This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," August 19, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger facing more pressure to declare a state of emergency along California's border with Mexico. Arizona and New Mexico have already made that move which frees up money to help fight drug smuggling, human trafficking, illegal immigration and border violence. California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez is urging Governor Schwarzenegger (search) to do the same. The Democrat joins us from Los Angeles to talk about the issue.
Mr. Nunez, do you think that the situation has gotten so bad on California's border with Mexico that the governor should declare a state of emergency?
FABIAN NUNEZ (D), CA ASSEMBLY SPEAKER: Well, John, let me just say that first of all, we do have an issue here in California, unlike Arizona and New Mexico. In California, the biggest need we have from the federal government is a reimbursement for housing undocumented persons in the jail here in the state of California...
GIBSON: Mr. Nunez, what about stopping them?
NUNEZ: We haven't gotten our fair share...
GIBSON: What about stopping them?
NUNEZ: Well, that's part of it as well. I think we've got to do away with untrained folks like the Minutemen (search) and bring real federal border patrol agents to patrol our borders. There's no question that that is a part of it. But, also making sure California gets it's fair share of federal dollars where it relates to the work that we do...
GIBSON: Mr. Nunez, would you support a state border patrol where California organize its own officers to patrol its own borders with Mexico?
NUNEZ: I would absolutely be against California patrolling its own border for the same reason this is a federal issue. We need to urge the federal government to do its job in protecting our borders. This is not the responsibility of the states. This is the responsibility of the federal government and already California is not getting its fair share of federal dollars. It is not within our jurisdiction to patrol the borders. That's the job the federal government and we hope that...
GIBSON: Mr. Nunez, is it a crises that California isn't getting it's fair share of dollars, or is it a crises that Mexico is allowing thousands, if not hundreds of thousands to stream across the border into California? Which is the real crisis?
NUNEZ: Well, I think we need to take some responsibility for the immigration problem here in California. I don't think to solely lay the blame on the footstep of Mexico, I don't think it's fair. We draw illegal immigration into this country because we have job opportunities for illegal persons and undocumented persons in this state and other parts of our country. So we need to take our share of the responsibility of the burden...
GIBSON: Mr. Nunez, there was a poll done by the PEW Center in Mexico that said 40 percent of all of Mexico, 40 percent of the Mexican population wants to come to the U.S., and 20 percent would come illegally. Doesn't it sound as though you've got to do something about that border or you're going to have literally half of Mexico in California?
NUNEZ: Well, I think that would be a dramatic exaggeration of reality. Forty percent of Mexico is not coming over to the United States. In fact illegal immigration over the last eight years has declined in California and in other states. But the fact of the matter is, what we have to deal with here is a fundamental problem where we've to get to the root of the problem. Yeah, we have to protect and patrol our borders more effectively but the federal government needs to do its fair share to reimburse the states for housing illegal immigrants in jails.
GIBSON: Mr. Nunez, I understand you want more money from the feds. And I know the feds will say it's a money situation...
NUNEZ: John, that's what this issue is all about.
GIBSON: ...the feds will say, if it's a money issue, wait, what about the border? Why not stop them?
NUNEZ: Well, we do have to deter illegal immigration at the border. But, let me tell you something, that's very, very important. We have to have shared responsibility for illegal immigration and get to the root of the problem. We cannot dehumanize the individuals who crossed this border, risked their lives oftentimes, simply to feed themselves or to provide for their families. We've got to have a more humane immigration policy in this country and we have got to accept the fact that undocumented persons in the United States are a contributing factor to our economy. There are jobs that we provide for them. And if you want to do...
GIBSON: Mr. Nunez, I've got to run.
NUNEZ: ...illegal immigration, we have to cut it off at the...
GIBSON: We have to cut it off. I get the picture. California Assembly speaker, Fabian Nunez. Thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.
NUNEZ: Well, thank you very...
GIBSON: Let's go to California Senator Bill Morrow, a Republican whose district includes much of north San Diego County, Ocean Side and the area which is affected dramatically by illegal immigration. And Senator, I know you have been working on this for a number of years. You just heard the speaker in the assembly say that it's a crisis, but the crisis is getting money from the feds. Is that the problem? Or is the crisis actual people coming across the border?
SENATOR BILL MORROW, R-CALIF.: Well, we agree that there's a crisis, and I certainly would like to have our share of the federal money because the federal government has not stepped up to the plate and enforced the borders and there is an impact. But, no, you hit it right. The real problem is at the border itself. And we have, or at least we should have, control of the borders and that's where we need to put our resources. We wouldn't have to worry about federal mitigation or anything else if we enforce the borders.
GIBSON: Mr. Morrow, Senator Morrow, the governor appears to be hesitant to declare a state of emergency, yet two Democratic governors in New Mexico and Arizona have done just that. Are the Republicans, that is the California governor and the Republican president, in danger of being out flanked on the immigration issue by Democrats?
MORROW: Well, I hope not. And there's a lesson to be learned about this. I mean, with Speaker Nunez, I actually support his call for the governor. I think the governor should declare a state of emergency because the impact of illegal immigration in this state. So, I actually agree with Speaker Nunez although I think his motivations are different in that regard. In New Mexico and Arizona, of course the governors in those states, when they made the similar declaration I'm asking the governor of California to do the same as well, it's interesting, they're both Democrats. Both states have large Hispanic Latino populations. One governor herself is Hispanic and I see this as a mainstream issue, I always have, it is certainly in my district. And I guess the message that I'm hearing here, if Democrats are doing this, the message to those Republicans who might be a little goosey or shy or afraid of being labeled racist hey, the water is fine. We're right on this issue and the people in California and the United States know it.
GIBSON: Do you blame President Bush for not doing enough?
MORROW: Well, you know, I have to respectfully disagree with my president on the issue of illegal immigration. It's very clear. The federal government is not doing enough. And the buck stops there at the presidency, yes.
GIBSON: California State Senator Bill Morrow, a Republican whose district includes much of the area often trafficked by illegals as they enter the country. Senator, thanks very much.
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