This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," October 19, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
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ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: That was the scene yesterday in Escondido, California, when the town council voted three to two in favor a measure that prohibits landlords from renting to illegal immigrants. Landlords will now be required to submit documentation of their tenants' immigration status to the city, which will then have to be verified by the federal government.
If the tenants are found to be illegal immigrants, landlords will be given 10 days to evict them or face misdemeanor charges and fines.
Joining us, Escondido city councilman Sam Abed, who voted for the measure, and immigration attorney Francisco Hernandez.
Sam, let me start with you. As I understand this, it's OK to have them work, have them pick grapes, have them work on farms, give them tax I.D. cards, have them pay taxes. They just can't live anywhere?
SAM ABED, ESCONDIDO, CALIFORNIA, COUNCILMAN: Absolutely correct. The impact of illegal immigration on our city has been tremendous, Sean and Alan. We have about 35,000 illegal immigrants, an estimate, out of 140,000 residents in our city. That's a huge number. The impact on our culture, on our sovereignty, on our education system and our health care has been tremendous. The estimated cost to the taxpayers in our city is about $12 million a year.
COLMES: Don't they also bring money in? Why not go after the employers who are denying jobs to Americans, trying to get cheap labor, not paying minimum wage? Wouldn't that be a much better target than landlords and denying people a place to live who need housing? What about the employers?
ABED: It is a good issue. But however, the federal government has to deal with these issues. Our legal advice — we have been giving the legal advice that we cannot deal with any law that is preempted by the federal government.
Hazleton, Pennsylvania, tried to deal with the English language and tried to deal with the employer sanctions. I think they failed, and they revised their ordinance to deal with the harboring of illegals.
The spirit of our ordinance is just to prevent harboring of illegals. So the rental ordinance is basically — we believe that it's very defensible and very enforceable.
COLMES: So this is a bad idea for economic reasons, as you have pointed out. There are reasons not to do this but purely economic reasons in the community.
FRANCISCO HERNANDEZ, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: If you will just watch the movie "One Day Without a Mexican," it's because if you pull out, if it is that many illegal immigrants in Escondido, California, what will it do to the local economy if you just clean them out overnight?
The problem is this. It has nothing to do with locally illegal immigration. The problem is that this is the perfect example of somebody passing the buck to local property owners for a job that the federal government ought to do.
Look, I don't care what the federal government does, whether they pass something good, bad or ugly, as far as immigration reform. Just pass something. This is a knee-jerk reaction to the federal government's irresponsibility and failure to act one way or the other.
COLMES: It divides the community, too, Sam. And I wondered, is this really the way to — we all agree there's an issue. I just wonder if this is the best way to attack it, if this is the right target in terms of cleaning up the illegality.
ABED: Well, the reaction from the community has been overwhelming. We've been dealing with this issue for about two months. Ninety-five percent of the residents of Escondido support our effort.
The impact on our city has been tremendous. We have heard the liberal views of pushing for liberal border, come on over, and demand your benefits, demand education, demand social services and demand citizenship.
I think the historic mistake that the Hispanic community did in April and May by going down and demanding these — these benefits from us.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Mr. Hernandez, you...
HERNANDEZ: If I could...
HANNITY: Hang on a second...
HANNITY: I just head you say pass something; pass a law, whatever it is, pass it. We actually do have laws on the books. We have American sovereignty. We do have American laws. We're talking about people who are in this country illegally.
What good is it to pass another law when we don't enforce the current law?
HERNANDEZ: Well, but let's look at it from the one point of view that everybody seems to carry this banner on. National security. If it's true that we have 12 million people here undocumented, why do we want to know who they are instead of...
HANNITY: I didn't ask you that. Listen to my whole question. I asked you...
HANNITY: You said pass a new law. Well, if you don't want to enforce the old law what makes you say that we're going to enforce the new law?
HERNANDEZ: We have President Bush's proposal that talks about letting all these people that have been contributing to the economy...
HANNITY: You're missing the whole point. What good is passing laws if you don't want to enforce the current law?
HERNANDEZ: Well, we have to enforce it. But the problem is they're here and they've been here and they have children who are citizens...
HANNITY: But now you're giving me excuses to circumvent the law. But the bottom line is you don't want to enforce the law. You don't want to send people back to Mexico if they're here illegally, do you? Yes or no?
HERNANDEZ: That's my job. Of course I want to legalize these folks.
HANNITY: Are you listening, Mr. Hernandez? That's my point. Is you want to pass new laws that go along with your political view, but you don't want to enforce the others, so what's the point of the new ones? Now Councilman, I want to ask you this question.
HANNITY: Hang on a second. Councilman, I want to examine — you are on record saying what you estimate that there are 35,000 illegals in your city, is that correct? That's one in four.
ABED: That's correct.
HANNITY: And Councilman, you're saying that the cost of taxpayers is how much a year?
ABED: Twelve million dollars a year.
HANNITY: And you're saying that 95 percent of people and a very large percentage of that Hispanic community supports this legislation. You're saying. You have evidence to back that up?
ABED: Absolutely. We have monitored the feedback from the community and the e-mails that we have received in the city of Escondido, the phone calls and the voicemails. The majority of the citizens, and it's over 90 percent, overwhelmingly supports our effort.
HANNITY: That's a pretty dramatic impact on the...
HERNANDEZ: The rules...
HANNITY: Mr. Hernandez, that's a pretty dramatic impact on the rest of the society here. Let me ask you this question. If at the end of the day...
HERNANDEZ: He cited absolutely no authority and no studies to illustrate what he's talking about. Every one of these people is in there paying sales tax. They're paying property tax.
HANNITY: Let him respond. Councilman.
ABED: He is wrong. You know, they want to justify open border, liberal views to impose on us...
HERNANDEZ: He's not answering the question.
HANNITY: Let him finish.
ABED: I am a legal immigrant. I came to this country. I respect the law. I embrace the culture. I speak English.
But let me give you an example. Sixty-six percent of our school students are Hispanic. Half of them are going through the English learning program.
How can we survive as a city with that kind of impact? The Hispanic community needs to embrace American culture and be part of the American culture.
HANNITY: Mr. Hernandez, sir, we're running out of time, Mr. Hernandez. Let me ask you this question here.
HANNITY: Why is it so much — my grandparents came here from Ireland at the turn of the last century. You know what? There's a lot of people coming from Mexico and all around the world.
And you know what? One of the things I love about this country is we embrace people from everywhere. It makes this country stronger. I agree with all of that.
What is so wrong with asking and demanding that, if you're going to come to our country, you obey our laws, you respect our sovereignty and you come here legally? And if you don't, we respectfully have to send you back. What's so wrong with that? Explain why that's wrong?
HERNANDEZ: Well, it is — respectfully, we keep asking them to come here to work. We need them here. We need this labor.
HANNITY: If we need workers, why can't they come in legally? Why won't you join us...
HANNITY: ... and say, we want you, we embrace you but legally. Why?
HERNANDEZ: Because there is no process whereby these folks that are already here can apply..
HANNITY: Yes, there is. Yes, there is.
HERNANDEZ: ... to become legal.
HANNITY: Tell me what program there is.
ABED: Sean, let me comment on this. This is not correct.
HERNANDEZ: The HIBB program is usually used up by February of every year there is one.
COLMES: All right, guys.
HERNANDEZ: Fifty-thousand per year.
COLMES: Francisco and Sam, we thank you for both very much for being with us tonight.
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