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Lou Dobbs Tonight

The Debate Over Immigration & Border Security Continues

Aired April 01, 2006 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening everybody I'm Lou Dobbs in Cancun, Mexico where the tri-lateral summit has just concluded. President Bush, once again, calling for a guest worker amnesty program, a program that Mexican President Vicente Fox embraces and applauds, and most Americans outright oppose. The Senate Judiciary committee passed the most sweeping immigration reform in a generation, and the senate took up the debate on reform that includes a guest worker amnesty program and all but ignores border security.
And hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of some of our major cities this week, protesting the tough house version of immigration reform and border security. They demanded amnesty, while waving the flags of foreign nations. We'll have all of that and a great deal more here tonight in our special report, "Broken Borders" from Cancun, Mexico.

We begin with the trilateral summit, among President Bush, Mexican President Vicente Fox and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Atop that agenda, illegal immigration and border security. But the meeting yielded little in the way of any real solutions to the very real problems facing these three nations and their people. President Bush is demanding congress approve a so-called guest worker program that would legalize the 11 to as many as 20 million illegal aliens already living in the United States. But serious questions remain as to how we can reform immigration without first controlling illegal immigration and our own borders. Elaine Quijano has our report.


ELAINE QUIJANO, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Two days of meetings and still simmering, the red hot issue of illegal immigration with a topic boiling over in Washington.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I want a comprehensive bill, and I've made that very clear to the members of the congress, and I will continue making it clear to members of congress.

QUIJANO: President Bush did not back away from his controversial temporary guest worker proposal. But when asked, he refused to say he would use his veto, if congress sent him an immigration bill without the guest worker provision.

BUSH: I believe a guest worker program will help us rid the society and the border of these coyotes who smuggle people in the back of 18-wheelers. I believe it will help get rid of the document forgers. I believe it will help people on both sides of the border.

QUIJANO: An estimated 6 million illegal immigrants living in the United States are from Mexico. Mexican President Vicente Fox acknowledged dealing with the issue is a shared responsibility and said Mexico is taking steps to secure its northern and southern borders, including going after smugglers.

PRESIDENT VICENTE FOX, MEXICO (translator): Many actions have been implemented. Many actions have to do with close cooperation with security authorities with the United States.

QUIJANO: On the Canadian side, a different point of contention, that country's new prime minister, Stephen Harper, told President Bush he is concerned about a U.S. law that will require Canadians to present a passport-like document before crossing the U.S.-Canada border.

STEPHEN HARPER, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: If we don't move quickly and properly on this, that this could have affects on trade and movement of people, conventions, you name it.

BUSH: The congress passed a law and I intend to enforce the law. I believe this can be done, in such a way that it makes future travel, future relations stronger, not weaker.

QUIJANO: As expected, there were no break-throughs on those big issues but the countries did agree to move forward on a number of smaller initiatives, all of them aimed at ensuring economic opportunities and security for North America. And the three countries also agreed to meet again the next time, in Canada, in June of 2007. Elaine Quijano, CNN, Cancun, Mexico.


DOBBS: Mexican President Fox couldn't have sounded more conciliatory here in Cancun over the illegal immigration issue. After all, President Fox does have a powerful ally in the White House, and powerful groups lobbying groups and special interest groups that are pushing his amnesty agenda in the United States. Casey Wian reports.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mexican President Vicente Fox is finally acknowledging his government's responsibility to help the United States reduce illegal immigration, and out of control violence along our broken borders.

FOX (translator): We have spoken about the fact that the position of Mexico, assuming our responsibilities, migration-wise, but we have a firm commitment of generating jobs. Likewise, we're doing our own work in crimes amongst the different drug cartels. We should continue working. There's a presence of federal forces, and then the commitment to win the battle against organized crime and drug trafficking.

WIAN: During the summit, President Fox also acknowledged that responsibility for immigration reform belongs to the United States congress. It was in sharp contrast to the Fox administration's five- year efforts to dictate U.S. border policy. Fox's newfound cooperation is not likely to have much impact, especially now that hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens and open borders advocates are now waving Mexican flags in demonstrations on American soil. And Fox is still refusing to do anything to stop the millions of illegal aliens who gather along Mexican border towns that are staging areas for illegal crossings, saying he won't restrict the freedom of movement of Mexican citizens. Despite that President Bush thanked President Fox for his efforts.

BUSH: So I appreciate the president's commitment to security along our border and we share the same commitment. It's very important to enforce laws.

WIAN: But that enforcement is selective at best. For example, Fox was careful to point out his government has successfully stopped nearly a quarter of a million central Americans from illegally crossing Mexico's southern border. Creating more jobs for Mexicans in Mexico and cracking down on drug violence here, would certainly help improve conditions along the U.S.-Mexican border. The question remains, how much can Vicente Fox get done in the eight months he has left in office? Casey Wian, CNN, Cancun, Mexico.


DOBBS: The Senate Judiciary Committee this week passed what is the most sweeping immigration reform proposal in a generation. The cornerstone of that legislation is the so-called guest worker program, also known as amnesty for millions of illegal aliens living in the United States. But as the full senate takes up the debate, that guest worker program is pitting republicans against republicans. Andrea Koppel has the report from Capitol Hill.


Mr. Craig?

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As the first full day of debate got under way, critics of a proposed plan to lay out a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants hammered away at what they saw as the plan's Achilles heel.

SEN. DAVID VITTER, (R) LOUISIANA: Any measure that's tantamount to amnesty sends exactly the wrong message, as we try to get our hands around this problem. We are a nation that believes in upholding the rule of law.

KOPPEL: But the plan's supporters which include prominent republicans, as well as democrats, insisted these illegal immigrants would not get a free pass, and would have to meet a series of requirements over 11 years, before they'd qualify to become a U.S. citizen.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER, (R) PENNSYLVANIA: You do not want to create a fugitive class in America, and then underclass in America, but the committee bill is not amnesty.

KOPPEL: Another hot button issue under debate, a proposal to allow future immigrants to come to the U.S. to work under a so-called guest worker program. But over in the house which already passed a much tougher bill last December, focused exclusively on border security, republican congressman Tom Tancredo pledged to oppose any guest worker program.

REP. TOM TANCREDO, (R) COLORADO: But John Q. Citizen doesn't want it. They don't want the senate plan. What they want is clear and simple. They want to secure the border, and they want to go after the people who are hiring people who are here illegally.

KOPPEL: Tancredo is one of the harshest critics of illegal immigration in this country. While's he's far from alone the speaker of the house has already signaled the house may have to compromise once the senate wraps up its debate, something the republican leadership hopes will happen by the end of next week, before the Easter/Passover recess. Andrea Koppel, CNN, Capitol Hill.


DOBBS: The senate proposals are far from the tough restrictions passed in the house. The Sensenbrenner Bill would make illegal immigration in fact a felony. It would also increase penalties for employers who hire illegal aliens and it would also extend fences along the U.S.-Mexican border by 700 miles. Later in this broadcast, I'll be talking with congressman Sensenbrenner about the tough battle that lies ahead for immigration reform and border security in congress, and whether either is possible.

Corporate America, labor unions, the catholic church, powerful, special interest lobbies are driving the passage of immigration reform, particularly the version reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Big business has perhaps the most to gain certainly from guest worker amnesty. Corporate America is relying on the millions of illegal aliens who are willing to work for exploited wages in those jobs that Americans, as the president puts it, simply won't do. Peter Viles reports.


PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Who is really behind the push for guest worker programs or outright amnesty? The lobbyists for just about every business in America that relies on cheap labor, the restaurant industry, the retail industry, hotels, builders, landscapers, hospitals, truckers fruit and vegetable growers.

TOM DONOHUE, PRESIDENT, U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Let me address the often heard argument that business supports immigration reform because it would increase the supply of cheap labor. That's simply not true. Why would we want to take people out of the shadows if that's what we were attempting to accomplish?

VILES: Businesses and the president say most of the jobs taken by illegal immigrants are jobs Americans won't do, but critics see something else, an effort to keep wages artificially low by forcing middle class Americans to compete against cheaper foreign workers.

DAN STEIN, F.A.I.R: What's the motivation? Billions and billions of dollars of wealth that are going to be redistributed from middle class, hard-working American families into the pockets of the relatively small number of very wealthy people in this country.

VILES: Democrats have long positioned themselves as champions of middle class workers, but in this debate, leaders in both political parties support the corporate agenda. Democrats often argue it's a matter of civil rights.

MICHAEL LIND, THE NEW AMERICAN FOUNDATION: This is what is cynical. They are trying to portray what is a capitulation to a reactionary policy by the greediest, most unscrupulous, ruthless employers in the United States. These democrats are trying to portray this as something pro-Latino or a civil rights issue. And in my view, it's complete hypocrisy.

VILES: Both parties also see a chance to court new voters jockeying that began the first summer of the Bush administration, when columnist Paul Gigot wrote "Most Hispanics are democrats. A Bush amnesty is precisely the kind of large political event that could shake up those allegiances."

Now it would be a mistake for anyone to think the only jobs at stake are low wage jobs. Here is the example, the National Association of Manufacturers says it is watching the immigration debate very closely and on its website this week it wrote, "We tend to look at the high end and the need for more visas, these were the H1B visas, for smart, skilled workers." So business lobbies at every level telling the congress right now, they need more foreign workers. Peter Viles for CNN, Los Angeles.


DOBBS: On our broadcast each night, we conduct polls, unscientific as they are, to better understand what viewers of this broadcast are thinking and how they're thinking, and they're skeptical, skeptical at best, about the commitment of the White House, and congress, when it comes to meaningful border security and immigration reform.

Only 6% of you say congress will take effective action to address the lack of security at our borders, and the worsening illegal alien crisis. 61% said enforcing existing laws would be the most effective way to address the issue of illegal immigration. Only 2% said the president's guest worker program would work. And 96% of you said the president's guest worker amnesty program is an insult to the millions of legal immigrants who wait for years to become legal citizens of the United States.

In our poll tonight, we'd like to know what you're thinking. The question is, who do you believe has the most influence over U.S. immigration policy? President Bush, President Fox, congress, corporate America, or American citizens? Please cast your vote at We'll have the results on Monday evening's broadcast. While nearly all of the attention this week here in Cancun focused on the relationship between the United States and Mexico, Canada and its role in border security and trade also under discussion. In recent years the United States and Canada have been at odds over a number of issues. With some politicians in Canada in fact stating clearly their animosity towards President Bush. Catherine Barrett reports from the U.S..-Canadian border.


CATHERINE BARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Children of a common mother, words in stone over the peace art of this busy northwestern border post, but in recent years, that sibling relationship between the U.S. and Canada has been -- well, fractious. The low points, two years ago a liberal Canadian legislature stomped on a Bush doll on television. Two years before that, a senior government adviser called President Bush a moron. But hopes are high that Thursday's meeting in Cancun between leaders of the world's two biggest trading partners will bring a public thaw in U.S./Canadian relations.

DON ALPER, WESTERN WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: I think the new Prime Minister Stephen Harper is more in tuned ideologically and certainly economically with the Bush administration. So I think it's kind of like saying let's see what we can do to forget about all of the problems we've had in the past and do the best we can in terms of building a strong future.

BARRETT: But policy differences will not vanish overnight. Border security is job one. Canadian border agents hope the new Harper government will soon change the law that does not allow them to carry guns. Twice this year Canadian agents have closed the gate and abandoned their posts as armed suspects headed north towards the border.

DAN DUNSKY, CANADIAN POLITICAL ANALYST: The Canada-U.S. border is Canada's economic lifeline. 52% of our GDP depends on trade between the two countries. The nightmare scenario for any Canadian politician right now, especially the leadership, is a terrorist attack in the United States committed by somebody who came over the Canadian border.

BARRETT: But a U.S. proposal for all travelers entering the United States to have passports or pass cards is meeting resistance all along the 4,000-mile northern boundary. Border communities on both sides fear a drop in tourism and cross-border commerce.

But no amount of warm words from Canada's new leadership will make up for the fact that Harper's conservative party is a minority government. Canada's liberal wing and its complaints about U.S. policies will continue to be heard. For CNN, I'm Catherine Barrett in Peace Arch Park, on the U.S.-Canadian border.


DOBBS: Up next, why Mexican President Vicente Fox thinks he should be able to tell the United States how to manage our borders and immigration policy. We'll have that report. Also the toll that 20 million illegal aliens take on the infrastructure of the United States and on local, state, and federal taxpayer budgets. We'll have that special report.

And more than half a million people take to the streets of the United States fighting for the rights of illegal aliens, flying the flags of other nations. That report coming up when we return. Here in Cancun, Mexico.


DOBBS: Here in Cancun, during the trilateral summit, Mexican President Vicente Fox and President Bush and Prime Minister Stephen Harper all put on a great show of cooperation, and friendship. However, the reality is somewhat different when it comes to enforcing border security. Casey Wian now reports on the government of Mexico's failure to back up U.S. concerns about border security.


WIAN: Mexican President Vicente Fox declared he will now allow suspected drug traffickers to be extradited to the United States. It's something the U.S. has wanted for years, because drug lords often operate their cartels from behind bars in Mexico. It's also a rare instance of Mexican cooperation with U.S. law enforcement authorities. Violence by drug and illegal alien smugglers is out of control in many Mexican border towns. Paramilitary groups operate with impunity and the violence is increasingly spreading to the U.S. side.

SHERIFF RICK FLORES, WEBB COUNTY, TEXAS: We're losing our patience as far as getting shot at from the Mexican side, when we're patrolling the riverbanks. We've pretty much decided that if we are shot at we're going to shoot back.

WIAN: Mexico claims that armed confrontations by soldiers crossing the U.S. border are not the work of its military. Border sheriffs say that's no excuse.

SHERIFF SIGFREDO GONZALEZ, ZAPATA COUNTY TEXAS: If there are people operating the government of Mexico should do something about it. The government of Mexico is allowing this to happen. Again, if they want to put a stop to it they can put a stop to it.

WIAN: Instead, some Mexican authorities refuse even the most basic requests from U.S. law enforcement.

SHERIFF ARVIN WEST, HUDSPETH COUNTY TEXAS: I have talked to the Mexican Consulate on this side and requested him to give me a list of the generals on that side that, there are people that are in charge that can make the decisions, I have yet to have that. I requested this back in January. He did however send me a copy of our Texas Attorney General's guidelines on handling immigrants. I was taken aback by it because I know how to do my job.

WIAN: Mexico has shown it has the capability to control its side of the border. During the minuteman project last year in Arizona, Mexican authorities all but shut down illegal crossings in the area being patrolled by U.S. civilian volunteers.

Border security activists want President Bush to demand that Mexico crack down on border violence, the same way Mexican President Vicente Fox has demanded amnesty for millions of illegal aliens in the United States. Casey Wian, CNN, Cancun, Mexico.


DOBBS: The house homeland security subcommittee on investigations held hearings into the apparent incursions across our border by the Mexican military. The deputy assistant secretary of state for Mexico and Canada told the committee, "It is safe to say that our working relationship with our partners in Mexico is excellent, and the relationship is a critical one. This is not to say that we do not continue to have significant challenges and issues with the Mexican government related to the border we share."

Mexico investigated the Hudspeth County incursion and determined the people involved were known members of a drug trafficking ring, not members of the Mexican military.

Meanwhile, Mexican government officials continue to express their outrage over the United States' attempts to secure and protect our own border. They say that Mexican citizens have every right to enter the United States illegally. Christine Romans has that report.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mexico, apparently believes the border is there to be crossed by its citizens, not enforced by the United States. This warning from the speaker of Mexico's lower house of congress. "The immigration won't stop, far from it." No surprise really from the government that published a border handbook to help people enter the country illegally and recently hired a top PR firm to sell Americans on porous borders lumping illegal immigrants with those who play by the rules.

ROB ALLYN, ALLYN & COMPANY, INC: These folks are pioneers, who are coming in search of a better life and the idea is to put the statue of liberty out there, welcoming those workers.

ROMANS: Border security advocates call it an affront to American sovereignty.

BOB GOLDSBUROUGH, AMERICANS FOR IMMIGRATION CONTROL: The government, the Federale Police, all the way up to the president, they have an attitude that they can break our laws and encourage their citizens to break our laws with impunity.

ROMANS: He says Mexico's political elites feel entitled to the $20 billion a year in remittances and Mexican citizens apparently feel it's their right to work illegally in the United States. He points to a 2002 Zogby Poll showing 57% of Mexican citizens think Mexicans do have the right to enter the U.S. without U.S. permission. Many say the United States government has enabled this thinking for years. By not enforcing our laws, essentially telling Mexico -- FRANK GAFFNEY, WARFOOTING.COM: That they're entitled to come to this country, that they're entitled to have access to our social and economic welfare systems, that are entitled perhaps even to have the vote. They're entitled to send large amounts of money and home and remittances.

ROMANS: But this didn't begin with President Fox. Indeed in 1997, then President Ernesto Zerdio told the National Council of La Raza in Chicago "The Mexican nation extends beyond the territory enclosed by its borders and Mexican migrants are an important part of it." Christine Romans, CNN, New York.


DOBBS: Mexican President Vicente Fox is more than outspoken when it comes to influencing American immigration policy. This week, President Fox said the guest worker program passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee was the result of five years of his hard work. President Fox said the legislation puts Mexico one step closer to his government's goal of "legalization for everyone," who works in the United States. Demonstrators took to the streets of a number of American cities, demonstrating against the Sensenbrenner Bill and calling for amnesty for illegal aliens. President Fox credited those hundreds of thousands of demonstrators with influencing the action in the senate. Fox saying, "My recognition and respect for all the Hispanics and all the Mexicans who have made their voices heard, that's going to count for a lot as we move forward."

As President Fox continues to encourage his citizens to enter the United States illegally, Mexican census takers have produced something of an anomaly in their data. Mexican census officials this year noticed a shortfall in their population count. The figures show that the population of Mexico is 103 million people, that's about 2 million people shy of what the census officials had expected. Those officials said they have no idea what caused the shortfall, but they suspect lower birth rates and something they call migration, probably a reasonably safe bet on their part.

Still ahead, border states aren't the only ones feeling the impact of the illegal alien crisis in our country. We'll have a report from one town where illegal immigration is taking a tremendous toll.

And the mayor of Los Angeles isn't just speaking out in support of illegal alien rights. What he has to say is much stronger than that. We'll have that and a great deal more in our special report, that's next as we report from Cancun, Mexico.


DOBBS: The border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California are of course paying a huge price for the invasion of illegal aliens and the federal government's failure to deal with the issue, but the effects reach far beyond the border to communities large and small, all across the United States. Bill Tucker reports from one such community Vineland, New Jersey. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Welcome to Vineland, a community of nearly 60,000 in New Jersey's Cumberland Community. It is here in communities like this all across the country that our failed immigration policy is felt.

MAYOR PERRY BARSE, VINELAND, NEW JERSEY: I just find it just very difficult to fathom not having a policy enforced nationally. I find it hard to fathom that people are crossing the borders -- the border in droves. And there doesn't seem to be any regulation.

TUCKER: Vineland isn't anywhere near an international border, unless you count the Atlantic Ocean as one.

(on camera): The reason why there's a large illegal population here in southern New Jersey is that are there farms that need laborers to work them.

(voice-over): And while they come to work, they also bring problems: overcrowded housing, no way of knowing who they are.

CAPT. PAUL LETIZIA, VINELAND POLICE: And oftentimes, when illegal immigrants are involved either as a victim or an accused, to identify that individual and later contact that individual or make necessary arrests, it complicates the whole process.

TUCKER: With no health insurance and unable to afford a doctor, illegal aliens turn to the emergency room, where no one asks emergency status.

DR. WILLIAM DICINDIO, ER, SOUTH JERSEY HEALTHCARE: And so we've become a primary care area. That's a very expensive way to go about giving health care.

TUCKER: Already in the midst of a budget crisis, New Jersey taxpayers spend an estimated $200 million a year to cover the costs of health care to illegal aliens. And there is another cost to the community.

DR. MICHELE TORCHIA, SOUTH JERSEY HEALTHCARE: We provide excellent care regardless of their situation. That does divert energy and dollars from other ways we might grow wellness programs for families. For women, children and whole families here.

TUCKER: These are not choices that can be ignored.

BARSE: We're a humane people. And we need to, you know, take care of people's needs. But we've got to address this issue before it gets any worse. It's too burdensome.

TUCKER: It's a message local officials want Congress to quit ignoring and do something about.

Bill Tucker, CNN, Vineland, New Jersey.


Still ahead, I'll be talking with Congressman James Sensenbrenner, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and the man who authored the legislation that many in Congress and many in the streets demonstrating say is too severe when it comes to border security and solving our illegal immigration crisis.

And deadly violence is soaring on the border. The report tonight from Nuevo Laredo, when we return. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Over the past two weeks, hundreds of thousands of protesters have spilled into our major cities, protesting and demonstrating, demanding rights for amnesty for illegal aliens in this country.

Protests in Los Angeles focused on the Sensenbrenner Bill that would make illegal immigration a felony and crack down on employers who hire illegals. The mayor of Los Angeles, for his part, called the Sensenbrenner Bill unAmerican. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the only thing that would be illegal would be to criminalize 11 million people who entered this country illegally.

The demonstrations are expected to culminate on April 10th in what is being called a national day of action organized by labor, immigration, civil rights, and religious groups. I talked with Congressman Sensenbrenner, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee earlier, and asked for his reaction to the protests against his legislation.


REP. JAMES SENSENBRENNER (R-WI), JUDICIARY CMTE. CHAIRMAN: Well, this shows how hard it is to do anything about illegal aliens and border security. But if we don't do something effective and workable, we're going to have 20 million more illegal aliens in the next ten years according to a demographic study I've seen.

They'll flood our schools, our health care system will collapse and our social services system will end up being overtaxed, and we've got to get control of our borders, because if we don't, we're going to see our economy collapse.

DOBBS: That economy, we know the estimates by the most authoritative and recent study put the suppressed wages at $200 billion a year, as a result of immigration, both legal and illegal. We know that the costs, the estimated costs run about $50 billion for services, and I can't tell you, Mr. Chairman, how many people have said to me, typically, open borders activists, in support of illegal aliens, but we provide $7 billion in Social Security taxes every year, as if that is some sort of reasonable offset.

How are we going to cut through this, the great emotion that attends this, and get to the issue of what is border security, which one would think would be absolutely paramount in a global war on terror, and secondly, coming to a rational, humane resolution of the immigration mess that we find ourselves in?

SENSENBRENNER: You know, the fact of the matter remains is that I don't want to hear anybody come and complaining about the fact that illegal aliens are flooding the school system, and the hospital system, and that the federal government ought to bail them out, because we're trying to curtail this.

DOBBS: It's amazing. One understands the emotion involved in this. The thing that I have a difficulty understanding and I'd love to know what your reaction is, why there should be any debate. It seems to me you cannot possibly, and if anybody will defeat the logic of this syllogism I'll be glad to step aside in the national discussion and debate on illegal immigration and border security. It seems to me be straightforward. We cannot reform immigration, if we cannot control immigration. We cannot control immigration unless we can secure our borders and control those borders. Is there something here I'm missing?

SENSENBRENNER: No. There's nothing you're missing. And what is being asked here, and apparently what the Senate Judiciary Committee has gone along with, is having illegal aliens jump to the head of the line over the legal immigrants who have applied and done it the right way and are patiently waiting for their number to get to the top of the pile. That's not what America is all about.

DOBBS: Any hope that we're going to see real border security implemented by this Congress, this year? We're four and a half years since September 11. Is there any possibility that we're going to see this president, this Congress, take seriously the issue of border security?

SENSENBRENNER: Well, the House of Representatives did when it passed the bill in December that all of the people are demonstrating against, and let me say, this is the most difficult thing that I've done in 27 years in Congress, because the rhetoric is so emotional on both sides of the issue.

We've got to get something done, and I'm not going to have my name on a bill that ends up being counterproductive like the Simpson- Mazoli bill was in 1986.

DOBBS: Congressman James Sensenbrenner good to have you here, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

We'll be talking more as this issue continues, it looks like to dominate the politics in this mid-term election year. Thank you, sir.

SENSENBRENNER: Thank you, Lou.


DOBBS: The very identity of the United States is at stake as the leaders of the United States, Mexico and Canada once again discuss what is being called a strategy for common border security, something none of the American people, nor the Canadians, nor the Mexicans have had the opportunity to vote on. No expression of political will on the part of the people whatsoever.

Lisa Sylvester has the report.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): March 2005, the heads of state from the United States, Mexico and Canada gathered in Waco, Texas. They launched what is known as the Security and Prosperity Partnership, an agreement to create a security perimeter and ease trade barriers in North America.

Behind this partnership is a vision of a free flow of goods and people stretching from Mexico all way to Canada.

BUSH: The three of us need to be interconnected and work closely together for the good of our respective peoples.

SYLVESTER: American University professor Robert Pastor has written books advocating a North American community.

ROBERT PASTOR, "TOWARD A NORTH AMERICAN COMMUNITY: It's much more than a partnership. To think about a community is to think that if one of the members of the community is harmed, it harms the other two. And if they benefit, all three benefit.

SYLVESTER: Pastor wants the United States to invest in Mexico's infrastructure and bring jobs to the country, raising the Mexican quality of life. But that is precisely what has critics worried about integrating economies.

The United States, a first-world country, having to absorb Mexico, a developing country, with U.S. taxpayers shouldering the social costs. Mexico and the United States are worlds apart when it comes to labor rules, environment regulations, even legal systems.

The annual per capital GDP of the United states is $43,800. In Mexico, it's just under $7,000. The minimum wage in the United States is $5.15 an hour. In Mexico, it's $4.56 a day.

JOHN BAILEY, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: We find this tremendous disparity in terms of wages and living standards and benefits that are hard to overcome in the short term and that can really distort a kind of an integration of the economies.

SYLVESTER: Evidence so far has shown that trade liberalization, rather than raising standards in Mexico, has had the opposite effect, pushing down wages and benefits in the United States.

(on camera): It's one thing to have an economic ally, another thing altogether to have an economic dependent, which is what Mexico could become. And of course that erodes the very idea of the sovereignty of nations.

Lisa Sylvester, CNN, Cancun, Mexico.

(END VIDEOTAPE) DOBBS: Still ahead, they protect our border, but we'll tell you why increasingly, for border patrol agents, going to work means being under attack. We'll have that SPECIAL REPORT and an outbreak of violence in one border town. We'll have that report from Nuevo Laredo, that's coming up when we return to Cancun, Mexico. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The police chief of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, resigned last week after just eight months on the job. His predecessor was gunned down just seven hours after he was sworn in last year. The city of Nuevo Laredo, just across the border from Laredo, Texas, is a scene of a bloody battle between rival drug trafficking gangs. Ed Lavandera reports from Laredo, Texas.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Nuevo Laredo bleeds, and it often does, newspaper headlines tell the gory details. For several years, rival drug cartels have waged a deadly war to control this border town. The violence has brought tourism to a standstill.

SHERIFF RICK FLORES, WEBB COUNTY, TEXAS: I've never seen any of that. I thought it was only in the movies.

LAVANDERA: Last year the murder rate almost tripled in Nuevo Laredo, and there have already been some 60 murders this year.

This man was appointed chief of police last year. Eight hours later he was dead. In February, drug cartel members launched grenades and gunfire into the offices of "La Manana" newspaper.

Raymundo Ramos had spent the last five years covering La Noche Roja for the paper. That's what reporters here call the bloody crime beat.

LAVANDERA (on camera): (speaking foreign language) It looks like this is a city out of control.

RAYMUNDO RAMOS, JOURNALIST: (speaking foreign language)

LAVANDERA: He says, "We're living like prisoners in our own city, because not even the police can make us feel secure. Everyone here is living with insecurity about what could happen.

(voice-over) After the attack, Ramos left the paper. Now he's working with a human rights group and selling tequila gift packages on the side to make ends meet.

There have been isolated incidents of drug cartel violence spilling into Laredo. There have been several dozen kidnappings of American citizens. But something else worries the mayor of Laredo.

MAYOR BETTY FLORES, LAREDO, TEXAS: A lot of the people that are involved in the business, if you will, already live here and perhaps have lived here and in other parts of this country for many years. Why? Because they feel safer. So in that respect I think we have had some spill-over.

LAVANDERA: Getting the violence under control here is the top mission. More than 10,000 trucks cross the border every day. This is one of the most crucial commercial entry points into the U.S. The fear is that drug violence will slow the trucks down.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Laredo, Texas.


DOBBS: Border patrol agents are increasingly becoming the targets of violence from illegal alien and drug smugglers along our southern border. They say that violence will continue until the entire border with Mexico is secure and under control. Casey Wian reports.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is just one of the threats faced by San Diego sector Border Patrol agents, wrist rocket slingshots launching potentially failed ball bearings and marbles over the border. Agents are also getting hit with so many rocks, the San Diego Border Patrol has ordered five of these steel- caged vehicles nicknamed lure (ph) wagons.

JOE PEREZ, BORDER PATROL AGENT-IN-CHARGE: On a nightly basis we get robbed. You see I have an agent over here with a pepper ball gun. We normally can't stand here this close to these vehicles here without getting rocked.

We lose windows here every night. We lost so many windows and agents getting hurt in the last couple of weeks. We had two different shootings.

WIAN: In fact, the number of assaults against San Diego sector agents nearly doubled to 259 in the 12 months ended in September. Since then, they are up nearly fivefold compared to the same period last year.

The Border Patrol is trying to de-escalate the violence by using more non-lethal weapons such as these gas-powered paintball guns.

GENARO MIRANDA, BORDER PATROL AGENT: And when you get hit by one, it's like getting hit by a boxer in the chest.

WIAN: They shoot plastic balls loaded with pepper powder that make breathing difficult.

(on camera): When you get hit with one of these, you are stopping in your tracks.


WIAN (voice-over): Two agents demonstrate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Border patrol, stop.

WIAN: Sometimes deadly force is the only solution. Border Patrol's Air Mobile Unit goes into remote areas that can't be accessed by vehicles, and agents are armed with machine guns.

ANTHONY BIANCO, BORDER PATROL AIR MOBILE UNIT: There's always weapons around rocks, sticks, knives, anything that can be used as a weapon will be and we have to be cognizant of that at all times.

WIAN: Last week, near El Paso, Texas, the border patrol lost a seized load of marijuana because agents were outnumbered by Mexican smugglers with AK 47s. Two weeks ago in these mountains east of San Diego, a border patrol agent was attacked by a machete-wielding illegal alien. The agent shot the man twice, both survived.

BIANCO: They are just getting a lot more aggressive. A lot of it is frustration. We are doing better at protecting this border and controlling this area.

WIAN: Agents acknowledge they will continue to face deadly threats until the entire 1966 mile southern border is controlled. Casey Wian, CNN, San Diego.


DOBBS: One of the most prevalent ways to smuggle drugs, weapons and illegal aliens into the United States is through cross-border tunnels. The Judiciary Committee this week approved legislation that would do something shocking, make it illegal to build a cross-border tunnel into the United States. Yes, that's right, there's currently no such law. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California and Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona aim to fix that with new legislation.

Still ahead, as many as 20 million illegal aliens are in the United States putting a strain on public services, infrastructure and public budgets at the state, federal and local levels. We'll have a SPECIAL REPORT next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The advocates of amnesty for illegal alien workers often claim they're necessary to our economy. In reality, illegal alien workers in this country are a boon only to the employers who exploit them. As Christine Romans now reports the presence of as many as 20 million illegal aliens in the United States is taking a tremendous toll on almost every aspect of our society.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today, anywhere from 3,000 to 8,000 illegal aliens will cross the border. Most disappearing into American society. A wave of illegal immigration affecting every aspect of American life. Undercutting wages and jobs for low-skilled Americans and legal immigrants and crowding classrooms, hospitals and prisons.

Jan Ting is a former immigration official now teaching law.

JAN TING, TEMPLE LAW SCHOOL: We've really cut off the bottom rung of the economic ladder for the less-skilled, less-educated portion the American work force.

ROMANS: According to the Pew Hispanic Center, more people are now coming here illegally than through legal channels. More than half enter without a high school education, and American public schools educate their children.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform says taxpayers spend $12 billion a year on primary and secondary school education for children here illegally. Another $17 billion for the American-born children of illegal aliens, known as anchor babies.

It is federal law to provide free emergency health care to those here illegally. Congress has set aside a billion taxpayer dollars each year to reimburse all hospitals. A total, administrators complain, is a fraction of their costs.

Meanwhile, employers hire cheap labor with virtually no risk. The Government Accountability Office found only three employers fined in 2004 for illegal hiring, down from 417 in 1999.

At the same time, America's criminal justice system is bulging with these citizens of other countries. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 30 percent of federal prisoners are not U.S. citizens. At a cost of $63 a day, taxpayers spend more than $3 million every day to house non-U.S. citizen dollars in our federal prisons. Most are thought to be illegal aliens.

(on camera): Twelve to 20 million people are in this country illegally. An incredible boon for employers, looking to exploit workers who will work for minimum wage or less. But there is no denying, allowing limitless illegal immigration, as this country has, doesn't come for free.

Christine Romans, CNN, New York.


MATTHEWS: Coming up next here, another look at our poll. Stay with us.


DOBBS: A reminder to vote in our poll. The question is, who do you believe has the greatest influence over U.S. immigration policy? President Bush? President Fox? Congress? Corporate America? Or American citizens? Cast your vote, please, at We'll have the results for you on Monday evening's broadcast.

That's all for this special edition of our report, Broken Borders, from Cancun, Mexico. We hope you'll be with us Monday evening. For all of us here, have a great weekend. Thanks for watching. Good night from Cancun, Mexico.