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Rep. Tom Tancredo and Geraldo Rivera Face Off Over Sanctuary Cities Putting America at Risk

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," August 22, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Welcome to "Hannity & Colmes." I'm Alan Colmes.

We get right to our top story tonight. Following the brutal slaying of three teenagers in Newark, New Jersey, the nation is focused on sanctuary cities or cities that have made it a policy not to report immigration violations to federal authorities. And just this week, presidential candidate Mitt Romney launched a radio ad criticizing the practice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Immigration laws don't work if they're ignored. That's the problem with cities like Newark, San Francisco and New York City that adopt sanctuary policies. Sanctuary cities become magnets that encourage illegal immigration and undermine secure borders.

As governor, Mitt Romney didn't wait on Washington. He acted to make our immigration laws work. Mitt Romney is the exceptional governor who took a stand so state police could enforce federal immigration laws. Mitt Romney said no to drivers' licenses for those here illegally. Mitt Romney insisted on teaching our kids in English. And as president, Mitt Romney will cut back federal funds to cities that provide sanctuary to illegal immigrants.

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS: Legal immigration is great, but illegal immigration, that we've got to end. And amnesty is not the way to do it.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney, an exceptional leader for exceptional new challenges.

ROMNEY: I'm Mitt Romney, and I approved this message.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paid by for Romney for President, MittRomney.com.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLMES: Joining us now with more on this phenomenon, Colorado Republican congressman and presidential candidate Tom Tancredo, and the host of "At Large," our own Geraldo Rivera. We welcome you both back to "Hannity & Colmes."

Congressman Tancredo, it's interesting that Mitt Romney — Cambridge became the first sanctuary city in 1985. It renewed its status toward the end of the Romney administration. He didn't say anything about it then. All of a sudden now, he's speaking out against sanctuary cities.

REP. TOM TANCREDO (R), COLORADO: Well, this is not unusual that almost everybody on the stage now that I appear on, Republicans running for president of the United States, that is, all of them now are becoming the strongest anti- illegal immigration advocates in the world, strengthen the borders. They all sound like Tom Tancredo, and I'm happy to hear it.

COLMES: When Rudy Giuliani, Geraldo, by the way, was mayor of New York was very pro-immigration, wanted services for illegal immigrants. Another flip-flop he did now that he's a national candidate.

GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, let me just — this may be the only chance I get to agree with Congressman Tancredo this evening, so let me just give him props on that one. He is right. He did it first. He did most ferociously. But now they're all following in lockstep.

And with Rudy Giuliani, it's especially discouraging to me, because he was such a great mayor here. He did help craft New York sanctuary policy. I interviewed Commissioner Ray Kelly not more than a month ago at the Puerto Rican Day Parade. He reaffirmed to me that that is the policy of this city. It's kind of a "don't ask, don't tell." And I only point out to the congressman and to Mitt Romney, whose radio ad we just heard, that New York is the safest big city in the United States today.

COLMES: And crime's been down for a long time.

RIVERA: So whenever it is New York is doing, I would recommend it to other cities.

COLMES: Tom Tancredo, I just want to point out, you know, here in New York, a crime gets committed, an illegal immigrant is involved, we extrapolate that and act like all illegal immigrants are criminals, when in fact the...

(CROSSTALK)

TANCREDO: Who says that? Who said that all...

(CROSSTALK)

TANCREDO: Beside the fact that they have come into this country against — I mean, without our permission, which makes them, of course, doing something illegal to begin with. But after that, of course, many do not commit other crimes, but many do.

COLMES: Most don't.

TANCREDO: And those are the ones we are concentrating on today, because, of course, the people who are dead today, the three children who are dead in Newark, and the one that's in the hospital, they are in those conditions, they are dead kids and one in the hospital because Newark is a sanctuary city.

Because Newark did not do what it should have done, did not report the fact that they had in custody somebody who had committed previous crimes and was an illegal alien, and let that guy back out on the street. And he committed these crimes.

COLMES: Geraldo, is that a fair criticism of the city, when you've got illegal immigrants — you've got people all over the country committing crimes. And there's a bigger, higher crime rate among people who are here legally than illegal immigrants.

RIVERA: Two points. First of all, this was the 60th homicide in Newark this year, and I'm sure Congressman Tancredo has not opined about any of the other homicides, and only became interested in this one when it became clear that one of the six alleged perpetrators came to this country illegally at the age of 11. That's one thing.

Number two, why was this person, this one of the six around to commit this hideous crime? He was out because he had a 31-count indictment for the rape of a child, and he was out on $15,000 bail, instead of the requisite $450,000 bail that he never could have made and never would have been on the street.

It had nothing to do with his immigration status. And it's just being used by advocates of this crushing anti-immigration policy to make a cheap political point.

TANCREDO: Absolutely untrue. OK, Geraldo, please, now let's go through this process as he has laid it out. Sixty murders committed in Newark up to this point in time. First of all, we have absolutely no idea, of course, how many of those murders were committed by people who were in this country illegally. I don't know.

(CROSSTALK)

TANCREDO: Just a minute. Just a minute. You brought this up. I'm saying that then you went onto suggest that the reason that this guy was out on the street simply was because the bail was reduced. But the reality of the situation is this, Geraldo, and you know this. That one reason, of course, that the bill was not set higher is because the guy didn't have the — the judge did not have the information about him being an illegal alien.

RIVERA: He had a 31-count rate indictment.

TANCREDO: You're right. You're right.

RIVERA: How much more would the bail be, a trillion dollars?

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: But he could have been deported.

(CROSSTALK)

RIVERA: Do you want him deported before you try him for child sex?

HANNITY: Yes. Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

RIVERA: He's got a 31-count child rape indictment against...

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: Let me explain one thing, and then we'll get back to Congressman Tancredo. Let me tell you what I think you're missing here, is that these lives of these college students may have been saved after this guy was charged with the serial rape of a 5-year-old, had it not been a sanctuary city, had they not hidden his illegal immigration status. He could have been deported. And the issue here, Geraldo, that you seem to be missing, is this country is angry.

RIVERA: The country is angry.

HANNITY: But you know why? And it has nothing to do with race.

RIVERA: The country is angry because of political leaders who heighten the contradiction between different groups, who exacerbate tensions...

HANNITY: No. No. No. No, let me explain.

(CROSSTALK)

RIVERA: We're not speaking to the tradition of America as a country of immigrants, like the congressman's grandparents, both of whom came from Italy.

(CROSSTALK)

TANCREDO: What's that got to do with it? What does that got to do with the issue?

(CROSSTALK)

RIVERA: ... hard-working, law-abiding...

TANCREDO: Do you understand the difference? Do you understand the difference?

RIVERA: Congressman, you were in Miami last year. You called Miami a third-world city.

TANCREDO: What's that got to do with it? What does that got to do with it?

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: Hang on, guys.

(CROSSTALK)

TANCREDO: Don't change the subject. Don't change the subject, Geraldo.

HANNITY: Let me bring up a point here for Geraldo, and then, Congressman, we'll let you respond again. Hang on. Back to your separate corners.

This is what I think you're missing, Geraldo. And look, I have so much respect for you...

RIVERA: And I for you.

HANNITY: Let me finish here. It's the infrastructure. It's the fact that people don't obey the laws. It has a major impact financially on our educational system, criminal justice system, health care system, that we don't want to reward illegal activity. And in this particular case, had we taken advantage with the knowledge of the status of this guy, these three young African-Americans may be alive today.

RIVERA: Do I have 30 seconds to respond?

HANNITY: I'll give you 20 seconds.

RIVERA: OK. I'll take the 20.

COLMES: I'll give you 28.

RIVERA: Thank you. In Washington state, there was the kidnapping on July 4th of the 12-year-old, ironically immigrant child, who was raped, kidnapped and murdered, Zina Linnik, her name.

All of the right-wing blogs, including some of the people who are contributors on this network, said a consequence of Americans' open-door policy because it was revealed that the perpetrator of the terrible crime was an immigrant from Thailand. So everyone for 24 hours, the right wing was crazy about this case.

What happened? Why aren't you hearing about this case anymore? Let me tell you. Because it turned out the guy was the stepson of an Army veteran, who was himself an Army veteran and a naturalized citizen who voted in 2002. I mean, so now the right wing doesn't care about that.

(CROSSTALK)

COLMES: We're going to pick it up right there. We'll come back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HANNITY: And we continue now with our own Geraldo Rivera and Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo.

Look, as hard as I try, Congressman, to convince my colleague here, Geraldo, this is about — we had an opportunity. If we didn't have sanctuary cities, if we would check the status of people that are arrested, in this case, you know, of the serial rape of a 5-year-old girl, these kids would be alive. This goes to the heart of what the problem is here, is that we have a fear that we don't even look at the status of illegal immigrants.

TANCREDO: This is exactly the case. It's got nothing to do with my grandparents. It's got nothing to do with Miami or Washington state. It's got everything to do with the fact that when somebody commits a crime in this country, and they are here illegally, they commit another crime, some heinous crime, and that is not reported to ICE.

Then they are allowed to go out on the street, for whatever reason, bail or anything else, and commit another crime, in this case, the murder of three people. Then you cannot escape responsibility. The sanctuary city of Newark has got to take responsibility for this.

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: Let me go back to Geraldo. This is important. No, no...

(CROSSTALK)

RIVERA: I've got a benign statement. You'll like this.

HANNITY: Real quick. You're killing me here. You take over the...

RIVERA: I think that the issue, as defined this evening, will be the seminal issue in the '08 presidential race, whether you agree with Tom Tancredo...

(CROSSTALK)

RIVERA: ... Colorado, or with me, or the people who believe...

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: I want you to explain...

RIVERA: ... that will be the election and where the majority will...

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: Help me out here. Help me out here. Look, the law of the land is...

RIVERA: So you agree with that? Do you agree with me?

HANNITY: The law of the land is that you're not allowed to enter this country illegally.

RIVERA: Right.

HANNITY: We have these sanctuary cities, which basically — they won't check the status of people. You explain to me why we shouldn't do everything possible to enforce the law and why we would not check the status of criminals?

RIVERA: I can easily explain. You know, there are 12 million "illegal aliens," quote, unquote. But you know what the crime is, first of all? It's a low-level federal misdemeanor that is usually treated as a civil violation.

What if we criminalize, as Jim Sensenbrenner, Tom Tancredo's colleague, tried to do in '06, all of the illegals, 12 million? That is six times the total population of all the prisons in the United States of America, six times.

COLMES: We only have a moment left.

RIVERA: The 12 million, that's equal to the total population of New York and Los Angeles.

(CROSSTALK)

COLMES: Congressman, let me ask you a hypothetical, because we're talking about deporting people, and finding them, and getting them out. If a child, a 6-year-old child with an infectious disease, goes to a hospital, should the hospital then find out if that child is here illegally or you're going to drive people to actually stay home and not get her cared for?

(CROSSTALK)

TANCREDO: I'm not going to allow you to drive this issue — to drive this discussion away from the issue that we are here to talk about.

(CROSSTALK)

TANCREDO: I am here to talk about three dead children in Newark, one in the hospital. They're dead because the city of Newark has a sanctuary policy.

(CROSSTALK)

COLMES: You're accusing...

(CROSSTALK)

COLMES: ... because it's an illegal person doing it.

TANCREDO: I'll tell you why. Tell you why. Tell you why. Because if the city of Newark had done its job and the federal government, these three kids would still be alive. That's why this is an issue. Do you understand that? Do you understand that?

COLMES: Why only this one? Why only this one, Congressman?

TANCREDO: Because we know that these three kids would still be alive today.

(CROSSTALK)

RIVERA: How many people have enjoyed the benefit of a random act of kindness today from someone who was here illegally? How many children were fed? How many people had their lives improved by an undocumented person today?

COLMES: The point is you're extrapolating one horrible act out of 60 acts because the person's illegal, and you want to use it as a political bat to hit your opponents over the head. That's what you're doing, Congressman.

HANNITY: Congressman...

TANCREDO: Three kids would be alive today, Alan. Three would be alive.

COLMES: You keep repeating that. You're ignoring all the other murders.

TANCREDO: That's the truth. Because that's the truth.

HANNITY: Thank you, Congressman, for being with us. Geraldo, by the way, don't forget, watch this weekend for his special, "The Death of Diana: Unanswered Questions." It's on Saturday night, 8:00 p.m., Sunday at 4:00 p.m., and leading into "Hannity's America" at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday night.

Watch "Hannity & Colmes" weeknights at 9 p.m. ET!

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