This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," June 7, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: And this is a FOX News alert. At this hour, the immigration deal in the United States Senate is dead. A second vote has failed tonight, and the word from Capitol Hill is that the bill will likely be pulled from consideration altogether by tomorrow.
Conservatives have been going crazy about this bill, but this also means a defeat for the president who has backed the endeavor. Joining us now with more, syndicated columnist Mark Steyn and, from National Public Radio, FOX News contributor Juan Williams.
Mark, I got to tell you, as somebody who has been against this bill, because ostensibly I believe it's an amnesty bill, I think this is good for the conservative movement. Am I right?
MARK STEYN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yes, I think so. I think it's good for the country, too. It was a fraudulent bill that the immigration service would not have been able to handle these extra millions of people. So, in a sense, I think it is a good lesson for the Republican leadership that there are times when you simply cannot cross the base to the extent that they did.
HANNITY: Yes, not only did they cross the base, Juan Williams, they eliminated them from the discussion. And it was amazing to me that they would do this, you know, in light of the fact the people that have been most supportive of the president and the Republicans in the Senate have been conservatives, and they knew how conservatives felt about this.
But I think it actually has a positive influence, because the presidential candidates have gotten a loud message: Don't ignore the conservatives. Is that a good analysis?
JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: No. I mean, goodness gracious, Sean, this is an important issue for all Americans. You know, a moment ago, Mark said they couldn't deal with all these people. Let me tell you: That 10 million to 12 million population is here! They're in our midst; they're violating our laws; they're here illegally. We should be...
HANNITY: But that's the point.
WILLIAMS: ... as law-abiding Americans, we should be about trying to get these people to obey the law, to become a legal presence in America.
HANNITY: But, Juan, listen to what you're saying. We should get these law-abiding — they broke the law. They didn't respect our sovereignty. There are millions of people that want to come into this country that are willing to respect our laws, do it the proper way, the legal way. And why give legal status, which this bill would have done immediately, to 12 million to 20 million people who didn't do that?
WILLIAMS: Because the language in Washington of what you're describing, Sean, is called silent amnesty. What you're doing is saying, "We can't do anything. We're going to play politics with it. We're going to please the conservative base. And as a result, we're not going to do anything."
HANNITY: That's not it at all.
WILLIAMS: That's why President Bush said just the other day the people who are trying to block this bill don't care about America. They're not doing what's best for America.
HANNITY: I find that rhetoric absolutely abhorrent and insulting, because we believe — you know, I think it's an absurdity that we're going to expect people to obey the new law when nobody respected the old law. But I will tell you this: I support immigration reform.
HANNITY: I support a guest worker program, if it's necessary, Mark Steyn.
WILLIAMS: Well, there you go.
HANNITY: But, first and foremost, Mark Steyn, I think we've got to control the border now. That's where this bill needs to begin.
STEYN: Absolutely. So many key stories have an illegal immigration component. It doesn't matter whether it's the junior half of those Washington snipers, who should have been deported but never was, the kid from Jamaica who's now in jail. It doesn't matter whether it's these Fort Dix guys in New Jersey...
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: The Fort Dix guys had nothing to do with the border. They came over 20 years ago, Mark. They came up when they were 1, 4 and 6 years old. Don't make that an immigration issue. It's not.
STEYN: It is an immigration issue.
COLMES: No, it's not.
STEYN: The four guys on the plane that flew into the Pentagon, they got their documentation...
COLMES: They overstayed their visas, Mark. This has nothing to do with illegal immigration, and you know it. That's a false argument.
STEYN: And they overstayed their visas simply because of the sclerotic legal immigration service in this country, which, believe me, I know about, because I had the misfortune to go through it. And I know they can't handle another 12 million.
COLMES: But it's not illegal to come in over the border. Tying this into terrorism is a false argument, and you know it. It has nothing to do with it. You can't tell me of one terrorist that came over the border over the last years.
STEYN: No, it's not, Alan. On average, they take six minutes to say yes or no to each application. You cannot read the paperwork in six minutes.
WILLIAMS: This is not about the issue of immigration in our country. And, you know, oh, someone's a criminal. Look, you know, most of the people who flew into the buildings in 9/11, they were here legally.
COLMES: They got into the country legally, Mark.
STEYN: And that tells you the state of legal immigration in this country.
WILLIAMS: You don't want to argue. You're just so strongly anti- immigrant, you don't even want to engage in a rational argument.
HANNITY: Oh, stop it.
STEYN: Oh, hang on. Hang on. I'm not anti-immigrant. I am one. As far as Alan's concerned, maybe that shows how bad the system is.
COLMES: You got in, so maybe that is a problem. I'm kidding. But, look, you know, you want to do something about the border. This bill actually did that. You had triggers — look, I'm not a big fan of this bill. I've got problems with it, too. But it did have triggers in it where certain things had to be met before you actually put into play the opportunity for those to gain permanent citizenship. And now those triggers are gone.
WILLIAMS: Alan, tell people what those triggers were, that they had to put in place more agents, build walls, mobile containers, all sorts of technology intended to do it. This was — and let me say...
WILLIAMS: ... amnesty? They were going to charge people $5,000. It was a substantial fine.
COLMES: And you had to wait eight to 13 years, Mark Steyn. You couldn't do it right away. There was a long process.
STEYN: The probationary visas would have been given right away, within 24 hours, before any of these triggers or anything else took effect. That was the only clause in this bill that mattered.
COLMES: And for permanent residency, Mark Steyn, you had to go back and touch back, something I don't agree with, but it was in the bill...
COLMES: ... you had to go back and touch back to your home country before you'd be here permanently.
STEYN: What's permanent? If you've got ongoing probationary, open- ended residency, you don't need a Z card, or a green card, or citizenship. You can do everything you want with those probationary visas.
COLMES: All right, give me the better plan. Tell me what the better plan is, Mark Steyn. Tell me what the better plan is, because I haven't heard one.
STEYN: I think the better plan is to do what other countries do and have an efficient system of legal immigration, coupled with border enforcement. And, again, I know, I cross the northern border all the time. It's basically a haphazard, arbitrary, semi-uninformed border.
COLMES: And what do you want to do about the people already here?
STEYN: I think the people who are already here, you basically seal the borders, and then...
COLMES: Good luck.
STEYN: ... effectively you deal with the people who are here...
WILLIAMS: Look, Mark doesn't know what to say to you, Alan, and so this is what you get. You get nothing. He has no plan, no rational way to deal with this. And, of course, when you look at other countries around the world, what do you see? There's no country like America. We're America because we will take people. We take talent; people who want to work hard, who want to raise their kids and educate them.
STEYN: No, no, you don't. The people who are talented...
WILLIAMS: That's the joy of America.
STEYN: ... and want to work hard are all sitting in their home countries with their visa applications backed up five years.
WILLIAMS: Come on.
HANNITY: Juan, it's simple. Secure the border. We support immigration, legal immigration.
WILLIAMS: But, Sean, that was in the bill! Build a wall, put...
HANNITY: It was not. They got instant status, and the security measures were second.
COLMES: It was in the bill.
HANNITY: All right, guys, we're going to continue this debate.
STEYN: It was not in the bill.
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