CBS Face The Nation-Transcript
SCHIEFFER: We want to turn now to the issue that has turned Democrats against Democrats and Republicans against Republicans, and that is this whole question of immigration and immigration reform, the issue that has stirred fierce debate. It's caused Republicans to start using rhetoric on each other that they used to use only on Democrats, and Democrats are saying nasty things about each other, too. Yet--and here is the surprising thing to me--the American people seem much more relaxed about all this than their leaders and opinion makers. The CBS News/New York Times Poll shows 62 percent believe illegal immigrants should have a chance to apply for legal status. Sixty-seven percent believe illegal immigrants should be allowed to apply for a visa, and 66 percent, another big majority, support a guest worker program. Now, those are some of the features in the president's immigration reform proposal. I want to go now to Congressman Peter King.
You are a Republican, Congressman. Why are you against the president's plan?
Representative PETER KING (Republican, New York): Because, Bob, it's not
going to work, and no matter how they try to disguise it, this is amnesty.
And in those poll numbers you're talking about, let me tell you, I have gotten
five, 600 phone calls, at least, since this bill was announced. There's been
one person has come out in favor of this legislation. And when you look at
the poll numbers, when you get down to all the questions, there's also another question which said the overwhelming majority of Americans want illegal immigrants deported. Now, the bottom line is here, if we're serious about illegal immigration, what this bill does is not a serious bill because it
promises less than we already have. It provides less border fencing, it
provides maybe the same amount of border patrol agents. But, at the same time or almost immediately, gives legal status to 12 million illegal immigrants
living in this country. They can get that within 24 hours, and that will give
them the right to work, the right to go to college, the right to stay in this
country for the rest of their lives. That's the reality. And remember, 12
million illegal immigrants, that's more than the population of 44 different
states in this country.
SCHIEFFER: Well, it also raises a question, if you tried to get them all out,
I mean, how would you go about doing that? I mean, we had trouble getting
thousands of people out of New Orleans, and you're talking about getting
millions of people out of this country? It seems to me that that's just an
Rep. KING: No, Bob, I'm not talking about deportation. I'm saying the
overwhelming majority of Americans said they wanted deportation. What I'm
saying we should do is enforce the laws we have right now. Don't give amnesty to illegal immigrants. Go after the workplace. Go after the employers who are--who are hiring illegal immigrants. That will result in voluntary
deportation. And then we can come back in three or four years, if the border
is secure, if illegal immigration has been stopped and if we've gone after the
workplaces, then we can address the remaining illegal immigrants who are here. I'm not anti-immigrant. I come from a family of immigrants. I grew up in
neighborhoods where immigrants were both legal and illegal. But the world
changed on September 11th. We right now have a situation that's out of
control. This bill does not address it, it only exacerbates it.
SCHIEFFER: All right, well, we want to go to Senator Ken Salazar now, who's
with us in the studio here in Washington. He is one of those who worked with the group to get this compromise legislation together that the president is now supporting.
Senator, you've just heard Peter King, who makes a very good case for why this is not a good bill. Tell me why you think it is a good one.
Senator KEN SALAZAR (Democrat, Colorado): I think it's--I think it is a good
bill because, for the first time, what we have here is legislation that
addresses three fundamental points. First, it strengthens our border. We
have 370 miles of fencing, we have a doubling of the number of border patrol
officers, we do a whole host of things on the border that will secure the
border. Second of all, we provide the capacity to be able to enforce our laws
within the country. That's something which the United States has not done for over 20 years. We need to start enforcing our laws, including tough employer sanctions. And third, we deal with the realistic provisions on the 12 million undocumented workers in America. You know, if you listen to my friend,
Representative King, though he--what he would try to do is to be part of the
round-them-up-and-deport-them crowd. I mean, how're you going to round up 12 million human beings, all of them with hearts and souls, most of them are hard-working people here in America, and ship them out? And essentially,
those who are in Representative King's camp are people who don't want to find a solution to the very fundamental problem of the 21st century here in
SCHIEFFER: Well, let me ask you this. You just heard me read those poll
results, which I must say, after listening to the debate for the last year or
so, I was really stunned to find so many people favor a guest workers program, favor a way for people who are in this country illegally to apply for
citizenship or some sort of legal reasons to stay here. Where is all this
coming from? I don't understand it. The rhetoric is so harsh among public
officials and opinion makers and talk radio. And yet you have a poll that
says most people really favor these things.
Sen. SALAZAR: You know, Bob, I think the noise is coming from the radical
fringes on the right...
SCHIEFFER: On both sides.
Sen. SALAZAR: ...on the right and the left. And the fact is when you think
about Secretary Chertoff and Gutierrez, and President Bush's leadership,
working with somebody like Ted Kennedy to come up with a proposal that's
comprehensive in nature, I think those public officials are where the American
people are. They see a problem that we have in immigration, which is a huge
national security problem, and an economic security issue with huge moral
implications, and we need a fix. And for those in Washington who say, you
know, we can go ahead and postpone this thing for another three or four years, I think they're wrong. I think it would be an abdication of responsibility on the part of our American leadership if we don't get to a solution on
immigration reform, and we don't do it this year.
SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just show--I want to show something here. The
president, among others, is going all out. He said that those who oppose his
plans, and this is his quote, "don't want to do what's right for America".
And I know a lot of Republicans took umbrage at that. He said that during a
speech down in Georgia, which if there is Bush country, that would certainly
be Bush country. Here's--he went on to say this. Listen.
President GEORGE W. BUSH: If you want to scare the American people, what you say is the bill's an amnesty bill. It's not an amnesty bill. That's empty
political rhetoric trying to frighten our fellow citizens.
SCHIEFFER: Well, I'll go back to you, Congressman King. Are you trying to
frighten people, congressman?
Rep. KING: No, not at all. I have great regard for President Bush, but I
disagree with him on this. And as far as what Senator Salazar just said, I am
not saying deport all 12 million. I'm saying enforce the laws we have now.
And this bill will actually weaken the law. The current law says we have to
have 700 miles of fence, this bill says make 300 miles. Right now we're
supposed to have 41,000 detention beds, this will give us less than 41,000.
And as far as deportation, what I'm saying we should do is enforce the law,
stop the immigration that's coming into the country now, the illegal
immigration, go after the employers, and that will result in a good number of
self deportations. Whoever's left after that, in three or four years, we can
go back and address.
But right now this is not comprehensive legislation. You're taking 12 million
illegal immigrants and saying they're legal, and somehow saying that that is
addressing the issue. And I really--you know, I have to disagree with this
whole idea that it's some radical group. If you went back in the streets
talking to people, talking to real Americans who work day in and day out, they are strongly opposed to this bill. Maybe not the people in The New York
Times, or the people in the media or, all due respect to Senator Salazar,
people who run with six year terms. But those of us who are back in our
districts talking to people--I come from a Reagan Democrat district. Bill
Clinton carried it twice, Al Gore carried it in 2000. The people are overwhelmingly against this bill.
SCHIEFFER: Let me just cut...
Rep. KING: And even in your own...
SCHIEFFER: Yes, let me just...
Rep. KING: ... bill--Bob, Bob you can...
SCHIEFFER: Let me just cut to the chase here.
Rep. KING: Right.
SCHIEFFER: Would you rather have no bill than this bill, congressman?
Rep. KING: I would rather have the current law enforced. I will be
introducing legislation of my own in the next several weeks. along with
Congressman Smith. But this bill is worse than the current law because it
weakens the enforcement provisions, and it gives amnesty to 12 million people who are here illegally. It sets the wrong precedent, it's the wrong thing to do. And even your own poll, Bob, would show that a massive number of Americans, when they ask the question they want deportation, they say yes. So that flies in the face of those first numbers that you already gave.
SCHIEFFER: Well, I guess I'm obliged to ask Senator Salazar, do you consider
yourself a real person in the definition that Congressman King has just given
here? Do you think you're on the same page with real people?
Sen. SALAZAR: You know, the United States senator, I'm with President Bush
on this one. This is a national security issue, it's something that cries out
for solution, and we need to do it now. You know, on the substantive issue
which Congressman King raises relative to amnesty, nothing could be further
from the truth. If you think about what you're doing with these 12 million
people, you're putting them in an eight year status of purgatory. They're not
going to have the right to vote, they're going to be very--they're going to be
here legally, but they're going to have a whole huge number of issues that are going to burden them during the eight year time frame that they're here.
They're going to have to pay, overall--one person is going to have to pay
$8,000 in order to be legalized. That's a penalty, it's processing fees, it's
three fee application fees, $8,000. You know, I--I'm--I was an attorney
general for--I was attorney general in my state, you know, prosecuted
thousands of criminals, and I'm a proud member of the law enforcement
SCHIEFFER: Let me just ask you this quick question. Do you think this bill
will pass the Senate?
Sen. SALAZAR: I think it will pass the Senate, and I expect that it will pass the House of Representatives, and it will be signed by the president because this is one of the most fundamentally important issues for America today.
SCHIEFFER: Do you think the president can deliver 80 Republicans in the House? Because that's what House voters are saying it's going to take to get
Sen. SALAZAR: You know, I hope so. I mean, I think the president has worked
in a true bipartisan spirit here. He's rolled up his sleeves, and he's worked
very, very hard on getting this thing through. And those people who are out
there trying to put the label of amnesty on this bill, they're just wrong. If
you think about have to pay $8,000, $8,000, that's a very significant penalty
and fines and processing fees that these people are going to have to pay in
order for them to get in line to ultimately be eligible for a green card eight
years down the road.
SCHIEFFER: All right, I want to thank both of you for helping us shed some
light on what this legislation is about. We'll see what happens.