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SHOW: Good Morning America (7:00 AM ET) - ABC
September 6, 2001 Thursday

HEADLINE: Mexican President Vicente Fox challenges President Bush on immigration reform; Former presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan and former Housing and Urban Development secretary, Henry Cisneros, debate granting of amnesty to Mexican illegal aliens





Just hours before being honored at that state dinner last night, Mexican President Vicente Fox surprised President Bush when he challenged him on immigration reform.

President VICENTE FOX (President of Mexico): (Through translator) We must, and we can reach an agreement on migration before the end of this very year which will allow us, before the end of our respective terms, to make sure that there are no Mexicans who have not entered this country legally in the United States.

STEPHANOPOULOS: For President Bush, it's a political brain twister. What does he do about the estimated three to four million illegal Mexican immigrants in this country, as well as the millions of other illegals from other countries, mostly from Latin America? ABC's Mike von Fremd reports from the immigration battle's front lines.

MIKE von FREMD reporting:

(VO) Thousands are crossing the border illegally every day, making their way to places like this street corner in downtown Dallas, where local employers find an eager work force. Unidentified Man #1: Painting and--and work and concrete and everything.

von FREMD: Can you find work? Most days do you get a job?

Man #1: Yeah.

von FREMD: (VO) President Bush is considering legislation that would allow illegal immigrants already in the US to apply for legal status.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: I oppose blanket amnesty. American people need to know that. I do believe, though, that when we find willing employer and willing employee, we ought to match the two.

von FREMD: (VO) The president has powerful opposition from a Republican senator in his home state.

Senator PHIL GRAMM (Republican, Texas): And I think it is just flat wrong to say if you violate the law, we're going to reward you.

Unidentified Man #2: (Speaking to group of men) What you all doing, man?

von FREMD: (VO) And some Americans fear that their jobs may be stolen.

Unidentified Man #3: I feel like if a man is raised here, born here, he should have the job first.

von FREMD: (VO) Kathleen Leos volunteers to teach English to illegal immigrants and insists they are not looking for handouts.

Ms. KATHLEEN LEOS (Basic English Inc.): This is not a welfare community. This is a working community. And it is one of the fabrics, the economic fabric of American life.

von FREMD: (VO) These immigrants are desperately hoping that President Bush will give them a chance to stay in America legally. Mike von Fremd, ABC News, Dallas.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And joining us now from Washington, former presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan, who has authored a new book that says we've suffered from too much immigration already. And from San Antonio, Henry Cisneros, former secretary of housing and urban development in the Clinton administration. He thinks legalizing the status of millions of undocumented workers is a step whose time has come.

Good morning, gentlemen.

Mr. PATRICK BUCHANAN (Former Presidential Candidate): Hi, George.

Mr. HENRY CISNEROS (Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary): Good morning.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me start out by giving each of you a chance to respond to President Fox. Pat Buchanan, what should President Bush say?

Mr. BUCHANAN: What President Fox is demanding is blanket amnesty or blanket pardon by the end of this year for three to four million illegal aliens who broke in line, broke the law, broke into our country and are here illegally. You can't let that happen. It would totally demoralize the border patrol. What the president of the United States, Mr. Bush, should say is, 'Friend, look, not in four months, not in four years.' You cannot have a massive violation of America's immigration laws and then demand amnesty on the part of the American president and American taxpayers to subsidize the health care, education and housing of these folks. You got to get in line and come in legally. They've got to go back home.


Mr. CISNEROS: President Bush and President Fox have started a dialogue which, over a period of time, will result in some regularization. It is virtually certain that some form of guest worker program will be a first outcome and the hope is that, over time, regularization of a lot of the people who are here, a practical reality, will be addressed. No one expects, not even, I think, the most--the strongest advocates, that there will be a general amnesty. The president said he is opposed to regularizing three million people. But there are sub-groups within those three million; people who have been here a long time and worked and paid taxes for 15 or 20 years; people who missed the last amnesty in 1986 for technical reasons; people who have family circumstances, which ought to be regularized.


Mr. CISNEROS: These are people who are in the country, who are working, who are essential workers, who are buying goods and services, who are supporting the American economy, who are raising families, and they are a reality of the American economy today.

Mr. BUCHANAN: George, let me...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But didn't they...

Mr. BUCHANAN: ...respond to Henry. Look...


Mr. BUCHANAN: ...Henry, we apprehended a million and a half illegal aliens on our southern border last year alone. The border patrol has a horrendous job. You grant blanket amnesty or partial amnesty for people who broke the law, evaded the border patrol, you will totally demoralize the border patrol. More important, you will ignite an invasion of this country across that southern border in the expectation of another amnesty.

Mr. CISNEROS: Pat, Pat you--you--you're great at raising the temperature.

Mr. BUCHANAN: Ronald Reagan said a country that cannot defend its border isn't really a country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Pat, let--let Henry have a go.

Mr. CISNEROS: Pat, you're great at raising the temperature with your rhetoric, and you did that in the presidential campaign in Arizona, for example, and--and frightened people. The fact of the matter is, in the American Southwest and also in places like Georgia, where people are working in the...

Mr. BUCHANAN: Mm-hmm.

Mr. CISNEROS: ...textile industry, in the furniture industry of North Carolina, in the meat-packing industry of Nebraska...

Mr. BUCHANAN: Mm-hmm.

Mr. CISNEROS: ...these are necessary workers. These companies couldn't function without these people.

Mr. BUCHANAN: And the fact of the matter is--Henry, look...

Mr. CISNEROS: The US Chamber of Commerce--US Chamber of Commerce just issued a report this week that said in 2008, just a few years from now, we'll have 161 million jobs and only a 154 million workers.

Mr. BUCHANAN: Henry, you'd better--Henry...

Mr. CISNEROS: We'll be seven million workers short.

Mr. BUCHANAN: better take a look at--look, we lost one million manufacturing jobs in the last year by American workers. 1992, when your boss took over, I said we needed a fence along the southern border, down there south of San Diego. They built that fence. Imperial Beach right now has recovered. Illegal aliens aren't running across that border. We've got the same right to defend America's southern border that Mr. Fox does Mexico's border.

Mr. CISNEROS: Pat, we're talking--Pat...

Mr. BUCHANAN: If there were three million people in southern Mexico coming in from Honduras and Guatemala, Mr. Fox would send the Mexican army down there and push them back across. I don't think...

Mr. CISNEROS: Pat, we're talking about three million people who are in the United States...

Mr. BUCHANAN: ...we ought to do that, but we should enforce America's laws.

Mr. CISNEROS: We are talking about three million people who are in the US today, raising families. They've been here long periods of time. Real humanitarian situations, like women who go to work in the morning...

Mr. BUCHANAN: Mm-hmm.

Mr. CISNEROS: ...and are apprehended by the INS while they're at work and never get home to meet their children coming home from school.

Mr. BUCHANAN: Henry, you don't know your numbers. There are 11 million illegal aliens in this country from all over the world. You grant amnesty to three million, those 11 million will rightly demand it on an equal basis and you will lose your country all over the world.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hold on one second there. Let me just step in there. Some of the numbers say--the numbers I've seen say there are about nine million illegals. But I do want to turn that question to Henry Cisneros. Why limit this kind of regularization to the Mexican immigrants? Why not those from other countries?

Mr. CISNEROS: Well, the advocates of Mexican immigration are not suggesting limiting to Mexicans. Obviously, we're advocating for the reality of what we deal with in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Texas, and these other states that I mentioned. But any--any administration and Congress working on immigration is going to have to deal with the larger set of questions. But I think we need to take this out of the realm of hysteria and prejudices against persons from other countries, immigrants who are performing vital tasks, and really function on the way the American economy works. And these are people that--that are needed.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Pat, you get one more word.

Mr. CISNEROS: They--there is proof ...(unintelligible).

Mr. BUCHANAN: We need to differentiate for those who come here legally who are welcome and those who break our laws who ought to be sent back.

Mr. CISNEROS: In 1986...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Gentlemen, that's all we have time for right now. Sorry, Henry. We're way out of time. Now, you can see this is a very hot debate. But thanks to both of you for being here. We'll have you back.

Mr. BUCHANAN: Thank you, George.

Mr. CISNEROS: Thank you, George.


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