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Rep. Luis Gutierrez: Tells immigration marchers to leave foreign flags ``at the coat check.''

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A big immigration march is planned for Monday in Washington.

On Sunday, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), a guest on NBC's ``Meet the Press'' was asked about demonstrators who have been waving flags from Mexico and other countries at pro-immigrations ralles.

REP. GUTIERREZ: ``Here's what I say. I come from Chicago. St. Patrick's Day, there's lots of Irish flags, but we color our river green. We celebrate the diversity. In terms of this debate and this discussion, what I have done,
I have gone on the radio, I have gone on TV and I have said, "Check the Mexican, Polish, Irish flags at the coat check. Make sure that you do not give up your essential message, which is that you're proud to be here in this country and that you embrace that flag."

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NBC News


Sunday, April 9, 2006

GUESTS: Senator JOHN KERRY (D-Mass.)
2004 Democratic nominee
for President

Representative HENRY BONILLA (R-Texas)

Representative LUIS GUTIERREZ (D-Ill.)
Chair, Democratic Caucus
Immigration Task Force

Representative J.D. HAYWORTH (R-Ariz.)


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


MR. TIM RUSSERT: Our issues this Sunday: Should the United States consider
an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq? And what should be done about
allegations the president authorized the release of highly sensitive
intelligence information to refute critics of the war? With us: the man who
challenged George W. Bush for the presidency in 2004, Senator John Kerry,
Democrat from Massachusetts.

Then, immigration. Should we build a fence on our southern border? And what
should happen to the 11 million illegal immigrants now living in the United
States? With us, three members of Congress with very different views:
Representative Henry Bonilla, Republican from Texas; Representative Luis
Gutierrez, Democrat from Illinois; and Representative J.D. Hayworth,
Republican from Arizona.

But first, the man who received 48.3 percent of the popular vote in 2004 in
his race against George W. Bush. John Kerry is back on MEET THE PRESS.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA): Well, I'm glad to be here. I thought it was 49.2,
but that's OK. Who's counting?

MR. RUSSERT: Forty-eight-point-three, but who's counting?

You wrote an interesting essay this week talking about our situation in Iraq.


MR. RUSSERT: And here's what appeared in The New York Times: "Iraqi
politicians should be told that they have until May 15 to put together an
effective unity government or we will immediately withdraw our military. If
Iraqis aren't willing to build a unity government in the five months since the
election, they're probably not willing to build one at all. The civil war
will only get worse, and we will have no choice anyway but to leave." In five
weeks, pull the troops out if the situation is status quo.

SEN. KERRY: Tim, it's unconscionable that any young American is dying
because Iraqis, five months after an election, are dithering and squabbling
and cannot find the ability to compromise and come together in a democracy.
Our kids didn't die for that. Our kids didn't go over there to do that. Our
soldiers have done their job. They've given them several elections, three
elections. They've given them a government, the opportunity to have a
government. And now is the time to get tough. You have to set a deadline
because they only respond to deadlines, is what they've proven.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Joe Biden, your fellow Democrat in the Senate, said
this about your proposal: "The problem with John's plan is it sets a date,
but it doesn't tell you what happens when the rest of the world falls apart -
when you have the Turks and the Iranians in Iraq and there's a regional war.
He doesn't tell you that part."

SEN. KERRY: Well, actually I disagree with Joe. I do set forth what you
need to do in that part because there's a complete absence of diplomacy here,
Tim. I mean, you remember the times of Henry Kissinger, shuttle diplomacy, an
incredibly engaged effort to try to get resolution in the Middle East? Do you
remember Jim Baker moving around, talking, unbelievable engaged effort to help
build a coalition for Desert Storm? You don't see any of that taking place
here. There's a complete absence of real diplomacy.

MR. RUSSERT: The secretary of state went to Iraq and suggested that Prime
Minister Jaafari step aside and allow someone else to emerge.

SEN. KERRY: Right.

MR. RUSSERT: An Iraqi said, "We resent that American interference."

SEN. KERRY: That's not the way to do it, Tim. What you need and what I've
suggested is that you have a date in the accordslike summit where you bring
all the parties together--and I mean all the parties. You need to bring
Iraq's neighbors together. Khalilzad has now been authorized to talk to the
Iranians. Bring the Iranians, bring the Syrians, bring the Jordanians, the
Saudis, the Egyptians and others. You have a conference at which you have the
United Nations, the Arab League and all of the factions. And you sit there,
and you pound out the differences.

Now, it may be that ultimately you can't find a resolution on the
constitutional issues and you have to embrace something like Les Gelb's
original proposal, the former head of the Council on Foreign Relations, who
said you may have to divide it up into three parts. I don't know the answer
to that today. What I do know is unless you get that conference, unless you
combine that with the threat of withdrawal and unless you set a date to move
forward, it's not going to happen.

MR. RUSSERT: But Senator...

SEN. KERRY: You continue with the squabbling that's taking place.

MR. RUSSERT: ...if you pull out all American troops in five weeks, you could
have the Iranians come into Iraq.


MR. RUSSERT: You could have the Syrians come into Iraq. You could have
thousands more of al-Qaeda come into Iraq.


MR. RUSSERT: You could have militia...

SEN. KERRY: No. Mm-mm.

MR. RUSSERT: ...of, of the Shiites vs. militia of the Sunnis. You could
have complete chaos, a haven for terrorism all around the world, and the
country will fall apart.

SEN. KERRY: Tim, that's not what I've suggested. And it's really important
to look at what I've proposed. The first step is you've got to have a
government. Our troops are trapped in the middle of a civil war and our
troops can't do anything about a civil war, so you have to sit here
intelligently and analytically and say, "OK, if we're in a civil war, what are
we going to do?" Well, part of the reason we're in a civil war is we don't
have a government five months after an election. And if they can't put a
government together under the threat that the United States is going to
withdraw, they're not going to do it. Then they want the civil war, then they
have to fight their civil war. And as General Casey has said, nothing our
troops can do will change--this can't be won militarily, it has to be resolved
politically, and there's no significant effort on the political side to
resolve it.

MR. RUSSERT: So if they don't put it together in five weeks, let them

SEN. KERRY: Well, you--it's...

MR. RUSSERT: ...let them have their civil war.

SEN. KERRY: But, but stop for a minute. It's going to take you at least
five or six months to go through the process of withdrawal, it just does.
Jack Murtha is correct about that.

Secondly--let me put this to you, our goal is to train 272,000 security
forces. The president's policy, supposedly, is to stand down as they stand
up. Well, the administration has been bragging that we've trained 242,000,
we're only 30,000 away from the goal we supposedly have as our final goal. If
it's true that we've trained 242,000, where are the troops that are standing
down? The president's policy is to stand down as they stand up; they've stood
up, supposedly, 242,000, we're not standing down.

Secondly, the fact is that I have recommended, as Jack Murtha has, and others,
that you have an over-the-horizon capacity. You don't withdraw completely
from the region, you don't leave it exposed to the Iranians and others. And
all of this has to happen with this date and accordslike summit taking place
at the same time. The absence of diplomacy in this effort is, is, is
negligence. I mean, it's stunning, and you cannot begin to resolve Iraq
unless you have that kind of diplomatic effort. That's--you get the
stakeholders--if, if in--if, if the Jordanians, if the Saudis, if others, are
truly concerned about the region, and they are, if they're concerned about
chaos, and they ought to be, then the threat of our withdrawal is what is
going to finally get them to step up and be involved. But the United States
has to lead that effort, and we're not leading it.

MR. RUSSERT: But by setting a specific date for withdrawal--and you say
immediate withdrawal--it is a, a change in your thinking. Now, if you go back
to March of '04...

SEN. KERRY: Absolutely.

MR. RUSSERT: ...'04, this is what you said. "Kerry says, he is committed to
finishing the mission. `My exit strategy is success,' he says, `a viable,
stable Iraq that can contribute to the stability and peace in the Middle
East.'" And then a month later, you offered this.

(Videotape, April 14, 2004):

SEN. KERRY: I think the vast majority of the American people understand that
it is important not just to cut and run. And I don't believe in, in a
cut-and-run philosophy. I think that would be very damaging to the war on
terror, it would be very damaging to the Middle East, it would be very
damaging to the longer term interests of the United States.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: And last January of, of last year, I asked you specifically

SEN. KERRY: Yeah, I remember.

MR. RUSSERT: ...what you are now proposing. Let's watch.

(Videotape, January 30, 2005):

MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe there should be a specific timetable of a
withdrawal of American troops?


(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: No. Now you're saying yes.

SEN. KERRY: There's no change. Yes, I am saying yes. And what I said back
then was based on the fact that the presumption of everybody, Tim, was that we
were fighting al-Qaeda principally and that we were looking at the, at the, at
the war on terror. The fact is that 98 percent of the insurgency has now been
transformed into Iraqis, into indigenous population of Iraq. There are
probably less than 1,000 foreign jihadists there. And in my most recent trip
to Iraq, it became very, very clear to me, as it has to others, that the
Iraqis themselves will not tolerate the jihadists staying on their land.

So the key here is you now have a civil war. This is the third war in Iraq.
The first war was the war against Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass
destruction. The second war was the war against the jihadists with the
president's statement, "It's better to fight them over there than here." We
accepted that. And under those premises, we didn't want to be automatically
moving. Now we have no choice, because the administration did none of the
other things that I also recommended at that point in time, including, may I
add, this concept of bringing together the parties in the region and having a
major diplomatic resolution.

If you talk to, to leaders in the region and others here in the United States,
who look at this issue carefully--experts--they will tell you that Iran is
delighted that we're in Iraq. They love it. And we're going to strengthen
our hand with Iran when we get out of there. We're going to strengthen our
hand with Russia, we're going to strengthen our hand with China, we're going
to strengthen our hand in the Middle East. And I think it is now imperative
to be clear about forcing the Iraqis to stand up on their own. And General
Casey, incidentally, has said the large number of American forces there is
reducing the willingness of Iraqis to do that.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me go back to October of 2002, when you stood up on the
floor of the Senate and said Saddam had weapons of mass destruction,
biological, chemical, the means to deliver them perhaps to the U.S.,
potentially nuclear weapons, and then voted to authorize the president to go
to war. Your running mate, the man you selected to be the next president of
the United States, John Edwards, was on this program. He wrote an op-ed piece
first in The Washington Post, and he wrote this: "I was wrong. Almost three
years ago we went into Iraq to remove what we were told - and what many of us
believed and argued - was a threat to America. But in fact we now know that
Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction when our forces invaded Iraq in
2003. The intelligence was deeply flawed and, in some cases, manipulated to
fit a political agenda. It was a mistake to vote for this war in 2002. I
take responsibility for that mistake." Was it a mistake for you to vote for
the war in 2002?

SEN. KERRY: Absolutely. I've said so many times, many times since then.

MR. RUSSERT: And you take responsibility for it?

SEN. KERRY: You better believe I take responsibility for it. And that's one
of the reasons why I'm here today, Tim. You know, last night, late at night,
I went down to the Wall, the Vietnam Wall. I was amazed by the numbers of
people there, 10:30, 11:00 at night, it's incredible. You walk down that
ramp, and as you go down it gets deeper and deeper, and the wall gets higher
and higher, and you see these names after names after names; thousands, tens
of thousands. They were added to that wall. They died after our leaders knew
the policy wasn't working. And I believe I have a moral responsibility, as we
all do in America, to get this right for our soldiers.

Our soldiers have done their jobs. They can't resolve this issue. This is
not to be resolved militarily, it can't be done from a Humvee or a helicopter.
It has to be done politically, diplomatically. You've got to resolve the
difference between Shia and Sunni. You've got to give the Sunni enough power
to be safe. You've got to give them a source of revenue. You've got to
reconcile these differences. And Ambassador Khalilzad, who's a good man, and
struggling to do this, cannot do it alone. The absence of the president, the
absence of real leadership, the absence of this diplomatic effort is the key,
and I refuse to be a member of the United States Senate and add people to the
next wall for Iraq because we didn't do what was necessary to protect our

MR. RUSSERT: Of all the votes you've cast in the Senate, is the vote in
favor of the war in Iraq in October 2002 the one you would most like to take

SEN. KERRY: Profoundly.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to Iran. Headlines in The Washington Post today:
"U.S. is studying military strike options on Iran." And in this article it
says the United States is contemplating the use of tactical nuclear devices
against Iran. Would you support that?

SEN. KERRY: No. I think that it--that is, that is another example of the
move-from-the-hip--shoot-from-the-hip, cowboy diplomacy of this
administration. For the United States of America, at a time when we're
already trying to wrestle with Iran and the, the proliferation of nuclear
weapons--and North Korea, that is not paying attention to the six-party talks,
partly because of what's happening in Iraq, and they don't need to--for us to
think about exploding tactical nuclear weapons in some way is the height of
irresponsibility. It would be destructive to any nonproliferation efforts,
and the military assessment is it won't work. That even this bombing strategy
itself would not work. Once again, the administration is not engaged in the
real kind of diplomacy--now, when President Clinton had to deal with Bosnia,
sat down with Yeltsin, persuaded him that it was in the interest of Russia
even to be involved there, I think that--you know, you--we, we've got to have
leadership that stops proceeding so unilaterally, and in, in such a, a, you
know, sort of overtly militaristic way, and start putting people together to
resolve this.

MR. RUSSERT: But the, the Iranians have said, "Get out of our life. We, we
are going forward with our program no matter what you do."

SEN. KERRY: Yeah, but what you don't have...

MR. RUSSERT: So you seem to be accepting the Iranians having a nuclear bomb.

SEN. KERRY: No, I'm not accepting it, and I've said point blank that you
leave that option on the table for the end, but I don't think using tactical
nuclear weapons still makes sense. But you leave the military option on the
table. But it's a terrible option fundamentally, and they know it and
everybody else knows it. What you really need here is China and Russia to
join with the United States and others in serious sanctions, ultimately if
that were necessary. And in the meantime, you've got to have a more realistic
approach to President Putin. I think we should have been tougher with respect
to the G8 conference. We gave them something for nothing. And the point

MR. RUSSERT: You mean to boycott it? Would you boycott it?

SEN. KERRY: I think it's difficult now to boycott, but I wouldn't--I would
consider leveraging that, certainly, and I think that it's important for the
president to have thought that through ahead of time. Are we going to go
there and not get their help with respect to Iran? I don't think that makes a
lot of sense.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to the whole release of declassified intelligence
information. In the trial of "Scooter" Libby, the special prosecutor said
that Mr. Libby put forward this notion that President Bush authorized Vice
President Cheney to provide him information to help refute war critics. The
attorney general of the United States was asked about this at a congressional
hearing as to the legal foundation for it, and this is what he had to say.

(Videotape, House Judiciary Committee Hearing):

MR. ALBERTO GONZALES (U.S. Attorney General): I think the president has the
inherent authority to decide who in fact should have classified information
and if, and if the president decided that, that, that a person needed the
information, that he could have that information, sure.

I believe the president would have the authority to simply say, "This
information's no longer classified for the purpose of sharing it with this

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Does the president have to make a finding that
declassifying something is--does not injure the national security, or can he
do it for political reasons?

MR. GONZALES: The president has the constitutional authority to make the
decision as to what, what is in that national interest of the country.

REP. NADLER: For whatever reason he feels like.

MR. GONZALES: He has the authority under the Constitution to make that


(End videotape)

RUSSERT: Do you agree with that legal reasoning?

SEN. KERRY: I think it's time for the attorney general to start standing up
and protecting the Constitution and the country, and not the politics of this
administration. The fact is, on, you know--I mean, on one side, this is the
first evidence we've had that the president was actually in the White House
loop. On the second side, it is wrong for the president of the United States,
who has the right, obviously, to declassify material, to declassify it
selectively in order to buttress phony arguments to go to war, and not
declassify the counter arguments. And it is wrong for the president to do it
in a way that attacks people politically. That's what this was for. This was
not a declassification in order to really educate America. This was a
declassification order to mislead America, in order to mislead them about that
yellow cake from Nigeria, the uranium material, and in order to buttress their
phony argument about the war. And I think it's a disgrace. The fact is...

MR. RUSSERT: But it's not--it's not illegal.

SEN. KERRY: Well, the president has the right, obviously, to declassify.
Whether he has the right to declassify for these kinds of political purposes,
I don't know. Let me read you what his father said. Do you know what his
father said? George Herbert Walker Bush said in 1991 at the dedication of the
George Bush CIA headquarters, he said, "Even though I'm a tranquil guy now at
this stage of my life, I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who
betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view,
the most insidious of traitors."

MR. RUSSERT: But there's no one suggesting...

SEN. KERRY: George Herbert Walker--no.

MR. RUSSERT: ...there's no one suggesting that President Bush revealed the

SEN. KERRY: No, absolutely nothing. But one thing led to another, Tim.
This administration did reveal the name. We know repeatedly now from the
Fitzpatrick documents that not only Scooter Libby but Karl Rove and others
told the name to people. They were using the name, and, and I'm--I just think
all Americans are tired of this. We now have evidence in a court in San
Francisco that documents show that they were eavesdropping through I think it
was AOL, that they were getting into American accounts. So there's now
evidence, not just of foreign eavesdropping surveillance, but of domestic
eavesdropping surveillance on a blanket basis.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Russ Feingold, your Democratic colleague from
Wisconsin, said the president should be censured for his eavesdropping program
because he did not seek authority that Feingold insists is demanded by
statute. Would you vote to censure President Bush?


MR. RUSSERT: What would be the penalty?

SEN. KERRY: The penalty is the censure itself, is the reprimand by the
United State Congress for action that is inappropriate.

MR. RUSSERT: Did he violate the Constitution?

SEN. KERRY: He violated the law, in my judgment.

MR. RUSSERT: Is that impeachable?

SEN. KERRY: Well, I think this impeachment talk is a waste of time. I don't
want to go down that road. What I want to do is get to the things that really
matter to Americans. You know, all this, this politics is driving people
nuts. Now a censure for inappropriate behavior is appropriate, but you know
what they really want us to do? They want us to get something done for
America. This is a country that--I mean, I saw this when I was running for
office. There's a great optimism in America. There's a great sort of
tenacity in the American people. And they're sick and tired of the bickering
in Washington. They want us to do health care for Americans. They want us to
get the deficit down. They want us to...

MR. RUSSERT: Health care. Governor Romney, Governor Romney did it in

SEN. KERRY: And it's terrific. Well, Governor Romney, I hope, will sign the
bill that the legislature's been working on for quite a few years. And...

MR. RUSSERT: Bipartisan. Let me show you what's happening in Washington.
Let me show you what's happening in Washington. This is The Washington Post,
hardly an organ for Republican views.

SEN. KERRY: Right.

MR. RUSSERT: This is their editorial about immigration reform. And here it
is: "Democrats - whether their motive was partisan advantage or legitimate
fear of a bad bill emerging from conference with the House - are the ones who
refused, in the end, to proceed with debate on amendments, which is, after
all, how legislation gets made. The unfortunate result is that the momentum
toward balanced reform my be lost. `The Democratic leadership played politics
with the prospect of 10 million immigrants getting on a path to citizenship,'
said Frank Sharry, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, a
pro-immigration group. `It seems that Democratic leaders wanted an issue, not
a bill.'" Your colleague, Ted Kennedy, said the politics got in front of the
policy. Why not have a vote on these issues?

SEN. KERRY: Yeah. But let me tell you whose politics. You always,
historically--I've been here 22 years now, Ted Kennedy's been here 44
years--you reach agreements that are bipartisan, where you get a majority in
the Senate that is in favor of something, and that majority of the Senate
agrees on many occasions that there will not be outside amendments that change
with that agreement is. That's what happened. They reached an agreement, and
Senator Frist and the Republicans were unable to hold their part of the
agreement. There's nothing new in the--in the, in a, you know, in the
majority of the Senate coming to agreement on a piece of legislation. And I
believe that if Senator Frist and the Republicans had not had their own
internal squabble, we would have had an immigration bill that would be done
today based on the agreement that a majority of the Senate came to.

MR. RUSSERT: And the Democrats didn't play politics at all?

SEN. KERRY: Well, the Democrats were not going to allow amendments that were
going to undo the agreement that had been reached. That's a normal procedure
in the United States Senate. And I think it was a valid one. When you shake
hands on an agreement, you say, "We're delivering on this agreement." And it
happens all the time in the Senate, that people band together and don't allow
amendments to undo what the majority reached as an agreement.

MR. RUSSERT: Do you think it can be put back together?

SEN. KERRY: I hope it can. We desperately need to do this for the country
and all of us.

Look, the system is broken. Americans are right to be frustrated about people
crossing the border illegally. People are being hired illegally. Companies
are breaking the law every single day. We need to crack down. But we also
need to understand that kids who've been born in the United States of an
illegal immigrant are American, and we're not going to be a country that
separates people who've been here for 20 years and paid their taxes and have
been good members of a community and stayed out of trouble and contributing to
the well-being of our country. And so we have to have a balance, Tim, and
that's what I think people are finding. That's part of the optimism and the
sort of broadly shared values of this country which people would like to see
Washington reflect, rather than this bickering.

Look, I will offer to the president--they have never, ever called me and asked
me, "What should we do in Iraq?" Maybe they've read my speeches and they know
what I've said. But we've never had a conversation. This should be
bipartisan. We need to find a solution for our country. This is not about
politics. It's about our soldiers, it's about our nation, it's about our
vital national security interests. I believe if we get tough together with
the Iraqi government, we can get a real government. I believe we can withdraw
our troops and stand up the, the, the Iraqi forces, and I believe, ultimately,
we have to get the stakeholders of the region to be part of this. If we
don't, this administration is courting disaster.

MR. RUSSERT: Are you going to run for president in '08?

SEN. KERRY: I don't know. I'll tell you this. It was an unbelievable
privilege to be the nominee of my party. And the issues that I fought for,
Tim, every one of them--health care for Americans, jobs here, a more
competitive America, a stronger America, to be safer in the world--all those
issues are as alive today as they were when I ran and I'm looking at it hard.

MR. RUSSERT: When's decision time?

SEN. KERRY: Sometime the end of this year.

MR. RUSSERT: The Boston Globe, your hometown paper, did an article on this
subject. They quoted Don Fowler, the former chairman of the Democratic
Committee, and he said in the party, "Many in the party remain upset about
Kerry's inability in 2004 to refine his policy positions into a coherent
vision, a shortcoming that crystallized with his statement that he voted for
Iraq war funding before he voted against it." Fair criticism?

SEN. KERRY: Well, as I said in the debate with the president, I made a
mistake in the way that I talked about the war, but the president made a
mistake in going to war. Now, which is worse? I could have done a better job
in the campaign explaining what I meant. I voted against it because I
believed we should pay for it, and because they didn't have a plan. And our
mistake was one of a campaign strategy of not going out and explaining that.
I voted out of principle, and I will continue to vote out of principle.

I have a short plan for America, Tim, and I--you know, it's called, "Tell the
truth, fire the incompetents, get out of Iraq, have health care for all
Americans." These are pretty simple messages, and they're worth fighting for

MR. RUSSERT: Joe Klein has a new book out, and he writes in Time magazine
today that when you heard about the prison torture at Abu Ghraib, your
instinct was to say something, but your political consultants urged you to
take a focus group. And the focus group came back with a mixed message, and
therefore you remained silent, never raised the issue in your acceptance
speech or any of the three presidential debates. Is that true?

SEN. KERRY: I know nothing about a focus group being ordered, I had no
knowledge of it, didn't order a focus group to be ordered, and I did speak out
on Abu Ghraib. I asked for Donald Rumsfeld to resign. I called for his
resignation, I talked about not having accountability up and down the line. I
talked about the fact that in Abu Ghraib, the, the, the soldiers at the lower
end were paying the price, not the people at the higher end. And I talked
about its immorality in any number of locations.

MR. RUSSERT: What was the biggest mistake you made, the most important
lesson you learned from the presidential race?

SEN. KERRY: Tim, I can go down that road and we can spend a lot of time
talking about it. I, I--let me just say this: I made some mistakes. I know
what they are and I take responsibility for them. My campaign, I take
responsibility. I think the most important thing would have been to spend
more money, if we could have, on the, you know, advertising and responding to
some of the attacks. But we...

MR. RUSSERT: The swift boat ads?

SEN. KERRY: Yeah, but we--people forget, we had a 13-week general election;
they had an eight-week general election. We had the same pot of money. We
had to harbor our resources in a different way, and we didn't have the same
freedom. I think the biggest mistake was probably not going outside the
federal financing so we could have controlled our own message.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator John Kerry, we thank you for joining us and sharing
your views.

SEN. KERRY: Thank you, sir.

MR. RUSSERT: Coming next, immigration. The debate continues in the halls of
Congress, and all across the country. Three congressmen with very different
views are next, debating immigration.


MR. RUSSERT: The debate over illegal immigration after this brief station


MR. RUSSERT: And we are back. Welcome, all, to MEET THE PRESS. Let's go
right to it.

Immigration. The House has passed the bill, the Senate is gridlocked. This
is how the House bill--named after its primary sponsor, Congressman
Sensenbrenner--from Wisconsin, is described, "The [Sensenbrenner] bill passed
in the House in December. Focused exclusively on security and enforcement, it
has sparked protests nationwide. The bill treats an illegal alien's mere
presence in the country - currently only a civil violation - as a felony
punishable by a year and a day in jail and establishes mandatory minimum
sentences for repeat offenders. Its sweeping language would make giving even
humanitarian assistance to an illegal immigrant a crime punishable by up to
five years in prison. Fines for an employer who hires illegal immigrants ...
would be increased to $5,000- $25,000. Criminal penalties for repeat
offenders could include a minimum of a year in jail up from a maximum of six
months. Among the border enhancements: a 700-mile double fence along part of
the 2,000-mile frontier with Mexico."

Congressman Gutierrez, what's wrong with that?

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ (D-IL): Well, I think the bill misses the point. We do
need enforcement, but we also need compassion. We need a comprehensive bill,
one that takes into account that there are 11 million undocumented workers
currently in the United States. And those that have come here to work, to
contribute, paying their taxes, I think they should be able to earn a legal
pathway towards permanent residency and, should they decide, towards
citizenship. It's the right thing to do.

Let me just say that we need to be comprehensive. Enforcement is important
and our border is important. And I guess when I look at it, I say to myself,
"The Congress of the United States, the federal government, doesn't have the
political will, nor could it ever really commit the requisite resources to
deport 11 million people. So therefore, the only sane, sensible,
compassionate thing to do is to integrate them fully into the fabric of our
society. These undocumented immigrants are our neighbors, our co-workers,
their children go to school with our children, they drive on the same
expressways, they play in the same play yards as our children do. They're
part of the fabric of our society, and they're necessary to the economic
well-being of our country. So let's include them. I agree enforcement is key
and security is key, but let's do it comprehensively, let's do--let's have a
holistic approach to this situation.

MR. RUSSERT: Congressman Bonilla, you voted for the Sensenbrenner bill, do
you really want to cut off humanitarian assistance to illegal immigrants?

REP. HENRY BONILLA (R-TX): Well, we have a crisis along the Mexican border
right now, a state of emergency as declared by a bipartisan group of Texas
House members just last fall. You know, we've had almost 200,000 OTMs--the
government categorizes OT "other, other than Mexicans"--along the Mexican
border. We have infiltrators coming in from the Mideast, from China, gang
members from Central America that are moving into communities across the
country. The drug cartels are, are confronting law enforcement along the
border. The governors of, of New Mexico and Arizona have declared a state of
emergency. Governor Perry, in my opinion, in Texas, the only reason he hasn't
done it is because he's of the same political party as, as George W. Bush.
We have, again, our, our ranchers along the border can no longer go out and
even check on their cattle without having armed guards. We have an absolute
crisis down there. A lot of us want to support a guest worker plan down the
road, but first and foremost we have to secure the border.

MR. RUSSERT: But if an illegal immigrant is working on a farm or a ranch in
Texas, and cuts his arm or hand off they should not be given medical
assistance, and they would be fined, whoever treated them, for violating the
law that you voted for.

REP. BONILLA: The plight of many illegal aliens--and by the way, of course,
our hospitals are compassionate and will continue to serve people who need
help--but the plight...

MR. RUSSERT: Would that be breaking the--would that be breaking law?

REP. BONILLA: It probably would be, but the hospitals are not going to be
held accountable. But first and foremost, the plight of a lot of these
illegal aliens, a lot of people want to--the demonstrators and critics--want
to blame our country for their problems. You know, these dysfunctional,
oppressive, in many cases, governments where these people flee, flee from are
the, the ones that are responsible for the unfortunate situation these people
are in, and they're not doing a darned thing to help their own people.

MR. RUSSERT: Congressman Hayworth, let me bring you into the conversation.
Eleven million illegal immigrants. You voted, you voted against this bill
saying it wasn't tough enough. Let's go to Arizona. A high school kid comes
in--comes to your congressional office and says, "My mama and my papa are from
Mexico, but I was born here. I'm an illegal--I'm legal, I'm an American
citizen. Why do you want to send my mama and papa back to Mexico?"

REP. J.D. HAYWORTH (R-AZ): You know, Tim, I'm so glad you asked that
question, because it gives us the chance to clear up one of the common
misperceptions, and that is under the law when a deportation hearing goes on
the judge has to take into account the sentiments of a legal citizen. And so
that student's comments would be taken into account in a deportation hearing.
But moreover, I write about...

MR. RUSSERT: But you're against birthright citizenship.

REP. HAYWORTH: Well, well, that's what I want to talk about because here's
how absurd the situation has got. And I write about it in my book, "Whatever
it Takes." There's a situation where an illegal was convicted of assault. He
is in prison and he maintains his hope is that he will be able to stay in
America because he fathered an illegitimate child. The fact is, the 14th
Amendment was passed and ratified by the states to guarantee citizenship for
freed slaves, not the children of foreigners, and we need to take a realistic
look at the notion of birthright citizenship.

MR. RUSSERT: But realistically, is it possible to deport 11 million people
out of America?

REP. HAYWORTH: Tim, we didn't get into this situation overnight, and we're
not going to solve it overnight. The fact is, laws follow human nature.
That's why I called for enforcement first, because when you for--enforce
existing laws and close loopholes that both unscrupulous employers and
illegals are, are utilizing right now, when you do that, human nature for
everybody, regardless of national origin, kicks in. And when people say,
"Well, wait a minute. The magnet of employment illegally has dried up. And,
and the social services are not there. Maybe I'll relocate back home." We
have press accounts of Mexican citizens who work here illegally returning to
their homeland for family celebrations and for holidays. The sad fact is, we
have a porous border. This is first and foremost and always about national
security in a time of war, and the longer we neglect our borders, north and
south, and our ports of entry, the more our nation is in peril.

MR. RUSSERT: Congressman Gutierrez, Thomas Tancredo, the congressman from
Colorado, said "The illegal immigrants are a scourge that threaten the very
future of this nation."

REP. GUTIERREZ: And I--let me just share with, with my colleagues here
today, look, if you're here as an immigrant to this country and you're
violating the law, I'll be the first one to look for measures to deport you.
But if you're here working, if you're here contributing, I look at this and I
say to myself a couple of things. Who picks the tomatoes in Florida? Who
picks the grapes in California? Who does most of the agricultural work?
Well, eight--first and foremost it's immigrants. And the vast majority of
them, according to our own Justice Department, according to our Department of
Labor, are undocumented workers. That's the kind of work that they come here
to do and to contribute, and they contribute in so many aspects of our economy
that they've become an essential part. So what we're saying is, let's do it
comprehensively, J.D., so that we can have the kind of border security that
you and I agree is essential. But if you're going to have border security,
then what about--the Cato Institute estimates that millions of people come to
this country on legal visas and overstay those visas every year. So 40
percent of the undocumented, of the 11 million, didn't come across the border.
What we need to do is to fix a way that we have a biometric card, that we have
a way that's enforceable so that employers know who's coming here and working
in this country.

MR. RUSSERT: Nick Kristof, the liberal columnist in The New York Times,
writes today and quotes two studies saying that illegal immigration holds down
wages for Americans and in fact, increases the unemployment rate for Americans
because the illegal immigrants will do work for a lower wage.

REP. GUTIERREZ: And I'm ready to say that once you incorporate them fully
into the fabric of our society, I fully expect that wages will increase, but
as long as our Labor Department--and I think this is very important, Tim. Our
Labor Department says that each year during the next five years, we will
create half a million low-wage, low-skill, very-little-training jobs. Those
kind of jobs are going to continue to be created in our economy. The question
is, as we have a more sophisticated, more educated work force, who's going to
do that work? The same people that have always done that work, Tim, new
immigrants to this country who are ready to take those jobs, bring themselves
up by their bootstraps and then their children and future generations have a
better opportunity in this country.

MR. RUSSERT: Congressman Bonilla, you are the grandson of a Mexican migrant
farm worker. These are the pictures America saw with demonstrators in the
street. Some of them are holding Mexican flags. Not U.S. flags, but they're
waving Mexican flags. There they are, person after person. George Skelton in
the Los Angeles Times wrote a column which said this, "Democratic consultant
Darry Sragow puts it this way: `The Mexican flag visually says, "I'm not one
of you. I'm from there." If you wave the American flag, you're saying, "I'm
one of you. Please help me." The other message says, "I'm going to get in
your face."'" Do you agree with that?

REP. BONILLA: Well, I think when you come here and wave a Mexican flag in
our face in a country that's giving a lot of these people an opportunity that
they've never had before, I think a lot of Americans are insulted, whether
they're first-, second-, third-, fourth- or fifth-generation Americans.
Again, let's remember that if I went to Mexico and wanted to demonstrate and
wave the American flag, you'd be arrested and they'd throw the key away and
lock--and you'd never be heard from again.

Again, a lot of these countries from which these people come are fleeing
oppressive governments that have never given them an opportunity. I get so
sick and tired on occasion from hearing from Mexican officials who talk about
how illegals are treated in this country when in fact, they don't do anything
to lift a finger to improve economic conditions for people when they're in
their country. And then when we arrest them, in many cases on this side, they
don't lift a finger to try to take them back when we want to deport them.

MR. RUSSERT: Should the, should the demonstrators lose the American flag--or
the Mexican flag?

REP. GUTIERREZ: Here's what I say. I come from Chicago. St. Patrick's
Day, there's lots of Irish flags, but we color our river green. We celebrate
the diversity. In terms of this debate and this discussion, what I have done,
I have gone on the radio, I have gone on TV and I have said, "Check the
Mexican, Polish, Irish flags at the coat check. Make sure that you do not
give up your essential message, which is that you're proud to be here in this
country and that you embrace that flag."

Moreover, Tim, hundreds of thousands of legal immigrants, permanent residents,
serve in our armed forces and have died and have shown a lot of valor and a
lot of courage and paid the ultimate tax to this country with their lives.
And I think we should balance that. I think what you're seeing is kind of a
visceral reaction to Sensenbrenner that said, "You're all criminals and we
want you to each tell on each other and deport each other and help the
government." And this criminalization has really brought about this kind. So
I would say, check--I understand why you're bringing them up. I understand
the celebratory nature of it, but it doesn't help in this debate.
MR. RUSSERT: Let me quote from your book, Congressman Hayworth, "I cannot
agree with the president's approach to illegal immigration. We must not
surrender to the illegal invasion of our country. A guest worker plan is
unfair to American workers and would lead to a permanent underclass of workers
separated from the rest of Americans by language, culture and income." Then
let me quote to you from the former chairman of the Republican Party, Ed
Gillespie, who writes this, "The Republican Party cannot become an
anti-immigration party. Our majority already rests too heavily on white
voters, given that current demographic voting percentages will not allow us to
hold our majority in the future. Between 2000 and 2004, President Bush
increased his support in the Hispanic community by nine percentage points.
Had he not, John Kerry would be president today." Is--are your views risking a
broad Republican Party and frankly, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado,
states that could go Democratic in 2008, because of the perception of your

REP. HAYWORTH: No. I will tell you quite the contrary is true, Tim. As I
write in my book, let's take a look back to 2004. Proposition 200 on the
ballot in Arizona, to deprive illegals of social benefits, and it passed
overwhelmingly. And as the Arizona Daily Star reported, it passed with a
majority of Hispanic votes as well. The fact is, Hispanics voted in greater
numbers for Proposition 200 than they did for President Bush, who received 43
percent of the Hispanic vote in Arizona.

But also understand this: We make a mistake politically when we assume the
myth of the monolith, that everyone who has a Hispanic last name instantly
embraces the notion of illegal immigration. That is not the case, and the
fact is we have to have a policy--you know, from the political point of view
on this, Tim, you don't have the have the legislative legerdemain of Lyndon
Johnson to understand the one thing everybody agrees on right now is
enforcement. That is what should be done, that is what the American people
want. You know, you talked earlier...

MR. RUSSERT: Why not do both?

REP. HAYWORTH: Well, because this is not a traditional situation where you
can take one from column A and one from column B and live happily ever after.
I, I, initially in my book, I was a guest worker advocate. But the more I
looked at the problem, Tim, the more I realized that a guest worker plan at
this point in time is the wrong plan at the wrong time for the wrong reason,
because it puts the cart before the horse, and we end up with a situation like
we had in 1986 with the last amnesty: widespread document fraud and an
increase in illegal immigration. We do not want to set up a 21st-century
caste system enshrined in American legislation that separates and puts a
subclass into our society separated by language, culture and substandard

MR. RUSSERT: Here's how the American people feel, according to Time
magazine: Building a fence along the U.S.-Mexican border, favor 56 percent,
oppose 40; deporting all illegal immigrants back to their home countries,
favor 47, oppose 49.

Should majority rule and, and build a fence, but also not deport the illegal
immigrants that are here? Put them on a path by paying fines, paying back
taxes, learning English and go to the back of the line for a green card?

REP. BONILLA: Well, that is something that I think, across the board here,
we want to do. But again, to dealing with border security, is an issue
that--it's like having a fire in the back of your house that you need to put
out first before you talk about who, who you're going to let in the front

Now let me add something to what J.D. was talking about. This issue of
border security is not about, about ethnicity. I sit there on occasion with
10 or 12 sheriffs from my district, many of which are Democrats with last
names like Reyes, with last names like Herrera and Lucio. And they are crying
out for border security as well. So again, this is not an issue about being

MR. RUSSERT: So do both.

REP. BONILLA: We can. But again, first deal with the crisis at hand, and
then deal with the guest worker issue. I support that, and we, we need to put
a plan in place to, to not only take care of the workers that need these jobs,
but the employers who need to fill the jobs. But again, when you have
something that's a--it's an acute situation, that's threatening national
security with, again, the people that I mentioned earlier that are
infiltrating our country and invading our, our nation, we need to deal with
that first.

MR. RUSSERT: But if the president and the Senate both come up with a bill
that does both, could you accept it?

REP. BONILLA: I could accept it if there is first some progress made on
border security. And let me say categorically that as it stands now, unless
we do see some progress, the House of Representatives will not take up a
comprehensive bill.

REP. GUTIERREZ: Let me--let me just say this: The first thing, when Senator
Kennedy, McCain, I, Kolbe and Flake drafted the legislation, and introduced
it, the first bicameral, bipartisan approach, comprehensive approach to
immigration reform, first thing we did, if you read the first sections of our
bill: enforcement, enforcement, enforcement, enforcement. And then when we
gave a pathway to legalization for undocumented workers, the first thing we
said was you've got to pay a $2,000 dollar fine; B, you have to give us your
fingerprints. We want to make sure that no one that's been arrested and
convicted of a felony is allowed a pathway to stay here in this country. We
want people who have followed the law.

And then we said pay your back taxes, but more importantly, read our
legislation. If the American public could only see--when we introduced it
last year we said we want you to learn English, we want to you learn about
civics classes so you can learn about our Constitution, so that you can weave
yourself fully into the fabric. That's a pathway.

Lastly, let's remember, we have 11 million undocumented workers living in the
United States. We don't know who they are, we don't know where they send
their kids, we don't know where they live. Shouldn't we allow them to come
out of the shadow of darkness, so that we have more security in our nation?

MR. RUSSERT: Before we go, Congressman Hayworth, you are locked in a very
tight reelection battle with the former mayor of Tampe, a fellow by the name


MR. RUSSERT: Tempe. Fellow by the name of Harry Mitchell. One of the
issues that has emerged is your relationship with Jack Abramoff, the
Washington lobbyist. The Center for Responsible Politics says you're number
one in receiving money from Abramoff or his associates. Do you regret having
interacted with Abramoff, and will you in fact give all that money back?

REP. HAYWORTH: You know, I'm so glad you raised that, because I took the
step of writing the tribes that support me. We should point out, when I was
elected to Congress, I have more American Indians in my district, nearly one
out of every four of my constituents was American Indian, I'm part of a Native
American caucus, the co-chair. The real story would have been if the tribes
were not supporting me. But you know what I did? I wrote the tribes who
enlisted Abramoff and his associates as lobbyists, I said, "Do you want your
campaign contributions back?" And they said, "No." They said, "You have
consistently stood up for the sovereign rights of Native peoples, and we
respect that, whoever our advocate is in Washington."

MR. RUSSERT: But perception, corruption big issue this year.


MR. RUSSERT: Arizona Republic also pointing out you have a PAC called TEAM
set up, raised over $600,000 dollars from special interest groups, many who
have legislative interests before your committee, and your wife received over
$100,000 dollars, nearly 20 percent of the PAC, in salary. Is...

REP. HAYWORTH: Over--gosh, over almost a decade.


REP. HAYWORTH: If we, if we took your salary, Tim, over 10 years, it'd
probably be more than that, a lot more than that, I'm sure.

MR. RUSSERT: But I'm not a public official who oversees legislation.

REP. HAYWORTH: Oh, but you're up for public scrutiny.

MR. RUSSERT: Would, would, would the perception of that cause you to perhaps
abolish your PAC?

REP. HAYWORTH: You know what's interesting, Tim? Perception and reality. I
welcome the chance to talk about this issue just as I welcomed the chance
today to talk about the number one issue in America, illegal immigration.
Ultimately, the voters will decide on all these issues. And they'll decide
from this framework, not the unfair blanketing and stereotyping or the most
dramatic case people can make. I've done nothing illegal or unethical. The
fact is following the law should apply to every American. That's why I
embrace enforcement first here, because reality must be followed, not simple
perception or talking points. And the fact is, at the end of the day, I
believe I will be reelected, I welcome the support of Arizonans, and despite
the wishful thinking of many, I'm going to be around for a while.

MR. RUSSERT: Well, Harry Mitchell, the former mayor of Tempe, has a
different view.

REP. HAYWORTH: And I know he appreciates your plug this morning, Tim.

MR. RUSSERT: Well, we're going to--no, you're here to talk as well.

REP. HAYWORTH: Well, thank you.

MR. RUSSERT: We're going to, we're going to follow this race...


MR. RUSSERT: ...Haywood vs. Mitchell, very closely.

REP. HAYWORTH: Thanks. Thank you.

MR. RUSSERT: Congressmen, all, thank you. We'll be right back.

REP. BONILLA: Thank you.


MR. RUSSERT: Don't forget, you can now watch the entire hour of MEET THE
PRESS whenever, wherever you want. Our MEET THE PRESS webcast posted each
Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern on our Web site,

That's all for today. We'll be back next week. If it's Sunday, it's MEET THE

1 Comment

i think what your doing is wrong and let people be proud of who they r not where they are and have to rep are flag i think yall should leve the immigrants alone for a change they just want freedom like all of us i post that for ever immigrant they should be aloud to visit where they wont not be stoped cuz of who they are.

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Lynn Sweet

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 9, 2006 9:56 AM.

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