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Durbin: On CBS' ``Face the Nation'' said nation needs a way to bring illegal immigrants ``out of the shadows.''

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Durbin: ``But the guest worker program that we're promoting is one that puts a cap on the number who can come in under this legal program. Secondly, the people who hire them have to establish that there are no Americans who would fill this job. And, finally, they have to be paid a prevailing wage. So it isn't as if we're creating a working underclass. What we're trying to do is to meet some real employment needs in this country. ''

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CBS News


Sunday, April 2, 2006

Assistant Democratic Leader

Chairman, House Judiciary Committee

Columnist, The New York Times


PANEL: Gloria Borger - CBS News/US News & World Report

This is a rush transcript provided
for the information and convenience of
the press. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
In case of doubt, please check with



Today on FACE THE NATION, reforming immigration in America, a debate. What
should happen to the 12 million people in America who are here illegally?
Should they be allowed to work toward citizenship or be sent back to their
original countries? And what about building a fence along the border? Is
that really feasible? We'll get two views on this contentious issue this
morning. One from the deputy Democratic leader in the Senate, Dick Durbin of
Illinois. The other from Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner of
Wisconsin, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and sponsor of a
crackdown bill in the House. David Brooks, columnist of The New York Times
will join us to talk about this and the rest of the week's news, and I'll have
a final word on moon walking. But first, immigration on FACE THE NATION.

Announcer: FACE THE NATION with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob
Schieffer. And now, from CBS News in Washington, Bob Schieffer.

SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. Joining us from Chicago this morning
where he'll be in place to see the world champion Chicago White Sox open the
baseball season tonight, Senator Dick Durbin. With us here in the studio,
Congressman James Sensenbrenner. And we're here to talk about the thing that
Congress has been talking about all week and will be talking about all next
week, and there's plenty of talk around the country about the very same thing,
and that is immigration. What are we going to do about it? Two men with very
different points of view.

Congressman Sensenbrenner, let me talk to you first. The bill that you have
passed, and it has now passed in the House, really focuses on tightening the
borders, on cracking down on illegal immigrants. Among other things, this
bill calls for building a 700 mile fence. Now, I've done a little
calculating, and 700 miles is from just down the street where we are, the
Washington Monument, if you go from there to the Sears Tower in Chicago, that
comes out to 700 miles. That's a pretty good-sized fence. How much would it
cost to build a fence like that?

Representative JAMES SENSENBRENNER (Republican, Wisconsin; Chairman, House
Judiciary Committee): The estimate is about $2 billion. However, the first
thing we have to do to fix our broken system is to stop illegal immigration,
because if we don't stop illegal immigration by securing the border and
cracking down on those employers that do hire a lot of illegal immigrants,
there just will be more illegal immigrants coming across the border and
flooding our schools and causing a collapse in our health care system. Once
we stop illegal immigration, then I think we should talk about what to do
about the 11 million illegal immigrants that are already here.

SCHIEFFER: But let me go back to this fence. What kind of a fence would it
be? I mean, this has got to be more than a couple of cowboys with some post
hole diggers and a pickup loaded with cedar posts.

Rep. SENSENBRENNER: Oh. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. There will be a physical
barrier built where it's appropriate. But in other places, there can be a
virtual fence, which includes high tech electronic devices, drone planes and
stuff like that. I would point out, in the 38th mile south of San Diego where
there is a fence that has been built, since the fence was completed, there has
been not one illegal immigrant that has jumped over the fence and entered the
United States illegally.

SCHIEFFER: But how many went around it?

Rep. SENSENBRENNER: Well, quite a few went around it, because we've been
having over a half million illegal immigrants entering the country this year.
And what they do is they really distort the job market because it's always
cheaper to hire an illegal immigrant than hire a citizen or a legal immigrant
who has got authorization to work here.

SCHIEFFER: Would the fence be brick? Would it be a cyclone fence? What kind
of a fence would it be?

Rep. SENSENBRENNER: Whatever is appropriate could be built as a physical
barrier. And the reason we've got this problem is the Mexican government has
not helped at all in the problem of illegal migration. If they had helped, we
wouldn't need these types of barriers. But I think they're kind of on the
other side.

SCHIEFFER: All right.

Well, let me go to Senator Durbin. Do you think a fence like that would work,
and how would you envision such a fence, senator?

Senator RICHARD DURBIN (Democrat, Illinois; Democratic Whip): Well, it's hard
for me to envision a fence that you couldn't go over, under or around. I
think we need some fences in strategic places. Every bill that's being
considered, every immigration bill, calls for more secure borders. We know
the borders are out of control, as Congressman Sensenbrenner has said, and,
under the last five years of the Bush administration, they've just broken down
completely. And so we have got to really work together in a bipartisan basis
to strengthen the number of people there. Maybe coming up with something
smarter than a 700 mile fence that uses the best technology. More
investigators and more enforcement of the laws when it comes to employment in
the United States to make sure that that demand side, the lure of coming to
the United States, is diminished.

SCHIEFFER: Well, now, one of the things that you're in favor of, as I take
it, is some sort of a guest worker program where the people that come into the
United States would be allowed to stay here legally and work. Isn't, as
Congressman Sensenbrenner I'm sure is going to say, isn't that putting an
enormous load on our facilities, our public institutions, hospitals, schools,
so on and so on?

Sen. DURBIN: Bob, I'm sitting here in the city of Chicago, I just went
across the street for a cup of coffee. I can tell you that many of the people
who were working in that restaurant are people who are undocumented.
people who are undocumented are a major part of America's economy, 29 percent
of our agricultural work force in Senator--pardon me, Congressman
Sensenbrenner's state. I'm sure he's aware of many who are working in
industries like printing, for example, or meatpacking. They've become an
integral part of our economy, an important part. And what I believe we need
to do is to really stop the illegal flow and create a legal flow of
immigration, people whom we can identify. We'll know their names, where they
live, where they work. That'll make us a more secure nation.

SCHIEFFER: What are you going to do with the ones that are already here? I
mean, would you--wouldn't you think it would reward people who came here
illegally if you gave them all these things that you're talking about?

Sen. DURBIN: Deportation is unrealistic. To think that we could
remove--charge with a crime and remove 11 or 12 million people is unrealistic.
And the concept of amnesty has been rejected by everyone, Democrats and
Republicans alike. It shouldn't be something automatic where these folks go
to the front of the line with a free pass. But what we've come up with, on a
bipartisan basis in the Senate, is a sensible means to create a legal path in
the United States for those who are currently undocumented. And it won't be
easy. It will take 11 years. People will have to demonstrate that they're
working hard and they're paying taxes, that they have no criminal record,
they're learning English. Some will be able to meet these requirements; some
will not. But it's the only way to bring people out of the shadows and have a
system consistent with American values

SCHIEFFER: Congressman:

Rep. SENSENBRENNER: The problem with what the senator's talking about is, at
the end of 11 years, it is an amnesty, because it gives the benefits of
American citizenship to those who have been underground, illegally entered the
United States, have been working illegally, and, if they have a $2,000 fine
and end up doing all of the other things that Senator Durbin is talking about,
they become citizens. Now, American citizenship should not be for sale. And
what the Senate bill does is it says if they pay those $2,000 fines, they can
end up being a citizen. I think American citizenship is priceless, and it
ought to be done the legal way just like my ancestors did, and I'm certain the
senator's and your ancestors, Bob, did.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just ask you about one point that the senator raised,
and that would be this. He says that, you know, it's going to help, that
people need this, that this is the right thing to do. Is it really amnesty
when you let people work like this and--to earn citizenship? It seems to me
that's sort of one of the things that this country's all about.

Rep. SENSENBRENNER: Well, it is what this country is all about. But most
people have done it the legal way, and it's required an awful lot of patience
and cutting through bureaucratic red tape. Now, I am told that somebody who
is a US citizen whose brother is in the Philippines has to wait 22 years in
order to come to the United States legally under a visa. Now somebody else in
the Philippines can hop to the head of the line by entering the United States
illegally, and they would be a US citizen 11 years ahead of the person who's
trying to do it right. We should not have illegal immigrants jump to the head
of the line. And if we open the door to illegal immigration, we end up
closing the door to legal immigration. And if we're a country of laws--we can
be a country of laws and immigration at the same time, but that requires
enforcing the law and not giving a benefit to people who have broken it.

SCHIEFFER: Well, senator?

Sen. DURBIN: I can just tell you that the Senate bill expressly says no one
can jump ahead of the line. There's no amnesty. There's nothing automatic
about this. And we understand that the current system is a mess. And I hear
some of the folks supporting the House bill saying, `Well, we've just got to
stand and honor this current immigration system.' They should be in my office
and listen to the people who are calling in who have been trapped by this
system. Bob, yesterday I went to Cristo Rey High School here in Chicago, and
there were 25 kids up on stage--they're high school students, many of them the
best in their class, who want to go to college. Some of them are already in
college. One is pursuing a master's in neurobiology. And our immigration law
says to these young people, who came here at an early age through no choice of
their own, `We don't want you in this country. You're a criminal. Under the
House bill, we're going to call you not our future but we're going to call you
a felon. You should leave immediately.' And a young man studying for a
master's in neurobiology I think is an asset to the future of the United
States. Telling them they have to leave, they're illegal, doesn't make us a
stronger or better nation.

SCHIEFFER: But that is not the person who's coming across the Mexican border.
These are people who have no education, that are working at the lowest level.
Let me just ask you about this: Paul Krugman of The New York Times, a very
liberal writer who is pro-immigration, says that even with all of that--and he
favors immigration--what bothers him is you're bringing on a large nonvoting
workforce, which he says is sort of the way it is in places like Dubai. Do
you worry that we might be coming another Dubai?

Sen. DURBIN: If you're asking me, I can tell you I'm concerned about
Krugman's article, and I read it closely. But the guest worker program that
we're promoting is one that puts a cap on the number who can come in under
this legal program. Secondly, the people who hire them have to establish that
there are no Americans who would fill this job. And, finally, they have to be
paid a prevailing wage. So it isn't as if we're creating a working
underclass. What we're trying to do is to meet some real employment needs in
this country.
It is likely that many of the people watching this program have
their children watched in day care by undocumented workers, and the mothers
and fathers cared for in nursing homes by these same people. They're an
important part of the economy, doing jobs that many people don't want to do in
the United States.

SCHIEFFER: Mr. Chairman:

Rep. SENSENBRENNER: Well, first, it is always cheaper to hire an illegal
immigrant than a citizen or a legal immigrant. The market will work, and as
long as we have more illegal immigrants coming across the border, and illegal
immigrants here, they're the ones that are going to get these types of low pay
jobs. And they depress the wages of people who don't have high school
diplomas and who are going into entry-level jobs, such as Senator Durbin has

Again, we've got to do things one at a time. The first thing we have to do is
to secure the border and turn off the job magnet for people who are hiring
illegal immigrants. If we don't do that, we can have all of the guest worker
or amnesty programs that we want to have, and nobody will sign up to hire
these people because they'll cost more than hiring the illegal immigrants.

SCHIEFFER: Well, Mr. Sensenbrenner, what do you do with the people that are
already here? As we saw after Hurricane Katrina, and before Hurricane
Katrina, we had a devil of a time getting several thousand people out of New
Orleans. In fact, we didn't get some of them out.


SCHIEFFER: How are you going to get--what?--11 million people who are here
illegally out of this country? I mean, just how do you do that?

Rep. SENSENBRENNER: Well, Bob, nobody is seriously proposing that, because
that will require a massive infiltration of law enforcement officials and will
disrupt the economy. The fact is, is that we tried an amnesty program, an
employer sanctions program 20 years ago, and it didn't work because employer
sanctions were never enforced. And, as a result, only a third of those who
were eligible for the amnesty signed up for it because they were afraid of
losing their jobs.

When you talk about a guest worker program at the same time as firming up the
border, history may repeat itself. Because if we don't firm up the border,
the guest worker program is going to actually encourage more people to enter
the country illegally.

SCHIEFFER: But I thought you said we have to address this. We have to
tighten the borders and all that. Obviously, you're not going to build a 700
mile fence in a matter of months.

Rep. SENSENBRENNER: No, we're not. But the House-passed bill, which has
been condemned across the country, sets up a program of verifying the accuracy
of Social Security numbers in a way similar to the way a merchant verifies the
accuracy of a credit card. It will be a computerized system, and if an
employer finds that the person has got a hot Social Security card, if they
hire them they're going to have the boom dropped on them, and they should.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, let me ask both of you: What is going to
happen? I know the next week, both of you say, is going to be crucial here.
Will the Senate pass a version of this bill, Senator Durbin? Will it have a
guest worker provision in it, do you believe?

Sen. DURBIN: Well, we have good bipartisan support for an approach like
this, but let me tell you, there's a chasm between the House and the Senate.
Chairman Sensenbrenner has carefully avoided mentioning that his bill creates
an aggravated felony--a felony charge against these 11 or 12 million
undocumented, as well as the people helping them. So that a person who is a
nurse or a volunteer, or a person of faith providing humanitarian assistance
to anyone who's an undocumented person can be charged with a felony under
Chairman Sensenbrenner's bill.

SCHIEFFER: OK, but, but to get...

Sen. DURBIN: That is not going to be easy to resolve.

SCHIEFFER: OK. So you don't think that they--that the bill is going to pass
the Senate? Is that your answer here, Senator Durbin?

Sen. DURBIN: I think it's conceivable it will pass, and I hope it does. But
what I'm suggesting is the House approach is unacceptable.

Rep. SENSENBRENNER: Bob, let me say that I offered an amendment to reduce
the felony to a misdemeanor...

Sen. DURBIN: Oh, come on.

SCHIEFFER: Uh-huh, but it is in the bill.

Rep. SENSENBRENNER: ...and the Democrats in the House of Representatives
voted it down.

Sen. DURBIN: Jim, come on. We're in the minority.

SCHIEFFER: OK. Well, let me just ask you, Mr. Sensenbrenner. Do you think
that there's a way to get this passed, or are we just going to go through this
year with no bill?

Rep. SENSENBRENNER: Well, I hope we don't, because no bill will end up being
the worst of all possible worlds. What the Senate has to do is pass a bill,
and then send the bill to conference this week, and that way we can set up a
Senate-House conference committee and attempt to work out an agreement that
will get the support of both houses. This will be tough, and it's the
toughest thing that I've done in 37 years in elected public office, but it is
an important priority for our national security...

SCHIEFFER: All right.

Rep. SENSENBRENNER: ...and our economic well-being.

SCHIEFFER: I have to end it there.

Rep. SENSENBRENNER: All right.

SCHIEFFER: I take it from both of you there is still a lot to be done before
this gets done. Thank you both.


SCHIEFFER: We'll be back in a moment with our roundtable with David Brooks.


SCHIEFFER: And joining us now, David Brooks, columnist for The New York

And I would say a proud conservative would be one way to describe you. David,
what do you make of this what we just heard here? You heard the Democratic
side and one part of the Republican side. But Republicans are split on this,
because the president wants a guest worker program. House Republicans like
Mr. Sensenbrenner don't. Where does this go from here?

Mr. DAVID BROOKS (Columnist, The New York Times): Well, I think what you've
seen in the Senate is a pretty good debate. I was up in the Senate all week.
You had senators actually legislating and compromising. I thought you had a
very sensible debate. I think they've got, you know, this two-pronged
approach: Toughen the borders, but give the people here some avenue of
responsibility to earn their way to citizenship. And that seemed pretty

You go over to the House and there's just a lot of anger there, and my concern
is that those people who are incredibly angry seek any form of compromise as
some sort of compromise on their patriotism. And so, what I see coming out is
a bill in the House, no willingness to compromise because of the anger, a bill
coming out of the Senate. With no willingness to compromise coming out of the
House, we will be, in a year, where we are today, which is a mess.

SCHIEFFER: So you do not believe that by the election that we will have any
kind of an immigration bill on the books.

Mr. BROOKS: No, I really don't. You know, and the House, it's really hard
to--Sen--Mr. Sensenbrenner is a very responsible, intelligent man. But
you've got a lot of people on his side of the debate which are just enraged,
unwilling to talk reasonably. I was up at a presss conference this week where
a House Republican said, `You know, we've got to have some people to pick
lettuce in this country, so we're not going to have immigrants. Let's make
the prisoners do it.' You want to hit the guy on the head with a baseball bat.
We're going to take a largely minority population, forced labor, picking
lettuce and cotton. Is this ringing any bells here? You just--you're not
dealing with people who are willing to compromise, and that's why I don't
think anything's going to happen.

SCHIEFFER: Is this going to hurt the Republicans?

Mr. BROOKS: There's a danger of that. There's a danger that
they'll--because a lot of Republicans are legimately angry at the way there's
no law and order. But if you look at the people who are Republicans who are
against--who are for the tough immigration, they come largely from very
Republican areas. If you look at the Republicans who are running nationally,
whether it was Ronald Reagan 20 years ago, George W. Bush today, John McCain
today, you look at the senators who are running in swing states, DeWine in
Ohio, these people are moderates. So it's the hard-core people from
all-Republican districts who aren't looking at the broader American populous.
It's a very complicated political issue.

If you take people in a focus group and say, `What do you think about
immigration?' the first 15 minutes of that focus group is rage. People are
upset people are sneaking across the borders, they're in our schools, they're
in our hospitals. They're upset. So that's 15 minutes. You get beyond that
15 minutes, and you start saying, `What are you going to do? Are we going to
send them home?' `No. We're not going to do that.' `Are we going to build a
fence?' `Obviously, we're not going to do that.' Once you get people thinking
practically about this, then you've got a lot of moderation and compromise.
And I think, you know, there is a sweet spot there if we could reach it
politically. I'm just pessimistic we're going to reach that spot.

SCHIEFFER: Well, do you think the Republicans are in danger at this point of
losing control of the House? Do you have some other issues out there, too?
Not the least of which is a very unpopular war as we're now seeing in the

Mr. BROOKS: Right. There's the war. There's really a torpor in the
administration. They're not doing anything right now. I think it's now
likely to move the House--that they will lose the House. And I think House
Republicans, privately, most of them admit that. For like a year they were
saying, `Well, we've got it so sewed up with redistricting. We'll lose, but
we won't lose the whole House.' I'd say about two weeks ago the conventional
wisdom shifted and people said, `We're in such trouble. We are going to lose
the House.' Personally, I think it would be good for the Republican Party
because it would make them a little more responsive. It would be good for the
Democratic Party; they'd be a little more responsible. But I think now it's
likely they will lose the House. If the Democrats can't win now, when are
they ever going to win? You know.

SCHIEFFER: The president is announcing he has a new chief of staff. Do you
see a larger shake-up in the White House staff there? And what is this
indicative of, do you think?

Mr. BROOKS: Well, I think it's indicative of a few things. First, terrible
relations with Capitol Hill, which they're finally upset by. The president
was a little frustrated with Andy Card in that he wasn't getting news in time.
There would be information about Katrina and other things that would go up to
Andy Card, but it wouldn't reach the president's desk. They all like Andy
Card, loveable guy, but there was a little frustration there. Josh Bolten is
someone, you know, if you divide the White House staff into automatons and
people with whom it's possible to have a normal conversation, Josh Bolten is
one of those people who can have a normal conversation. He can talk to
members of Congress. He's already called, I think, 30 of them to sort of have
normal conversations, so they're not just lecturing down to people, which has
been a problem.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, David Brooks, thank you very much. I'll be back
with a final word in just a minute.


SCHIEFFER: And finally today, when was it, a couple of years ago that the
president said this was the century we should go to Mars? I'd forgotten all
about it, but, as I got back from vacation last night and was going through
last week's papers, there it was, a story that said for the first time in 30
years our scientists are hard at work planning a flight to the moon; not just
a quick trip, but to build an outpost where humans can live as they prepare
for that trip to Mars. Now, that gave me some pause. We can't figure out how
to get those thousands of trailers standing empty in Arkansas down to New
Orleans to house the people who lost their homes during Katrina, but we're
designing housing for the moon? We can't seem to make those levees that broke
the last time strong enough to withstand the next really bad hurricane, but,
according to that story in The Washington Post, our scientists are now deep
into studies on the effect of moon dust on the humans who will draw that lunar

It's more than a matter of priorities, it seems to me. When you think back on
how the government bungled the original response to Katrina, or the wrong
intelligence that took us to Iraq, and even that crazy deal, safe or not, that
left all of us unaware an Arab company was about to take control of our key
ports, you have to ask, has the federal bureaucracy grown so big and so
cumbersome that no one really knows what it's doing at any particular point in
time? That leads me to the harder question: If we really had to go to the
moon, could we still find a way to get there?

That's it for us. We'll see you next week right here on FACE THE NATION.

1 Comment

Enforce the laws.

Fine and take businesses license away for hiring illegal immigrants.

Do not allow them help thru State or Federal programs.

Get the damm 14th Amendment fixed to not allow babies born here automatic citizenship without the mother being a citizen or at least with a green card.

Now how hard would that be to do? Those are the main reasons they come here. Stop those and many will go home and others will not come into our country illegally.

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Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on April 2, 2006 1:41 PM.

Obama: On ABC's ``This Week'' said guest worker numbers may have to be reduced on immigration bill. was the previous entry in this blog.

Cegelis: Former rival endorses Duckworth for 6th CD House seat. is the next entry in this blog.

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