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The Point with Gretta Van Susteren
October 30, 2001

Tonight's FLASHPOINT: Who gets in? Joining me is immigration attorney Dale Schwartz who is in Atlanta. Here in Washington, a radio talk show host, Blanquita Cullum, former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan is founder of "The American Cause" and Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas.

VAN SUSTEREN: Pat, first to you. Should we close the borders?

PAT BUCHANAN: I think we really ought to have one-year or two-year moratorium on immigration, Greta. Let me say that when you're fighting a war on terror against a terrorist organization which has got agents and cells in 60 countries, the idea of a present day, olly olly and free immigration policy is almost suicidal. A million-and-a-half newcomers come into the United States every year; 500,000 of them are illegal. This country is naked to its enemies and our enemies are inside the gates. And I think that's the first order of business of Homeland Security.

VAN SUSTEREN: Pat, 16 of 19 hijackers who caused that terrorism on September 11 were in the United States legally. What does that mean to you?

BUCHANAN: Well, it means a lot of them came in on student visas. As I understand it, some of them overstayed their student visas. What it says to me is this: America's open borders are inconsistent with America's security in this new post-September 11 war on terror. We have got to wake up.

During World War II, against the Nazis, the Fascists in Italy and the Japanese, we did not have a single power plant or a single factory blown up by foreign agents. There were no murders of American citizens and the 48 states of the union. Now, we've had 5,000 casualties at the beginning of this war. And we need to restore the kind of security we had when we were a serious nation in 1942.

VAN SUSTEREN: Dale, what about closing the borders?

DALE SCHWARTZ, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: Well, at least Pat is consistent. He has been asking for a moratorium on any new immigration for long since before we were worried about terrorists. Any of these terrorists, I suggest to you, are well financed, well educated, smart enough to get into this country no matter what laws we pass, no matter how much control that we put onto those borders. Having a moratorium is just going to isolate us as Americans rather than isolating terrorists.

VAN SUSTEREN: Blanquita, close the borders or not?

BLANQUITA CULLUM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think we're going to have to make it tighter. We're going to have to be tougher on the borders.

VAN SUSTEREN: What does that mean?

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean how do you make it tighter and tougher? We, you know...

CULLUM: OK, let me tell you what I think because, you know, I have a lot of love for Mexico. My mother was a Mexican citizen until the day she died. But I think Mexico is going to have to help us to be able to give us a commitment, that they're going to be in there trying to find any terrorists that's in Mexico, work with us at the borders. The same with Canada.

I mean we've got a stretch of land -- do you realize 5,000 miles is the range between the U.S. and Canada? Do you realize you can go into places like Vermont, for example, and when you're crossing into Canada in Vermont, they basically say; if you're crossing the border, go check into the nearest Customs Department." We have open borders there that right now are very perilous. If it's -- we should shut it down not even just for us, but remember also, for Mexico, for Canada. If we are hurt, they are hurt.

They need to come to the table and let us know what they're going to do as well. I know we're going to have to still have people going across the borders naturally. I don't say shut it down completely. But I'm saying we need to seriously enlist the aid of Mexico and Canada and we have to make sure they're going to commit and commit in a very full and comprehensive way.

VAN SUSTEREN: Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, what about the borders -- close them or restrict them more?

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: Greta, absolutely not. First of all, immigration does not equate to terrorism. It's well known that a good number of the terrorists were here on legal visas. And we have the ability to be a country that can solve these problems reasonably, firmly and seriously.

You know, I...

VAN SUSTEREN: You got any ideas?

LEE: Yes, I do. As a member of the Homeland Security Task Force, headed up by Bob Menendez, we put forward, in last week, an excellent report that dealt with tightening the borders, increasing the number of border patrol agents, providing biometric scanning and biometric cards for the borders, providing new technology to use infrared technologies if people come across the border.

And believe it or not, I had an amendment that I offered to the Anti-terrorism Bill to start immediately tracking student visas -- immediately. It was rejected by Republicans. It was rejected in the Rules Committee and rejected on the floor. I am delighted to be able, now, to work with the President of the United States to immediately implement a student visa-tracking program. I happen to think it's an excellent idea because one of the issues we are dealing with overstays. We can do that with increased technology. We can do that with -- working with our academic institutions but not diminishing or decreasing the opportunity for those who want to come here legally -- when I say legally, to do the right thing to study, to exchange cultures, we have no reason to block them from coming to the United States.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, go ahead, Pat.

BUCHANAN: Greta, look, we've got between eight and 11 million illegal aliens in the United States right now. On another network this evening, I heard that there may be a possibility that this so-called Radiation Bomb or dirty nuclear bomb, whatever you call it, there are reports that they may be trying to bring it across the Mexican border into the United States. What in heaven's name are we doing with 40,000 troops defending the border of South Korea when our southern border is that vulnerable? What are we doing with 70,000 Americans defending the borders of Bavaria against the Czech Republic when this kind of threat is going on in our own country? Dellmore is right.

I used to argue this on the grounds of national unity, on the grounds of economics, on the grounds of safe food and things like that, but after September 11, national security is highest priority. I can't understand why the armed forces of this country are all over the world defending borders when we're talking about bombs coming into this country and terrorists walking in from Canada.

VAN SUSTEREN: Dale, is it a different time when you have to look at new solutions?

SCHWARTZ: Well, I think it is a different time and we're going to have to look at new solutions. And we...

VAN SUSTEREN: But what Pat suggests?

SCHWARTZ: Well, I think that goes way too far. It -I think all of us would agree that it's much better not to give a visa to someone, not to let them into the United States than try to seek out and search them out and find them once they're here. We need better security.

Consular officers abroad only have 10 or 15 seconds to make a decision.

VAN SUSTEREN: But Pat said there's all these illegals. I mean forget the visa for a second, Dale. Pat says there are a lot of people here illegally. I mean we've got people who are here legally and illegally.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: There is as many illegal aliens in this country as there are people in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana -- between and eight and 11 million people.

Now, any foreign intelligence agency that doesn't have hundreds or thousands of spies, saboteurs, intelligence agents and potential terrorists in this country, in the event to be used against us in the event of war, isn't doing its job. That is how insecure we are.

CULLUM: And they have -- what is it, Pat, 250,000 people right now that have visas...

BUCHANAN: Order of deporter.

CULLUM: ... that are overstayed. They have 2000 -- only 2000 investigators. Now, what I would suggest to you is I mean I think we have to start thinking -- the congresswoman is right. They have to start recalling these visas on these students. I think they should do a recall in all these students from the countries that we have labeled as terrorist countries immediately.

VAN SUSTEREN: Which raises, of course, the question -- maybe for Sheila Jackson Lee, that one of the hijackers, I think it's Mohamed Atta, came to the United States on a student visa, never reported for school and instead ended up in an airplane crashing into the World Trade Center. How do you track down the people that are lying?

LEE: Greta, you're absolutely right. That is a serious problem. I think we need to understand how this begins and it begins as was indicated earlier by a broken system in the State Department and the Counsel Offices where it -- vocational visas are given or student visas are given with little detail and little understanding. We need to start there. We need to begin to have the INS and the State Department work hand and glove with lists of individuals who have been on either terrorist lists or watch lists and that's not...

VAN SUSTEREN: But why hasn't that been done to -- I mean why have we sort of had this...

LEE: Unfortunately, we all know that the INS needs restructuring. That's one of our proposals, to both restructure it, but give it the funding to increase the technology.

CULLUM: But Congresswoman, we don't have time to mess around here. It's -- you know, the bureaucratic process, people are like fed up with it. We're -- we are -- we're...

LEE: Well, we can fix it quickly.

CULLUM: ... we're in a 911 situation...

LEE: You're absolutely right.

CULLUM: ... where you sit around and you say, "Well, I'm going to bring the proposal. I'm going to prepare -- present something." You know, the citizens of this country are -- you know, don't have the luxury of...

VAN SUSTEREN: Blanquita, I will defend the Congresswoman on that. Actually...

LEE: You're absolutely right. That's why we're saying this amendment should have gone on the Anti-terrorist Bill. But putting that aside, let's get to the business. The way that I think it can be handled is immediately getting with these academic institutions, for them to provide to us a list of the students that they have, to immediately implement a technology system that allows us to track these student visas by having them included in a Internet or computer system and begin the process of determining that they're actually going to school. We do know that there are students going to school.

BUCHANAN: Greta, let me add something else. Let me add something to that. What we can also do is drop this silly idea of amnesty for illegal aliens. The president wanted three million. The Democratic Party, I think, wanted all eight or 11 million. Secondly, Mr. Fox wanted to have Mexican trucks come into the United States and be able to roam around all 48 states of this country. Ten thousand come in a day. I think one half of one percent are inspected. That is utter insanity when you're fighting against a terrorist network that operates in 60 countries. It is a brand-new world.

As a matter of fact, the whole idea of globalization, free trade, open borders international travel, all of that has got to be reviewed. People are talking about a 10-year war and a 100-year war. If that is true, we are in a very new world.

CULLUM: But Pat, I think that there is this opportunity here. You know, there is an opportunity here to see the good face of Canada and the good face of Mexico where they come to the table as full partners. I mean, granted Mr. Fox, who is a very wonderful man -- he's had some problems with this Congress and have questioned our foreign policy.

This is time where they can come to table and say, "Listen, you know, we want to be seen as equal partner. We don't want a handout. This is what we'll present. We're going to put as much manpower at the border to help you. We're going to be inspecting as much. We're going to also offer you things like oil, so you're not going to feel like you are stuck in the Middle East. We're going to come to the table as an equal partner."

The same can be said for Canada. Chretien can put the same kind of manpower to help us. This is a demonstration of good will because we are the Americans.

VAN SUSTEREN: Dale, let me ask you about the question about racial profiling or keeping certain from certain countries out. Is that ever -- is that ever OK in your mind?

SCHWARTZ: No, it's never OK. We don't need racial profiling. We just need better intelligence on anybody who applies for a visa or for entry into the United States. I would also point that a few years ago; Congress started a pilot program whereby universities could report electronically to them on the status of students, who showed up for school...

VAN SUSTEREN: But you said...

SCHWARTZ: ... who hasn't showed up.

VAN SUSTEREN: But the operative words are could do it. It wasn't mandatory?

BUCHANAN: You know, Greta...

SCHWARTZ: It was a pilot program in the legislation, which just now passed Congress and signed by the president that is being expanded to all colleges and universities who accept foreign students. That will go a long way to track the students.

BUCHANAN: You know, Greta -- but look, we know where these terrorists are coming from. Excuse me -- during World War II, again, after we were attacked, we rounded up all Italian nationals and German nationals who were not American citizens, foreign nationals and turned them -- and then deported them all not because they were all terrorists but because we don't take a chance.

Now, we read in the "Wall Street Journal" for example, which is all for open borders, that they want to attack half a dozen countries. Well, if you're going to attack all these countries, you're going to attack Iraq. You've got to assume that their nationals in the United States are potential enemies of this country. It's not racial profiling. It's profiling people who are potential enemies because of where they come from.

SCHWARTZ: I think...

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: Dale, let me get -- go ahead...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHWARTZ: That is utterly xenophobic and it's exactly what we did in World War II, when we in turn hundreds of thousands of...

BUCHANAN: You in turned American citizens.

SCHWARTZ: ... Japanese people who were American citizens.

LEE: And that did not include -- that did not make us any safer. Let me just

say...

VAN SUSTEREN: And you got 20 seconds Congresswoman Lee.

LEE: Let me say, Pat realizes that many of those who are in this country illegally are there because they could not get access to legalization. They're working on jobs. Let us not blanket immigrants as terrorists. Let's find ways to cure the system, to secure the borders...

(CROSSTALK)

CULLUM: But let's expedite it, Congresswoman.

LEE: ... to track the students. But we don't need...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN: They are lawbreakers Sheila Lee and lawbreakers ought to be sent back home and get in line and follow the law.

VAN SUSTEREN: Sheila -- and they -- give one last word to Blanquita. Blanquita, I'll give you the last word.

CULLUM: I'm going to tell you, I think we have to do it smarter and faster. I think our neighbors on the borders can help us. If they want full trading partners status-ships then they need to come right up there and volunteer to make it tougher and better. And they need to do as much work as we're doing.

LEE: The administration people work with Democrats and Republicans...

VAN SUSTEREN: All right.

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: Sheila Jackson Lee, you got the last...

CULLUM: It has nothing to do with parties.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm not...

CULLUM: It has nothing to do with parties.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm -- you've now all gotten the last word.

(LAUGHTER)

VAN SUSTEREN: My thanks tonight to Dale Schwartz, Blanquita Cullum...

LEE: Thank you.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... Pat Buchanan and Representative Sheila Jackson Lee.

SCHWARTZ: Thank you.

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