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Lou Dobbs Tonight
Debate Over Immigration Bill Continues; Iraqi Troops Still Not Ready to Step Up; Visa Programs Being Used by Companies to Bring in Foreign Labor; Why No Recall for Dangerous Chinese Tires?
Aired June 27, 2007 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We'll be back here, 7 p.m. Eastern. In the meantime, let's go to Lou in New York -- Lou.
LOU DOBBS, HOST: Wolf, thank you very much.
Tonight, the U.S. Senate seems hell-bent on giving citizenship to 12 to 28 million illegal aliens while denying the rights and wishes of 280 million American citizens. Pro-amnesty senators rushing to appease the open borders lobby, corporate interests and socioethnocentric special interests. We'll have complete coverage for you tonight.
Also, rising outrage on Capitol Hill over a visa program that allows corporations to bring in as many foreign workers as they want, without any limits or controls. The president says he needs a new guest worker program. Oh, really? We'll have that special report. War on the middle class.
And among our guests here tonight, two leading Senate opponents of amnesty: Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican; Senator Byron Dorgan, Democrat. And Congressman Brian Bilbray joins us. He says Congress must oppose any form of amnesty.
All of that, all the day's news and a lot more, straight ahead here tonight.
ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT. News, debate and opinion for Wednesday, June 27. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.
Pro-amnesty senators today attempting to sweep aside all opposition and objections to their grand bargain for amnesty. Amnesty supporters defeated amendments from Democratic and Republican senators designed to blunt the impact of that amnesty legislation or perhaps even improve it.
Opponents of so-called comprehensive immigration reform say pro- amnesty senators have simply rigged the debate and are railroading the legislation. Those critics say illegal alien supporters, open borders advocates are trampling on our democratic republic to ram that legislation through the Senate.
We begin our coverage tonight with Dana Bash on Capitol Hill -- Dana. DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, so far today, advocates of the immigration legislation have beat back five of the 26 amendments set for votes to change this bill.
But that belies the still uncertain future of this legislation.
BASH (voice-over): They may have revived debate, but authors of the Senate immigration compromise know its fate is still very unclear.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: So it's going to be a rough ride, Mr. President. We're in trench warfare, and it's going to be tough, but we're going to see the will of the Senate work one way or another.
BASH: The bill's supporters won their first big battle, voting to kill a proposal to make it harder for illegal immigrants to gain legal status by requiring them to return home within two years.
The proposal's Republicans sponsor argued this new hurdle for illegal immigrants would calm critics who call it amnesty.
SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R), TEXAS: This is the amendment that will take the amnesty out of this bill and say, today's standards will be enforced.
BASH: Later, advocates of the immigration bill beat back another attempt by critics to change it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The amendment is therefore tabled.
BASH: A measure from Democrat Jim Webb to allow only illegal immigrants in the U.S. for at least four years to qualify for U.S. citizenship.
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Two of those amendments of those that wanted to undermine this proposal have been defeated. Others will be. But today is the time. Now is the place. This is the hour.
BASH: Senators also fended off a significant challenge from the left: an amendment from Democrat Bob Menendez to make it easier for family members of legal immigrants to come to the U.S.
Despite supporters' early victories, immigration reform has a steep hill to climb.
SEN. DAVID VITTER (R), LOUISIANA: Frustrated about our ability to exercise our rights on the floor of the Senate as duly elected officials.
BASH: In order to get around staunch opponents determined to block the bill, leaders took advantage of rarely used Senate rules to limit amendments from the left and the right.
BASH: Now these votes are going to continue through the evening. They're going on as we speak, Lou. But the next make-or-break vote for this bill is going to be 9 a.m. tomorrow morning. That is a procedural vote that takes 60 in order to pass, and right now, no one can say whether or not it will -- Lou.
DOBBS: And Dana, we heard a number of references today and, including in your report from Senator Specter, expressions of the will of the Senate. The will of the American people seems to be no part of the rhetoric of this debate, if you can call it that, in the Senate.
BASH: Well, as you know, that sort of depends on who you ask here. You -- if you're referring to the fact that we heard a lot of opponents of this bill go onto the floor today and express their frustration about the fact that they were not able to not just debate this but actually offer their particular amendments to change it, that definitely was heard loud and clear on the floor today.
DOBBS: Dana, thank you very much. Dana Bash from Capitol Hill.
Well, as Dana suggested, a very important procedural vote tomorrow on cloture that could either send this bill forward for a vote or kill it.
Senators whose amendments are defeated today will have no opportunity to reintroduce those proposals. And one of those senators, Senator Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia, told us he is now inclined to vote against the amnesty legislation.
Opponents of that legislation today blasted Senate majority leader, Senator Harry Reid, for restricting the debate. Those critics say Senator Reid and the other pro-amnesty, open border senators are ignoring their rights as elected senators and ignoring the rights of the American people they represent.
Lisa Sylvester reports from Washington.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a procedural dance, opponents of the immigration bill trying to have a place on the floor, but getting rejected every time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, I ask for five minutes under the same time agreement. For any purpose.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I can't do that. I would have to object to that.
SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: A parliamentary inquiry. Do I not have the right to reserve the right to object?
DEMINT: How many rules are we going to change? SYLVESTER: Senate leader Harry Reid, using an arcane procedural device, controlled the debate. The discussion is limited to only 27 amendments. As the Senate debates to give new rights to illegal aliens, GOP members complain their rights as senators are being curtailed.
VITTER: Yes, there's unlimited debate as long as you agree not to exercise any of your rights as a United States senator. You can talk only. You can't make a motion. You can't try to bring up your amendments.
SYLVESTER: Reid defended the process.
REID: I have tried to make these as family friendly as possible. That is, Senate family friendly. I say to my friend during the early days of this legislation, amendments were offered by him and others, some of which got votes. Some didn't. That's the way the Senate operates.
SYLVESTER: But critics say the Senate has not fully vetted this legislation. The bill introduced without committee hearings, 400 pages of amendments offered early this afternoon without senators having time to read any of them. And votes to kill some of those amendments without any debate.
SYLVESTER: Now, because of that procedural device known as the clay pigeon, Senator Reid has moved the debate along quickly. The Senate leadership hopes to have that crucial cloture vote on this bill tomorrow morning -- Lou.
DOBBS: Lisa, thank you very much. Lisa Sylvester from Washington. Quite a process to watch.
Later here, I'll be talking with two of the Senate opponents of this amnesty legislation: Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican; Senator Byron Dorgan, Democrat. Also, I'll be talking with a member of the House leading the opposition to amnesty legislation, Congressman Brian Bilbray.
On Capitol Hill today, the Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the White House and the vice president's office, seeking documents about the administration's domestic surveillance program or warrant- less wiretap program.
The committee's chairman, Senator Patrick Leahy said, quote, "There is no legitimate argument for withholding the requested materials from this committee."
A White House spokesman said the Bush administration will respond appropriately, as he put it. The spokesman did not say whether or not the administration would comply with the subpoenas.
The House Armed Services Committee today challenged the president and his administration on another issue: the conduct of the war in Iraq.
Congressional investigators say the Bush administration has spent nearly $20 billion to build up Iraqi security forces, but those same investigators say many Iraqi troops and Iraqi police are simply unaccounted for, and some Iraqi forces may actually be fighting American troops.
Barbara Starr reports from the Pentagon.
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.S. has spent four years and $19 billion training and equipping nearly 350,000 Iraqi security forces. But according to Congress, the Pentagon doesn't even know how many are ready for combat.
A House report says the Pentagon also can't say whether weapons issued to Iraqi forces by the U.S. are being used against American troops.
REP. MARTY MEEHAN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: One of the major findings is that absolutely we don't have a meaningful metric to judge what our investment of $19 billion has gotten us.
STARR: Iraqi units are fighting and dying in record numbers, responding to attacks across the country. But the Pentagon can't say when they will be ready to operate without any U.S. help. And Iraqi police remain a major problem.
MEEHAN: The ranks are rife with sectarian influences and equipment shortages. Another failing has been the complete lack of evidence of what kind of people we're training.
STARR: The U.S. commander in charge of training Iraqi forces for more than a year says there has been progress. But even he sounds a warning.
GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, MULTINATIONAL SECURITY TRANSITION COMMANDER: They continue to be hampered, however, by a lack of depth. Iraqi army and police units do not have tactical staying power or sufficient capability to surge forces locally.
STARR: And if Iraqi forces don't develop that staying power, the worry is it will be the U.S. forces staying in Iraq for years to come.
STARR: And General Dempsey says the biggest problem is not time or money. The biggest challenge remains getting competent Iraqi leaders to run their army and police force -- Lou.
DOBBS: Barbara, thank you. Barbara Starr from the Pentagon.
Iraq insurgents killed three more of our troops, two soldiers and a Marine. Ninety-two of our troops have now been killed in Iraq this month. Three thousand five hundred sixty-nine of our troops have been killed since the war began; 26,350 troops wounded, 11,831 of them seriously.
New evidence of North Korea's aggressive military buildup and ambitions. The North Korean regime test fired three short range ballistic missiles, firing those missiles into the Sea of Japan. The test coming as the North Korean government of Kim Jong-Il continued to declare that it is willing to suspend its nuclear weapons program. The White House said the North Korean missile test could destabilize the security of northeast Asia.
Coming up here next, new evidence of the complete failure of our federal government to protect this country from dangerous imports from communist China.
And the Bush administration and Congress refuse to defend middle class Americans against the corporations that abuse our visa system and import cheap foreign labor while exporting middle class jobs. We'll have that special report in war on the middle class.
That and a great deal more when we continue in just one minute.
DOBBS: President Bush, in defending his grand compromise and call for comprehensive immigration reform, frequently says we need a guest worker program in order to secure our borders. Not only is that tortured logic, but we already have a guest worker program.
In point of fact, Mr. President, and all of you who advise this president -- are you ready? Let's count them. We have at least eight guest worker programs already, together allowing more than a half million people to come here and work every year on visas.
According to the State Department, the biggest of these programs is the H visa program. More than 300,000 H visas, in fact, were issued last year, including H-1B visas that allow American companies to replace American workers with cheaper paid foreigners. H visas are also used for nurses, farm workers and other so-called unskilled workers, if you can call a nurse unskilled.
Last year our so-called free trade deals with other nations required the United States to allow more than 40,000 foreign workers to enter the United States to work on special E visas.
There are more than 15,000 so-called I visas for foreign journalists working here. More than 130,000 L visas. Those are given to workers of foreign companies who then come to the United States to work here.
Twelve and a half thousand O visas granted for what the government calls workers of extraordinary ability, including actors and academic leaders. Nearly 34,000 P visas for athletes and other entertainers and artists.
Twelve thousand R visas for religious workers, priests, rabbis and -- and imams. And finally, more than 5,500 visas are issued for Canadian and Mexican workers, courtesy of our agreement, NAFTA. More than 600,000 so-called temporary guest worker visas issued just last year alone.
And you should know, no one can tell us how many of those people working here under those visa programs have overstayed their visas.
So you wonder why the president thinks we need a guest worker program.
One of the eight guest worker programs that already exists, the L visa program, is exploited to provide cheap foreign labor at the expense of American workers.
And as Bill Tucker now reports, the biggest users and abusers of the program are also the biggest users of the H-1B visa program.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The L visa is much more dangerous to the American worker than the better known H-1B visa. L visas have no wage requirements. An American can be replaced by an L visa worker, and there is no cap on how many can be issued.
So who uses the most L visas, a visa designed for managers, executives and workers with specialized knowledge? Nearly half of the top 20 users are companies whose business is outsourcing work. Tata Consultancy, Cognizant Tech Solutions, Sarvam Computer Services, WIPRO, HCL, PATNI Computer Systems, Infosys, Caritor (ph), Syntel.
All of those companies are also top users of H-1B visas. And when those are compared to the Department of Labor's own projections, it reveals a frightening future for America's technology producers.
PAUL ALMEIDA, AFL-CIO: This sector of the economy, the high-tech area, is only going to grow by approximately 120,000 jobs a year. Unlimited L-1s, it's a definite threat to the U.S. work force.
TUCKER: In January of last year, the Office of Inspector General for Homeland Security found several reasons to be concerned about how the visas are being used.
The report noted that the term "specialized knowledge" is so broadly defined, it could be applied to anyone. And that companies can claim to be bringing in workers as managers and executives, but there's no follow-up once they arrive. That angers some Senate leaders.
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: Whatever it takes to just minimally meet the requirements of the law, do it. Forget about the spirit of the law. To heck with the American workers. Just get your workers wherever you can around the world for the lowest price you can and think last about helping America.
It's those corporations that I would say to them, either get your heart into America or get your rear end out. TUCKER: There is little doubt about whether the L visa workers are coming from.
TUCKER: In 2002, only 10 percent of the specialized knowledge workers came from India. By 2005, almost half of the visas that were issued for specialized knowledge came from workers who came from India.
Now, Lou, critics of the L visa program are just warning that we're seeing the beginning of the exploitation of this program and that the use is only going to increase.
DOBBS: Well, it is natural. Certainly, no one can blame the Indian workers, because they are simply being exploited by the Indian companies who have been permitted here, through the policies of corporate America, in order to drive down wages and to hire cheaper than American labor.
DOBBS: The idea that the number is -- give us the number again in both the L visa and the H-1B visa, the percentage that are going to Indian companies.
TUCKER: Roughly -- what is it -- 5 out of the top 6, 14 out of top 20. Five of the top 6 for H-1B visas. Fourteen out of the top 20 go to Indian companies for the L-1 visa.
Last year, Lou, people think we really give out 65,000 H-1B visas. It's not true. Last year they did 118,000 of the H-1B visas alone, which Lou, almost exceeds the projected job growths, again, of the tech world.
DOBBS: And you know, it's too much to ask for, and I know you -- at least most of you, I believe, at home would agree with me -- it's too much to ask for that the United States Senate be watching this broadcast tonight as we report the facts.
And it's too much to ask that the White House staff be watching this broadcast and remind the president when he says that we can secure the border if we just have a guest worker program.
What we have just reported to you is, in point of fact. This is not emotional. It's not ideological. It's not partisan. In point of fact, all this president and all this Congress had to do, at any time, if indeed this president truly believes what he is articulating in tortured logic, that a guest worker program is the way in which to secure the border, the border could be secured eight times over.
The president and this Congress could raise the levels of those H-1B, H-1a, the H visa program, with a very simple initiative in either house of our great Congress. Amazing.
All right. Thank you, Bill Tucker. Very illuminating, as usual. Now our poll. Do you believe the Senate leadership and the president are just simply outright selling out the interests of American citizens? Yes, no. Those are the only two choices we've got for you tonight. Cast your vote at LouDobbs.com. We'll have the results upcoming.
Up next, new evidence that the U.S. law enforcement effort to fight terrorism is being bungled. We'll have that special report. What a government!
And a new threat from communist China. Now it's defective automobile tires. The U.S. government is aware of the danger and have been for some time now. Why no recall? Why no concern about American consumers? We'll have that report. Stay with us.
DOBBS: More troubling news about communist Chinese exports to this country. An American distributor now saying almost half a million tires that it imported from China are defective and dangerous, but the company says it can't afford to conduct a recall.
Now some lawmakers say the Bush administration should step in, take those tires off the road and actually show some concern for American consumers.
Kitty Pilgrim has the report on the likelihood.
KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Up to 450,000 of the Hangzhou Chinese tires are on the road. They are defective and can cause a crash. But as of now, there is no recall. And the tires are still being sold. The tire brands Westlake, Compass, Telluride and YKS.
Four senators are so outraged, they've written to the president: "Amazingly, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has not pushed for an immediate recall of these defective products. Instead, it is currently squabbling whether Foreign Tire Sales over whether FTS has the funds to pay for the recall."
SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D), MICHIGAN: The Bush administration should not be arguing with the distributor about who's going to pay for a recall when every single day, these tires are on the road and this could cost people's lives. So we need to have the federal government act with a mandatory recall.
PILGRIM: The U.S. distributor, Foreign Tire Sales, today said they don't have the money for a full recall but will pay for a recall until the money runs out. Their lawyer estimates that could cover about 10 to 15 percent of the tires out there, adding, quote, "After that, unfortunately, everybody is on their own."
They suggest the Chinese manufacturer should step up and fund the recall. The manufacturer, Hangzhou, is the second largest tire maker in China.
The NTSHA isn't buying that argument, writing, "A company that chooses to import motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment into this country, accepts the same responsibility for compliance with the Safety Act as any other manufacturer."
Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal is contacting other states to remove the tires from sale.
RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, CONNECTICUT STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL: States have an independent obligation. We can't wait for the federal government if it fails to act aggressively and proactively. And that's why we're seizing the initiative. The sales should have stopped, because dealers are on notice.
PILGRIM: But in the meantime, the U.S. consumer is at risk.
PILGRIM: The senators cite numerous other dangerous products from China, writing to President Bush, you must demand the Chinese government take action to ensure the Chinese companies are not peddling dangerous products to our citizens -- Lou. It's pretty basic.
DOBBS: Pretty basic. At the same time, the National Highway Traffic Safety folks look like they're out of their minds. We've known about these problems. They've known about these problems now for some time.
PILGRIM: They were notified June 11. No recall yet. And they have to -- the company has to put forward a recall statement by July 2. So...
DOBBS: The idea of doing the right thing is not going to overwhelm either, obviously, this distributor, our own national highway traffic safety agency, nor obviously the communist Chinese, who have exporting to us tainted pet food, poisoned toothpaste. They've just closed how many food factories -- plants in..?
PILGRIM: A hundred and eighty.
DOBBS: A hundred and eighty in China. We're getting reports that nearly every aspect of the process in China is polluted and toxic in some way and without any real oversight. Much like the United States, in terms of a lack of oversight.
Kitty, thank you very much. Kitty Pilgrim.
Up next, I'll be talking with Senator Byron Dorgan, Senator Jeff Sessions to talk about the Senate leadership's refusal to allow a full and open debate on amnesty. The last thing that these people want, let me guarantee you.
Also, new developments in a teenage sex case that sparked national outrage, a case that's been called a grave miscarriage of justice. We'll have that story.
And disturbing new evidence that law enforcement agencies are failing to work together and coordinate in the war against radical Islamist terrorism.
And a setback for firefighters struggling to contain a huge wildfire in the Lake Tahoe region. We'll have that story and more, straight ahead. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: Genarlow Wilson remains in jail tonight a month after a Georgia judge threw out his sentence and reduced his felony sex crime conviction to a misdemeanor.
A different judge today cancelled the bond hearing for Wilson saying he'll remain in jail until his appeal is decided. The county attorney argued that Wilson couldn't be freed on bond because he was convicted of a sex crime.
Wilson was convicted for having consensual sex with a 15-year-old girl while Wilson was 17 years of age.
The crime at the time of the conviction was a felony, requiring a minimum 10-year sentence. The law has since been changed because of this case and that same offense is now a misdemeanor.
Dangerous floods are ravaging parts of Central Texas. Eleven people killed in the flooding. The heavy rains continue to fall in the Marble Falls area about 40 miles northwest of Austin. About 18 inches of rain fell in that region just overnight.
And in the Lake Tahoe region, firefighters are still battling a massive fire. Stronger winds making it difficult for crews to fight that fire. The flames destroying more than 200 homes and other buildings. Since Sunday thousands of people have been forced from their homes. More than 3,000 acres burned. The fire that jumped a firebreak is now just about 40 percent contained.
Disturbing new information tonight on federal agencies in the fight against terror. The report finds a lack of communication and coordination among those agencies is such a problem that it is threatening investigations. Jeanne Meserve has our report.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bombings in Indonesia and in Pakistan, grim evidence that terror is a global issue. But a new study says U.S. law enforcement agencies working overseas sometimes are at cross purposes, actually hurting the war on terror. In one unidentified country, a lack of communication between the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement compromised several joint operations intended to identify and disrupt potential terrorist activities.
REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS, (R) CT: It is wasteful and it is inefficient and it could cost the lives of many Americans if we aren't maximizing our dollars and maximizing our personnel.
MESERVE: Investigators from the Government Accountability Office visited four countries identified by a congressional source as Mexico, Pakistan, Indonesia and Thailand. They found so much confusion among U.S. law enforcement agencies about their roles and responsibilities that host governments didn't know where to turn for help.
JESS FORD, GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE: We were somewhat surprised there wasn't a clear set of direction that was coming from Washington to the field.
MESERVE: A former FBI agent who conducted terrorism investigations out of the American embassy in London, says U.S. agencies overseas must be on the same page.
LANCE EMORY, FORMER FBI AGENT: So that you can coordinate your efforts. You don't get in each other's way, if you will.
MESERVE: But investigators found embassies' methods for sharing information had not been updated since 9/11 in three of the countries visited. And in one, with an extremely high terrorist threat, U.S. law enforcement had never been asked to find terrorists on the most wanted list.
MESERVE (on camera): The National Counter-Terrorism Center says it drew up a strategy to promote communication and collaboration among law enforcement agencies overseas a year ago and is now assessing its effectiveness. Critic ask why it has taken so long to do something so basic.
DOBBS: It is a precise, fundamental and spot-on question. Why has it?
MESERVE: Well, there was some confusion about responsibility initially. Some of the presidential directives said the State Department should draw up this plan. They said they didn't have the resources to do it, never did it. Now it fell to the NCTC and as I said, they say they have done it but the GAO said they hadn't had a chance to look at the plan. That it was kept away from them.
DOBBS: It looks as though, if I may say, and I'm not asking you for any comment whatsoever, Jeanne Meserve, but it would be, I think, an easy, logical step to suggest that Michael Chertoff, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, should spend less time lobbying and more time administering a department that is obviously severely challenged administratively and organizationally. Thank you very much, Jeanne Meserve. A very troubling report.
One of the greatest criticisms of the so-called grand compromise on illegal immigration is that it doesn't protect our borders. That is the view certainly held by one of the bill's most vigorous opponents, Senator Jeff Sessions who says the $4.4 billion included in that measure now fails to do anything.
Senator Sessions joins us from Capitol Hill where he has had a very busy day in the Senate. Senator, good to have you with us.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, (R) AL: Thank you, Lou.
DOBBS: I'd like to start, if I may, by going through a couple of things that you brought up today. And I'm just curious. Let's start with among the facts that you brought up, that illegal immigration at the border, as the Congressional Budget Office points out, would be reduced by 25 percent, one can then get into the issue of Z visa holders later and interior enforcement.
But the fact that the bill would, in fact, double, most people, I am afraid, may not be aware of this -- and as you suggested, I'm afraid many of your colleagues in the United States Senate may not be aware that the bill would actually double legal immigration when we're bringing in more than 2 million people legally into this country and that it would cost $30 billion over the first decade.
Senator, do you have the feeling that your colleagues in the Senate really care about those facts?
SESSIONS: I think they didn't really fully comprehend them. I've been pounding away at just those messages. And Lou, its 25 percent reduction of illegal immigration at the border according to CBO. But they also found that there would be an increase in visa overstays and there would only be a net reduction of 13 percent. In fact, 20 years from now, we'd have another 8.7 million people illegally in our country.
Now how is that fixing the situation? It's just unbelievable to me that we would promise that this legislation is going to fix the system when our own budget office says it won't.
DOBBS: The Congressional Budget Office and Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation pointing out that the retirement costs, which you highlighted in some of your comments today, would add $2.6 trillion in costs as a result of the retirement costs for those illegal immigrants who receive amnesty. Somewhere between 11 and 12 million is the estimate that he used. And as everyone knows, no one knows how many are going to receive amnesty should they receive it. Because the estimates range, as typical in government work, a range of 12 to 20 million illegal aliens in the country.
SESSIONS: No doubt about it. This is going to be a tremendous burden on the taxpayer. In the next 10 years, CBO said it would cost I believe $25 billion. That is -- but they admit that the cost will increase substantially in the out years and then the Heritage Foundation did that study that said through retirement and through the lifetime of those who would be given legal status, it would be $2 trillion which is just a thunderous amount of money. And nobody's even discussed that as they put this bill together.
DOBBS: And as you pointed out, absolutely with -- you were straightforward, you were absolutely factual. Border security is a nonevent in this legislation and as you recounted the number of people who talked about this legislation would secure the borders in doing so, with great enthusiasm, even ebullience.
Beginning with a press conference about a month ago now where the grand bargainers came together. How can U.S. senators stand in front of the American people, how can a president of the united states stand in front of the American people and I'm going to say this as gently as I can, misrepresent reality and the facts?
SESSIONS: I really believe that's such a critical issue. As I told my colleagues, we're going to have to walk out of this chamber and be honest with the American people. If we're not going to create a legal system, they're going to be very unhappy with us.
As a matter of fact, Lou, let me tell you, I just left the floor of the Senate. I believe there is an erosion of support for this legislation. The grand bargainers and Majority Leader Harry Reid lost a motion to the table the Baucus amendment which was a major defeat for them. It knocked this train off the track and knocked them a loop.
I don't know. They may just recess for the night. We'll have the key vote on cloture tomorrow. I think it's going to be razor thin.
DOBBS: I was unaware of what you just told us on the Real I.D. -- the co-sponsor with Senator Baucus, Senator Tester. It was not tabled?
SESSIONS: It was not tabled so that amendment remained pending. It changed completely and really it was a reaction to the heavy-handed tactics, the steamroller tactics that have never been used before in the history of this Senate. That's another reason we should not give cloture tomorrow because it would validate the procedure that's been used here that allowed the majority leader to allow no single amendment that he didn't personally approve.
DOBBS: Senator, I've got to ask you this question as we conclude because I watched the proceedings throughout the day from the Senate.
I have to say, I've covered politics and congress and presidents for a very long time. You've served the people for a very long time in public office. I have to say I was absolutely appalled at what I watched transpire in the United States Senate today. What was your reaction?
SESSIONS: Well, you know, in a way it was awfully odd. The opponents seemed to have the initiative. They were willing to engage the issues and we had very little to hear from those who had been promoting this legislation, it seemed to me. It was not a high level debate. The reaction and hostility that occurred was because of this clay pigeon procedure that was being used that constricted debate in a way that's never been done before.
DOBBS: At 9:00 tomorrow morning, 9:00 Eastern Time, the Senate set for a cloture vote that will lay the foundation to vote on the bill or kill it for at least this period of time. How will that vote go, in your estimation?
SESSIONS: I think it's razor thin. There were 64 votes to proceed to this bill. A number of people I'm confident voted to proceed to it to allow the debate to go forward.
But I don't know that they will be voting for cloture tomorrow. In fact, I think some of them have already made up their mind not to. So it's going to be a cliffhanger. And if the people -- one of the things that's happening, people's phones are ringing off the hooks. People's voices are being heard. The clarity that -- and people learning that the bill is not a good piece of legislation, also.
DOBBS: And senator, just as we wrap up, I want to say thank you. And just to further validate what you've just said, our staff on this broadcast has been calling a number of the offices of senators. We've been hearing from the audience of this broadcast. And I can tell you that a lot of people are not answering their phones or their phones are so jammed that a lot is going on in the U.S. Senate and indeed people are trying to have their voices heard by people who, one hopes, at the end of the day or perhaps, in this case, at the beginning of the day tomorrow will represent their constituents as ably as you do yours in Alabama. Senator Jeff Sessions, thank you very much.
SESSIONS: Thank you.
DOBBS: Up next, a senator who says the immigration legislation would hurt American workers. He'll be here. I'll be talking with Senator Byron Dorgan, Democrat.
One of the backers of a House resolution condemning the Senate legislation is Congressman Brian Bilbray. He joins us here as well. Stay with us.
DOBBS: My next guest is among those who believe this grand compromise is outright amnesty and that it is a direct threat -- further threat to the wages and the quality of life for American workers and their families. Senator Byron Dorgan, Democrat, North Dakota joins us here. Senator, good to have you with us.
SEN. BYRON DORGAN, (D) ND: Hi, Lou, how are you?
DOBBS: I am good, despite watching you and your colleagues throughout the day in the Senate. I have to say it is -- I found it appalling to see U.S. senators reduced to the level of schoolchildren without the right to debate or to vote and to proceed with the absolute blessing and at the insistence of the leadership of both the minority and the majority.
DORGAN: Well, the procedures of the United States Senate are very Byzantine, to say the least. But I was sitting on the floor of the Senate today thinking about some information I had unearthed yesterday. I was curious, how many people in the year of 2005 is the last full year I have information for, how many people came into the country legally in 2005? It was 3.8 million. That's not visitors. These are people that came in under programs. Green card programs, H- 1B visas. Unbelievable, 3.8 million.
And now we have a bill on the floor of the Senate that says, oh, that's not enough. We need more to come in here who aren't yet here. The bill makes no sense to me.
DOBBS: And as Senator Sessions pointed out to all of you in the Senate, this legislation would double the level of legal immigration over the course of the next decade while, as the Congressional Budget Office analyzed and then reported to the Senate, reducing illegal immigration at the border by only 25 percent.
This is utter madness and these facts are present and clear and before your colleagues. How could any responsible representative of the people in this democratic republic even consider moving ahead with such nonsense?
DORGAN: I'm the wrong one to ask that. But let me tell you, I'm interested in solving problems. Do we have an illegal immigration problem? You bet your life. How do we solve it? Well, the first step obviously is to decide you're going to get control of the borders of this country. This is not rocket science.
All of the terms and all the conditions that are necessary to get control of the borders, to have employers sanctioned and so on, all of that exists in current law.
I went back and looked, in 1986 right after the bill was passed, the last bill that created amnesty and so on, they took 3,500 actions against employers. Fast forward to 2004, the entire federal government took three actions against employers in the entire United States. And that describes the lack of will to do something about illegal immigration.
DOBBS: And that, of course, rests squarely with George W. Bush, the president of the United States and his administration, which, since 2001, had permitted, simply accelerated illegal immigration while we're fighting a war on terror, not securing our borders or ports.
Senator, I've got to ask you, you're co-sponsor with Senator Webb of the so-called Webb amendment that would have rolled back the date of entry into the United States to four years ago.
DORGAN: That's right.
DOBBS: It was tabled -- I thought I was watching the Politburo in the Soviet Union to be honest with you, today. Just tabled, moved aside. Do you believe that Senator Webb will support cloture or vote against it. What's your reaction as you watched your amendment just be dismissed?
DORGAN: Well, Senator Webb was pretty upset by that. You'll have to ask him specifically about his future votes. But let me just tell you, that made a lot of sense to me. I understand someone came here 20, 24 years ago, 15 years ago, raised their family, model citizens, did all the right things. I understand that that's different than someone that came across last December 20th, snuck across the border.
Now, President Bush yesterday, as you know in apparently an unguarded moment, described what he was doing as amnesty. And it, in fact, is amnesty. Why would we give amnesty to people who came across last December 28? It makes no sense to me. And that was the intent of the Webb Amendment and I was glad to cosponsor it because it just made a lot of sense.
DOBBS: And senator, of course, it is amnesty, the real question to me is why in the world would anyone deny what it is aside from the political implications, denying the truth and not recognizing the facts seems to be the direction that our government is headed. And I'm proud to say that you are an exception to those who are herding up in that fashion. We appreciate you -- your independence, we appreciate your being with us and tomorrow, you get to vote on cloture.
DORGAN: Well, Lou, one more thing. There's no discussion on the floor of the United States Senate about the impact on the American worker. That's what bothers me a lot as well. Thank you very much, Lou.
DOBBS: Good to have you here, senator.
Coming up at the top of the hour, THE SITUATION ROOM and Wolf Blitzer. Wolf?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thanks very much, Lou. Bill Cosby getting very, very serious. We're going to tell you what the comedian is not joking about. He'll be here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
And the U.S. may be even more vulnerable than most people thought concerning oil. There's an Axis of Oil under way right now. Venezuela and Iran. We'll tell you what's going on.
And a language barrier involving some pilots could have some deadly consequences. We'll explain all that, Lou, coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
DOBBS: Thank you, Wolf. And up next, some Republican members of Congress have their own position on illegal immigration and border security. I'll be talking with one of those congressmen. Congressman Brian Bilbray. He joins us next. We'll be right back.
DOBBS: Three Republican congressmen introducing their own immigration reform legislation. Congressman Pete King, Lamar Smith and Brian Bilbray. Their legislation calling for securing our border first, enforcing existing immigration laws a priority. Congressman Bilbray joins us now, Republican, California.
Congressman, good to have you here. Border security first, what are you people thinking about?
REP. BRIAN BILBRAY, (R) CA: Well, the Immigration Caucus has decided that we'll show the Senate and the White House what a true immigration-controlled bill looks like and basically say that it's time we fulfill our promises and our commitments of the past, show the American people that we can be trusted to enforce the law and that's something that doesn't exist now, for good reason. Washington hasn't earned the trust of the American people.
DOBBS: Now, I was talking with Congressman Pete King, your colleague and co-sponsor, yesterday in Washington. And he referred to the Senate as the House of Lords. There is sort of airy other-world attachment on the part of those folks that I don't detect at least in the House of Representatives.
You took a vote also condemning that legislation by a huge margin. Do you think, should it pass the Senate, that it has the prospect of success in the House?
BILBRAY: Well, Lou, actually that was why I missed your show last night was that I was there.
We had a huge vote. Twenty-three to 114. The Republicans in the House of Representatives says the Senate bill is wrong and they're against it. I think that the challenge is to make sure that it doesn't get to the House to where Ms. Pelosi and her newly found majority can manipulate the process and try to sneak this thing through.
And the House of Lords gets its name for a very big reason. They are insulated from the public. They're not up for election every two years and I think that the overwhelming majority of senators who are looking at re-election are going to be very sensitive to the fact it's not just an issue that people are going to forget about.
DOBBS: A couple of salient facts, there's no disputation, the fact is most Americans oppose the legislation in the Senate. The fact is the Congressional Budget Office who works for you all, nonpartisan, says this is going to reduce illegal immigration by 25 percent. It's going to cost $30 billion.
The fact is that it is a disaster. How in the world can your president, the head of your party, George W. Bush, sit there with a straight face and tell people when we have eight existing guest worker programs that we have to have another in order to secure the border?
BILBRAY: Look, the guest worker concept isn't so bad as they're saying flat out that neither the congressional offices or the White House or the Senate is recognizing the huge impact of proposing another amnesty. This is as logical as drilling a hole in the middle of a boat and expecting the water to go out and not in.
DOBBS: Congressman, we thank you for being here. Look forward to talking with you soon and Congressman Brian Bilbray.
BILBRAY: Thank you, Lou. Keep calling your senators. Keep the fight going. The American people are being heard. Just not as loud as they will be.
DOBBS: Well, I sure hope you're right. We'll continue the call for that as well.
Coming up here next, the results of our poll. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Poll results, 98 percent of you say the Senate leadership of President Bush are selling out the interests of American citizens.
Thanks for being with us tonight. Join us here tomorrow. THE SITUATION ROOM begins now with Wolf Blitzer. Wolf?
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