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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Immigration Politics; Debating Reform; Train of Death; The Brickyard; Song of Hope; Not what you Think; Outrage over Illegals; Immigration Battle; Talking Immigration; Green Fields of America
Aired April 10, 2006 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We're not going to be a country that takes millions of families and splits them apart.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Last Friday, a broad bipartisan agreement to put millions of illegal immigrants on a path to U.S. citizenship stalled in the U.S. Senate. Democrats pointed the finger at Republicans, who called that amnesty and wanted to kill the bill.
Meanwhile, Republicans who have been divided on this issue, united to blame the Democrats.
(Voice-over): Accusing them of punting on a solution to play election-year politics. Especially in light of these long-planned rallies where the focus was on slamming the GOP for passing a hard- line House bill last year, which would make illegal immigrants felons and impose new penalties on anyone who helps them.
Anger over the House bill motivated Elmer Arias to round up 30 busloads of friends and come to the Washington mall. He voted for George W. Bush and regrets it.
ELMER ARIAS, PRESIDENT, SALVADORAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: I was believing in him. But you know, what they're doing right now, I don't think any Hispanics was going to vote for a Republican anymore.
BASH: It's that kind of outrage at the GOP that has Bush allies so worried.
GROVER NORQUIST, PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: If the Republican party maintains its competitive position with the Hispanic vote 40 percent and more, it will govern America for the next 50 years. If it falls to a low percentage of the Hispanic vote, then it won't.
BASH: At immigration rallies only weeks ago, many protesters waved Mexican flags which infuriated even immigrant supporters who thought it looked anti-American.
Senior Democrats worried there could be a backlash, but this time organizers got the message. They worked hard to hand out American flags.
And at the D.C. rally, recited the word every American knows by heart.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With liberty and justice for all!
BASH: Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson supports the version of immigration reform that was passed by the Judiciary Committee. CNN's Lou Dobbs does not. Both gentlemen deal with the problem daily; the governor from up close. We spoke earlier tonight.
COOPER: Why hasn't anything been done? I mean, we've got two weeks of talk in Washington. And I think a lot of people are scratching their heads, saying wait a minute, they've all gone home and nothing's been accomplished?
LOU DOBBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think all of us are hopeful that something could be done intelligently, humanely, rationally and effectively. We're not going to see this done quickly, which is what this president is trying to do. The economics say we don't need a guest worker program. We do need to do something about our illegal immigration crisis.
But first and foremost, as I've said, Anderson, we have to secure these borders. It is a national shame that we have something called a Homeland Security Department, and we have borders across which 3 million illegal aliens cross.
COOPER: But Lou, you say the economics don't need a guest worker program.
COOPER: Just based on humane reasons, I mean, doesn't something, some decision need to be made about these -- whether it's 11 million illegal immigrants or 20 million as you often say?
DOBBS: Right. And that's an entirely different question. I don't know what the number is. There are certainly a number of illegal aliens in this country who have been here for a considerable time -- whether it's seven years, 10 years, 15 years, who have led decent, law-abiding, productive, positive lives in this country. We have to deal honestly and humanely with those people. Whether that is blanket amnesty, whether that is earned legalization, whatever you want to call it, we need to deal humanely with those.
But for people that have been here less than that, we have to be honest about that as well. And none of our politicians have the guts to take that on yet. And nor should they until they deal with border security. Because without border security, you can't control immigration. If you can't control immigration you sure cannot reform it. COOPER: Governor Richardson, the politics of this, I mean, for the Democrats, where does this issue go? I mean, we've heard now, obviously a lot from Senator Kennedy. We've heard from senator Kerry. Senator Clinton has now spoken out on this. In this upcoming election year, I mean for a while it seemed like they were kind of standing on the sidelines watching the Republicans fight over this. Where do they go from here?
GOVERNOR BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: Well, it's important that we treat this as a national issue. It shouldn't get so partisan as it has because we are talking about people. We're talking about securing our borders. But politically, if you look at most Democrats, there is strong support for border security plus a legalization plan.
It's the Republican side that I think is really in trouble because you've got the president, I believe, taking a correct position. I'd like him to go further. But you've got most of his party wanting to pass a House bill that I believe is unworkable, that creates a wall, that has felons out of the 11 million. I just think what you have to do is look at this realistically. You have to have border security. And legalization. What are we going to do? Deport these 11 million? Find them and deport them? We don't have the resources. We don't have the time. We don't have the -- the cost is prohibitive. I think what you have to do is be realistic.
This is going to be a messy problem to resolve, but let's do it efficiently and let's do it in a humane way with a bunch of benchmarks. Let them learn English. Let them pay back taxes. Background checks. Making sure they pay fines. Let's set up some benchmarks that bring and earn legalization.
DOBBS: The fact is, if I may, Anderson, we don't have in place a government administrative apparatus that could do any of that. That's one of the reason the Senate legislation was such a sham. We have 5,500 Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. We are absolutely incapable right now as a federal government of administering this program.
And what we're likely to see go forward, if the Senate should return to this, if they attempt this, I mean, it's just -- they haven't enforced laws in this country on immigration or border security now for basically two decades. Despite 9/11.
RICHARDSON: My point is that we have to deal with this every day in the border, and what we need is, by all means, stronger border security for protection against terrorists, drugs, illegal workers.
RICHARDSON: You have to have fines also on those that knowingly hire illegal workers. A legalization plan, and then another thing, Lou, I think we need to say to Mexico, you have to do more. You have to do more in the...
DOBBS: Oh, absolutely. RICHARDSON: ...area of joint smuggling operations, working with us, joint job creation, patrols at the border. But you have to start somewhere. And I believe if you just do border security, you're only curing half of the problem.
COOPER: That was New Mexico's Governor Bill Richardson and CNN's Lou Dobbs.
Remember, of course, you can catch "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" weeknights, 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time, right here on CNN.
We're doing our best tonight to bring you really all the angles on illegal immigration.
Coming up, a harrowing tale of a journey north from Mexico that many have never seen before and others will never forget. A ride on what they call the train of death.
And then there's this...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEPUTY SEAN PEARCE, MARICOPA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: We have laws that need to be enforced, and if you don't abide by those laws, it's to me, it's no different than, you know, your burglar.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The Arizona sheriff's deputy who has a very personal reason for opposing illegal immigration.
And later, the people almost literally singing for their supper, and their family's supper back in Mexico. The men of Mariachi Plaza, some of the faces in the crowds demonstrating today, next on 360.
COOPER: Desperate to make it to America, some illegal immigrants hop a ride on what they call the "train of death." Almost literally, hell on wheels.
CNN's Ed Lavandera investigates.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The trail of desperation starts here in Chiapas, Mexico. These rail lines have been described as a graveyard without crosses.
SONIA NAZARIO, AUTHOR, "ENRIQUE'S JOURNEY": They call it "el train de la muerte," the train of death.
LAVANDERA: Tens of thousands of Central American migrants hop trains heading north. On this 1,200 mile journey from Chiapas to border towns like Nuevo Laredo, they'll battle bandits who rob and rape, they'll go hungry and thirsty for days. And out of exhaustion, some will fall off the trains, thousands have died.
NAZARIO: Many of them die silently alongside the rails. They bleed to death.
LAVANDERA: Sonia Nazario says the journey is hell. She knows, because she road the train, reporting for her book titled, "Enrique's Journey," the story of a teenage boy who rode the train.
NAZARIO: Some of them know that they're taking their life into their hands. They risk losing arms to the train, losing legs to the train, losing their life. But they are willing to take that risk to be able to work and to be able to feed their families.
LAVANDERA: We asked Nazario to be our guide through Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.
NAZARIO: Once you get this far north, the stakes are very high.
LAVANDERA: Nazario took us to a shelter in this border town, where the lucky few who made it prepare for the jump into the U.S.
NAZARIO: Most people just are overjoyed that they've made it this far because they know that for every one of them that has made it, there are, you know, perhaps 10 who haven't made it this far.
LAVANDERA: It's where we meet 18-year-old Nervin Guerrera (ph). He spent the last month walking and riding the train through Mexico. He left Honduras with $10, bandits robbed him of that. Some days he only ate tortillas people would throw on this train. All this to reunite with his father who he hasn't seen in two years.
He says, having a father is the most marvelous thing in the world. I think about him all the time. He loved me so much when we were together.
Teenage boys are a common sight on the trains. They're hoping to reach parents who went to the U.S. looking for work.
Nazario says the economic and personal desperation of their lives drives them to attempt this dangerous journey. And she warns more will keep coming.
NAZARIO: It grows every year and it's growing because of the desperation in these home countries where people just cannot feed their children and so they see it as the only way to be able to do that.
LAVANDERA: When night falls on the shelter in Nueva Laredo, this group of migrants rest and pray. They survived the most treacherous part of their journey, but they are still far from the promised land.
Ed Lavandera, CNN, Nueva Laredo, Mexico.
COOPER: Well, from there, if they survive, the next leg of the journey across the border begins practically in the middle of nowhere. Yet somehow, everyone knows where to find it. A jumping-off point so busy at times, it might as well be grand central station, "Hiding in Plain Sight."
CNN's Rick Sanchez takes us there.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's called the Brickyard. A place only 4 1/2 miles from the Arizona border where would be immigrants gather for a chance to sneak into the United States. Jose is from Veracruz, Mexico.
What are you going to go when you get to the other side of the border?
He says he'll find a job. A brickyard is what this used to be. But now, amid the bricks and hogs, a cottage industry has developed. This is now a transit post, if you will, where immigrants are shuttled in and shuttled out.
KAT RODRIQUEZ, COALITION OF HUMAN RIGHTS: It's become this way because we basically shifted traffic by the policies they've enacted. We've had a policy of militarizing the border, sealing down urban areas, shifting traffic, migrant traffic into more isolated desert, desolate terrain.
SANCHEZ: Kat Rodriquez is a human rights organizer who's monitored the shift in undocumented immigration away from urban border towns like Nogales, to more rural areas like Altar, Mexico. They arrive there from throughout Central America and from there, they're shuttled 60 miles to "The Brickyard." And from there, another 4 1/2 miles to the border town of Sasabe.
(on camera): We're in Mexico and that is the U.S. point of entry. Undocumented immigrants can't get through there, so they're dispersed instead either to the right or to the left, through the desert.
(voice-over): And through the desert we saw vans shuttling immigrants like Ben Hamin (ph) from Guatemala who left home more than a month ago with nothing but this bag.
You have some shoes, another pair of jeans, some apples, some crackers. All you have in your entire life?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: yes.
SANCHEZ: What he can't show us is his money. That's hidden from lurking coyotes and bandits who take advantage of desperate immigrants.
RODRIQUEZ: The majority of migrants that I've talked to often expect to get robbed.
SANCHEZ: And there's the desert with its cactus, snakes, scorpions and scorching sun. It's a journey that kills dozens every month, but yet many of these immigrants keep crossing, some repeatedly.
Elizabeth Padril (ph) lives in Tucson and helps newly arrived immigrants.
You've seen some of your clients arrive, get deported, and they're back the next day by dinner time?
ELIZABETH PADRIL (ph), LIVES IN TUCSON: Exactly. Exactly.
RODRIQUEZ: It's an absolutely ridiculous idea that you can seal the border.
SANCHEZ: So what is the better option? Human rights workers like Rodriquez say there should be a screening process to allow immigrants to enter the U.S. legally. If need be, charging them the $2,000 they now pay to coyotes to get across.
(on camera): If you could pay that $2,000 legally and be allowed in the United States, would you pay it? You would pay it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): They say the backlog in immigration makes it's impossible or them to wait. So they keep coming, along this newest route, along the Arizona-Mexico border.
Rick Sanchez, CNN, Sonora, Mexico.
COOPER: Some raw data for you -- of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, more than half come from Mexico. Here's the raw data.
According to the Urban Institute, 57 percent of all undocumented people in the U.S. were born in Mexico; 23 percent come from other parts of Latin America; 10 percent of illegal immigrants arrive from Asia; and the rest from Europe and Canada, Africa and other countries.
We'll be taking your calls on immigration in just a few moments. Take a look, right now we have thousands still rallying out in Los Angeles. That is happening right now. Lots to talk about. The toll- free number to give us a call, 1-877-648-3639. That's 877-648-3639.
Also, the dark side of immigration. A sheriff's deputy who was shot by an illegal immigrant and some of the other faces of immigration.
With family back in Mexico that they're supporting with Mariachi music here.
You're watching 360.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: And you're looking at live pictures from Los Angeles. A rally there that still continues at this hour. Like others across the country today, hundreds of thousands of people marched, calling for immigration reform.
Each has a story, though. Often like today, they are lost in the crowd. The musicians among them have a way of getting through, however.
CNN's Thelma Gutierrez has their story.
THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the shadow of downtown Los Angeles, in east L.A., is a place called Mariachi Plaza, where people come to hire mariachi bands that play traditional Mexican music. And where musicians, some legal, some illegal, gather to eke out a living.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We don't come to steal. We'd just like an opportunity to work.
GUTIERREZ: We meet these mariachis at the plaza. All of them admit they came to this country illegally, though some say they have since legalized their status.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I came across the mountains like everyone else, paying coyotes, walking day and night to get here, and here we are.
GUTIERREZ: Carlos, Fermine (ph), and the others say they're not proud they broke the law to get here, but say economic desperation drove them to it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I have a wife and six kids in Mexico. I'm here to help them survive over there.
GUTIERREZ: Florentino (ph) says he says he tries to send home $300 to $400 every two weeks. Ismael (ph) tries to send about the same, to support six people, including his parents.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): All of us came with the illusion that we could survive and help our families survive, and at the same time contribute to the economy of this country, too. We pay sales taxes and we're consumers here, and we help the economy.
GUTIERREZ: That's the message these marchers want to send to Washington. It's also the reason this mariachi, who got a Green Card after 26 years in this country as an illegal immigrant, has become political here in a way he says he never would have in Mexico.
SERGIO (through translator), IMMIGRANT: I prefer going to the march to working. We have to support the cause because here people say we're criminals. But we're not.
GUTIERREZ: Sergio is the father of eight children, all U.S. citizens born here. And he owns this two-bedroom home. He says he'll pay about $2,000 in income taxes this year, and has never taken a government handout.
SERGIO (through translator): In Mexico, we earn $60 a week. Here, it's $60 a day, so it's worth it.
GUTIERREZ: Sergio is a third-generation mariachi. And along with the photo of his father in his living room is an American flag, a sign of respect he says, for the country that has given his family so much.
SERGIO (through translator): I feel I'm a son of this country. It makes me so happy when I cross the border from Tijuana to the U.S. I thank God -- I say thank you. Thank you for the freedom. It's so beautiful. At the same time, I'm sad for all those that can't feel what I'm feeling.
GUTIERREZ: A feeling he tries to share through his music.
COOPER: And the demonstrations which are continuing right now, Thelma, how are they going? How many people are there right now? Is it a large crowd?
GUTIERREZ (on camera): Well, it's really interesting, Anderson. Just a short time ago, we talked to fire officials. They tell us that at least 10,000 people marched to the federal building here in Los Angeles.
Now, all of this started about three hours ago. Still, if you take a look around me, you can see hundreds of people milling about. They're playing music, they're waving American flags and they're chanting for justice.
Now, all of this has been peaceful. Turnout here kind of low compared to the other march last month. But we're told, again, this is a Monday. It's 5:00. People are still coming home from work. And in addition, Anderson, there have been marches in 22 cities around California, 12 marches in the Los Angeles area alone. And so that probably accounts for the reason that you see people kind of dispersed throughout the area and not such a large gathering as before.
COOPER: Thelma Gutierrez, thanks very much, from Los Angeles at the site of a rally that still continues right now.
Some people are making a big deal over which flags are flying. At these rallies, you saw some Mexican flags there, some American flags, as well, as if it were either/or. And as if illegal immigration from Mexico were the only issue. It's not, of course.
And our next guest tonight wants you to know it. Alisa Valdes- Rodriguez is a writer and blogger, who calls herself a citizen of the world. She wrote an op-ed piece in today's "Washington Post," a list of myths about immigrants and Latinos. The title, "I'm Not what You Might Think." We spoke earlier tonight.
COOPER: So Alisa, what do you think the media is getting so wrong in their reporting on immigration?
ALISA VALDES-RODRIGUEZ, AUTHOR, "MAKE HIM LOOK GOOD": I think the media is -- are confusing several terms that not synonymous with each other. They're using Hispanic or Latino as a synonym for immigrant. And that is very dangerous for a couple of reasons. One reason is that 60 percent of Latinos in the United States were born here. And of the 40 percent who were born elsewhere, most of them are legal immigrants. And many of them are citizens.
COOPER: You know, the Pew Hispanic Center has research, I guess showing that more than half of the undocumented population in the U.S. is Mexican. Knowing that that's the case, why not focus on this community, how they're coming into the United States and how they affect our economy?
VALDES-RODRIGUEZ: Oh, well, you just said Mexican. That's another mistake the media make all the time, assuming that all Latinos in the United States are Mexican.
COOPER: That's a good point.
VALDES-RODRIGUEZ: There are a couple nations that have Latinos -- actually, you become Latino when you get here.
COOPER: But I actually didn't say that Latinos and Mexicans are the same. I said that according to a Pew Hispanic Center -- according to the Pew Hispanic Center, research shows that more than half the undocumented population in the United States is Mexican.
VALDES-RODRIGUEZ: That may be the case. That may be the case, but you've also got tens of thousands of undocumented Irish in Boston. You've got 100,000 Nigerians living in and around Houston. And my point is if this is truly an issue, if immigration is the issue -- illegal immigration, you should show a variety of faces. Because the way that the American media are covering the issue right now, it's becoming an anti-Latino story.
I cannot tell you how many times I've seen stories that equate Mexican, illegal, Latino, Hispanic, using those words interchangeably and also using them to mean Spanish speaking. Where in my state of New Mexico, which is a majority Hispanic state, only 14 percent of the people speak Spanish at all.
COOPER: In your list, you say that the U.S. has two international borders, not one. To date, not a single terrorist has gotten into the U.S. through Mexico. That may be true, but I mean, isn't it a point of concern that nearly half a million people are able to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexican border every year? I mean, isn't it OK to talk about this? VALDES-RODRIGUEZ: No, because the inference that is being made is that the people coming over the border are dangerous. And that they're going to bring terrorism. When, in fact, the majority of the terrorists from 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia with documents, with passports. And the anti-American terrorist groups that are functioning out there have extremely deep pockets.
Do you think any Saudi Arabian member of al Qaeda is going to say, you know what, man? I think it's a really great idea to go swim over the Rio Grande with a bunch of Mexicans. Because that's insane.
COOPER: But are you arguing then that it doesn't matter that the security of the border is not a problem, that it doesn't matter whether or not we can control who comes across the border?
VALDES-RODRIGUEZ: Where's Tim McVeigh from, Anderson?
COOPER: Well, yes, of course, he's...
VALDES-RODRIGUEZ: I mean, do you want to put a wall around New York? You cannot predict that someone's a terrorist because they've come over one border or another. Not a single anti-American terrorist has come over the border from Mexico.
VALDES-RODRIGUEZ: Whereas two have come over the border from Canada. Why aren't we talking about building a wall around Canada?
COOPER: You raise a lot of really interesting points. And I appreciate your perspective. I would like to have you on again.
VALDES-RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.
COOPER: Well, coming up, a very different view of illegal immigration. Dad is a lawmaker in Arizona. His son, a sheriff's deputy, and neither is happy about the immigration rallies today. And they do care about who's coming across the border. We'll tell you why, ahead on 360.
We'll also be taking your calls on immigration reform. We want to know what you think. Should illegal immigrants be sent back, or should they stay? Should they be granted amnesty or have the right to earn it? Call us toll-free at 877-648-3639.
COOPER: Well, as we said earlier, one of the biggest rallies today was in Phoenix, Arizona, where organizers said an estimated 300,000 people turned out to show their support for immigration rights. Arizona is as close to the border wars as you can get. Thousands of illegal immigrants try to cross its border with Mexico each day. Thousands are arrested, but many get in, and some stay. There are plenty of people who are not happy about that. Here's CNN's Dan Simon.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sean Pearce has no doubts about where he stands on illegal immigration.
DEPUTY SEAN PEARCE, MARICOPA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: We have laws that need to be enforced. And if you don't abide by those laws, to me it's no different than, you know your burglar.
SIMON: Pearce has reasons for feeling that way. He's a sheriff's deputy in Phoenix who was shot by an illegal alien. December 2004, Pearce, a member of the Maricopa County Sheriff's SWAT Unit, was trying, along with the team, to execute a search warrant on a murder suspect's trailer home when he and two other deputies came under fire.
(On camera): Where did you take the hit?
PEARCE: First round was in the vest, which gave us some protection. The second one went just below the vest. So just in the abdomen area.
SIMON (voice-over): Doctors say that second bullet could have been fatal. It pierced his intestinal wall and nearly ruptured an artery. Today Pearce is standing guard over thousands, many of whom are illegal aliens. He's not shy about that either.
PEARCE: I understand protesting is a right that you have. But to cater to an illegal entity, it irritates me.
SIMON: He's not the only one named Pearce to be irritated. His father, Russell Pearce, is one of the Arizona legislature's loudest voices calling for better border enforcement.
STATE REPRESENTATIVE RUSSELL PEARCE (R), ARIZONA: Shame on Washington, D.C., and local law enforcement for letting it get this bad.
SIMON: State Representative Pearce, a Republican, sponsored a voter initiative in 2004 that limits public benefits to illegals. According to the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission, the state now ranks number one in the nation for overall crime.
R. PEARCE: Number one, and you can't deny there's a direct correlation between that and our open border.
SIMON: Immigrant advocates deny that illegal immigrants are responsible for crime, saying most are hard-working, honorable people. Tens of thousands marched in Phoenix Monday to make that point, and ask Americans to accept them as fellow citizens. But these demonstrations just have the opposite affect on the Pearces.
R. PEARCE: This is groups that are here illegally, walking down the streets, demanding stuff, demanding amnesty, demanding we recognize them as if they have rights. They don't even belong here. They're illegal.
S. PERACE: I look at him as a hero. I mean, somebody's got to stand up on these immigration issues.
SIMON: For the elder Pearce, the fact that his son was almost killed by an illegal alien has made the immigration issue personal.
R. PEARCE: I almost lost a son because of the government's failure to do what they promised us they would do and have an obligation to do, and that's enforce our laws.
SIMON: Laws that are now being debated across the country.
(On camera): According to one recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, illegal immigration ranked as the number one issue confronting local residents. That was ahead of taxes and terrorism.
Dan Simon, CNN, Phoenix.
COOPER: Well, they're also being debated right here, of course, on 360. I'm joined now by Gerson Berrero, a columnist for the Spanish newspaper, "El Diario," and also D.A. King, president of the Dustin Inman Society, an organization against illegal immigration and the founder of the American Resistance Foundation. He quit his job selling insurance to become a full-time activist.
Gentlemen, appreciate both of you being with us.
Mr. King, let me start off with you. When you see these demonstrations today, what do you think?
D.A. KING, DUSTIN INMAN SOCIETY: Anderson, what I think is that this is not so much about immigration as it is whether or not the United States of America is going to be permitted to have borders and immigration laws.
COOPER: But you -- how do you say it's not about immigration? I mean, what do you think should happen to the 11 million illegal immigrants, by most estimates, who are here now?
KING: I think that the law should apply to everyone equally, including the 11 million -- or I think probably 20 million illegal aliens who are here. I think it is a great injustice to the real legal immigrants who have joined the American family lawfully, to have the label of immigrant put upon someone who woke up one day and decided they can make five times as much money in the United States as they can at home. My only agenda is have a secure borders and equally applied laws.
COOPER: Do you believe these people are criminals?
KING: I believe someone who violates the law is a criminal. Yes, sir.
COOPER: Mr. Gerson, what about that?
GERSON BERRERO, COLUMNIST, "EL DIARIO": well, you have to understand that a person that wakes up at any given country, whether it's Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, whether it's Ireland, whether it's anywhere in the world, and decided that they've had enough, and because of the economic constraints and the hardships that are imposed by really laws and accords like NAFTA and CAFTA and other trade agreements that the United States imposes on those countries or it reaches with them, it creates havoc for them in their daily lives. People have to eat. And if they find that they can feed their families by crossing a border and doing that illegal thing, then they'll do it because they have to live.
COOPER: But mustn't a nation be able to control its borders?
BERRERO: Absolutely. But this is not a problem that arose the other day. It's a problem that has really -- I mean, both Democrats and Republicans have ignored this. And what I submit to you is that if we had listened to -- one of the few times we should have listened to President Bush was on January 7, 2004, and taken seriously at least what he threw out there for everybody to discuss, and that Democrats and John Kerry should have done it in 2004 when he was running for president and the other candidates, we could have had a real serious resolve on this.
Right now it's a partisan, political bickering that's going on, with the expanse being -- I just saw on this screen a person burning a Mexican flag. Do you know that it's illegal to do that in Mexico? Now, what are you going to start? Are you going to start Mexicans burning the American flag now? Now, people who say oh, they shouldn't fly Mexican flags or Honduran flags or Puerto Rican flags or Cuban flags. Well, let me ask you something. I've seen some real patriots here, that flag-waving Americans who are in jail or on their way to jail like Tom DeLay, like the Enron people, those are scoundrels, and those are the kinds of citizens that they want the so-called illegal people to be? That's what we're talking about. That's the American -- look at that, the flag is being burned right now. Is that correct? Nobody -- I haven't seen in any of these demonstrations...
KING: Anderson, with due respect...
BERRERO: ...of millions of people, not one has burned an American flag. That's provocation.
COOPER: OK, Mr. King?
KING: The flag of the United States is being flown in Colorado upside down below the flag of Mexico. There are -- there was a young man punished in his school in the Chicago area last summer for not standing during the National Anthem -- the Mexican National Anthem. We tried an amnesty for illegal aliens in 1986. I am told that Albert Einstein once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. We have proven, without a doubt, that amnesty does not stop illegal immigration.
You asked me earlier what I wanted to happen to the 11 or 15 -- I believe more than 20 -- illegal aliens in this country, I want the laws applied equally for everyone, even if they happen to be Latino, or even if they happen to be more poor than people who live in the United States.
COOPER: OK. We've got a lot of people calling in. We want to get those questions to you guys. D.A. and Gerson are going to stay around to answer your questions when we come back. What do you think about today's rallies over immigration? Should illegal immigrants be sent back? Or should they be given amnesty or allowed to earn an amnesty? We want to know what you think. Call us toll-free at 877- 648-3639. We'll put your questions to them.
COOPER: We are back with D.A. King, the founder of the American Resistance Foundation; and Gerson Berrero, a columnist for the Spanish newspaper, "El Diario." We're taking your calls about immigration reform. You can call us toll-free, 877-648-3639.
Our first caller, Jeff from California. Jeff, thanks for calling. What's your question?
JEFF, CALIFORNIA (on the phone): Well, it's kind of a question and statement. What I'd like to know is, you know, I keep seeing signs and hearing all these people saying that, you know, we pay taxes, and we do this. How do they do this legally without a Social Security number? And I guess my question would be, or a challenge to the president of the United States, is what about the homeless citizens that are legal that don't have jobs or homes to support themselves? What are we doing about them? You need to take care of your home before you can take care of anything else.
KING: What a concept.
COOPER: D.A., you want to comment on that?
KING: I would. The federal government has set up a program to pay income taxes even if you do not have a Social Security number. It's called the individual tax identification number. The last time I looked, there were more than 8 million of those numbers issued. And a little less than 2 million income taxes having been returned. The ITIN is being used primarily to make mortgage loans and open bank accounts to people who are in this country illegally which, in itself, is a violation of existing federal laws.
COOPER: But supporters of illegal immigrants' rights will say they pay taxes in other ways.
BORRERO: If you're paying taxes and you qualify for paying a mortgage, which is a sentence of 30 years, 35 in certain cases, what's wrong with that? They're contributing. They're making a commitment to something that is here.
KING: What's wrong with that...
BERRERO: Now, with regards to what Jeff said from California, with regards to people that are homeless, the reality is that we do have a poverty problem which is not because of undocumented immigrants. It's a problem that we haven't addressed for decades. So to throw that in, in the mix, and say that we're not -- we're creating poverty, I suggest to you as a result of economic policies that we implement in other countries. That's why we have this immigration problem.
KING: Maybe somebody could offer up -- somebody point me to an example of wages going up in this country because of illegal immigration. We are importing poverty. There are 5 billion people on this planet more poor than people in Mexico and Latin America.
Let me say this. Nobody I know blames anybody for wanting to live in the United States, myself included. But if we are not going to enforce our borders, it's the same thing as not having borders. And I think that is the final goal for a great number of people.
COOPER: We've got a lot of callers. I want to get some of them in.
Erica from Alabama. Erica, thanks for calling. What's your comment or question?
ERICA, ALABAMA (on the phone): Well, I need to ask two things. First of all, I want to know, like not about money or anything like that, my husband, if he has to go back, what's going to happen -- who's going to raise my children? Who's going to give my children the love that my husband does?
COOPER: Wait, you're saying your husband is illegal?
ERICA: He is.
COOPER: But you're legal?
ERICA: Yes, I am. I'm an American citizen. I was born here.
COOPER: Well, by law, my understanding is, he should be able to become an American citizen.
BERRERO: It depends on the circumstances, how it happened and what year it happened, so there's all kinds of -- this is the unknown that we have right now because of the partisan bickering that's going on in Washington, between the Republicans and Democrats. They're ignoring all this. Now you see everybody speaking up from Hillary Clinton to Sensenbrenner having opinions. Everybody now is for the immigrants, including the unions who always -- you know, it's interesting. You talk about poverty. The unions now see dollar signs in these 3 million, 4 million new people that can add to their union roll so they can collect dues. So what we have here, when D.A. says that it's poverty, these people are not poverty stricken. They're going to contribute. They're going to continue to contribute. And that's why the labor movement, the organized labor movement sees the dollar signs, as oh, my God, we have new members that we can -- come into our ranks. So they're not making poverty here. These people are not poor. They have money.
KING: Again, somebody point me to an example of American wages going up because of massive uncontrolled illegal immigration.
COOPER: Stephanie from Japan. Stephanie, what's your question?
STEPHANIE, JAPAN (on the phone): Yes, thank you, Anderson. CNN's Lou Dobbs speaks very convincingly about the need to secure our borders. However, some say that walls are not foolproof. Exactly how could America's borders be secured, assuming that our government could produce an adequate budget to address the problem?
COOPER: Well, D.A., what about that? When I was down in Arizona, I asked a border guard, and he said, look, you could build a wall 500 feet tall and 50 feet deep and still you wouldn't be able to stop people from getting over or underneath that wall. How do you do it?
KING: Anderson, I, too, I have been to the Arizona border three times in the last two years and I plan on going back. The concept that building a wall or fortifying our border won't stop illegal immigration is outrageous. But I think the open borders lobby, the amnesty lobby, I think you can tell how well it will work by their level of outrage when you even mention the possibility of actually securing American borders.
One other thing. I'm not aware of any other crime -- insider trading, check forgery, burglary, bank robbery -- I can think of no other crime for which we worry about so much about the children or the family of the person who should always be punished.
BERRERO: This is so silly. This is so silly about building a wall or putting sensors or having guards on the border. It's like right -- does anybody in the United States flying an airplane still feel safe because we have people checking our bags or going through sensors? I mean, it's stupid. A wall is stupid. It's as stupid as feeling secure on an airplane, that somehow we're being adequately checked and everybody, the luggage is being checked, and that we're not going to have another terrorist attack by plane. This is silly. It's really nonsense. It's a waste of money.
What should happen, Anderson, is that the president of the United States, with the backing of Congress in a united manner, can speak to Vicente Fox, to all the presidents of Central America, and come up with a solution to solve the problems that are being created economically in those nations so that we won't have this influx. That's how you stop it.
COOPER: I got to -- I hate to interrupt. I've got to jump in, though here. We're simply out of time.
D.A. King, we'd love to have you back on. It was an intelligent discussion.
KING: Thank you, Anderson. Thank you very much.
COOPER: Gerson Berrero, as well, really, it's always good to have an intelligent discussion. Thanks.
BERRERO: Thank you.
Another face of illegal -- and thanks for your calls. I know we didn't get to a lot of them, but we do appreciate you calling in.
Another face of illegal immigration when we come back. One that doesn't fit the stereotype.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN, UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT: I do everything for the American. I follow the NASCAR, I follow the American football. I hunt like the Vice President Dick Cheney.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, let's hope he doesn't hunt quite like Dick Cheney hunts.
Coming up, why he and thousands of other Irish immigrants say they are caught in a very American situation catch-22.
COOPER: More now on the non-Mexican face of illegal immigration. About 50,000 Irish live here illegally, maybe more. They enter the country on Visas usually and never go back. They live normal lives with some pretty big exceptions. It may not be a nightmare, but as CNN's Randi Kaye found out, it stops far short of being the American dream.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For a decade, Brian and Caroline have called America home.
BRIAN, UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT: I am American as much as President George Bush. I do everything American. I follow the NASCAR, I follow the American football. I hunt like the Vice President Dick Cheney.
KAYE: They own a home in Yonkers outside New York City, pay taxes, and both have jobs. Brian owns a plumbing business. Caroline works as a secretary.
BRIAN: We want to have a family in this country, but the situation we're in at the minute, we can't go forward. We're stuck.
KAYE: Stuck because Brian and Caroline, who asked us not to use their last name, are living in the United States illegally.
BRIAN: It's like being at the top of a ladder or two rungs from the top, and we can't get to the top.
CAROLINE, UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT: I'd find it very, very hard to leave here. Because just made it our home.
KAYE: Caroline lives every day in fear of being deported back to Ireland where they both came from on tourist Visas, now long expired.
(On camera): Is it strange for you because you're living the life of an American citizen, yet you're not a citizen?
BRIAN: Exactly. It's just, it's very frustrating for me because, like I am doing everything an American citizen does, but all I need is that small piece of paper, the Green Card.
KAYE: He travels the country to speak out at rallies like this one held today in New York City.
BRIAN: ... what's going to happen. We're going to stand together!
KAYE: What would you say are some of the greatest challenges that you face here, living here illegally?
BRIAN: Well, the number one challenge, as you saw today, is the driving. That's the biggest danger for me at the minute is not having my driver's license.
KAYE: The law requires anyone applying for a new license provide a valid Social Security number. Since he's illegal, Brian doesn't have one.
BRIAN: I employ two Irish guys and two American lads. One of them I actually employed just to drive me around and to work.
KAYE: And travel? That's out of the question. Too risky.
CAROLINE: I missed both grandparents' funerals. I couldn't go home for them.
KAYE (voice-over): Before the couple's wedding in New York last October, they hadn't seen family and friends in years. They feel they are being treated like terrorists, not like the hardworking, tax- paying citizens in training they consider themselves to be.
(On camera): Do you see a clear path of citizenship in the future?
BRIAN: Definitely, I do. I think the immigration system is definitely progressing, and I feel very strongly that they have to do something. I think they will.
KAYE: Brian and Caroline hope next year, if immigration reform passes, they will have new Visas, and soon after, they'll have children. American citizens who won't have to wait like their parents did to walk freely and legally on U.S. soil.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Well, a look at what's "On the Radar," in a moment.
First, Sophia Choi from "HEADLINE NEWS," joins us with some of the business stories we're following tonight -- Sophia.
SOPHIA: Hi Anderson.
Former Enron Boss Jeffrey Skilling told jurors at its fraud trial today that he resigned from the company because he was exhausted, and not because he knew it was about to fail. Skilling says he's innocent of the charges. He said Enron was in good shape when he left, and he had no clue that it would disintegrate just four months later.
Well, gold is at its highest price for more than 25 years. As fears about inflation and the Middle East and uncertainty over the dollar drove investors away from the equities market. It spiked at just over $600 an ounce, its highest since December 1980.
And prospects for our tech workers are getting better, according to a report released just today. Tech sector job cuts for the first quarter of the year were 40 percent lower than last year -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Sophia, thanks.
Immigration is very much "On the Radar." Randi Kaye's report on Brian, the Irish illegal immigrant, struck a chord on the blog.
Tina in Chicago writes, "If he loves this country so much, how much trouble is too much trouble to go through to properly register and be able to call himself a proud American?"
"The problem," says Melissa, in Portsmouth, Ohio, "comes from playing favorites. Cubans" she writes, "are pretty much automatically given citizenship when they hit our shores, but everyone else has to go through lengthy and expensive barriers to become citizens."
And from Nicole in Joliet, Illinois, there's this. "I don't think the average American understands the day to day struggle these people face. Most American citizens just don't realize how good we have it." Nicole, amen to that.
More of 360 in a moment. Stay with us.
COOPER: So here's a quick question. Here's a quick question. What do our immigration reports on 360 have in common with Cynthia McKinney, the lawmaker who had a dustup with a Capitol Hill policeman last week? Give up? Well, they were both sent up in a skit on "Saturday Night Live." And we're going to take that as a compliment because, well frankly, what other choice do we have? Take a look.
SETH MEYERS, PLAYING ANDERSON COOPER: If you like your news rugged, yet fragile; tough, yet sensitive; and with icy blue eyes that say, yes, this is going to work out. You've come to the right place. President Fox?
ANTONIO BANDERAS, PLAYING MEXICAN PRESIDENT VICENTE FOX: Well, you talk about Mexican immigration problem. What about the American immigration problem to my country?
MEYERS: To your country -- what do you mean?
BANDERAS: Spring break.
BANDERAS: Thousands of young Americans stream into my country every spring -- to places like Cancun and Puerto Vallarta and Tijuana. You suck up our natural resources, such as tequila and rum punch.
KENAN THOMPSON, PLAYING CYNTHIA MCKINNEY: I am going to work. Mama's getting paid.
MEYERS: Interesting take.
THOMPSON: Don't you sass me, Anderson Cooper! I will slap that Kiehl's moisturizer right off your face, Anderson Cooper.
MEYERS: That's all the time we have. Coming up next, a very special "LOU DOBBS REPORT," where Lou goes to an Indian restaurant, strips to the waist and offers to fight any waiter that dares to try it.
And, Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!
COOPER: And that's Monday night for us. Larry King is next -- the latest on the Duke University scandal.
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