This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," December 22, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
JOHN GIBSON, HOST: The idea of building a fence to fight illegal immigration is getting a lot of support in our country, but it's also angering our neighbors to the south. The Mexican government says it's asking other Latin American countries to fight the plan.
And Mexico has hired an American P.R. firm to improve its image here in the U.S. That firm is Allyn & Company. Its president, Rob Allyn, joins us now. I heard Vicente Fox having a hissy fit about the wall. What's the beef?
ROB ALLYN, PRESIDENT, ALLYN & COMPANY: Well, the concern is that people in the United States and Canada and the rest of North America and throughout the world, really, need to have a better impression of what the relationship between the United States and Mexico is all about.
I mean, Mexico is our second biggest trading partner. We export $111 billion worth of U.S. products a year. These folks are business partners of ours, not enemies.
GIBSON: But that's not the issue, Rob, as you know. The issue is the invasion of a few hundred thousand illegals every year and people are getting fed up with it. And you hear Vicente Fox talking about the reconquista. If he doesn't want this wall, he can do something about it on the other side of the border. Why doesn't he?
ALLYN: Well first of all, we ought to be building bridges to Mexico, not walls.
GIBSON: Yes, no, Rob, I know. But come on. You know what the problem is. And you know Mexico doesn't want to do anything about it. It's put Americans in the position of saying, "All right, if you're not going to do anything, we have to build a wall."
ALLYN: Well, the border is 1,951 miles long.
ALLYN: A wall is not going to work, OK?
GIBSON: Why? What do you mean it's not going to work?
ALLYN: People have tried building walls before between countries ...
GIBSON: I mean, you can build a really high wall.
ALLYN: ... to keep people from crossing to a better life.
GIBSON: You can do it.
ALLYN: You know what, they tried it in Berlin and they tried building a wall to keep people in. It didn't work to keep people in and it won't work to keep people out. The reality is it's a 2,000-mile long border and spending $2 billion on a wall is not going to solve the problem.
GIBSON: It may be, but it's American's prerogative to build a wall or not build a wall. And as long as Vicente Fox and all of the other leaders south of Mexico, the OTMs, the leaders of OTMs, other than Mexicans. As long as they continue to allow this massive influx into the United States, Americans have the perfect right to say, "We're going to do something about it."
ALLYN: But we need to back up here and remember that immigration is not a problem, it's an opportunity. I mean, Mexico supplies a huge market for U.S. products and vitally needed labor for our economy.
GIBSON: Rob, I'm with you, but we have people screaming at us day and night, "It is illegal. They are illegals." They're about to start arresting and fining employers for hiring illegals. Once again, we'd love to have the laborers. They've got to go through a legal door. If Fox doesn't want a wall, why doesn't Fox restrain the immigration from his side of the border?
ALLYN: Both the Mexican government and President Bush and Sen. McCain have proposed a temporary guest worker program that would make migration orderly, safe, legal and controlled. That's the answer. Not to build more walls.
GIBSON: Well, there are a lot of people who favor that but there are still people who want that wall to stop the illegal immigration and drug smuggling and the chance that a terrorist is going to come through once again. It's America's prerogative. Mexico really doesn't have anything to say about it.
ALLYN: Well, whether or not you support the wall or not, without even taking a position on whether it's morally right or not, let's just stick to the issue of whether it will work. I mean, the honest truth is that building a 700-mile wall along a 2,000-mile border at a cost of about $2 billion will not solve the problem or enhance the safety.
GIBSON: Well that's an argument for Americans to have. But Vicente Fox doesn't have anything to say about that.
ALLYN: Well, first of all, no one denies that this is the decision of the United States Congress and the Bush administration and the U.S. government. I mean, that's clearly within their purview to make these decisions.
GIBSON: All right, we're agreed on something.
ALLYN: The question is, what's the best thing for our country? And the best thing for our country here in the United States is to do business with Mexico as our second biggest trading partner, bigger than Japan, bigger than China.
GIBSON: Rob Allyn, representing Mexico in this issue. Rob, thanks very much.
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