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Special Report Roundtable - May 30

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you want to kill the bill, you don't want to do what's right for America, you can pick one little aspect out of it. You can use it to frighten people or you can show leadership and solve this problem once and for all.

LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: People felt like this was questioning their motives, their integrity, their own credibility.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their love of country.

INGRAHAM: Of course. If you don't sign onto this bill, then you don't want what's best for America. Excuse me? Because people want the laws enforced that are currently on the books, how is that not liking -- loving America?


HUME: What you just heard there from Laura Ingraham, who has a very popular radio program, is a reflection of what you heard on a number of radio programs today and from a number of people in reaction to what the President Bush said yesterday, a little slice of which we played for you. Some thoughts on this battle now from Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard; Mort Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call; and Nina Easton, Washington bureau chief of Fortune magazine -- FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTORS all.

It would seem, perhaps, that the president woke up the wrong passengers, here.


FRED BARNES, WEEKLY STANDARD: Look, the bill in the Senate is not his bill, the White House was called in after the negotiations already began on the bill. In the House, they're going to start from scratch, it's not his bill. And the president, I just think, needs to drop out of this debate. He's unpopular, the opponents of immigration reform are going to call whatever the bill is, a Bush bill, because they think that'll make it more unpopular than it might otherwise have been. And for him to say people pick out a -- some little thing in the bill, the one in the Senate now negotiated by Senators Kennedy and Senator Kyl of Arizona -- a Democrat and Republican-- something little.

The truth is that while I basically like this bill, the opponents don't pick out something little, they pick out something very, very big, and that are the Z-visas that would allow, at some point, the 12 million illegal immigrants, already in America, to stay here indefinitely. And perhaps go back to their home country and apply for a Green Card and then citizenship, but that's what they call amnesty.

HUME: That is what gives rise to the claims of amnesty.

BARNES: Yeah, I don't think it is amnesty and I think.

HUME: But, it's not an unpatriotic argument.

MORT KONDRACKE, ROLL CALL: No. Look, he did not question their patriotism he said...

HUME: He said they don't want to do what's best for America.

KONDRACKE: OK, but that's not questioning the patriotism of people.


HUME: All right, well, let's talk just for a moment. I mean, Fred suggested he butt out. But let's talk about the substance of what he said yesterday. Apart from whether the president can help -- what about what he said -- Mort.

KONDRACKE: Well, I think it was unproductive for him to say what he said. To say that you're not doing what's right for America. All of that just waving red flags in the face of a bunch of raging bull's anyway, these people, some of them females, actually, like Laura Ingraham -- anyway, look, this is not an amnesty bill, this is border enforcement first, nothing happens until the border is secure...

HUME: But, what does it take, Nina, for the border to be certified as secure? Or these steps to be certified? Is it -- it's simply a presidential certification, isn't it and is taking care of it, right?



KONDRACKE: Double the Border Patrol -- you have to finish the fencing, it's all...

HUME: But how does it -- but what is the step that establishes.

KONDRACKE: We'll know. We'll know whether the Border Patrol is doubled.

HUME: .actual step that establishes it? Isn't it simply a presidential certification? And suppose Hillary Clinton, for example, is the president, is that something that people who are worried about this can count on?

BARNES: That's why someone who is frequently on this panel, Charles Krauthammer, has suggested a further step, and that is that you have to quantify, somehow, I'm not exactly sure how you would do it, that illegal immigration is way down. Charles said it should be down 90 percent. But there's a way to do that to convince people, to show people, in actual numbers that illegal immigration has been substantially reduced and that justifies the certification.

HUME: So, you think it would be a good idea to tighten the border enforcement provision and the trigger in the certification?

BARNES: Absolutely. Because people, after you know, decades of practically open borders that we've had, until very recently, people don't trust the government to shut down the border.

EASTON: It's not just border control, it's not the only important piece of this legislation, it's employer control. It's the changing in documentation. The entire industry right now is based on forged documents. And this bill takes a very strong steps to address that. Employers will not only be held accountable, but now there will be a system where you can't forge documents. Illegal immigrants come here for jobs and if that's shut down, that's a big piece of border control and the president, instead of stirring up a hornet's next, as Laura Ingraham put it, should be talking about the controls that are in that legislation.

KONDRACKE: Well, actually, he did, it's just that -- yeah, exactly...

EASTON: I don't think he did it very well.

KONDRACKE: You know, the whole idea that this is amnesty is just bunk. But, you're going to have to be here for eight to 13 years in order to become a legalized citizen.

BARNES: You get it at 13 -- it's 13.

KONDRACKE: All right, yeah. You get a Z-visa right away.

HUME: But a Z-visa.

KONDRACKE: Then you have to pay all kinds of fines and fees and have to learn English, you have to have a clean record.

HUME: But you would concede, would you not, that the critics skepticism about whether these enforcement measures will ever be put into place, is well-founded?

KONDRACKE: On the basis of history, yeah. Ronald Reagan was the sponsor of the amnesty bill, 1982, the hero of conservative America, and he let amnesty be the law of the land. It's not -- this is not an amnesty bill.

BARNES: Here's why the bill -- here's why I like it.

HUME: That was the Simpson- Mazzoli bill, wasn't it?

KONDRACKE: Yeah. Well, he signed it.

BARNES: Yeah, well look, Reagan was not a restrictionist, Reagan was very pro-immigrant. Look, here's what conservatives get, even the critics, I think, and they don't realize it, they get dramatically beef-up security, they get this trigger which can be strengthened so you really do have to certify that illegal immigration is down; they get a guest worker program that business wants, and they get rid of chain migration, when -- if you're an immigrant who gets in, you're -- you know, your third cousin once removed also gets in, and those are -- and all they have to give up are these Z-visas to people who are going to stay here, anyway.

EASTON: You're never going to convince the amnesty crowd.

HUME: Next ahead on the panel, Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez defends his decision to pull the plug on that TV station, but the street protests are on. Stay tuned.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to go out in the streets, man, and fight for our rights, that's what we have to do. We can't stay in our homes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, we have to fight for freedom, man. This is crazy. This is like completely unacceptable.


HUME: And what was so unacceptable? Well, it was the closing down of a popular TV station by the Venezuelan leader, dictator, Hugo Chavez. And now, for three or four nights in a row -- or days and nights in a row, he has had the streets full of protesters. He's threatened them, he's now threatened the owners of the only other remaining, I guess, independent TV channel, very small one there. And so he is still more or less riding high, I suppose, but he would not be -- if he were to fall, this kind of thing has a long history of being the first stage in it. Student protests in the streets often go farther. How much of a chance? Panel, what you think?

KONDRACKE: Well, you know, there was a coup that was staged against him, it only lasted two days, back in 2002. You know, there is very strong opposition to him. I mean, he is a socialist, communist. He wants to be Fidel Castro, dominate the whole region. And a sizable portion of the population in Venezuela believe in free markets and freedom and all of that, and.


KONDRACKE: And TV. They like their TV.

BARNES: See, what he's substitute -- puts on this TV station now that they -- a documentary on explores in Antarctica. Boy, I'll bet that was exciting and an exercise tape. Chavez propaganda.

KONDRACKE: Right, he does have the guns, he does -- has the rubber bullets, he has the fire hoses and unless these people are willing to do, you know, what was done in the Ukraine, for example, and just risk death, I think he's going to win.

EASTON: He's acting like a classic dictator, which, newsflash, he is, which is news that might be translated to some of the politicians in the Democratic Party, like these Massachusetts congressmen like Delahunt who praised him as basically a misunderstood humanitarian because he was giving cheap oil to the northeast. I think those people should be saying something right now.

HUME: Nancy Pelosi was out with a statement today, critical of him. I don't know what she said about him in the past.

BARNES: It wasn't exactly (INAUDIBLE), though, I read her statement. Look, he's a thug. And he acts like a thug. And he's stupid besides. I mean, who in the world would want -- would take the Cuban model for your economy when Fidel Castro is reduced practically to subsistence level where they're not even self-sufficient in sugar, their crop. I mean, that's a pathetic economy. That's his model. That's what he wants.

Now, the -- look, he's only got one thing going for him -- a lot of oil in Venezuela. And if we have, and I hope we do -- have a price drop of some significance, then he's really going to be in trouble.

HUME: Really, why? Because it will weaken his economy, you mean?

BARNES: He pays people off. He pays off other countries. He gives money to the Sandinistas, he gives money to Cuba, he gives money to other leaders around Latin-America and therefore they're sympathetic to him.

You know what President Bush needs to do is what he did with the president of Brazil and that's really court him and others. The president of Brazil was a lefty -- he was elected in what's it.

HUME: He needs to court.

BARNES: No, no, no, court the others who are not falling in behind Chavez. One of the problems is Democrats, here, are against this treaty -- trade treaty with Colombia where President Uribe, is one of the -- a great Democrat and ally of the U.S.

KONDRACKE: It's worth noting that the voices that you usually -- that the Democrats listen to on issues like this, like the EU and Human Rights Watch, are not denouncing what Chavez is doing. So, if you're still uphold Chavez, like Daily Kos, for example, that -- left-wing -- we'll it's the most popular, I guess...

HUME: Is it?

KONDRACKE: Left-wing website, yeah. I mean, it's very influential.

HUME: But is it sticking up for Chavez?

KONDRACKE: Yeah. Oh yeah, it's saying that RCTV was, you know, was cheering on.

HUME: That was the popular station that.

KONDRACKE: Right. Cheering on the coup in 2002 and by implication deserves, therefore, to be closed down by this dictator.

EASTON: The other thing he's got going for him, when you mention he's got oil going for him, he's got a broad anti-American sentiment in the region going for him. And the question here is, has he stepped far enough that he.


BARNES: Without the oil, he'd go nowhere. That's for sure.

EASTON: Has he ever played his hand, though?

BARNES: Probably has, but he can get away with it as long as he gets all that oil money.

KONDRACKE: Well, when he rigs elections. I mean, practically ever election that he's won has been rigged.

For more visit the FOX News Special Report web page.

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