This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, June 16, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: My next guest has long said that our borders and ports are in dire need of security upgrades, often pointing the finger at California as one of the biggest messes.
But now Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo says the state has opened its eyes and just might be taking the lead others should follow. The congressman joins me now from Washington.
So, Congressman, am I hearing you right? California’s doing something right.
REP. TOM TANCREDO, R-COLO.: Neil, there are good things happening in California, that is true, and I had the opportunity to visit the Long Beach port and see the progress that’s been made by all of the agencies there that have tried to come together and figure out a way to actually start communicating with each other.
Hard to believe, but we’re still trying to do that. And they have accomplished it. They’ve gotten some technology that allows every single agency that now has anything to do with security on -- with the port or, actually, even beyond that, fire, police, FBI, Customs, harbor patrol, the, you know, helicopters -- all of them can now communicate in time of emergency.
And, although that might sound, again, hard to believe that it’s ever been a problem, it’s been a big problem, and so congratulations to them for that.
CAVUTO: All right. Well, Congressman, who says you’re always Mr. Negative. You said something positive there.
CAVUTO: But here’s the worry, Congressman, as you know, and you were one of the first on this, that we as a nation are ill-prepared for another terrorist attack, if and when it were to happen. Would you say now with the evidence you see out of California that that state is more ready or less ready?
TANCREDO: I’ll tell you right now that it is as in danger today as I think it was several months or even, you know, before 9/11. I’ve got to tell you that’s the truth of the matter.
Progress is being made. More progress is being made toward trying to actually develop some sort of port security, for both California and in our eastern and West Coast ports, than is being made in trying to develop actual security at our land ports and on our borders on both Mexico and Canada.
And the reason is because it’s easier. You don’t have as many political problems to deal with in trying to develop port security as you do with trying to develop border security, but...
CAVUTO: But it’s still easy, is it not, Congressman, to get cargo into this country? A small percent of it is actually inspected or scrutinized, right?
TANCREDO: It’s true, Neil, that only a small percentage is actually physically inspected, but what they have done is a much better job of pushing the border out, if you will.
What they’ve done is to establish arrangements with countries all over the world to make sure that the cargo that we are worried about we get notification of long before it gets to the United States, and so we have done a much better job of that.
CAVUTO: I’m sorry, Congressman, but doesn’t that still mean you have to have a sensor or a ticker or something to try to clue you off to the possibility, oh, in this particular container, there’s a thermonuclear device. I mean, there’s still no way of knowing, right?
TANCREDO: Well, absolutely true. Absolutely true. What homeland (search) defense has done recently is to allot and hand out several grants to agencies, to local individual entrepreneurs, who are developing the kind of technology necessary to do exactly what you say.
So what I told you is that today I can’t tell you that they’re all that much more secure but I can tell you they’re closer to it. They’re closer to having a greater degree of security on the ports than they are on the land. At least that’s my observation.
CAVUTO: How about on the East Coast?
TANCREDO: Same thing. Same situation entirely. You know, we’ve got 3,700 passenger or cargo terminals. In reality, only relatively few can actually get the most in terms of cargo. About six-million containers coming into the United States every year. Most of those are coming on foreign-flagged ships with foreign crews. These are all huge problems, but, as I say, frankly and honestly, better job at the ports than on the land.
CAVUTO: Congressman Tancredo, a pleasure.
TANCREDO: Mine, sir.
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