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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Senate Democrats Attack Iraq War Plan; Interview With U.S. Ambassador to United Nations John Bolton; Mayor Lou Barletta of Hazleton, Pennsylvania Says No To Illegal Immigrants; Lou Barletta Interview

Aired June 21, 2006 - 18:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Congressional Democrats have launched a new assault on President Bush's conduct of the war in Iraq. But the Democrats' attack exposes deep divisions within their own party about their policies on Iraq.
We will be live with reports on Capitol Hill.

And President Bush tells Iran it has weeks, not months, to begin negotiations to end its nuclear weapons program. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, joins us here tonight for an exclusive interview about this escalating nuclear confrontation.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Wednesday, June 21.

Live in New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

Senate Democrats today began a full-scale assault on the president's conduct of the war in Iraq. Democrats are hoping their attack will help them win control of the Senate or the House in the upcoming midterm elections. But Senate Democrats are offering two very different plans on the future of our troops in Iraq.

Republicans, meanwhile, are trying to exploit those differences by accusing the Democrats of preparing to cut and run from Iraq. Republicans are also seizing on new poll numbers showing President Bush's approval rating rising for the first time this year.

Dana Bash tonight reports from Capitol Hill on the fight in the Senate over the president's conduct of the Iraqi war.

Bill Schneider reports from Washington on the bounce in President Bush's approval ratings.

Barbara Starr from the Pentagon on another critically important national security issue, North Korea's nuclear defiance and the issue of whether U.S. missile defenses will actually work.

We turn first to Dana Bash -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, the Senate has been debating Iraq for six hours, and we're still waiting to hear from Senator John Kerry to propose his amendment that would set a firm timetable for U.S. troops to come home.

It is no accident that he got such a late speaking slot. Most of his colleagues disagree with him. But, in general, Democrats have made the strategic decision to have this debate, because they believe the American people are eager to hear them talk about the Bush Iraq policy.


BASH (voice-over): Most Senate Democrats will likely support a measure urging the president to begin a phased troop withdrawal this year and submit a plan for further troop reductions.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: Our amendment does not establish a fixed ending date for redeployment.

BASH: The competing Democratic proposal does; 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry's amendment would pull U.S. combat troops from Iraq by July 1, 2007.

Republicans labeled both Democratic proposals irresponsible.

SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: This is a timetable, a timetable that could well cripple the ability of this new government, created by the courageous actions of the Iraqi people.

BASH: John McCain slammed the Democrats' ideas, but first took a swipe at the White House, and gave voice to some Republican concerns about the war.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We have made serious mistakes, and the costs have been very high. But these would pale in comparison to what is likely to unfold, should we follow the course advocated by this resolution.

BASH: But this is the GOP talking point.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: A policy of retreat, a policy of appeasement, a policy of surrender.

BASH: And Democrat Hillary Clinton called words like that nothing more than a campaign slogan from Republicans looking to escape political blame for a failed Bush Iraq policy.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: It is wrong, plain and simple, to turn this serious debate about our policies and national security into a partisan squabble, designed to mislead voters. This is politics at its worst, played over war.


BASH: But Republican senators say that they're so happy that they believe Democrats are giving them what they see as an election- year gift by having this debate, they're not even offering an alternative, Lou. They say that they're content just to sit back and watch the Democrats duke it out on the Senate floor -- Lou. DOBBS: Dana, thank you -- Dana Bash from Capitol Hill.

The president's poll numbers are rising for the first time this year, helped in part by optimism in some quarters about the progress of the war in Iraq. In a poll of polls, the president's approval rating has risen by 3 percent this month, compared with May.

Bill Schneider has our report.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): For most of this year, President Bush's polls have been moving in the same direction, down. In January, the polls averaged 42 percent job approval for Bush. That rating began to slip month by month, down to 34 percent by May.

Then, in June, the numbers in most polls went up very slightly -- the average for June, 37 percent, a baby bounce. It's the first time all year President Bush's numbers have shown any sign of improvement.

What's behind it? CNN polls show Bush making his biggest gains among Republicans, conservatives, Southerners, and men. The Pew poll calls it a rebound within his political base. The base sees a reorganized White House, with some new faces, trying to get a fresh start, and a president who is showing some fight.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As people start going to the polls next November, I want them to remember who cut the taxes and who was against the tax cuts.

SCHNEIDER: The president went to Baghdad to celebrate the elimination of al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

BUSH: I have also come to tell you that, when America gives its words, it will keep its word.

SCHNEIDER: The polls give a mixed message on Iraq. In April, according to the Pew Research Center, the public felt the United States was losing ground in defeating the insurgents in Iraq.

After the killing of Zarqawi, people became a bit more optimistic. But opinion on the war has not turned around. In April, most Americans wanted the U.S. to set a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq. They still do.


SCHNEIDER: The gains for President Bush have been small, and they could easily be undone by the latest terrible news from Iraq: Americans brutalized, Americans charged with crimes. The president's brave words may not be able to compete with grim reality -- Lou.

DOBBS: Bill, thank you -- Bill Schneider from Washington.

Insurgents have killed two more of our troops in Iraq. The soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in the city of Ramadi, west of Baghdad; 2,505 of our troops have been killed in Iraq, 18,572 wounded, of those, 8,508 seriously wounded.

Meanwhile, the remains of two soldiers who were captured killed by insurgents are being returned to the United States today. The soldiers' badly mutilated bodies were discovered Monday, three days after they were taken prison -- prisoner south of Baghdad.

The Pentagon has ordered another 21,000 soldiers and Marines to prepare for deployment to Iraq later this year. That order suggests the Pentagon, for now at least, is planning to maintain its current troop levels in Iraq; 127,000 of our troops are now in Iraq. Some military officials have indicated, the number of our troops in Iraq could fall to 100,000 by the end of this year.

The military today charged seven of our Marines and a Navy corpsman with murder and other crimes in connection with the killing of an Iraqi in April. The unarmed civilian was alleged allegedly killed without provocation near the town of Hamandiyah. The military announced the charges at a news conference at the Marines' base, Camp Pendleton, California.

Apart from the murder, the charges include kidnapping, conspiracy, and the making of false statements.

President Bush today discussed the war in Iraq and the nuclear threats from both Iran and North Korea with European leaders meeting in Vienna, Austria. President Bush said Iran has weeks, not months, to accept international demands to suspend its nuclear weapons program. President Bush also warned North Korea not to test a long- range missile with the range to reach the United States.


BUSH: It should make people nervous when nontransparent regimes that have announced that they have got nuclear warheads fire missiles. And, so, we have been working with our partners, particularly in that part of the world, to say to the North Koreans that this is not the way you conduct business in the world.


DOBBS: President Bush tonight is in the Hungarian capital of Budapest for ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian uprising against Soviet rule.

The United States tonight says it's prepared to shoot down any North Korean missile that threatens U.S. interests. The Pentagon has deployed a limited missile defense system designed to stop an attack by rogue states such as North Korea. But critics say the multibillion-dollar program is far from ready for battle.

Barbara Starr reports from the Pentagon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If North Korea launches its Taepodong-2 long-range ballistic missile, can America's $11 billion missile defense program really work? Could it, if there was an attack, shoot down the North Korean missile? There have been 10 tests of the interceptor. Half of them have worked.

JOHN PIKE, GLOBALSECURITY.ORG: If the missile defense system was a baseball player and had a batting average of .500, you would say it was doing pretty good. If it's only working half of the time, and it's the only thing standing between you and an incoming hydrogen bomb, you would say it's not working very well at all.

STARR: The five tests that failed, one as recently as last February, had a variety of technical problems. Pentagon officials say they are confident the missiles would work during an attack, mainly because there were four consecutive successful hits against target missiles in 2001 and 2002.

Also, much of the technology has been upgraded. But one defense official familiar with the program acknowledged the major criticism, that the testing done so far is not realistic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All systems are go for launch. Stand by for the terminal count.

STARR: It's all been scripted out ahead of time, as most weapons tests are.


STARR: And, Lou, if North Korea tests its missile in the coming days, do not expect to see the U.S. try and shoot it down, because it is anticipated simply to be a test.

But the U.S. military will begin a new round of its own testing later this summer. They say the new testing of its missile defense shield will be more realistic, and they will be watching North Korea to see what they can learn, to see what additional improvement they need to make here -- Lou.

DOBBS: About 50 percent improvement seems available to them.

Barbara, thank you very much -- Barbara Starr from the Pentagon.

Still ahead: As President Bush warns Iran about its nuclear weapons program, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, joins us for an exclusive interview.

Also tonight, the Bush administration is pushing ahead with a plan to create a North American union with Canada and Mexico. You haven't heard about that? Well, that's because Congress hasn't been consulted, nor the American people. We will have that special report.

And we will go live to a town in Pennsylvania that's been overrun with illegal aliens. The mayor of that town says these illegal aliens are literally destroying his community, and he and city government are doing something about it. He's our guest here tonight.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: Washington's failure to seriously address this nation's illegal immigration crisis is now a worsening public safety crisis.

Tonight, immigration officials are simply unable to explain how an illegal alien could have been arrested more than a dozen times on criminal charges and was never once deported -- all of this as our nation's very sovereignty is under assault from our growing relationship with the Mexican government.

We have two reports tonight, Lisa Sylvester from Washington on this nation's inability to protect American citizens from illegal alien criminals. And Bill Tucker reports on a new North American partnership that gives Mexico further control over this nation's dwindling sovereignty, its economy, and our very security.

We begin with Lisa Sylvester -- Lisa.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a Nashville couple was killed two weeks ago in a tragic accident that many say should have been prevented.


SYLVESTER (voice-over): Nashville residents Donna and Sean Wilson were headed to the grocery store. They never made it. Their silver Buick was hit head on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of a sudden, I heard just real screeching, you know, tires and everything. And I heard, bam, and then another bam, and then another bam.

SYLVESTER: The driver of the other vehicle has been identified as Gustavo Garcia Rayes. Police found open cans of beer in his suburban, the tags on the vehicle expired.

Rayes has a lengthy rap sheet, four DUIs, five driving on a revoked license, two counts of resisting arrest, two counts of leaving the scene of an accident, more than 14 offenses in total. Rayes should not have been driving. In fact, he should not have even been in the country. Nashville authorities say he's an illegal alien. Despite repeated run-ins with police, he was never deported.

The Nashville Police Department says federal officials were notified.

DON AARON, NASHVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT: In Nashville, when a person from another country, another nationality, is booked into our system, an automated process alerts federal authorities in Vermont at a federal clearinghouse. What action is taken from there, I don't know. SYLVESTER: In a statement, Immigration and Customs Enforcement acknowledged receiving four separate inquiries over a two-year period for Gustavo Rayes or Gustavo Garcia. At the time of each of these inquiries, ICE was not aware that these appeared to relate to a single individual.

Nothing was done. The Center for Immigration Studies says this is not an isolated incident.

STEVE CAMAROTA, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: We have numerous cases of people committing serious crimes, not being deported, and then going on to committing additional crimes.

SYLVESTER: Federal immigration officials have placed a detainer on Rayes, a little too late for Sean and Donna Wilson.


SYLVESTER: Rayes has been charged with vehicular manslaughter and is being held without bond.

He's represented by the public defender's office. And they declined to comment on the ongoing case -- Lou.

DOBBS: Lisa, thank you very much -- Lisa Sylvester.

The Bush administration's open-borders policy and its decision to ignore the enforcement of this country's immigration laws is part of a broader agenda. President Bush signed a formal agreement that will end the United States as we know it, and he took the step without approval from either the U.S. Congress or the people of the United States.

Bill Tucker reports.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America sounds benign, hardly like a policy that critics call NAFTA on steroids. It's a deal that few have even heard of.

REP. MARCY KAPTUR (D), OHIO: It's being done, again, by very few people at the very top, on behalf of the investment class. But the working class of people, political officials across our country from communities, from cities and so forth, they don't know anything about this.

TUCKER: Yet, it was agreed to by Mexico's President Fox, Canada's Prime Minister Martin, and President Bush in 2005.

The administration officials counter their critics by saying everything about SPP is on the White House Web site. And they say the partnership is not a treaty, but more of an outline of priorities between the United States, Mexico and Canada. Still, some wonder why there haven't been public discussions about the goals being pursued. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This SPP includes, for instance, a committee that is sitting down to harmonize our meat inspection and food safety. So, how far away from a trade agreement can your dining room table and what you feed your kids be?

TUCKER: Other parts of the agreement mention border security as an issue, which include all of North America. In fact, the name of the agreement is not Security and Prosperity of the United States, but of North America.

PETER MORICI, PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: When we elect officials, we expect them to act on our behalf. When we get involved in cooperative frameworks with other countries for joint regulation of fisheries or rail transportation or the skies, we're basically sharing our sovereignty with that government and outsourcing some of what we give our elected officials.

TUCKER: As disturbing as some find SPP, there is legislation in the House introduced by Florida's Katherine Harris that closely resembles the goals of the partnership.


TUCKER: Included in that bill is a section which calls for the securing of Mexico's southern border by the United States and Canada.

Lou, that's not the border with the United States. That's the border they share with Belize and Guatemala.

DOBBS: The idea that the White House would respond that this is on their Web site, this involves intricate workings amongst the Commerce Department of this country and Canada and Mexico's, of course.

A regional prosperity and security program? This is absolute ignorance. And the fact that we are -- we reported this, we should point out, when it was signed. But, as we watch this thing progress, these working groups are continuing. They're intensifying. What in the world are these people thinking about?

TUCKER: Well, they say, look, these are a declaration and an outline of our priorities.

And when I called them today, Lou, they said I was the first phone call they had received literally since the deal was first signed. So, people are not paying attention. And they're letting them, in fact, get away with this.

DOBBS: You know, I was asked the other day about whether or not I really thought the American people had the stomach to stand up and stop this nonsense, this direction from a group of elites, an absolute contravention of our law, of our Constitution, every national value.

And I hope, I pray that I'm right when I said yes. But this is -- I mean, this is beyond belief.

Bill Tucker, thank you very much.

It brings us to the subject of our poll tonight: Do you think maybe somebody should take a vote if we're going to merge the United States with Canada and Mexico, maybe, you know, people like you and me vote? Yes or no. Please cast your vote at We will have the results here later in the broadcast.

Coming up: A measure to raise wages for the lowest-paid Americans goes before Congress. Which side is Congress on in the war on the middle class? We will have the surprising answer coming up.

And the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, joins me. We will be talking about the nuclear confrontation with Iran.

And the mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, says illegal aliens are destroying his city, and he's ready to shut down businesses that help them and hire them. We will have a live report from Hazleton. And the mayor will be our guest here next.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: The Senate today refused to raise the federal minimum wage, and refused to do so twice.

First, the Senate rejected a Democratic proposal that would have raised wages for the lowest paid worker by $2.10 an hour. Then the Senate rejected a competing Republican proposal. The minimum wage now stands at $5.15. It hasn't been raised since 1997. The House also blocked a move to raise the minimum wage.

My thoughts on this issue are on our Web site at, if you would like to see what my thoughts are on how this Congress is behaving --

In Sedona, Arizona, tonight, a 2,500-acre wildfire is burning out of control for a fourth straight day. Firefighters there have been -- been able to contain just about 5 percent of the massive blaze. Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes.

And, tonight, a prominent U.S. scientist is warning that a huge earthquake along the southern San Andreas fault could occur at literally any time. A geophysicist at the Scripps Institution says this fault line is now under immense stress, perhaps unprecedented stress. And he says it could produce one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded in history.

Taking a look now at your thoughts, Vincent in Texas: "Lou, it's a sad state of affairs when it seems we need to choose between our border being secured five years after September 11 and upholding laws already on the books about immigration. This is the greatest country in the world. Why can't we do both?"

Why can't we do either? Sharon in Ohio: "Lou, I can't understand why we aren't going to take down North Korea's missile. Isn't it only fair that, if they have the opportunity to practice, then we should, too?"

And Mike in Nevada: "Just like we have separation of church and state, we should have separation of government and corporations."

Roy in New Mexico: "There is no wonder criminality in our legal system, with violation of our immigration laws, is tolerated by our House and Senate -- birds of a feather."

Send us your thoughts at We will have more of your thoughts here later in the broadcast.

Next here: an exclusive interview with the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, on this nation's nuclear showdown with Iran.

Also, Hazleton, Pennsylvania, about to launch one of the toughest crackdowns on illegal immigration in the country -- the mayor of Hazleton will be our special guest here.

And congressional leaders challenging the president's illegal alien amnesty plan -- three of the country's most distinguished political analysts join me.

Stay with us.


DOBBS: The U.S. Ambassador to United Nations, John Bolton, is my guest here next.

But, first, a wild shoot-out today between federal agents and a corrections officer at a federal prison in Tallahassee, Florida -- two dead. A corrections officer at the prison opened fire on federal agents who were attempting to serve arrest warrants against him and five other correctional officers accused of running a sex-for-drugs prison ring.

The correctional officer was killed, along with a federal agent. Another indicted prison guard was wounded in the shoot-out.

One day after the House of Representatives announced hearings on the Senate's so-called comprehensive immigration reform bill, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter, has announced he's scheduling hearings of his own on the House border security bill. Senator Specter says his first hearing will be held on July 5. He says the hearings could last into August.

And President Bush today warned Iran it is taking too long to respond to international demands that it suspend its nuclear program -- the president of Iran saying his country's response will come by the 22nd of August. President Bush made his comments during talks with European leaders in Vienna, Austria. Well, joining me now to discuss what is obviously an escalating nuclear confrontation with Iran is the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton.

Ambassador, good to have you here.


DOBBS: This is a war of words, obviously. Is there any sense that -- that the United States has a stronger alliance with its partners, particularly in Europe, on the issue of Iran?

BOLTON: Well, I think the foreign ministers came to an agreement that presents Iran with a very stark choice.

If they choose one path, they have the possibility of the United States sitting down at the table with them to talk about their nuclear program. If they choose the other path, then they are going to be increasingly isolated internationally, with increased economic and political pressure. So, that's why the president really has put the ball back in their court and said, we're waiting for an answer.

DOBBS: Waiting for an answer, suggesting it would be weeks, not months. And, certainly, it would be weeks, I guess, if one reached out to the third week in August. But the president doesn't seem to be pleased with that idea.

BOLTON: That's too many weeks. That gets into months. You know, this proposal was presented to the Iranians by European Union Commissioner Javier Solano on June 6th. So we're already at two weeks and counting. I think we're going to need an answer fairly soon.

DOBBS: The idea that Iran continues to defy world opinion obviously brings into the question of the role of both Russia and China and their support for the U.S. approach to this issue. Are you convinced that Russia and China are now solidly with the United States and Europe on this issue?

BOLTON: I think Russia and China are committed to the proposition that Iran should not be allowed to have nuclear weapons. That's the most important strategic area of agreement. They've also committed to Secretary Rice that if Iran chooses the wrong path, that they'll support measures against them.

Now, the test will come if Iran does choose the wrong path and we get to the Security Council. That's something we've been prepared for, we remain prepared for, but it will be a test of the Security Council to see whether it can deal with an Iran that doesn't want to give up that nuclear program.

DOBBS: Is there any indication that there's been received by your office, any part of the administration, any part of the U.S. government that suggests that Iran is approaching any kind of sensible, reasonable response? BOLTON: Well, we've been very careful and it's sometimes frightening, frustrating to be at this point of waiting for a definitive response from Iran. Today's response from president Ahmadinejad we don't take as definitive but I think the president brushed it back very clearly, saying we aren't going to wait that long.

DOBBS: It seemed even childlessly, spitefully petulant, as the president said weeks, not months, to come up with exactly two months.

BOLTON: In addition, each day that goes by, allows the Iranians to do more work on their nuclear program, to perfect their technology. You have to worry about that.

DOBBS: Another worry, obviously, for you, for the entire United States government, the rest of the world, is North Korea. The threat to launch a missile and then the approach to you, to have direct talks with North Korea today, which you rebuffed. Where are we headed there?

BOLTON: The principal thing that we're focusing on right now is convincing North Korea not to launch that missile and a variety of governments in the region and around the world have all made the same point. I don't think there's any support for North Korea proceeding with that test.

But what we've made clear is, if they do, we're beginning preliminary discussions in the Security Council, the launch of a missile, particularly if it goes over Japanese territory, is clearly a threat to international peace and security, something we can't accept.

DOBBS: The Japanese government has said straightforwardly that a missile over in Japan would be considered, not exactly these words, but an act of war. The idea that the Pentagon publicly announced that it was taking our missile defense system operational from its test basis, while there are open, and serious open questions about whether or not it would be effective, what is the U.S. government trying to say to North Korea there?

BOLTON: This is something that's very serious. We don't know exactly what North Korea has in mind. Nobody can read Kim Jong-il's mind and we don't spend a lot of time trying to do it. It could be this is an exercise, it could be it's a provocation, it could be it's a real preparation for a launch. We don't know what's under the nose cone of that missile, just for starters. So, I think it is entirely appropriate to take this seriously and to say, as we're trying to say to North Korea, don't go there.

DOBBS: And as you are saying that, its nearest neighbor, its closest ally, communist China, what is their position and how helpful are they being in your judgment?

BOLTON: They have explained to us that they have tried to persuade North Korea not to do this test launch, but they say, as they frequently do, you know, we don't have a lot of influence over North Korea. We think they do, we hope they'll exercise it. DOBBS: Ambassador John Bolton, thank you very much.

BOLTON: Thank you.

DOBBS: Appreciate it. Coming up next, Hazleton, Pennsylvania, it's a town cracking down on illegal immigration and companies that hire illegal aliens. The mayor says the proposed law in his city is one of the toughest in the nation. Mayor Lou Barletta joins us.

Will congressional hearings spell the end to the president's so- called comprehensive immigration reform, either in the House the Senate? Three of the nation's leading political analysts join us to try to find, or at least try to find out what in the world these elected officials think they're doing? Stay with us.


DOBBS: In just a moment, I'll be talking with the mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, Lou Barletta, who says illegal immigration is destroying his city and its way of life and he's doing something about it. But first, let's turn to Wolf Blitzer who tells us what's ahead on "THE SITUATION ROOM," Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you very much, Lou. Seven marines and a Navy corpsman charged with murder and kidnapping. We'll find out why they're being targeted, why their families are proclaiming their innocence.

Also nuclear negotiations. President Bush talks tough on Iran and North Korea, but will the allies in Europe back his plan, we'll go live to Budapest?

And inside the mind of a dictator, North Korea's Kim Jong-Il, a madman, genius or both?

And fighting for the military, but against the war. Cher campaigns for a cause. She sat down with our Anderson Cooper. He joins us live. He'll tell us what she told him. All that, Lou, coming up right at the top of the hour.

DOBBS: You'll be able to tell the difference right away, Wolf. Thank you very much. Wolf Blitzer coming up at the top of the hour.

The federal government's failure to address the illegal immigration crisis in this country is forcing many city leaders across the country to take action. The mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, has introduced legislation to crack down on illegal aliens and the companies in his city that hire them. Kitty Pilgrim has the report from Hazleton.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hazleton, Pennsylvania, population 31,000, has seen its illegal alien population soar. The police chief says something had to be done about it. CHIEF ROBERT FERDINAND, HAZLETON, PA POLICE: We're having a problem with violent crimes being committed by illegal aliens in the city. The last murder we had was involving illegal aliens. The last major drug bust we've had involved illegal aliens.

PILGRIM: Officer John Leonard is on night patrol. He tells us what it's like on the street.

JOHN LEONARD, HAZLETON POLICE DEPARTMENT: Right now we're compiling a database for any suspected illegal aliens.

PILGRIM: Tonight, a quiet night. Only a few kids. But now the police chief says any illegal involved in gang activity will be turned over to ICE, to be deported. There are no clear numbers on how many illegals are in Hazleton. Mayor Lou Barletta says pressure was on him to do something.

MAYOR LOU BARLETTA, HAZLETON, PENNSYLVANIA: As the mayor of this city, I have an obligation to do something to restore and protect the quality of life in this city.

PILGRIM: He introduced a measure that would take away the business license of any company that hires illegal aliens. George Hayden runs a family contracting business started by his father, three decades ago in Hazleton. While many contractors nationally hire illegal aliens to keep costs down, he believes it is wrong.

GEORGE HAYDEN, CONTRACTOR: As a company, I don't believe -- I believe that we need to continue using the people that we have, the forces that we have that are legal in this area, in this region, to do the work.

PILGRIM: The mayor is also introducing provisions to fine any landlord $1,000 per occupant if they are illegal.


PILGRIM: Now, the mayor says he has only a small budget to provide services for the legal residents of Hazleton, and he says he is tired of spending so much of that money on crime -- Lou.

DOBBS: Kitty, what is the -- as best you can judge it, the support for the mayor on this issue?

PILGRIM: Yes, we've been talking to a lot of people. And, of course, this is very controversial, Lou, but sincerely everyone we talked to today was very glad it was happening.

DOBBS: Kitty, thank you very much. Kitty Pilgrim reporting live from Hazleton, Pennsylvania.

The mayor of Hazleton says his city's Illegal Immigration Relief Act is one of the toughest laws of its kind in the country. He says illegal aliens are simply destroying the city that he loves and he doesn't want them there any longer. The measure he introduced last week was tentatively approved by the city council and it could become law in just a matter of weeks.

Mayor Lou Barletta joins me now from Hazleton. Mayor, good to have you with us.

BARLETTA: Thanks, Lou. Glad to be here.

DOBBS: This is a strong move you're taking, unlike some cities, about 40 in the country that have sanctuary laws. You're doing the inverse. You're saying if you're illegal, you're not welcome in Hazleton. What's been the reaction?

BARLETTA: Well, the reaction is I'm doing what the people of Hazleton elected me to do and that's to protect them and protect the quality of life. And that's what makes this city, which is a small city in America, so attractive to those that have lived here their entire life or those that have moved here for the quality of life that we enjoy.

DOBBS: Have you received more criticism or more support for the plan?

BARLETTA: It's been incredible. We've touched a nerve in the American people across the country. I'm getting e-mails from every state in the United States in support of this. We have over 3,000 e- mails in support of what we're doing here and maybe 10 that have been negative in that aspect.

And I think there are a lot of Hazleton, Pennsylvanias in the United States and people feel the same. They want a quality of life. They feel that people that are in this country illegally are draining the resources, draining budgets that are meant to be used to provide services for those that are here legally and paying taxes.

DOBBS: Let me give you an example of something, Mayor, local police in Belmont County, Ohio. They detained 20 illegal aliens early in the morning one evening this week. They called the Immigration and Customs Enforcement people. The federal officials told them let all of the illegal aliens go, they weren't going to do anything about it. Is that the kind of response that you're getting from the federal government?

BARLETTA: Well, actually, that is not what's really happening here. When we round up somebody that's in the country illegally, it's usually because they've committed a crime, unfortunately. And that's the type of thing that has this town terrorized.

And when I say it is destroying our city, it really is. When senior citizens are afraid to walk the street, I need to do something about it as the mayor and I can't wait for somebody else to do it for me. These people that live here, they don't want to talk to somebody in Washington or in Harrisburg or anywhere else. They want to talk to the mayor, and they expect me to do something.

And that's what we're going to do. We're going to protect ourselves. I understand the federal government is doing what it can to develop policies to protect our borders, but I have an obligation to protect the borders of the people that elected me to be their mayor.

DOBBS: Mayor -- Mr. Mayor, let's be really honest, the federal government is doing almost nothing to secure our borders and doing almost nothing to enforce our immigration laws in this country. I think we can be honest about that and direct.

BARLETTA: Well, we're going to do what we can to take this matter in our own hands and that's what's happening here in Hazleton.

DOBBS: Let me also quote, though, from another resident. You talked about your residents being terrified. If you would listen to this soundbite from one of the residents of your community with whom we spoke.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we came here, we find the door open. We find the word saying welcome. Now we feel that you are closing the door for us.


DOBBS: That's another reaction. It is -- you've been mayor there for what, six years now, Mr. Mayor?

BARLETTA: That's correct. I'm in my seventh year now.

DOBBS: And what has changed over time? Why -- obviously, somebody was welcoming these illegal aliens, hiring them, giving them jobs and asking them to work for usually very much substandard wages. What's changed?

BARLETTA: Well, I want to say this first, Lou, is that I am not rolling up the welcome mat for those that want to come to -- for immigrants that want to come to Hazleton. The key here is as long as you are legal, I welcome immigration.

However, what I do not want in this city is illegal immigrants. And somehow, some way, that is being lost in translation here. If you are illegal, I do not want you in this city. That's as plain as that. I can't be any more direct than that, and I cannot be any more direct than saying that we welcome legal immigration.

And what's changed, Lou, is the fact that we've had some very violent murders, very violent crimes here, gangland, gang-related graffiti, someone shooting -- an illegal shooting a firearm on a playground where Hispanic children were playing. To me, that is sacred ground. And as the mayor, I have an obligation to protect everybody that's here.

DOBBS: Mr. Mayor, we appreciate you being here. At this point, have you been threatened with lawsuits? What's the status there? Because you know that you're inviting them.

BARLETTA: Well, we haven't been, Lou. And, you know, actually, we feel -- I have sound legal advice, you know, on what we're doing here. We're trying to protect the rights of legal citizens that are in this city.

DOBBS: Mayor Lou Barletta, we thank you very much.

BARLETTA: Thank you, Lou.

DOBBS: Mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, appreciate your being here.

BARLETTA: Thank you. You're welcome.

DOBBS: A reminder now to vote in our poll. Do you believe that -- and this is on the issue of the so-called North American security and prosperity plan. You haven't heard about it? Well, you and millions of other Americans. But the idea of just merging Canada, Mexico and the United States into one, sometime some say within say, the next three to four years.

Do you think, our question is, maybe somebody should take a vote if we're going to merge Canada, Mexico and the United States as the leaders of the three countries are attempting to do with the security and prosperity partnership? Yes or no. Cast your vote at The answer is coming up here shortly.

Still ahead, three of the country's best political analysts join me to talk about immigration reform, Iran, North Korea, and upcoming midterm elections. Stay with us.


DOBBS: Joining me now Michael Goodwin, columnist "New York Daily News"; James Taranto, editor of; Robert Zimmerman, Democratic strategist and good fellow.

Let me start with you, good fellow. The fact of the matter is that Senator Kerry, the Democrats are having a hard time coming to some consensus on Iraq at the same time they're challenging the administration. What is going on?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: What's called leadership, it's called initiative. I'm incredibly proud of the Democratic senators for having the courage to challenge the status quo and to come out there with alternative ideas. We talk about what the plan is, Bush doesn't have a plan. The Bush administration doesn't have a prayer. I'm all for faith-based initiatives, but not when it come to fighting war.

DOBBS: James Taranto, can you top that? That was a very good line.

JAMES TARANTO, EDITOR, OPINIONJOURNAL.COM: I think the Bush administration does have a plan which is to stay there until we can get out and leave Iraq a stable and decently governed Iraq behind.

DOBBS: I don't see that on a bumper sticker anywhere.

TARANTO: Well fair enough, but you also don't see President Bush running for re-election.

DOBBS: I hope there's no correlation between our -- between that fact and the strategy. Is there, Michael?

MICHAEL GOODWIN, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: No, I think that the Democrats are being dragged to the left by the energy of their party, which is on the Internet, which is the Howard Dean crowd.

And I think they're going to regret this vote because I think that it shows -- even someone like Hillary Clinton who doesn't support a timetable, but yet wants to support -- feel she has to support a plan for a phased withdrawal without a date and without a demand. That's being dragged to the left against your better judgment because that still puts you in the same position of telling the terrorists and telling our allies we want to get out of this.

DOBBS: Help me out there. Robert, just help me out.


DOBBS: Now, the Republicans are led by the right and that's apparently a good thing. The...

ZIMMERMAN: I didn't say it was a good thing.

DOBBS: ... Democrats tend to be criticized when they move to the left. So what am I losing here?

ZIMMERMAN: I think what we're all losing is the fact that we're letting the Republicans define what is left and right in America today. If you look at the most recent CNN polls -- in fact the CNN polls over a period of time, a majority of Americans believe this war was a mistake, feel it has been poorly planned, terribly executed and they want to see American soldiers withdrawn so that Iraqi soldiers fight these battles. So I don't consider its a left wing position. I think what the Democrats are doing is very mainstream.

TARANTO: Yes, but they don't want to see America pull out immediately or on a date certain.

ZIMMERMAN: No one is advocating that.

TARANTO: Yes, that is exactly what John Kerry is saying.

ZIMMERMAN: Quite the opposite. He's talking about a redeployment, there's a very big distinction.

TARANTO: Redeployment is a euphemism for cut and run.

ZIMMERMAN: No, it is not.

TARANTO: Is the expression stay the course simply a euphemism for continued disappointment and the continued loss of American lives without achievement of political and military objectives?

GOODWIN: I think the question is do we believe we have a purpose there? And unless you want to say we have no purpose, and then therefore we should go immediately. If we should go, then why not go immediately?

ZIMMERMAN: Because no one's saying we don't have a purpose. The reality of our role there is to create a stable government. The approach that John Kerry and many of the Democrats are putting on the table is creating a stable government by creating standards and deadlines.

TARANTO: John Murtha is holding up our withdrawal from Somalia as an example. Somalia, which emboldened our enemies.

DOBBS: Let me change the issue of illegal immigration or comprehensive immigration reform and an absolute lack of border security for a change. And this is what Senator Ken Salazar had to say about the House of Representatives deciding to hold hearings to find out what's really going on in illegal immigration and border security. If you would all listen along with us please.


SEN. KEN SALAZAR (D), COLORADO: I smell a rat, you know? And I think the rat is that the House of Representatives under their leadership really don't want a bill at all. What they want to do is they want to orchestrate this issue for political advantage.


DOBBS: Well let me ask you, James. Now Senator Arlen Specter, chairman of the judicial committee, the author of the comprehensive immigration reform legislation passed by the Senate, not to be outdone, has called for hearings of his own. Aren't you proud?

TARANTO: Well, look, accusing a politician of acting out of political motives is kind of redundant, it seems to me. I think that the House Republicans...

DOBBS: ... It was the best question I could come up with on the spur of the moment.

TARANTO: The House Republicans would like to get something passed on the enforcement side. I suspect if they tone down their proposal somewhat and get rid of this proposal to make 11 million illegal immigrants felons, they might be able to get something through the Senate.

ZIMMERMAN: James, they have no interest in getting anything through the process and that's the real tragedy here. The reality of what the House Republicans are proposing is a complete reversal of the process. In the old days, you had hearings, then you passed legislation. Here the House Republicans have passed legislation, now they want to hold hearings. It's like having...

DOBBS: ... So does the Senate.

ZIMMERMAN: I think it's deplorable on both sides. It is like having a Broadway opening before you have previews.

DOBBS: I think it's absolutely mind boggling that the Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans -- the Senate Republican leadership passed a piece of legislation in two weeks and those phony, lying sons of guns stand up and talk about this 715 pages as if it's a real achievement, is a mockery of everything the Senate's supposed to be about.

ZIMMERMAN: I think they read it.

DOBBS: But those are the Senate Democrats that the president made into the majority party for the day.

ZIMMERMAN: Well we're going to work on that for November, Lou.

DOBBS: Are they going to succeed in November?

GOODWIN: Well, right now, the way Democrats handle themselves today, no. I mean, I think -- look Bush is very weak. He's not on the -- on any ballot but he's at the head of every Republican ticket.

DOBBS: Is that part of the problem for the Republicans in the House?

GOODWIN: Absolutely.

DOBBS: The fact that he's not on the ticket?

GOODWIN: Look what happened in the race in San Diego where the -- it's a Republican district, but he made immigration the main issue and he won going away. And I think that emboldened the House conservatives, that they have the right side of this issue among the public.

DOBBS: You get the last quick word on this, James.

TARANTO: I think that's right. I think the politics are on the side of immigration enforcement. I say that as somebody who would like to make it easier to become a citizen.

DOBBS: OK, and we'll take that conundrum and enigma and mystery and we'll wait until the next time. Come back soon. James Taranto, thank you very much. Michael Goodwin, Robert Zimmerman, thank you. Still ahead here, we'll have more of your thoughts and some of those thoughts will sort out all of this, and the results of our poll which will be a clear declaration of the direction of this country over the next 10 years. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight, 98 percent of you say maybe, just maybe somebody should take a vote if we are going to go ahead and merge Canada, Mexico and the United States. There's still a suggestion that we do want to be of the people and by the people and for the people. That's reassuring to me. I hope it is to you.

Taking a look now at more of your thoughts.

Andrea in Missouri: Whatever happened to "proud to be an American?" Our government certainly doesn't make me proud. It disgusts me.

And John in Tennessee: Earned legalization for illegal aliens that have been here longer? Shouldn't they receive larger fines and possibly other legal actions taken against them for breaking our laws for a longer period of time?

Interesting point.

And Frank in Kentucky: Lou, don't put all the blame for the failure of students in our public schools and teachers and administration. Try putting it where it starts: the parents who wouldn't help their children and those who've taken the discipline out of public schools, mostly parents and lawyers.

And Cathy in Minnesota: Dear Lou, the minimum wage has not been increased since 1997. How about a maximum wage? Say it was $1,000 per hour, oh no. Poor CEOs would only make, let's see, 40 hours a week, 40,000 times, $2 million a year? Outrageous! How could they manage on such a paltry pay?

And Frank in New York: Shame on the Senate for accepting their pay raise while saying no to any legislation to raise the minimum wage for honest, hard-working Americans doing jobs congressional members will not do.

That's our broadcast for tonight. We thank you for being with us. Stay with CNN as "THE SITUATION ROOM" is about to begin right now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.