Panel on Arizona's Tough New Immigration Law

This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Bret Baier" from April 21, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


LUIS GUTIERREZ, D-IL, CONGRESSIONAL HISPANIC CAUCUS: The lunacy of rounding u p people because they look a certain way or are suspected of being in violation of immigration statutes can only lead to one thing — violations of people's basic, fundamental civil rights — profiling.

RUSSELL PEARCE, R-ARIZ. STATE SENATE: Illegal is not a race. I t's a crime. Our citizens have a constitutional right to expect our laws to be enforced.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: The state is acting and the governor is acting out of frustration, because the federal government responsibility is to secure the borders, and our borders are not secure.


BAIER: It appears Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is getting ready to sign the toughest immigration bill in the nation in a matter of days.

Now, most Arizonans support this legislation. The newest Rasmussen poll finds that 70 percent of Arizonans actually support the law, but 53 percent, however, are concerned that the law will violate the rights of some U.S. citizens in Arizona, and that is what takes it on a national scale. A lot of reaction around the country.

Let's bring in our panel, Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of The Weekly Standard, Nina Easton, Washington Bureau Chief of Fortune magazine, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Fred, what do you think of this?

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I think Arizona should not act out of frustration. As a general rule, when politicians do, they go farther than they should, and that's the problem with this bill. It goes way too far.

It does allow a police officer to stop and, not frisk, but demand things from anyone they think might be illegal immigrant. And there are other problems with the bill.

But look, Arizona does have a problem. You know, illegal immigration is way down. The illegal immigration population in the United States is down by estimated 14 percent. And 600 miles have been built of a wall across the southwest border, which Charles, you always supported.

That's what they need to do in Arizona, build a wall there. Arizona has become the funnel, because fences have been built elsewhere and enforcement has been beefed up. Arizona is the main funnel in the United States through which illegal immigrants come. So Arizona does have a problem.

So when the governor or maybe it was Senator McCain said we need 3,000 National Guardsmen on the border, they probably do, because they need to do something to stop it there or else they wind up with the draconian laws which may be signed by the governor.

BAIER: But if the frustration in Arizona is real and the problem is real and the state acts as a state —

BARNES: Look, I understand. I understand what they're doing. I just don't think it's the right solution. It's true Washington won't do anything on immigration. There is a lot of talk there, but there's not a majority in either house, certainly not a bipartisan majority in either house to do anything on it this year.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: The irony here is the states are doing rear enforcement because the feds aren't doing the frontline enforcement.

So they are trying to pass laws where you catch somebody already in the U.S., and it's really hard to discern who is and who is not illegal. But if you are at the border and someone is climbing over the fence, you have a good idea they're illegal. And if someone is outside a Home Depot and he doesn't speak English, he could be or could not be, and that could lead to a lot of civil rights abuses.

But the problem is ultimately the feds haven't acted. What liberals don't understand who support the rights of illegals in the country is that if the American people had a fence, that the borders are secure, they are shut — if we built a fence all the way — and we can — and they had a sense this is the last cohort of the illegals, the ten or so million already here, the majority of Americans including me would be in favor of amnesty. If that is the last group that were coming in and the border is shut, that would be OK.

The problem is that in the absence of any seriousness on the part of the feds to do something like that, two-thirds, three-quarters of the border is unsecured, does not have that fence. People see a revolving door, so that there will be an endless bring of illegal immigrants who know after a decade or two, there will be an amnesty and we'll start all over again.

Americans have a sense we are to determine through our laws who comes in and who doesn't. That I think is the big problem. As long as the border remains unsecure, as long as the fence is un-built, you will have states acting in this — I would agree with Fred, in this draconian way.

BAIER: Nina?

NINA EASTON, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: I think that's no excuse for a state to act in this way. I think the whole thing that the feds are not controlling the border at the root, as Fred mentioned, the illegal immigrants has been down, and there's actually been an exodus of them because of crackdowns and because of the economy.


This isn't — yes, the feds need to act, but it's not the precipitant factor now.

BAIER: Wait a second. Arizona leads the world in kidnappings. The drug trade across the border has gone up exponentially. The violence along the border is very, very high. If you live in the southern part of Arizona, you say this is a big problem, and the federal government is not answering my problem.

EASTON: So you focus on borders and business. Borders and businesses are the two places where you catch illegal immigrants. You don't set up a class of people as fair game so that a policeman not only can but is supposed to under this legislation, they are encouraged to under this law to prove themselves.

You are setting up a whole class of people and you will create a culture of suspicion that won't do anybody any good. And on law enforcement efforts, I think it will hurt law enforcement efforts, because people — we have largely kept the immigration enforcement out of law enforcement, local law enforcement hands, not totally, but largely.

And that enables local law enforcement to get people to cooperate and talk to them. People won't come forward and talk. They'll be — if they're fearful they will be harassed by the police.

I agree with Archbishop Mahoney who says it's mean-spirited, it's regressive, and I think it sets a really bad precedent for rest of the country. I also thinks it's really dangerous to the Republican Party. Kiss goodbye any effort to attract Latinos to the Republican Party particularly in the west if this thing goes through.

KRAUTHAMMER: I worry more about my country than the Republican Party. There is no excuse for saying oh, well, the feds aren't going to do anything. They should.

The Israelis have a problem with infiltration and it's not someone who just wants an agency job in Tel Aviv. They want to kill people. They stopped it. How? They built a fence. It's doable. Napolitano just two months ago they canceled the project of a high-tech fence. I think high-tech is absurd. You put up a chain link. If that doesn't work you add a second one, and put a moat in between and rake it every day as Israel does on the border it has with Jordan. That works. Why can't it be done? It's not expensive. It's a lack of will.

BARNES: I can explain why it can't be done. People who want amnesty for illegal immigrants here oppose a fence. And the people who want a fence don't want amnesty.

BAIER: Last thing, Fred. What about state's rights? This bill made it through the Arizona state legislature. It wasn't just pushed through by Republicans.

BARNES: I think Arizona can do this. But I wish they weren't. I wish they were taking a different tactic.

KRAUTHAMMER: If any part of it is unconstitutional, the Supreme Court will tell us. It's not the role of the president or Congress to withhold money and force the state to having laws that adapt themselves to the policy of America and politicos in Washington. The Supreme Court ought to decide this alone.

BAIER: This will not be the last panel on this topic, I guarantee you. Logon to the homepage at to get ready for the online show, starting at 7:00 eastern.

Next up, is there any connection between Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs and the White House and the latest back-and-forth?



PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: They never discussed with us anything with respect to the charges that will be brought. So this notion that somehow there would be any attempt to interfere in an independent agency is completely false.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you can say categorically no winks, no heads-up in advance, no signal from anyone —

OBAMA: Categorically.

ORRIN HATCH, R-UT, SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE: Isn't that a little odd that all of a sudden right at the height of this legislative period we suddenly have the SEC filing suit against Goldman Sachs?

Goldman Sachs on the deals that they're talking about was dealing with the most sophisticated people in the business. You know, there is something terribly wrong here. The timing is very suspect in my eyes.


BAIER: Well, the president saying today that the White House had no communication with the Security Exchange Commission and their efforts in their charges against Goldman Sachs. In the meantime, a lot of politics surrounding Goldman Sachs, where they have been contributing, Democrats and Republicans. The president took more than $990,000 during in the campaign. The White House is saying that he is not giving any of that up in this environment. We're back with the panel. Nina, what about all of this back- and-forth and Goldman Sachs?

EASTON: Well, the president didn't have to tell the SEC to go after Goldman Sachs. The SEC, the reputation is at the lowest ebb it's been in decades. It missed the Bernie Madoff scandal. And we found out this week it had evidence that Lehman Brothers was careening toward bankruptcy and did nothing.

BAIER: And the Stanford case as well.

EASTON: And the Stanford case as well. This is an agency that has to prove itself, and it was looking for a big fish. Goldman Sachs, big fish, venerated firm, produces treasury secretaries for both parties, by the way, hugely profitable. So they went after, they got the big fish. They went after Goldman Sachs. The problem they have, I think, right now is that the cases is — the case is kind of flimsy. This is a case where it was, you know, everybody is appalled by it, you know, because Goldman as a lot of Wall Street banks are running a casino rather than an investment bank, so it seems. But to actually make the case, actually hold water, it's not clear that is going to happen. In fact, enforcement cases usually are a consensus by the commission. In this case, the two Republicans voted against it, which is very unusual. So I think it could very well not succeed. I think it will backfire on Obama, because while he is gaining political benefit right now, it's going to hurt him and look like they tried to go after Goldman Sachs and failed. And he already has a problem in the polls. More people now think he is closer to Wall Street than did a year ago.

BAIER: And we should point out that the SEC on day they announced the charges against Goldman Sachs also released an inspector general report about its effort to go after Alan Stanford, who was the $8 billion Ponzi scheme guy. Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: I talk to a few experts on this who tell me the SEC doesn't have to receive directive from the White House. It would be insane if anybody e-mailed and said hit Goldman on Friday when we're in the middle of legislation.

They know what those who appointed them want, and as Nina indicated, this was an unusual partisan decision. Three democratic appointees wanted action, the two Republicans were against it. It's usually consensus. So you didn't have to have a directive. What is odd about this is two other factors. One is that normally when the SEC takes an action against a person or a company, it gives them warning in advance. There was none. Goldman read about it in the press. And secondly, if you take an action against a big company like this, you do it after trading hours. They did it in trading hours and Goldman lost about $12 billion of the value almost instantly as the news broke. So it does look a bit fishy but I think the SEC knows which side the bread is buttered on and acted on the interest of the appointers.

BAIER: Fred?

BARNES: I think 90 percent of the civil suits filed by the SEC are done with unanimity among the commissioners on the SEC. This was certainly not the case here where the vote was three to two.

An investigation had been going on, on this, for a year-and-a- half. So did you have to pop it on a Friday midday while financial regulation was being — was the hottest issue in Washington?

Look, that's not only dubious — I'm trying to think of a stronger word — suspicious. I mean it, it's worthy of further examination. I mean obviously, I don't think there is any explanation for the SEC doing it other than it was a partisan decision to help out President Obama and Democrats on financial reform.

And if there is another one, I'd love to hear it.

BAIER: We have more on this, including the contribution element of it on the online show right after this show.

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