This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," August 26, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Not everybody thinks we're dealing with a crisis along our southern border. The mayor of Douglas, Arizona (search), says many of these illegal immigrants are contributing to our country and its economy. You can see where Douglas is, right on the border. Douglas Mayor Ray Borane joins us now on the phone.
So Mayor, you hear a lot of heavy breathing going on about the crisis on the border. Is there one?
MAYOR RAY BORANE, DOUGLAS, ARIZONA: The crisis on the border is directly related to the fact that the United States government hasn't really actively or realistically taken a look at what's happening down here.
And I think if declaring an emergency is one way of getting their attention — I know that here in the state of Arizona it got the attention of Mr. Chertoff — then that in itself is effective.
But as far as stopping the people from coming across that border, I heard the gentlemen before me talking about border police and all those kind of things. Let me tell you I live this thing 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And I see it all day long. And there's no way in the world that it's ever going to be stopped at the border.
GIBSON: Why not?
BORANE: It's just impossible. These people are very, very crafty, very artistic. They will find innovative ways of getting across. I mean, we have 550 border patrol agents in this community now, and they certainly can't stop them now if you look at the apprehensions that they have on a weekly or monthly basis. It shows that the numbers are either high or low, but they figured that one in 10 will be caught and that the other nine will get through.
So to me, again, it's a charade down here. It will never be stopped on the border, no matter who thinks they've got the right idea to do that.
GIBSON: Does that mean we shouldn't try?
BORANE: Well, you can try, but I think you've got to look at it holistically. You've got to do other things. You know, you've got to convince the people that coming across the border is not the only thing that's happening illegally in this country.
The truth of the matter is that you've got a very, very high level of illegality going on with the people that are employing them. And once they coordinate that and they complement enforcement on the border with the enforcement in the workplace, that's the only way, if that's what the people believe is the only avenue of approach. And you've got to start at the workplace.
GIBSON: You know, I don't understand it. The Israelis built a wall. Palestinians can't get over it, under it, around it, through it. Why do we have so much trouble building a wall?
BORANE: I think a lot has to do with the fear factor. I don't think that the people that are coming over here illegally have one iota of fear for what's going to happen to them.
If you consider that the only consequence of jumping that line or coming across that border illegally, if they're caught on the border is they get inconvenienced, they get delayed two or three hours while they're being processed. And guess what? They send them right back. They go right back to the same staging area, and you might see them again that night or the next day.
GIBSON: So are you suggesting harsher measures for those that come across?
BORANE: No, not at all. Because I have to tell you, realistically and philosophically, that I believe that those people, once they get to the workplace, that they contribute plenty. But I think that the workplace is something that has to be very, very visually looked at.
GIBSON: Do you have, in your town, are there families living on both sides of the border? Do you have to deal with people in your town who have relatives who cross and they make illegal crossings all the time, just to see their families?
BORANE: Absolutely. We have people going back and forth across this border all day long. This is one regional community. The only thing that separates us is that political fence.
GIBSON: The political fence is the United States border, Mayor.
BORANE: No, but you asked a question about the people.
GIBSON: But that's a border.
BORANE: Absolutely. But I'm talking about the ones that go legally through that port of entry on a daily basis to visit their relatives and so on.
The illegal problem in Douglas, Arizona, is only that they are passing through here by the thousands. They are not staying in Douglas, Arizona.
GIBSON: That seems to be a big problem in southern California around San Isidro (search), where they pass through. They seem to cause tremendous disruption. I find it kind of hard to believe they wouldn't cause the same disruption in Douglas.
BORANE: Well, you know, if you want to be adversarial about it, Douglas, Arizona, is very, very tolerant of these people because they've seen it so long in the community. These people are not crossing through the city proper as much as they were before.
And the tragedy is that the government has forced them out in the desert, and that's what's causing the major problem, especially of all the deaths that are occurring.
GIBSON: Democratic Mayor Ray Borane, on the phone from Douglas, Arizona. Mayor, thanks very much.
BORANE: You're welcome.
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