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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Congress Investigates Dangerous Chinese Imports; Interview With California Congressman Brian Bilbray and Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez

Aired September 19, 2007 - 18:00   ET


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, outrage over dangerous toys with excessive amounts of lead imported from communist China. American toy companies were raked over the coals by Congress today. We will have a special report.
Mixed signals for illegal aliens in California. In Los Angeles they might lose their cars, while the sanctuary city of San Francisco plans to issue I.D. cards to all, including illegal aliens. And one congressman wants to make illegal immigration a felony. Congressman Brian Bilbray will be here. And he will debate the issue with amnesty supporter Congressman Luis Gutierrez.

All that, much more straight ahead tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Wednesday, September 10.

Live from New York, sitting in for Lou Dobbs, Kitty Pilgrim.

PILGRIM: Good evening, everybody.

We begin tonight with a major setback in Congress for the Democrats' efforts to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq. Senate Democrats were unable to move enough Republicans to support their troop rotation plan.

And a setback today for democracy in the Middle East. A leading Lebanese lawmaker, a supporter of the America-backed government there, is assassinated in Beirut.

But, first, Iraq.

And we turn to Dana Bash on Capitol Hill where public support for Congress hit another record low -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what happened here, Kitty, was a major blow to Democrats. Just moments ago, they were defeated in what they thought was really their best chance at getting Iraq legislation to the president's desk at a time where they are under intense pressure after nine months in the majority for not doing that.


BASH (voice-over): Virginia Democrat Jim Webb's effort to limit tours of duty in Iraq suffered its fatal blow when the other senator from Virginia changed his mind.

SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: I endorsed it. I intend now to cast a vote against it.

BASH: GOP Senator John Warner gave several reasons for his reversal, like a full-court press from Pentagon officials, including this meeting with three-star generals earlier in the day.

WARNER: They have now convinced me that they cannot effectively put into force that amendment at this time without causing severe problems within the existing forces and those that are serving there.

BASH: Webb's legislation would mandate troops spend as much time at home as on the battlefield.

SEN. JIM WEBB (D), VIRGINIA: It's time that we put into place operational policies that sensibly take care of the people we are calling upon to go again and again.

BASH: Democrats who lack votes to pass a timeline for troop withdrawal have seen Webb's measure as their best chance at forcing a change in Iraq policy because it would limit the number of troops available to deploy.

Several undecided GOP senators tell CNN the White House and Pentagon lobbied them hard to vote no, saying it would break up military units and reduce combat effectiveness. It worked with Tennessee Republican Bob Corker. After multiple meetings with Pentagon officials, he decided to vote against Senator Webb's measure.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I have a lot of respect for him and have been open to it, certainly. But when you look at, again, the operational aspects of what it would truly do, it's just not -- it's just not something that would be good for our country.


BASH: Now, if you talk to Republican senators, they will say that it was very hard to vote against this measure which gives rest to troops, especially since many of them hear over and over from their constituents in the military about the strain multiple tours of duty is putting on them and their family.

That is why, as we speak, the Senate is voting on another symbolic measure by Republican senators that would essentially give troops more rest between deployments, at least say that should be the goal of the military, but not the law of the land -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Dana, now that this is defeated, what is the Democratic leadership going to do?

BASH: Well, we are going to see several other votes this week and possibly into next week. We're probably going to see some of the same votes we have seen before, timelines and deadlines for troop withdrawal, various versions of that from Democrats, some others from Republicans. Yesterday, Kitty, Democrats gave up on an effort that they have been trying for the past two weeks to try to find compromise with Republicans again, because they are under pressure to try to finally give something to the president that could force a change in policy.

But as you saw with this vote and as you will likely see with the votes to come this coming week, they simply don't have the votes to do it, the 60 votes to pass the Senate -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Dana Bash. Thanks, Dana.

The White House today strongly condemned the car bomb assassination of an anti-Syrian Lebanese lawmaker. White House Press Secretary Dana Perino didn't directly blame Syria for the blast but she did say the incident fit into a pattern.

Antoine Ghanem was the eighth prominent anti-Syrian official in Lebanon to be assassinated since 2005. Now, it is another setback to the spread of democracy in the region.

Paula Newton has our report.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): They have become signature explosions in Lebanon, the hallmark of political assassinations. Amid the confusion and senseless carnage, a clear target. Anti-Syrian lawmaker Antoine Ghanem was killed in the car bombing that spared few in its path.

Rescue workers were seen pulling burning bodies from cars. At least 20 people were injured. The blast was in a mostly Christian suburb, but many Beirut neighbors have been targeted in recent years. Eight prominent anti-Syrian politicians have been murdered in the last two years alone, the most high profile, former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who was killed in a massive car bomb in February 2005.

His family still holds the Syrian government directly responsible for his death, something Syria has always denied.

MARWAN HAMADEH, LEBANESE TELECOM MINISTER: Once more, the Syrian regime is using his terrorists -- its terrorist skills to assassinate one after another the M.P.s belonging to the Lebanese independence movement majority.

We lost an M.P. three months ago. We lost a minister seven months ago. We have been since the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri being targeted one after the other in order to deplete the majority of its numbers and to impose a comeback of Syria over Lebanon. We will not surrender to Bashar al-Assad terrorist threats to Lebanon.

NEWTON: All of this complicates an already tense political stalemate in Lebanon. The government has been paralyzed for months and this new political turmoil comes less than a week before the crucial election of a new president, a post that historically has gone to a pro-Syrian candidate.

Lebanese politics remains a dangerous business and this latest blast will add to the mystery of the motives behind the explosions and the assassinations.

Paula Newton, CNN, London.


PILGRIM: The bombing in Lebanon is not the only event today that escalated tensions in the Middle East. Iran today said it had drawn up plans to bomb Israel. The military threat comes in response to Israeli, U.S. and French vows to stop Iran's ambition to become a nuclear power, including military action against Iran's nuclear installations.

Now, Iran's threat follows recent military reaction in Syria. Military analysts say Israel's fighters bombed a weapon shipment that was on its way through Syria to Lebanon.

And in another action that is turning up the heat in the Middle East, Israel's government today declared the Palestinian-held territory of Gaza a hostile entity. The Palestinian organization Hamas controls Gaza and is labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. Hamas called Israel's move a declaration of war.

Israel's declaration allows it to begin to disrupt electrical supplies to Gaza, reduce shipments of goods, except for essential food and medicine, and continue military operations against Hamas fighters.

The State Department today announced a joint U.S.-Iraq commission to review private security companies operating in Iraq. Now, it's an effort to diffuse an escalating dispute over Blackwater USA, a security contractor involved in the killing of Iraqi civilians this past weekend.

Now, these private companies protect U.S. government employees in Iraq, and, if barred from Iraq, it could furnish further compliment the situation for U.S. troops on the ground.

Jamie McIntyre reports.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What happened in the original incident remains a matter of intense dispute. This victim, an Iraqi lawyer, told CNN from his hospital bed the American contractors from Blackwater opened fire unprovoked.

HASAN SALMAN, IRAQI LAWYER (through translator): They opened fire at all cars from behind. The bullets are in my back.

BASH: Blackwater USA tells CNN, the deaths, as many as 20 civilians, according to Iraq, resulted when its security forces, protecting a State Department convoy, returned fire in self-defense, as permitted under the rules of engagement. Both the U.S. and Iraq are investigating the Sunday attack, but what is not in dispute is the Iraqi government has had it with Blackwater and wants its 1,000 employees out of the country.

"We will not tolerate the killing of our citizens in cold blood, "vowed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at a news conference, insisting Blackwater must be held accountable.

The threats forced the State Department to curtail embassy convoys outside the Green Zone temporarily and create a new joint commission aimed at calming Iraqi anger.

TOM CASEY, SPOKESMAN, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: What we want to do in light of this incident is have an opportunity to, with the Iraqis, work out a joint understanding of what we might be able to do to improve the effectiveness and safety of these operations.

MCINTYRE: But some of Blackwater's competitors say the company's high-profile reputation and run-and-gun approach to security may be working against it.

Jamie Smith is a former Blackwater vice president who now runs a competing firm.

JAMES SMITH, SCG INTERNATIONAL: They got helicopters overhead. They have got Humvees. They have got big armored trucks. And, you know, the guys are, you know, got their guns sticking out all over the place and it looks -- it's like a rolling porcupine.


MCINTYRE: One thing the new U.S.-Iraqi commission may resolve are the murky rules surrounding the licensing of private security firms in Iraq. Companies complain that they are often forced to pay bribes and they are extremely reluctant as you can imagine, to put their employees under Iraqi justice, which, they say, is riddled with corruption -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Perfectly understandable.

Thanks very much, Jamie McIntyre.

Four more of our troops killed in Iraq; 49 of our troops have been killed in Iraq so far this month; 3,791 of our troops have been killed since the war began; 27,507 troops wounded, 12,108 seriously.

Still to come, blistering criticism today, as Mattel's CEO testifies before Congress about dangerous toys imported from China.

And Christine Romans will have that story -- Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kitty, angry questions today for the toy industry and our government over the way dangerous toys continue to cross our borders and hit store shelves. We will tell you why to expect more toy recalls, Kitty, in the weeks ahead.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Christine. And that report is coming up.

Also, another community takes action on illegal immigration, frustrated with the federal inability to solve the crisis. We will have that story.

Also, illegal aliens in California facing very different treatment in two major cities. We will have a report. Stay with us.


PILGRIM: Two big California cities are sending mixed signals on the crackdown on illegal aliens. While Los Angeles Police Department is resuming a policy that helps crack down on illegal aliens, San Francisco is taking further steps to make it easier for illegal aliens to live there.

Casey Wian reports.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Because Los Angeles police are prohibited from asking criminal suspects about their immigration status, L.A. is considered a sanctuary city for illegal aliens, but not for their cars.

The LAPD has ended a temporary moratorium on impounding the vehicles of unlicensed drivers. Immigrant rights activists say the policy puts an unfair economic burden on illegal aliens, who are not eligible for driver's licenses in California.

Recovering an impounded vehicle can cost more than $1,000. The Mexican-American Political Association Tuesday night delivered a letter to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, demanding an end to the vehicle impounds.

NATIVO LOPEZ, MEXICAN AMERICAN POLITICAL ASSOCIATION: We think it was immoral they were elected to office on the backs of immigrant voters, yet they continue this unjust, immoral practice of confiscating property of poor immigrants here in the city of Los Angeles.

WIAN: The mayor, who supports amnesty for illegal aliens, says he "supports the police department's right and responsibility to enforce the law against unlicensed and uninsured drivers."

Several other jurisdictions, including other cities in California, Illinois, and the entire state of Arizona now impound the cars of unlicensed drivers. The practice, in some cases, is being challenged in court.

In San Francisco, officials are taking steps to solidify its status as a sanctuary city. Supervisors plan to create a city I.D. card available to all residents, including illegal aliens.

TOM AMMIANO, SAN FRANCISCO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: We are a sanctuary city and we're very proud of that, and I think the messaging that this card is giving to that particular demographic is one of peace of mind and reassurance. And it's also a legitimacy that San Francisco wants to extend.

WIAN: San Francisco also has created a new city job, immigrant rights commissioner, to make sure all city departments are adhering to the sanctuary policy.


WIAN: Supporters say they expect lawsuits and protests from opponents of San Francisco's accommodating stance toward illegal aliens. They say, however, they won't back down, in part because they believe the city's hospitality industry would collapse without illegal aliens -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: You know, Casey, these policies invite disaster, if not chaos.

WIAN: Absolutely.

But the city officials in places like San Francisco and here in Los Angeles continue to support these sanctuary policies. They say they want to welcome illegal aliens. They say they are a necessary part of the work force, and they don't say they probably need Latino votes, which they are trying to court.

PILGRIM: The subtext to the whole thing.

Thanks very much, Casey Wian.

Well, that brings us to the subject of tonight's poll: Do you support laws allowing police officers to impound the cars of illegal aliens and other unlicensed drivers, yes or no? Cast your vote at We will bring you the results a little bit later in the broadcast.

One local police department is proposing new measures to crack down on illegal immigration. Now, police in Prince William County, Virginia, currently check the immigration status of those arrested for committing serious crimes. The new plan calls for immigration checks for people involved in misdemeanors and traffic stops.

But, as Lisa Sylvester reports, there is growing opposition to the new effort.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Like many jurisdictions around the country, Prince William County, Virginia, has been checking a person's immigration status only if they're accused of a serious crime or gang activity. But the police chief wants to expand that list, to start checking traffic violators and suspects facing misdemeanors, including shoplifting.

CHARLIE DEANE, PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY POLICE CHIEF: Our policy, I believe, is fair, lawful and reasonable. And it's a policy that will focus on -- primarily on criminal aliens.

SYLVESTER: It's part of a county crackdown backed by the board of supervisors, but opponents are lining up against the plan. They say it could require raising taxes to hire new officers and defend legal challenges.

The estimated price tag, $14 million over five years. Those opposed also claim it will make illegal aliens less likely to report crimes and lead to racial profiling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, why do we want to spend $14 million to disrupt the trust of the police in the community, to jeopardize public safety, just simply so that we can say that we spent all of this money to drive out illegal aliens?

SYLVESTER: But the police chief says victims and witnesses of crimes have no reason not to come forward. Under the new policy, they would not be questioned about their legal status, only the criminal suspects. While some in the community criticize the plan, others embrace the idea.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From what I understand, it's just, if they have probable cause, that is when they ask for the proper documentation that they have. So, I'm 100 percent for them.

SYLVESTER: The group Help Save Manassas agrees the proposal strikes the right balance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... after is people that commit crimes. And Help Save Manassas has always said that.

SYLVESTER: That grassroots organization says illegal immigration has spiraled out of control, costing taxpayers and overburdening schools, jails and hospitals. And residents are fed up.


SYLVESTER: Now, before the plan can take effect, the board of supervisors must vote on hiring seven new officers to pick up the added workload. And that vote is expected next month -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: And we will follow it closely. Thanks very much, Lisa Sylvester.

Time now for some of your thoughts.

Larry in Colorado wrote to us: "Our borders are almost nonexistent. Our food supply is tainted, as is everything from toys to toothpaste. It just gets harder and harder to be proud to be an American."

And Kyra in North Carolina wrote to us: "Where are we living? I thought it was the United States of America, but I guess I was wrong. The politicians don't work for us. They use backdoor tactics to push through legislation they know we don't want. Doesn't sound like the good ol' USA to me." Dale in Virginia wrote to us: "Let's vote incumbents out of office in every election until our government gets the message. We want real reform, public campaign funding, term limits, ethics oversight, no exclusive perks, and, above all, a responsive government."

We will have more of your e-mails a little bit later in the broadcast.

And also, still to come, outrage today in Washington over the millions and millions of dangerous toys imported from China. And more recalls are just around the corner.

And Reverend Jesse Jackson is blasting Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama for -- quote -- "acting like he's white" -- unquote. We will tell you what racially charged case prompted that accusation.

Stay with us.


PILGRIM: Outraged members of Congress today blasted American business for importing dangerous toys made in communist China.

Now, the landmark hearings also revealed that retailers have even more dangerous toys sitting in stockrooms that have not been officially recalled.

As Christine Romans reports, you can expect even more recalls of products with lead-contaminated paint in coming weeks.


REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: No one believes that Mattel intentionally sold toys that they knew were painted with lead, but they certainly didn't do enough to stop it.

ROMANS (voice-over): An angry House subcommittee asked Mattel's CEO point blank, will America's toys be safe for Christmas?

ROBERT ECKERT, CHAIRMAN & CEO, MATTEL: My number-one goal is to make sure that this holiday season's toys are the safest ever.

ROMANS: Yet, more recalls are expected in coming weeks, and congressional investigators revealed there are lead-tainted imported toys and jewelry in stockrooms today that have not yet been recalled, evidence that top American brands have lost control of their products.

REP. JOE BARTON (R), TEXAS: If you're going to manufacture them in China or Taiwan or Timbuktu, wherever, they better meet the American safety standards.

ROMANS: And we're learning just how badly companies have failed those standards. Some of Mattel's recalls this summer, Barbie, Dora the Explorer, Sesame Street toys, typically had 16 times the lead allowed by law. And Mattel admitted some items had patches of lead paint 183 times acceptable levels.

For children, exposure to lead can cause learning disabilities and lower I.Q.

REP. DIANA DEGETTE (D), COLORADO: The parents of this country right now really feel like they are under siege.

ROMANS: Subcommittee Chairman Bobby Rush personally asked retailer Dollar General to testify today. The company declined.

REP. BOBBY RUSH (D), ILLINOIS: If a company like Dollar General can sell their products to my constituents, and make money off my constituents, one would think they could, at a minimum, appear before this subcommittee and answer some important questions for my constituents.

ROMANS: Again and again, members of Congress demanded more be done to protect children and blasted the Consumer Product Safety Commission for being ineffective.

NANCY NORD, ACTING CHAIRWOMAN, CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION: There are just thousands and thousands of containers of consumer products coming into this country from overseas.

ROMANS: Mainly from China. And just what are the consequences of dangerous products?

NORD: The consequence to them is what has been happening in the marketplace. People don't buy their products. They are very concerned about that. And that -- frankly, at the end of the day, economics counts for everything.

ROMANS: On that, there was some agreement.

REP. MICHAEL BURGESS (R), TEXAS: In my household, if it's made in China, it does not come home.

ROMANS: After years of lax oversight, members of Congress are now all too aware that is an issue they cannot ignore.

BURGESS: You can't turn on the television at 6:00 at night in Washington, D.C., without hearing Lou Dobbs talk about this. And I always watch him, because I want to see what my e-mails and letters are going to look like the next day.


ROMANS: As committee again and again demanded answers and accountability, Mattel's CEO stressed that his top priority is now safety. He also noted that the volume of recalls within the huge scope, billions of American toy imports, is relatively small -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: Well, economics counts for everything, as the lady said, but safety is going to count for a lot more if these hearings continue like this.



ROMANS: ... you don't want children to be hurt to have to give the message let the market work. There needs to be some sort of government role.

PILGRIM: Thanks very much, Christine Romans.

Well, coming up, the possibility of a NAFTA superhighway in this country is seen as a threat to American jobs and national security. Now, Congressman Virgil Goode wants to make sure that never happens. He will join me here.

Also, a new plan to make illegal immigration a felony is proposed in Congress. And we will have a spirited debate on that issue.

Also, civil rights leaders plan to rally in Jena, Louisiana, to protest the case of the Jena Six. We will have the very latest on that.

Stay with us.


PILGRIM: A major rally is planned for tomorrow in Louisiana in support of the African-American students known as the Jena 6. Now, these teens are charged with beating a white classmate, which is a case that has divided one community along color lines.

Thousands of people are expected to march in the small Louisiana town to protest what many believe are excessive and racially motivated criminal charges.

And Susan Roesgen is in Jena, Louisiana with more -- Susan.

SUSAN ROESGEN, GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT: Kitty, you know, the protesters have started to gather in this area. They are expecting a lot of people tomorrow. We don't know whether it's going to be a few thousand or possibly tens of thousands.

But the main organizer behind this rally and march is the Reverend Al Sharpton. He arrived today in Jena to meet with Mychal Bell. Mychal Bell is the first of those six black teenagers accused of beating a white classmate -- the first of the six to be facing felony charges. And he is still in jail, Kitty. He has been locked up since last December.

Reverend Sharpton told me that he was going to meet with Mychal Bell and he was going to try to get some kind of written statement from Mychal that he could read at tomorrow's rally, which is going to begin here at the Jena courthouse.

now, I asked Reverend Sharpton, why continue with this rally when already, as you may have seen in other news reports that we've had here on CNN, the most serious charges against Mychal Bell and the five other teenagers have already been reduced. They all have big city -- new lawyers now. It looks as if things are getting better for them.

And Reverend Sharpton told me, he said, you know, we need to keep up the outside pressure on this legal system, not only until the Bell case is resolved, but until all five cases are resolved.

Now, I also asked Reverend Sharpton about the victim in this case. There is absolutely no debate that Justin Barker, the white classmate, was beaten up. He was knocked unconscious. He was kicked and stomped on the ground, very viciously attacked.

I talked to Justin Barker last night and Justin Barker told me that he's frightened, he's angry, that his family has received hate mail and death threats. He believes that these six students accused of beating him are right where they belong -- in the middle of the justice system facing felony charges. And he also believes that all of the support from the African-American community ignores the fact that he has been beaten up.

So, again, we're going to have this protest here in Jena tomorrow, a city -- a town of only about 3,000 people. There may be twice as many protesters here tomorrow.

We will be covering it from one end to the other.

PILGRIM: A difficult situation.

Thanks very much, Susan Roesgen.

Thanks, Susan.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson is blasting Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama for failing to bring more attention to the Jena case. Now, the South Carolina newspaper, "The State," quotes Jackson as saying Obama is, "acting like he's white," by not reacting more strongly to the case.

Now, Reverend Jackson says he does not recall making the comment about Obama. For his part, Senator Obama has called on the local Louisiana district attorney to drop some of the charges in the case.

One of America's largest cities is sending a message to Congress to stop giving away middle class jobs to foreign workers. The Cook County Board of Commissioners in Chicago has voted to support a proposed federal law that requires employers, for the first time, to look for legal American workers before hiring anyone else.


PILGRIM (voice-over): Nine thousand information technology jobs disappeared from the Chicago market in just the last year. Now, Cook County is trying to ensure U.S. citizens have the first crack at any I.T. job openings. Chicago's local government just passed a new resolution that requires a 30-day period for U.S. citizens to apply for technology jobs before employers can request permission from the Department of Labor to bring in foreign nationals on an H1-B or L-1 visa. DONNA CONROY, BRIGHT FUTURE JOBS: We approached our elected officials about the problems that the H-1B hiring program was causing and they felt that maintaining a good economy in Cook County -- that supporting equal opportunity for its residents was the best way to build strong economy.

PILGRIM: Since the H1-B program began in 1990, over 500,000 jobs have gone to non-U.S. citizens, who are often willing to work for lower wages because they want to come to the United States. Tech industry insiders say this new resolution is the first step in helping U.S. workers play on a level field.

KIM BERRY, PROGRAMMERS GUILD: We think the Cook County resolution is fantastic because it takes a federal issue and is bringing it down to visibility to the communities where it's really having the impact.


PILGRIM: Now, the Durbin-Grassley Visa Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act has been introduced in the Senate and attempts are being made to include it in pending legislation.

Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani has some blind spots with conservative Republican voters. In addition to his views on abortion and gay marriage, the former mayor of New York, a sanctuary city, has trouble explaining his pro-amnesty view to conservative primary voters.

Now, Giuliani was in London today.

John King talked with him there about immigration reform -- and, John, what did Rudy Giuliani tell you?

JOHN KING, CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was quite interesting, Kitty.

Rudy Giuliani is hardly the only Republican candidate for president who seems to be getting the message from voters, especially conservative voters, with an emphasis now in all of his speeches or all of his comments on immigration on border security first.

But when we sat down today, the mayor said if voters understand the context of the time when he was mayor of New York, they would understand his views. And he also insisted, Kitty, in that interview that he is not running away from his record as mayor.


KING: What would you tell somebody now who hears Rudy Giuliani saying my first priority is border security, border security and then it's easier to deal with the more complicated issues?

That's what you say now. To someone out there who views a path to citizenship or any legal status as amnesty, period, you hope to get to a point where those illegals can get legal status at some point? RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Sure. As mayor and president, you have somewhat different responsibilities. But I've always had a consistent position about it. Illegal immigration should be stopped and legal immigration should be expanded.

And as mayor of New York, I couldn't stop illegal immigration. No city can stop illegal immigration. And the federal government was making a very, very small contribution to removing people who were illegal immigrants from New York City. And I had a tremendous crime problem to deal with.

So I had to come to rational judgments about how to deal with that for the safety for the security of the city.


KING: Note the "sure" at the very beginning of that answer, Kitty.

Before the mayor moved on to say his -- by being, perhaps, lax on illegal immigration at one point, or on illegal immigrants, he was trying to be more pro -- anti-crime. The "sure" meant that he believes that if you first deal with border security, then there will be a political climate in which you could then push a proposal much like backed by President Bush and Senator John McCain and Senator Ted Kennedy that would give citizenship or legal status to the estimated 12 million or more illegal immigrants in the United States.

But that interview and the quick answer and pivot, if you will, to other issues, more proof of how Rudy Giuliani -- and he is hardly alone on the campaign trail -- prefers now to emphasize border security and not the fact that if elected president, he does say, sure, he would push eventually to grant those illegal immigrants -- most of them -- legal status, if not citizenship -- Kitty.

PILGRIM: John, you know, those who criticize sanctuary cities say there are security concerns with allowing undocumented workers into a city. As the former mayor knows, security is a big priority for New York.

KING: It's an interesting balance. And if you match his statements as mayor to his statements as presidential candidate, there certainly is a difference in tone. He insists there's not a difference in position.

What he says now is that his number one priority was crime on city streets. And so he told police officers do not arrest, do not try to deport, do not try to enforce any actions against illegal immigrants who are reporting crimes, because it is much more important that we get that information from them and deal with the crime problem. He says he believes if the American people look at that record, they will understand that he had to put the priority on crime, not illegal immigration, at that point in time.

He says as president, things would be different. But certainly, Kitty, you know this full well, Governor Romney of Massachusetts already criticizing Mayor Giuliani's record. Other rivals in the Republican presidential nomination fight criticizing it, as well, as we get closer and closer to those first early contests back there in the states.

PILGRIM: John, it's not an issue he can duck.

Thanks very much.


PILGRIM: John King from London.

Up next, border security advocates on Capitol Hill are pushing to make illegal immigration a felony. I will debate that with our panel.

Also, joining us later, a Congressman who wants to end the North American Union and the proposed NAFTA superhighway which would move Mexican trucks through Texas.


PILGRIM: Border security advocates on Capitol Hill are resurrecting a bill that would make illegal immigration a felony and crack down on sanctuary cities.

Now joining me is one of the cosponsors of that bill, Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray.

Also joining me is Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez. And he is a sponsor of the STRIVE Act that effectively grants amnesty to millions of illegal aliens.

Gentlemen, thank you for joining me tonight.

You know, Congressman Gutierrez, I'd like to really ask you -- a provision of the bill would make illegal immigration a felony.

What is wrong with that?

Illegal aliens are breaking the law and why shouldn't they be charged with a felony?

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D-IL), DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS IMMIGRATION TASK FORCE: Well, first of all, because it's not a felony on our books. Illegal immigration and coming here to work is not like some larceny. It's not like breaking into someone's house. It's not like killing someone. It's not like stealing. These are people who have come here to do, in many cases, jobs which no one else will do.

As evidenced by that, Kitty, we have the Growers Association from across this country calling upon the federal government to reform a broken immigration system so that the crops -- the crops in Oregon, the crops in California, the crops across this country can be picked by someone. There is a labor shortage. The fact is that they admit...

PILGRIM: (INAUDIBLE) are laws, Congressman. GUTIERREZ: ...and people already -- if I could just finish.

We already know. And, yes, people, there should be a consequence to your action. So when you look at the STRIVE Act as we propose it, there are penalties. There's a $2,000 penalty. People must get at the back of the line. People must wait. People must be fingerprinted to make sure they haven't committed any felony that's on the book and that their only violation (INAUDIBLE)...

PILGRIM: Let me get Congressman Bilbray in on this.

GUTIERREZ: And so we think that that's a better way of addressing the issues...

PILGRIM: Honestly...

GUTIERREZ: ...simply criminalizing 12 million people does not correct the situation.

PILGRIM: Congressman Bilbray, you know, the felony provision was in the Sensenbrenner immigration bill. It failed.

Is this too hard to get through?

REP. BRIAN BILBRAY (R-CA), CHAIRMAN, IMMIGRATION REFORM CAUCUS: Exactly. Mr. Gutierrez voted last year to maintain the felony part of the Sensenbrenner bill. The fact is we all know the overwhelming majority of those who come into this country illegally use false documents and take other people's Social Security numbers, which is a felony. And the fact is, is when the Congressman says they just come here to work, he doesn't admit to get those jobs and to get those benefits, they show false documents, which is a felony and continues and has been a felony for a long time.

So the fact is, is that we are talking about felons, that when people come into this country illegally, their intention is to get a job, even if it means showing a false I.D. or a false Social Security number, stealing somebody else's number, which is a felony.

So it's -- it's kind of disingenuous to say, oh, these people haven't committed a crime. The overwhelming majority of them, to get a job that Mr. Gutierrez says they deserve, they must commit a felony to get those false documents, and they do.

So let's just be up front about it. That's why the Congressman, along with 199 other Democrats, voted against Mr. Sensenbrenner's amendment to his bill to take the felony part out. He voted to maintain it in the Sensenbrenner bill.

PILGRIM: Let me move on to another issue. The felony is important. Let me move to sanctuary cities.

And Congressman Bilbray, in H.R. 3631, Accountability of Enforcing Immigration Act of 2007, there is a major crackdown on cities offering sanctuary.

Why is that important?

BILBRAY: Well, first of all, because it sends a clear message that the days of sanctuary and being protected illegally in this country are over with, that 9/11 changed it and that when you come to this country, you're not going to have cities that are going to not only, you know, ignore that you're illegal, but actually shield you from federal enforcement.

What's important is send a message to those who may come here illegally and also to the cities that you want to come and ask for money from the federal government to fight terrorism, to protect your neighborhoods, you start by stopping the hiding of people who are illegally in this country, and that cities like New York and San Francisco should not be asking the federal government to subsidize their homeland security program when, in fact, they are undercutting it by hiding illegals in the country.

Remember, the 9/11 terrorists were overstays. They stayed in this country illegally, used false documents. And the fact is, is that they were illegal and the fact is, is that we've got to make sure we send a signal that that doesn't happen again.

PILGRIM: Let me bring up this point, because -- and Congressman Gutierrez, I'd like to get your comments on this. The sponsor of this bill, Florida Republican Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite, said of this bill -- and we would like to bring up her quote: "When cities proclaim that they will not check immigration status, they essentially become a safe haven for not only out of status immigrants, but criminal aliens who have often committed violent atrocities in our country. And we run the risk of inviting terror into these cities."

Now, Congressman Bilbray brings up the whole security issue after the 9/11 attacks.

This is not something that you can argue about, is it?

GUTIERREZ: Well, let me just say the following.

First of all, I didn't want to interrupt Congressman Bilbray, and so I hope he doesn't interrupt me.

He said that I said that they deserved these jobs. You can check your tape, Kitty. I never said such a thing.

You started out saying my bill was an amnesty bill. It's an earned legalization bill. There are penalties. We don't forget about the actions that they make.

Our immigration system is broken. It's an unworkable system. Let's say, for example, we have Corporal Gutierrez -- the first casualty in the war in Iraq came to this country illegally.

Would we make him a felon?

We have Sergeant First Class Jimenez, disappeared -- from Massachusetts -- in Iraq. His wife is under order of deportation, a deportation that has been stayed.

Should we criminalize her stay?

We have dozens of other men and women who are serving in our armed forces today who have parents, who have wives, who have children and who are illegally undocumented in this country and should we criminalize them?

I think certainly...

PILGRIM: Let me ask you a quick follow-up, though.

GUTIERREZ: I think, certainly, not, that we shouldn't criminalize them. They are part of a broader problem that we have. Sanctuary cities -- because cities look at issues such as crime locally. They want everyone to participate. And in the absence of the federal government fixing our broken immigration system, they have taken actions in order to secure the safety of the people who live in that city.

BILBRAY: Congressman, you said the word, though. You even slipped and said they're illegally in the country. And the fact is they're not only they're illegal, but they're using false documents, which are a felon. They're using other people's Social Security numbers. And the fact is they are committing felons out there just to get those jobs that you say that isn't a big deal.

It is a big deal.

PILGRIM: Congressman Gutierrez, let me just ask you a quick follow-up question.

The Senate's comprehensive immigration failed in June because it granted amnesty. The American public clearly is not in favor of this.

So how can -- how can you continue to promote The STRIVE Act through hearings?

GUTIERREZ: Well, we did have a hearing last week. We have a broken immigration system. We want security in the United States of America. The STRIVE Act calls for 12,000 more border enforcement agents. It calls for over 2,000 more agents to come in to work sites. It increases the penalties. It's certainly a bill that espouses security, security, security. And part of that security, Kitty, is that let's say tomorrow we made them all felons.

Would they all suddenly disappear from our streets?

Would they all suddenly disappear from our neighborhoods?

Would they all disappear from America?

Absolutely not. This is criminalizing an element of a community. I mean watch the words. The first thing we do is we talk about 9/11. We talk about the terrorists. We mix them up with immigrants that clean our bathrooms, make our beds, raise our children, pick our foods and try to mix them altogether, criminalizing and calling them all terrorists.

They're not all terrorists.

BILBRAY: We're talking...

GUTIERREZ: They do fundamental work that is necessary. I'm not saying that. The growers associations are saying that across this country. Industry after industry is saying fix the immigration system, fix the immigration system for the security of our economy, because they are essential workers to our economy.

BILBRAY: Congressman...


PILGRIM: Congressman Bilbray, go ahead.


PILGRIM: I'm going to have to give Congressman Bilbray the last word.

GUTIERREZ: ...give them correct Social Security numbers...

BILBRAY: Mr. Gutierrez is trying to hide illegal immigration...

GUTIERREZ: ...and make sure...

BILBRAY: Illegal immigration with legal immigration...

GUTIERREZ: ...he -- here's the -- here's the problem you get.

BILBRAY: ...and mixing between legal and illegal.

GUTIERREZ: Here's the problem you get.


PILGRIM: Congressman Bilbray, I'm going to have to give you the floor for the moment.

GUTIERREZ: And everybody can look at the tape and what they will notice is that I never interrupted Mr. Bilbray...

PILGRIM: All right. Let's let him...

GUTIERREZ: Yet he insists on interrupting me.

PILGRIM: Let's let him actually reply to you...


BILBRAY: Actually, Congressman, (INAUDIBLE)...

GUTIERREZ: Thank you very much.

BILBRAY: I was given the floor because you're mixing -- you are the one that's mixing legal and illegal immigration...

GUTIERREZ: No, but I didn't interrupt you, did I, Mr. Bilbray?


GUTIERREZ: But you insist on interrupting and interrupting.

BILBRAY: See, she...

GUTIERREZ: I let you finish making your point...

BILBRAY: She offered me the floor, Congressman.

GUTIERREZ: ...and then I tried to make a point. That's the American way.

BILBRAY: The American way is not to mix legal and illegal activity...

GUTIERREZ: Maybe because my (INAUDIBLE)...

BILBRAY: ...and that's is what you're doing.

GUTIERREZ: ...of the English language, I have learned how to comport myself in an appropriate democratic fashion.

BILBRAY: I appreciate that.

PILGRIM: All right, Congressman Bilbray, please reply.

BILBRAY: My reply is that the congressman is mixing -- he's the one mixing legal and illegal immigrants. He's trying to hide illegal activity under the guise of immigrants.

My mother was a legal immigrant. Many people who are legal are more outraged at people like the congressman trying to hide illegal activity under the guise of those of us who are children and families of immigrants.

So, the fact is, any time you reward or you try to protect illegal activity, you're going to have a bad result. And the fact is, what we saw in New Jersey, what we've seen in neighborhoods, what we saw in 9/11 and what we're seeing along the border -- I grew up and was raised on the border and I've seen the deaths that are happening there and they happen because we started rewarding illegal immigration with '96...


PILGRIM: Gentlemen, we have to leave it there.

BILBRAY: ...with the '86 amnesty and we don't -- shouldn't do it again.

GUTIERREZ: And notice, I didn't interrupt Mr....

PILGRIM: And, gentlemen, we have to leave it there.

GUTIERREZ: ...Bilbray.

PILGRIM: I'm terribly sorry...

GUTIERREZ: I hope he will do the same the next time.

PILGRIM: We will continue this debate. You can be assured of that.

GUTIERREZ: I'm not afraid of the debate.


PILGRIM: We embrace it.

GUTIERREZ: Thank you.

PILGRIM: Congressman Brian Bilbray and Luis Gutierrez.

Thank you very much for your participation tonight.

BILBRAY: Thank you very much.

PILGRIM: Coming up, at the top of the hour, "THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER" -- Wolf.


Thanks very much.

The Republican presidential candidate, Rudy Giuliani, has a message for -- bring it on. He talks about his high profile spat with the liberal anti-war group in an exclusive one-on-one interview with our chief national correspondent, John King.

He's coming to America and Iran's president wants to go to one of the most solemn sites in the country. Details of his surprising request. That's coming up.

And a new multi-million dollar lawsuit from a former evening news anchor. We're going to show you who Dan Rather is now taking to court and why.

All that, Kitty, coming up right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

PILGRIM: We look forward to it, Wolf.

Up next, we'll be joined by Congressman Virgil Goode, the lawmaker behind a new effort to stop the proposed North American Union and the NAFTA superhighway.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PILGRIM: Congressman Virgil Goode of Virginia wants to end the North American Union and the proposed NAFTA superhighway which would move Mexican trucks through Texas.

Now, Congressman Goode joins us.

And thanks for bringing us, sir.

Today, you and several of your colleagues had a news conference in support of your resolution, which would say that the United States should not create a NAFTA superhighway or a North American Union with Mexico and Canada.

How much support are you getting on this?

REP. VIRGIL GOODE (R), VIRGINIA: We are now to about 37 cosponsors. So I'm pleased. We gained four or five cosponsors today. And it's slow. We need to get over a hundred, I think and -- but we're going along in the right direction and more citizens across America understand the dangers of having a North American Union and a superhighway that would run from the West Coast to Mexico, across the country of Mexico, and enter the United States in Texas, come across Texas and up through the heartland of the United States and on into Canada.

And with the NAFTA provisions that allow for Mexican trucks to pick up goods from China or any other country on its coast and then bring them right on into the United States, it's fraught with danger to our security and to our safety and it would provide a better avenue for those wanting to enter the country illegally.

PILGRIM: You know, sir, legislation by Representatives Hunter and Kaptur passed in the House this summer that bans federal funds going toward these projects, SPP, the NAFTA superhighway and the Mexican truck program. That passed in the House by 362-63.

Do you see similar legislation in the Senate passing?

GOODE: I don't -- well, since I'm in the House, I can't speak for the Senate. I think if the Senate had a floor vote on it, that it would be similar to the amendment offered by Duncan Hunter and Miss. Kaptur of Ohio.

And Congressman Hunter was at our news conference today. And I want to salute him and Miss. Kaptur and all of the support of that resolution. That was 362 votes against allowing any part of the transportation budget to fund these working groups that now work with Canada and Mexico. So that was really a lopsided win on prohibiting crimes out of the transportation part of the budget.

PILGRIM: That's pretty much what you would call a groundswell.

Sir, we're out of time.

Thank you very much for coming on the show.

Representative Virgil Goode, thank you.

GOODE: Thank you, Kitty.

PILGRIM: Still ahead, the results of tonight's poll.

Stay with us.


PILGRIM: Ninety-six percent of you say the police should impound the cars of illegal aliens and unlicensed drivers.

"THE SITUATION ROOM" starts right now with Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.