Gibson and Geraldo Square Off Over Newark Murders, Illegal Immigration

This is a rush transcript from "The Big Story With John Gibson," August 16, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JOHN GIBSON, "BIG STORY" HOST: It's the "Big Crime." Today the governor of New Jersey along with the mayor of its largest city, Newark, announced that they're taking new measures to monitor the flow of illegally purchased weapons to cut down on gun violence in the city. That is good, but I wish that they might take new measures to track down the illegal immigrants in the state, too, especially ones who have committed other crimes. This week, Newark's mayor said he has no plans to change the so-called sanctuary city policy of not reporting illegals to the feds and not questioning suspects about their immigration status. Is that a huge mistake?

One of the four suspects in the August 3 schoolhouse massacre in Newark came here illegally from Peru. He was out on bail for allegedly raping a 5-year-old girl before the murders. New Jersey officials failed to investigate his immigration status or share information with the feds. Had this information been sought, he wouldn't have been released on bail. Unlike me, "At Large" host Geraldo Rivera doesn't think illegal immigration should be a major issue in this case. He is with me now.

Geraldo, this one, seems to me, is really simple. It's unlike any other illegal case. Guy is charged with raping a child, a 5-year-old child. He can qualify for bail, but had they been able to ask what's your immigration status, and had it been known to the judge, legally, he would have had an immigration detainer and he wouldn't have been on the street to kill.

GERALDO RIVERA, "AT LARGE" HOST: Let me back into my answer, if I can. I want to give you a tale, John, if I may, about my dad. My dad is from Puerto Rico. We started life in the inner city of New York. He worked hard as a taxi driver and a dishwasher and we were able, at a certain point, to move to Suffolk County on Long Island. My dad used to pour over the newspapers whenever there was a notorious crime story, particularly when the perpetrator, the alleged perpetrator, or the suspect was on the lam, he used to pray that the person, when finally apprehended, was not Puerto Rican, because all my dad wanted was to assimilate into the community. And he knew that communal shame and blame would affect even our family.

Whenever there's a crime nowadays, I hold my breath hoping that the alleged perpetrator is not an illegal because I know I have to face you and Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly and this climate of absolute almost hatred directed at this sector of the American society.

GIBSON: Well, this is a little...

RIVERA: Now, let me get to the specifics of this.

GIBSON: But this is a little more specific.

RIVERA: I have a very specific answer. I think, first of all, this is a story about bail. This was a man who posted $150,000 bond, which means he had $15,000 cash at stake. The law in New Jersey requires a 31-count indictment for child rape, a $300,000 bail on top of the original $150,000 bail. That's $450,000 bail he should have been required to post. Instead, he got out on $15,000. That, John, is why he was free.

Now, here, let me compromise. I suggest in light of all the concern, because I don't think it's really a big issue, what is bail? Bail is money you post as insurance that you'll show up for the trial. Because an illegal has more opportunity or motive to flee than others, I think that if there's a Class A felony, I am indeed in favor of the reform of the law that allows the status, the immigration status, to be introduced as an element to the amount of bail paid. I propose a law that now can be the case, even in sanctuary cities.

Now, how do sanctuary cities operate? New York City is a sanctuary city, the safest big city in America. Crime is down 26 percent in the last year. It works. The policy granted by Rudy Giuliani...

GIBSON: It doesn't just apply to Hispanics. The guys that were attacking...

RIVERA: I'm not saying anything about Hispanics.

GIBSON: The guy — well, you seem to — illegal aliens, Hispanics.

RIVERA: There's a Web site, the voice of the undocumented Irish.

GIBSON: The Fort Dix guys were illegals from some place in central Europe.

RIVERA: They got here when they were 2 years old.

GIBSON: Exactly.

RIVERA: Two years old.

GIBSON: But they lived in a sanctuary city and in '75...

RIVERA: But, John, what relevance does their illegal status have to the Fort Dix crime? They were homebred terrorists.

GIBSON: Well, they would have been picked up earlier...

RIVERA: This guy came here at age 11, Carranza.

GIBSON: Carranza was here. He would have been held by a detainer.


RIVERA: It had nothing to do with the crime. He — five of the other alleged...

GIBSON: It had a great deal to do with the sanctuary city.

RIVERA: Five of the six alleged perpetrators in the Newark massacre are citizens or green card holders. So why is the status of one of them the be all and end all in this case?

GIBSON: Well, it might have made a difference. What was his role in this gang?

RIVERA: Whether or not it made a difference, he should not have been on the street because he should have had to pay almost half a million dollars bail. And it was the judge who allowed him out on a ridiculously reduced bail. That's the person.


GIBSON: This is a MS-13 crime. MS-13 is...

RIVERA: It doesn't matter. If he became a member of MS-13, he did it here. He came here at age 11. He grew up here...


GIBSON: And they could find out he was an illegal. They could put him away. Don't you want to that happen?

RIVERA: John, that is a very unfair way of phrasing it. Of course I want this scumbag to be executed if he indeed committed these terrible crimes. I want him to be prosecuted and I want him to be sentenced in an American penal institution for the rest of his life, or I want him to sacrifice his life, the ultimate punishment for the hideous crime that he committed for killing these three young men — young people with everything to live for. But that's not the same — I don't want him to be executed because he's an illegal alien. I want him to be executed because he's a murderer, a murderer who was out on bail for a child rape he never should have been out on.

GIBSON: If his illegal status could have been known and he wasn't on the street and the murder didn't happen, wouldn't that be better?

RIVERA: Why is it that of the 60 homicides in Newark, New Jersey, this year, this is the only one that anyone here cares about? Why is that? Why is that? Is it because we are using this issue to inflame the public on the issue of illegal immigration?

GIBSON: You're asking the wrong guy. This show started to do it long before he was known to be an illegal. You can ask that of others, but you can't ask that here.

RIVERA: I grant you that. On Monday you did the story 48 hours after it happened.

GIBSON: Partially because you did it over the weekend and we know...


RIVERA: And I love you. But all I ask for, if you can have a debate about immigration, as we are having in this country, that's fine. But just don't mix apples and oranges. Don't incite the public with irrelevant detail and this is an irrelevant detail.

GIBSON: His illegal status was irrelevant?

RIVERA: To the murder he committed, yes. Why is the citizenship of the five co-defendants not an issue?

GIBSON: But if his status had been known, he wouldn't have been there to participate.

RIVERA: John, the fact of the matter is, he should never have been on the street. He should never have been free on $15,000 bail.

GIBSON: As you always do, Geraldo.

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