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Lou Dobbs Tonight
Day of Protest; Confronting Iran
Aired April 10, 2006 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, hundreds of thousands of people taking part in protests and demonstrations in 100 towns and cities across the country. They are demanding amnesty for illegal aliens. The marchers and demonstrators also trying to block any effort to secure our borders.
We'll have reporters live at the largest protests around the nation.
Those protesters say they are marching for what they call immigrant rights, but the illegal alien lobby is manipulating the language of these protests and demonstrations for much wider and often hidden political purposes.
We'll have that special report.
And among my guests tonight, a leading advocate of amnesty for illegal aliens, Congressman Xavier Becerra.
One of the organizers of today's huge protests is Nativo Lopez. He will be our guest, the national president of the Mexican-American Political Association.
All of that and a great deal more right here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Monday, April 10th.
Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
Hundreds of thousands of people today took part in what organizers say is the biggest protest ever in support of illegal immigration and illegal aliens. The protesters are demanding legal status for millions of illegal aliens in this country, and they want to defeat efforts in Congress to secure our borders.
Organizers staged these protests and demonstrations three days after the Senate failed to pass a bill to establish a guest worker program.
We have reporters at protests in New York; Santa Ana, California; Atlanta, Phoenix; and Washington, D.C.
We begin tonight with Mary Snow in New York City -- Mary. MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the crowd here in the shadow of city hall has grown throughout the afternoon. There is no official estimate, but some police here say that they think about 14,000 people are here. There had been some estimates from organizers that they were expecting as many as 100,000. So well short of those early estimates.
If you look out into the crowds, you see all the flags interchanged with U.S. flags. You see flags from Mexico, Bangladesh and Puerto Rico.
They were joined here by politicians earlier today. Both New York senators were here, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senator Charles Schumer, in a rally that's expected to wind up in about one hour -- Lou.
DOBBS: Mary, thank you very much.
Those protesters today making a determined effort to display American and not Mexican flags and symbols, although, as Mary Snow just reported, they were there as well. These protesters appear to be trying to win over American citizens who fear the country's been invaded by Mexicans and other illegal aliens. They are waving American flags in greater numbers than ever before.
Casey Wian reports from Santa Ana, California.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): From southern California to Washington, D.C., throngs of protesting illegal aliens and their supporters have adopted a new symbol, the American flag.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: USA! USA! USA! USA!
WIAN: At rallies in dozens of American cities Sunday and Monday, Old Glory outnumbered Mexican and other flags, a sharp contrast to previous protests. It's an obvious effort to change the opinion of the vast majority of Americans who support secure borders and strict enforcement of immigration laws.
JIM GILCHRIST, MINUTEMAN PROJECT: I don't think we're at that point where 250 million Americans, the 80 percent of the United States citizenry who wants our laws respected, I don't think we're at the point where that many people are going to accept the demise of the Constitution of the United States of America.
WIAN: Protesters are demanding full legalization for everyone who has entered or remained in this country illegally.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No human being is illegal.
WIAN: However, organizers, including labor unions, religious groups, socialists, even those who advocate Mexican control of the American Southwest, seem most interested in political power. They may wear white to symbolize peace, but they smell blood now that Congress has failed to pass border security or immigration reform legislation.
JUAN CARLOS RUIZ, MARCH ORGANIZER: We are moving forward. The right wing (ph) (INAUDIBLE) groups are still having some power. They are still holding to their power, but as we move along enough today, we will hope to change that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Illegal immigrants are lawbreakers.
WIAN: Meanwhile, border security activists are countering with smaller rallies of their own. These Arizona counter-protesters even burned the Mexican flag.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Burn, baby, burn.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Burn, baby, burn.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Burn, baby, burn.
WIAN: The pro-illegal alien marches are a preview of May 1st, when amnesty advocates plan nationwide boycott of businesses, schools and job sites to temporarily disrupt the American economy.
WIAN: Though their numbers are much smaller than the amnesty advocates who are surrounding me here today, border security activists say they will be heard as well at the ballot box in November. They say they will work to vote out those in Congress who failed to pass immigration reform and border security legislation -- Lou.
DOBBS: Casey, thank you very much. Just as you were concluding your report, someone raised a Mexican flag behind you. But as you report, and as the report demonstrates, the American flag far, far outnumbering those of other countries.
Casey Wian, thank you very much.
One of the first protests of the day was in Atlanta, where tens of thousands of people took part in a protest march. The protesters marched for two miles. They shouted slogans against federal and state efforts to tackle our illegal immigration crisis.
Amanda Rosseter reports from Atlanta.
AMANDA ROSSETER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, here in Atlanta, more than 40,000 people turned out today for Atlanta's version of the Immigration Dignity Walk. They have come from as far away as Savannah, Georgia, and Nashville, Tennessee.
They've come in groups of friends. They've come in large families. We've seen everything from babies in strollers to elderly people in wheelchairs today.
They say this is all about two things. It's about papers, documentation and jobs. They understand the federal issue here. They also understand what is at stake here in Georgia for House Bill 529. That is the bill that the Georgia legislature passed this spring session that essentially cracks down and imposes partial penalties on illegal immigrants here.
Now, we walked along the march route along with the marchers earlier today, and we talked with documented workers who are here representing their illegal friends, and we also talked with one illegal immigrant who essentially is here, concerned for himself and concerned for his family members who are back in Mexico. He says for him this is all about money. He can't make the kind of money in Mexico that he can make here, and he wants to be able to send some back home to his family.
So for everyone here, this is about jobs. It is about money. It is about rights.
In Atlanta, Amanda Rosseter, for CNN.
DOBBS: At the top of the list of those so-called rights is a demand for U.S. citizenship for all immigrants, legal and illegal, living in America today. The protesters also want families of all immigrants, legal and illegal, to be allowed to come to the United States from their home countries. And they are demanding what they call a shot at college for all young people, apparently regardless of their qualifications or legal status in this country.
One of the biggest protests of the day taking place right now in Washington, D.C., where organizers say that more than 100,000 people are taking part in a rally near Capitol Hill.
Ione Molinares has our report.
Ione, what is the latest on this rally? Who is addressing the protesters right now?
IONE MOLINARES, CNN EN ESPANOL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, probably close to 100,000 of people gathering here at the National Mall. It has been a very interesting day in the sense that a lot of people have been coming here in a peaceful way.
They are looking for -- they are rejecting, actually, the bill that was passed by the House last December. And now they are trying to look for ways to get some kind of legalization for millions of illegal immigrants.
The gathering has also called attention of some of the senators. Senator Ted Kennedy was here earlier talking in front of all those immigrants here that have been gathering at the National Mall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This debate goes to the heart of who we are as Americans.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
KENNEDY: It will determine who can earn the privilege of citizenship.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
KENNEDY: It will determine our strength in separating those who would harm us from those who contribute to our values.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOLINARES: Lou, as I said before, hundreds and thousands of people probably have been already gathering here. They are asking for some kind of legalization. They want to get the rights or some rights that they could be able to work here in the United States.
And they call the Sensenbrenner bill, the bill that was passed by the House, racist, and they need a little bit -- they want, basically, to have the same kind of values that the Americans that belong to America, the same kind of moral values that America is proud of -- Lou.
DOBBS: Ione Molinares, we thank you very much, reporting from Washington.
In Phoenix today, as many as 100,000 people there took part in protests demanding amnesty for illegal aliens.
Dan Simon reports from outside the capitol building in downtown Phoenix -- Dan.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, an extraordinary turnout. All these folks still on the street. As you mentioned, as many as a hundred thousand marchers here on the streets of Phoenix.
And one of the things you touched on, Lou, and what I'm seeing is a lot of American flags. You know, organizers here told the folks, do not bring Mexican flags, because they thought they would be perceived as a divisive symbol. And here in Phoenix, you know, they really had to close off so many streets to make way for all of these marchers, and the messages we're hearing, Lou, are all very common.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The poverty in Mexico drives them to come here and look for a better life. And even building a wall along the whole border, you won't keep them out. They'll just keep coming. But if you give them a guest worker program, I'm sure they would rather come that way than crossing to through the desert for several days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When is America ever really needed to be this afraid of people who want to work? We've been built on immigration, our entire history is about this. We have no need to be this afraid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON: Lou, as you know, Arizona ranks number one in the country in terms of a gateway for illegal immigrants, but when you talk to the folks who live here, they are split 50-50 in terms of whether they believe the illegals should stay or go home. But, again, just an incredible sight here in Phoenix, Lou. I can't say I've really seen anything like it.
Back to you.
DOBBS: Dan, I think a lot of people have not seen anything like what is being revealed behind you, which are slogans that say, "We were here first," American flags being flown upside down. That's not exactly in the spirit of setting aside the Mexican flags and the flags of other countries, is it?
SIMON: Not really. I mean, you know, here you see -- here's some -- see some kids. Well, Lou, it's kind of tough to get a word in, but your point is well taken in the sense that, yes, you do see some flags upside down. But for the most part, it's a very peaceful demonstration. We haven't seen any incidents. And again, not many Mexican flags.
Back to you.
DOBBS: That is -- that is what we have to put as a mark of improvement by any standard whatsoever.
Thank you very much.
Dan Simon reporting from downtown Phoenix.
When we come back here, illegal aliens and their supporters are trying, of course, to manipulate the language of the debate over amnesty, border security and immigration reform. In some cases, resorting to outright lies and falsehoods.
We'll have that special report.
And prominent politicians finding it necessary today to address the illegal amnesty movement. The same politicians, by the way, who are supposed to recognize the rule of law.
We'll tell you what they have to say. You may be surprised.
And we'll be live at the White House, where officials are flatly denying a stunning report on the U.S. military option in Iran.
All of that and a great deal more coming up in just moments.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: Illegal aliens and their supporters say they are marching today in support of what they call immigrant rights. They say they are celebrating the rich immigrant tradition of this country. But they fail to distinguish in their fight for illegal immigration this country's rich tradition of legal, not illegal, immigration. Bill Tucker reports.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Protesters poured into the streets of America, lured by flyers like this one urging them to stand up for immigration rights. The language blurs the issue.
LEAH DURANT, FED. FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM: It's so extremely important that we frame this debate correctly. You know, a lot of the headlines that are coming out now are saying that these are immigrant rallies and that these are immigrant rights. We're not talking about immigrants here, we're talking about illegal immigrants.
TUCKER: But the word "illegal" is never used. Instead, the flyer wants people to stop Congress from criminalizing immigrants. But Congress isn't criminalizing immigrants. Congress is debating whether to toughen existing penalties on people who enter the country illegally.
To look at the Web site NOHR4437.org, a viewer would think that immigrants and immigrant communities in America are under attack. The Web site, which is run by the people who helped organize today's protests, demands that Congress grant immigrants full rights under the law.
Legal immigrants already have those protections. What is being called for is amnesty and a path to full citizenship for illegal immigrants.
FMR. GOV. RICHARD LAMM, INST. FOR PUBLIC POLICY STUDIES: I think it's an Orwellian, almost, attempt to obfuscate the issue and avoid admitting that most of these people that you see on the streets are illegal and should not be in this country.
TUCKER: And that is the bottom line. What these rallies are supporting are the rights of illegal aliens, who ironically enjoy more privileges as illegals in America than many did as citizens in their home countries.
TUCKER: The language is important, because democracies thrive on truth and discussion. When language is used to blur the issues, the door is open to emotion. Meaning, Lou, that whoever can scream the loudest, regardless of the truth, wins the argument.
DOBBS: And it is the principal reason on this broadcast we avoid political correctness, and we certainly intend to use language appropriate to the meaning we intend. Now we need a lot of other folks, predominantly in these -- these very large demonstrations today to do the same thing.
Thank you very much, Bill Tucker.
President Bush once again has sided with illegal aliens and their supporters during his comments today in the nation's capital. President Bush's call for what he calls compassion sounded remarkably similar to the rhetoric from illegal alien amnesty supporters and open border supporters at today's amnesty rallies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I understand that we're a nation of immigrants, that we ought to be compassionate about this debate and provide a -- you know, obviously we've got to secure the border and enforce the law. But one way to do so is to make sure that people who are coming in here to work have a legal -- you know, can get a card so they don't have to try to sneak across the border, which takes pressure off our border.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: The president just said, "Obviously, we have to secure the border," yet four and a half years after September 11th, our borders are not secure, nor are our ports. So one wonders what the president means with the language he chose to use, "Obviously, we need to secure our borders."
Illegal aliens and their supporters may have convinced President Bush to support their amnesty agenda, but they have not been able to convince the American people. A new ABC-"Washington Post" poll shows the majority of Americans are strongly opposed to the president's guest worker amnesty program.
Sixty-one percent of Americans surveyed do not approve of the president's stance on illegal immigration. Seventy-five percent of Americans say the United States is not doing enough to keep illegal aliens out of this country.
For the most part, media reports have echoed the language approved by the illegal alien lobby itself. Protesters are being described in the media and in the news networks as pro-immigrant, no distinction made between legal and illegal immigrants.
Today's "New York Times" describes the demonstrators -- now, this is a news report, mind you -- cheering "speakers who denounced a system that has driven more than 11 million illegal immigrants into shadowy lives of subterfuge."
It's worth noting again that the shadowy lives of subterfuge includes driver's licenses, home loans, taxpayer-funded welfare benefits, medical care, and the list goes on. But not everyone at "The New York Times" is buying into the amnesty agenda. Two of its reliably liberal columnists have come out against amnesty for illegal aliens.
Nicholas Kristof writes, "The cold reality is that admitting poor immigrants often means hurting poor Americans...Bringing in 325,000 or more guest workers annually (as various versions of the current Senate bills provide) would be particularly tough on America's poor."
And last month, "New York Times" columnist Paul Krugman reached the same conclusion, writing, "Because Mexican immigrants have much less education than the average U.S. worker, they increase the supply of less-skilled labor, driving down the wages of the worst-paid Americans."
Those arguments may sound familiar to you if you have been watching this broadcast for the past several years.
Later in this broadcast, I'll share my thoughts on immigration policies, newly announced, of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California. Governor Schwarzenegger now believes it's possible to have immigration policies that both strengthen our borders and welcome immigrants.
You're almost there, Governor Schwarzenegger. Almost.
My commentary later here in the broadcast.
Still ahead, much more on the illegal alien protests taking place right now all across the country. I'll be talking with a U.S. congressman who is taking parts in today's protests, one of the leading organizers as well.
Also tonight, another retired U.S. general is calling for the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld over the Iraq war and its conduct.
And is the nuclear option on the table against Iran's nuclear facilities and ambitions? We'll have a live report for you coming up from the White House when we continue.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: Insurgents have killed three more of our troops in Iraq. Two soldiers were killed in Al Anbar province, a U.S. Marine serving in Al Anbar province has died of his wounds -- 2,053 of our troops have now been killed in Iraq, 17,469 of our troops have been wounded there. Of those, 8,015 so seriously wounded they could not return to duty.
A retired Marine Corps general is demanding the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld over the conduct of the war in Iraq. Former Lieutenant General Gregory Newbold was the military's top operations officer before the war began. General Newbold told "TIME" magazine that, "The commitment of our forces to the fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute the missions or bury the results."
General Newbold is the third general to call for Rumsfeld's resignation.
Meanwhile, former Secretary of State Colin Powell has said that American mistakes after the invasion led to insurgency in Iraq. Powell said the United States did not have enough troops in Iraq after the fall of Baghdad to control the insurgency. President Bush today downplayed published reports that the United States is considering the possibility of launching tactical nuclear strikes against Iran. President Bush called those reports wild speculation and he declared that force is not necessarily required to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons.
Ed Henry has the report from the White House.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): President Bush lashed out at a story in "The New Yorker" alleging the White House is considering nuclear strikes as one option to snuff out Iran's underground nuclear sites.
BUSH: I read the articles in the newspaper this weekend. And it was just wild speculation.
HENRY: Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh claimed several months ago military leaders gave the president a menu of possibilities.
SEYMOUR HERSH, "THE NEW YORKER": And the Joint Chiefs tried to walk back the nuclear option, which is, of course, crazy. Nobody in their right mind would use a nuclear weapon in the Muslim world. There's 1.2 million Muslims that would be out to get us. The issue is that the military wants it out outs and the White House is keeping it in.
HENRY: White House spokesman Scott McClellan called that hyped- up reporting based on anonymous former officials. But pressed on whether nuclear strikes are an option, McClellan would not confirm or deny, and he did say the Pentagon is engaged in "normal military contingency planning" to deal with Iran, which the president four years ago famously charged as part of an "axis of evil," along with Iraq and North Korea.
BUSH: By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger.
HENRY: Just as he did with Iraq, the president now insists war with Iran is the last option. And he's pushing a diplomatic solution.
BUSH: The doctrine of prevention is to work together to prevent the Iranians from having a nuclear weapon. I know -- I know here in Washington, you know, prevention means force. It doesn't mean force, necessarily.
HENRY (on camera): Another question is whether the military, already stretched thin in Iraq, can handle a second war. After repeating war is the last option, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the military will be ready for any challenge.
Ed Henry, CNN, the White House.
(END VIDEOTAPE) DOBBS: Let's look at some of your thoughts now.
Cathy in Maryland, "Demonstrations on rights of illegal immigrants? Isn't that an oxymoron? What part of 'illegal' don't they get?"
John in New York, "Lou, I have an idea for the date of our 'Americans Against Illegal Immigration Day of Action.' The first Tuesday in November."
And Pris in Louisiana, "Why don't these illegals protest their own government in their own country for better living conditions, better jobs, better schools and better health care?"
Kim in Connecticut, "My heart breaks for the sick, starving and persecuted people in the world who do not have the luxury of a common border with the United States."
Frank in Louisiana, "It's interesting to see so many illegal immigrants march in this country for the right too earn a living. Perhaps if they would do that in their country, be active for a change, they wouldn't need to be here."
We'll have more of your thoughts later in the broadcast.
Coming up next, some politicians are supporting today's demonstrations. The protesters want citizenship and amnesty. The politicians, well, they want votes. Some see the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
That special report coming up.
And I'll be talking with one of the organizations of today's protests, Nativo Lopez, president of the Mexican-American Political Association.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: Hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens and their supporters today staged massive rallies across the country in support of new rights for illegal aliens. Rallies were held in more than 100 cities across the nation, including a massive protest in Atlanta, Georgia.
In Texas, tens of thousands of illegal aliens rallying in both Dallas and Houston, and thousands of students today walked out of class for a rally at the University of Texas in Austin.
Across the country, illegal alien protesters dressing in white. They mostly carried American flags, but only after being warned against carrying the Mexican flag and the flags of other nations.
In New York City, hundreds of protesters walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to demonstrate their support for illegal alien amnesty in this country.
In Washington, D.C., many likened the fight for illegal alien rights to the U.S. civil rights movement. Protesters vowed to continue to pressure Congress to legalize the millions of illegal aliens now living in this country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAIME CONTRERAS, NATIONAL CAPITAL IMMIGRANT COALITION: What we want to achieve is to send a very strong message to -- to the Senate, to the Congress in general, and to this administration, that immigrants are fed up, that we are tired, that we work very hard, and we come to this country not to take from America, but to make America strong. And we do not deserve to be treated the way that we have been treated for the last several months, or even after that 9/11. Immigrants work hard, pay taxes. And we're here in force to show our numbers, to show our strength in numbers, and to make sure that our message also gets across, and that America gets to hear our side of the story.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: There were also large illegal alien protests across California today, including this one you're looking at now, in San Diego, California. Tonight, a three-hour march and demonstration is planned in Los Angeles. Los Angeles is where more than half a million illegal aliens and their supporters last month rallied in opposition to the Sensenbrenner bill in the House.
That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. Do you believe that middle-class working men and women in this country will have to demonstrate to create sympathy and interest for their cause? Yes or no. Cast your votes at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results later here in the broadcast.
Senator Hillary Clinton joined a rally for illegal aliens and their supporters in New York City this afternoon. The senator is one of several political candidates at today's demonstrations. Some politicians, in fact, are betting their support for amnesty will translate into votes and success in the polling booth. But it's a bet that they could very well lose.
Lisa Sylvester has the report.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Across the country, politicians joined the National Day of Action protest. Some lawmakers hope that supporting a guest-worker program will win the Latino vote in 2006 and 2008, and help secure an election-day victory. But others see it as misguided strategy.
REP. TOM TANCREDO (R), COLORADO: I think it is absolutely ridiculous for politicians of either party to pander to these interest groups. SYLVESTER: While Latinos are the largest minority in the country, historically they have not turned out in large numbers at the polls. In 2004, they made up 13 percent of the national population, but only 6 percent of the voter turnout.
LOUIS DESIPIO, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, IRVINE: The explanations for that gap are a couple. The biggest one is noncitizenship. About 45 percent of Latino adults are not U.S. citizens. Some are legal permanent residents; some are unauthorized immigrants. And noncitizens can't vote.
SYLVESTER: The Latino population tends to be younger, have lower levels of formal education and lower household income -- demographics that traditionally have not made up a large voting bloc. And counting on the Latino vote based on a guest-worker program may backfire. That's because Latinos' views on illegal immigration diverge, depending on age and where they were born.
STEVE CAMAROTA, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: One thing to keep in mind is that there's very little evidence that advocating legalization of illegal aliens is a way to win actual Hispanic voters. Actual Hispanics who vote tend to be -- have more nuanced views, and they are somewhat divided on the issue of immigration.
SYLVESTER: A 2005 Pew Hispanic Center study asked Latinos born in the United States if illegal aliens helped the U.S. economy. Fifty-five percent said yes, but 34 percent said no.
SYLVESTER: And Democrats and Republicans agree that long term, Latinos could make up a major voting bloc. But, again, their views differ so much. And even though this gathering may not suggest this, there are some Latinos who are opposed to a guest-worker program because of the negative impact that it will have on wages. In fact, the guest-worker program could hurt legal Latinos the most -- Lou.
DOBBS: Again, another nuance, as you put it, Lisa, that the supporters and organizers of these demonstrations and protests don't want to acknowledge that in this country, Hispanic does not equal illegal alien, and by no means is the Hispanic community in this country, or any other group of folks in this country, monolithic. We're quite beyond that.
Thank you very much, Lisa Sylvester, reporting from Washington, D.C.
In suburban D.C., students are receiving school credit for having taken part in today's illegal alien rallies. The Montgomery, Maryland School public school district is requiring students to put in 60 hours of volunteer or activism services to graduate. Students will be able to fulfill some of that requirement if they attend today's rallies, which fall during their spring break recess.
Congressman Xavier Becerra of California will march in immigration rally set to begin this evening in Los Angeles. The rallies begin just about two hours from now. The congressman joins us here tonight. Congressman Becerra, good to see you again. Welcome to the broadcast.
REP. XAVIER BECERRA (D), CALIFORNIA: Thanks for having me, Lou.
DOBBS: These demonstrations across the country, I will tell you straightforwardly, I am pleased to see more American flags than we've been previously exposed to, than Mexican flags in these demonstrations. Obviously, a conscious decision on the part of the organizers. What do you think of the change in demeanor? Do you think it will be helpful?
BECERRA: Lou, when you have millions of people from Alabama to Wisconsin going out, I think the impressive things to me are there has not been one incidence of violence, no disturbances, and you have got millions of people out there. Citizens, legal residents, those who are undocumented going out there. I think it's impressive to see the show of unity and force.
DOBBS: I think it is. I couldn't agree with you more, Congressman. My question is, what is it in unity for?
BECERRA: I think it's to finally recognize that our immigration system is broken and needs to be changed, that there's no way that you have a population the size of Ohio residing in this country and say that we can just all of a sudden throw everyone out.
We have to recognize that for the longest time, we've had employers who have been willing to hire folks, even though it's against the law for these employers to do so, and so for years immigrants have come and worked very hard. And now they have families, established themselves here, and for those who have earned a chance to legalize their status, some of us are saying, let's bring them out of the shadows and let's make it right, so that we know who is actually here, and finally gain control of our borders and have an immigration system that works.
DOBBS: Congressman, we're looking at right now, and I hope you can see these pictures that we are broadcasting. These are live pictures of demonstrations in San Jose, north of you -- all the way north, just about -- in the state of California.
We're seeing a lot of those American flags flying upside down, regrettably. But -- and there are a few Mexican flags, as you see there, but markedly fewer. Do you think that will be helpful in being persuasive to American citizens watching these demonstrations in support of amnesty? Do you think it will be persuasive, helpful?
BECERRA: I think the folks that are marching -- and it's not just immigrants or not just undocumented immigrants. I think you had Bill, was it Tucker, do a report that I thought was very one-sided and incorrect in some of its information, but...
DOBBS: Well, you can straighten us out right now.
BECERRA: Well, he said that there are -- these folks are fighting, Americans and immigrants are fighting for rights that -- even beyond what they have in their former countries. That's not really the case. You can't...
DOBBS: Well, let's take Mexico -- let's take Mexico as an example.
DOBBS: Do you think you would see a demonstration in which foreign flags are being paraded by tens of thousands down the streets of, say, Mexico City, Porta Vallarta?
BECERRA: I would hope that you'd be able to see marches of any type in Mexico. I don't know if you could, but I know that in Mexico, you have the right to health care and so forth. Here in this country, if you're undocumented, you don't. You're very limited in what you actually have a right to do.
Legal immigrants even have their rights curtailed, which is something that Bill Tucker said was not the case. They don't have the same rights as citizens. So, again, I just wanted to point out that Bill's report was a little slanted.
But I think the point, going back to, Lou, what you are saying, is that folks are trying to manifest that this is an important issue for them, and they are out in force, because this really does affect them.
DOBBS: You know, and I -- and, Congressman, you and I have talked about this issue before. We have, I think, I think it's safe to say, different views on the issue. We don't...
BECERRA: Not so different than you think, Lou. I remember we had that conversation a few weeks ago in Congress. I remember you said that you thought you could understand why some of these immigrants were here, and how they work hard -- work hard and perhaps should have a right to be able to come do this the legal way.
BECERRA: And I think that's what we're all looking for, is a way for them to do this the legal way.
DOBBS: And that's absolutely true. As a matter of fact, I'm one of the few people -- you know, I'm characterized as xenophobic, as you know, Congressman, racist, all sort of things. I'm one of the few people in this discussion who's called for an increase in legal immigration. But at the same time, and I think maybe we can get closer to something here -- if you and I and others could agree, I would hope that our -- all of our legislators and the president would even acknowledge that you're not going to be able to change a thing for the people that you're talking about, in my opinion, until you have a capacity to control immigration. And you can't control immigration without securing the borders.
Yet, every single person I talked to who is an activist for illegal aliens who are seeking amnesty, who are pushing for so-called immigrant rights, we know better than that, they are pushing for illegal immigrants' rights...
BECERRA: But how do you secure the border if you have 12 million people in this country who can't come out and tell you who they are? You've to do both. It's got to be comprehensive.
DOBBS: I don't understand that point, actually. I don't understand why four and a half years -- by the way, I think millions of our fellow Americans, Congressman, agree with this view. I cannot comprehend how any of you in Congress, four and a years after September 11, can go to sleep at night, knowing that you've got a Homeland Security Department that is nothing more than a joke.
BECERRA: I'm with you on that.
DOBBS: OK. So, until you and I and everyone involved in this discussion and that's about 300 million Americans, can agree that the first priority is to secure those borders and have the capacity to control immigration, how can we, in good faith, actually talk about reforming immigration laws? Because another immigration law, this thing in the Senate was silly.
BECERRA: You can't secure the borders without reforming the immigration, Lou.
DOBBS: I think that's wrong.
BECERRA: I've heard you say it. You are very practical on parts -- in parts of this discussion.
DOBBS: I'm practical in all of it.
BECERRA: Because you recognize employers -- you recognize that employers are the magnet that bring these immigrants in.
BECERRA: And unless we change the immigration laws --
DOBBS: Butt the propellant and the fuel is the government of Mexico and the economy of Mexico and other Latin American countries.
BECERRA: The lack of action in these countries to provide meaningful opportunities to work in these countries, absolutely. But, Lou, I think what a lot of us are saying -- let me pose the question to you this way. If I were to tell you the folks who are in this country without documents, who are working for quite some time, for many years who have established businesses or work histories or families now, what if we said to them, we're going to let you stay, if you can show that you've done things the right way here, you have to go to the back of the line, so anyone who has applied for residency in this country and has done it by staying out of the country are goes before you, how would you respond to that?
DOBBS: My answer would be it's part of the equation, but until Congressman...
BECERRA: And that's part of the solution.
DOBBS: Well, it's part of the equation. But until Congressman Becerra and every so-called immigrants' rights activists, I won't call them illegal alien activists, but until every politician involved in this, every elected official says, we will first understand, acknowledge, and commit ourselves to securing our boarders and our ports before we take on what has turned into a pandering to a select group of people, over the rights of working men and women in this country, you talk about going to the back of the line. But first we have to look at the impact of what all these illegal employers have been doing.
BECERRA: But, Lou, let me disagree with you on a point.
BECERRA: I am not pandering to anyone.
DOBBS: I wasn't suggesting you were, Congressman.
BECERRA: I try (ph) to do what I think. And let me say to you, I think you're right, I think we have to -- on the first instance we have to deal with the borders, but that doesn't mean only deal with our borders. At the first instance, we should deal with our borders, we should deal with the fact that we've got 10 to 12 million people that are in the shadows, and we have to deal with the fact that employers are the ones that are driving this. You can deal with all three of those in the first instance, not just border security. Comprehensive.
DOBBS: I saw what the Senate did, and that was a sham and a joke. And we saw senators, your colleagues on the other side of the Hill stand up there and congratulate themselves for what was nothing more than an absolute, I mean, that was a disgrace, by any standard, and I think you would agree with me, if not publicly, I think you would privately.
BECERRA: The fact that the Senate didn't move forward is a disgrace and I hope that they really will so that we can get to a conference committee so that the House and Senate can reconcile their differences.
DOBBS: Congressman Becerra, it's great to talk to you. Please come back. We are going to have a lot more to talk about, it looks like we're on that road. I hope a rational -- a road to rational, humane and effective immigration reform, right after we secure the borders and the ports of the country.
BECERRA: We'll keep talking, Lou.
DOBBS: You got a deal. Congressman Becerra, thank you very much.
Still ahead here, we'll have my thoughts and California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's comments today on illegal immigration and border security.
We'll have that and, as hundreds of thousands are people are demanding amnesty for illegal aliens, I'll be talking with one of the organizers of those protests here next. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Coming up on the top of the hour, "THE SITUATION ROOM" and Wolf Blitzer. Wolf, tell us all about it.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Lou. More on what you've been doing, we've been following the immigration reform legislation, a sleeping giant now awakening, tens of thousands hitting the streets, calling for immigration reform. What impact will they have on election day? We're covering all the angles in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Plus a debate, our viewers won't want to miss, our own Lou Dobbs, and Univision anchor, Maria Eliana Salinas. That's coming up. Also more on the White House leak, for the first time, President Bush explains himself and the man at the center of it all, responds, the former U.S. ambassador, Joe Wilson in THE SITUATION ROOM.
And dissenting generals. They are coming out against the war and calling for the resignation of the Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. We have that story.
And wild speculation or special operation? Is President Bush really serious about using nuclear weapons against Iran? Lou, all that coming up at the top of the hour.
DOBBS: Thank you, Wolf. My next guest says he wants to thank Congressman James Sensenbrenner for unifying his organization. Nativo Lopez, National President of the Mexican-American Political Association, one of the organizers of today's protest, joining us tonight from Santa Anna, California.
Nativo, let me ask you, why do you oppose the Sensenbrenner legislation?
NATIVO LOPEZ, PRES. MEX-AM POL. ASSOC.: It's a racist legislation and it criminalize the people, and employers, workers, pastors of churches, the most, nastiness, racist legislation ever to see Congress and the history of our country.
DOBBS: And will you accept anything less than amnesty?
LOPEZ: Absolutely not. We're looking for full immediate, unconditional legalization for all persons currently in the United States. They've already paid their way, Dobbs. They paid their way more than enough, than anybody can expect of them, we don't need earned legalization, we need legalization right now of all our folks here.
Our country would be more secure with having everybody in our database, their photo, fingerprints, information, we would certainly know who the 12 million are, they would be here. And May 1st, you are going to feel the effects of nobody going to work, nobody going to school, shopping or selling, because we're calling it The Great American Boycott: A Day Without Immigrants. Marching in the street for full, immediate, unconditional legalization of all working people that are here currently without documents.
DOBBS: Nativo, you're talking about feeling the impact, you're talking about a boycott of all illegal aliens in this country?
LOPEZ: Well first off, I refute your terminology. You don't say kike, patty, WOP, OK, you don't say nigger.
DOBBS: Partner, I don't even listen to that kind of language. You pollute the air.
LOPEZ: You're using language that's offensive to me and offensive to my people.
DOBBS: You are wrong.
LOPEZ: You pollute the air every day, Dobbs. You are absolutely wrong.
DOBBS: You have the distinction of using language that is never...
LOPEZ: That language is offensive, it's derogatory, it's denigrating, and don't use that terminology to me again, referring to my people.
DOBBS: ... Let me tell you what. If you're going to boycott the country on the 12th, what do you expect the impact to be?
LOPEZ: The 1st.
DOBBS: The 1st.
LOPEZ: Basically to send a message to Congress, send a message to America, send a message to you, to appreciate the labor of immigrants in the United States, appreciate us, the same way when you lose a loved one, and you -- and you try to...
DOBBS: Nativo, let me ask you something.
LOPEZ: ... recoup that love of that person with flowers, with candy, because you now appreciate you've lost her. And that's essentially the effect of a political message to Congress on May 1st. We won't go to work, we won't go to school, we won't be buying products, we'll be marching in the street for legalization.
DOBBS: What would you do, do you suppose, Nativo, you and anyone who would join in such a boycott -- what do you do without America? You're suggesting what we would do without illegal aliens, what would you do without America?
LOPEZ: America needs us, just as it needs every other working people in the United States. It's a basic law, a basic premise. You went to Harvard, you know about the laws of supply and demand of capitalism.
This is a essentially a question of supply and demand. There's a tremendous demand for this labor. There's an ample supply. We are facing population deficit, and state after state throughout our country. We're not reproducing sufficient workers so our economy will not grow. Therefore, we need to depend on immigrant labor.
DOBBS: Let me ask you this, then why should all of our -- the predominant amount of that illegal labor come to us from Mexico and Central America, rather than the billions of impoverished people around the world? Why shouldn't the United States be deciding who is coming into our country?
LOPEZ: Well you know that better than anybody, because you've been wailing against NAFTA and CAFTA and the outsourcing of jobs for so many years. Three million Mexican farmers were ruined by $12 billion a year subsidy for agriculture, to go into Mexico under NAFTA and basically gobble up all that land, throw these farmers off their land.
You think that the farmers are just going to stick around with a poke in the hole? They're going to come where there's a demand for their labor and they're here, and they'll continue to make great contributions to our country.
DOBBS: Nativo Lopez, an organizer -- Nativo, let me ask you just one thing as we sum it up. How do you say chutzpah in Spanish?
LOPEZ: I don't know. It takes a lot of brains, that's for sure.
DOBBS: You've got that right.
LOPEZ: We've got it, because we're out in the streets.
DOBBS: Have fun, we appreciate your time.
LOPEZ: Thank you.
DOBBS: A reminder now to vote in tonight's poll. Do you believe that middle-class working men and women in this country will have to demonstrate to create sympathy and interest for their cause and interest? Yes or no, cast your vote at LouDobbs.com.
We'll bring you the results here in a few moments. And I'll be sharing my thoughts about Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in California, who has written about illegal immigration and border security in the "Wall Street Journal." Welcome aboard, almost, Governor Schwarzenegger. Stay with us.
DOBBS: News just in on allegations that three members of the Duke University lacrosse team sexually assaulted a woman. Attorneys for the players have just said that none of the DNA samples taken from the team matched any taken from the woman who made those allegations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WADE SMITH, RALEIGH UNIVERSITY: No DNA from any young man tested was found anywhere on or about the body of this woman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: The attorneys are now calling upon prosecutors to not pursue charges against any of the 46 players who gave DNA samples. We'll have more on this developing story later here on CNN.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today called our current immigration system bad policy in a "Wall Street Journal" editorial. As the leader of the largest border state on the front line of the illegal immigration crisis, Governor Schwarzenegger today for the first time partially adopted the position I've advocated on this broadcast for the past two years.
First, secure our borders. Then deal with the illegal immigration crisis. I've repeatedly called for immigration overhaul that's humane, reasonable, and effective. I've said straightforwardly that we cannot reform immigration law and policy if we cannot control immigration. And we cannot control immigration if we cannot secure our borders and our ports.
Shamelessly pandering to the readership of the "Wall Street Journal" editorial pages, Governor Schwarzenegger invokes Ronald Reagan's name to declare that we can have immigration policies that both strengthen our borders and welcomes immigrants.
No, governor, we can't. National security requires that we control our borders, and our ports. So does a rational, humane, and effective immigration policy. Both resolutions flow from secure borders and secure borders first.
I repeat, governor, until we first secure our borders, you can do nothing to resolve our illegal immigration crisis. Middle-class working men and women in your state and around the nation are paying the price, while illegal employers are enjoying the benefits and the profits of illegal immigration.
You know the people that fill up those campaign coffers. You know full well your public schools in California are overcrowded principally because of illegal immigration. Illegal immigration has forced the closing of emergency rooms, clinics and hospitals in your state.
Governor, were you talking about me when you wrote how ironic it is to hear some of the same voices who complain about the outsourcing of jobs also complain about the use of immigrant workers here in America? If so, be a man, governor, use names. You know mine. And don't call illegal aliens, immigrants. You insult legal immigrants when you do. You know as well as I do, that I've never complained about immigrant workers in this country, ever, only illegal aliens and illegal employers who break the law.
Just so we're clear about the connection between illegal labor in this country and the outsourcing of jobs to cheap foreign labor markets, governor, both are part of corporate America's drive to lower wages in this country for middle-class working men and women. And when you talk about, quote, "the use of immigrant workers here in America," you sound like one of those corporatists that dominate our political system right now, rather than a leader of all the people in your state. You know, including the tens of millions of legal citizens that happen to live in California. Thank you.
The results of tonight's poll, 91 percent of you say the middle class working men and women in this country will have to demonstrate to get sympathy and interest in their cause.
Thanks for being with us here tonight, please join us tonight. Good night from New York, "THE SITUATION ROOM" starts right now with Wolf Blitzer. Wolf?
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