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CNN LIVE
October 23, 2001

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Joining me now with opposing views on the immigration issue: Former reform party presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, and Cecilia Munoz of the National Council of La Raza, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization seeking to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. 

Pat Buchanan, to you first, should -- should there be fewer immigrants coming into the United States?

PAT BUCHANNAN, FORMER PRES. CANDIDATE: I think Judy, we really ought to cut immigration back to 250,000 legal immigrants a year.

WOODRUFF: From what number?

BUCHANNAN: It is already now around 900,000 to 1 million a year in the United States. That is a preposterous number, especially when you are fighting a war on terrorism where the terror network is working in something like 60 different countries.

Judy there are 11 million illegal aliens in the United States now. Millions from countries with no loyalty, and millions from countries -- they themselves have no loyalty to the United States...

WOODRUFF: These are illegal?

BUCHANNAN: These are illegal and thousands of them are from countries that we consider sponsors of terror. Our immigration laws have collapsed. What are we doing with 70,000 American troops sitting Bavaria, when our borders are wide open to the enemies of the United States who just killed 5,000 of our fellow citizens in New York. This country has to wake up. It can have a war a terrorism but it cannot, at the same time, have an open borders policy.

WOODRUFF: Cecilia Munoz, what about this notion that we are -- that Americans -- the United States is just letting too many legal immigrants, let's set aside illegal for a moment. We heard Pat Buchanan say it is almost a million. He says cut it to a fourth of that.

CECILIA MUNOZ, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF LA RAZA: You know, this is a nation of immigrants and immigrants were among the people who were the victims and the heroes of the tragedies in New York and at the Pentagon. I think most Americans would be surprised to know that not a single one of the 19 hijackers was here on an immigrant visa.

They were here as temporary non immigrants. And there is a lot we can do to tighten up that system without undermining who we are as a nation of immigrant that reunites families. That is what our immigration system is about.

WOODRUFF: Your point is they were here on temporary visas, they weren't seeking to make the United States their residence?

MUNOZ: That is exactly right. And this is a nation of immigrants and immigrants are standing side-by-side with rest of Americans volunteering for the war effort, offering their services as translators and interpreters. We need those talents and those gifts and we need to understand that we are all equally affected by this.

BUCHANAN: The difference is, Judy, the United States has declared war on terrorism. We have identified something like eight countries as sponsors of terror. In addition, we are at are war in Afghanistan and there are hundreds of thousands of people of Arab and Islamic background in the United States who do not share the belief we ought to win this war.

The question is not what -- who can do the jobs that nobody else will do, but to what country are the people who come here loyal? If we are at war...

WOODRUFF: But you are talking about people who are already in this country. Are you are saying something should be done...

BUCHANNAN: I'm talking about 30 million foreign-born in the United States. Look, if they are citizens whether Arab-American or not, they have the same rights as I do, the same privileges and protections. But if they are here illegally, or they are here on a visa or here temporarily, we have a right to make sure they are not enemies of this country, and don't wish us harm.

WOODRUFF: That's a different question from reducing the number of legal immigrants, is it not?

BUCHANNAN: There are 30 million foreign born. You have to reduce that pool, in my judgment. You can't keep expanding it and try to fight against countries all over the Arab and Islamic world. It's a suicidal policy.

WOODRUFF: So you are saying at the very least, one thing that needs to be done, you are saying, is tighten up on the people who are here on temporary visas.

What about that, Cecilia Munoz? Is that not a reasonable thing?

MUNOZ: Sure, and in fact, there is plenty that we can do to deal with our entry and exit systems and make sure that the people who get those temporary visas are people who should be coming to the United States and not people who intend to do us harm. But this is a time in which we need to be sticking together as fellow Americans including Americans from every walk of live and from every country.

I think we have had some tremendous leadership on that point from President Bush who is reminding us we need to understand that this is an immigrant nation and that we need to be standing together and the kind of rhetoric you just heard really starts to undermine who we are as a nation of immigrants and we can't afford that right now.

BUCHANNAN: Let me make a point: Two policies, the president and Mr. Fox said before September 11 amnesty for three million, the Democrats said for 11 million and the others said let's bring 10,000 trucks from Mexico a day virtually without inspection, into the United States.

That is insanity. I think both those ideas are dead and rightly so. It was different world pre-September 11 than we live in right now.

WOODRUFF: Pat Buchanan, how would you go about as you put it, "weeding out" or cutting down on the number of people who are in this country illegally? How do you go and find the people who's visas have expired?  

BUCHANNAN: Well, that is the point. The whole system has collapsed. The first thing you do, anyone apprehended breaking any kind of law who is here illegally ought to be immediately deported. Secondly, you are going to have to run down folks from countries that we believe sponsor or harbor terrorists.

WOODRUFF: How do you run them down?

BUCHANNAN: If they are here they have to have some kind of identification. I mean American citizens have got to help with this whole matter. If there are people here who have come here from Iraq or have come here from Afghanistan or come here from Saudi Arabia and you don't know them and things like that, and I think, Americans citizens are going to have to take a look at this if we want to be secure. Otherwise, I think this war on terrorism is going to take a lot more American casualties.

WOODRUFF: Cecilia Munoz?

MUNOZ: We have come a long way in having Americans not suspect their neighbors and not suspect their fellow Americans because of where they are from. We have had some tremendous leadership on that score. We ought not to be undermining that leadership.

With respect to the U.S.-Mexico issue and the debate there, it's clearer now that we need collaboration between the United States and Mexico and Canada for that matter. If we are really going to improve our security as a nation, we need to be talking more and not less and we need to be embarking on the kinds of policy changes that are really going to make a difference.

BUCHANNAN: Let me talk about one of those policy changes. Mr. Fox, the president of Mexico, should put the Mexican Army on his side of the border just as he has it in the border with Guatemala and help the United States defend its border from an invasion whereby a million and a half people are apprehended every year at the border and half a million illegal break into this country every year.

Judy, every intelligence service abroad of a hostile country that doesn't have hundreds of sleeper agents in this country isn't doing its job. We are wide open to our enemies. For heaven sakes, September 11 should wake up all the liberals and all those who talked about wide open borders and free trade and globalization.

That's all fine to talk about, but you can't talk about it when you see the ashes of the World Trade Center.

MUNOZ: That's exactly the kind of talk which leads to policies that make us feel better for a short time but those policies ultimately don't work. That is why have the problems in the immigration system that we do. We need to make sure we are engaging in this debate thoughtfully and in a way that is really going to make us safe.

WOODRUFF: We are going to have to leave it...

BUCHANNAN: The key is the protection of the American people and the American nation first.

WOODRUFF: This is something we do want to continue. But we will have to leave it there. It's good to see you again, Pat Buchanan, Cecilia Munoz with the National Council of La Raza, thank you. We appreciate it. 

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