This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," May 9, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Our top story tonight. Things are getting rough at the Mexican border. The Border Patrol says that attacks against their agents are up, and they're being forced to defend themselves.
Now, as we showed you on "Hannity's America " last Sunday night, this video taken at the border near San Diego clearly shows a Border Patrol agent firing on and killing an illegal immigrant who appears prepared to attack him with a rock.
Now, this case is under investigation. But the Mexican government continues to push for border agents to be locked up while the activists here at home tar and feather them for defending themselves. Joining us now is the co-founder of the minutemen, Chris Simcox, and FOX's own Geraldo Rivera.
Thank you both for being with us.
Geraldo, you're a Border Patrol agent. Here's a guy with a rock. He's about to hit you. They drop him. Do you have a problem with that?
GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, it depends.
HANNITY: There's the video.
RIVERA: Well, that video is still under investigation. The video of the case that is much closer to the case, in which a Border Patrol agent has been indicted, as you reported Sunday night, you know, it's a very different situation. There, the district attorney believes that the Border Patrol agent was not defending himself and shot the guy at close range, wrongfully and has charged him with murder.
HANNITY: All right, I want to roll this video. That's the one case. And we only have video from two — that's the one from two miles away. Now, I want to go to the video here, though, because we have it up close and personal.
HANNITY: Now, here's a guy...
RIVERA: Even this one, I'm curious about this one, because if you look at the guy's arm, at whom is he throwing that rock?
HANNITY: At the cop.
RIVERA: Is he really? That arm looks cocked and behind his head.
Well, I know it's still under investigation, because I think there's enough ambiguity there that they have not cleared that Border Patrol [officer] — but, listen, these guys have a very tough job, under very stressful conditions, as police do everywhere. You've got to cut them some slack.
But if, after investigation, the prosecuting attorney say, "Hey, there's reasonable cause to believe they committed a crime," then they've got to be charged just like everybody else.
HANNITY: I don't like justice by video because we never fully get the full story.
RIVERA: True. I agree with that.
HANNITY: But we can see a lot in this video. He takes the rock back...
RIVERA: Again, you're talking about the case in which the Border Patrol officer has not yet or maybe never will be charged.
HANNITY: But, look, he pulls his arm back...
RIVERA: Stop it there.
HANNITY: ... right there.
RIVERA: Is he throwing that rock at the guy who is sort of to his left or is he throwing the rock over the white SUV there?
HANNITY: Of course! Geraldo, you've got to be kidding me here...
RIVERA: That's a side shot.
HANNITY: Now, one of the other things, Chris Simcox — I want to put some other video up on the screen for our audience here — is because this has happened now to a lot of these border agents.
For example, we have pictures of blood all over the cars of agents. We've got pictures of one agent whose eye was bulging as a result of all of this. These cops have seen, these Border Patrol guys have seen these injuries before. They know how dangerous this is.
CHRIS SIMCOX, MINUTEMEN CIVIL DEFENSE CORPS: They're seeing violence and facing violence on the border like never before, Sean. Hundreds of more accounts of violent attacks. Border Patrol agents in the Arizona area in Nogales are carrying AR-15s because they're going up against heavily armed — those are the encounters you're not hearing about, the National Guard facing heavily armed paramilitary-type people coming across the border.
The I-19 corridor leading from Nogales to Tucson is a war zone, with heavily armed personnel that are coming across the border. And not only that, they're attacking not only Border Patrol agents, but each other, and stealing human beings and murdering people. This is a warzone. Our governor needs to deal with it. And you talk about who's complicit in this, it's the federal government.
HANNITY: Well, and, Geraldo, this is the point. A rock is a weapon. A rock can kill you.
RIVERA: I'm not arguing that point, Sean. Don't get me wrong. I think that people who assault law enforcement officials deserve to be prosecuted, as well as deported. First, you catch them, you prosecute them, you convict them, you put them in jail, when you finish their sentence, you deport them. That's fine with me. I have no problem with that.
HANNITY: You're a dear friend, but I'm having a hard time with you, though...
RIVERA: But wait a second, I've got another thing in my pocket here. I want to read this. "Based on the extensive investigation presented to this office by the Cochise County sheriff's department, as well as the physical evidence itself, we must come to the unfortunate but inescapable conclusion that this shooting was not legally justified." That's from the county attorney, no liberal crazy person.
HANNITY: Please stay with me on one issue. Go back to this rock.
RIVERA: This is the other case.
HANNITY: This is the other case.
HANNITY: Now, here's the point. You cannot...
RIVERA: This is not the Corbett case in which the officer has been indicted.
HANNITY: But I want you to look at this video, and you cannot with a straight face tell me that he was throwing the rock at the car.
RIVERA: I'm just saying this. Look, here's Alan in front of me, about the same distance as the officer.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Hannity wants a rock.
RIVERA: Leave the video for a second and come back. Here's the guy. He looks to me like he's this way. Here's the guy here. He shoots him. He falls dead. It looks to me like you're going over there. I'm a catcher.
SIMCOX: Let's see Geraldo come down to the border like he's done in Iraq and face these bandits and go out there at night like we do.
RIVERA: I'm more afraid of facing you and the Minutemen and all the vigilantes down there, bringing guns down there...
SIMCOX: .. the hardened criminals that are there preying on people.
COLMES: The problem with doing this by videotape, as Geraldo is pointing out, is you can't tell, based on the angle, exactly where the aim was, what the position was, where the rock is headed.
HANNITY: Yes, you can.
COLMES: You can't tell in every instance. So to judge this case simply on a little piece of video at that angle — and at this particular one is, what, two miles away — how you can really bring justice to bear when you can't get the information properly by videotaping it?
SIMCOX: Look, according to California law and Arizona law, if you're within 20 feet of someone with a deadly weapon, and you raise your hand, and you're going to attack them, not only does law enforcement have the authority and the right to defend themselves, so do citizens.
COLMES: Defend themselves is one, but, Geraldo, the opportunity to kill somebody? Should you kill? Should you actually shoot to kill? Shoot you shoot to maim? Should you shoot to hurt?
RIVERA: I think that part of the problem, Alan, is that vigilante groups like Mr. Simcox — and I don't doubt his sincerity.
SIMCOX: There are no vigilante groups. Do your research, Geraldo.
RIVERA: OK, I've done plenty of research. In fact — well, that's another issue. But let me just say that what this does is obscure the very real debate.
The New York Times is reporting today that, yesterday, the Senate basically reached agreement on compromis, comprehensive immigration reform. The president has asked for it. Churches are now offering sanctuary to illegals. The evangelical groups are now joining with the Catholic and other groups to make a big religious issue out of the offering of sanctuary to illegals.
There's much more to this debate than a couple of bad eggs who throw rocks at cops. Some get shot, and they deserve it, and some get shot, and they don't deserve it.
COLMES: And the real debate is, Chris, what do we do about it? They actually voted in the Senate, before it became a Democratic Senate, voted for a fence, but never funded it, in an election year ploy to act like they were doing something about this, but without the money are actually doing nothing about this. Isn't that really the issue here? What do we do, policy-wise, to really address the bigger issue?
SIMCOX: Well, comprehensive immigration reform starts with what they promised us in 1986, which was securing the border after we were duped into giving amnesty the last time. This time what comes first is what the American people want and what is in the best interest of national security and public safety. We build those fences. We put 6,000 — we need about 25,000 National Guard.
COLMES: But they didn't fund it.
SIMCOX: ... compromise is that they are going to fund it, because they know what the American people want.
RIVERA: Gary Shandling, the comedian — I think it was Gary Shandling, I hope it was. Anyways, he was asked about the fence. He said, "You know why I'm against that $200 billion-dollar fence? Ladders." I loved it.
HANNITY: I'm going to pick it up with you.
RIVERA: Go ahead.
HANNITY: Because I don't think they're a vigilante group. And I was down there with them on the border.
RIVERA: Well, then let's debate that. I think that's a fair issue.
HANNITY: We'll get to that when we get back.
COLMES: We now continue with the co-founder of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps, Chris Simcox, and the host of "At Large," Geraldo Rivera. Just before we talk about whether or not the Minutemen is truly a vigilante group, Geraldo, you've been a great defender of Al Sharpton.
Later we're going to talk about what he said about Mitt Romney and his religion. He is saying, "I wasn't talking about Mormonism. I was talking about generally people of faith are generally going to vote politically against Republicans." That's what he was talking about.
RIVERA: Well, you know, I was listening to Hannity's radio program today as I drove in.
COLMES: That's your first mistake.
RIVERA: I know! And he played this statement three times. And I have to say, I love Reverend Al, but he was clearly in the wrong. He should apologize to Mitt Romney. He should apologize to the Mormon faith.
COLMES: I think he could have been misinterpreted...
RIVERA: Yes, but it doesn't — then he should say, "I was misinterpreted, but if I hurt anybody's feelings, I apologize." But you make one religion seem less religion than your religion? No.
COLMES: Chris Simcox, the issue came up — and this continues to be said about the Minutemen, whether it's a vigilante group. Haven't you had authorities in Arizona and elsewhere along the border say, "We don't want the Minutemen there"? "We're the authorities. We want to be able to run policy. We don't want people volunteering and deciding they're going to do what we do for a living"?
SIMCOX: Well, they say that, the bureaucrats do. But the soldiers on the ground, the boots on the ground, even supervisory levels — we just completed our April operation. We had Border Patrol working side by side with us. They appreciate our help. We have better equipment than they do in many cases, and they rely on us. All law enforcement agencies rely on the citizenry to report suspicious, potential illegal activity to the proper authorities, and that's all we've ever done.
COLMES: But if the authorities say to you, "We don't want you there," why don't you respect the authorities and let them do their job?
SIMCOX: The authorities — we do allow them to do their job. We enhance their ability to do their job. They have billboards up saying, "Please report suspicious activity to the proper authorities," and that's what we do.
COLMES: All right, Geraldo, go ahead.
RIVERA: But, Chris, how do you react to the fact that, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there's been a tremendous spike in hate groups and there's being fueled by anti-immigration rhetoric...
SIMCOX: That's precious to quote hate groups talking about hate groups. The Southern Poverty Law Center...
RIVERA: There were six fellows in Alabama last week or two weeks ago arrested and indicted and charged with possession of hand grenades and other explosives they were going to use to go "hunting" illegal Mexicans in their town in Alabama. And the authorities seem to believe that they were incited by rhetoric from groups like your own.
I mean, do you accept responsibility for the fact that what you're saying, that these words have an impact, and they are causing some effect, that they're driving some fringe people — not yourself, of course — but driving some fringe people to violence?
SIMCOX: No, not at all. You cannot find one incident of any violence against anyone based on their immigration status in this country. Again, this is about rule of law. And, again, these hate groups...
RIVERA: It's a federal indictments, six guys.
SIMCOX: ... because we're all-inclusive. We're a multiethnic group. We have people from all over the country participating in this.
HANNITY: Hey, Chris, let me defend you here. Chris, how many times have I have been down at the border with you guys?
SIMCOX: Oh, at least three times, that I know of.
HANNITY: At least three times. Geraldo, you used the term before "vigilantes." They're not vigilantes. I know they've been demonized. I know horrible things have been said about them, but I went down there a number of times. I've met them. I've been on patrol with them. I watched what they're doing here.
Our borders are open for the enemies of this country to come in here, not just people that want jobs, hope and opportunity. And what they have done, I think, is a good service, because they have called attention to the fact that we have the biggest national security vulnerability in this country right there, and we need to control our borders.
RIVERA: You know the respect and affection I have for you. I remember those stories, and you riding your horse along the border, and all the rest of it.
HANNITY: Pretty pathetic.
RIVERA: Very macho, but I do believe that, inadvertently, you can help encourage a movement that I think is negative to society. We have to cope with the 12 million people we have here, Sean. We have to have comprehensive immigration reform.
HANNITY: You're arguing a separate issue. That's not the issue.
RIVERA: I'm for defending the borders, too. But there are professionals who do that.
HANNITY: No, they don't.
RIVERA: How do you know who's in the Minutemen and who's not?
HANNITY: You're admitting, by saying there's 12 million people here illegally, you are admitting the government has failed. Here's my point.
RIVERA: This is a century-long process.
HANNITY: Geraldo, being at the border, seeing the poverty in Mexico, I understand why people come here. I don't care how many people we allow legally in from Mexico. I'm all for it. But the problem is our enemies, Al Qaeda, terrorists, people that want to destroy our cities. If people that want jobs can get in, so, too, can the people that want to hurt us.
RIVERA: But when you have a professional Border Patrol officer, he's a federal officer. He's a civil servant. He's been trained. Many of them have military backgrounds.
HANNITY: We don't have enough of them!
RIVERA: ... does he vet these people? He does background checks on these...
SIMCOX: Yes, actually.
HANNITY: Yes, he does.
SIMCOX: Every single one of them, Geraldo, are well-trained. Many of them are former military and law enforcement. The majority of them were well-trained. We have search and rescue teams. You don't see — we have hours and hours of tapes of our rescues of the women who've been raped and abused coming across that border, and men.
HANNITY: By the way, we have a video. Chris, you were on this program. Geraldo, we have a video of these guys feeding people that were hungry, helping women that were sick, taking people to the hospital...
RIVERA: ... they should get a job and leave border enforcement to professionals.
HANNITY: The professionals are failing. They let 12 million people through.
SIMCOX: We'll be glad to go back to our families...
RIVERA: I wish you bon voyage.
COLMES: We thank you very much for being with us, both of you.
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