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Lou Dobbs Tonight

President Bush Meets Top Senators at White House on Immigration Reform; CNN Immigration Poll Results; President Bush Tries To Tackle Surging Gas Prices; Supreme Court Tomorrow Hears Case Of Mohawk Industries, Charged With Knowingly Hiring Illegal Aliens; Michael Maxwell, Rosemary Jenks Interview; Ana Maria Archila Interview; Radio Talk Show Hosts Respond to Gasoline Prices

Aired April 25, 2006 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, President Bush meeting with top senators at the White House, trying to save his so-called immigration reform proposals. Now the question is, is this leadership?
We'll have a special report.

Also tonight, supporters of amnesty for illegal aliens want millions of people to boycott businesses on the 1st of May, but is there a split within the illegal alien movement? My guest tonight, a leading supporter of the demonstrations.

Also tonight, President Bush announces a plan to tackle soaring gasoline prices all across the country. The president says every little bit helps. But besieged middle class families in this country need more than a little bit of help. We'll be going live to the White House and Capitol Hill.

And when is enough enough? Gasoline prices through the roof. The war in Iraq going badly. And wages are falling.

Three top radio talk show hosts, Joe Madison from Washington, Bob Slade from New York, Steve Cochran from Chicago join us here tonight.

All of that and much more ahead, right here.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate, and opinion for Tuesday, April 25th.

Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

President Bush tonight is battling sinking approval ratings and rising demands within his own party to demonstrate leadership on illegal immigration and border security crises. Today, Democratic and Republican senators traveled from Capitol Hill to the White House, trying to break the deadlock over so-called immigration reform.

Dana Bash reports on the president's efforts to convince those senators to pass an immigration before the summer ends, and Bill Schneider reports on a new opinion poll that shows, among other things, strong support for penalties against employers of illegal aliens.

We go to Dana Bash first on Capitol Hill -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, senators who support a bipartisanship compromise that would allow millions of illegal workers to get on a path towards citizenship are still completely deadlocked on actually how to get that through the U.S. Senate. So they went to the White House today, with the goal of trying to pressure the president to get more involved, to say, Mr. Bush, if this is something that you say you want, a legislative victory that perhaps you need, you need to get more engaged and say specifically what you are for and what you are not when it comes to the fate of the some 12 million illegal immigrants in this country.

So, there you see Mr. Bush in an unusual picture, sitting with Democrats and Republicans. And he got more specific.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is a common desire to have a bill that enforces the border, a bill that has interior enforcement. In other words, a bill that will hold people to account for hiring somebody who is here illegally. But a bill that also recognizes we must have a temporary worker program. A bill that does not grant automatic amnesty to people, but a bill that says somebody who is working here on a legal basis has the right to get in line to become a citizen.


BASH: Now, Mr. Bush stopped short of actually endorsing the compromise that is before the Senate here, but senators coming out did appear quite happy. You see the Democratic leader there, Harry Reid. He even said he's not in the habit of patting President Bush on the back and sending him accolades, but that he thought that the meeting was a really good meeting, and he's for comprehensive immigration reform. Senator Reid said, "He is, and I believe him."

Now, the key unanswered question, Lou, is whether all of this talk is going to actually translate into movement now, or whether or not conservatives, who were not invited to this meeting, who oppose this, who call it amnesty, whether they will agree to some kind of a deal to perhaps limit their amendments to change that. That is why this is deadlocked at this time.

The Senate Republican leadership will put forward a measure tomorrow on the Senate floor to have immediately $2 billion more in funding for border security. The hope there, they say, simply is to try to woo some of those senators who simply say the bottom line is you need to enforce the borders before you could even talk about any kind of guest worker program -- Lou.

DOBBS: What a novel idea, securing our borders. Thank you very much.

Dana Bash, from Capitol Hill. BASH: Thank you.

DOBBS: Also on Capitol Hill today, the Senate Judiciary Committee called a group of economists to testify on the economic impact of illegal immigration and the effects that a proposed guest worker program would have on our economy.


RICHARD FREEMAN, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: So, there are parts of the country where the jobs that we might think now as, oh, those are for low-level immigrant workers, they are being filled in parts of the country where there are immigrants by Americans. And that means that Americans are willing to work at these jobs. They may not be willing to compete with an immigrant at very low wages, particularly when the immigrant may be getting paid illegally off the books.

BARRY CHISWICK, UNIV. OF ILLINOIS: Low-skilled immigrants make greater use of government benefits and transfers than they pay in taxes. So, in terms of the public coffers, they serve as a net drain. Whereas high-skilled immigrants have the opposite effect.

In the earned legalization program that some people are talking about, just a euphemism for amnesty, these individuals will eventually be getting full benefits from government income transfer systems.

HARRY HOLZER, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Now, I believe that when immigrants are illegal, they do more to undercut the wages of native- born workers because the playing field isn't level and employers don't have to pay them market wages. So, legalization might reduce the extent of competition these workers face.


DOBBS: And incredibly, not a single economist you heard took the position of being against illegal immigration despite the clear cost. The economists were asked to spend the next two weeks putting together a comprehensive report on a guest worker program that would win approval in Congress.

We'll stay tuned.

And given the general pro-amnesty front put forth today in the House -- in the Senate Judiciary, we would like to suggest a few more distinguished minds that Washington might want to way in on the subject, including Vernon Briggs of Cornell University, George Borjas of Harvard University, and Peter Morici of the University of Maryland, who have clear, definable and deep research on the subject, who for some reason were neglected by the Senate.

A new CNN opinion poll says nearly half of all voters in the country believe that we need a border fence along our southern border. This poll, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for CNN, also says nearly 70 percent of voters want heightened penalties for employers of illegal aliens.

Bill Schneider has our report.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): The immigration debate is about three issues. The first is controlling the border. On that, the public's priorities are clear.

BUSH: The American people are right in saying to the government, enforce the border.

SCHNEIDER: How? Well by increasing penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants. That's something the bill that passed the House of Representatives would do. More than two-thirds of Americans approve.

The bill proposes adding 700 miles of fence along the border with Mexico. How does the public feel about that? Split. People are not sure the fence will work. And the views of Americans who live in border states? They are also split.

The second issue is citizenship for the more than 11 million illegal immigrants already here. The bill being considered by the Senate would allow illegal immigrants whose have been in the U.S. for more than five years to earn U.S. citizenship. More than three quarters of Americans say fine. Isn't that amnesty?

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: That is not amnesty because the undocumented aliens will have to pay a fine. They will have to pay back taxes. They will undergo a thorough background investigation. They will have to learn English. They will have to work for six years.

SCHNEIDER: The third issue is a guest worker program.

BUSH: Doesn't it make sense to have a rational temporary worker plan that says you don't need to sneak across the border?

SCHNEIDER: The public is not sure. Why?

DR. BARRY CHISWICK, ECONOMIST, UNIV. OF ILLINOIS: When the guest worker period is over, how does one get them to leave the country?

SCHNEIDER: Do Republicans follow the president's lead on this? A little, but even Republicans are not enthusiastic about President Bush's guest worker plan.


SCHNEIDER: We asked in December which has higher priority, stopping the flow of new illegal aliens or allowing current residents to become U.S. citizens. And the answer was, stopping the flow of new illegal aliens by 56 percent to 41 percent -- Lou.

DOBBS: And irrespective of this poll's findings, as interesting as they are, Bill Schneider, it is pretty clear in certainly the reaction of our audience, in the feedback that we're getting, the e- mails and letters from our audience, as well as every poll I've seen, that there -- there just aren't many Americans who are more interested in an amnesty program than four and a half years after 9/11 securing our borders and our ports.

What is going on in your town down there that makes that such a difficult concept to understand?

SCHNEIDER: What is going on is that people are hearing from both sides on this issue. They are hearing from the people that you're talking about, but they are also hearing from immigration rights activists, a spokesman for minorities, who, as you saw, they were out on the streets and making their voices heard as well.

When members of Congress are hearing voices of protests and anger from different sides, their solution generally is, don't do anything. And that's what's happening.

DOBBS: Bill Schneider, thank you very much. Appreciate it.


DOBBS: President Bush today announced a plan to tackle another major concern for middle class Americans, the soaring price of gasoline. His plan includes a temporary halt of oil deliveries to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, but it is early and certainly unclear to decide whether the president's initiative will do anything to stop what is part of now a war on our middle class.

Suzanne Malveaux reports from the White House.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): First, Mr. Bush ordered an investigation into whether energy companies are unfairly manipulating gas prices.

BUSH: The first thing is to make sure that the American consumers are treated fairly at the gas pump.

MALVEAUX: While the administration was unable to cite any evidence of price gouging now, it did investigate instances shortly after Hurricane Katrina with mixed results.

DANIEL LASHOF, NATURAL RESOURCES DEF. COUN.: There was a lot of hand-wringing about price gouging at that time, and, again, after the hearings were over, everybody went back to business as usual.

MALVEAUX: Second, Mr. Bush pledged to boost the supply of U.S. crude oil and gasoline by temporarily suspending deposits into the country's strategic oil reserve.

BUSH: So, by deferring deposits until the fall, we'll leave a little more oil on the market. Every little bit helps.

MALVEAUX: But energy analysts say that's not likely to lower gas prices. LASHOF: It is something within the president's jurisdiction, and I think it's largely symbolic.

MALVEAUX: The president also made another push to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

Third, the president is promoting greater fuel efficiency by urging Congress to extend tax credits for all who purchase hybrid or clean-diesel vehicles.

BUSH: Ethanol's good for the whole country.

MALVEAUX: And fourth, Mr. Bush is encouraging investment in alternative sources of energy, like ethanol, to wean Americans off of foreign oil. But that's considered a long ways off to resolving the pain at the pump.

LASHOF: I don't think there's anything in the president's plan that will have a short-term impact on gas prices.


MALVEAUX: And also, Lou, what this plan does not include is any kind of comprehensive strategy for Americans to conserve. Now, Democrats and critics, of course, took a little jab at the White House, saying that is not surprising, considering there are two former oil men that are now in the White House -- Lou.

DOBBS: And is it any less surprising to them since this Congress and this president passed an energy -- energy legislation that one would have thought would have been helpful? What happened to that?

MALVEAUX: Well, Lou, it's all about politics at this point. You see the prices at the gas pumps going up, President Bush's approval rating going down. And really, Republicans are worried this is going to fuel fear and that voters essentially are going to take it out on them in the midterm elections.

DOBBS: Well, it may be about politics in Washington, D.C., Suzanne, but it's about getting by in every other part of this country. And neither this Congress nor this president is making it any easier for anyone.

We thank you very much.

Suzanne Malveaux from the White House.

Democrats today blaming the Bush White House, congressional Republicans and big oil companies for those rising gasoline prices. House Minority Leader Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi is demanding an immediate cut in tax breaks for the oil industry.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Roll back these subsidies, tax breaks and royalty relief given to big oil and big gas companies, and use those funds to help low-income Americans, farmers, and small businesses struggling under the weight of gas prices.


DOBBS: To put Pelosi's comments in some context, the national average of gasoline today, $2.92. That's 42 cents higher than just a month ago. Drivers in many parts of this country are already paying more than $3 a gallon.

In terms of those subsidies and royalties that Nancy Pelosi was talking about rolling back, it would be about $7 billion in royalties, $10 billion passed in the energy bill that I was talking about, $17 billion that could come back from the oil companies at a time of record-high crude oil prices, record high oil company profits.

Something to think about.

Still ahead here, Iran threatens to share nuclear technology with other Islamic states. Radical Islamist terrorists could obtain a nuclear weapon.

We'll have that report from Tehran.

Also, corporate America fighting efforts to make our ports more secure from terrorists. We'll have a special report from Long Beach, California, tonight.

And the illegal alien lobby pushing ahead with plans for massive protests, demonstrations and boycotts on May 1st. I'll be talking with one of the demonstration's most outspoken supporters here, among a bunch of guests with a lot of news on the day's news.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Insurgents have killed another American in Iraq. The soldier was killed in Baghdad by a roadside bomb.

2,391 of our troops have now been killed in Iraq, 17,760 other troops wounded, 8,137 of our troops so seriously wounded they could not return to duty.

Tonight, new video of the al Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al- Zarqawi. In this video, al-Zarqawi calls for unity. A U.S. counterterrorism official called his remarks a lot of jihadist bravado.

The Iranian government today accomplished the seemingly impossible by raising it's hyperbolic rhetoric in the nuclear showdown with the West to a new height. Iran threatening to share its nuclear technology with other Islamic countries and to stop all nuclear cooperation with the United Nations.

Aneesh Raman reports from Tehran.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A day after Iran's president said sanctions against the country were unlikely. The country's top nuclear negotiator today warned that if sanctions are issued against Iran, the country will suspend cooperation with the IAEA, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, and in turn suspend its participation in the nuclear nonproliferation treaty.

The comments from Ali Larijani came this morning at a conference on the international conference on the Iranian nuclear issue. In attendance were a number of ambassadors, were a number of international experts.

Clearly, this was a message that was being sent to the world community at large. The top nuclear negotiator also warned that if military strikes were carried out upon Iran, the country would simply cease to be transparent and go on with its civilian nuclear program.

It seems the only thing on the table from the Iranian point of view is allowing experts, international experts, to come here and verify that the country does not divert on to a weapons program.

Aneesh Raman, CNN, Tehran.


DOBBS: The Iranian nuclear challenge is now supported by two of the largest military powers in the world after the United States, Russia and China. Both countries would veto any U.N. sanctions against Iran. And within the last week, China and Russia have invited Iran to join them in a military alliance. And the United States has yet to demonstrate any response to this prospective new axis.

Kitty Pilgrim reports.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Russia and China are showing no sign of support to the U.S. for sanctioning on Iran. In fact, Russia and China, in a real slap in the face, invited Iran into their regional security alliance, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

The powerful axis includes Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and now Iran. The security pact seeks to become a regional counterweight to U.S. influence. But the alliance has remained up until now unchallenged by the Bush administration.

CELESTE WALLENDER, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: I think the United States hasn't wanted to tilt the organization against the United States by being too harsh or negative about it. That may change now with developments with Iran's relationship with the organization.

PILGRIM: Iran's relationship with Russia and China is economic and military. China sends military equipment and high technology to Iran and signed a $100 billion gas deal with Iran. And in recent months, Russia announced the sale of 29 surface-to-air missiles to Iran.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday said the credibility of the U.N. Security Council will be in doubt if it does not take clear action against Iran over its nuclear program.

Iran is clearly playing the rogue nation. Today, Iran's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, meeting with another leader of the corrupt regime in Sudan, said Tehran was ready to transfer its nuclear technology to other countries.

AMB. JOHN BOLTON, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: This shows just how irresponsible Iran is and why it represents, in our view, a grave threat of proliferation. This is exactly the kind of conduct we have feared. It's exactly the kind of conduct that risks the spread of sensitive nuclear technology and ultimately the spread of nuclear weapons.

PILGRIM: The U.N. meets on Friday to consider action against Iran.


PILGRIM: Now, the invitation for Iran to join the Shanghai alliance is a clear signal that Iran is being embraced by Russia and China, and that's just days before the U.N. Security Council is scheduled to meet -- Lou.

DOBBS: The idea that geopolitical analysts don't think the United States should be too harsh or negative with this new axis, what kind of mindless nonsense is that?

PILGRIM: It's this non-confrontational approach that they think might work, when it's very clear that the entire world is moving in a different direction.

DOBBS: Kitty, thank you very much.

Kitty Pilgrim.

Well, coming up here next, television ads are attacking the Bush administration for its failure to secure this nation's ports. This, as Congress considers measures to boost port security.

And businesses hiring illegal aliens exploiting cheap labor, but does that make them racketeers? The Supreme Court will decide exactly that issue.

Stay with us for that special report, and a great deal more.


DOBBS: Top Democrats today blasting the Bush administration for its failure to secure our ports against possible terrorism. This, as the House Homeland Security Committee prepares to take up the safe ports legislation tomorrow.

Casey Wian reports from the Port of Long Beach, California.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's still far too easy for a terrorist to use cargo containers to sneak a nuclear weapon into a United States port, say congressional Democrats. They are now demanding the White House get tough on port security.

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Two months ago, in the midst of the Dubai Ports World deal, everyone in Congress professed their strong support for securing our ports. This week, the Republican-controlled Congress will have a chance to put their money where their mouths are.

WIAN: The liberal political group Americans United for Change is now running these ads.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After 9/11, I thought President Bush and his backers in Congress would get serious about security. But four years later, terrorists can still put a dirty bomb in one of these. And only one in 20 will be inspected. For the other 19, this is what stands between us and them.

REP. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: What we have is a situation where these highly tamper-proof seals are now placed on containers. And with the very inexpensive child scissors, those seals can be cut.

WIAN: Democrats are sponsoring amendments requiring that every container entering a U.S. port carry a tamper-proof seal with an electronic signal, and that every container be inspected for radioactive material. They say that would raise shipping costs about 2 percent.

Wal-Mart and other retailers are opposed, telling Congress 100 percent scanning is neither effective as a deterrent nor feasible operationally.

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: The opponents to this bill or this amendment say that this would hinder commerce. It's not true. But how would one atomic bomb exploding in an American port hinder commerce?

WIAN: Gamma ray scanning of all shipping containers is already in place at some Hong Kong shipping terminals. The United States Department of Homeland Security says its goal is to scan 98 percent of containers by the end of 2007.


WIAN: DHS also says it will immediately begin preliminary screening of 400,000 port workers for terrorist links and their immigration status. But those preliminary checks will not include rail workers with access to the ports, nor will it include truck drivers, nor will it include criminal background checks -- Lou.

DOBBS: Amazing, four and a half years after September 11th, just now the Homeland Security Department getting around to perhaps thinking about checking out the backgrounds of port workers.

WIAN: And a lot of Democrats in Congress are saying they are not doing that quickly enough either, because, as we mentioned, the rail workers who have access to the ports, the truck drivers who have access to the ports, there's not a firm timetable for when those workers, hundreds of thousands of them, are going to have secure I.D. cards -- Lou.

DOBBS: With borders that are absolutely porous and with ports that are bringing in millions of containers, of uninspected cargo, one wonders what the Homeland Security Department does with both its time and a $30 billion-plus budget.

Casey, thank you very much.

WIAN: Well, Lou, they say...

DOBBS: Go ahead.

WIAN: They say they are making progress, but it seems otherwise -- Lou.

DOBBS: Casey, thank you very much.

Casey Wian, from the Port of Long Beach.

Time now to take a look at your thoughts.

Eleanor wrote in California wrote in to say, "Dear Lou, I'd like to tell the president that we didn't elect him to be the decider. We elected him to be the president and to uphold the Constitution of the United States, which includes securing our borders."

Brian in Illinois, "President Bush says a massive deportation of illegals is unrealistic. If the government would enforce the laws already on the books and go after the employers of illegals, the jobs for them would dry up and many would leave on their own. But, then again, that would require the government to do its job. That is unrealistic."

Steve in California, "Lou, now I'm starting to see everything come full circle. By the time President Bush is finished selling us out to presidents Hu and Fox, all that will be left of the country are the original 13 colonies we started with."

Send us your thoughts at We'll have more of your thoughts here later.

Coming up next, middle class Americans fighting back against cheap illegal alien labor. Their case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court. And are those employers racketeers?

Illegal aliens and their supporters hoping to stop the economy with their nationwide boycott Monday. I'll be talking with one of the supporters of the illegal alien amnesty demonstrations. We'll find out what she thinks about boycotts. And stunning charges tonight of corruption within our nation's immigration system in the government. I'll be talking with one of the government's most important whistleblowers. He says the very security of our nation is at risk and the FBI is harassing him.

Stay with us for more.


DOBBS: The Supreme Court will soon decide whether those who hire illegal aliens are also racketeers. Two lower courts have found that, indeed, they are. And the Supreme Court tomorrow hears the case of Mohawk Industries, a carpet company charged with knowingly hiring illegal aliens. Mohawk could ultimately be found guilty of violating federal racketeering laws. Lisa Sylvester has the report.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Calhoun, Georgia is a town of 13,000. In the last decade, the community has changed. More new faces arriving. Many come to work at Mohawk Industries, the second largest carpet manufacturer in the United States.

Now, one current and three former employees have filed a class action lawsuit. It alleges the company and its representatives recruited illegal aliens from border towns to push down hourly wages.

HOWARD FOSTER, ATTORNEY FOR EMPLOYEES: Illegal workers are like indentured servants. They're there. They are afraid that they can be deported at any moment, so they don't complain about anything.

SYLVESTER: The U.S. Supreme Court is now taking up the case. At issue is not the legal status of the workers, but whether racketeering laws that have traditionally been used against organized crime and drug dealers apply to the corporation and its employment placement firm. Two lower courts sided with the employees.

VICTOR CERDA, FORMER ICE COUNSEL: One advantage you'll find in the RICO is that if the employees here are successful, the damages are triple damages. So the damages could be significant against an employer.

SYLVESTER: Mohawk's attorney says the company checks employment verification and cannot be held liable for fraudulent documents.

JUAN MORILLO, ATTORNEY FOR MOHAWK INDUSTRIES: Mohawk does not hire illegal aliens. Mohawk does what is required under the law and doesn't go beyond what is required under the law, because that would constitute discrimination.

SYLVESTER: But the complaint charges Mohawk not only hired illegal aliens, but also knew their status. The suit claims the company discharged three employees that Mohawk had discovered to be illegally working in one of its facilities. Within two months after their discharge, Mohawk rehired these same employees under different names. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SYLVESTER: And the Department of Justice has filed a brief supporting the employees' position. If the U.S. Supreme Court agrees with the workers, this case could set a precedent. It could give employees a new tool, those workers who feel the federal government just is not doing enough to enforce immigration laws, and it could be used by companies that are being disadvantaged by their competitors who hire illegal aliens. So some very important things going on here, Lou.

DOBBS: Very important, as you said. And it is important to remind our viewers that despite the Justice Department joining in this case on the -- on the side of the employees against Mohawk, the fact is, this Justice Department, this government, has not brought a single action in the past 12 months against employers of illegal aliens. Perhaps that, too, will change. Thank you, Lisa Sylvester from Washington.

That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. The question -- do you believe Congress should first determine just how many illegal aliens actually are in the United States? Determine as well the economic burden on our public services, and the economic impact of any new legislation before granting amnesty. Yes or no? Please cast your vote at We'll have the results here later in the broadcast.

Michael Maxwell says fraud and loopholes in our immigration enforcement agencies can be exploited by terrorists. Maxwell served as director of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Office of Security and Investigations. After he briefed Congress on potential threats to our national security, he says management in his agency made his life a living hell, and he's since resigned.

Michael Maxwell and his attorney, Rosemary Jenks, join us here tonight. Thank you for being here.


DOBBS: Michael, let's turn first -- you said to the House Subcommittee on International Terrorism, the integrity of the U.S. immigration system has been corrupted. The system is incapable of insuring the security of our homeland. How bad is it?

MICHAEL MAXWELL, FORMER IMMIGRATION OFFICIAL: It's as bad as you want to let your imagination wander. Every major process, the citizenship process, the asylum process, the refugee process is rife with loopholes that you can drive a truck through. The system can be gamed.

DOBBS: You believe that the issue is the potential for the terrorists to take advantage of the system. Is that correct?

MAXWELL: Absolutely. Absolutely. We know they are embedding here in society. The Assistant Secretary Julie Myers on the 5th of last month -- or of this month, just before my testimony, came out and said exactly that, that terrorists are embedding in our society and they are using the legal immigration system to do it.

DOBBS: You allege there are -- could be hundreds of cases of criminal activities, including bribery, sale of documents, extortion and fraud by employees of the Citizenship and Immigration Service. Why aren't these people being investigated right now, and why is there so much pressure being applied on you, apparently, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation when that time could be better spent going after the issues that you've raised?

MAXWELL: Sure. Well, anytime that allegations are raised against senior members of any administration, that they are corrupt, it would be embarrassing for those investigations to be, you know, to be looked into. So, we can't...

DOBBS: It would also be derelict of the United States government not to investigate those allegations, would it not?

MAXWELL: Absolutely. It's absolutely derelict. And, you know, at one point we had 528 criminal complaints that we needed to investigate, and slowly those were whittled away by senior management. Upwards of 200 of them are now missing.

JENKS: And by whittled away, he means destroyed, essentially. Taken away...

DOBBS: The documents destroyed?

JENKS: ... and they're gone. The files are gone.

MAXWELL: Correct.

DOBBS: Now, these are criminal complaints against employees of the Citizenship and Immigration Service.

MAXWELL: That's correct.

DOBBS: Which you investigated.

MAXWELL: Correct.

DOBBS: Well, how do they explain this?

JENKS: They don't. They just disappeared, and who is going to complain?

DOBBS: What does the director of Immigration Services, who six -- just about six months ago said it would be impossible for this agency to oversee an amnesty program or a guest worker program, suddenly says it wouldn't be entirely possible now? He's had a conversion?

MAXWELL: Right, well, certainly in my testimony I made it perfectly clear that the current immigration system can't handle the workload that we have now, and I would be awfully concerned about putting another 10, 15, 20 million people into that pipeline, and being willing to tell the American people that we can secure national, you know, national security. It just can't be done.

DOBBS: How is the FBI harassing you?

JENKS: Let me take that, if I can.


JENKS: We were actually warned early on in this process by senior leadership of ICE, senior special agent at headquarters...

DOBBS: Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

JENKS: Right. That Mike himself was being investigated by the FBI. We have cooperated 100 percent with the bureau, with the inspector general, with the GAO. We have provided documents to all of them voluntarily. And, yet, we are hearing that they may be investigating Mike as a retaliatory investigation. We certainly hope it's not true, but that is what we are being told.

DOBBS: Is there any senator, Michael, Rosemary, who is standing up for you? Is there any congressman standing up for you, to -- and saying, this is not the way the American government is supposed to work? Let's make the American work -- American government work for the people?

JENKS: We have had tremendous support in Congress. Senator Grassley on the Senate side has been great. Congressman Royce, Tancredo, Lamar Smith, Steve King. There have been several on the House side that really have -- have stood up and done the right thing. And you can imagine who they are, because they are the ones who always stand up and do the right thing on this immigration issue. But they've been great.

DOBBS: Michael, your thoughts, as we conclude here. Should, in your judgment, should the Citizenship and Immigration Service, should ICE, be considered by the American people to be capable of handling an amnesty program, a guest-worker program, as they have now at least proposed, and is this country -- what would it take, how long would it take, to make this country safe from the threat of terrorism?

MAXWELL: It's perfectly clear that the system now can't handle the work we have now. So, again, I have to come back and say that any notional program that this administration is thinking about puts this nation at risk. The current system is so flawed and so vulnerable that you can literally drive trucks through the vulnerabilities. And senior leadership knows that. These vulnerabilities have existed for years, in some instances, and we have plenty of documentation to support the fact that they just refuse to change the system.

DOBBS: Michael Maxwell, Rosemary Jenks, thank you both for being here, and we'll obviously continue to carefully report what you're doing, and we appreciate your patriotism and look forward to talking to you soon.

JENKS: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you both.

MAXWELL: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: Still ahead, what do illegal aliens and their supporters hope to achieve with a boycott of American businesses next week? I'll be talking with a strong supporter of demonstrations, but not necessarily boycotts here next.

And President Bush announced his plan to lower gasoline prices today. As he says, a little bit could help. Three of the country's most popular radio talk show hosts will join us with their views and those of their listeners. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Tonight, the illegal alien amnesty movement is pushing ahead with its planned boycott of American businesses on May 1st. Ana Maria Archila is the executive director of the Latin American Integration Center. She is our guest here tonight and a supporter of the Monday boycott, sort of, right? Good to have you here.


DOBBS: This business of a boycott is really, I know it's roiling the open borders and amnesty activists organizations because there is a real split about whether you should go ahead with that boycott, right?

ARCHILA: Right. I mean, the idea of the action on May 1st was to highlight the economic contributions of immigrants to the country. May 1st is actually a very important day around the world. It's Workers Day, we celebrate it in all the countries, we stop, we don't work that day. I know we don't celebrate in it this country, but the spirit of the day is to celebrate contributions of workers.

DOBBS: It's actually -- you know, I know you guys have had to talk about this, those of you who are leaders in the activist organizations. I mean, you couldn't have picked a worse day for Americans, because it's socialist, it's communist, and it's really not anything in the American tradition whatsoever. Was it chosen for that reason?

ARCHILA: No, it wasn't. Actually, May Day is a very important day in our countries. When we talk with people from Mexico, from Colombia, from Latin America, they say, hey, but isn't that a holiday? So it doesn't have that connotation for our country.

DOBBS: It's for a bunch of commies, come.

ARCHILA: It's not at all. It really doesn't.

DOBBS: The idea -- and it's fairly clear, that a number of the socialist workers groups got behind the activists in Southern California and pushed May 1st. So there is that influence.


DOBBS: You know May 1st, May 10th, it doesn't matter to me, because, frankly, I think the boycott is just a hugely bad idea for people who want to be persuasive of their political goals in this country. Don't you?

ARCHILA: I mean, boycotts have been used in social movements before. We think it is important to talk about the economic contributions of immigrants to this country.

DOBBS: Sure.

ARCHILA: There are -- so there isn't an agreement about the boycott. What's going to happen on May 1st is different communities are going to do different things. In New York City, we are going to have human chains, actually immigrant businesses close shop for half an hour and join human chains in all the factories of the city.

DOBBS: You keep say immigrant. Why is there this resistance -- and I know the answer, but I'm asking it anyway, because I want the hear what you say. Why is there this resistance to say what it is? People get upset in the activist organizations because I say what I think is straightforward talk, illegal aliens, but let's call them illegal immigrants. Why not be clear about what is illegal immigration and what is legal immigration and why isn't that important to everybody?

ARCHILA: I think ...

DOBBS: Everybody.

ARCHILA: ... it's important to understand the phenomena of immigration and the phenomena of legal and illegal immigration. It's my community. I can't call the people in my community illegal.

ARCHILA: Why? They crossed the border illegally.

ARCHILA: They crossed the border illegally. Maybe they overstayed their visa but that doesn't make them an illegal human being.


DOBBS: Well, nobody said an illegal human being. They said illegal aliens.

ARCHILA: Well, they're not aliens, either. We're very much from this earth.

DOBBS: Well, I'm sorry, but the CIS, Homeland Security says very clearly that they are illegal aliens.

ARCHILA: That's the terminology. That's the terminology that the government uses.

DOBBS: Why is this -- it is, and it's important to say what things are. Amnesty is amnesty and as we reported here, whether you agree with the poll or you don't agree, but 77 percent of those in the latest CNN poll said they would be willing to talk about a path to citizenship for those who have been in the country five years or more. You think that's fair and reasonable?

ARCHILA: I think it is important that -- it is good that we're finally talking about what are real solutions like a path to citizenship. I think that the division between five years and two years and one year is actually arbitrary, and the way that it's going to play out in our communities is that those family members who came seven years ago, the parents, are going to get to stay, and the kids who came two years ago are going to be deported. That doesn't actually create a solution. It makes families very ...

DOBBS: So you want absolute amnesty?

ARCHILA: We want a path to citizenship or a path to legalization for all the people that are here undocumented.

DOBBS: We were going to use the language clearly. Amnesty.

ARCHILA: OK, so we don't call it amnesty, because it's not forgiveness, right? People are going to pay a penalty. People are going to pay back taxes.

DOBBS: Isn't that forgiveness?


DOBBS: It's not forgiveness?

ARCHILA: If they're going to pay a penalty, they're not ...

DOBBS: We have de facto amnesty in the country anyway. Nobody is being deported from the interior to Mexico.

ARCHILA: We don't have amnesty when people live in fear and they are actually -- when people are actually vulnerable to deportation.


DOBBS: Illegal aliens in this country can get mortgages, cheap government mortgages, they have bank accounts. They drive. In many states they have drivers licenses.

ARCHILA: Undocumented immigrants really revitalize urban communities and rural areas. I mean, look at what is happening ...

DOBBS: What happens?

ARCHILA: ... in some of the neighborhoods. I want to invite you to Staten Island.

DOBBS: I accept. I accept.

ARCHILA: Some of the most depressed areas of Staten Island are now being revitalized by new immigrant communities that are coming to open new businesses.

DOBBS: I accept.

ARCHILA: And, I mean, we want people to be -- to contribute to the economy, and that's why we are doing all these actions.

DOBBS: Ana Maria Archila, we thank you very much for being here. We'll be talking, as we approach May 1st. Come back on May 1st. We'll talk about how the day goes for everybody.

ARCHILA: Thank you. Thank you.

DOBBS: Thank you.


DOBBS: Coming up at the top of the hour here, THE SITUATION ROOM with Wolf Blitzer. Wolf, tell us all about it.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou.

Feeling the heat over gas prices? President Bush rolling out his plan to try to provide some relief at the pump. We'll look at how that may play with voters.

And Senator Ted Kennedy, my guest here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Plus, immigration death threats -- the mayor of Los Angeles and a top state official are targeted. Now Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is vowing to crack down. We have the story.

Also, the New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, does he have a plan to run for the White House? I'll ask him.

And a Fox News anchor might become the next White House press secretary. Jack Cafferty is taking your e-mail on the relationship between television and politics.

All that, Lou, coming up right at the top of the hour.

DOBBS: What do you think of Tony Snow being a White House press secretary?

BLITZER: I like Tony Snow a lot. He's actually been an old friend of mine. I think he's going to be really good. He's very smart. He's clearly got his strongly held views, but I think he will be a very strong White House press secretary because he knows the press. He knows the administration, and to be a good White House press secretary, you have to know that interaction. He understands it, and I'm encouraged.

DOBBS: Jeez, Wolf, I just asked what you thought. He's a class guy. And I think it's an interesting choice, if that turns out to be the choice.

Thanks very much, Wolf Blitzer. We'll be looking forward to your broadcast at the top of the hour.

Next here, I'll be joined by three of the country's most popular radio talk show hosts. We'll find out what their listeners are saying. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Well, here to tell us what their listeners are saying about the illegal alien crisis, soaring gasoline prices, the war in Iraq, the political crisis in the White House are Joe Madison, host of "The Black Eagle" on WOL Radio in Washington D.C. Bob Slade, he's the host of "The Open Line" on New York's KISS-FM. And from Chicago, Steve Cochran, host of "The Steve Cochran Show" on WGN Radio. Good to have you with us, guys.

Let me to turn to you, Bob, first. These gasoline prices, the president stopping deliveries to the strategic reserves. How's your audience reacting?

BOB SLADE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well first of all, Lou, they're not happy with what's going on right now. You have $4.50 gas in New York City metropolitan area and it's flipping them out.

DOBBS: You just made a lot of people, though, in the rest of the country feel a little bit better about what they are enduring.

SLADE: Yes, but it's one of those things where they feel useless. They can't figure out what to do about it. It's just the situation that's out of control, and they are waiting for the $5 gas this summer.

DOBBS: Steve Cochran?

STEVE COCHRAN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: You know, the thing is, all of the options that are being talked about are a generation away and they don't help truckers and middle-class folks and taxicab drivers and the people that are getting hurt.

I mean, if you can afford a $40,000 SUV, you're not going to be complaining as much about $3 gas. It might be annoying, but it's not changing your lives. And actions speak louder than words. And all we're hearing is a bunch of talk now. You know, when a hurricane's going to bear down on Miami, you can't charge $100 for a sheet of plywood.

So somebody in Washington needs to step up and at least say to the oil companies, "You made 40 percent less, that seems like a lot. How about helping us out just a bit?"

DOBBS: What about the idea, Joe, of rolling back those $7 billion in royalties for the oil companies, the idea that the United States Congress, which is now so exercised about it all, why roll back $10 billion in subsidies to oil companies at a time when crude's at a record high and their profits are at an all-time high?

JOE MADISON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: What about a windfall tax? DOBBS: Yes. Now we're starting to build a little kitty.

MADISON: That's absolutely right. And then let me also add to this about doing something. In terms of our talk station, we actually have a talk show host who has started a campaign, and it's hitting the Internet, of course, boycotting a particular oil company.

DOBBS: Well, you can say it because it's all over the Internet.

MADISON: Well it is, all right, it's Exxon. And when the news came out about, you're talking about a windfall. This windfall of a retirement deal, this wasn't a golden parachute. This was a platinum...

DOBBS: ... for Lee Raymond.

MADISON: And so there is talk about this boycott. But Steve is absolutely right. What we're hearing are people, the average person is now making tremendous sacrifices.

DOBBS: You've got to be encouraged, though, Bob, that the Senate and the president met today and now are really committed to immigration reform.

SLADE: I hate to say this, but whoop dee damn do.


SLADE: Well, Bush is an oil man. Dick Cheney is from energy. You don't think -- you don't really believe that they're going to do something about this? They will put a temporary cap on it. But for all intents and purposes, they're not going to do anything.

COCHRAN: You know what, the thing is, Lou, I don't see a bunch of Democrats stepping up either.

SLADE: No, no, you are absolutely right.

COCHRAN: So I don't...

DOBBS: ... I don't know if you heard, but Joe and Bob just agreed with you instantaneously.

MADISON: But let me tell you, you are talking about immigration and asking about them meeting, nothing is going to come out of this.


MADISON: But let me just give you a point. I'm on my way to Sudan. Yesterday, Lou, I had to take five shots, five shots. And that was so that I don't get particular diseases or bring communicable diseases back to the United States. I thought about this issue. Do the illegal immigrants that we're talking about here, do they get those shots? And we're seeing a rise in some very serious situations. Now people don't want to talk about that.

SLADE: And that's going to take a huge drain...

DOBBS: ... I want to say one thing. When Joe is talking about heading to the Sudan, Joe Madison has been talking about the genocide in Darfur for years before other people were focusing on it and deserves great commendation for his focusing on that issue.

SLADE: ... He's one of the best in the country.

DOBBS: And I just wanted to say that real quick. Go ahead, Steve, I'm sorry.

COCHRAN: No I was just going to say the solution to the immigration problem is to come up with a solution and to have the president kind of shove the ball at the senators and the senators shoving the ball back, nothing's getting accomplished.

Now, I have an idea. I'm going to go to Mexico, Lou, and I'm going to do something revolutionary. I'm going to start a couple of businesses and I'm going to overprice workers to stay. And I'm going to pay them way too much, and they are going to want to stay in the country. I'm going to do my part, Lou, and I know I can count on your support.

DOBBS: Without question.

MADISON: They would stay. And also I will tell the American people and most folks, don't be fooled by these arrests of employers that took place. Most of those guys are out before the day was over, and this is a sham. But this is the solution. You start teaching these employers how to frog walk. They -- let me tell you, this problem would be over tomorrow.

DOBBS: Bob Slade, you get the last word.

SLADE: Well one of the things I find interesting is the leader of the country, President Bush, he looks lost to me. I mean, last week at the news conference with McClellan, he looked like he had nothing to do with it. He didn't want to be there. He didn't want to say. He was the lostest looking thing I've seen in 10 years. He didn't know what was going on and he continues to move like he doesn't know what's going on.

DOBBS: You know what, everybody wants to ask you Bob, what 10 years ago, what person you saw that looked more lost? But we're going to defer that to your next visit with us. Bob Slade, Steve Cochran, Joe Madison, thank you, gentlemen, appreciate it.

COCHRAN: Thank you, sir.

DOBBS: Take care. Still ahead, the results of our poll, stay with us.


DOBBS: Now the results of our poll, 93 percent of you say Congress should first determine how many illegal aliens are actually in the United States, determine the economic burden on public services and the full economic impact of any new legislation before granting amnesty. What a novel idea to know what you're doing before you're creating public policy.

Finally tonight, we want to congratulate our colleague Christine Romans and her husband Ed Tobin (ph) on the birth of their son William Francis Tobin (ph). William born Friday evening, coming in at 11 pounds, three ounces. We welcome him and we wish all three of you the very best. Thanks for being with us here tonight. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins right now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.