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Special Report Roundtable - May 17

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume


SEN EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This plan isn't perfect, but it's a strong bill and it is a worthy solution. Only a bipartisan bill will become law.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The agreement reached today is one that'll, uh, help enforce our borders, but equally importantly it'll treat people with respect.


HUME: What that mean is that while the administration and other sponsors of this bill say it is not an amnesty bill, it will allow illegal immigrants now in this country to stay and work. There are stepped-up border provisions in it, as well. We'll talk about more of that in a moment, but let me introduce Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard; Mara Liasson, national political correspondent of National Public Radio; and the syndicated columnist, Charles Krauthammer -- FOX NEWS contributors, all.

Fred, what are the key elements here, in your view?

FRED BARNES, WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, it is a comprehensive bill, and the three parts are, of course, border security and then the temporary worker program and then dealing with the 12 million illegal immigrants already here.

HUME: The temporary worker program is for people who haven't yet come here, right?

BARNES: Yeah, sure, well, I'll get to that. This won't take that long. I mean, the border security has with it a trigger, in other words, unless certain things are done, like having 18,000 -- it's 18,000 more border patrolmen there and 370 miles of fence -- until that is done, you can't move to stages two and three. But once that's done, you can have a program of bringing in 400,000 temporary workers a year who can stay two years, then they -- but no longer, then they have to go back and stay in their country for a year if they want to come back again. And they can, but they're not allowed to stay and get on a path to citizenship.

And then thirdly, and of course the most controversial part, is the 12 million illegal immigrants already here. The will qualify after the trigger and so on...

HUME: You mean after the border enforcement provisions are in place, they qualify...

BARNES: Yeah. They will qualify for a card that will allow them to stay here. If they mean the qualifications, you know, they have a clean criminal record and...

HUME: And they have to pay a fine?

BARNES: And they have to pay a fine. But, if they want to -- after eight years, if they want to get a Green Card and get on the path to citizenship, they have to return to their home country, only briefly, I think they're guaranteed to return, the heads of household do, and then they get in line to be a citizen of the United States, which should happen, I think like something after about 13 years.

HUME: It appears this bill can pass the Senate, but what about the House -- Mara.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: That's a big question, already some House Republicans are saying this still is amnesty to them. Look, this was surprising to me it got that it got that far even in the midst of a presidential election year. You have Ted Kennedy and the president working to come up with this. I think the two key things about this bill are the touchback provision, which Fred just described, that you do have to go home to apply, I think that that is politically very important to get Republicans onboard. It's kind of maybe satisfied some of this cry for deportation that you have among certain Republican circles, and also, the fact that this does have the triggers in it. The triggers and the touchbacks are the two most important things.

HUME: And the enforcements...

LIASSON: The enforcements first, yes.

HUME: ...which are triggers for the -- Charles.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, I'm unimpressed by the touchback. It's like tagging up at third base, I think all that has to happen is the head of household heads home, he spends a while there, he returns, he's guaranteed a return and the whole process proceeds. Look, this is clearly amnesty...


HUME: Wait a minute. Hold on a second. Let me argue that point with your for just a moment. Just the definition of amnesty is a mass pardon. And a pardon is defined -- I looked this up today -- as the, as you're excused without penalty. Now, there are penalties in here.

KRAUTHAMMER: Look, the penalty for illegal immigration in America, the important one is deportation, it's not a fine. Deportation is your penalty. Well, under this bill, as soon as the triggers are triggered, everybody shows up at the INS and gets a "Z" visa...

HUME: That's what it's called, that's the new -- not a Green Card, but it's a kind of visa that lets you stay here.

KRAUTHAMMER: Who needs the Green Card? That's my point. You're here. You're legal, you're -- as Kennedy has said, you'll sleep well at night and your family -- because you're now here legally, indefinitely and you can work. So -- and it's renewable indefinitely. So, in essence...

HUME: But don't you have to put the -- but don't you have to put the enforcement provisions in place on the border first?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, that's -- look, that is the supposed trigger and that's what I think is in doubt. If the enforcement is serious, I'm in favor of this, because I believe in amnesty after you shut the border. But I have to be shown that this is serious stuff. Doubling the number of agents is bureaucratic stuff that's meaningless. If you get a reduction of the people who cross the border illegally, by say 90 percent, that's a trigger. You build a fence and you do that -- I'd be all in favor of amnesty for the 12 million already here.


HUME: Well, what's in the bill -- Fred.

BARNES: Then you're going to be in favor of it, because they have to have this biometric card that is fool proof that anybody will have to have to get a job. If you don't have it you've not going to...


LIASSON: Charles is talking about reducing illegal immigration as a trigger.

BARNES: Well...

KRAUTHAMMER: The number of people who cross here, I want to see -- and not bureaucratic benchmarks.

BARNES: Well, I assume it will. Yeah well...

KRAUTHAMMER: What you're assuming is...


BARNES: ...miles of fence is not a bureaucratic benchmark. Look, I agree with you on border guards...

KRAUTHAMMER: On a border that's 2,000 miles long, it's meaningless, 300 miles. It allows 1,700 others of places of which you can enter.

BARNES: Here's the problem with what you said, Charles, is -- and this bill accepts one thing and you don't seem to accept it and that is that the 12 million people who are here illegally aren't going back. America is not going to deport them, there is no Republican administration that's going to do that, there is no Democratic administration that's going to do that.

They're here. So, we got to deal with them. And what's the best way to deal with them? Well, we want them to work, we want them to come out of hiding, we want to give them a card so we'll know who's at least here and who's not and we want them ultimately -- because most of them -- I think most of them came here because they want to be in America and would like to be citizens, to give them a chance after paying a penalty and they get there in 13 years, Charles, that is not amnesty.

KRAUTHAMMER: Thirteen years to get citizenship is fine, but the point is that on day one when the -- but, you don't need a Green Card if you have a "Z" visa, you are here legally.

Look, I'm not against this. I'm in favor of this, but only after you shut the border. And you've to show me that this actually is going to do that. I think it's a lot of loopholes. It will be waived -- the president will say all of this is done and yet, the borders will remain open.

HUME: In the House they're expected to add a provision which will specify that until Fred Barnes can satisfy Charles Krauthammer that the border provisions have truly been accelerated, there'll be no bill.

Next up with the panel, President Bush bids farewell to outgoing British president -- prime minister, excuse me, Blair, talk about their final meeting and the end of an era, next.



TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I've admired him, as a president, and I regard him as a friend. I have taken the view that Britain should stand shoulder-to-shoulder with American, after September the 11th, I have never deviated from that view, I do not regret that view, I am proud of the relationship we have had...and I would take the same position of alliance with America again. Yes, I would.


HUME: Tony Blair expressing no regrets about standing with this country, although it has not helped his popularity back home, as the difficulties with the Iraq war have mounted. We're back with our panel.

Well, what about the end of this relationship and what does what the two men said today, about each other and themselves and the approach they've taken, tell us -- Charles.

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, it was a productive allegiance. They were able to work together in a way that's rare among even allies. They've had a problem with Iraq obviously, it hasn't turned out as they hoped or expected. But the fact that Blair is saying that he would have done it again is important. Because I think he believes that, he's not just saying that, deposing Saddam was extremely important.

And he was unique. It was a time when a lot of the world was not rallying to our side. Rhetorically yes, but in fact, no. Australia and Britain were clearly our only real allies in Afghanistan and again in Iraq. And they have stood with us.

The British have an interest in this relationship. There was something about the personal way that Blair had looked at this that made it stronger than a normal U.S./British relationship.

LIASSON: Yeah, you know, Tony Blair had strong relationships with two American presidents. One he was kind of united in the political project that Bill Clinton tried to do for the Democratic Party that he did...

HUME: Which was an ideological agenda -- third way.

LIASSON: Yes, and kind of shifting a left-wing party back into the mainstream. I think he had a bigger task in Britain and he performed a more miraculous transformation of the Labor Party, there. But, he also had a strong relationship on foreign policy with this president. I think he would have probably conducted the war differently. We know that he asked Bush to do certain things he didn't do with the U.N., creating the alliance, but in the end he never wavered. And I think it will be a long time before we know how history views Iraq and Tony Blair's place in it.

BARNES: I thought he did do what Tony Blair asked him to do on -- regarding the U.N. by going to the U.N. and spending months there and finally not getting a full support for the war in Iraq, but he did go there and probably wouldn't have if Blair hadn't sort of cajoled him into it.

You know, there really was a -- it is interesting that what Mara was talking about, the contrast in relationships between Blair and Clinton and Blair and Bush. I mean, Blair thought that Bill Clinton was the greatest politician of the late 20th century, was a great admirer of Clinton and they were very close -- very chummy, very friendly -- talked all the time.

With Bush it was different because Bush it was not -- there was a more practical, a more dealing with issues and not that close of friendship. But here's the difference, Blair told some people this, when he talked to Bill Clinton and Clinton said he was going to do something, Blair didn't have the foggiest idea whether Clinton was going to do it or not because frequently he just yapped and then didn't follow through. With Bush he knew. If Bush said this was going to happen, it happened

HUME: Will it be nearly as strong with now chancellor (INAUDIBLE) Brown.

BARNES: Well, it'll be strong, but not like this.

LIASSON: I don't thinks so, because Bush doesn't have much time left and Iraq is such a mess.

KRAUTHAMMER: Strong but impersonally sort of strong.

HUME: That's it for the panel, but stay tuned to find out if that crack that Mike Huckabee made the other night about John Edwards was fair, that's next.

For more visit the FOX News Special Report web page.

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