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Transcript: Rep. Peter King on 'FNS'
Written by Chris Wallace / Published April 09, 2006 / Fox News Sunday
The following is a partial transcript of the April 9, 2006, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace":
"FOX NEWS SUNDAY" GUEST HOST BRIT HUME: Joining us from New York with a different view of this issue is Congressman Pete King.
Congressman, hello to you, sir.
REP. PETER KING, R-N.Y., CHAIRMAN, HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: Brit, how are you doing?
HUME: I'm very well, thank you. I want to take us back to the subject of immigration. And you've heard Senator Specter indicate — you know something about the shape of this compromise that had been reached and then collapsed in the Senate.
It involved, among other things, a guest worker program, a path to citizenship, splits the illegal immigrants now in this country into three separate categories and so forth. Let's assume for the sake of discussion that they pull it together and they do pass that.
Can you imagine that the tough enforcement bill that passed the House can be blended with this bill for a measure that could pass the entire Congress or not?
KING: Well, Brit, I have a great regard for Senator Specter, but I just don't believe that this bill in any way addresses the underlying problem, and that's to secure our borders and not to in any way encourage more illegal immigration.
And that's what the Senate bill, unfortunately — as a practical matter, it legalizes or regularizes 10 million or 11 million illegal aliens here in the country today. That's going to provide an incentive for more illegal immigrants to come into the country. And it does not have, I believe, the tough sanctions that we need. And this is not what the American people want.
The outcry in the country is about the large number of illegal immigrants, and what the Senate has done to get around that problem is to, in effect, make them legal. Well, that is just going to compound the problem we have. It's going to be repeating the mistakes we made back in 1986 with the Simpson-Mazzoli bill.
And I know the senators don't like to call their bill amnesty, but, you know, it's really time for them to talk straight to the American people. And no matter what you call it, it ultimately is amnesty for 10 million or 11 million...
HUME: Congressman, let me ask you a question about the use of the word amnesty...
HUME: ... because it is obviously politically a very potent term.
HUME: Here's what Webster's says about amnesty, quote, "The act of an authority as a government by which pardon is granted to a large group of individuals."
Now, under the measure that's been proposed, the guest worker program, there would be fines paid. Those who were involved would have to go to the back of the line to be considered for citizenship. They'd have to learn English. They'd have to stay out of trouble. That doesn't sound like a pardon to me.
KING: Well, Brit, in reality, it is, because what it means is they can stay in the country here as long as they have to until that process is completed. And that is basically what they wanted in the first place.
Now, it may take them five years, 10 years or 11 years to become citizens. The fact is they're living here that entire time. And you know, if we're going to talk about having to learn English and not getting in trouble — immigration has hard enough time keeping track who's here now.
How are we ever going to go through all the paperwork of finding out when a person arrived, how much back taxes they owe, when they actually worked off the books, when they didn't? To do that for 11 million people — I think what you're going to see is a bureaucracy of rubber stamps just processing people through.
And listen. I understand, you know — the Senate, I think, was, quite frankly, intimidated by having hundreds of thousands of people in the streets waving flags, but I don't think we should pass legislation or devise legislation based on how many people you can get out into the street.
I'm going to have probably several thousand people outside my office today in New York. I mean, you can't allow that to intimidate you.
HUME: Let me just turn back to this question of a possible compromise. If the House is — as you know, has passed a very stern enforcement measure. It would include, for example, the provision that people who were here illegally and those who aided them would become felons.
Do you still support that proposition?
KING: Well, let me just tell you, first of all, on the second point you raise, that is a fiction that's been put out by the Catholic bishops. It's totally untrue.
The law has said for at least 20 years, in some cases 50 years, that it's a felony to aid, abet or encourage illegal aliens to remain in the country. That's aimed entirely at alien smuggling gangs, the coyotes. In fact, similar language was in the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli bill which the Catholic bishops endorsed.
We added the word assist to "aid, abet and encourage" at the request of U.S. attorneys in states along the border who felt that would make it easier for them to prosecute alien smuggling gangs. No nun, no priest, no good Samaritan is ever going to be prosecuted under that. We're told that to the Catholic bishops and they know it.
As far as those who remain in the country illegally being guilty of a felony, two-thirds or 70 percent of the Republicans in the House voted to make that a misdemeanor, while 192 Democrats voted to keep it a felony so they could have this phony issue of that being a felony.
Chairman Sensenbrenner, who's done a wonderful job on this bill — he said on the floor of the House the night we passed the bill — he assured everyone that when this bill goes to conference, it will be a misdemeanor and not a felony.
HUME: All right. Let's talk about the conference committee that would result if the Senate is able to pass a bill. You've got your tough enforcement provisions that are in the House bill. The Senate has some enforcement provisions, not as stern as the ones in the House bill, and the guest worker program.
Is it possible that those two things can be blended in such a way that something might then — into a measure that might pass both houses, in your view?
KING: Well, Brit, I can't speak for the Republican leadership, but I can say that Speaker Hastert has made it clear that he wants some sort of guest worker provision.
I strongly support immigration. I strongly support legal immigration. I would have no problem expanding the number of legal immigrants coming into the country, expanding quotas. If we need guest workers in certain states, yes, have them, so long as it's done legally.
So long as it's done by a legal route, I think you'll find the House of Representatives and Speaker Hastert and Leader Boehner very receptive to that. But we cannot be in a position where we're legalizing those who are now here illegally. That's just rewarding illegal conduct.
We have to remember the world changed after 9/11. I grew up in a community of immigrants. I've known a lot immigrants, legal and illegal, over the years in New York. But our world changed on 9/11.
And with the intelligence reports we have of terrorists trying to be smuggled into the country, especially along our southern border, and because it's so difficult to keep track of who's here in the country legally and illegally, we cannot be doing anything which is going to encourage more illegals to come into the country.
HUME: Well, that leaves open, Congressman, the question if you don't do something like the guest worker program that's provided for in the Senate bill, what do you do about the 11 million who are already here?
Do you really think it's practical or practicable to round them up, deport them and tell them to come back through the border again in a legal way? Do you think that's possible?
KING: No, and there's no easy answer to this. But I think the best answer is that if we — secure the borders first, adopt very strong enforcement legislation, adopt very strict employer sanctions which would penalize corporate America who takes advantage of the workers who are getting paid very low wages.
If we can do that, that would dry up the job market. It would send a signal to other countries not to be sending illegals here. So it would dry up the number of those coming into the country. It would also dry up the job market for those illegals who are here.
And I think that would cut into the number of illegals we have right now. And I'd say in 18 months or two years, we can go back and address that issue. But first we have to secure the borders. Otherwise, we're just going to be taking a bad situation and compounding it.
HUME: All right. Congressman King, very good of you to come and be with us this morning. Thank you very much.
KING: Thank you, Brit.
This week: We'll have an exclusive interview with Sen James Lankford (R-OK), member of the Appropriations, Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees.