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Lou Dobbs Tonight

Bush Versus Obama; Democrats Counterattack on President Bush; McCain's Vision; Illegal Aliens Held Captive; E-Verify Battle; FDA Denied More Funds

Aired May 15, 2008 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Thank you, Wolf.
Tonight in Congress over the administration's outright refusal to protect American consumers from dangerous food and drug imports, tonight disturbing new evidence that violence from Mexico's war and drug cartels and illegal alien traffickers has spilled in American suburbs north of the border.

And tonight the author of a provocative new book on illegal immigration, Jason Riley, the title of his book says it all, "Let Them In." He's among my guests.

I'll also be joined by a college freshman who just happens to be -- well he has a new important political job. We'll have all of that, all the day's news and much more straight ahead here tonight.

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT: news, debate, and opinion for Thursday, May 15. Live from New York, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody.

President Bush today launched a blistering attack on Democrats including apparently Senator Obama who the president says wants to talk with terrorists and radicals. Without naming Senator Obama directly President Bush told the Israeli parliament that some people believe in the false comfort of appeasement.

For his part Senator Obama lashed out and accused President Bush of launching a false political attack. The senator saying he's never supported engagement with terrorists, Obama did not mention his willingness to talk with the leaders of anti-American countries that sponsor terrorism such as Iran and Syria.

Ed Henry traveling with President Bush in the Middle East has our report from Jerusalem -- Ed.


ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): All the way from Jerusalem, a failed shot Democratic front runner Barack Obama back in America. Without naming names, President Bush charged some politicians support appeasement of terrorists. Just as U.S. leaders appeased Nazis in the run-up to World War II.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As Nazi terrorists crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared, lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided. We have an obligation to call this what it is, the false comfort of appeasement which has been repeatedly discredited by history.


HENRY: White House spokeswoman Dana Perino later told reporters the president was not targeting Obama but other officials privately said Mr. Bush was referring to various Democrats including Obama who said he would sit down for direct talks with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them.

HENRY: And former President Jimmy Carter for pushing negotiations with the terror group Hamas.

BUSH: Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals as if some ingenious argument would persuade them they have been wrong all along. We've heard the foolish delusion before.

HENRY: The president's broadside before the Israeli Knesset in which he stressed his administration's close ties to Israel could raise more concerns about Obama with Jewish American voters, especially since the president also used a reference to the Holocaust to suggest some people do not understand the grave threat posed by Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah who have all talked about destroying Israel.

(on-camera): Senator McCain already stoked those concerns among Jewish American voters by charging that Obama is the favorite candidate of Hamas which the Democrats denounced as a smear -- Lou.


DOBBS: Ed, thank you.

Ed Henry reporting from Jerusalem.

The Obama campaign then accused President Bush of launching an unprecedented political attack, the Obama campaign declared the president's statements sad and astonishing. Senator Obama himself struck back at the president saying quote, "the president's extraordinary politicization of former policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel."

Congressional Democrats more blunt. House Speaker Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi saying the president's attack was, quote, "beneath the dignity of his office." Senator Joe Biden went further using an expletive to describe the president's remarks. Kate Bolduan has our report from Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On Capitol Hill President Bush's remarks were taken as a political attack on Barack Obama and fellow Democrats circled the wagons around the party front runner, Joe Biden lashing out in a Senate hallway.

VOICE OF SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN, (D), DELAWARE: This is (EXPLETIVE DELETED). This is malarkey. This is outrageous, outrageous for the president of the United States to go to a foreign country, sit in the Knesset and make this kind of ridiculous statement.

BOLDUAN: And the Foreign Relations chairman was just as angry hours later on "THE SITUATION ROOM".

BIDEN: I'm worried about President Bush's standing in the world continues to plummet. The rest of the world looks at that kind of statement and says my god, what is he talking about.

BOLDUAN: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized the president for breaking from a long observed practice of leaving political differences behind at U.S. borders.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: I think what the president did in that regard was beneath the dignity of the office of president and unworthy of our representation at that observance in Israel.

BOLDUAN: And Democratic Senator John Kerry said it was the wrong time and place for picking a fight back home.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: It's a repeat of their tactics of 2004, and frankly, their tactics for the last 25, 30 years which is raise the flag and wave fear, and what they are trying to do is just brand people and scare people.


BOLDUAN: One key John McCain supporter did come to the president's defense, Independent Senator Joe Lieberman; he says the U.S. should reject what he calls the flawed and naive thinking that by sitting down with terrorist groups and their supporters like Iran, they will stop being threats -- Lou.

DOBBS: Did the size, the scope of the Democratic response suggest that President Bush scored heavily politically with his remarks?

BOLDUAN: You know what Lou -- it was definitely surprising hearing the response here in Congress. The White House maintains that the president was not stepping into the election cycle, but he definitely stepped into some bad remarks from his colleagues in the Congress.

DOBBS: Kate, thank you very much.

Kate Bolduan from Capitol Hill. Not to be left out, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean, also criticizing the president for his remarks. Dean said what he called the president's outrageous remarks are quote "an embarrassment to our country."

Dean also challenging Senator McCain to denounce President Bush's comments, Senator McCain for his part ignored Howard Dean's suggestion. Instead Senator McCain accused Obama of naivety, inexperience and lack of judgment. The senator today also presented his vision of the state of the world after a perspective first term as president, the first of the candidates to do so offering a vision of the future.

Dana Bash has our report.


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's 2013, John McCain is finishing his first term in the White House, it's an imaginary time warp the Republican candidate used to lay out sweeping goals. For the first time suggesting a date that troops in Iraq should come home.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the service men and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom. The Iraq war has been won. Iraq is a functioning democracy.

BASH: That clearly intended as a political antidote do this sound bite already in a Democratic ad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our staying in Iraq for 50 years.

MCCAIN: Maybe 100.


MCCAIN: We've been in South Korea -- we've been in Japan for 60 years.

BASH: But a timeline for withdrawal is a stunning departure for McCain. Pressed about it on his bus, McCain repeatedly insisted he is not setting a date.

MCCAIN: Could be next year, could be three years from now, could be -- but I'm confident we will have victory.

BASH: That kind of positive yet politically risky prediction was not limited to Iraq. By 2013 McCain also said he envisions Osama bin Laden captured or killed, Iran and North Korea's nuclear programs abandoned, a new league of democracies stopping genocide in Sudan after the U.N. fails. In what is likely to reignite skepticism among conservatives McCain called once again for a guest worker program for illegal immigrants.

MCCAIN: Illegal immigration has been finally brought under control and the American people accepted the practical necessity to institute a temporary worker program and deal humanely, humanely, with the millions of immigrants who have been in this country illegally.


BASH: Senator McCain said that he wants to end what he calls hyper partisanship and he gave some details on how he would intend to do that. He said he would put Democrats in his administration and Lou he even said that he would show up at Congress and have kind of a British style session taking questions and criticism from members of Congress -- Lou.

DOBBS: You know that's an intriguing idea to show up at Congress and take some questions. I think that's an innovative thought.

Thank you very much, Dana -- Dana Bash.

As Senator McCain talked about the future of the war in Iraq, our troops faced new attacks from the enemy. Insurgents killed another of our soldiers in Baghdad. Thirteen of our troops have been killed in Iraq so far this month; 4,078 of our troops killed since the war began; more than 30,000 of our troops have now been wounded; the total now 30,059; 13, 395 of them seriously.

Coming up here next a new threat to efforts to tackle our illegal immigration crisis.

Lisa Sylvester will have our report -- Lisa.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the borders are broken, people are fed up with illegal immigration, yet Congress is talking about scrapping the E-Verification system that's currently used by employers to check a worker's eligibility status -- Lou.

DOBBS: I wonder why they want to do that. Is it a U.S. Chamber of Commerce idea? We'll find out.

Lisa, thanks. We'll look forward to your report.

Also violence from the Mexican drug cartels and illegal alien traffickers along our border is spreading to suburbs north of that border. We'll have the story.

And rising anger in Congress over the Bush administration's complete abject failure to protect American consumers from dangerous food and drug imports. We'll have that report and a great deal more.

We're coming right back. Stay with us.


DOBBS: The violence from Mexico's warring drug cartels and illegal alien trafficker gangs spilling across our southern border and into residential neighborhoods in this country. Just this week federal agents discovered more than 100 illegal aliens being held captive in homes in Arizona and California. Casey Wian has our report.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This two-story Los Angeles home became a prison for illegal aliens. Immigration and Customs Enforcement found 61 people, mostly from Central America, confined to the drop house Wednesday. Nine were juveniles including three toddlers.

JOSE AKE, NEIGHBOR (through translator): I thought there were four families living there.

WIAN: The captives told investigators they were threatened with a pistol and a stun gun and could not leave what ICE agents described as utter squalor, a house filled with trash and rotting food.

FRANK JOHNSTON, ICE ASST. SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: It's an organized smuggling ring that we are still investigating right now. I don't want to give out too much information at this time (INAUDIBLE) investigation. We anticipate additional arrests.

WIAN: An ICE spokesman tells LOU DOBBS TONIGHT most of the illegal aliens agreed to pay between five and $7,000 each to be smuggled into the United States or about twice the going rate of a year ago. One woman claims she paid $12,000 and ICE says the smugglers attempted to extort more money from the families of their captives.

Earlier this week in a Phoenix suburban neighborhood Arizona law enforcement found another drop house with 53 alleged illegal aliens being held captive. Authorities say five armed smugglers even confiscated their shoes to prevent escape. It's more evidence that law enforcement crackdowns are making illegal aliens and smugglers more desperate.

In the past two weeks authorities have found two tractor-trailers crammed with alleged illegal aliens. Sixty-one Mexican nationals were discovered hidden behind bales of cardboard near the border in eastern California. Another 23 were discovered Monday crammed into a secret compartment welded underneath a truck.


WIAN: Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza said in a statement, "the appalling conditions of the drop houses are yet another reason why we do not support illegal immigration, and are working to create a fair, orderly and effective system that allows for legal entry into the United States."

Brent Wilkes (ph) of the League of United Latin American Citizens expressed similar views, adding in his words that the treatment of undocumented immigrants continues to deteriorate the more the United States cracks down on undocumented immigration -- Lou.

DOBBS: Did either Murguia or Wilkes (ph), did they say thank you to ICE? Did they compliment ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and say thank you for enforcing law and rescuing those illegal aliens in those two cities, because we hear a lot from those two organizations. We don't see them do much.

WIAN: They did not thank ICE for cracking those smuggling rings, but...

DOBBS: Well, we will. You know what? Casey, we'll do it for them. Thank you, ICE, for doing that and for rescuing those people. And thank you, of course to all of the ethnocentric interest groups who really are doing very little to advance either compromise or intelligent resolution of this and continue to demand so much that is so beyond your reach. It is absolutely inexcusable what is happening to these people and it's because people will not secure this border and they will not come down on the illegal employers of illegal immigration.

Thank you very much, Casey Wian.

Mayor Rebecca Jimenez (ph) of Guadalupe, Arizona, it's a suburb of Arizona, tonight is claiming she was racially profiled when she was pulled over by one of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's (ph) deputies for a broken headlight. Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio (ph) says he's ready to pull his deputies out of the town of Guadalupe after her absurd accusations as he put it.

Arpaio (ph) and Jimenez have been in a public political battle ever since Arpaio's (ph) deputies arrested suspected illegal aliens in Guadalupe last month. Mayor Jimenez (ph) says the traffic stop was in retaliation for her criticism of those arrests. Mayor Jimenez (ph) reportedly asked the deputy who pulled her over, quote, "Why do you work for somebody who harasses people with brown skin."

According to the deputy, Jimenez also asked "if there was a town code or something that allows you to pull me over for only having a working headlight." The deputy replied yes, ma'am, there is. The mayor's office did not return our calls for comment. By the way, the pullover occurred at 9:00 p.m. at night.

In Suffolk County, New York, the county legislature passed a bill that requires employers to verify their employees are working here legally. The Suffolk County measure also requires employers to prove employees have paid state and federal taxes. Wow. What an idea.

And illegal employers who do not verify their employee's legal status will lose their county license. Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy's (ph) office says he will sign that bill into law. Some lawmakers in Congress are trying to make programs such as Suffolk County's null and void once the country's E-Verify system expires later this year.

Thousands of employers use that system to make certain their workers can work here legally. But a replacement program would make it impossible for local governments and state governments to crack down on illegal immigration and illegal employers.

Lisa Sylvester has our report.


SYLVESTER (voice-over): E-Verify is a voluntary system used by more than 60,000 employers to check if workers are eligible to work in the United States. The pilot program is set to expire in November and there is a proposal in Congress to replace it with a system currently used to track down deadbeat parents. Backers of the change say more than six million employers already use that system.

REP. GABRIELLE GIFFORDS (D), ARIZONA: We see that the E-Verify system is currently in place, is cumbersome, it's burdensome and it's unreliable.

SYLVESTER: But critics insist scrapping E-Verify would weaken efforts to stop the hiring of illegal aliens. Among the criticisms, it would gut state employment verification laws like the one in Arizona that require employers check that workers are legally eligible for employment and would restrict information sharing between the Social Security Administration and immigration enforcement officials, making it harder to crack down on employers who hire illegal workers. NUMBERSUSA (ph), which favors tighter controls on illegal immigration insist E-Verify is reliable and says Congress should expand the program and require employers use it.

ROSEMARY JENKS, NUMBERSUSA: This is a government program that works, and yet we're talking about dismantling it and re-creating it in another agency. It just doesn't make sense.

SYLVESTER: Representatives Ken Calvert and Heath Schuler (ph) are offering bills that require mandatory checks through E-Verify.

REP. KEN CALVERT (R), CALIFORNIA: People in this country demand to know that people do not use fraudulent documents in seeking a job. Right now everybody knows that people are using fraudulent Social Security numbers in order to obtain work in this country illegally.


SYLVESTER: Now the Democratic leadership so far has blocked legislation known as the Save Act (ph) from coming up for a vote. The Save Act (ph) includes those provisions that would expand E-Verify. And if nothing is done within six months then the pilot program sunsets and there will be no employment verification system at all. Lou.

DOBBS: Well, who sponsored the E-Verify, the new E-Verify legislation?

SYLVESTER: It's Representative Sam Johnson (ph), also Representative Gabrielle Gifford (ph), she's also a co-sponsor. There are a number of other representatives as well.

DOBBS: Let's get everyone's sponsors on our Web site and let everybody know how they can contact them and also of course Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House because this is an outrage. What they are trying to do is to stop the efforts of the local and state level to curtail illegal immigration in using E-Verify. They are trying to get E-Verify to go away, because as you reported, it works. This is absolutely shameless what is happening. Is there any -- is there any sense of shame on the part of any of these people pushing this legislation?

SYLVESTER: Shame is not something that you see that often on Capitol Hill; I'll tell you that, Lou. But I do want to mention though in Arizona where they have made it mandatory for employers to check the worker status, there has been a difference where you see people are leaving, illegal aliens are leaving that state and that was the intent of that law.

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

This is also the subject of our poll question: Do you believe the federal government should expand the E-Verify program and require all employers in the country to use it?

Cast your vote at We'll have the results here later.

"The New York Times" pushing for amnesty again in its own lovely way, this time "The Times" is calling for tax rebate checks to be given to illegal aliens. The newspaper compares illegal aliens to the thousands of American citizens and legal residents who will not receive stimulus checks.

In today's lead editorial, "The Times" said, "why shouldn't undocumented immigrants with taxpayer numbers get the cash too. They are just the sort of group the stimulus should be aimed at, if the purpose is to get the most economic bang for every rebate dollar."

The editorial also says illegal aliens make up five percent of the work force and earn much less than American citizens and therefore should receive those checks. It also calls efforts to fight illegal immigration, all efforts to stop illegal immigration, restrictionist (ph). You got to love "The New York Times".

Coming up here next, the Food and Drug Administration is under fire again for failing to protect you against dangerous food and drugs. We'll have that report. We'll talk with the author of a controversial provocative new book that says we should just let illegal aliens into the country. Jason Riley, the author of "Let Them In" joins us. We'll have quite a talk. We're coming right back.


DOBBS: There's more new evidence tonight that the Food and Drug Administration can't even begin to protect American consumers from dangerous imports of all sorts. The FDA is simply under-funded, it's under-staffed and overwhelmed and the Bush administration is absolutely indifferent, increased concern about dangerous imports provoking some lawmakers to do something, anything, about it.

Carrie Lee has our report. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARRIE LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the wake of scandals over contaminated blood thinner, pet food and toothpaste all with questionably ingredients from China, the FDA's chief took an unusual step this month. Andrew Bon Eschenbach (ph) broke rank with the Bush administration and sent a letter directly to Congress.

He asked for $275 million in order to, quote, "Further enhance FDA's capability to protect the American public."

WILLIAM HUBBARD, FORMER FDA OFFICIAL: We are eating imported foods more and more every day that most of our drugs are coming from foreign countries, is a source of great concern. And I think the public expects the FDA to be assuring the safety of these products. And when FDA cannot do so, that's a real source of concern.

LEE: To that end a Senate committee included a $275 million FDA increase as part of a war spending bill. But that bill was voted down today. Both sides agree the FDA needs more resources; it's been drastically under-funded for at least five years, and has trimmed 1,000 jobs in the past decade. But some lawmakers believe the FDA needs to be doing more with what it already has.

REP. JOE BARTON (R), TEXAS: We've got this office of criminal investigation with almost 200 criminal inspectors, investigators, maybe we could shift some of them over to some of these other duties, take their slots and retrain them and not have to come up with quite as much money for what we agree is a very high priority which is inspections of foreign food and foreign pharmaceuticals coming into the United States.

LEE: The Office of Criminal Investigation Budget has gone up 78 percent in the past seven years, but the improvement in arrests and convictions is marginal.


LEE: So even though so many lawmakers agree that import inspections are of paramount importance and that the FDA is in dire need of funding it's just not happening, so Lou, in the meantime as the FDA pleads and the politicians' debate, questionable food, drugs, medical devices, continue to come into this country and potentially compromise our lives.

DOBBS: It's a sad spectacle to watch. Republicans in Congress, this Republican administration, in particular, with acting with absolute disregard for the safety, the well-being of American consumers. There is literally in my opinion no -- and it is only my opinion -- that's it, doesn't -- not CNN's, not anybody else's, it's my opinion on this broadcast. It's my opinion that this administration you know deserves a special place of contempt by every American for what they are doing.

LEE: And when you think all sides are on one side that this money is desperately needed and the FDA is pleading and it's still not happening. It's just -- it's unbelievable.

DOBBS: It's because we're watching gamesmanship. This is posturing gamesmanship and utter disregard for the well-being and safety of American consumers and a pox (ph) upon them for being so.

Thank you very much -- Carrie Lee.

Let's take a look at some of your thoughts which are far more cheerful.

Jerri in Idaho: "Lou, I'm a Republican voter but I have to say I'm so surprised at the bias that takes place when it comes to Clinton. The media, Congress, delegates, superdelegates all say she should get out. We want to think our votes count. We want to think the conventions work. What's wrong with that?"

Well, it's an absolute disregard of the facts because folks are forgetting there are five more primaries, two states haven't voted. You want me to keep going. That's the problem with that.

And Betty in Ohio: "Dear Lou, the way the Democratic Party is treating Hillary, maybe she should become an Independent. I know she would have my family's vote."

I encourage everybody to become an Independent.

And C. in Ohio said: "Mr. Dobbs, you're by far one of the best reporters talking about the issues facing our nation. I'm certainly glad we have such a patriot fighting to expose the ills of our current leadership. Keep up the great work."

We'll sure try.

We'll have more of "Your Thoughts" here later in the broadcast.

And we invite you to join us on the radio Monday through Friday afternoons for "The Lou Dobbs Show." Among my guests tomorrow, Sheriff Joe Arpaio from Phoenix talking about his battle with a small town mayor with a really big attitude. I'll be talking about God and politics with William Donohue, the president of the Catholic League, and Paul Rieckhoff, from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. We'll be talking about the battle to update the G.I. Bill and to support our veterans and our troops. Please join us. Go to for local listings for "The Lou Dobbs Show" on the radio.

Up next here, middle class families reeling from the housing crisis and the economic downturn, facing a new threat from predatory lenders. Also, a teenager elected mayor of a city? He's our guest here next. And the author of a provocative new book says he has a simple solution to our illegal immigration border security crisis. "Let Them In" is the title. I'll be talking with the author next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) DOBBS: Well, illegal immigration and our borders which remain insecure are two of the biggest challenges facing the country. But open borders pro illegal alien advocates continue to push for more illegal aliens and cheap foreign labor to be allowed into the country. My guest, one of those advocates, Jason Riley, is the author of the provocative new book entitled directly "Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders." He is also, of course, a member of The Wall Street Journal editorial board.

Jason, good to have you here.

JASON RILEY, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Thank you for having me.

DOBBS: I have to say, it's -- I knew that The Wall Street Journal editorial board was libertarian, if you will, and conservative, but the idea to just simply dismiss the sovereignty of the nation is breathtaking.

RILEY: It's also something of a caricature of the position. It's not -- this book is not a case for ending sovereignty or erasing borders or one North American government or any other such nonsense.


DOBBS: ... open borders and let them in.

RILEY: The argument for open borders, well, first, I should say, our borders are to a large extent open today as opposed to closed. Something like...


DOBBS: I would agree with you.

RILEY: Not just because illegal immigrants are coming but something like a million foreign nationals per year become legal permanent residents in the U.S. So our borders are open. I'm making a case for opening them further.


DOBBS: ... Jason, we're going to have a discussion here. But one thing I won't tolerate, OK, is obfuscatory nonsense. When we say that the borders are open, you're suggesting that that is a statement about the fact that legal immigrants are entering the country?

RILEY: I'm saying that there are people in this country, politicians like Tom Tancredo and others, who are calling for sealing the border. And what I'm saying is the border...

DOBBS: OK. They're idiots.

RILEY: ... is not sealed right now. We do allow a certain amount of legal immigration. My case is to expand the legal channels. And it will do a number of things. One thing it will do right away is reduce the number of illegal entries. If we provide more legal ways for people to come, I believe they will use them. And thus will get at the problem of illegal immigration. Secondly, it will make us safer from the homeland security standpoint because...

DOBBS: Pray tell how?

RILEY: Because Border Patrol right now is stretched very thin raiding meat-packing plants and tracking down busboys and gardeners and other people who would...

DOBBS: By the way, that's the role of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, not the Border Patrol.

RILEY: Right now our Border Patrol personnel is busy chasing down people who would gladly use the front door if it were open to them. I say open it to them. And that means when we do that our Border Patrol will be able to concentrate on real threats, people -- terrorists, drug dealers, and so forth.

Right now they are chasing down people who would gladly come legally if we allowed them to come legally.

DOBBS: They're chasing them down?

RILEY: They are attempting to chase them down.

DOBBS: How many people, how many times may one enter the United States illegally, along the Arizona border, before being deported? Do you know the number?

RILEY: How many times...

DOBBS: Yes. How many times...

RILEY: ... an illegal immigrant can enter...

DOBBS: ... can be arrested for crossing the border before they are deported?

RILEY: My point, Lou, is that we should let them come here and work.

DOBBS: I understand your point. But the point is unsupported by anything empirical or even remotely factual.

RILEY: I'll give you an empirical case.

DOBBS: Let me -- please...

RILEY: We had a guest worker program in place in this country and it worked.

DOBBS: ... I've listened to you, Jason. Now it's my turn.


DOBBS: OK. One, it's 702,000 (ph) people a year are naturalized as citizens as of last year. Two, more than 2 million people enter this country legally every year, more than 2 million. Not once in your book do you refer to the Citizenship and Immigration Services which is such an overwhelmed agency, so led by incompetents over the last 10 years that it is in absolute disrepair.

It is incapable of managing its current focus, let alone taking on new burdens and responsibilities. Thirdly, there is no nation, no set of nations in the entire world who bring as many people into their country as does this nation. More than 2 million people a year enter legally and you're talking drivel about illegal aliens coming into this country at their own will?

RILEY: Wait, Lou, are you opposed to immigrants coming or are you opposed to them coming illegally?

DOBBS: I have a record here of about six years on this subject, Jason. How long have you been dealing with the issue?

RILEY: I've been writing...


DOBBS: ... looked at the record since you referred to me 13 times in your book, and you did so in the most insulting ways as if you wanted to climb up on my back.


RILEY: No. I think that...


DOBBS: So if you don't know my position, then I think I would be embarrassed if I were you.

RILEY: Well, first of all, I think...


DOBBS: First of all, I have said time and time again, the only rational actor in this entire mess is the illegal alien. The illegal employer...

RILEY: I agree with you on that.

DOBBS: Thank you.

RILEY: These are economic migrants who will respond to incentives.

DOBBS: They respond to incentives.

RILEY: And if we put the proper incentives in place, they'll respond accordingly.

DOBBS: Do you understand that the day of the smiling "Mr. Market" nonsense is over as a political philosophy in this country? It's over. It's done.

RILEY: I think that -- that if we provide more legal ways for immigrants to come, they will use those ways. And my references to you in the book I think are a tribute to your influence on this topic in the national debate.

DOBBS: Well, I appreciate that, but you have distorted what I said and I don't appreciate that in a number of instances.

RILEY: How so?

DOBBS: We're going to your other points, and that is the idea of letting them in. Do you believe this country has a responsibility to bring in more immigrants from around the world, or is it just simply they should be from Central and South America across our land bridge?

RILEY: I think that we have a unique situation in that we share a 2,000-mile border with a country that we also have a free trade agreement with. I'm a free market advocate.

DOBBS: Yes, you are.

RILEY: And no self-respecting free market advocate would argue against allowing the free flow of goods and services across borders.

DOBBS: But you don't -- why don't you ask for people to be immigrating into this country in greater numbers from Africa, which is far poorer than anywhere in Central and South America. Why not from Asia?

RILEY: I do. I believe the markets should decide how many immigrants can come to this country. I believe it's capable of doing that.

DOBBS: And I believe that it should be a matter of public policy and decision straightforwardly.

RILEY: I don't think bad policy should be enforced.

DOBBS: We're out of time.

RILEY: I think they should be reformed.

DOBBS: Well, I agree with you.

RILEY: And we have a bad policy.

DOBBS: And that's one of the reasons I'm going to be so delighted to see that free marketer and extraordinarily sloppy...

RILEY: Join Adam Smith, join Milton Friedman, join John Stuart Mill, leave the dark side on immigration.


DOBBS: Why don't you join the American people in looking out for the national interest.

RILEY: Protectionism is not good for this country.

DOBBS: You think -- I'm sorry, who's talking about protectionism? We bring in over 2 million people a year.

RILEY: Labor protectionism is not good for the country. And we have a model for this.

DOBBS: Excuse me. Oh you're so full of it.

RILEY: Western Europe. Western Europe shows us...

DOBBS: All right. I'm going to just tell you straight out, Jason. What are the four industries in which illegal aliens predominate as a group? They are landscaping, leisure, hospitality, construction.

RILEY: And there are fewer and fewer Americans...

DOBBS: Excuse me, Jason, excuse me, excuse me.

RILEY: ... willing to do those jobs.

DOBBS: And four -- in all four industries, what has been the impact on wages (ph), you say you're an economist or free marketer. The wages have declined.

RILEY: There is a shrinking number of Americans willing to do those jobs. And that's a good thing. More and more Americans...

DOBBS: Then why have the wages declined?

RILEY: More and more Americans are overqualified for those jobs. And that's why these immigrants aren't stealing jobs. They are complementing the U.S. work force.

DOBBS: Look at the Pew Hispanic Study...

RILEY: Lou, if we were importing replicas of ourselves, you'd have a point. But we're not. The immigrants who come here tend to be either better educated than Americans or less educated than Americans. They are filling niches and they are making our labor markets more efficient...


RILEY: More efficient and more productive.

DOBBS: ... why are the wages going down in those four areas? Those four...


RILEY: There is overlap, Lou.

DOBBS: OK. We'll leave it with overlap.

RILEY: There is a depression (ph)...

DOBBS: We have got to go.

RILEY: ... in wages.

DOBBS: We're going to...

RILEY: OK. We'll let it go.

DOBBS: Flog your book, "Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders." But you don't want open borders, is that right?

RILEY: I want the market to determine how much foreign labor our economy needs.

DOBBS: And I want it to be -- and silly me, I want it to be a...

RILEY: I think that's what our politicians should do.

DOBBS: ... matter of public policy and a sovereign nation...


RILEY: I trust the market more than politicians.

DOBBS: Jason Riley is going to keep talking, I'm going to leave.


DOBBS: Thank you, Jason, appreciate it.

RILEY: Thank you.

DOBBS: Up next, one of the nation's most respected political strategists says the Bush administration has missed a critical element of national security. Kevin Phillips joins me.

And why a mayor in one Oklahoma town, well, he's sort of unusual, John Tyler Hammons is the new mayor, joins us. Stay with us.


DOBBS: We've all heard of freshmen legislators. But tonight one city in Oklahoma has a freshman mayor, a freshman in college, in point of fact, 19-year-old John Tyler Hammons, there he is, he's a freshman at the University of Oklahoma. He was elected Tuesday as mayor of Muskogee, Oklahoma. And the mayor-elect joins me now from Tulsa. I talked earlier with John Tyler Hammons on the radio.

It's good to have you here on the LOU DOBBS TONIGHT show.

JOHN TYLER HAMMONS, MUSKOGEE, OK, MAYOR-ELECT: Thanks for having me again, Lou. Good talking to you. DOBBS: Well, congratulations and you're going to get sworn in Tuesday. You've got a big job ahead of you. Just to let folks know, Muskogee is about 40,000 folks. What is your week going to look like?

HAMMONS: Busy, busy, busy. We have got -- appointments have to be made. We have got to have the swearing in ceremony and the budget, we're looking at that so we have a very busy week coming up.

DOBBS: Well, let me ask you this, a year ago you were a senior in high school and now you're the mayor of a pretty good-sized town. How does it feel?

HAMMONS: Wonderful. Humbling. Humbling is the best word to describe it because Muskogee voters have overwhelmingly supported me and I hope I can return the favor by supporting the voters of Muskogee.

DOBBS: So what are you going to do?

HAMMONS: I would like to see ethics reform, myself. That's a big issue for me. I'd like to see an independent ethics commission established as well as campaign finance reporting laws, these are issues that are near and dear to my heart and those are things I think Muskogee should really take up.

DOBBS: And the town itself, what are the greatest challenges facing Muskogee that you can deal with yourself?

HAMMONS: The greatest challenge facing Muskogee is a belief in itself. We are a very diverse place, Muskogee, which is wonderful. We are a very highly diverse society. But that creates this us versus them mentality. We have got to stop that. We're making great progress.

DOBBS: Well, you are the us, who is the them?

HAMMONS: Well, we have a high population of African-Americans, a high population of Latino Americans, and I think it's wonderful because that allows us this great racial diversity, how wonderful is that? This little microcosm of the United States.

DOBBS: Yes, but I'm wondering, who is the them. You said it's us versus them, us is the city, the folks of Muskogee. Who is the them?

HAMMONS: The them is anyone but us. And I'm talking about inside the society like whatever group you belong to, east side, west side, north side, south side. Us is anyone not you.

DOBBS: OK. So you're saying that there is diversity within Muskogee, but there is also considerable attention paid to group identity, if you will.

HAMMONS: Yes. We are working right now to get -- work past that. We're making great steps. Muskogee public schools is a wonderful organization, they are doing leaps and bounds to that. We're really coming a long way since when we started a long time ago. We've done great.

DOBBS: So what do your folks think about their young son being the mayor of the town?

HAMMONS: Oh, they are very proud of me and I love them both and I love my younger brother Wes, and you know, they have supported me throughout this entire campaign. I hope they are going to support me through the next two years. I need them. They are my rock. And they have really blessed me.

DOBBS: John Tyler Hammons, mayor-elect, Muskogee, Oklahoma, congratulations again, all the very best of luck.

HAMMONS: Thank you. Thank you, sir.

DOBBS: Coming up at the top of the hour, the "ELECTION CENTER," Campbell Brown.

Campbell, I'll bet you won't have a younger politician to talk with.

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Probably not. Probably we're going to have all of the old guys, Lou, tonight on the "ELECTION CENTER." And a few young people thrown in there as well. But President Bush tonight says it is foolish and wrongheaded for politicians to appease terrorists. He didn't name names but the Democrats are going ballistic. We're going to talk about that.

John McCain make as long list of promises about how great his first term would be. And California's Supreme Court gives gay marriage the green light. We've got lots of political fireworks at the top of the hour -- Lou.

DOBBS: A lot of fun. All right. Campbell, thank you very much. Campbell Brown. A reminder now to vote in our poll. Do you believe the federal government should expand the e-verify program and require all employers to use it? Yes or no. Cast your vote at We'll have the results here in just a few minutes.

Up next, renowned political, economic strategist Kevin Phillips says none of the presidential candidates has answers to the economic crisis that faces this country. He is my guest here next. We're coming right back. Stay with us.


DOBBS: My next guest says the policies of the previous two administrations left the middle class behind. Kevin Phillips is the author of a -- among many other important books, the important and eminently readable "Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics & the Global Crisis of American Capitalism."

He's one of the country's most respected political and economic thinkers and joins us here tonight. Good to have you with us, Kevin.

KEVIN PHILLIPS, AUTHOR, "BAD MONEY": Happy to be here. DOBBS: Let's talk about just this administration for now. The middle class in this country has always to me been the foundation of everything this country is about, the American dream. How is it -- was it an overt policy decision on the part of this administration to go after the middle class?

PHILLIPS: What's hard for me to fathom is how George W. Bush could have thought we were in a war, which he did think, and simultaneously basically favor the upper brackets with tax cuts and further advantage them and let the middle class suffer from a combination of steadily rising Social Security taxes and the insufficient relief on some of the other dimensions.

But my sense of the Bushes, and I have been critics of them for quite a while, is that middle America is not really their thing. And that they have the view...

DOBBS: They are elitists straight up.

PHILLIPS: They are elitists, yes, exactly. And that the middle class -- TIME magazine, the people who -- several of their editors wrote a book back in 1992 and they basically hypothesized that George H.W. Bush just didn't really have much of a sense of the role of ordinary Americans in the economy, they didn't have much choice so they should sort of take whatever they get. The people who really matter were the people with money who invested.

DOBBS: Right. Well, it has certainly been the case through this administration. It is -- let's be honest, it is the case in the administration that preceded it as well. This election right now is sort of confounding because I'm not exactly sure who we're watching here. Day-to-day, whether it's Obama, whether it's Clinton or McCain, I'm starting to hear -- and this is sweet music to my ears, but I'm hearing lots of populist notes rising in their rhetoric.

PHILLIPS: Well, I think that's right. If you read selected quotes from John McCain, he has been belaboring the people in the pharmaceutical industry, he has been zeroing in on Wall Street. The difficulty I have there is that he sort of has the Republican economic Fourth of July speech. We're going to cut taxes, cut spending...


DOBBS: And good old free trade.


PHILLIPS: Yes. And I mean, the whole thing is totally far- fetched. It just sounds like the wish list that they trot out periodically.

DOBBS: Who is the least far-fetched amongst the Democratic candidates in your view?

PHILLIPS: Well, I never cared for the Clinton administration. And as a result, Hillary's economics, the whole Alan Greenspan-Bob Rubin business was always a little suspect with me. Now, Obama is more open to things, but on the other hand he really hasn't had very much to say that is specific either.

I mean, I have this yardstick now after being frustrated and writing books that you can't get people to talk about, the financial sector is 20 percent of the GDP and manufacturing is 12. You can't get people to talk about how the combination of private and public debt has quadrupled in 20 years.

DOBBS: Or that there's $53 trillion in unfunded liabilities in this country, that there is no way in which these entitlement programs will take care of those for whom they were intended over the course of the next decade. Those are ugly little considerations, aren't they, on the campaign trail?

PHILLIPS: Well, they basically can't deal with any of these things, so why get into the specifics? And the result of this is that you get proposals like a holiday for the gasoline tax during the summer which is worthless. I don't take it very seriously.


DOBBS: But we do take seriously the challenges that face us and the next president. Are you sanguine about the capacity and leadership that will be in the White House given these three candidates?

PHILLIPS: Well, every time I think Obama is smarter than the others, something comes along that makes me a little dubious like the pastor and this little thing today about "sweetie" and everything. He lacks a certain judgment. And I'm afraid that unless he gets a more substantial mandate, he's not going to be able to do a lot, however good his objectives might be.

DOBBS: All right. Well, Kevin Phillips, the book is "Bad Money." A great read. Thank you for being here.

PHILLIPS: Thank you.

DOBBS: Coming up next, middle class families falling deeper into credit card debt as well. And what's our government doing about this economic crisis? We'll have that story for you. It's not a long story. Stay with us. We'll be right back.


DOBBS: Billions of struggling Americans increasingly are using their credit cards to pay for food, for gasoline, and now even mortgages. One lawmaker has introduced legislation to cap interest rates on credit cards.

But as Kitty Pilgrim reports now, his effort is being met with great resistance by one very special interest group, the banking industry.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Swipe after swipe after swipe, more than 70 percent of families have at least one general purpose credit card, and many have a wallet-full.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I put everything on my credit card.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a ton of credit cards. I have a credit card from probably every major bank.

PILGRIM: According to the Federal Reserve, Americans have $957 billion in credit card debt, that's more than $3,000 for every man, woman, and child. And the balance is rising at an annual rate of 8 percent.

One study found American households with credit card debt owed a median balance of $6,600. Less than one-third pay their balances off monthly. The American Bankers' Association disputes that, saying those numbers are too high.

Twenty-five states have caps on interest rates on cards given by local banks, but the majority of credit cards are issued by national banks and there are currently no federal caps on how high interest rates can go.

Congressman Maurice Hinchey has introduced a bill that will change that.

REP. MAURICE HINCHEY (D), NEW YORK: What I'm trying to do here is to put at least a cap on interest rates at 20 percent. Interest rates on these credit cards should not go above 20 percent. In my opinion, they shouldn't even be that high.

PILGRIM: The American Bankers Association says putting interest rate caps on credit cards is unnecessary because credit card competition is intense and consumers have control. But consumer watchdog groups say Congress may be willing to act as more Americans face ruin from credit card debt.

JOAN CLAYBROOK, PUBLIC CITIZEN: Credit card interest rates are putting people into bankruptcy if not into poverty and it's really important that there be limits on these interest rates. People are depending on credit cards much more with the downturn in the economy than they have in the past.

PILGRIM: The Federal Reserve recently proposed other limits to credit card fees and penalties.

Kitty Pilgrim, CNN.


DOBBS: And our poll results tonight, 97 percent of you responding that you believe the federal government should expand that e-verify program and require all employers in this country to use it.

Time now for some of "Your Thoughts." Tim in Kentucky said: "Lou, I've been a Democrat all of my life, but today, after a long process of thinking about what my party has done to the people of Florida and Michigan, I registered as a proud independent. Keep up the good work, Lou. The American middle class needs all the help we can get." Congratulations on becoming an independent.

And Rhonda in Indiana: "Lou, how in the world do you do it? I'm addicted to your wonderful news program, but I sometimes find myself becoming overly annoyed at our government's lack of actions on securing our borders, among other things. If our elected officials were in tune with you, we would have far fewer problems to deal with." We all have that frustration, believe me.

And Linda in Oregon said: "I have had it with the Democratic Party. They don't care what the people in the party want. They're ready to decide before the rest of us even vote. Next week I register as an independent." Good going.

Thanks for being with us tonight. And I have to say, I can't even imagine why people, Democratic voters in Michigan and Florida would maintain a party affiliation after the way think have been treated. But we'll find out. For all of us here, thanks for watching. Good night from New York. The "ELECTION CENTER WITH CAMPBELL BROWN" begins right now -- Campbell.

BROWN: Thanks, Lou.