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Lou Dobbs Tonight

The Great American Boycott

Aired May 01, 2006 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens and their supporters holding boycotts, demonstrations and protests all across the country to demand amnesty for all illegal aliens. We'll have live coverage tonight coast to coast.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Monday, May 1st.

Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

Hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens and their supporters today failed in their attempt to shut down most of our cities to support amnesty for all illegal aliens. The protesters boycotted work, school and shops and held protest and demonstrations. But what the illegal alien lobby called the "Great American Boycott" did not materialize. It certainly did not paralyze most of our cities, as those organizers had hoped.

Today's demonstrations took place in more than 50 cities from coast to coast. The size of the demonstrations varied from a few hundred people to several hundred thousand.

Casey Wian tonight is in Los Angeles. Keith Oppenheim is in Chicago. Bill Tucker is in New York.

We begin with Casey Wian -- Casey.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the so-called "Great American Boycott" has been everything it was advertised to be and everything it was not.


WIAN (voice over): They marched and shouted, waving Mexican and American flags, dancing in the streets. They skipped school and work and shut down businesses.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The money is not the big deal. The big deal is to help the people to get their papers.

WIAN: All because Congress voted to secure the nation's border and toughen criminal penalties against illegal immigration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's important that we do a boycott today to show that we are important, that we have rights. WIAN: In California, home to more than two million illegal aliens, amnesty advocates continued to recast the national debate as an attack on all immigrants.

MARIA ELENA DURAZO, PRESIDENT, L.A. FEDERATION OF LABOR: The essential reason why there is an outrage by the immigrant community in Los Angeles and throughout the country is because immigrants work hard every day in every industry that you can think of.

WIAN: The second most powerful man in California politics even declared illegal aliens have a right to U.S. citizenship.

FABIAN NUNEZ, SPEAKER, CALIF. STATE ASSEMBLY: What's most important here is the immigrants, their rights to the legalization and their rights to citizenship.

WIAN: The goal was to cripple the U.S. economy. At the Los Angeles produce market, deliveries continued, though more slowly. Truck traffic is light at the Port of Long Beach, normally the nation's busiest. Many shippers unloaded over the weekend to avoid boycott-related delays. Los Angeles International Airport reports no impact on its operations.

But thousands of southern California schoolchildren stayed home, costing school districts tens of millions of dollars in state funds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I stayed out of school, but it's for a good cause. Us Mexicans, we need to have some rights.

WIAN: The vast majority of southern Californians not participating in the May Day boycott enjoyed a smooth commute to work on uncrowded freeways and buses. There were minor inconveniences, including interruptions of newspaper deliveries, catering and janitorial services.

Border security activists fought back. Some, including Tucson's Border Patrol Union, planned major purchases of big-ticket items for May 1st. Plenty of marchers also defied the boycott, spending money for T-shirts, flags and food.


WIAN: Another Los Angeles march is scheduled to begin if in about an hour for the benefit of those students who decided to stay in school today. The Los Angeles Unified School District reports about 27 percent of its students were an sent. Overall, about a half- million southern Californians were estimated to have participated in the boycott and marches -- Lou.

DOBBS: Casey, thank you very much.

Casey Wian, reporting from Los Angeles.

Hundreds of thousands of people taking part in today's protests and demonstrations in Chicago. Police estimate at least 300,000 people were in the crowds. Keith Oppenheim now reports from Chicago -- Keith.

KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the crowds have really dwindled at this point, but for a day where the weather really wasn't so hot, people really came out of the woodwork. As you said, Chicago police estimating 300,000 people marching from the west loop of Chicago all the way to where I am at in Grant Park, on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Now, to be sure, there were other immigrant groups represented from Asia and from European nations. But for the most part, this was a predominantly Hispanic crowd with a sea of American and Mexican flags as people marched.

We talked to a number of folks as they were marching, and many told us they had taken part of the day off from work, if not the whole day. We saw a lot of schoolchildren. In fact, there was one report indicating that in the Latino-dominated public schools, attendance was quite low, between 10 and 33 percent.

Overall, though, we'd have to say that this was a very peaceful and large rally. And Chicago police did a lot of ahead of time to coordinate with organizers of this event to make sure that it went pretty smoothly -- Lou.

DOBBS: Keith, thank you very much.

Keith Oppenheim from Chicago.

Illegal aliens and their supporters held major protests and rallies in many other cities around the country.

In Denver, 75,000 people took part in a demonstration in the city's center. Colorado has one of the fastest-growing illegal aliens populations of any state.

Several thousand people also protesting in Houston, where many of the demonstrators were displays Mexican flags.

There were also protests in Las Vegas, but major casino companies reported most of their staffs turned up for work today. Casino operations, they said, were not affected.

And here in New York, the illegal alien lobby organized human chains and rallies to support amnesty for illegal aliens, but the protests were much smaller than those held in other major cities.

Bill Tucker has our report.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): They lined the street for eight blocks. And while the American flag was the predominant flag of the day, Spanish was the language. Is chant is, "Yes, we can." Demands filled the air. ANA MARIA ARCHILA, LATIN AMERICAN INTEGRATION CENTER: We're tired of the abuses, and we're tired of an immigration system that makes people cross the border illegally and risk their lives, that keeps people in fear here, that keeps workers having to fight for really low-paying jobs.

TUCKER: An observer can almost forget that this was a rally supporting illegal immigration were it not for the signs demanding amnesty.

GOURI SADHWANI, NY CIVIC PARTICIPATION PROJECT: We don't like the term "illegal," because we don't think any human being can really be illegal. We know we use the term "undocumented".

TUCKER: Calls for a boycott were downplayed. Stores all along the streets where the protesters gathered were open and ready to sell.

HECTOR FEDDOR, SERVICE EMPLOYEES UNION: Some folks are calling for a boycott, others are calling for people to leave their jobs. We are basically leaving that to be an individual decision.

EDISON SEVERINO, LABORERS INTERNATIONAL UNION: I don't think that the goal is to shut down the American economy. I think that the shutdown is to -- is to create a reality check.

TUCKER: All the while, enjoying the full support of their congressmen.

REP. JOSEPH CROWLEY (D), NEW YORK: This is about workers, about workers' rights, both documented and undocumented.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: We are America! We are America!

TUCKER: Unofficial police estimates put the crowd in the Jackson Heights neighborhood at 2,000 to 3,000.


DOBBS: Supporters of illegal immigration also rallying in the nations capital. Juan Carlos Lopez of CNN En Espanol reports now from Washington -- Juan Carlos.

JUAN CARLOS, CNN EN ESPANOL CORRESPONDENT: Lou, hundreds of people came to Malcom X Park in D.C. It was part of the program in the nation's capital. Now, one person belonging to the Minutemen came to protest their presence in this rally.

What they did was the same thing as other cities. They had speeches, they had prayer, and they called for legalization.

They -- a petition was given to those who came here asking for legalization without any conditions. As there is talk in the Senate of giving legal -- a legal (INAUDIBLE) maybe to people who have been here five years or longer. They do not want that.

Now they are calling for a new rally. They are saying that May 19th will be the day where they have to gather around the White House to protest and ask for legalization -- Lou.

DOBBS: Juan Carlos, we thank you very much, from Washington.

A survey of businesses shut down today reveals the industries that are most unlawfully hiring illegal aliens. Perdue Farms closed eight of its 14 chicken processing plants. Tyson Foods, the nation's largest meat producer, reports a dozen of its plants were closed. The meat packing industry relies almost entirely on poorly paid illegal labor.

Goya Foods, the nation's largest Hispanic-owned food company, suspended its daily distribution today. McDonald's says some of its restaurants are closing early or offering only drive-through service. The National Association of Chain Restaurants says the boycott could hurt some of its members.

And in Birmingham, Alabama, a company that supplies day laborers to construction and landscapers across the southeast shut down today in support of the boycott. The Association of General Contractors says about half of the workers at construction sites in Miami didn't show up.

Still ahead here, we'll have much more on the illegal aliens lobby's boycotts, demonstrations and protests. One of the main organizers of today's demonstrations and boycott will be our guest.

I'll also be talking with a leading member of an organization representing Hispanics who do not support these protests or demonstrations or boycotts.

And two leading congressmen will join me. They are on the opposite sides of this amnesty debate, Congressman Luis Gutierrez Congressman Jim Costa.

Also tonight, the illegal alien movement's pro-amnesty demonstrations spreading across our southern border. We'll have a report on what Mexico is calling "A Day Without Gringos."

And most newspapers and television networks appear to be missing the point in their coverage of illegal alien protests or determinedly not using accurate language. We'll have that story here next.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: In Mexico, supporters of illegal immigration, not to Mexico, but to the United States, are observing "nothing Gringo" today, as they call it. Mexican labor unions organized a boycott of American companies such as McDonald's, Burger King and Wal-Mart.

Mexico's labor unions have traditionally rallied on May 1st. Organizers today dedicated rallies to illegal aliens working in the United States and demanding amnesty for them. The leftist Zapatista Liberation Army staged a rally in front of the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City as well. A number of organizations worked together to organize today's protests, demonstrations and boycotts all across the country. They represent a variety of interests: business, labor, religion, to name just a few. But they share a common agenda, and that is absolute amnesty for all illegal aliens.

Lisa Sylvester reports.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Behind these masses of people is a political agenda, a message to Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that anyone that is in this country should be given the opportunity to live in peace and to follow the dream of the -- the American dream.

SYLVESTER: Today's organizers asked people to stay away from their jobs and schools. They are demanding full amnesty for all. They oppose compromise legislation that would limit citizenship to those in the country five years or longer. And a guest worker program is not enough for them.

ANNA MARIA RAMIREZ, A.N.S.W.E.R.: This is very important. We don't want second-class citizenship, and we're not going to back down on that. We want full and equal rights, and there should be no less than that.

SYLVESTER: Their demands are creating a division in the immigrant rights community. More moderate groups do not support the boycott because it hurts the business community that has been the loudest advocate for open borders. The National Capital Immigration Coalition worries asking for too much, they'll end up with nothing.

JAIME CONTRERAS, NATIONAL CAPITAL IMMIGRATION COALITION: We are not asking the community to boycott and to strike. We're asking the community to keep their eyes on the prize, which is to achieve real comprehensive immigration reform.

SYLVESTER: In fact, the large demonstrations have galvanized those opposed to amnesty. At the National Press Club, a group of Latinos had a different view, saying the protesters do not speak for them.

CHRISTIAN CHOJNOWSKI, "YOU DON'T SPEAK FOR ME": These demonstrations are basically an insult and a slap in the face to every American, and to every American voter, to every hyphenated American and to every immigrant who is here legally.

SYLVESTER: For them, this is not a sign of political participation. It's a sign of a political crisis. Images of foreign flags, signs in Spanish, not English, and the sheer number of protesters are creating a backlash.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SYLVESTER: We're seeing splintering among the Latino community. They certainly all do not back an amnesty plan. And the organizations that are sponsoring today's rallies, in fact, are not even the same ones who are behind last month's mass demonstrations. Today's organizers are part of a broader coalition that has lobbied for several liberal causes, including against the Iraq war -- Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you very much. It's been quite a day so far, and more to come.

Lisa Sylvester, from Washington.

Thank you.

Well, it appears President Bush isn't the only one in his administration who prefers not to read newspapers. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice apparently pays little attention to the news either.

Secretary Rice yesterday said she sees nothing wrong with "Nuestro Himno," the Spanish language version of "The Star-Spangled Banner".


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: I've heard the national anthem done in rap versions, country versions, classical version. The individualization of the American national anthem is quite under way.


DOBBS: Well, the secretary of state's view stands in direct contradiction to that of President Bush, who said Friday he thinks the national anthem should be sung only in English.

We should note the State Department has not one, but four different Spanish language translations of "The Star-Spangled Banner" on its Web site right now.

In Washington today, Senator Lamar Alexander introduced a non- binding resolution that would require our national anthem to be sung in English only.

Still ahead here, most major news organizations refusing to report the truth about today's illegal alien demonstrations and those of their supporters in their headlines. We'll have a special report on today's day without truth in some newspapers and news organizations.

Also, we'll be joined by Juan Jose Gutierrez, one of the organizers of today's demonstrations and boycott.

And we'll also be joined by Mariann Davies, a member of an Hispanic coalition opposed to today's boycotts.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Most major news organizations today chose to call illegal aliens "immigrants" in their coverage and to report on amnesty for illegal aliens as an issue of immigration rather than an issue of illegal immigration. The headlines in this morning's major newspapers and on national television, simply put, reflected the language of the pro-illegal alien amnesty advocates.


DOBBS (voice over): "USA today's" headline: "On immigration's front lines." The "Los Angeles Times" headlining its coverage with "The Immigration Debate." Yet a key word in that debate, "illegal," appears only six times in a 1,500-word article.

"The New York Times" also uses the word "immigrant" in its headline. In a half-page article, the word "illegal" doesn't appear until the eighth paragraph.

And the lead article in "The Washington Post" uses the word "immigrant" four times in the first paragraph alone but doesn't mention the words "illegal immigrant".

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it's being called "A Day Without Immigrants".

DOBBS: Television news fully in line with those advocating amnesty for illegal aliens in this country. "The Today Show" branded its coverage "American Divided: A Day Without Immigrants."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Millions of immigrants may take part today...

DOBBS: ABC's "Good Morning America" proclaimed, "Day Without Immigrants, Bracing for the Boycott." And at CBS, "The Early Show" simply said, "Immigrant Boycott."

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Today, immigrants are boycotting...

DOBBS: And this network also in line with the organizers of today's demonstrations and boycotts in support of illegal immigrants. This network using the banner "A Day Without Immigrants."

NBC, "Immigration Rallies."

BILL HEMMER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: We're going to take you live to Florida right now...

DOBBS: And over at FOX, the banner reads "May Day Walkout."


DOBBS: In other words, some of the nation's most important mainstream media news organizations completely mislabeled today's demonstrations and boycotts, supporting amnesty for illegal immigration. Apparently unembarrassed by the question, why would immigrants require amnesty?

We are, after all, a nation of immigrants, not illegal immigrants. And, oh, yes, we're also a nation of laws.

That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight. Do you believe that most of the national media is intentionally avoiding the word "illegal" in covering today's pro-illegal alien amnesty demonstrations and boycotts? Yes or no?

Please cast your vote at We'll have the results later here in the broadcast.

Taking a look now at your thoughts.

Jung in Michigan wrote in to say, "I'm offended when Javier Rodriguez refers to illegal immigrants as simply immigrants as simply 'immigrant.' No. No. No. They are not immigrants. Those of us who came to the United States following the laws are immigrants."

Dave in California, "Lou, I wonder if all the politicians supporting the amnesty bill have learned their new national anthem in Spanish. What's next, our Constitution rewritten in Spanish?"

And Terry in Pennsylvania, "Lou, as a veteran, I'm tired of hearing about this 'Great American Boycott.' Why not call it what it is. It's not American, it's certainly not great. It's just an illegal alien sick-out headed up by illegals trying to force their will on the legal American people."

Send us your thoughts at We'll have more of them here later in the broadcast.

Organizers' choice of May 1st for today's so-called "Great American Boycott" is revealing. May 1st, of course, is a traditional holiday around the world for socialist, communist and even anarchist groups. It's called International Workers Day.

In America, the veterans of foreign wars began celebrating May 1st, however, as Americanization Day in 1921 to promote patriotism. It evolved into Loyalty Day. In 1958, Congress made May 1st an official holiday to celebrate America's freedoms.

Coming up next here, we'll have an update on demonstrations, protests and boycotts taking place right now across the country. I'll be talking with Juan Jose Gutierrez, an organizer of today's boycott. And Mariann Davies, her coalition of Hispanic-American organizations opposing the boycott.

And I'll be talking with Congressman Luis Gutierrez and Congressman Jim Costa about the impact of today's protests, demonstrations and boycott on those on Capitol Hill.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: Hundreds of thousands of people took part in protests all over the country today supporting amnesty for all illegal aliens. One of the biggest demonstrations in Los Angeles.

At least half a million people we're now told are involved in the protests and the boycott. Many small businesses were closed. Some workers staying away to participate in these demonstrations and protests. Others supporting the boycott.

There were also big pro-amnesty protests in San Francisco. Tens of thousands of people there taking part in the demonstrations, many shouting slogans in Spanish and carrying and displaying Mexican flags.

At least 300,000 people took part in a demonstration in Chicago, where some protesters displayed the U.S. flag, others displayed the flags of Mexico and other foreign countries.

Here in New York, tens of thousands of protesters are taking part in a demonstration right now in lower Manhattan. The protesters are marching to a park near the offices of the New York U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

I'm joined now by Mariann Davies, who is a member of "You Don't Speak for Me." It's a coalition representing a cross section of the Hispanic-American community opposed to today's boycott, and she joins us tonight from Washington, D.C.

Good to have you with us, Mariann.


DOBBS: Why -- why do you oppose the boycotts? Give us a sense of your thinking.

Well, this is what happens when a country becomes overrun by special interests. I oppose the boycotts because, first of all, the semantics, "A Day Without Immigrants." This is about immigrant rights.

My parents were legal immigrants who came to this country. This is not about rights for immigrants. Immigrants have rights under the laws of our country.

These are marches that are well orchestrated and well funded and well planned for securing rights for illegal immigrants who have no right to demand anything from this country. They are making unjustified demands on our citizens and our government.

DOBBS: You are obviously an Hispanic-American. You are obviously very concerned about the -- if you will, the option of the Hispanic label for what is now a pro-illegal alien immigration, pro- illegal alien amnesty movement.

How -- how many people -- how divided do you think the Hispanic community in this country -- I mean, 40 million people are identified as Hispanic in this country. It's obviously not monolithic, but give us a sense, at least as best you can, and if you can't, that's fine, too, as to the dividing line amongst Hispanic-Americans.

DAVIES: Well, I think there's been some polls from the Pew Hispanic Trust of Hispanic voters, which implies that we are citizens. And the majority do not agree with the protests and the boycotts and do not agree with blanket amnesty for those who have entered this country illegally.

DOBBS: Go ahead. I'm sorry.

DAVIES: And we do not share a monolithic view as the media and these organizations want to paint the Hispanic voice as being one -- one voice, and that is pro-illegal immigrant. Many of our families, they played by the rules, waited years in line to enter this country, honor what it is to become a citizen, speak English, assimilate, and are grateful for the opportunities of this country. We're not marching out in the streets making -- making demands.

DOBBS: You were -- you were a college volunteer for the amnesty program just about 20 years ago. As most of us in life, you make a journey of intellect and philosophy. But I'm curious to know what -- what made you change your mind over that period of time?

DAVIES: Well, at the time, as a young college student, I really didn't understand all the issues. I saw that and I remember hearing our president say this was a onetime, we're never going to do this again amnesty. At the time it was supposed to be for one million illegal immigrants in this country.

What I saw in the short time that I volunteered was undocumented, people with no documents, illegal immigrants, trying to come up with all kinds of paperwork that didn't exist to prove that they were here for the right amount of time. Consequently, instead of one million applications for amnesty processed, we processed over three million. Now we have 12 million and Bear Stearns estimates up to 20 million illegal immigrants in this country.

We also, it's a post-9/11 world, we have millions of people that have taken advantage of using identity fraud and easy access to counterfeit documents to secure, you know, green cards and Social Security numbers and all that. How are we going to process that? We also have an agency that --

DOBBS: Mariann, I have to cut you off here. We're out of time.

But Mariann Davies of You Don't Speak For Me Coalition. We thank you for being here. And Juan Jose Gutierrez was supposed to be joining us here tonight but apparently has fallen victim to the traffic snarls in Los Angeles created by the demonstrations and protests there and will be unable to join us, caught in traffic.

CNN's Anderson Cooper, however, having none of those problems, spending the weekend on the Mexican Border with the Minutemen, who are taking action to secure our southern border themselves. He has a special report coming up tonight, and joins us from Los Angeles now. Anderson? ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Lou, how's it going? As you know the Minutemen have focused on being what they say is the eyes and ears on the border, trying to help the border patrol do their job to monitor illegal immigrants crossing the border and trying to help the border patrol apprehend them.

This weekend, they stepped up their strategy, calling for volunteers to actually start rebuilding or in this case building a fence along a remote part of the California-Mexico border. They weren't sure how authorities were going to react. Here's some of the report, Lou.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a great day to be a vigilante.

COOPER (voice-over): Vigilantes is what their critics and President Bush have called them, but the Minutemen say they are merely being vigilant, patrolling the boarder, alerting authorities when they spot illegal immigrants crossing over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The vigilante word for us is now a badge of honor. Because we know we're not vigilantes, we don't operate outside the law, but we are filling a gap.

COOPER: Today, however, the Minutemen are stepping up their actions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Patriot Ten, this is Patriot Two, do you copy?

COOPER: For the first time, they plan to build a fence along the border. It's a new front in their battle against illegal immigration. About 100 volunteers have shown up and they are driving to an undisclosed location along the U.S.-Mexican border. They don't know how authorities will react when they start to build the fence.


So, actually, Lou, they ended up building about 150 yards of fence which was far more than they had hoped to. They had 100 volunteers. And for them, it's probably a new strategy, a new tactic that they are going to try to do more of in the future. Lou?

DOBBS: About 1,999 miles to go there. Anderson, we thank you. It looks like the demonstration is in full throat behind you. We appreciate you being with us, and we are looking forward to your special report tonight on, of course, "ANDERSON COOPER 360." Anderson will have continuing coverage of the day's demonstrations, all that coming up at 10:00 p.m. eastern here on CNN. Anderson cooper.

Still ahead, two U.S. Congressmen and two differing viewpoints on today's demonstrations. Congressman Luis Gutierrez and Congressman Jim Costa join us.

And the U.S. energy secretary finally admits what this nation's middle-class has known for a very long time about this nation's worsening energy crisis.

And how can the world community possibly trust Iran? After two decades of Iranian lies and deceit. We'll find out in a special report, coming up here next. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Joining me now, two U.S. Congressmen with very different views on today's illegal alien demonstrations, protests and boycott. From Chicago, I'm joined now by Congress Luis Gutierrez, he's participating in today's demonstrations in Chicago, and he's also the chairman of the Democratic Caucus Immigration Task Force. And from Washington D.C., Congressman Jim Costa of California. He is opposed to today's actions by illegal aliens and their supporters. And it's good to have you both with us.

You've been participating in these demonstrations. The fact is that a few people are starting to say things that are, perhaps, sounding a bit like a backlash. For example, the You Don't Speak For Me Coalition making some pretty strong statements about their opposition to this boycott and others as well. How do you react?

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: Well, first of all, I'd like to give you an update from the Chicago Police Department.

DOBBS: Sure.

GUTIERREZ: Four hundred thousand people is now their estimate and the second sentence in their communique to the press is no arrests. That's a pretty peaceful -- that's a large number of people, who peacefully marched today, came together to raise their voices. What a wonderful event in our democracy.

DOBBS: Congressman, you and I would normally not accuse either of being understated, but when you say that's peaceful, that's outstanding and a remarkable --

GUTIERREZ: Thank you.

DOBBS: -- a remarkable demonstrations. Congressman Costa, let me ask you this, we're seeing these protest across the country, demanding amnesty for illegal aliens. And a boycott. The great American boycott as the organizers have styled it. Why do you oppose those things yourself?

REP. JIM COSTA (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I've spoken to a number of schools in my district over the last month, and, frankly, I think that when students miss school, they -- two bad things happen. One, they miss out on their educational opportunities which are critical. We have too high of a dropout rate. And secondly, we have over 70,000 students, they estimate, that have missed class today in California.

The schools are impacted. They lose an important source of revenue. I just think there's a better way of making your views known on this very important issue. And I think the debate and the discourse is important, but you can write, you can e-mail your Congresspeople, we've had some constituents and employer groups that have taken their employees and taken students to visit with their Congressman and make their views known, and I think that's a much better approach.

DOBBS: You're both Democrats. You both voted against the Sensenbrenner legislation, yet you are very much on opposite sides of the --

GUTIERREZ: Lou, could I just share, number one?

DOBBS: Sure.

GUTIERREZ: We didn't support a boycott here in the city of Chicago. We came out and said, let's peacefully -- as a matter of fact, we printed tens of thousands of sheets of paper with permission so that you could go to your employer and ask him to take off. We worked with the restaurant association so that if there were 20 employees, five could go out today and the other 15 can continue the operation so that there was a peaceful and orderly fashion.

I encourage people to go to work. I encourage students to go to school.

But those that could march and come out and show their feelings about this very important vital issue, to come out. So we didn't do that. We didn't ask for a boycott. So we didn't demand a boycott. We wanted to come out and simply march and have our expression heard.

DOBBS: In having that expression heard, and let me ask you this, Congressman, amnesty for all illegal aliens is the rallying cry across the country. What do you think the reaction is going to be in Washington?

GUTIERREZ: Well, I think there's going to be a positive reaction in Washington, Lou, to be quite honest with you. I think things have gone along. The president first was for Sensenbrenner. Now President Bush went out to San Diego last week and said he's for comprehensive immigration reform.

Speaker Hastert said this aggravated felony that comes out of the Sensenbrenner criminalizing undocumented workers, he says that should be abandoned and taken out of the bill.

Look, we're moving in the right direction. We're looking for sensible immigration reform legislation, and everybody says it's amnesty. But, Lou, when I drafted the legislation with Senator Kennedy and Senator McCain, we set a six-year period for you to work. First, you pay a $2,000 fine, give us your fingerprints, if you violated any law, you're out.

And, no, but Lou, I think it is important, we said you must take English classes, you must take civics classes. And if there are any back taxes then you can graduate.

DOBBS: But congressman here is my problem. And if I may Congressman Costa, but Congressman Gutierrez has gone somewhere and I need to join him and that is first of all, when you talk about the Kennedy/McCain, the great compromise, the Martinez Hagel legislation, which there was a great back slapping three weeks ago Thursday, you and I both know that was an absolute fraud.

There wasn't a single dime provided by appropriations, by the president's budget for border security, for any part of administering such a large-scale program, and de facto, it would have been amnesty without any, any, realistic chance of moving toward background checks, a six-year process.

My gosh, and I'll ask you, Congressman Costa, when I say that the citizenship and immigration service in this country is overwhelmed and incapable of administering the program it has now, do you think I'm overstating the case?

COSTA: No. I mean, but let's face it. We've had for over two decades this de facto immigration policy that has existed both with Republican and Democratic administrations alike. So we all agree that the current status quo is unacceptable. The whole importance of our Democratic institution is to have this debate, have this discourse...

DOBBS: Right.

COSTA: ...and come up with comprehensive reform. And frankly, look, we haven't done too good of a job with trying to relocate 400,000 American citizens, who were dislocated as a result of Hurricane Katrina. The notion that somehow these 11 million people...

DOBBS: No, congressman. We have -- that is an absolute disaster and blight on the record of this government...

COSTA: Absolutely.

DOBBS: ....and the United States that we have not been able to handle what happened in New Orleans.

COSTA: Right.

DOBBS: But equally disgusting and something that every one of us should be ashamed of is that we have a Congress and a White House over two administrations, at least, perhaps...

COSTA: Longer, I would say.

DOBBS: Yes, I would say we could extend it to three or four.

COSTA: Right.

DOBBS: That has not seen fit to secure or borders, not seen fit, still 4 1/2 years after September 11, to secure our ports. And has, again, de facto permitted our agencies, our federal agencies charged with controlling immigration, to simply abandon that mission and to allow corporate America to hire illegal labor at their will and pleasure. And the hell with the American worker and the hell with protecting American citizens. COSTA: Well, and that's why I believe we need comprehensive reform. We need to have real border security. And I think there's strong bipartisan support for that. I think most of us don't support an amnesty program.

I think that my colleague from Illinois is correct. You have to pay a fine. You have to learn English. You have to do a whole host of things. I don't call that amnesty, by the way. And, frankly, if we do all of these things together and the president puts his support, as he indicated last week, I think we can have a bipartisan, common sense resolution to what is a problem that has been festering in this country for all too long.

GUTIERREZ: And, Lou...

DOBBS: Yes, please.

GUTIERREZ: our bill, the first three sections of our bill, are border security, border security, border security, and then we require a biometric card so that you can't cheat. Anybody can get a driver's license, and anybody can get a badge of security. There's so much -- we want to take those people out of business and get a biometric card, come into the future.

I want to secure America, Lou, with you, but how do we have 12 million people walking around that we know nothing about? We know nothing about them, and they are here. We're not going to deport them.


DOBBS: You are going to take great offense to this, but you sound like President Bush, Congressman Gutierrez. Nobody suggested deportation. So that's a straw man in this discussion.

GUTIERREZ: No, but so...

DOBBS: But you said we're -- you said 12 million illegal aliens. We don't know whether there are 11 million, 12 million or 20 million, the Bear Stearns Study from a year ago.

GUTIERREZ: Do you want to know something? It doesn't matter all of them, in the fact that we don't know who they are, where they work, where they live, how many children, is a security issue in this country. And one that we should address.

And either we have the political will and the power to deport them or the only other thing I think we can reasonably, sensibly and compassionately do is to have them come out into the light of day and know who they are.

DOBBS: Congressman Costa, you get the exact, last word.

COSTA: Well, I'm hopeful that today's discussion will resonate at home as well and all politics is local. And, frankly, it's -- I think whether or not we're able to generate the sort of bipartisan, comprehensive, common sense solutions to the de facto immigration policy that I think most of us agree is unacceptable. And if we can do that, then this whole discussion and dialogue and debate is certainly well worthwhile.

DOBBS: All right. Let me ask you both. I said you're going to have the final word, and I mean that, it's just that wasn't it. Congressman Gutierrez -- I'm going to ask you both this question. And a quick answer, if you could.


DOBBS: How long do you think it would take to secure our borders?

GUTIERREZ: I think we can do in it one to two years. I'm not an expert on it...

DOBBS: So would you be willing to wait on amnesty until we get that done?

GUTIERREZ: I think that part of securing our borders is stopping the flow of people coming into this country illegally. I think it's very important.

DOBBS: Congressman Costa, I'm going to give you the last opportunity here.

COSTA: Well, I think we can structure it...

DOBBS: How long would it take? And would you be willing to put off amnesty or as you call it comprehensive reform until then?

COSTA: Well, first of all I don't support amnesty fully. Well, I think you can stage the approach, and if you have an agreement that you have a staged approach, the experts certainly can tell us whether it takes a year or two years to secure our borders. We need to do that. You know, we haven't even fully adopted the 9/11 recommendations. So I mean...

DOBBS: Believe me. Believe me.

COSTA:'s a problem.

DOBBS: Really every American knows that.

COSTA: Absolutely. And so you can stage this in terms of a comprehensive solution, and I think you would find bipartisan support for such a staged approach.

DOBBS: Congressman Costa...

COSTA: Thank you very much, Lou.

DOBBS: ...and Congressman Gutierrez, thank you.

GUTIERREZ: Thanks for having me on Lou. DOBBS: Appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up at the top of the hour, THE SITUATION ROOM with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much Lou.

We'll continue CNN's extensive coverage of the demonstrations taking place coast to coast.

Plus, has the mission been accomplished in Iraq? It's been three years to the day since President Bush stood on that aircraft carrier. We're taking a closer look at where things stand right now.

Also, dire prediction. The energy secretary declares the country is facing an energy crisis. Find out how long it may be before you get price relief at the pump.

And hurricane season only one month away from today. Is the country ready this time?

Finally, Rush Limbaugh and drug testing. We'll hear what the talk show host had to say today about his deal with the prosecutors.

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

DOBBS: Thank you, Wolf.

And a reminder now to vote in our poll tonight. Do you believe that most of the national media is intentionally avoiding the word illegal in covering today's pro-illegal alien amnesty demonstrations and boycotts? Yes or no. Please cast your votes at The results will be coming up here shortly.

Still ahead, the U.S. energy secretary finally admits the obvious, as gasoline prices soar for our working men and women in this country and our entire middle-class.

And an outrageous new demand tonight from Iran, as its nuclear crisis with the West worsens. That special report coming up, next.


DOBBS: Two of our Marines were killed in combat in Iraq's Al Anbar Province Saturday and a soldier who was seriously wounded in Iraq in November has died at a military hospital in Texas: 2,400 American troops have now been killed since this war began in Iraq. That is 2,400 -- 17,762 troops have wounded; 8,137 of our troops have been wounded so seriously they can't return to duty.

At the White House today, President Bush insisted that the naming of a new prime minister is an important turning point for Iraq. President Bush's comments come on the third anniversary of his speech declaring an end to major combat operations in Iraq. Since the president's speech, 2,261 of our troops have been killed in Iraq. Iranian officials demanded tonight that the Bush administration stop threatening their country with military action over Iran's insistence that it continue its nuclear program. They say it is the Bush administration that is violating international law in this crisis. It is, in fact, Iran that has for now decades continually violated international law. Kitty Pilgrim reports.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The United States is publicly calling Iran and its radical leader a liar.

JOHN BOLTON, AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: Each of these statements that Iran makes simply enhances the evidence in support of our case that this matter belongs in the security council.

PILGRIM: Iran, faced with the new IAEA report is lying again, saying they may consider spot inspections or reconsider a Russian proposal. As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice puts it, Iran is playing games.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: We have heard from Iran every time they get close to a security council decision, there is some effort to say, "Oh, no, we really were in fact interested in that proposal that we rejected just a few weeks ago."

PILGRIM: Iran has been hiding its nuclear program for two decades, but when the Natanz underground facilities were revealed in 2002, Iran claimed the program was for peaceful purposes.

The new IAEA report states "the agency has repeatedly requested Iran to provide additional information on certain issues related to its enrichment program. Iran declined to discuss these matters."

The White House today said, Iran can't be trusted.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is a regime that has not come clean, a regime that refuses to abide by its international obligations. So it's not an issue of whether or not they have the right to civilian nuclear power, it's an issue of trust. Can they be trusted?

PILGRIM: The United States wants the U.N. Security Council to enact a resolution under chapter seven, which would force compliance. Trying to firm up a meeting of U.N. permanent members in New York next week.


PILGRIM: Secretary Rice took Iran's new statements of cooperation as another lie, saying they've had plenty of time to cooperate. Lou?

DOBBS: And another really strong comment from our secretary of state, she accused the Iranians of playing games. It just must fill the hearts of all Americans with pride to hear that kind of robust response to the mindless rhetoric coming out of Tehran.

PILGRIM: Unbelievable.

DOBBS: Kitty, thank you very much -- Kitty Pilgrim.

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman says soaring gasoline prices are nothing less than an energy crisis. He also says gasoline prices will remain high for years to come. White House Spokesman Scott McClellan today tried to downplay the energy secretary's remarks. But even McClellan had to admit that high prices are a crisis for Americans. Gasoline prices in California, in fact, are at an all-time high. Now, $3.25 a gallon, significantly higher than the national average, just under $3 a gallon.

Still ahead, we'll have the results of our poll and more of your thoughts. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Now, the results of tonight's poll. An overwhelming 94 percent of you say that most of the national media, in your opinion, is intentionally avoiding the word illegal in covering today's pro- illegal alien amnesty demonstrations and boycotts.

Taking a look now at more of your thoughts.

Elaine in California said: Seems to me that the protesters are demanding representation without taxation. Wow, what a deal. Only in the good old U.S. of A. I assume that these protesters will not be utilizing any of the services, such as police, fire, hospitals, doctors offices, sending their kids to subsidized childcare or schools today. Those things that we, the legal citizens, are working to provide for the illegal citizens.

Paul in Ohio: Lou, as an African-American man, I find it disheartening to have illegal, undocumented workers demanding anything . And to have them compare their struggle to the Civil Rights Movement is an insult. I also find it ironic that we had to fight against Jim Crow laws, corrupt officials, the clan, and various other malfeasants, just to have an opportunity to earn the American dream. Now George Bush and his corporate pals want to destroy this country, in the name of profits and cheap labor.

Gail in Texas: Isn't it a shame that the people of Mexico are wasting all of their efforts here in the U.S. when they really should be protesting in Mexico itself? Why don't they want their own country to change and become better?

Gordon in California: Lou, A day without illegal immigrants, good. Now can we please have a week, a month, a year, a decade.

Dave in Nebraska said: Lou, I wonder how the corporations that are supporting the boycott of America by closing their businesses would like it if the middle class boycotted them for hiring illegal aliens and driving down wages? Jerry in California: Lou, I just can't believe it. A new national anthem? What's next, a new American flag for the illegal aliens here in our country?

We love hearing your thoughts. Please send them to us at Each of you whose e-mail is read here on this broadcast receives a copy of my book "Exporting America" and also a free copy of the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, just for reference.

Thanks for being with us. Wolf Blitzer begins right now with "THE SITUATION ROOM." Wolf?