Why Won't Congress Secure the Borders?

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 25, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Will Congress act on the border any time soon? Joining us from Washington, Senator Tom Coburn (search) from Oklahoma and from Denver, Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo (search). Both men want border reform.

Congressman Tancredo, since you've been involved with this in the very beginning, let me begin with you. I don't understand, and I can't answer folks' questions when they come up to me and say, why won't Congress pass laws that force whoever is in the presidency to secure the border? Why, sir?

REP. TOM TANCREDO, R-COLO.: I always go back to the fact that, number one, this country has become hooked on cheap labor. That cheap labor creates a situation where a lot of pressure is put on individual congresspeople to not do anything about the borders for fear of impeding the flow of cheap labor. The other thing, of course, is the fear — that's been certainly exaggerated from my point of view — about the kind of political backlash that would occur from certain segments of the community and minority groups.

O'REILLY: All right. You're saying this whole thing, our security, everybody's security is put at risk because Congressmen and senators, Congresspeople and senators are too cowardly to do the right thing because of their own careers? That's what you're saying?

TANCREDO: Yes. There's two things that trump national security in this situation. It's money — the cheap labor issue — and politics — the fear of the backlash of minority groups. Those two things have — up to this point in time —trumped national security as incredible as that is to comprehend.

O'REILLY: I don't know if it's that incredible. I've always thought our politicians are somewhat venal. Do you concur, Senator Coburn?

SEN. TOM COBURN, R-OKLA.: Well, first of all, I think that the laws are on the books that would require the president to enforce the border. That has not happened, either with this president or the one that preceded him.

And, you know, quite frankly, I think a lot of people in Washington don't get the feeling that's in the country and that is they want the border closed. They want the border closed mainly for national security reasons, but also for their own economic considerations. Their schools are being overrun, their hospitals are being overrun, and we can't handle the load of illegal immigrants. It's not a hard thing to do.

O'REILLY: No, it isn't. We've gone over this a million times. You put the National Guard to back up the Border Patrol, it stops dead. If 250 Minutemen can stop it in their sector, do you imagine what the National Guard could do helping the Border Patrol?

But look, here's the deal. You guys can say here's the reason, but we need a vote, you see, so then all Americans can see which politicians will not protect them and which will. So we need to get a bill up on the floor of the House and Senate, a national protection bill on the border that demands President Bush move the military in there or does something like that. No? Yes?

COBURN: Oh, I think it's wonderful. I agree with you.

TANCREDO: Believe me, we have the bill, but the problem is of course getting the leadership to agree with it. Leadership doesn't want to do it because the White House doesn't want to do it. They don't want to be put in the position that you've just described.

But one good thing we have done, you should know, we have, in fact, we have authorized the increase of the Border Patrol, a doubling of the Border Patrol over five years. The administration responded by saying we're not going to put them on, even though you authorized it. I hope that we go ahead and fund them anyway.

COBURN: Well, the Senate with the supplemental bill that just came through added almost $400 million for border security and customs and border protection. And that's a start.

We're going to have the debate over the next two months, probably start in two months on a complete reforming and enforcement of the laws that regulate our border.

But we have a lot of problems just with the administrative process. We have agencies that are stepping on each other, whether it's the customs and border protection or the immigration and customs enforcement people.

The fact is that we need to give them the tools. These are great people. They risk their lives every day. And then the people come in here. They're working to get them back out. And their judges let them free or they never come back for their hearing.

O'REILLY: No, I mean, we saw the video. You've got authorities escorting the people now to the bus stations so they get the hell out of dodge and then they go up to someplace else.

But you know, there's two things in play here. The Border Patrol, I admire that organization greatly because when the Minutemen were under fire last week, they came out, the Border Patrol, and said hey, we want them here. We want them here.

So the Border Patrol are doing their job. They're alerting the American people of the danger. That's number one. But I have to say that I'm so disappointed in the American Congress and the whole process that three years, three and a half years after 9/11, we're worse than we were before 9/11 on this issue.

And you know, if it comes down to the fact that a radiological device or a chemical or biological device is put in here by Al Qaeda (search) and it's traced back to Monterrey, Mexico, or Mexico City, it will be impeachment.

TANCREDO: It should be.

O'REILLY: That's the belief.

TANCREDO: It should be. Bill, I absolutely agree with you. If something like that happens, I believe it is an impeachable offense. And believe me, I have no qualms about introducing such a measure. But who wants to win this thing?

O'REILLY: Nobody wants that to happen. Look, we're going to see how this petition goes down. I'll predict more than a million will get the petition, everybody in the government and then we'll hope you guys take the lead.


COBURN: The way things change in Washington is when people get upset and want a change.

TANCREDO: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: Yes. Well, we'll try to help out, but I mean, you guys got to take the lead. You have the power.

TANCREDO: By the way, it's not Minutemen. I think we should call them undocumented border patrolmen.

O'REILLY: All right, gentlemen, thanks very much.

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