CNN LOU DOBBS TONIGHT - Transcript
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PILGRIM: Now, we should note that President Bush was talking about the elected government in Iraq.
Senator Jeff Sessions says the Senate ignored the will of the people in passing an amnesty bill for illegal aliens that would cost taxpayers tens of billions each year. A CBO report Sessions commissions says that the bill will also do nothing to stop illegal aliens entering this country. I asked Senator Sessions what the purpose of the Senate immigration bill is, if not to stop the flow of illegal aliens?
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: That was the purpose, but the CBO numbers are based on the Senate bill. And they say, in a fact, there's no change in illegal immigration for 10 years. It would be 700,000 to 900,000 a year. If anything, that's certainly no less and maybe more than the current rate. So it really belies the argument that this bill is going to make any progress on enforcement. It certainly does not appear to.
PILGRIM: What does that say about the value of this bill, sir?
SESSIONS: Well I think it again is another indication that it is unacceptable, that it's terribly flawed, should never become law and will not do what it promises. It promises to enforce the border. And that's proven to be false. I think I've already said that, but the CBO confirmed it. Workplace enforcement is not there. And the future flow plans to allow millions coming in in the future at a much higher rate are just unprincipled and not valuable, not good for the United States. So we definitely need to review this legislation.
PILGRIM: House Speaker Dennis Hastert has said that he wants to take a long look at this bill and potentially hold hearings. Do you think hearings are appropriate? They're certainly not normal.
SESSIONS: No, they're not normal. But you know, the House has none of this so-called comprehensive approach to immigration. Theirs was focused primarily on enforcement. And so if they're going to consider the comprehensive bill at all, they absolutely should study it. We never had enough hearings in the Senate. This bill just basically came up and moved through with very few hearings directly related to the gray issues on immigration.
We just didn't discuss the real important issues in any significant way. For example, we've never considered whether or not we ought to adopt what Canada does, and that is to have a point system. Why haven't we even discussed that? It seems to me it makes an awful lot of sense.
PILGRIM: All right, you know, could this immigration reform bill be hammered out behind closed doors with the congressional leadership? Do you see it going that way?
SESSIONS: Well, that's a very dangerous thing. The American people's confidence in the government on a question of immigration is very low. They're very cynical. And if anyone thinks they can hammer out a bill and then ram it through without the American people being alerted, I think they're in for big trouble and just further erode public confidence in what we're doing.
PILGRIM: The Senate -- procedurally the Senate bill has to be attached to a House bill to avoid a constitutional issue. Would you support a unanimous consent to send to it the House?
SESSIONS: You know, I haven't made a decision about that. My personal view is we need to discuss this bill more. No one senator can block a bill from being considered, but can provide an opportunity for more debate. So we'll be looking at that.
PILGRIM: And timetable-wise, if this doesn't get to the House and Senate by August 1st, do you think it will make it at all in this session?
SESSIONS: You know, it may not. Then again, something could happen. But from what I'm hearing from the House, that they're so concerned about the viability of the comprehensive language in the Senate bill, not that they're so against the comprehensive bill, but just that they are uneasy and unaccepting of what we've done, then I think it's got a long way to go to become law, frankly.
PILGRIM: Let's talk about Republican Brian Bilbray's platform. He ran on an anti-amnesty platform. Do you think that that sends a message to Republicans for the fall?
SESSIONS: I absolutely do. I think the American people care about this issue far more than politicians will admit to themselves. We're almost in denial around here, it seems to me, about the importance of this issue. We talk about other issues when in the minds of the American people, immigration really is a seminal issue. It's a defining issue for our nation and for how they will evaluate their government officials.
PILGRIM: Well we're delighted you came on the program to discuss it with us again, sir. Senator Jeff Sessions, thank you.
SESSIONS: Thank you.
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