The following is a transcribed excerpt of "FOX News Sunday," March 27, 2005.
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS: With an estimated 8.7 million illegal immigrants living here in this country, question: Should the immigration laws be tightened? And is a guest-worker program part of the answer?
Joining to us discuss this issue, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who comes to us from Santa Fe, and the former speaker of the House, current FOX News contributor and author of "Winning the Future," Newt Gingrich.
Gentlemen, good morning to both of you. Happy Easter. Welcome.
GOVERNOR BILL RICHARDSON, D-NM: Thank you.
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Good to be with you.
HUME: Both of you men are generally in favor of the idea of a guest-worker program.
The question then is, in what sense, Governor, do you believe a guest-worker program should be executed? And is the idea that the president has about this generally sound? Governor?
RICHARDSON: I think the president proposed a step in the right direction. What he has said is there should be a guest-worker program for three years. You re-apply. You go back.
I would go one step further. I think what is also needed is some clear path toward some type of legal status, legalization.
We have an immigration system that's broken. We have 10 million illegal immigrants in America, 25 percent in the last two years.
So if you have an earned legalization program that has benchmarks of law-abidingness, that has benchmarks of working hard, and you combine it with tough law enforcement, more border guards, a crackdown on illegal smuggling, better detection of those that overstay their visas, stolen/lost passports — what is needed is a comprehensive immigration reform, not piecemeal, punitive measures.
HUME: Well, wait a minute. But a guest-worker would be a legal resident, correct?
RICHARDSON: That's right. That's right.
HUME: So that takes care of part of what you're talking about?
RICHARDSON: Yes, it does. And my only point there, Brit, is I think the president's made a good start.
What I would do and what I think makes sense is there has to be a light at the end of the tunnel so these immigrants come out of the shadows. And that means a clear path toward some kind of legal status.
Because under the guest-worker program, they have to re-apply every three years. They go back and forth.
My point is that there's already a number of workers here that are law-abiding. There's some that are not. And I think there has to be a better tracking system to establish giving an orderly legal flow instead of what we have now: a disorderly illegal flow.
HUME: Just one final question to you before I turn to Speaker Gingrich.
When you talk about some legal status or legalization, are you talking ultimately about a path to citizenship?
RICHARDSON: I'm talking about a green card, a path to citizenship.
I'm not for amnesty. I'm not for blanket amnesty.
But eventually if you define citizenship as a green card, an ability to stay — I think we need better family reunification measures...
HUME: All right.
RICHARDSON: The answer is yes.
HUME: All right.
Mr. Speaker, your thoughts about that, particularly on the question of whether there should be, in connection with a guest-worker program, a kind of path to citizenship?
GINGRICH: Well, I think that guest-workers, if it's done right, will inevitably lead some people to become citizens over time, because they'll be here. They'll earn a living. They'll find an American citizen...
HUME: Well, should they have to go back to apply for citizenship, go back to their native country, country of origin?
GINGRICH: No, I don't think they should.
But let me say, the challenge for the Congress and for the president — and I think Governor Richardson is living this every day on the border — is we don't have a comprehensive legislative proposal.
We need to seal off the borders, both Canada and Mexico, for national security reasons. That's where the terrorists came in. We recently had Director of Central Intelligence Porter Goss say flatly he expects a weapon of mass destruction to be snuck across a border.
We need to have much faster and easier deportation for illegals. We have to have, I think, a large green card program, a much bigger green card program than anybody's contemplating.
Because the truth is you have 10 million people currently in the United States illegally. And if you're going to replace those, in effect, with 10 million people who are here legally, you better have a pretty large green card program or you're kidding yourself, and three years from now we'll have a green card program, a porous border and 5 million illegals who showed up, you know.
We're not being honest about the size and complexity of this problem.
HUME: Well, do you believe that it is possible to stop the United States from being a magnet for illegals without a guest-worker program?
GINGRICH: No. And that's why those who want to seal the border — and I agree with that for national security reasons — have to also be honest about the absolute need for a guest-worker program probably with a biometric, either a thumb print or iris scan, and a commitment...
HUME: This before you can get across the border?
GINGRICH: Before you can get across. So you make it easy to get across legally and in a controlled way to isolate the illegals.
HUME: But what do you do, then, about the the, what, 8.7 million, according to one statistic, Governor Richardson just said 10 million illegal immigrants already in this country? What about them?
GINGRICH: Well, the governor and I may disagree. I would require all of them to apply for a green card back home.
HUME: Go back home and do it?
HUME: Leave the country?
GINGRICH: Because I think it is absolutely wrong to say we're going to punish everybody who's waited back home for a visa, but we're going to allow these people who have already proven they'll break the law to be amnestied.
And it is amnesty. I don't care how you describe it. It is amnesty to allow the current illegals to break the law and get away with it.
RICHARDSON: Well, I disagree with the speaker on that, although he made some earlier good points. I also disagree about sealing off the border.
I'm a governor. What we don't want in the states is a bunch of unfunded mandates. Who's going to seal the border? The National Guard? They're in Iraq. We have very limited resources.
What we do need, I believe, is, when we're talking about stronger border enforcement, let's just do it.
The intelligence reform bill called for 2,000 new border agents every year for the next four years. The president's budget only had 250.
Let's find better sensors, tracking equipment. Let's give our resources to our border officials, work with the local law enforcement.
I think Mexico needs to do more. You know, Mexico gets a pass. Mexico, they're our friends, and we're working together. We did NAFTA together. But Mexico needs to help us rein in the number of illegals that come in into our country. There is never enough pressure pressed on them.
HUME: Let me get back for a moment to the president's measure, which you seem to think is a first step. You would support — or would you? — its passage, in Congress?
RICHARDSON: Yes, I would.
I would go one step further. Their earned legalization, leading perhaps to a citizenship pass, I would support it. I would support it with comprehensive reform that reunites families, that creates an orderly flow.
But I would also have stronger border enforcement. I think that is very, very necessary.
HUME: But everybody's for that. What is your estimate as to how much that would cost, to do that effectively, Governor?
RICHARDSON: Well, it's going to cost a lot, Brit, but I think it's worth the investment. I've seen figures of, if you're going to have 2,000 new border agents every year, it's probably going to be a billion dollars.
I think it's worth it.
RICHARDSON: I think we are concerned about terrorism coming across, although we should recognize, most of these immigrants are workers; they're not terrorists.
HUME: All right. Agreed.
GINGRICH: Let me say, look, I agree with the governor that virtually everybody is honest. But we spend billions to seal off airports and assume our opponents are too stupid to drive a truck?
We have been warned by the director of central intelligence that we need to have the borders so that we can control them.
Let me go a step further. This governor and every governor should be filing a bill in Washington for all of the education, health and prison costs of illegals in their state, because the federal government has failed. This is not the states' problem. The federal government has failed, and these state and local communities shouldn't be bearing the burden of that failure.
HUME: You also believe, do you not, Mr. Speaker, that for an immigrant to be legal in the United States, there should be a language requirement and an education requirement?
GINGRICH: For them to become citizens, I think there should be. Not to become — not to get a guest-worker permit, but to be citizens they should actually pass a test in American history in English. But that's a citizenship issue.
I also believe we ought to have a 72-hour deportation for illegals, because you want to make it very easy to get rid of illegals while you're making it very easy to be legal. That balance, I think, would dramatically change the landscape.
HUME: Let me just change the subject here at the last, to draw you both out on the issue that has so riveted the nation for the past week and continues to this morning. And that, of course, is the slow death of Terri Schiavo.
Governor, your thoughts?
RICHARDSON: Well, the Congress, the president, they shouldn't have gotten involved. This is a states' rights issue. This is a family issue. This is personal. This is among family members.
And my view is...
HUME: They don't agree, Governor. The family members do not agree.
RICHARDSON: Well, but some do. I mean, it's split.
And if I were a family member, I would have kept her alive, but that doesn't mean that I go to the Congress, I go to the courts.
This is something that I think is going to make the Congress and the president — if you look at recent polls, the American people don't want that. These are states' rights issue. This is a bedrock of conservatism. I may not be a strong one, but this is a states' rights issue.
HUME: All right.
GINGRICH: Well, I think, on Easter Sunday, as a father and a grandfather, this is an extraordinarily painful thing to watch. I can't believe America would say that this young woman can't have ice on her lips from her parents, can't take communion.
But let me also say, everybody liberal I know wants every convicted death penalty murderer to have the right to appeal in the Supreme Court. And to scream "states' rights" when the parents of an innocent person want to appeal to the Supreme Court strikes me as an amazing double standard in favor of murderers and against the innocent.
And I think in the long run, people will look back, as this settles, and realize that allowing a family to appeal in a situation like this is a totally reasonable part of the American tradition.
HUME: The cry of states' rights, Governor, is one that we also heard back in the 1960s and '70s against civil rights legislation, which I'm sure you, Governor, supported.
Does it trouble you at all, the seeming inconsistency of liberals now being the ones who think states' rights are so important?
RICHARDSON: No. I think that the proper appeal mechanism is the courts. All of that is proper.
What I object to is going to the Congress, all the fanfare in the Congress. I think this is something that our courts and family members should decide.
Again, I said I would keep the tube in. I believe you fight until the very end. And that's where I would have been as a family member.
HUME: All right.
RICHARDSON: But I don't want the politicians strutting their stuff to get votes at the expense of a family that is going through enormous pain. That's my point.
HUME: All right, Governor. Thank you very much.
Thank you also, Mr. Speaker.