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Lou Dobbs Tonight
President Bush Visits Yuma, Arizona; Senate Looks Almost Certain To Pass Bill That Would Give Amnesty To Millions Of Illegal Aliens; Senators Fire Barrage Of Questions At General Michael Hayden; Some California Political Leaders Have Reservations About President's National Guard Plan; Illegal aliens are stealing Americans' Social Security numbers and their identities, and the federal government is doing nothing to stop it; Illegal Alien Crisis For Nation's Hospitals; Bob Meaders Launched Operation Helmet To Provide Free Helmet Upgrades To Troops
Aired May 18, 2006 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, President Bush touring our southern border with Mexico as he struggles to convince Congress and the American people that he has an effective plan to deal with both illegal immigration and our border security crisis.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and information for Thursday, May 18th.
Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
The president went to the Arizona-Mexico border today to sell his illegal immigration agenda.
In Washington, 48 U.S. senators voted against more than 130 million working men and women in this country.
And the Mexican government planning to file a protest, an official protest against proposals to construct a new fence along parts of our southern border.
And the U.S. Senate votes to make English the official language of the United States.
Suzanne Malveaux reports from Yuma, Arizona, on the president's tour of one of the busiest crossing points for illegal aliens. And Bill Tucker and Casey Wian report on why two major parts of the president's border security proposal could fall apart.
Lisa Sylvester tonight reporting from Washington on the battle in the Senate on illegal immigration and border security reform.
We'll have all of the stories, much more ahead here tonight.
We turn first to Suzanne Malveaux in Yuma, Arizona -- Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, this is really considered ground zero for this illegal immigration debate. Yuma, Arizona, as you know, of course, a very busy border crossing, about 62 miles to that station or so. It gets to be about 100 degrees, 120 degrees or so in the heat, and about 450 illegal aliens crossing and apprehended every day here.
This is where the president decided that he was going to go ahead and make his case for comprehensive immigration reform. I got a chance to sit down with him, ask him a few questions about it, specifically about the critics who are calling today a publicity stunt, saying that they believe this plan of 6,000 National Guard troops put on the border is simply a political ploy to try to get them to sign up for the guest worker program, something many House Republicans say they are not willing to do.
I asked the president point blank whether or not there was anything he could offer his own party to make them understand and come to his side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can offer them a comprehensive strategy to get the job done. And when we add 6,000 border patrol agents to the border patrol that are patrolling up and down this vast border, we'll double the border patrol since I've been the president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: And Lou, I also asked him as well about the fact that there is so much focus on the southern border, on Mexican illegal immigrants, whether or not he thought or he had suggested in the past that there was an element of perhaps of racism that was creeping into this debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I think it would be too harsh a judgment to say that somebody who doesn't support a comprehensive immigration plan, that they're racist. I don't believe that. I do believe legitimate -- I mean, citizens have got legitimate concerns, realizing that parts of this border have been open for anybody who wants to come across.
And we've got to stop that. We must enforce our border.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Now, Lou, of course, while the president continues to make his case, he continues to also have -- face a great deal of opposition when it comes to congressional Republicans. We heard from Jim Sensenbrenner earlier today. Essentially, he's the one who's going to be ushering this argument through the House on immigration reform. He says, quite frankly, he just doesn't think the president gets it, that they believe what he is offering here is amnesty, and they are not willing to sign on that -- Wolf.
Lou, sorry. DOBBS: That's all right, Suzanne. You said you asked the president if there was anything he could do to make his opponents understand and come to his side. Has anyone inquired of this president if there's anything that the House of Representatives or any one of the senators might do to make him understand and come to their side?
MALVEAUX: Well, certainly there's discussions back and forth. I mean, his top political adviser, Karl Rove, has been on the Hill for the last couple of days. He's been talking to a number of these member of Congress to try to make them understand, but again, Sensenbrenner saying that he thought that the Republicans were being dissed by Karl Rove, that they didn't really hear their particular concerns. They just do not believe that this guest worker program is a good idea.
DOBBS: We're watching, as you're speaking, Suzanne, President Bush in a dune buggy. It looks like he's having a pretty good time down there on the border. How long was he down there?
MALVEAUX: Just about four hours or so. Essentially a five-hour flight here, four hours on the ground, and then five hours back home. Clearly wanting to use this very important backdrop, very important symbolically to show him at the border to make his case.
DOBBS: All right. Suzanne Malveaux, reporting from Yuma, Arizona.
The Senate and the House tonight are heading for a major confrontation over our illegal immigration and border security crisis. The Senate, supported by corporate America and special interests, looks almost certain now to pass a bill that would give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. That bill would also threaten the standard of living of more than 125 million working men and women, and, of course, their families.
Lisa Sylvester reports.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In the Senate immigration debate, the president's point man is not a fellow Republican. It's senator Ted Kennedy.
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We're not going to have the exploitation of these workers by their employers.
It will have devastating effects not just for temporary workers, but for all workers.
This is not a handout. This is not welfare.
SYLVESTER: The Massachusetts Democrat made it easier for guest workers to receive a green card, changing a worker protection amendment that passed only yesterday. Democrats also fought to retain a provision in the bill that allows illegal aliens to receive back Social Security benefits, even those who committed identity fraud.
Senate John Ensign wants to change that. He referred to a woman whose Social Security number was being used by 218 illegal aliens.
SEN. JOHN ENSIGN (R), NEVADA: Does this bill punish the people who stole an American citizen's identity? The answer is no. It rewards them.
SYLVESTER: The Kennedy-led coalition succeeded in tabling the Ensign amendment. It will likely not come up for a vote.
DAN STEIN, FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM: You have Democrats really running the show at this point. They've got enough Republicans working with them to effectively gut any significant immigration control measures that might be attached to the bill.
SYLVESTER: Conservatives had a tough time getting approved even amendments that would appear to be non-controversial, like a push to declare English the official language.
SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R), TENNESSEE: But to make this land of immigrants truly one country, we must have and honor our national language, our common language, and that language is English.
SYLVESTER: About 30 minutes ago, by a vote of 63-34, the Senate approved an amendment by Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma that makes English the national language and requires new citizens pass an English proficiency exam -- Lou.
DOBBS: Lisa, this is -- is there any sense in that town, the nation's capital, that what -- the display that they're putting on is just inconceivable?
SYLVESTER: I think the people in the House get that, but the question, you know, really in the Senate, it seems that there's a little bit of a disconnect of what the senators are doing and what we're hearing the American people want. But in the House, they seem to be listening a little bit.
DOBBS: The idea that they would table an amendment -- and to pass an amendment providing back pay, back Social Security benefits obtained by cards fraudulently, identity theft, which is, by the way, a felony, not a misdemeanor, as is entering this country illegally.
SYLVESTER: John Ensign, in fact, he said something very similar. He said if somebody steals someone's identity, that is a felony. He says not only are you giving amnesty for that felony, but on top of that you're saying they're allowed to receive back Social Security benefits.
Democrats were able to push back on the Ensign amendment. And so the bill -- the language in the bill stands as is, and that means that illegal aliens would be eligible for back Social Security -- Lou.
DOBBS: This is no longer amnesty, but shamnesty. It is a bonanza as well.
Thank you very much. We appreciate it.
Lisa Sylvester reporting from Washington.
As Suzanne Malveaux reported earlier, the chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, is simply furious with the president's so-called comprehensive illegal immigration and border security plan. Congressman Sensenbrenner is blasting all of the president's proposals.
The congressman said the president has failed. He said the president has turned his back on the House immigration bill. The congressman said the president simply does not get it.
We should point out that Congressman Sensenbrenner will be the chief negotiator for the House of Representatives in the House-Senate conference on a final immigration border security bill if, as it now appears likely, the Senate does pass its legislation.
Also on Capitol Hill, senators fired a barrage of questions today at the president's nominee to be the director of the CIA, General Michael Hayden. Most of those questions weren't about the CIA, but about the National Security Agency's surveillance programs on Americans. General Hayden strongly defended his role in the NSA's warrantless wiretap program.
David Ensor reports.
DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): From the start, some Democrats made clear they have doubts about confirming General Michael Hayden, who was the architect of the National Security Agency warrantless U.S. wiretap program and may have collected phone call records on millions of Americans.
SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Now, the question before us today is the nomination for the director of the CIA of General Hayden, who directed and vigorously defended this illegal program.
ENSOR: But in many hours of questioning, his critics laid few, if any, gloves on Hayden, who insisted that all NSA programs are legal, including the domestic surveillance.
GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, CIA DIRECTOR NOMINEE: The White House counsel, the attorney general, the Department of Justice's lawyers, and my own lawyers at NSA ruled this to be a lawful use of the president's authority.
ENSOR: On the agency he will lead if confirmed, Hayden said it has become too much of a public political football in recent years. HAYDEN: The CIA needs to get out of the news as source or subject and focus on protecting the American people by acquiring secrets and providing high-quality, all-source analysis.
ENSOR: One senator worried about Hayden, the obedient general, giving bad news to the president.
SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: We get this so-called "Yes, sir" Mr. Slam-Dunk President, rather than speaking the truth to power even when it is difficult.
HAYDEN: Yes, ma'am. You've got my assurances to the best of my earthly and human ability.
ENSOR: To questions about whether a uniformed general should lead the civilian CIA, Hayden said he does not take orders from the Pentagon.
ENSOR: But if the uniform should interfere with his ability to bond with the CIA workforce, General Hayden promised he would "make the right decision" and retire from the military -- Lou.
DOBBS: David, thank you very much.
In the war in Iraq, insurgents have killed five more of our troops. Four soldiers were killed when a roadside bomb exploded near their vehicle northwest of Baghdad. And a sailor serving with the U.S. Marines in Al Anbar Province, west of Baghdad, was killed in combat.
2,454 of our troops have now been killed in Iraq, 18,088 of our troops wounded. And of those, 8,302 seriously wounded.
In Afghanistan, an American contractor working for the State Department has been killed by a car bomb. That contractor helping train Afghan police. Two hundred thirty-four American troops have been killed in and around Afghanistan since that war started.
Still ahead here tonight, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher says President Bush, the U.S. Senate and the federal government are all failing the American people on the issues of illegal immigration and border security. He's our guest coming up.
And major parts of the president's border proposals are likely to fail. His plan to send 6,000 National Guardsmen to the border, his huge interest in advanced technology that hasn't advanced or worked in years. We'll have that story.
And you know those millions of illegal aliens the president and the Senate are fond of pointing out have committed only misdemeanors? Well, it turns out they're committing felonies with forged documents and stealing the identity of American citizens. And our federal government, you may not be surprised to learn, it's not doing a thing about it.
We'll have that special report and a great deal more coming up next.
DOBBS: President Bush tonight is trying to convince anyone who will listen that his latest plan to secure our borders will work better than previously failed policies.
We have two reports tonight on the major proposals in the president's plan that are already being criticized as unrealistic and simply unworkable.
Casey Wian reports on the showdown under way between the White House and border state governors who are refusing to pay for the new additional Guard troops. And Bill Tucker reports on why the president's proposal to build what is called a virtual border fence rather than a real fence is already being called unworkable because it has already been proved unworkable.
We begin with Casey Wian -- Casey.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, several key California political leaders have serious reservations about the president's plan to put National Guard troops on the border. And some are vowing to not spend a dime to make it happen.
WIAN (voice over): The Pentagon is trying to persuade the American public that the National Guard is fully prepared to assist the Border Patrol.
LT. GEN. CLYDE VAUGHN, DIRECTOR, ARMY NATIONAL GUARD: The states have met every requirement thus far, and I'm confident that this is well within our capabilities.
WIAN: But some states are balking at the president's plan to deploy 6,000 National Guard troops to the border, fearing they'll be left vulnerable to other threats.
Don Perata is president pro tem of California's State Senate. He wants answers from the Pentagon and the governor's Office of Emergency Services.
DON PERATA, CALIFORNIA STATE SENATE: How much does the National Guard fit into the plans that he has when an 8.5 earthquake hits the bay area, or a dike blows and we have an unexpected flood of proportions that require the National Guard? I do not want to spend any money at all, invest a dime into anything that is going to weaken our ability to respond to a state disaster when it comes.
WIAN: Border state governors are split on the National Guard plan, with California's Arnold Schwarzenegger and New Mexico's Bill Richardson opposed. Rick Perry of Texas and Janet Napolitano of Arizona favor the idea.
The Pentagon will pay the estimated $756 million cost of moving the Guard to the border, but only on a reimbursable basis, meaning states will have to front some of the money. Non-border states will also be asked to send troops, and some are questioning the effectiveness of the plan, especially given the preliminary rules of engagement.
PAUL MCHALE, ASST. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR HOMELAND SECURITY: DOD will play no role in the direct apprehension, custodial care or security associated with those who are detained by civilian law enforcement authorities.
WIAN: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Congress Wednesday states will be allowed to opt out of committing troops.
VAUGHN: It's very encouraging the number of states that are calling us about this. And so, you know, opting out, that would be just conjecture.
WIAN: Maybe so, but it's an option several states are considering.
WIAN: Now, California has about 20,000 National Guard troops. If it doesn't cooperate, obviously the Pentagon is going to have a much more difficult time making a significant impact on border security -- Lou.
DOBBS: Absolutely. And Senator Judd Gregg has already said the president's plan, Casey, to send those National Guard troops to the border, even though they would have nothing to do with arresting, apprehending, or finding them, is going to be a diversion of the $1.9 billion that the Senate had previously approved for border security. That instead will go to the National Guard.
It's just one problem after another.
WIAN: One problem after another. Another problem, Lou, the National Guard troops, if they do end up on the border, they're going to be doing things like building roads and gathering intelligence.
The Border Patrol has a lot of intelligence already. What they don't have is boots on the ground to arrest illegal aliens and smugglers coming across the border.
DOBBS: T.J. Bonner, the head of the Border Patrol Council, has made it very clear, boots on the ground are the solution here.
Thank you very much.
Casey Wian from Los Angeles.
President Bush also seems to believe that he can secure these borders with technology, and a so-called virtual fence. But as we have repeated on this broadcast many times before, technology has already proven completely ineffective in securing our borders.
Bill Tucker reports.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is President Bush's vision of border security. There's just one small problem. It doesn't work.
A report by the Government Accountability Office issued in February found numerous failings. Of 11,000 motion sensors deployed in August of last year, 1,000 had quit working three months later. None of the control centers in the 20 sectors along our borders are integrated with each other, so information cannot be efficiently shared. The sensors frequently give false readings.
Since 1997, $340 million has been spent on border surveillance technology. Only 255 remote cameras are installed, covering only four percent for the northern and southern borders. Yet, the biggest failure of technology may also be the simplest.
MICHAEL CUTLER, FORMER INS AGENT: A camera doesn't make arrests. And to spend all of this money and all this effort on lucrative contracts, while not hiring enough agents who have to make the arrests at the end of the operation, makes zero sense.
TUCKER: What the technology does do is generate information that people must then do something about. And as even the president now admits, there are not enough agents on the border.
But the fundamental flaw in the eyes of the people in charge of securing the border is that Washington is not, nor has it ever asked agents what is needed. Instead, they are asking defense contractors how billions of dollars should be spent, which leaves border agents to this unflattering conclusion...
T. J. BONNER, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL: Maybe this is all just for political show. And from the perspective of the men and women on the front lines, that's clearly how we view it, all for show.
TUCKER: For border agents, a more low-tech approach. For example, manned helicopter surveillance would be much more effective than a $14 million unmanned drone which is prone to failure.
TUCKER: Border agents on manned aerial missions offer a couple of other benefits. They can distinguish between animals and people. And Lou, more importantly, they're on the scene. So if they need to and if it's necessary, they can make arrests.
DOBBS: It is, I have to say, just confounding to imagine what this president thinks he's doing in terms of talking about border security, putting 6,000 troops in a rear echelon, adjunct support role to a border patrol that has not been provided the agents. Those jobs have already been appropriated, provided for by Congress. They won't fill them.
It's just -- what in the world is going on?
TUCKER: I don't know. I'm not touching that one. I'm not touching that one.
DOBBS: Well, it was a rhetorical question, Bill Tucker. I tell you, it's amazing.
Coming up next, illegal aliens are stealing Social Security numbers and identifies from American citizens. And what is your federal government's response? You probably know, but we're going to tell you all about it, nonetheless.
And I'm joined by a Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, a leading conservative Republican who is splitting with his president on something called comprehensive immigration reform.
And illegal aliens bringing deadly diseases with them across our borders. No one wants to talk about it. But I'll be talking with a leading neurosurgeon who says it's hitting American hospitals hard.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: The federal government is failing not only to secure our borders, but to defend American citizens whose identifies are under attack in this country. Illegal aliens are stealing Americans' Social Security numbers and their identities, and the federal government is doing absolutely nothing to stop it.
Kitty Pilgrim reports.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): What happens when an illegal alien and his employer file work papers with a false Social Security number? Answer? Nothing.
The IRS commissioner testified to Congress not one single employer has ever been penalized for filing false Social Security numbers. His written testimony reads, "The fact that we have not sustained a penalty against an employer probably shocks many of you. To some extent, it shocks me as well."
About eight million W-2 forms have no match of names and Social Security numbers. The Social Security Administration keeps lists of employers with large numbers of discrepancies, but it claims Section 6103 of the tax code bars them from notifying other government agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security.
TERENCE JEFFREY, EDITOR, HUMAN EVENTS: The Social Security Administration, it's told, it can't hand over a list it already has of employers who are filing massive numbers of bad W-2s to the Department of Homeland Security. And the Internal Revenue Service, who knows who those employers are, refuses to fine a single one of them, even though it's against the law to file bad W-2s.
This is an outrage.
PILGRIM: More than four years after September 11th, Secretary Chertoff says his agency knows it's a problem but still can't get the list from another government agency.
MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: When employers get those kinds of numbers, or when there are other numbers that are provided that clearly do not match the names in Social Security records, that has to be a tip-off that there's -- that there's a potential illegal or undocumented worker who is being employed.
PILGRIM: The Social Security Administration guidelines to employers read, "You may not verify someone's name and Social Security number until after you have offered him or her a job." And later, if there is a problem, they advise, "A mismatch does not make any statement about an employee's immigration status and is not a basis, in and of itself, for taking any adverse action against an employee."
PILGRIM: This whole situation has gone unchallenged. Social Security blames the IRS, Homeland Security says Congress should change the law. But there could be another motivation.
The way it stands, businesses hire whoever they want and face no penalties. And the government gets to keep the billions paid into the Social Security under this system.
DOBBS: You don't suppose that corporate America is having its way here again, just as it would with the importation of what, by the most recent estimates, would be just about 70 million immigrants over the next 10 -- 20 years? I mean, this is insane.
You heard Michael Chertoff just completely state the absolute inverse of what the Social Security Administration is saying. Why in the world doesn't the president of the United States, who has the ability to say this will be the interpretation, this will be the policy, why does he not intervene and do the right thing here, Kitty?
PILGRIM: It doesn't even factor in. And all of the agencies are playing a blame game, oh, they can't do it, somebody else...
DOBBS: A convenient -- we should stress, convenient, blame game. Your government and ours, all of ours, we're so proud of it, at work. This is absolutely nuts.
PHILLIPS: It is absolutely insane, and...
DOBBS: And these senators are sitting in Washington, D.C., going through minutia and all sort of issues that are tangential, when they can focus on employers right now and deal with this issue. PILGRIM: The data exists. And they really need to share it so that this can be nailed down. They will not share it, and we're looking into ways that this can be fixed. And there are some congressmen who are stepping forward to fix it.
DOBBS: Well, a new law could be passed. That would be one solution. But the straightforward simple solution, a president who's fond of findings on all sorts of national security issues and not supporting certain laws, and with action, could actually take action here and move into action in support of a law. Because I know he is serious and sincere when he talks about border security.
Thank you very much, Kitty Pilgrim.
Take a look now at some of your thoughts.
Phil in Pennsylvania, "Lou, we're just going to have to adapt to modern times. Repeat after me, 'I pledge allegiance to the united corporations of America and to the almighty dollar for which they stand, one cabal, unstoppable, with lobbyists and undocumented workers for all.'"
Robert in Arizona, "I wish you would ask this as a viewer poll question some day. The question is, 'Do you believe Mexico's goal is to slowly and methodically take over America?'"
We're going to review this. If we hear enough comments about the question, we just might focus on that as a general question.
And Marie in Idaho: If illegal aliens remain arrogant in their sense of entitlement to rights reserved for American citizens, and the U.S. Senate remains arrogant in its absolute disregard for the intelligence and will of the American people, then neither should be surprised when the American people come up with their own comprehensive reform plan on November 7th.
George in Pennsylvania: Lou, is the real issue illegal immigration or homesteading with the intent to annex?
Send us your thoughts at LouDobbs.com. We'll have more of your thoughts coming up here later.
Communist China tonight is denying it's spying on the United States. The Communist Chinese government offered that denial after we reported last night on a Taiwanese man who admitted lying and trying to buy military hardware for shipment to Communist China. A Communist government official in Beijing says "the so-called allegations that China is conducting intelligence collection on military or science and technology in the United States are purely fictitious."
The Communist Chinese government is lying. Over the past two years, customs agents have arrested dozens of operatives attempting to ship U.S. military hardware to Communist China. Most of those people have been convicted; 3,500 Communist Chinese front companies are operating in the United States with the express purpose of collecting information and intellectual property and yes, advanced U.S. technology and military hardware.
The FBI considers Communist China's efforts to obtain American military technology to be the No. 1 espionage threat against the United States. Apparently the State Department isn't listening to the FBI. Critics including this broadcast slammed the State Department for buying 16,000 computers from Lenovo, a company owned by the Chinese Communist government. Lenovo, formerly a division -- bought what was formerly a division of IBM.
So the State Department is doing what the State Department does best. It's changing the language a bit. The State Department announces now it will buy those computers, but it says now classified information will not be allowed to be stored on those computers. What a State Department.
And tonight, the government of President Vicente Fox in Mexico is again blasting U.S. border security plans, such as they are. Mexico's foreign minister has announced it will file a formal complaint with the U.S. government.
The Mexican government is protesting American plans of proposals to build a fence and to deploy national guard troops on the border with Mexico, even though those troops would be at least at this point, perhaps unarmed and have the vaguest of roles in border security and a fence that would be more virtual than real. Earlier this week, Mexico's foreign minister threatened to sue in U.S. courts if National Guard troops were to detain any illegal aliens from the country of Mexico.
Immigration and customs enforcement agents have arrested five illegal aliens working in Los Angeles, nothing particularly newsworthy about that. But these illegal aliens were working for the Los Angeles department of water and power and one of them was working at a job that Americans just might want to do, Mr. President.
He was working in a management position and earning more than $100,000 a year. By the way, you might have noticed a slight change in the president's language recently on the issue of illegal aliens taking jobs that Americans won't do, as he's been saying now for months and months. But in the past 24 hours, President Bush has made a subtle shift. He's now saying illegal aliens are taking jobs that Americans aren't doing.
Still ahead here, a Republican congressman from a border state breaking with his president on immigration reform and border security. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher joins me here next and I'll talk with a former flight surgeon and a very important fellow he is. He's saving the lives of many of our soldiers overseas with his organization Operation Helmet. Dr. Bob Meaders is our guest. You may find you may want to help him with his mission. Stay with us.
DOBBS: This broadcast has reported extensively on the crisis facing our nation's hospitals from uninsured illegal alien patients. Many of these illegal aliens suffer from serious diseases, tuberculosis, for example and taxpayers increasingly being forced to pay for the treatment of those patients. And in fact, dozens of hospitals across the country being forced to close over the years because of that incredible burden on the system of our national health care system.
We're joined now by Dr. Katrina Firlik. She is a neurosurgeon at Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, Connecticut. The author of the book "Another Day in the Frontal Lobe." That's a great title. She's seeing first hand the toll that the illegal alien crisis is taking on this nation's health care system and joins us now. Doctor, good to have you with us.
KATRINA FIRLIK, NEUROSURGEON: Nice to be here.
DOBBS: You wrote an amazing article in the "Wall Street Journal" on treating a young man, an illegal alien, who was suffering from tuberculosis.
DOBBS: You had to do extraordinary work to save his life and did so. You also remarked, you were surprised he survived it. You made that remark with great respect.
DOBBS: Did you expect him to live?
FIRLIK: Well, what I really didn't expect was him to walk, because his spinal cord was really threatened by the tuberculosis which is what I was called to treat as a neurosurgeon, that was the immediate threat to his health, was impending paraplegia.
DOBBS: And this disease, I should point out, it cost that hospital a fortune.
FIRLIK: It did.
DOBBS: And the doctors who attended that person, and you're treating this patient as you would any patient.
FIRLIK: Of course.
DOBBS: It's a human being in front of you.
FIRLIK: You have to.
DOBBS: And you have to deal with that and that is to your credit and thank God for all of you doctors who do your great work. But that impact on your hospital is incredible. And it's happening around the country.
DOBBS: These diseases that we're seeing being brought in by illegal aliens, tuberculosis, for example, we just did some checking. I mean, tuberculosis, double the national rate along our borders, because of this. And there are other serious diseases. Give us an example of what the health care system is facing.
FIRLIK: Sure, well, in a case like tuberculosis sometimes it can be very difficult to treat and difficult to cure, so patients may stay in the hospital for a very long time in a private isolation room before they're allowed to leave the hospital.
So that's a drain on the system in terms of just number of days in the hospital, staff, requiring a private room, that sort of thing and all the secondary effects that the T.B. can bring on.
DOBBS: In the case of the young man that you treated and who you saved with your great skill, other people checked out those who had been in contact with because tuberculosis is highly contagious.
FIRLIK: Sure, right.
DOBBS: And you found that?
FIRLIK: Right, well, he was -- the people that he came over with, friends and relatives tested positive for T.B. It's a tricky situation to know whether it's active or not active, though.
FIRLIK: And so that would require more investigation, but it certainly raises a red flag that who else has the disease that we don't know about?
DOBBS: The idea that we would have, as I've said, dozens of hospitals around the country, many of them charity hospitals, non- profit hospitals having to close because they're overwhelmed. Have you, as a medical professional, as a physician, you have to take one perspective. But do you have a view as to what we should be doing here?
FIRLIK: Well I think it's a real tragedy when hospitals have to close obviously and that also then increases the burden on surrounding hospitals, which is what happened at the hospital I work in. And so we immediately get an increase in the emergency room volume, for example. And that increases the staff requirements. So it is a burden on the system altogether.
DOBBS: One of the interesting things that is happening in terms of public health policy, if you take a look at the counties that go along our better than 2,000 mile border with Mexico, if that were the 51st state, those counties alone, the incidence of disease of all sorts -- hepatitis -- is so much higher than the national average, and a complete drain. In 1986, when, as you know, Congress in its wisdom had an amnesty program, they put forward $4 billion for public health care.
FIRLIK: OK, yes.
DOBBS: Do you have any sense of how much it would take this time? Because I have to tell you bad news, Doctor, there's no money in any of the discussions.
FIRLIK: Right, I know. I'm not the expert on how much it would require, but certainly I have seen the drain that it can cause on individual hospitals, and if there's no funding, I mean, we're going to have to start cutting programs that are valuable to our citizens.
DOBBS: Are you surprised as a physician that there's not more discussion of this, of these terrible diseases that are flaring up in this country again?
FIRLIK: Well, I think there's got to be increased awareness of the problem, and I am surprised that there's not more of this, which is what prompted me partly to write the editorial in the first place.
DOBBS: Well, good for you and we really appreciate your being here to share your views with our audience and your thoughts. Thank you, Doctor.
FIRLIK: Thank you. Thank you so much.
DOBBS: Still ahead here, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher will be here, a Republican who's breaking with his president on so-called comprehensive immigration reform. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Congressman Dana Rohrabacher is a leading Republican opponent of comprehensive immigration reform as the president has styled it. Congressman Rohrabacher calls the president's speech Monday "condescending." He says President Bush and the Republican Party will pay a heavy price at the polls for this so-called comprehensive immigration reform.
Congressman Rohrabacher joins us tonight from Capitol Hill. The congressman has just returned from a number of votes, and we appreciate you taking the time to do so, Congressman.
REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, thank you very much.
DOBBS: Congressman, this is becoming spectacular now, I would say, the idea that senators would vote 50-48 to make certain that no guest worker would enter the program until an employer has determined and it has been certified there's not an American citizen for that job. That means 48 senators said they don't care.
ROHRABACHER: That's right. Well, the bottom line is, all of these restrictions that they're saying that they're going to place in this bill mean nothing, because we already have restrictions in the law, and it's not being enforced.
What we have to make sure we don't do, the most important item right now, is not to legalize the status of the 15 to 20 million illegals that we have in this country or we're going to have another flood coming into America. So all of the details that they're bringing up and to safeguard, supposedly, I think it's a phony -- it's a facade in order to excuse the fact that they're going to be given amnesty by everybody's definition but the president's, and it's going to destroy our ability to control the border, even if we bolster the border.
DOBBS: The 6,000 National Guard troops has been pointed out to me by a number of people. This isn't about sending 6,000 National Guard troops. It's about sending some in two-week rotations and that is if -- despite the fact there would be an appropriation, it doesn't suggest that those troops will actually be on the border or even in support of those on the border.
ROHRABACHER: Well, they won't be troops. These are not troops. If you don't give them guns, they are not troops. They might as well hire a bunch of valets to come down there and to drive trucks and to be personal aids to the Border Patrol.
National Guard -- again, it's a facade that's trying to give a false impression to the American people that something's being done. No, the American people have been betrayed for two decades on this issue. We've got 20 million people here illegally who are bidding down their wages, as you pointed out, bringing diseases into our country, and who is watching out for the American people?
DOBBS: That's a great question, because it's -- and it's a question we're asking here almost every night. And the Heritage Foundation, Congressman, with an estimate of about 70 million as a result of the Senate legislation, as the way it's written -- another 70 million to 100 million immigrants coming into this country over the next 20 years. That would be -- that's -- I mean, it's ...
ROHRABACHER: It's mind-boggling, and Senator Sessions, by the way, has estimated that might be as high as 200 million. What we are -- what are we talking about? Giving away our country to a bunch of people who might be nice people overseas but so what?
We should be representing the interests of the American people here, and I'll have to tell you, the American people have got to rise up on this one just as you've been saying. We've got to find out what senators are offering positive leadership, like Sessions, and even Kyl is offering good leadership -- Inhofe of Oklahoma.
ROHRABACHER: Those are the guys we've got to look to as presidential candidates.
DOBBS: Well, we're going to put on our Web site here at LouDobbs.com every vote on this issue. Everyone who is giving away the country is going to have their vote recorded on our Web site and available to our viewers of this broadcast.
ROHRABACHER: Lou, there was 13 senators who voted to make criminals, people who are in our prisons, to let them be part of this amnesty program. DOBBS: I know.
ROHRABACHER: And then they give them citizenship. Thirteen U.S. senators. We've got to find out who they are. Please, America, wake up. Find out what your representatives are doing because they're not representing your interests.
DOBBS: All right, I'm going to -- you have raised the bid on me. We'll have those 13 senators names up on our Web site tonight.
ROHRABACHER: Thanks, Lou.
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.
And if you want to express your thoughts on illegal immigration or border security, or any other issue to your senator or Congressman, go to our Web page, LouDobbs.com, and it will have a button there that will take to you the government sites for your respective elected officials.
That brings us to the subject of our poll tonight on the Heritage Foundation report saying that the Senate immigration bill, as now constructed, would lead to a huge increase in our population over the next 20 years alone.
The question is: Do you believe it's responsible for this president and this Congress to add at least 66 million people -- that's the baseline estimate -- to our population in the next two decades, yes or no? Cast your vote, LouDobbs.com. We'll have the results coming up here later in the broadcast.
Interesting, we're not hearing any discussion of a national vision for our future from any corner.
Coming up next, I'll be talking with the founder of the organization Operation Helmet. They need your help providing life- saving equipment for our troops. You may want to help his cause. That and a great deal more, coming right up. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Coming up at the top of the hour here on CNN, "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer. Wolf, tell us all about it.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: (inaudible). He's one on one here in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Find out if he thinks there are racist overtones to this whole debate on immigration.
Plus, Arnold Schwarzenegger. We're going to tell you why he's refusing to fall in line with the president's plan to send National Guard troops to the border.
And the CEOs of the American car makers press Congress to do something to solve the gas crisis, but are they doing their part? We've tracked them down to -- tracked them down to find out.
And the forgotten war. Is the Taliban making a comeback in Afghanistan? All that, Lou, coming up right at the top of the hour.
DOBBS: Thank you, Wolf.
Walter Reed Army Medical Center reports head wounds responsible for 65 percent of all injuries and deaths suffered by our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet a simple helmet upgrade kit can prevent many of those injuries and deaths.
Formal naval flight surgeon Bob Meaders launched Operation Helmet to provide free helmet upgrades to our troops. Dr. Meaders joins us tonight from Montgomery, Texas. Doctor, good to have you with us.
DR. BOB MEADERS, OPERATION HELMET: Thank you, Lou. It's my pleasure.
DOBBS: And thank you for your great work. My question, how did you design, find and manufacture these helmets?
MEADERS: Well, we didn't design or manufacture anything. My grandson was a young lance corporal in the Marines, and while he was being trained for convoy duty, a gunnery sergeant just back showed him the helmet with the upgrade in it, said you guys need to get these because it could save your life. And so, my grandson called me up and said, check this out for me, and I did.
DOBBS: So you turned to some folks who designed those and built them. And why did you find it necessary to have to buy them for our troops?
MEADERS: Well, the Marine Corps did not seem to have the funds to equip the helmets. They're authorized to get this upgrade, but there were no funds actually allocated for it. So we decided to step in, as private citizens, and do what we could to help fill the gap.
And my grandson got his kit and his rifle team did. They loved it so much; they said we'd really like to have one, but we can't do it unless our whole company gets them. So we set out to equip 100 people to start with. And now it's sort of grown from there.
DOBBS: Doctor, the number of lives that these helmets could save, it's a significant number. What's the Department of Defense's reaction? Why aren't they getting these helmets to our troops?
MEADERS: Well, the Army has done that. They made the decision several -- or two years ago to purchase helmets that have the same ingrown, or if you will, factory-installed technology that we have. And they, however, have run out of inventory, so they're back to the old-style helmet as well. The Marines say that they spent their dime on a new, more bulletproof helmet that works well for everything except IEDs and impact.
DOBBS: The leading cause of death in Iraq.
MEADERS: The Air Force simply...
DOBBS: Well, Doctor, where can people go if they want to help you out and help our troops, particularly the Marine Corps over there, who still need this equipment?
MEADERS: Well, we have a Web site, operationhelmet.org, and we go into some length about what's happening and why it's happening and how we can help, and what folks can do to help us. The American public has been absolutely great about responding, to the point that we've now sent over 6,000 helmet upgrades to the troops, which is a significant percentage of those on the front line in combat.
DOBBS: Dr. Robert Meaders, we thank you very much. All the good you're doing our young men and women over there. It's always a pleasure to talk to an American like you, sir. Thank you.
MEADERS: Thank you, Lou.
DOBBS: And again, that is -- we want to put that Web site back up just for a second, if we could, for everybody. The Operation Helmet, and it's www.operationhelmet.org. There we go. If you want to help, please go there, and do so. We are here.
President Bush plans to send 6,000 National Guard troops to our southern border with Mexico. Some critics say it's nothing less than a public relations stunt. Joining me now, General David Grange.
General, is this a public relations stunt? Does this make any sense at all to you?
GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I hope not. I think it's very powerful to have National Guard troops on the border. It should have been done years ago. I mean, that's one of the primary duties, I believe, of the National Guard, first of all to support their state governor and issues in the state, and second, to defend the homeland. That's a priority mission above anything overseas.
DOBBS: It gets a little confusing. We've got a Homeland Security Department, seems to do just about everything but provide security for the homeland, and we got a Department of Defense which is engaged in less than border security and port security, so people could be forgiven for getting a little confused.
But the idea of sending 6,000 National Guards troops down for two-week rotations during their training, putting them in a rear echelon, adjutant, support role? Come on!
GRANGE: Yes, most of the -- the reason for the two weeks is to use weekend drill, the number of dates they can use of weekend drill without mobilizing the troops.
I believe we ought to send more, especially right now, because once the speech was given, you're going to have a rush of illegals coming across the borders before they can be sealed any better than they are right now. So I would send more troops, I would keep them there longer, I'd give them arrest authority, at least the military police, and I sure as heck would arm every one of them, because a soldier's no good without a weapon. That's part of them. And you know that those that wish them harm will shoot them, for sure. So they need to be armed and we need, I believe, more than 6,000. DOBBS: You want to pick a quick number? We're out of time.
GRANGE: Just double it. I'd be happy with that.
DOBBS: General David Grange, as always, good to have you here. Thank you, sir.
GRANGE: My pleasure.
DOBBS: Still ahead, we'll the results of our poll and more of your thoughts. Stay with us.
DOBBS: The results of our poll: 97 percent of you don't think too much of what's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania and over in the Senate building. Only 3 percent of you say it's responsible for this president and this Congress to add at least 66 million people to our population over the next two decades, which would be the estimated effect of passing the Senate legislation.
Taking a look now at some of your thoughts.
Albert in Oregon -- "Lou, see if I have Bush's plan right. He places the illegal aliens at the head of the line, the legal immigrants at the back of the line, and the American people at the bottom."
Donnie in Virginia: "Lou, as good a job as the president is doing in leading our country, I can think of three more men who could do just as good a job. Their names, Larry, Moe and Curly."
And Joy in New Jersey: "The Bush plan for border security is like having a screen door on a submarine."
And Soni in Oregon: "The president views his extension of tax cuts for the rich as a victory. Once again, a win for him is a loss for us."
Send us your thoughts at LouDobbs.com. Thanks for being with us tonight. For all of us here, thanks for watching. Good night from New York. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins right now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.
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