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CNN "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" - Transcript

Interview

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CROWLEY: Governor, I want to talk to you in a bit about the legalization of some of those who are now here.

But, Congressman Franks, you've heard -- I mean, the most controversial part of this law has been that police who stop someone on another violation, if they are reasonably suspicious that it might be an undocumented person, can ask for those documents. Do you worry that Arizona does begin to look like it is racist, like it is racially profiling?

REP. TRENT FRANKS (R), ARIZONA: You know, Candy, I think, unfortunately, this administration has tried to project that notion. But the reality is that Rhode Island, other states have essentially the same kind of protocol. And what is more is that in the federal process called 287(g), it's a program that calls for states and the federal government to work together on these things.

Essentially Arizona has just codified that in state law. And it's ironic that, you know, with all of the arguments that this is somehow about racial profiling, I think the president of the United States has spoken knowing falsehoods about this bill, because the bill itself, in numerous cases, numerous places, outlaws racial profiling. And it's just astonishing...

CROWLEY: But there is intent, Congressman...

FRANKS: ... to me and...

CROWLEY: There is intent, and then there is what actually happens. And the truth is if an Arizona policeman pulled me over for speeding, I seriously doubt he would ask me for my papers. But if someone who looked Latino was pulled over, I am assuming they would ask for those papers. So isn't the net product to be profiling?

FRANKS: No, I don't think so. The reality is for 50 years in this country federal law has required people that are illegal -- or that are immigrants -- or that are legal immigrants to this country to carry documentation to that effect. And that has been the law for 50 years.

And all of a sudden when Arizona codifies this because the federal government is not doing its job, then there is this outcry of racial profiling. And the reality is, the administration's lawsuit against Arizona is not predicated on racial profiling. If they thought that that would hold up in court, then they should sue on that behalf. I mean, that would at least give us a respectable idea of what they're really trying to do.

But what they're saying here is that, yes, they're saying it's racial profiling, but what they're actually suing on is that somehow that Arizona is preempting the federal government's responsibility.

And the -- the irony of that is that that's -- that was the whole predicate. Arizona had to do this simply because the federal government wasn't doing it.

CROWLEY: And, Governor, the federal government has not, I think you would agree, stepped up to the plate on this particular issue dealing with illegal immigration?

RICHARDSON: Well, the reality is that the Congress has failed to act on comprehensive immigration reform, but...

CROWLEY: Well, that's the same thing, right?

RICHARDSON: ... President Obama has -- but -- but -- no, but, Candy, look, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Texas in the last two weeks, we've gotten a substantial more of National Guard troops, Arizona getting the most. Border security has dramatically improved, in my judgment.

It's still not sufficient. Violence on the border has been reduced a bit, although in Arizona and New Mexico, we still have serious problems.

It's not as if the Obama administration hasn't -- on the border security side, which is very important to me and -- and -- and to Arizona, and I'm sure to the congressman. The issue is the Congress needs to appropriate more funds and more resources. But right now...

CROWLEY: But barring that, you can understand why a state would want to act.

RICHARDSON: Well, they may want to act, but they acted incorrectly. They acted in a way that preempts federal authority, but it's also discriminatory.

The brief of the Justice Department talks about racial profiling potentially happening, besides the preemption issue. It also talks about harming a relationship with another country.

Right now, we have six Mexican border governors refusing to attend a yearly border conference with American border governors because of this incident, because of this issue in Arizona. So it is harming our foreign policy.

What we need, Candy, is for Republicans and Democrats in the Congress to step up and pass comprehensive immigration reform, which they refuse to do, because it's a hot issue. They don't want to deal with it before the election.

CROWLEY: But let me ask you, I know that in 1986 Ronald Reagan passed -- got passed a fairly comprehensive immigration bill. It gave amnesty to something like 3 million undocumented workers that were in the U.S. at that time.

Now, 25 years later, there are between 11 million and 15 million, depending on who you believe. So what makes you think that going around and -- and -- and documenting illegals wouldn't just sort of say to others, "Come on in. Eventually you'll get your citizenship"?

RICHARDSON: Well, what is being proposed now by responsible Republicans -- like President Bush several years ago and -- and -- and President Reagan -- is it's not an amnesty.

What they're saying is, let's have a path to legalization. If you speak English, you pass a background check, if you pay back taxes, if you get behind those that are trying to get here illegally, then eventually you get a path to legalization, not citizenship. It will take about 10 years eventually to maybe be eligible for citizenship.

That is not an amnesty. That is basically saying that, with the 11 million that we have here illegally, we're going to give them an opportunity to show that they embrace American values, they can work here, if they're law-abiding, as I said, if they satisfy those conditions...

CROWLEY: Let me give the -- let me give the congressman a chance just to -- to talk about this issue in general. Congressman, what about that? I mean, it sounds reasonable. You have people here -- and I know President Bush used to say all the time that family values don't stop at the Rio Grande, that -- that so many, the huge bulk of these people are coming because they need to feed their families.

So, you know, what about the idea that, yes, in over 10 years, let's bring all of these people out of the shadows, as they say?

FRANKS: Well, Candy, I am sympathetic to the humanitarian aspects of this. My own wife is from the Philippines and came here legally to this country, and there are a lot of people that want to be part of this nation, and I want them to be part of this nation.

But if we ignore the law completely, then those who are trying to come here legally get pushed aside and it just changes everything.

But there's another issue here that is always astonishing to me that this administration seems to overlook and that's the national security component. I have legislation in that regard. I won't describe it, but let me suggest to you that some day we may face an incursion from some malevolent group that comes over our borders with something that changes our world forever.

Just recently, a Hezbollah leader, Jameel Nasr (ph), was arrested in Tijuana, south of San Diego, and I assure you his intentions were not good trying to come over our border. And it's astonishing to me that, when we live in a 9/11 world, that border security is focused entirely on just the immigration issue, when it really -- the national security component is much greater here.

And I guess I have to take a little secondary shot here. When they -- when they try to beat up the governor of Arizona, Governor Brewer, I served with her in the legislature when I was 27 years old. And I will tell you that this is a noble, decent lady that has always -- as long as I've known her -- tried to do what she truly thought was right for her country that would honor her god and her fellow human beings.

And I'm a little tired of her being kicked around and treated like that somehow she is at fault for canceling or for being the one to have to -- to postpone this governors conference, when it was the -- the governors from the Mexican states like Sonora and -- and others that were the ones that said that they wouldn't come. And so...

CROWLEY: Congressman, I think I'm going to have to leave it there, but I -- I appreciate both of you so much coming, Republican Congressman Trent Franks and, of course, Governor Richardson. Thank you both so much for joining us.

FRANKS: Thank you.

RICHARDSON: Thank you.

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