastrophe, disaster, depression. Well, homeowners tonight have some good news as well. Foreclosure filings nationwide were down 10 percent in January from the month of December.

Business special interests tonight, well, they're intensifying their push for, because we've got millions and millions more of Americans who are losing their jobs, the business interests want more foreign worker visas. The business lobbyists are fighting proposals that would require banks, for example, receiving bailout money to hire American workers first -- how about that -- Bill Tucker with our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A renewed push for H-1B workers is underway in Washington led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber lobbying against a requirement that banks or other financial institutions receiving bailout money hire American workers ahead of foreign guest workers and effectively preventing the banks from hiring guest workers, immediately after or before large- scale layoffs of Americans. The amendment's co-sponsor is appalled.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Just think at this moment, we're in the middle of a deep recession. We're losing half a million jobs every month. The financial industry has laid off itself 100,000 American workers and their response is, gee, maybe we can get cheap labor from abroad.

TUCKER: We called the Chamber for an explanation or a comment. It declined. However, "New York Times" writer Tom Friedman (ph) argued in his column earlier this week that such hiring restrictions would be protectionist. Those comments are in line with the Chamber's public comments. Friedman (ph) also argues that such restrictions would be stupid.

For evidence, he points to a new study from the Harvard Business School trying to examine the impact of H-1B workers from 1995 to 2006, on applications for patents. The study concludes that a 10 percent increase in the H-1B visa program result in a one to two percent increase in patent applications by people with Indian or Chinese surnames residing in the U.S. And when there's a decline in the number of visas, there's also a drop in the number of patent applications. Norman Matloff, an ardent critic of the H-1B program and this Harvard study says the study is seriously flawed. NORMAN MATLOFF, UNIV. OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS: It's got lots of math in it. It's got lots of references. It's from Harvard no less. A lot of people on Capitol Hill are going to pay attention to this study, but they shouldn't. They shouldn't be fooled.

TUCKER: That's because the study does not prove that H-1B workers or even foreign-born workers were the recipients of the patents. It establishes a correlation of patents being granted to recipients with non-English names. The study's author says he understands and welcomes the arguments surrounding his study.

BILL KERR, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: This is a very, very sensitive program and there's both sides of this debate have lots of arguments and both sides can point to places where there are very adverse effects of the H-1B program there and are also very beneficial effects of the program.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCKER: Now Kerr says he'll be happy if the impact of his study is to generate more research into the H-1B program. As for the U.S. Chamber and its lobbying efforts against American workers, well Lou we still don't know if they are successful or not whether they killed the Grassley/Sanders Amendment because as Dana reported up at the top of the show, that bill just started getting printing, so nobody knows what's going on.

DOBBS: We know what -- you know, the Senate, this House are the tools of the Chamber of Commerce and that hasn't changed with an election. But let's go back to Harvard...

TUCKER: Yes.

DOBBS: That's the Harvard Business School...

TUCKER: Right.

DOBBS: ... we're talking about, not Harvard University. That's Harvard Business School. It's not entirely clear how the funding for that grant worked out for that study. Harvard Business School paid for it with funds from whom? Do we know that?

TUCKER: No...

(CROSSTALK)

TUCKER: I talked to the author. He said 100 percent of the business school, he accepted no sponsorship money.

DOBBS: Oh OK and did -- I wish he would have accepted one thing and that was probably a lesson in methodology because to extrapolate from non-English surnames that someone is automatically an H-1B visa holder is utterly...

TUCKER: It's flawed. DOBBS: It's not a flaw, it's stupid. It is utterly ridiculous. You know look, I mean I -- business has to follow what the Chamber of Commerce tells it, but I'd like to see at least some intellectual integrity, particularly at Harvard Business School. Thank you very much.

TUCKER: You're welcome.

DOBBS: Bill Tucker. Anywhere in the country just give me intellectual integrity. An incredible home invasion to tell you about caught on videotape. We'll have that story and the amazing conclusion.

Also ahead illegal aliens suing an Arizona rancher who caught them on his property and Democrats killing one of the most effective programs to fight illegal immigration, we're going to be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: You're about to watch an incredible video tonight of a home invasion caught on security cameras in a home in Tucson, Arizona. Now, in this, you will see four men armed with automatic weapons surrounding a suburban home. But the homeowner defended himself and his home and a shootout broke out in broad daylight, as you see here -- David Marino of our affiliate KVOA with our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MARINO, KVOA TV: The surveillance video captures it all, four suspects armed and dangerous, attempting to invade a southwest side home.

DEP. EARL GIERON, PIMA CO., ARIZ. SHERIFF'S OFFICE: The victim was able to get back inside his house, close his door, semi barricade it, reach for a weapon that was easily accessible.

MARINO: That's when you hear gunfire.

(SHOTS)

MARINO: The four men retreat, get into their car, but not before the homeowner's bullets hit the windshield. The sheriff officials say the homeowner has surveillance cameras installed all around his house.

GIERON: That was just for his own home security.

MARINO: People living in the neighborhood heard all the gunshots and saw the aftermath. Some stray bullets even hit a home across the street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was asleep around noon Thursday, and I heard gunshots. Then I heard about four or five more shots go out in rapid succession. Then I heard a car squeal off.

LAWRENCE CRUZ, NEIGHBOR: I'm very watchful where we live. I think everybody has a right to defend their property. MARINO: Pima County detectives did find the suspects' vehicle at a home near Cardinal and Valencia. But the four men are still on the run.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: David Marino of KVOA reporting from Tucson. Joining me now for more on this shootout is Lieutenant Michael O'Connor of the Pima County, Arizona Sheriff's Department who says he's seen more and more of these kinds of incidents. Lieutenant, first of all thank you for being here.

LIEUTENANT MICHAEL O'CONNOR, PIMA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: I'm happy to be here, Mr. Dobbs.

DOBBS: Lieutenant, I understand one of the suspects has been arrested?

O'CONNOR: Yes. I can now report that late last night, we arrested one of the suspects. In the video, if you see the gentleman that's running along the left side of the car, you know, white shirt, appears he has a shoulder holster, that individual has been arrested. We couldn't report that before now, because we were serving a total of six search warrants today.

DOBBS: Wow. Can you identify the man tonight?

O'CONNOR: Yes. His name is David Gutierrez. He lives in Tucson. And we know he's an associate, a friend of the other individual that we believe was involved and actually behind the wheel and actually shot in this incident. And that individual is Jesus Mendovel. We have an active arrest warrant for him currently.

DOBBS: Shocking. This is an amazing video. The homeowner did a heck of a job here in defending himself, his family, his home. What can you tell us about the motivation for this incident? At least your investigation has indicated at this point.

O'CONNOR: Well, what I can tell you is its very consistent so far with the home invasions we're having. I can tell you they have increased drastically. The robbery assault team is out on a home invasion currently as I speak.

But on this case, it's believed that he has a history, has some narcotics history in his background, and that's typical of these. For whatever reason, people will attack someone's home, either for -- thinking there's drugs there, because they've got a history, or perhaps they have not paid a debt that's owed to them and it's going to be a kidnapping. But at this point we're not actually sure what happened. But most likely it's one of those scenarios.

DOBBS: Lieutenant, forgive me, but you say he, you're referring to the homeowner with that background, correct?

O'CONNOR: Yes, that's correct. DOBBS: And as you talk about the number of incidents increasing, we learned this week that Phoenix is now the kidnapping capital of the United States. Are you seeing an escalation in violence across the board, including kidnappings there in Pima County as well?

O'CONNOR: Absolutely. I mean, over the last three -- well, probably close to two years, going into three years, we see the drastic increase in the number of home invasions. Last year we would have, four years, maybe two dozen a year. Now we're having almost a dozen or so a month. It's really gotten crazy. And it's spillover from what's going on south of the border.

DOBBS: Lieutenant, finally, and very quickly if I may, the homeowner defending himself, his property. He's, in your judgment, totally within his rights in the way he conducted himself?

O'CONNOR: Oh, absolutely. There's no question. You look at that video and the way these guys storm into his home with masks on. Their faces covered. With obviously a long rifle appears to be an ak-47, or an al-15. The other guys are carrying semiautomatic handguns. They were ready to assault this house. And I think it's just very fortunate it turned out the way it did in that the homeowner was safe.

DOBBS: I guess we can say once again, thank you for the second amendment. Thank you, lord.

O'CONNOR: Exactly.

DOBBS: Thank you, Lieutenant Michael O'Connor of Pima County Sheriff's Department, appreciate your time.

Also in Arizona tonight, a group of illegal aliens suing an Arizona rancher for millions of dollars, those illegal immigrants claiming the rancher violated their civil rights when he apprehended them at gun point on his property. Casey Wian has the story from Tucson, Arizona.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The federal courthouse in Tucson, Arizona, is the site of a showdown between two extremes in the debate over illegal immigration and border security. Rancher Roger Barnett is being sued by a group of illegal aliens he held at gun point on his property near the Mexican border in 2004. Barnett claims he has helped the border patrol apprehend more than 12,000 illegal border crossers during the past decade.

He says they have severely damaged his 22,000-acre property by leaving trash, cutting fences, and destroying water tanks. The civil suit claims Barnett threatened to shoot anyone who fled. They're seeking millions of dollars in damages for civil rights violations, assault, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

KATE O'CONNOR, BORDER ACTION NETWORK: Everybody still has the same equal protection under the law. No one should be held at gun point and threatened with their dog, or also kicked for just being on their property illegally or unlawfully.

WIAN: The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund is financing the lawsuit. The Federation for American Immigration Reform is backing Barnett. Both sides have agreed in court not to discuss the case with reporters. But not this longtime border resident who is supporting Barnett.

HOYT STRIKER, BARNETT SUPPORTER: Barnett, as far as I'm concerned, has done any and everything he can to at least -- he's put in a water system for them and put in spigots for them. So they do not destroy his holding tanks and things. Yet they turn around and they destroy that. What is a person to do? Do we have any rights in the United States anymore to protect our own livelihoods?

WIAN: Barnett's wife and brother and 10 of the 16 illegal aliens who sued them have been dropped from the lawsuit. Previously Barnett was ordered to pay $100,000 to a Mexican American family he confronted while they were hunting on his property.

Closing arguments in this case were presented this afternoon. And the case is now in the hands of the jury. In those closing arguments, Barnett's attorneys say he was simply trying to protect his property from people he believed could be armed, drug or alien smugglers. Lawyers for the plaintiffs say Mr. Barnett simply went overboard -- Lou.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOBBS: All right. The gentleman summing it up. What rights do American citizens have to protect their property in a very serious issue? Particularly on the border with Mexico. Thank you very much, Casey. Casey, any idea when we're going to get a decision?

WIAN: We don't know when we'll get a decision. It will go to the jury tomorrow. But you mentioned the rights that property owners have. Here in Arizona, property owners are allowed to use the threat of deadly force to protect their property. So that's something that is at issue here, Lou.

DOBBS: All right. Casey, thank you very much. Casey Wian.

Up next, e-verify, the government's most effective program against illegal immigration. Well the Democratic leadership of both the House and the Senate and President Obama are trying to kill it. It's been stripped from the economic stimulus package. We'll be talking with two leading supporters of e-verify who say this fight is far from over.

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman joins me. He wants an apology from President Obama. He's my guest here next. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Mayor Oscar Goodman, who is the mayor of Las Vegas, wants President Barack Obama to apologize to him and his city. The mayor says the president's comment in a town hall meeting this week were harmful to his city. Mayor Goodman joins us now from Las Vegas. Good to have you with us, Mayor.

MAYOR OSCAR GOODMAN, LAS VEGAS: Hi, Lou. It is always great to be with you.

DOBBS: The idea that basically the president was saying business shouldn't be flying on junkets out to Las Vegas, that's what you really object to right?

GOODMAN: Yes, he picked us out of all the cities in the world, didn't say Orlando, and didn't say D.C.; it was Las Vegas that he used as an example. Basically the persons who heard that message, it tainted us as far as being a potential business, or convention location. And it was that which raised my ire. I wrote a letter to the president, and I explained that I'm sure what he said was not malicious, but on the other hand, it has a deleterious effect on our business community here which really relies on tourism, particularly business tourism and convention tourism. All I'm asking him is to do really rectify a wrong, straighten out the record.

DOBBS: Have you heard from him?

GOODMAN: No, I haven't.

DOBBS: That's got to be wrong, Mayor Goodman. What was he there, 20 times campaigning?

GOODMAN: He was in the state of Nevada I'm told 20 times. It had to be serious business. That's the point that I'm trying to get across. What I would like him to say is that Las Vegas is a great community for business meetings, for conventions. They have the best of everything. They have all the amenities, which foster a good meeting and serious business. He says that, and then we're even.

DOBBS: Let me ask you this. Do you feel any better about apparently Harry Reid putting into the economic stimulus package an estimated $2 billion for a high-speed rail between Los Angeles and Las Vegas? Does that soften the blow at all?

GOODMAN: No, that doesn't soften the blow, to be quite frankly. We've been talking about the high-speed rail for about 30 years now. But at least we're getting serious money that is earmarked for that. All I want is the public should understand that Las Vegas does not have the stigma it may have had in the 1950s or '60s. We have worked very, very hard to become the tourist destination for the world and a place everybody can expect to have the best convention and best business meetings. I took offense at the idea that other places were perhaps more legitimate than Las Vegas. Las Vegas really has it all.

DOBBS: Let me ask you as we wrap up here very quickly. Are you seeing any kind of recovery yet?

GOODMAN: Well, everyone would be very envious of what we're doing as far as our tourism and convention.

DOBBS: No, no, mayor, are you seeing any signs of recovery? GOODMAN: It's very, very rough. The foreclosure rates are high here still. Unemployment is high. That's one of the reasons that I didn't want to see anything happen to our success as we've known it so far.

DOBBS: Mayor Goodman, it is always good to have you with us here.

GOODMAN: Nice being here. Thank you.

DOBBS: Mayor Oscar Goodman.

Up next, Senator Jeff Sessions, Congressman Lamar Smith, they're fighting to save the most effective program against illegal immigration in this country. The Democratic leadership of Congress is doing everything along with President Obama to kill it. Stay with us we are coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: E-verify is the federal government's single most effective program against illegal immigration. For that reason the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ethnocentric interest groups all want it dead. Congress has reportedly stripped language now from the so-called stimulus legislation that would have continued funding for the program. Lisa Sylvester has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The White House says that the stimulus package will help create or save more than three million jobs, to make sure those jobs go to American workers and other legal residents, Representative Jack Kingston, a Republican, offered an amendment. It reauthorized the employment verification system known as E-Verify. And mandated the companies that receive stimulus money verify their employees' legal status. But a similar amendment offered by Senator Jeff Sessions was not included in the Senate version. And in conference committee, the employment verification measure was reportedly taken out altogether. Drawing sharp criticism from Republicans.

REP. JACK KINGSTON, (R) GEORGIA: I think it's outrageous. When you think about somebody whose house has been foreclosed or somebody who's been laid off and they've got kids going to college, and their savings had been wiped out, they need a job right now. They're not going to be too picky. And if they hear that illegal aliens are taking some of these jobs that are going to be created from the stimulus package, it will be outrageous. And they should be.

SYLVESTER: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus wrote a letter to the Democratic leadership urging them to take out the provisions. Writing that more and more American citizens are 30 times more likely than native foreign workers to be incorrectly identified as ineligible to work. Other concerns were expressed by business groups. The American Council on International Personnel saying that for its larger members, it would take 12 to 18 months to screen employees. LYNN SHOTWELL, AMER. CNCL. OF INTL. PERSONNEL: We oppose the amendment, however, that would tie stimulus funding to mandatory E- Verify use, because we think it would delay one of the goals of this bill, which is to quickly get funding into infrastructure projects that are shovel-ready.

SYLVESTER: The Numbers USA which favors tighter immigration restrictions are requiring E-Verify only makes sense. If U.S. taxpayers are footing the nearly $800 billion bill, there should be provisions to ensure they should get the jobs.

ROY BECK, NUMBERSUSA: When you start using E-Verify, you immediately start opening up jobs that otherwise go to illegal aliens and you open up to unemployed Americans. And to unemployed legal immigrants.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SYLVESTER: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus says they are concerned that the E-Verify program will produce errors in misidentified workers as ineligible but in fact according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services which runs E-Verify, 99.5 percent of all work authorized employees are verified without having to take any corrective steps -- Lou.

DOBBS: Let's be really clear. The U.S. Chamber of Congress doesn't want American provisions. The U.S. Chamber of Congress wants the outsourcing of jobs. The U.S. Chamber of Congress wants as many visas as possible to bring unlimited numbers of cheap foreign workers into the country. They want amnesty; they want nothing done to stop illegal immigration. It's disgraceful that the Chamber of Congress even has U.S. in its title. Go ahead.

SYLVESTER: We should mention that we invited the U.S. Chamber of Congress to do an interview on this piece on E-Verify, but they declined our request.

DOBBS: They are many things, the so-called former U.S. Chamber of Congress, I call them. But well, honest and brave, I don't think you can put those two words near them. Thank you very much, appreciate it, Lisa Sylvester.

Now joining me on more of what could be done with E-Verify and working hard to save it, Jeff Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, and Congressman Lamar Smith, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, gentlemen, thanks for being here.

Let me start with you, Senator. We have just heard the U.S. Chamber of Congress, I love that, the U.S. Chamber of Congress, is behind the effort to kill this, which it looks like it's been extraordinarily successful. How come the U.S. Chamber of Congress could be permitted to have U.S. in its title?

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, (R) ALABAMA: Well, there's no principle vases or argument they can make against this proposal. I just flatly reject the idea that this is going to cause extraordinary delay and expense. It's being done voluntarily by 100,000 different employers in America today voluntarily. They wouldn't do it if it were a burden. I reject that argument.

DOBBS: Congressman Smith, I know you have to be disappointed as Senator Sessions and all of us who care about the country and actually government programs that do work, what steps can be taken now?

REP. LAMAR SMITH, (R) TEXAS: Lou, first of all as you just said, this program does expire in March, and it's incredible that the Democrats are letting it expire. They're literally putting illegal immigrants ahead of American workers. That's what is most disappointing. I think there will be a public outrage over their refusal to protect American workers and try to reduce illegal immigration. Because of that public outrage and I think all true reform starts with the people, I expect and hope that the Democrats will respond and we'll be able to continue this program and even make it mandatory for those who are getting federal contracts with the government.

Anything else simply says that they may talk about reducing illegal immigration, they may talk about saving jobs for American workers, but they don't mean it and their actions don't show it.

DOBBS: Let me ask you both if I may Senator Sessions start with you, a new report from the Migration Policy Institute supported reauthorization of the E-Verify program. At the same time, Janet Napolitano, the new secretary of the Department of Homeland Security has referred to the E-Verify program as integral to the department's work. Against that backdrop, do you think it will mean anything at all to the debate as to whether it lives or dies?

SESSIONS: I think so. To me it's unthinkable that this would not pass and be extended. But Lou there was definitely planning here. They let the house vote 407-2 to pass this. They kept the Senate from even voting. And they went to conference knowing that they planned to take this language out. So there was a deliberate action, I believe, and I think Lamar might agree, to conduct a process in this fashion that allowed votes to look like people were voting for it, but in fact, there was a plan to undermine it.

DOBBS: Do you agree, Congressman?

SMITH: I certainly do agree with the Senator. This was their intent all along. Again, they talk the words. They want to -- they say they want to protect American jobs or they want to reduce illegal immigration. When it comes to actions, when it comes to actually passing legislation that is going to protect jobs for American workers and will be a disincentive for illegal workers to come into the United States to get those jobs, they frankly are missing in action. The American people are going to find this out and it will be a political and election issue.

DOBBS: A political and election issue. Is it one that you think you will prevail on?

SMITH: I think that we absolutely will. When we're on the side of the American worker and saving those jobs for American workers, you have 11 million people today in the United States who are unemployed. You have 7 million people who are working illegally. Let's get those jobs for American workers.

DOBBS: If you include Senator Sessions, the unemployed, those who have given up on looking for a job, or those who have been unemployed for six months or longer, if you include those who are working part time and want full time jobs that number rises to 22 million. I haven't heard a single elected official start talking about constraining immigration, illegal principally, and even legal immigration against the interest of the American worker. What is going on here?

SESSIONS: I really don't know. They hope this bill will create three to four million jobs. The Heritage Foundation and National Center for Immigration Studies just released a report that said 300,000 illegal people will get jobs, construction jobs under this, if this program is not utilized. So it's a significant portion of what is expected to be a jobs bill, a very poor jobs bill, I'm afraid, but it will deny a lot of good Americans good jobs that they would otherwise get.

DOBBS: Senator Sessions thank you very much. Congressman Smith thank you very much.

Coming up at the top of the hour, Campbell Brown, "NO BIAS, NO BULL." Campbell will tell us all about it.

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Lou. Within the next hour, President Obama takes the stage to salute Abraham Lincoln on his 200th birthday. We'll bring you to that live as soon as it starts.

Also breaking news tonight, the presidents pick for Commerce secretary, Republican Senator Judd Gregg, has pulled out. A lot of people including Gregg offering up reasons for the sudden decision. We're going to have the latest details coming up.

Plus, a new and groundbreaking court ruling says there's no link between autism and vaccines. This is a topic that many parents feel very passionate about. We'll get important information from Dr. Sanjay Gupta coming up at the top of the hour -- Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much, Campbell.

And a reminder to join me on the radio Monday through Fridays for the "Lou Dobb's Show." Go to LouDobbsRadio.com to get the local listings for the show on the radio. And please listen to WOR 710 news radio here in New York City 2:00 to 4:00 Eastern.

Still ahead, the results of our poll and some of your thoughts. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOBBS: Tonight's poll results, 74 percent of you say Republican senators win with Senator Judd Gregg's announcement not to go to the Commerce Department.

Time for some of your thoughts now. Karen in Michigan said: "If the government can not coordinate getting simple coupons to Americans to convert their TVs how are they going to coordinate distributing 800 billion dollars to all the respective parties who need it? God help us all." Absolutely.

And Mark in Ohio: "Hi Lou, thanks for holding the line that separates political insanity and sanity. American wake up!!"

You said it. Send us your thoughts to LouDobbs.com. Thanks for being with us tonight. Good night from New York.

Campbell Brown, "NO BIAS, NO BULL" starts right now - - Campbell?

BROWN: Thanks Lou.

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