Group Cries Foul on Border Control Measure

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 11, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

Watch "The O'Reilly Factor" weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET and listen to the "Radio Factor!"

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Millions of illegal aliens (search) continue to come across the southern border. And Canada remains a porous situation as well.

Now the Department of Homeland Security (search) says it will give border patrol agents the power to immediately deport some illegals, bypassing an immigration hearing, which can take months.

With us now is Eleanor Acer, the director of the Refugee Protection Program (search) at the non-profit Human Rights First organization. Now, you don't like this, why?

ELEANOR ACER, HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST: Well, this is a real problem. Because under this new policy, border patrol agents anywhere in the border region are going to have the power to actually issue the kinds of orders that immigration judges right now are issuing themselves.

So basically, they're going to be able to act like immigration judges. And border patrol agents really shouldn't have this authority.

O'REILLY: Surely you realize the danger that we're all in because they can't control illegal immigration. I mean, millions, literally millions of people are coming here across the southern border. And you can't adjudicate all of them. It's impossible.

ACER: Well, actually, that's not the case. I mean, it actually is possible to adjudicate cases.

O'REILLY: You can do 16,000 people a week? That's what they're rounding up now?

ACER: If you look at this new proposal, it sounds like it makes sense when you first look at. But if you actually know how this process works, it's really problematic. The Catholic bishops actually came out today with a statement, expressing their concern over the expansion of this expedited procedure.

O'REILLY: OK. You know, there are two different worlds here, Ms. Acer. There's the theoretical world. And I don't argue with that. I feel sorry for these people. All right? They were trying to get here. And then there's the real world; the people who want to kill us.

I don't believe you when you say, with all due respect, that the federal government can adjudicate all the people who are seized coming across the border.

If they could, they would. They are overwhelmed. They can't do it. Even the Homeland Security people won't even come to a local municipality here in New York, or Pennsylvania or anywhere, to pick up illegals because they have too many of them. They don't have anywhere to put them.

All right, so I don't believe you. It is out of control. This is an effort, all right? To make us all safer. Yes, will some people be deported that perhaps shouldn't be? Maybe. But more people will be stopped from coming here. Shouldn't the greater good be served?

ACER: Well, actually, immigration judges can and do order people deported day in and day out. I mean, that's what we have them for. That's what we have...

O'REILLY: But they don't do it.

ACER: Actually they do it, day in and day out.

O'REILLY: All right, so...

ACER: So this is really about giving people less process so that the deportation...

O'REILLY: You're going to tell me that you are sitting here and you believe the federal government has control over the illegal immigration problem in this country. And you believe that judges down on the southern border and the northern border are orderly processing people back to where they come from? It's effective and smooth-running machine? That's what you believe?

ACER: No, actually I believe there's a lot of improvements that need to be made. In fact, I think the department Homeland Security can make a lot better decisions about who they detain and who they don't detain.

Right now, we have a woman detained in a facility in this area who's the wife of a pastor and fled persecution from an African country.

O'REILLY: That's always going to happen.

ACER: No, but...

O'REILLY: ...political persecution is a much different thing than trying it sneak over the border to get a job and make money.

ACER: Absolutely. But this is widespread power. Under this power, someone who's seeking asylum, a refugee who's fleeing from religious persecution or political persecution can be mistakenly deported.

O'REILLY: What, they come up and...

ACER: Yes, but right now, the person who's going to be making the decision about whether or not they get a chance to make their claim under this new policy...

O'REILLY: That's right.

ACER: It can be a border patrol agent.

O'REILLY: But you have to assume that the law enforcement authorities are going to be competent and fair. If you walk off and say I need political asylum, it's different than these guys finding you out in the desert. Come on.

ACER: I have met many inspectors who do this process right now at the airport. And I know there are many who really try...

O'REILLY: Yes, you have to assume that.

ACER: But at the same time, there are other officers who make mistakes. And we have refugees mistakenly deported.

O'REILLY: So you would rather have the mistakes made on the side of the illegals...

O'REILLY: Deported? Than on the size of the border patrols? This is what worries me about your organization and others. You want to err on the side of the people coming in here illegally, rather than on the side of the border patrol.

ACER: But you're assuming I know this is an either/or situation.

O'REILLY: I am. Over a million people a year come in right now. A million people.

ACER: In fact, I disagree with that. I think you can have policies that are fair. That's what the American people want. You can have policies that are fair and that protect the candidate...

O'REILLY: Then why is it such chaos? If you believe it, why hasn't it been done?

ACER: Bad administration and decision making. I mean, the money needs to go to the right places.

O'REILLY: All right, well we have a disagreement here. I think it's abject chaos. And it'll always remain so. You think it can be taken care of with a little bit more money allocated the right way. But we appreciate your point of view, Ms. Acer.

Thanks for coming in.

ACER: Appreciate you — thank you.

Copy: Content and Programming Copyright 2004 Fox News Network, L.L.C. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2004 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, L.L.C.'s and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.