This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," March 29, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Thousands of demonstrators who hit the streets this week to protest immigration reform, have they actually hurt their own cause with their anti-American signs? Well, one sign even featured doctored photographs of the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. And that would be Congressman James Sensenbrenner. And they put him dressed in a Nazi uniform.
We spoke to the chairman just a few moments ago.
HANNITY: I want to talk about this poster with you in Nazi garb.
REP. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, R-WISC.: This is name-calling of the worst possible manner. Immigration and illegal aliens and border security are a serious issue in this country.
We've let it go for 50 years; we've got 11 million illegals in the country now. It's projected we might get another 20 million more in the next 10 years. That will result in our health care system collapsing, and our schools being overcrowded, and our social services being taxed.
We need to get a handle on border security, and the bill which Peter King and I sponsored, which passed the House in December, does that.
HANNITY: All right. So bottom line, is this about that, if people disagree with you, if you take a different position, if you think we should enforce the laws that are on the books, that this type of language, this type of rhetoric is being used, and that either you support some form of amnesty, some guest-worker program, or you can expect to be attacked this way?
SENSENBRENNER: I guess that's the case. And I call it the new McCarthyism. McCarthy was a senator from my state. He disgraced it by calling people names rather than talking about issues.
SENSENBRENNER: I've kept this debate in talking about issues, and I will continue to do so.
HANNITY: Congressman, we know that there are conflicting bills. The House bill is different than what is being debated in the Senate. If under any circumstances the people that do not respect our laws of sovereignty, if they are allowed to stay — is there any other word to say that that is amnesty, ostensibly that would be amnesty? Isn't that true?
SENSENBRENNER: That is amnesty, and we tried that 20 years ago, and it didn't work. We had 2.5 million illegals now. We've got 11 million illegals now. And amnesty just sends the message that, if you come to our country and stay underground, sooner or later you're going to be granted amnesty and become a United States citizen eventually.
And that's wrong, because it puts people at the head of the line who broken our laws to detriment of those who have been very patiently waiting for their file to get to the top of the pile.
HANNITY: It's really true, because you do basically punish those that cut in front of others, or reward people that cut in front of others.
What I don't understand, what I'm having a hard time understanding — Congress passes these laws, they're not respected, and now Congress says, as a means of resolving the problem, we'll pass a new law. Why would we assume that people that didn't respect the old laws are now going to respect the new laws?
SENSENBRENNER: We can't assume that, because it isn't going to happen. And the reason the Simpson-Mazzoli Act of '86 failed is that we did not enforce employer sanctions which makes it an offense for an employer to hire an illegal alien.
HANNITY: Right. Should we send home anybody that is here illegally and they are caught in the United States of America? Should they be sent back immediately?
SENSENBRENNER: Oh, I don't think it's practical to send back 11 million people immediately. But the provision in my bill, which requires employers to verify the accuracy of Social Security numbers, will dry up the job market. And if these people can't get jobs, they will go back on their own.
And, remember, it is always cheaper to hire an illegal alien than a citizen or a legal alien who is present in this country with a green card.
HANNITY: There have been reports in the media claiming that the House border security bill would punish the clergy and other organizations from assisting, or helping, or offering social services of some kind to illegal immigrants. And I know you wanted an opportunity to address that.
SENSENBRENNER: The people who are complaining about that have not read the bill. For over 50 years, it has been a crime to aid, and abet, and assist illegal aliens.
What my amendment does is to put a knowing and willful standard in there so that those who are part of a criminal alien smuggling ring can be more easily prosecuted and sent to jail. These are the people who get those who cross the border to carry drugs and, in some cases, they're trafficking in people into prostitution or white slave rackets.
If you look at things that are immoral, that's got to be close to the top of the list.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Congressman, it's Alan. Welcome back to our show.
But that's why you've got a problem with the Conference of Catholic Bishops, who say, you know, if confession is given to them, if they are seen helping in any way, they may know that the person is illegal. Maybe they confessed to them. They fear that they'll be felonized, if that's even a word, as the illegals would be under this bill.
SENSENBRENNER: Alan, that's ridiculous. The federal government in every state have a priest penitent privilege. So if it's confessed to them, the priest does not have to disclose and cannot disclose what was confessed to them.
This is all a red herring by people who want the current system to continue. I think those who are hiring large numbers of illegals and paying them in cash and not taking out the withholding are the 21st-century slave masters. And they're just as immoral as the 19th-century slave masters that we have to fight a civil war to get rid of.
COLMES: Well, the Catholic Church clearly are not slave masters. And they don't necessarily want...
SENSENBRENNER: I'm not saying the Catholic Church is a slave master. I'm saying that people who are knowingly and willfully aiding this trafficking in people, a lot of whom carry drugs across the boarder, are engaged in something that is poisoning our society.
And the provision on changing the already existing law on aiding and abetting, as the bill does, is designed to get at those who are actually trafficking in human beings. Trafficking in humans is criminal and wrong, and anybody who assists those who are trafficking in human beings, I think, ought to face the music.
COLMES: I agree with you. I think you go after employers. I think what Democrats and Republicans would come together on this and make sure Social Security numbers are checked, heavily fine employers who knowingly hire illegals.
But, again, what do you do with the 11 million people? You can't know for sure that half or what percentage will go back, if you go after employers. What path can we have for those people who are going to remain in this country?
SENSENBRENNER: Well, we shouldn't give them amnesty. We tried that, and it failed.
I think the path is, is to dry up the magnet which draws people across the border. So we need border security and enforcement of employer sanctions first.
Once that is up and operating and it shuts down the magnet that draws more of them across the border, then we can talk about a guest-worker program. But we've got to do the border security and the employer sanctions first. Otherwise, the failure of Simpson-Mazzoli will be repeated with a much greater cost to our country.
COLMES: But you're still in the meantime going to have a lot of people here.
James Sweeney of the AFL-CIO says the guest-worker program encourages employers to turn good jobs into temporary jobs and reduce wages and working conditions, help to create a growing class of poverty in this country. And that's his problem with a temporary guest-worker program.
Is that a valid argument?
SENSENBRENNER: I don't agree with the AFL-CIO on much, but it is a valid argument. And Robert Samuelson, who is a liberal economist, says that the huge number of illegal aliens depress the wages of citizens and legal aliens who are working in businesses that compete with those that hire large numbers of illegals.
Hiring an illegal is cheaper than doing it the right way. And without enforcement of employer sanctions, the market will work, and everybody ends up getting lower wages. And we have a much bigger problem, in terms of hospitals and schools.
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