CNN Lou Dobbs Tonight - Transcript
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
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DOBBS: Border security is among the foremost critical national issues facing this country. Governor Janet Napolitano of Arizona has become the second border state governor to declare a state of emergency along the border with Mexico in less than a week. I talked with the governor and asked her what prompted the decision.
GOV. JANET NAPOLITANO (D), ARIZONA: Well, we've been looking at this for a while, but we have had a growing problem with illegal immigration traffic across the Arizona border, for which we've repeatedly asked the federal government for help, in terms of extra law enforcement, in terms of more resources. We haven't gotten it.
And it's gotten to the point now where fences are being torn down. There's a lot of associated crime with the illegal immigration that is making that whole border area not as secure as it needs to be. And one way for me to get some additional moneys down to local law enforcement to deal with things like stolen cars and ID theft and all of the property crime that goes along with illegal immigration was to declare a state of emergency, which at this point it is, and to work with our sheriffs and county attorneys, get that money where it needs to be.
DOBBS: Governor, the idea that so many state and local officials have said, illegal immigration and border security are federal problems, we can't get involved -- what in the world are we going to do in this country if the federal government will not take action? And we're relying upon you in the state of Arizona, and Governor Bill Richardson in New Mexico?
NAPOLITANO: Well, one of the things I hope this declaration does is it sends a sense of urgency to Washington, D.C., which has been issuing lots of words about the border and homeland security and illegal immigration. But we're not seeing the activity on the ground. We're seeing a lot of bureaucracy, not a lot of movement.
As you know, I have billed the federal government for our costs of incarcerating illegal immigrants. The federal government, by my count, owes Arizona taxpayers over $200 million now. We haven't seen any movement on that. We haven't seen any movement in terms of actually getting more resources down here, nor have we seen significant movement in terms of reforming our federal immigration law so that it can be enforced.
What we have been doing, what I've been doing in Arizona is working with my counterpart in Sonora, Mexico. And he and I actually signed a joint protocol this summer to work together to secure at least the Arizona-Sonora border.
This is a problem for both our states. And he's got problems with his federal government, just as I have problems with ours.
DOBBS: Governor, earlier this year, you vetoed legislation that would have given authority to local law enforcement to work with the federal agencies on -- and to bring immigration, illegal immigration within the purview of their jurisdiction. What's happened here?
NAPOLITANO: Yeah, I'll tell you, that piece -- that piece of legislation, first of all, was passed over the vehement opposition of law enforcement. They don't want to enforce the immigration laws. That's the federal government's responsibility. What they do want are the resources to enforce laws that impact illegal immigration, such as stolen vehicle theft, ID theft and the like. Plus, that bill did not have a single dollar associated with it. So it was an unfunded mandate to local law enforcement, just as the federal government is giving unfunded mandates to the states. I'm a big opponent of unfunded mandates, and it seemed to me the better way to go would be meet with law enforcement, put together a plan, and then fund it through our emergency powers, which is what we're doing.
DOBBS: Well, Governor, let's be honest. If the federal government of the United States and the Mexican government itself -- not the provincial governor of Sonora, but the federal government of Mexico -- decided to stop illegal immigration, they could do so in rather short order, could they not?
NAPOLITANO: Yes, they could, but the fact of the matter is, they haven't. And the people of my state are suffering as a result. We're suffering from crime, we're suffering from environmental degradation, we're suffering from excess expenditures that our taxpayers are having to expend, and we waited about as long as we can.
DOBBS: Governor Napolitano, we thank you for being here.
NAPOLITANO: You bet. Thank you.
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