Securing Our Borders

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 20, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: "Back of the Book" segment tonight, Arnold Schwarzenegger (search) is apologizing for saying that California should close the border with Mexico. He meant to say the border should be secured.

But the governor shouldn't be apologizing at all. It's obvious to anyone that the federal government will not deal with immigrants illegally crossing into the USA. And it should.

But pressure's mounting, and Congress may soon pass legislation mandating the border be secured.

Joining us now from Washington, Jorge Ramos, an anchorman on Univision (search) and author of the brand-new book, "Dying to Cross: The Worst Immigrant Tragedy in American History."

You and I agree on some things and disagree on others. I've always said if I were a poor Mexican, I would try to cross the border and earn money here and send it back to my family. I don't blame the illegal aliens. I blame the federal governments of both Mexico and the United States of America.

Do you, so far, are you with me on that?

JORGE RAMOS, AUTHOR, "DYING TO CROSS": Yes, I agree that if you are a Mexican unemployed, making $5 a day in your country of origin, and you realize you can make exactly the same amount of money in the United States in 40 minutes or one hour, you're going to keep on coming. That's why one thousand immigrants every single day cross the border successfully into the United States. So in that sense, I agree with you. The border is completely out of control.

O'REILLY: All right. Now, do you have a solution? See, my solution is you militarize the border. You put the guard, National Guard to back up the border patrol, just as the Minutemen did. Because the Minutemen stopped the immigration in the 22 miles that they patrol.

But again, you don't want to do that that, correct?

RAMOS: No. I don't think — I don't think that would work. I mean, the U.S. Army has other priorities like getting Usama bin Laden, and I think the Minuteman Project is a complete failure. Because they are not securing the other 1,900 miles of border between Mexico and the United States.

And I do have a solution. First, we have to provide legal status to the more than 11 million documented immigrants in this country. If you don't want to do it for humanitarian or economic reasons, which I think are justified, I think we have to do it for national security. We are serious in this war on terrorism.

And secondly, there has to be an immigration agreement with Mexico, in order to have a more orderly flow of immigrants coming to the United States and we don't see more immigrants dying at the border. I think this country needs more immigrants.

O'REILLY: Here's why — here's why — you see, it sounds good, but here's why it isn't good. And this is said with all due respect, Mr. Ramos, because I do respect you.

The bad guys aren't going to sign up for that. The bad guys aren't going to register for that. They're going to get in here illegally and do bad things. People with a record. We're not going to accept convicted felons in Mexico. They're going to come here the own way they can, which is illegally.

RAMOS: Well, we have to do something, Mr. O'Reilly. Something has to be done at the border.

O'REILLY: Here's what you do. The Minutemen succeeded in bringing publicity to the border that's going to put pressure on the Bush administration. They're going to have to do something extra.

RAMOS: But more violence at the border is not the solution.

O'REILLY: There's no violence. There was no violence from the Minutemen at all. There was not one bit of violence.

RAMOS: At the end of the day, we might measure the so-called success of the Minutemen Project in the number of people dying in other parts of the border. So I don't think...

O'REILLY: But nobody would die at the border. If Schwarzenegger and Napolitano and the governor of New Mexico, who we're going to have on here next week, and the governor of Texas would put the National Guard border, nobody would die.

See, your book — your book is about...

RAMOS: Every year, about 300 to 400 people die.

O'REILLY: But they're not going to die because they're not going to try. They're not going to die, because they're not going to try.

RAMOS: It has nothing to do with politics or with diplomacy. It has to do with the economic law of supply and demand. As long as...

O'REILLY: We're talking past each other. No.

RAMOS: ... coming here to the United States.

O'REILLY: In the face of the military presence backing up the border patrol, the coyotes won't even try it, and neither will the illegals who have to pay the coyotes to get over here. No one will try. No one will die.

You should be on my side here, Mr. Ramos. Your whole book is about those poor people who get exploited and die. If the military's on the border, that's not going to happen.

RAMOS: If you give me a chance, I'll tell you. I agree with you and I think on both sides of this issue, we agree that the border is out of control. That it's chaotic. But the reality is that this country needs more immigrants, to maintain under control the inflation, which is a big problem right now, to pay for the Social Security of the rapidly aging population, to take the jobs that Americans do not want to take. And quite frankly...

O'REILLY: Once you secure the border...

RAMOS: ... to maintain the expansion, economic expansion of the United States as a super power.

O'REILLY: Mr. Ramos, once you secure the border, I'm your best friend. I will work to get the good people working papers and to earn citizenship.

RAMOS: I think that's fantastic.

O'REILLY: Once you secure the border.

RAMOS: But America should not become a country that despises immigrants. Something has to be done.

O'REILLY: All right. Mr. Ramos, thanks very much. It's always a pleasure to talk to you.

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