Why Is Mexico Lecturing the U.S. About Our Border Fence?

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," March 14, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: The "Big Outrage": You might think President Bush would be putting pressure on Mexico about so many Mexicans crossing our borders illegally. But no. Instead, Mexico is leaning on us about our borders.

President Bush rapped up his Latin American tour today in Mexico after two days of meetings with Mexican President Felipe Calderon. Naturally, immigration dominated the talks. In a joint news conference President Bush says he wants to develop a comprehensive immigration policy that works.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The amnesty's not going to fly. There's not going to be automatic citizenship. It just won't work. People in the United States don't support that, and neither do I. Nor will kicking people out of the United States work. It's not practical. It is not a realistic solution. Some may articulate that, but it's empty talk.


GIBSON: Empty talk. Will Mexico and the U.S. be able to find some common ground? Mexico's president has criticized our plans for a 700-mile border fence. Why are they lecturing us when their illegals cross our borders daily? Will President Bush be able to stand his ground?

With me now is Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo. Congressman, "empty talk" said the president.

REP. TOM TANCREDO, R-COLO.: Empty talk. Yes. That is an interesting way to describe — for the president of the United States to describe enforcing the law: "empty talk."

Well, it is empty talk for him. That's quite true. He doesn't think that enforcing the law is important, but I do. And I think there are other congressmen up here who believe that it should be enforced, and that if you're in this country illegally, the penalty, yes, is deportation.

And there are easier ways to handle it. We can by attrition, that is, not giving people jobs if they're here illegally. Millions will return home voluntarily. Others that don't, you have to deport. Because you know why? It is the law. Mr. President, hello. It's the law. Do you understand those words?

GIBSON: But congressman, I think what he meant was that it was empty talk to discuss rounding up 12 million and shipping them home.

TANCREDO: Well, he didn't — he said there are those who want to, who are saying that we should kick them out. That's just empty talk and it's not practical. That's still another way of saying it is the law to deport people who are here illegally.

And what's the president of the United States saying? That it is difficult for us? No. He didn't say it would be difficult because, of course, it would be. I would have agreed with that. He said it was empty talk.

Well, I am just telling you that it's infuriating in a way to hear the president of the United States talk that way. He used those words to describe the law of the land.

GIBSON: Congressman, let me put this up on the screen, because the president of Mexico has been pressuring President Bush: Is Bush hanging tough from the pressure from Mexico?

TANCREDO: No, sir, he is not, because one of the things — if you notice again what he said, he goes, we are not going to have an amnesty. Amnesty won't fly.

But before he said it won't fly he said we're not going to have an amnesty. We're not going to have a path to citizenship. He always connects those things. He always pretends, or portrays them, as if they are the same thing: amnesty and citizenship. No, they're not.

You know, these are distant, miles and miles apart in terms of what they mean. Amnesty means if you've broken the law we are not going to actually impose the penalty for the violation. That's amnesty.

Getting citizenship, that's another debate entirely. And you can say — you can try to connect them together by then saying, well, if we don't give them citizenship, then it's not amnesty. No, it's wrong. And you shouldn't use the English language that way, because you're just creating new definitions that don't exist in any dictionary of which I'm aware, including Black's Law Dictionary.

GIBSON: Congressman Tom Tancredo, just back from a vote. Congressman, thanks for your time. Appreciate it.

TANCREDO: That's all right. Thank you, sir.

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