All-Star Panel: Debating Obama immigration policy

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," August 15, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


THOMAS DUPREE, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT GENERAL: The fraud issue is a very major issue. In other words you've got a situation now where there will be millions of people submitting massive amounts of documents to the Department of Homeland Security and basically saying here are the documents that prove my residency, my time of entry, and things of that nature. And the Department of Homeland Security is going to be confronted with an immense bureaucratic obstacle to process all of these applications in a relatively short amount of time. They may not be equipped to sniff out the fraud in every case.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Undocumented immigrants began lining up Tuesday night in cities around the country basically filling out these applications that delay deportation for at least two years. The application costs $465. You have to have either a high school diploma, vocational training, or military service, and show that you have entered the U.S. before turning 16 and that you have lived in this country for five consecutive years and you don't have a criminal record. There you heard some concerns about the paperwork and how that will all be verified quickly.

We're back with the panel. Kirsten, it begins today. How does this play?

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: Well, it's very convenient timing I'll say, for one thing, that President Obama suddenly has taken an interest in this after saying that he was going to take care of it in his first term and now right before the election suddenly he seems to be expediting this. I personally think these people should be given amnesty exactly as Ronald Reagan did. I think $465 is a lot of money for somebody who is pretty poor probably. And if this is the best that Obama can do, I'll take it. But I think it's pretty weak.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Constitutionally it's an abomination. Politically it's a stroke of genius. On the policy analysis, itself, you can argue it either way. It is clearly completely lawless. This is the DREAM Act which the Senate had considered in 2010 and rejected, enacted unilaterally by the executive. That is not how it's supposed to be done in a constitutional democracy, and Obama knew that.

And the timing is, of course, fortuitous. Obviously, it's cynical. He could have done this in January of 2011, but he didn't. Because it is a stroke of genius. Right now we were looking at the lines of the kids who were lined up, you know, attractive the kids. They obviously live in neighborhoods with other, I'm sure a lot of them, with other immigrants, many of whom are citizens, legally here who vote. There is all this excitement, there is all this hubbub on the ground. It's as if you had people canvassing these neighborhoods and essentially doing a ground game on behalf of Obama. It was surely going to help them, and it is surely something that you shouldn't do under our system.

As to whether it's a good idea, there is a long argument about that. We had it in Congress, and Obama had lost, but he doesn't care.

BAIER: Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, I think there is also a political downside to this. It is true that at first blush this is obviously politically helpful to the president. But over time I think that there is maybe a wearing away of the way people see the president. This was the president who came to office and was going to change the way that Washington works and he was sincere and he wasn't going to be doing this. Now we have governing by give-away. Anytime he needs anything he just comes up with a new giveaway, whether it's student loans or a conference on women held at the White House, or on his trip to Iowa. We have these -- suddenly we have this report from the Energy Department about the importance of wind tax credits. We have these other giveaways, $170 million for farmers. I mean, it's like, wherever he goes he just gives people stuff.

Taxpayers understand that they have to pay for that, that ultimately there is no government money tree. Taxes actually come from some place. And I think the more you see this kind of naked politicization of these kinds of programs the more that that could have a long-term effect on it.

BAIER: Quickly, the voter I.D. issue in Pennsylvania, a commonwealth judge ruled that the preliminary injunction to stop the state's new voter I.D. law, he did not grant that. So basically, the voter I.D. law can go forward. And he said a voter I.D. is reasonable. And if they don't have one, they can vote provisionally or absentee. How does that factor in? Kirsten?

POWERS: Well, if you are to listen to -- what's his name? Mike Turzai, he's the Pennsylvania House majority leader, he was bragging that this is going to help Romney win Pennsylvania, which is the whole point. Despite all the claims that this is all about the voter fraud, this is actually a national effort to suppress the Democratic vote.

KRAUTHAMMER: Except that the Supreme Court ruled in 1998 -- no in 2008, that a decision written by John Paul Stevens, a liberal hero, that it is completely and utterly constitutional. The case is closed. There is nothing surprising in this ruling today.

BAIER: That is it for the panel. But stay tuned to see how the simple things can sometimes cause difficulty.

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