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Lou Dobbs Tonight
Amnesty Battle: Illegal Alien Showdown; Fearmongering? Scare Tactics in Amnesty Debate; Where Republican Presidential Candidates Stand on Illegal Immigration
Aired June 06, 2007 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, HOST: Tonight, pro-amnesty senators are struggling to push their grand compromise through the U.S. Senate. That so-called comprehensive reform deal stinks.
We'll have complete coverage of it.
Also, new demands for a pardon for former Border Patrol agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos. They're serving harsh prison sentences for shooting a Mexican illegal alien drug smuggler given immunity by Alberto Gonzales' Justice Department.
We'll have that special report.
And most Republican presidential candidates criticizing this amnesty agenda of the president's. We'll tell you how the Republican presidential debate exposed widening GOP divisions over amnesty.
And one of the Republican Party's strongest critics of those reforms is Senator Tom Coburn. He is among our guests here tonight.
All of that, all the day's news, and much more straight ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, news, debate and opinion for Wednesday, June 6th.
Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
The battle over the Senate's grand amnesty compromise is intensifying tonight. Senators today narrowly voted against an amendment that would have wrecked the entire bill. Another critically important vote could be held in the Senate tomorrow, when Senate majority leader, Senator Harry Reid, said he will force a vote to set a time limit on debate of the entire amnesty legislation.
Dana Bash tonight reports from Capitol Hill on today's debate.
Lisa Sylvester reports from Washington on the fearmongering tactics used by pro-amnesty senators.
And as the White House struggles to advance its program, Ed Henry reports tonight from Germany on the president's difficulty selling his international agenda. We turn first to Dana Bash -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, it's really nail-biting time as to whether the comprehensive immigration bill that the senators formed a compromise on several weeks ago can live or die. And today the bill's backers avoided a fatal blow.
BASH (voice over): It was the biggest challenge yet to a fragile bipartisan immigration compromise.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the amendment is not agreed to.
BASH: And the bill's backers narrow defeated it.
GOP Senator John Cornyn, an opponent of the immigration measure, said his amendment would close a gaping loophole, one he said allows felons to become U.S. citizens.
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: They blew their chance, and they've shown themselves unworthy of the trust and confidence of the American people when it comes to living among us in compliance with our laws.
BASH: But supporters of the immigration bill called Cornyn's measure too broad, blocking not only gang members, sex offenders and drunk drivers from becoming citizens, but virtually all illegal immigrants who have committed lesser crimes, like doctoring documents to get work.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: It not only says that felons shouldn't become citizens -- we agree with that. It says anyone who has filed an illegal paper should not become citizens. That's every immigrant who would be on the path to citizenship.
BASH: Cornyn insisted only illegal immigrants already convicted of using false documents would be ineligible for U.S. citizenship. His appeal included a thinly-veiled threat at John McCain, who is drawing conservative fire as the only GOP presidential contender in favor of the immigration compromise.
CORNYN: I believe this amendment and the vote on this amendment is a defining issue for those who seek the highest office in the land to demonstrate their respect for the rule of law.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. McCain, no.
BASH: But Senator McCain joined other architects of the deal and voted against the measure.
BASH: So far, the so-called grand bargain on immigration is still intact, but it's prospects for Senate passage are still unclear, because the Senate majority leader wants to hold a final vote by Friday. That's two days from now. And opponents on both sides of the aisle are unhappy because they don't want him to limit the number of amendments they can put forward to change the bill.
So, if senators who are talking can't come up with a way to get around with this, come up with some kind of deal or negotiation on this, that could mean that this highly-publicized immigration bill could collapse -- Lou.
DOBBS: And it was, after all, Rudy Giuliani who said during those presidential debates that this bill is a mess. It appears to be living up to that description.
BASH: Well, you know, it depends what's going to happen in the next 24 hours, Lou. I can tell you that later on tonight, starting at about 6:45 Eastern, there are going to be about six amendments. There were about five or six earlier today.
But again, it really is going to depend on what they can decide, senators behind closed doors, as to whether they can limit the number of amendments. Because if that doesn't happen, this thing could, as I said, really collapse in the next 24 hours.
DOBBS: Senator Cornyn described the side amendment that replaced his bill as no felon left behind. Is there any expression of concern that what we have just witnessed is the United States Senate voting to support amnesty for people who have committed document fraud, as well as those more serious felonies?
BASH: Well, if you talk to the people who voted against Senator Cornyn's amendment, what they say is what they did approve, which is something by Senator Kennedy, would still make it impossible for felons not just who committed major crimes, like sex offenses and so forth, but also those who were actually convicted of forging documents. That that actually would make them ineligible for going forward and getting citizenship.
So, it's a question of actually having these documents or being convicted of the documents.
DOBBS: All right.
But as one of the senators said, just about everyone who was employed by...
BASH: ... employers has committed that crime.
Thank you very much.
Dana Bash from Capitol Hill.
Some pro-amnesty senators blatantly using scare tactics now, trying to defeat opponents of the grand compromise. One of those senators even raising fears of anarchy if the Senate doesn't pass the so-called comprehensive immigration reform bill. That's a mouthful. The strategy apparently designed to block consideration of any other plan to deal with the immigration crisis. Lisa Sylvester reports from Washington.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's the compromise no one really seems to like. But supporters of the Senate immigration bill say the legislation is necessary.
Listen to Senator Arlen Specter from a few weeks ago.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA), RANKING MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: It is not amnesty. This will restore the rule of law. Without legislation, we will have anarchy.
SYLVESTER: In an effort to drum up support, the architects of the Senate immigration bill have cast the debate in very narrow terms -- amnesty or anarchy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The senator from Pennsylvania.
SYLVESTER: On Wednesday, Specter reacted to criticism of that characterization by this broadcast.
SPECTER: Lou Dobbs doesn't like anarchy. Nobody likes anarchy. But in a sense, that's the choice that we have here.
SYLVESTER: But critics say supporters are resorting to scare tactics and fearmongering and ignoring other options on the table.
ROSEMARY JENKS, NUMBERSUSA: There's oppositions from the left, there's opposition from the right. Basically everyone hates the bill. But they have decided that they would present it as a choice between this bill and the status quo.
SYLVESTER: House Republicans say there are other choices.
Congressmen Ed Royce and Steve King are pushing for an enforcement-only bill instead of the expensive Senate legislation that includes the guest worker program and a path to citizenship for illegal aliens.
REP. ED ROYCE (R), CALIFORNIA: The cost of this proposal would be 1,000 times more expensive than the cost of finishing the construction of the border fence. One thousand times more costly.
SYLVESTER: One public opinion poll shows that when pressed to choose between the current Senate legislation, or doing nothing, 49 percent of surveyed registered voters say they would rather see no bill at all.
SYLVESTER: That survey by the Rasmussen Reports also asks the question in a different way -- how many people support the Senate immigration bill? Only 23 percent. The number opposed to the bill was 50 percent -- Lou. DOBBS: And the "USA Today"-Gallup poll revealing that of those with an opinion, 3-1, they oppose this legislation.
Thank you very much.
As Lisa reported, some pro-amnesty senators using harsh language to blast critics of the amnesty compromise. But despite the scaremongering, there are some voices of reasoning in the Senate, voices that deserve to be heard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CORNYN: A "no" vote on the Cornyn amendment and a "yes" vote on the Kennedy amendment will in essence retitle this section of this bill, or could be retitled to "No Felon Left Behind". Because while we've excluded many categories of felons, we have for some reason left this big, gaping hole when it comes to those who show nothing but contempt for our laws.
SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D), NORTH DAKOTA: I understand we have an immigration issue. I fully understand that. We need to deal with it. But part and parcel of that, in my judgment, ought to be some discussion on the floor of the United States Senate about how this affects the American worker.
SEN. JIM WEBB (D), VIRGINIA: Under the provisions of the immigration bill we are now debating, virtually all undocumented persons living in the United States would be eligible to legalize their status and ultimately become citizens. Estimates are that this number totals 12 million to 20 million people.
This is legislative overkill. It is one of the reasons that this bill has aroused the passions of ordinary Americans who have no opposition to reasonable immigration policies, but who see this as an issue that goes against the grain of true fairness, which is the very foundation of our society.
SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R), TENNESSEE: We need to put together a good bill that secures the border first. After border security, the other biggest problem is what to do about those already here legally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOBBS: Senator Lamar Alexander there.
And, of course, this bill puts the issue precisely reversely. That is, amnesty, then hopefully some day something akin to border security.
We'll have much more on the amnesty battle in the Senate later here on the broadcast.
One of the Senate's most outspoken critics of amnesty is Senator Tom Coburn. He's among our guests here tonight. We will also be examining something that the senators don't want to talk about, the White House doesn't want to talk about. That is the huge financial and fiscal cost to the taxpayers of this country.
Our guests will be Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, Carol Swain -- Professor Swain of Vanderbilt University.
President Bush tonight is focusing on foreign policy at the G8 meeting in Germany. Rising tensions between President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin threatening to overshadow the summit. President Bush today trying to downplay tensions by saying Russia isn't a threat to Europe.
Ed Henry reporting from the German city of Rostock, near G8 conference center.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): All smiles as the G8 summit kicked off with President Bush lunching with the host, German Chancellor Angela Merkel. But the pleasantries may get over shadowed by tensions between the U.S. and Russia over plans for a missile defense system in Europe.
On the eve of what could be a difficult meeting Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr. Bush told reporters off camera, there needs to be no military response because we're not at war with Russia. Russia is not going to attack Europe. The president was answering a hypothetical question about whether the U.S. would respond militarily if Putin followed through on his threat to aim nuclear weapons at Europe.
Just one day after escalating the battle by publicly slamming Putin's slow progress on democratic reforms, Mr. Bush downplayed the friction, telling reporters, Russia is not an enemy. But Former Soviet President, Mikhail Gorbachev, says he's hearing echoes of the cold war, charging the Bush administration has sparked a new arms race.
MIKHAIL GORBACHEV, FMR. SOVIET PRESIDENT: The United States is driving itself in a corner. At this stage already, they have lost credibility in the world.
HENRY: While Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, insists there's not another cold war, he did make clear Russia is not backing down.
DMITRY PESKOV, PUTIN SPOKESMAN: We are expecting some explanations from our American partners, what is the necessity for this being in a hurry and what is the necessity for this entire missile shield against non-existent missiles.
HENRY (on camera): Mr. Bush said he will work to make sure his meeting with his Russian counterpart is not tense, but that may be easier said than done, especially with talk of a new Cold War having the potential to overshadow climate change and other big issues on the summit's agenda. Ed Henry, CNN, with the president in Rostock, Germany.
DOBBS: In Iraq, insurgents have killed six more of our troops over the past 48 hours -- four of our soldiers, two airmen.
Twenty-two of our troops have been killed in Iraq so far this month, 3,501 of our troops killed since the beginning of the war. 25,830 troops wounded, 11,622 of them seriously.
Rising tension tonight on the Iraq-Turkey border. And it follows reports denied by U.S., Turkish and Iraqi official that's Turkish troops crossed into Iraq today.
Those reports that Turkish soldiers launched a small-scale incursion to stop a cross-border attack by Kurdish gunman. As many as 150,000 Turkish troops are deployed near the border along Turkey and Iraq.
Still ahead, new demands for justice in the case of two former Border Patrol agents.
We'll have that special report.
Also tonight, nearly every Republican presidential candidate declares his opposition to the amnesty legislation before the Senate now. Was that a surprise to the president?
We'll have the story
And who won the Republican presidential debate? Which candidates impressed most of the voters?
We'll have complete coverage.
And I'll have a few thoughts on my own to the congressional dedication to group and interest politics and aversion to the common good and the national interest.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: Illegal immigration, a central topic of last night's presidential debate. The candidates' responses demonstrating the sharp divide in the GOP when it comes to illegal immigration and what to do about it. Most of the candidates eager to prove they don't support the amnesty legislation or the president.
Christine Roman reports on where the Republican candidates stand on illegal immigration.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Senator John McCain defended immigration legislation his colleagues called disastrous, a bad bill, and a mistake.
JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is isn't the bill that I would have written, but it does -- it does satisfy our national security challenges, which are severe and intense. And we cannot allow 12 million people marching (ph) around America illegally, my friends.
ROMANS: From former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, a different solution.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... enforced the law as it exists. The law that was passed in 1986...
ROMANS: Again and again, condemnation for the Senate plan.
RUDY GIULIANI (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The problem with this immigration plan is it has no real unifying purpose. It's a typical Washington mess.
ROMANS: And a plea to secure the border first.
TOMMY THOMPSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Securing the border is going to allow everything else to follow.
ROMANS: Congressman Duncan Hunter says build the 854 miles of border fence President Bush already signed into law.
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If they get across my fence, we sign them up for the Olympics immediately.
ROMANS: From Senator Sam Brownback, an endorsement of sorts for the Senate plan.
SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And it's better than not doing anything.
ROMANS: That plan requires English proficiency for citizenship, but does not make English the official language.
On Sunday, all but one of the Democrats opposed English as the official language. And Senator Barack Obama called the question divisive. He says there is no doubt...
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Everybody is going to learn to speak English if they live in this country.
ROMANS: Among Republicans, all want English as the official language, with McCain qualifying his position, citing Navajo sovereignty in his state and Arizona's long history of...
MCCAIN: ... a different culture, a different language which has enriched my state, where Spanish was spoken before English was.
ROMANS: Romney, who supports official English, is also campaigning in Spanish.
ROMNEY: I love legal immigrants coming into our country. I'm happy to communicate to them, and I hope they vote for me.
ROMANS: But he rejects the immigration reform on the table.
ROMANS: Now, almost all of the Democrats support the so-called grand immigration compromise, or at least comprehensive immigration reform. Only New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson outright opposes it at this point. He's concerned that it's divisive, divides families.
Senator Barack Obama has said that he needs to see what it's going to look like in the end, what all the amendments are going to look like. He's not ready support it just yet.
DOBBS: Well, my, my, my.
The idea that Senator -- as I listen to Senator McCain, I just marvel at the man. Do you think somebody needs to tell him that the Navajo that he refers to in his state, the Navajos, they are a sovereign nation surrounded by his state and this nation. And the fact is, as he talks about Spanish spoken in his state before -- before English, he needs to remember that Navajo, (INAUDIBLE) and a number of other Indian nations were speaking their languages before Spanish, if he's going to make that point.
The idea that it's somehow a problem that English be the official language of this country, you can just see the discomfort on the part of those candidates in the Democratic Party, and principally by Barack Obama. My goodness, I mean, it just seems ridiculous.
ROMANS: Obama said it was clear that it was just a divisive question to ask in the first place. He didn't think the question should be asked. And a lot of folks said they didn't think it had anything to do with immigration reform, English as the official language.
DOBBS: Well, I think it's actually one of the central issues here, because people are being tired of being vulcanized on the issue of language, whether they are in their stores or their telephones, trying to deal in commercial transactions, being asked to punch one or two for Spanish or English.
It's a very big issue. And people just need to be honest about it.
And the most recent survey that I've seen show 84 percent of all Americans surveyed believe that English should be the official language of governmental operations. By the way, 77 percent of Hispanics, because people likely make that equation. Hispanic equals, illegal aliens, people need to recall, and vividly, that Hispanic- Americans are Americans first, and not drawn into that equation that is so often drawn by the amnesty advocates.
Christine, thank you very much.
Christine Romans. Tonight's poll question: Do you agree with many senators of both parties that a bad immigration bill is better than no bill? Yes or no?
Cast your vote, please, at loudobbs.com. We'll have the results upcoming.
Time now for some of your thoughts.
James in Charlotte, said, "Lou, I can't see that it makes much difference what law Congress passes on immigration since the laws aren't enforced anyway. Why doesn't Congress pass a law saying that the laws must be enforced?"
Interestingly enough, Senator Lamar Alexander today on the floor of the Senate basically said, and I think correctly, part of the overall opposition of this legislation is Americans simply do not trust our located representatives in Washington because of their failures to make this government work, failures to enforce border security to enforce our immigration laws.
Jim in Michigan said, "Lou, our lawmakers in Washington make the D.C. madam look like a Sunday school teacher. If you've got the money, they've got the time."
And Jack in New Jersey, "Lou, I've been thinking that when President Bush pardons Scooter Libby, maybe he can pardon the border agents and do some real good."
We can only hope.
Send us your thoughts at loudobbs.com. More of your thoughts are coming up here later.
Up next, we'll be updating you on the fight to win the release of those in prison, former Border Patrol agents Ramos and Compean.
And was there a winner in last night's Republican debate? We'll have two special reports.
I'll also have a few thoughts of my own about our senators' rising dedication to special interest politics, our congressional interest in putting those special interests over those of the American people.
Stay with us.
DOBBS: The case of former Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean are under appeal. As we've reported here, those agents were prosecuted by the Justice Department for shooting and wounding an illegal alien Mexican drug smuggler who was given immunity by the Justice Department for his testimony. Those agents serving 11 and 12- year sentences.
Members of Congress, even presidential candidates, try to seek justice for those agents.
Casey Wian has our report.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Former Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean remain in federal prisons in Mississippi and Ohio, serving 11 and 12-year sentences for shooting Mexican drug smuggler Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila. But they have not been forgotten by lawmakers considering immigration reform.
REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R), CALIFORNIA: It behooves us to remember that Border Patrol agents Ramos and Compean are at this very moment languishing in solitary confinement in a federal prison.
WIAN: By supporters working on their appeals...
ANDY RAMIREZ, FRIENDS OF THE BORDER PATROL: We're talking amnesty for 20 million illegal aliens. Well, this government has already shown their preference to give amnesty to narcotic traffickers. You have got a doper running around who may get a check for $3.7 million. That's Aldrete-Davila. And yet, Jose Compean, Ignacio Ramos are sitting in prison.
WIAN: Even presidential candidate Duncan Hunter mentioned the case during Tuesday's Republican debate.
HUNTER: I will tell you a couple of transcripts I have looked at, and that's the agents Compean and Ramos, who were given 11 and 12 years respectively for stopping a drug dealer bringing 750 pound of drugs across the border. I've looked at their transcript. I would pardon Compean and Ramos right now.
HUNTER: And let me say...
WIAN: The agents' appeals were filed last month, and each claims at least a dozen errors were made during their trial. They include Judge Kathleen Cardon's (ph) ruling preventing jurors from hearing details of Davila's drug-smuggling activity, which continued while he was under immunity from U.S. prosecutors; the mandatory 10-year prison term for using a gun to commit a crime -- that law was intended for drug traffickers, not law enforcement officers -- and the treatment of Border Patrol policy violations as criminal offenses.
Both appeals claim that cumulative effect of the errors cast doubt on the fundamental fairness of the agents' trial. Federal prosecutors have 30 days to respond to the appeals but have requested a routine extension.
WIAN: Ramos' wife says he has lost 40 pounds and is struggling in prison. Compean's wife will make her first trip in four and a half months to see her husband in prison later this week. Behind the scenes, lawmakers are trying to persuade the Bureau of Prisons to transfer the former agents to safer facilities where they won't require solitary confinement -- Lou.
DOBBS: An outrageous, outrageous prosecution, and outrageous miscarriage of justice against both these agents. It is despicable that the president of the United States has not intervened against his attorney general who sought this prosecution, which many believe is straightforwardly an appeasement of the Mexican government.
And it is completely unreasonable that Democratic members of Congress have not joined on and Republican members of Congress have not joined on to the petition to provide congressional immunity. It's disgusting.
WIAN: It sure it. And a lot of supporters of these two agents are disgusted with the promises that they received from Congress that there would be hearings into this case. Those hearings, of course, have not happened yet -- Lou.
DOBBS: And, you know, I have to increasingly say, I'm not surprised at anything that this Congress does, whether led by Republicans or Democrats, that fails to uphold either the tradition nor the principles nor the values of this country. This certainly is the case in which all were violated.
Thank you very much.
DOBBS: Up next, Republican presidential candidates stand united in debate in opposition to their president. We will have complete coverage.
Senator Tom Coburn says President Bush is damaging himself again. Senator Tom Coburn is among our guests.
Pro-amnesty senators refusing to talk about one aspect of this legislation -- the tremendous financial, fiscal and social costs of amnesty. The Heritage Foundation's Robert Rector, Vanderbilt University Professor Carol Swain will join us here and I will be sharing some of my thoughts on the rising dominance of corporate and special interests on our lawmakers. Just watch what's happening with this amnesty legislation at the expense of the national interests.
We'll be right back.
DOBBS: Republican and Democratic presidential candidates agree on at least one thing in their debate -- candidates of both parties attacking President Bush during those debates but were voters convinced? John King reports tonight on the deep divisions over the president's handling of the war in Iraq and amnesty. And Bill Schneider reports on New Hampshire voter's struggle to decide which of all of these candidates to support. We begin with John King in Manchester, New Hampshire. John?
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, it is of course, June 2007, early, very early in the presidential primary season. But compare and contrast what we heard Sunday night with what we heard Tuesday night, and you might consider it a fall 2008 sneak preview.
KING (voice-over): First eight Democrats, then 10 Republicans. Two New Hampshire debates and two very different approaches.
SEN: JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ladies and gentlemen, you're going to end this war when you elect a Democratic president.
KING: Most striking is the Iraq divide. All of the Democrats favor reducing troop levels immediately. All of the leading Republicans call that a recipe for disaster.
RUDY GIULIANI, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Iraq is part of the overall terrorist war against the United States. The problem the Democrats make is, they are in denial.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is long and hard and tough but I think we can succeed.
KING: The Democrats are more in tune with overall public opinion on Iraq but the primaries come first.
ANDREW SMITH, UNH POLLING DIRECTOR: Republicans in New Hampshire, the voters, are still behind Bush and still behind support for the war.
KING: The big immigration proposal before Congress is another dividing line.
MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And what it allows is people who have come here illegally to stay here for the rest of their lives.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think most Americans will support that if they have some sense that the border is also being secured.
KING: Senator John McCain is the immigration exception. He sides with the Democrats in favoring a compromise he concedes is far from perfect.
MCCAIN: It's you our job to do the hard things.
KING: More differences on pocketbook issues. SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm thrilled that universal health care is back on the national agenda.
JOHN EDWARDS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I pay for it by getting rid of Bush's tax cuts for people who make over $200,000 a year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Number one, my plan is mandatory.
KING: To Republicans all of that adds up to higher taxes and bigger government.
GIULIANI: What the Democrats suggested on this stage two nights ago was socialized medicine.
KING: Not one of the Republicans raised his hands when asked if gay Americans should be allowed to serve openly in the military. The leading Democrats have a different view.
CLINTON: Barry Goldwater once said you don't have to be straight to shoot straight. And I think he was right.
KING (on camera): Again, the overwhelming focus of the candidates in the next weeks and months will be in their own party's primary and caucus goers but having the Democrats and Republicans side by side just two nights apart did give us what you might consider a unique early peek at next fall's likely battle lines.
DOBBS: John King reporting.
The candidates of both parties debate. The voters, however, remember, decide and voters in New Hampshire are very hard on presidential candidates as Bill Schneider now reports.
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN ANALYST (voice-over): New Hampshire voters know something about how to score politicians.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the Democratic side, I think I had three and a half people in the top tier. The traditional three. Clinton, Edwards and Obama. And I gave half a point to Governor Richardson.
SCHNEIDER: Is the Democratic front runner still the front runner? Probably, says the director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary Clinton did extraordinarily well. People felt she was composed and focused.
SCHNEIDER: In the Republican race, one of the debate moderators believes John McCain may have restored his front runner standing in New Hampshire.
SCOTT SPRADLING, WMUR ANCHOR, POLITICAL ANALYST: I believe he did sort of remind New Hampshire voters of that independent, straight- talking maverick-type of candidate that made him so popular here in 2000.
SCHNEIDER: But in New Hampshire, nothing is a lock.
PAUL MANUEL, NH INSTITUTE OF POLITICS: Don't be surprise if you see a Richardson jump ahead on the Democratic side or a Huckabee on the Republican side. It could happen.
SCHNEIDER: Before they can decide on a candidate, Republicans have to decide what they are looking for.
SPRADLING: They have not quite defined what it is they want to stand for 2008. Is it electability type of primary or is it a return to principle type of primary?
SCHEIDER: One candidate is trying to show he offers both.
MANUEL: Mitt Romney was testing that yesterday with all of the discussion about the future and optimism. But in one phrase he invoked Ronald Reagan and we have to get ready for a new frontier, John F. Kennedy. I thought it was extraordinary he brought those two elements into his campaign.
SCHNEIDER: Republicans are not the only ones looking for more choices.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Personally, kind of wish Al Gore was in the mix. I just think he has the experience I would like to see. I don't want to see OJT again.
SCHNEIDER (on camera): OJT? That's New Hampshire short hand or on the job training. Lou?
DOBBS: Bill Schneider, our senior political analyst. As we watch this rather ugly process in the U.S. Senate, as the Democrats with the help of the president of the United States trying to drive it through the Senate, and down the throats of most Americans who oppose it, we are watching a great deal of polarization.
But I want to say tonight, if I may, the divisiveness begins in Washington and certainly not in the hearts of American. Not only is corporate America spending more than $2 billion to lobby for the legislation it wants in Washington, but Congress in recent decades has also organized itself around the special interests they seek to serve.
It was almost five years ago there were only four congressional caucuses. Today, there are 200 congressional caucuses, most of which are dedicated solely to particular nations, regions, races, ethnicities, specific issues and special interests. Group and interest politics have overwhelmed this nation. They have overwhelmed not only our public dialogue but also our legislative process in Washington. When our elected officials are spending more time and effort legislating on behalf of specific interest groups, the common good and national interests are subordinated by the very people we have elected to serve all citizens and this nation.
It should be no surprise that approval ratings of the president and the Congress are so low, or that so many of us believe this country is now headed in the wrong direction.
Are we as a nation well served by a Congress that created the Albanian Issues Caucus, the Congressional Asian-Pacific American Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Organic Caucus, the Caucus on Indonesia, the Caucus on Swaziland, the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus or the Congressional Caucus on Indian-Americans.
By the way, about 200 congressmen belong to that caucus. What about the 280 million working men and women in this country and their families? It seems to me we would be better served if Congress were to rid itself of the spurious and divisive caucus system that serve narrowly focused system, interest groups and instead create, maybe this would be a good caucus. How about a caucus for We the People?
Abraham Lincoln astutely noted that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Our House of Representatives can hardly be more divided. And it's time our elected officials commit themselves to the representation of all Americans and the founding ideals that will assure a prosperous and secure future for our great nation.
Just a thought. Coming up next -- the grand compromise on illegal immigration has a lot of Republicans and Democrats turning their back on both President Bush and their Senate leadership.
And Senator Tom Coburn is among those Republicans. And two leading authorities on our illegal immigration crisis. Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation and Professor Carol Swain of Vanderbilt University. They join us here next. Stay with us.
DOBBS: There is a rising and intense backlash against this so- called grand compromise on amnesty across the country. Joining us now, representing the State of Oklahoma, Senator Tom Coburn, Republican. And joining us tonight from Capitol Hill. Senator Coburn, good to have you here.
SEN. TOM COBURN, (R) OK: Good to -- Thank you.
DOBBS: This has been, as we watch this process, rather in my opinion, ugly. This legislation is, it seems, literally being written on the floor of the Senate.
COBUN: Well, I think any time a piece of legislation comes together so fast and is written so fast, it is going to be full of errors, full of problems and people are just now starting to digest the piece of legislation and we are talking about cutting off amendments and cutting off debate. So it is the worst way to legislate. There should have been more hearings. We have had this as an open process. It should have gone through committee. It did not and coming to the floor to be kind of a boondoggle.
DOBBS: It is a boondoggle but one that is bipartisan, principally on the Republican side. Your colleague Senator Jon Kyl, who opposes comprehensive immigration reform, in last year's iteration. What's the deal?
COBURN: Well, I want to give him a compliment for making an effort. We need to solve the problem both in terms of legal and illegal immigration. So I'm not critical that they are trying to solve it. And they may be giving up some things they believe in to try to fix the problem for the country but as far as legislative process, it is a problem. Our problem is the American people don't trust Congress to handle this and they are not going to until we enforce the law, which means we are going to honor those people who come into this country legally and we are going to enforce the law against those who don't.
And the only way we are going to be able to do that is adequately follow the six laws that are already on the books to secure the border and enforce employment verification here.
DOBBS: Senator, as Congressman Duncan Hunter said in the Republican debates, 854 miles of fence authorized. Six months later the Department of Homeland Security has built 11 miles. It's highly questionable about the quality of the fence that they are building. Is there a sense in the United States Senate that Americans watching this process and admittedly, not even half of the people are paying attention to this legislation according to most polls that I have seen?
Is the Senate just expecting Americans to be such fools that they will eat this up?
COBURN: I'm not even sure they are considering that, Lou. The problem is our process is broken. The only way we have right to govern, even though we are elected, is to establish through integrity that we are going to do what's best for the country in the long term.
And we have such a habit of not doing that on everything else that we are going to be suspect. We do need to solve this problem but the way we are going about solving this problem is not going to build confidence in the American public as to the Congress, and it's going to undermine the credibility of the rule of law.
DOBBS: Senator Coburn, one last question -- do you believe that this legislation will pass the U.S. Senate?
COBURN: I certainly hope not. I do not know the answer to that question.
DOBBS: Senator Tom Coburn, we thank you for being with us. COBURN: Thank you, Lou.
DOBBS: Thank you.
A reminder to vote in our poll tonight. The question, do you agree with many senators of both parties that a bad immigration bill is better than no bill. That's because something of a mantra during this process. Yes or no. Please cast your vote at loudobbs.com. The results we will have here later.
A rush to judgment on illegal immigration reform and border security. Well, it could cost taxpayers literally trillions. Joining me next, Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation and Vanderbilt University Professor Carol Swain. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Joining me now, Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation. He says taxpayers could be facing an overwhelming bill to pay for the retirement benefits alone of illegal immigrants granted immunity under this legislation were it to pass.
Professor Carol Swain, professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University who says immigration reform is too important to be treated in this manner by the U.S. Senate.
We thank you both for being here.
Let me begin, Professor Swain, this legislation, we just heard Senator Coburn say rather clearly that he's amazed at the time that will not be spent on this legislation. Senator Jon Kyl, who is the leading Republican proponent amongst the grand compromise element that designed the legislation, says that to put a time limit on debate and the passage of this bill is absurd. What is your reaction?
PROFESSOR CAROL SWAIN, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: I think if they rush this bill through, it would be a disaster for the American people and that they need to scrap the whole thing and let the next president deal with it.
DOBBS: What about the 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens? What about border security?
SWAIN: Well, they have been here for quite a while now. They can stay around until the next president is in office and he can come up with his own proposal.
DOBBS: All right. Professor, and turning to you, Robert Rector, you're the only one, who to my knowledge has, and I'm not sure if it was at the request of anyone but rather at the initiative of the Heritage Foundation to come up with cost estimates.
First I have to say to you, it is absolutely dumbfounding that over two years of working on so-called comprehensive immigration reform, the United States Congress, the president of the United States, have not come up with the detailed, highly -- highly reliable and credible estimates of the cost of the various elements of this legislation.
ROBERT RECTOR, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Well, Lou, it's just like last year when they had a bill that was going to let in 100 million people, and they had no idea how many people came in. They had never even looked at that.
They have no idea of how much this bill will cost, although common sense is going to tell you, it costs a lot. What you're doing here is you're taking a minimum of 12 million illegal immigrants, and when you add spouses and children from abroad who eventually will get into this, it's probably more like 17 million, and you're giving them a citizenship and the rights to receive welfare and the rights to get into the Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid system.
And these are very low-skilled individuals. Fifty to 60 percent of them are high school dropouts. Through the whole course of their lives they will pay little of taxes in and take a lot of benefits out. But when they hit retirements, these individuals, which will be about 25, 30 years from now, these individuals are going to be drawing down a net benefits minus any taxes paid of at least $17,000 a year per person. When you add all of that up, the net costs comes to about $2.5 trillion. You're adding perhaps 10 percent to the Social Security beneficiary rolls 30 years from now at exactly the point when Social Security will already be $200 billion a year annually in deficit. It's just madness.
DOBBS: And we have no idea, at this point, what kind of shape Medicare and Medicaid will be in but we are looking into the projections. It doesn't look very good.
Let me ask you, today, and you mentioned the key element to me, $2.5 trillion you say for retirement benefits for those, based on the number of 12 million illegal aliens from this country. But the number is somewhere a range of 12 million to 20 million.
RECTOR: That's right.
DOBBS: Are you saying it's a straight line extrapolation, if instead 12 it turns out to be 20, are you say if it's 12, the ancillary family of beneficiaries of this amnesty will make it 17, we are looking at a tremendous impact of this legislation.
RECTOR: You could be looking at 30 million people. If the estimate of 20 million is right and right at the moment they cannot bring spouses and children in from abroad, that will last one minute after the passage of this bill and Kennedy will come forward with a technical correction. So if it's 20 million you could easily be talking about a total of 30 million people added to the citizenry.
And the great thing here is, why are we granting these people the gift of U.S. citizenship? The answer is -- solely, their sole qualification is they broke the laws of the United States. So out of all of the people in the world, we select this group to be U.S. citizens because they broke our laws.
DOBBS: Professor Swain, I want to turn to you. I thought it was fascinating watching much of that debate today. The issue, the Cornyn amendment, which was dismissed, which would have eliminated felons from -- and terrorists and just about everybody else from receiving amnesty, there was a great -- great statement that they didn't want to exclude from amnesty people who had committed document fraud.
As a number of the senators acknowledged, just about everyone who has crossed our borders illegally has also committed document fraud and document theft in my instances and that's not discussed a lot. The advocates of amnesty, always say they just crossed the border illegally. But it's a lot more complicated than that. A lot of other laws are broken.
What is your judgment as to the way the Senate has dismissed the issue of document fraud and document theft and other serious felonies in constraining the limitations against providing amnesty?
SWAIN: It's not just document fraud. Sometimes it's identity theft and we know that that's very serious. It creates all sorts of problem for the people who have their identities stolen. And I do believe that it should be taken far more seriously by the Congress than it's been taken so far. And in all of the discussions about border security, it has to be coupled with tougher penalties for people that overstay their visas because some percentage, about 30 percent of the people that are illegal came here with the paper work. They overstayed their visas so we need some serious penalties for those people who refuse to go home.
And so you can do border security, but that's not going to solve the problem of illegal immigration unless you couple it with more severe penalties for people that refuse to go home.
DOBBS: Professor Carol Swain, Vanderbilt University, thank you for being here.
SWAIN: Thank you.
DOBBS: Robert Rector, Heritage Foundation, thank you, sir.
RECTOR: Thank you.
DOBBS: Coming up at the top of the hour, THE SITUATION ROOM and Wolf Blitzer. Wolf?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thanks, Lou. Cold War style tension now between the U.S. and Russia, threatening to overshadow the G-8 summit in Germany. How will the war of words over missile defense impact a key meeting between Presidents Bush and Putin?
Also, Fidel Castro's new media blitz. His longest TV interview since he was sidelined by surgery. We are going to show you some of the clues about his health and a possible return to power.
And a Democratic presidential candidate raising a red flag about race. Find out what Senator Barack Obama is saying about African Americans and what he calls quiet riots.
All of that, Lou, coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
DOBBS: Thank you, Wolf.
Up next -- the results of tonight's poll. More of your thoughts. Stay with us.
DOBBS: The results of our poll tonight, 97 percent of you say you do not agree with what has become the mantra in Washington. Many senators of both parties saying without even a blush that a bad immigration bill is better than no bill. Washington at work.
Time now for some of your thoughts. Joe in Pennsylvania saying, "I think I know what FDA stands for. Fails to do anything. Keep up the good work."
And Carolyn in Ohio. "As a Roman Catholic, the Catholic Church is the members of the church, not just the hierarchy. I and all the Catholics I know are opposed to amnesty for illegal aliens or anything else illegal. Illegal is illegal is illegal."
Tell that to the folks in Washington.
And Dee in Arkansas. "When you think of where we started as a free people operating under a brilliantly written Constitution, it is a sad tragedy no people have been more betrayed by their government."
We thank you for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow. Among our guests will me Senator Jim DeMint. We'll be talking about amnesty. For all of us, thanks for watching. Good night from New York. THE SITUATION ROOM begins now with Wolf Blitzer. Wolf?
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