Bill Takes On Immigration Activist Enrique Morones

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 27, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: The top story tonight: another view on this explosive [immigration] situation. Joining us from Irvine, California, is Enrique Morones, founder of the Border Angels, who have helped organize this weekend's rally in Los Angeles.

All right, let's go down my list one by one. National Guard on the border. Are you opposed?

ENRIQUE MORONES, FOUNDER OF BORDER ANGELS: Definitely opposed. It's not for the military, it's for border patrol.

O'REILLY: OK, in the Constitution, it says the military is to be established to protect the borders of the United States.

MORONES: Right, but I think that the military the way that it's established right now is not prepared to handle these issues. We've seen the failures of the National Guard be involved in the past. Shooting innocent people, something that unfortunately...

O'REILLY: All right, so you don't have confidence that the U.S. military can do a back-up to the border patrol? Is that what you're telling me?

MORONES: Absolutely not. We've seen what's been going on in Iraq. I think they should concentrate on being a military, a peacekeeping force, not being on the border. I think that's the wrong way to handle these issues.

O'REILLY: All right, detain people who come over, no more cash and release. You for?

MORONES: I think that the catch and release program — what we support is the fact that the people that are coming into this country should be able to come here in a legal, humane...

O'REILLY: OK, but wait a minute, Enrique, I don't want to get into the big picture. We have plenty of time to do that later. You catch somebody coming across the border. Do you detain them? Are you for that?

MORONES: If somebody's coming across the border without documents and the border patrol stops them, they have the right to do that. The border patrol does.

O'REILLY: Do you favor...

MORONES: The border patrol should send them back to...

O'REILLY: Do you favor detention?

MORONES: No, they should send them back to the country where they came from, not release them.

O'REILLY: All right.

MORONES: I think you and I agree on more things than you would imagine.

O'REILLY: All right, so no more catch and release? You're with me on that?


O'REILLY: Punish.

MORONES: And right now, the catch and release is only for other than Mexicans. I think it should be...

O'REILLY: No, no, no, Mexicans get released all day long all across the border.

MORONES: ...back in Mexico.

O'REILLY: ...because they don't have the place — the local authorities don't have a place to put them.

MORONES: That's correct.

O'REILLY: All right, punish businesses who hire illegals. Are you for?

MORONES: I think that the people that are hiring, the people are not immigration agents, however, you know, they should be, you know, checking if the person's documented or undocumented by just asking them. They're not immigration agents. So they're not going to.

O'REILLY: OK, so you're not for that. You don't want to punish businesses that hire illegals, OK.


O'REILLY: Register — 60 days to register as a foreign resident. Are you for the registration?

MORONES: It dependents on what the consequences will be.

O'REILLY: No consequences.

MORONES: If the path leads to legalization, then I'm for it.

O'REILLY: Well, no guarantee of legalization. No guarantee.

MORONES: Criminals, you want them in jail. If they're real criminals, they should be in jail.

O'REILLY: No. They've got to learn how to speak English. They've got to do a whole bunch of other things. There's no guarantee. Are you for...

MORONES: They're already doing that, yes.

O'REILLY: Are you for registering, no or yes?

MORONES: For registering people?

O'REILLY: Right.

MORONES: As far as what?

O'REILLY: They're here illegally now. I want them to register. Do you want them to or no?

MORONES: Yes. No, not the way that it's being done right now.


MORONES: I thought.

O'REILLY: $3,000 fine for illegals who want valid working papers. Are you for that?

MORONES: I think that a $3,000 payment, if it's a pathway to legalization it's the right...

O'REILLY: All right, so it's all you have to guarantee me legalization before any of the things come into play for you? You have to guarantee it?

MORONES: Yes, I think it's got to be a pathway to legalization. Yes.

O'REILLY: A guaranteed pathway, a guarantee?

MORONES: It cannot be guaranteed because the person might be a criminal. If he's a criminal or she's a criminal, they should be in jail.

O'REILLY: All right, so you should be.

MORONES: And the overwhelming majority of these people are not criminals.

O'REILLY: They get in line and they go through the process. Guest-worker program, I'm sure you favor a guest-worker program.

MORONES: Not the way that President Bush has laid it out. We call that a "rented slave program." You can't have somebody for three or six years and them tell them to go back after they've contribute to the economy of this country, to the values of this....

O'REILLY: OK, so everybody that is allowed in here becomes a citizen if they're honest?

MORONES: They should have a pathway to citizenship.

O'REILLY: OK, every single person who comes in the United States on a temporary work permit should have citizenship offered to them, if they're honest?

MORONES: They should have it offered. And the thing is that we need the workers here. So once there's no jobs, then we look at different numbers. But right now, we need the workers in the United States. So I think it's very important that we do offer them a pathway to legalization.

One of the major reasons that we help to organize these marches on a national basis, I went to 40 different cities. We've had marches all over the country.

O'REILLY: I know you have, Enrique. You're a great organizer. And I wish you'd get on the right side of this issue and help us do this in an orderly, fair way. But look...

MORONES: I'm on the correct side, not the right side.

O'REILLY: Well, you might be on the correct side, but you're certainly not on the side of most Americans. According to the polls, three-quarters of Americans, three-quarters, 75 percent, all right?

MORONES: I don't think so. I don't believe that.

O'REILLY: Well, these are what the polls say, Enrique. It's not the guys you hang out with.

MORONES: I do. And they want a humane treatment for these people. They want a humane treatment for the people. There was a huge rally for the Minutemen in San Diego. Twelve people. That's huge for the Minutemen. We had a huge rally in L.A. We had a half-million people.

O'REILLY: You turned them out. That's why I said it looks like there's going to be a civil war.

MORONES: And across the country, we'll continue to do it.

O'REILLY: Well, 60 percent of Americans do not want legalization. And you want to guarantee legalization. So you're on the downside of that.

MORONES: Under certain conditions, yes.

O'REILLY: All right.

MORONES: And I think that if they knew those conditions, they would agree with me.

O'REILLY: I don't agree with you and I know them.

MORONES: ...Native American.

O'REILLY: And I'm the most humane guy all day long. I know them. I don't agree with you. I think that they have to earn citizenship, no pathway. You get in line. You get in line.


O'REILLY: You get in line. And if the authorities deem that you should get citizenship, you do. But no pathway, no guarantee. This is bologna.

MORONES: No, they should earn it, I agree.

O'REILLY: All right. We're going to have more within Enrique, because Enrique thinks there's a racial element to this. We'll get into that when we come back.



MORONES: They’re here to take care of our kids, to build our houses. These are productive members of society. We need to treat them in a dignified matter. And instead of these weapons of mass deception, let’s tell — call it like it really is. These are racist laws. There’s vigilantes on the border.


O’REILLY: All right. Continuing now with Enrique Morones, founder of the Border Angels. What was the racist element here, as far as you’re concerned?

MORONES: Well, there’s a tremendous amount of racism in this legislation. The racial profiling that’s going on right now is unbelievable.

Before we had a situation which still exists called driving while black. And that’s terrible. That’s — any African-American, they’re stopped more than Anglos.

Now we have a situation called walking while brown. Walking while brown, you’re stopped because of your accent, the color of your skin. And that’s wrong. We’re all part of the American fabric.

O’REILLY: Even — are illegal — are people who sneak in here, sneak in — violate our laws to get in, are they part of the American fabric?

MORONES: They are. You know, the fact that, you know, this was all — you know, the American sins of the past, invading Mexico, taking territory, that’s the past. There’s no serious movement to take that back like these fear mongers like to say. We are part of the American fabric. You saw.

O’REILLY: But then why are — if I snuck into Mexico tomorrow, all right, I didn’t go through the border procedures, didn’t show them my passport. Say, I didn’t have a passport. Say I was a convicted felon, if I snuck in to Mexico, would I be part of the Mexican fabric? Would Mexico...

MORONES: If you’re a convicted felon, you should be in jail. But there’s about a million Americans living in Mexico right now. A lot of them are undocumented, but they go down there to retire. It’s a different situation.

O’REILLY: All right, so you say.

MORONES: They’re not looking for work.

O’REILLY: No matter where you sneak into, if I could sneak into Belgium or wherever, I’d part of that country’s so-called fabric, you believe that?

MORONES: When I talk about open borders, I talk about open borders like Canada has open borders or Europe.

Where the people come in, but you want to know who they are. So they have the visas for these people. They have the documentation available.

O’REILLY: No, not everybody who wants to get into Canada can get into Canada. It’s easy, and it’s easy getting into Europe. And you see the social problems that develop.

Now, Enrique, you’re an American citizen, right?

MORONES: That’s right.

O’REILLY: OK. So you and I both have that in common. We’re both American citizens. Should you and I, Enrique, pay for the medical bills of people who sneak into our country? Should we do that?

MORONES: We’re not doing it now.

O’REILLY: Yes, we are. In the emergency room.

MORONES: People that are here...

O’REILLY: Come on, Enrique. You’re an honest guy.

MORONES: They provide a...

O’REILLY: You’re an honest guy.

MORONES: They provide a...

O’REILLY: You’re an honest guy. Don’t say we’re not doing it now when you know every emergency room is required to treat anybody who walks in. We pay for that, sir.

MORONES: And hopefully, they’ll continue to do that. That happens worldwide. The thing is...

O’REILLY: Doesn’t happen worldwide. It happens in the United States. It doesn’t happen worldwide.

MORONES: Most countries do that type of a situation.

O’REILLY: No, they don’t.

MORONES: Most countries. That’s not so unique.


MORONES: No, they do.

O’REILLY: If you walk into a hospital in Pakistan, and you’re not a Muslim, you’re going to get kicked right on out of there. OK?

MORONES: There are exceptions. But most countries, there are 220 countries in the world.

O’REILLY: All right.

MORONES: I would say 190 of them go ahead and…

O’REILLY: Let me break this to you gently. If you sneak into any totalitarian country, any African country, and they catch you, you’re going to jail. You’re not going to the emergency room. They’re much harsher in their treatment. But…

MORONES: I don’t want to.

O’REILLY: I want to get back to the original thing.


O’REILLY: You and I, we’re buddies, all right, compadres.

MORONES: Well, I don’t know about that, but…

O’REILLY: Well, come on now, Enrique, be humane.

MORONES: I’m humane.

O’REILLY: You and I, we are responsible for paying people’s medical bills who sneak into the United States. Don’t have to be Mexican. They can be from any country. You and I.

MORONES: But that’s a false premise.


MORONES: When was the last time you saw a Latino on the corner with a sign that says will work for food? Never. You’ll see 10 of them at the Home Depot ready to jump in a car to go to work. They’re not here for the benefits. They’re here to work.

O’REILLY: Every hospital in every border state says the same thing — overwhelmed by people with no medical — OK. So again, you and I.

MORONES: Need healthcare, I agree.

O’REILLY: Enrique, you and I, compadres. We are going to pay for the healthcare of everybody who sneaks in here. That’s what you think is fair?

MORONES: We need national healthcare reform.

O’REILLY: OK, national means…

MORONES: Immigrants provide the economy.

O’REILLY: National means…

MORONES: Keep our prices down on groceries.

O’REILLY: Enrique.

MORONES: Builds our houses, takes care of our kids.

O’REILLY: All right, don’t filibuster, Enrique.

MORONES: They should be getting something, too.

O’REILLY: Don’t filibuster. National means American citizens. You want Americans to pay for everybody’s healthcare.


O’REILLY: That’s nuts. That’s not fair. And I’ll give you the last word, go.

MORONES: OK, well, that’s not the way that I look at it. We have five percent of the world’s population here in the United States. The United States consumes 35 percent of the world’s natural resources, consumes 80 percent of the world’s illegal drugs, has caused terrorism, and has caused a lot of problems.

O’REILLY: But why do you want to live here, Enrique? Why do you want to live here — if we’re that bad.

MORONES: Because this is my land. I was born here.

O’REILLY: But if we’re that bad.

MORONES: I was born here. We want it to change for the better.

O’REILLY: If we’re that bad, why do millions of people want to get here? Stay where they are if we’re that bad.

MORONES: Yes, that’s why — we want to live here also, but we want to make it better. We want to make it better.

O’REILLY: Oh, I get it.

MORONES: Because this country is much better than what’s taking place right now.

O’REILLY: All right.

MORONES: And that’s what we’re fighting for. That’s why we’re having these millions of rallies across the country and will continue.

O’REILLY: OK. Enrique, look, I got to say you one thing.

MORONES: For everybody.

O’REILLY: You’re a stand-up guy. You’re a stand-up guy for coming in and debating this issue. It’s a very important issue. It’s very important for people to understand what you feel and why you feel that way. And we really appreciate you coming in.

MORONES: I appreciate it, Bill, thank you.

O’REILLY: Muchas gracias, compadre.

MORONES: Gracias. OK, amigo.

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