Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Aired October 11, 2007 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to Main Street USA. We're in Irving, Texas. This is the home of the Dallas Cowboys, where local officials are now taking immigration matters into their own hands. Both sides are having rallies and meetings. And we're here because local officials are saying, if the feds won't deal with the issue, we will.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have been here all my life. How can they -- they want me to go somewhere I don't know where -- what I'm going to do there.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): A crying shame. All she knows is America, been here almost her entire life, proud of the red, white, and blue, but she's illegal. What do we do with people like her?
In Irving, they deport people like her. We will talk to the mayor, the city council, and activists on both sides.
WILLIAM GHEEN, PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR LEGAL IMMIGRATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE: Vamoose. Arrivederci. Don't let the border gate hit you on the backside on the way out.
SANCHEZ: Up the road, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, they're really cracking down. If you house, hire, or even just give a ride to an illegal immigrant, you go to jail; 20,000 to 30,000 people are leaving the city.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you swam across the river or if you rode here on the back of an 18-wheeler, you are not welcome in Oklahoma.
SANCHEZ: What about the immigrants who are legal? What do they say? Do they feel like they're being profiled?
(on camera): So, they're hunting down Mexicans?
GLORIA RODRIGUEZ, RESIDENT OF IRVING: I feel like that. It's like duck season.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): Then there's the schools, burdened by too many students. That's bad, but the immigrant workers keep housing costs down for all of us. That's good for this homebuyer.
(on camera): It's probably cheaper because it's built by illegal immigrants.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly, yes.
SANCHEZ: Irving, Texas, is getting international attention.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's violent, what they're doing. It's totally against human rights.
SANCHEZ: But Americans continue to ask, why isn't it getting our Congress' attention?
OUT IN THE OPEN tonight live from Irving, Texas.
SANCHEZ: you are now looking live at the home of America's team, the Dallas Cowboys, and now also the home of one of the nation's most heated immigration showdowns.
And hello again, everybody. Que tal. I'm Rick Sanchez.
We are coming to you tonight from Irving, Texas. We have gotten so much response from you on this important national conversation here. That is why we are here. Washington can't seem to come up with a plan, so local governments, like Irving, and Tulsa just up the road, are having to come up with their own plans, but at what cost?
The complaints are loud and they're also coming from all sides. Immigrants and Mexican-Americans say they're being treated like Jews in Germany before World War II. Some white supremacist groups are saying round them all up and cage them. It's an actual quote.
Then, there are those in the middle who just want some kind of reasonable approach to this national crisis that we're all having to deal with, for example, maybe, just maybe, people who have spent most of their lives here and have been good citizens, maybe they should be allowed to stay.
I want you to watch something now. This is what I found when I visited the Mexican Consulate just this morning.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): At any given moment, there are about 100 to 200 people near the general consul of Mexico. This is their office in Texas.
By the end of the day, there will be somewhere up to 600 people who have come here. Something seems to jump out at you when you start to have a conversation with some of these people in this room.
I expected, when I talked to them, that they would all be recent arrivals, people who had just crossed the border, maybe in the last couple of days, weeks, or months. What I'm finding out is, many of the people in this room have been in this country for many, many years, some, like the woman that you're about to meet, almost her entire life.
LILLIAN, ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT: I cannot have an I.D. from Texas.
LILLIAN: Because I don't have a Social Security number. And I cannot get an I.D. from Mexico because I don't have papers to prove that I am Mexican, only my birth certificate. And they're asking me to give them an I.D. with my picture. How do they want me to do that? I'm not from here and I'm not from there either.
SANCHEZ: So, you are what many people would call illegal?
LILLIAN: Yes, I am.
SANCHEZ: You're illegal?
LILLIAN: From here and from Mexico. That's right.
SANCHEZ: But you have spent your entire life in the United States?
LILLIAN: Yes, been here all my life.
SANCHEZ: Your English is flawless.
SANCHEZ: We should control our border, right?
LILLIAN: Yes. I understand what they're saying, but I'm not going to do no harm to this place.
SANCHEZ: You love this country?
SANCHEZ: Yes, I do. I love this country. I could say, and I'm one of the persons that I -- I cannot live my life in Mexico. I don't know (INAUDIBLE)
SANCHEZ: You wouldn't know what to do in Mexico?
SANCHEZ: She says: I don't have Mexican papers, I don't have U.S. papers. So, who goes? Who stays? What's the plan?
Are Americans right to be upset, or is there an overreaction taking place?
Ted Rowlands is in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where a law will take effect that says if you give an illegal immigrant a job or even a ride, you could spend a year in jail. Dan Lothian is in Long Island, where a recent crackdown has the feds, the feds, arguing with the local police. Who's really in charge, they seem to be asking. Morgan Neill is in Mexico City talking to people who have left the United States for good. And here, in the Dallas area, Keith Oppenheim is going to be with some American citizens who say, enough is enough. We just want them out.
They're meeting right now with a former immigration agent to try and decide what they're going to do as a community.
Let's go, in fact, first to Keith and find out what those folks are saying -- Keith, over to you.
KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Rick.
And that former agent is being introduced now. This group is called Citizens for Immigration Reform, and they are very much against illegal immigration, but for things that we have been reporting on, the criminal alien program next door in the city of Irving, where people who are arrested in that city are then referred to immigration authorities.
And what we're finding, Rick, is that this group really is not alone. They're really part of a broad network of support locally and people who really want to see a crackdown on illegal immigration.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If they're here illegally and they're committing misdemeanors, then they need to be deported.
OPPENHEIM: Sue Richardson (ph) is a grandmother and activist in Irving who talks tough about undocumented immigrants in her city. Beth Van Duyne is an Irving city councilwoman, considered one of the strongest advocates for the city's crackdown on illegal immigration.
BETH VAN DUYNE, IRVING CITY COUNCILWOMAN: It's working. I think that's why you're seeing people upset about it, because it's a change. Nobody is used to it being enforced. And, all of a sudden, you're enforcing it and people are up in arms.
OPPENHEIM: It turns out Van Duyne and Richardson have widespread support. Many Irving residents told us the Criminal Alien Program, or CAP, as it's called, is appreciate, that it's about time their city did something.
SHEIKH SHAH, RESIDENT OF IRVING: You have to start from somewhere. You have to make them legal, because right now we have so many loopholes for people to come in here and work illegally.
BILL MAHONEY, RESIDENT OF IRVING: The only way we can feel secure is to know that everybody here is somebody we can recognize and identify. It's really a matter of identification more than anything else.
OPPENHEIM: We asked, what if undocumented residents get pulled over for a traffic violation? Is that sufficient cause for someone to get reported to immigration? PAT COOK, RESIDENT OF IRVING: The average citizen don't want anybody to be mistreated, and I certainly don't. But I just think the law is the law. If they're illegal, they're breaking the law.
OPPENHEIM: Some in Irving say police are going too far.
TANYA CRETHERS, WORKS IN IRVING, TEXAS: You should arrest me for what you caught me for, not refer me to no immigration because of my skin color or because I'm illegally over here. What -- that doesn't even make any sense.
OPPENHEIM: But consider some comments from more than 2,000 e- mails sent to Irving City Council, e-mails which appear to be overwhelmingly in favor of a crackdown.
One resident wrote: "Please help deport all illegals. What part of illegal do they not understand?"
Another, "Thank God some people are doing something about this invasion."
And not all the support is coming from whites. Sam Aceves is Latino, and says many other Latinos think CAP will make the community safer.
SAM ACEVES, YOU DON'T SPEAK FOR ME: It's fair because they run backgrounds. They're making sure that we don't get the criminal element like we have been getting.
OPPENHEIM: We're back live now.
And the featured speaker, you can see right behind me. That's Michael Cutler. He's a former immigration agent for what was then called INS.
And what he's going to be talking about, Rick, is what he sees as the connection between illegal immigration and national security and criminal justice. And later in the show, we hope to get back to you and given you a sense of some of the things that he's telling these folks here -- back to you.
SANCHEZ: I will look forward to hearing what they have to say. I know there's a lot of complaints coming out of there.
Keith Oppenheim, thanks so much. We will be with you in just a little bit.
Well, tonight, we are here at Irving's city hall.
And with me now is the distinguished mayor of Irving, Herbert Gears, also Hispanic activist Carlos Quintanilla.
We have had you gentlemen on in the past. We know this is a heated debate. Let's start with you, Mr. Mayor.
Why are you doing this?
HERBERT GEARS, MAYOR OF IRVING, TEXAS: Well, all we're doing is participating with the federal government, an agency of the federal government that enforces the current federal laws.
SANCHEZ: But you weren't doing this two years ago.
GEARS: Actually, we were. It's not an uncommon practice for ICE to be called in to a local jail to screen a particular prisoner.
SANCHEZ: But wait. I understand, in May, things changed. I'm sorry. Go ahead and get to that.
What's changed is that we have decided to screen every prisoner that is booked into our jail and create some efficiencies in the program to further support what the contributions are when we engage with the federal government, as we do with state, local, and county governments on many public safety issues.
SANCHEZ: But here is the problem, Mr. Mayor. The perception in this community, and not just the perception, but stories that are told me is that some of the officers are actually going in the community and targeting people because they think they may be Mexican and asking them on the spot in some cases for their papers, their immigration papers. Do you deny that?
GEARS: Absolutely, I deny that. The fact that people are telling you those stories doesn't make those stories true.
We have investigated every single allegation that we have received, and found that the allegations always differ greatly with the facts. So, we don't agree with what you're hearing is happening.
SANCHEZ: So, there's no racial profiling, there's no targeting in this case in this city?
GEARS: Of course not. Our police have not shifted in any way the way they enforce the laws locally in the city of Irving. In fact, our police officers have no interest with regards to your citizenship. That determination is only made by ICE officials after you are booked for a jailable offense into our jail.
SANCHEZ: That's fair.
Carlos Quintanilla, pick it up from here. You would say -- you would differ, wouldn't you?
CARLOS QUINTANILLA, PRESIDENT, ACCION AMERICA: Absolutely. There's documented case that we will substantiate and corroborate that there is racial profiling, that there's a premeditated effort and an organized effort to identify Mexican immigrants.
SANCHEZ: Give us one example, and try to keep it short, if you could.
QUINTANILLA: Juanita Vasquez (ph), she was -- her son was pulled over. They arrested her son, said he had a stolen car. They asked him for immigration documents. They took him to the police station. The mom had to come and identify him, and say, this is my son. This is his identification. He's a U.S. citizen.
And they released him only after the mom came to the police station and identified him.
SANCHEZ: So, is there a possibility...
QUINTANILLA: ... many cases like that.
SANCHEZ: Let's be fair about this, because we know you guys are just trying to do your jobs. And this certainly is a very important problem.
It possible that you're really doing this because of the public pressure and the political pressure on you, as the mayor, to try and act on behalf of the people of this community?
GEARS: We always -- it's always our duty to act on behalf of the people of this community. But we're not...
SANCHEZ: But I mean the people in the community who are screaming about some kind of immigration reform.
GEARS: Of course not. We're not weighing in on the national debate. We're doing our duty, as we always do in the city of Irving, working to enforce the existing laws of the land.
SANCHEZ: But here is the problem, Mr. Mayor. If you pick somebody up who happens to have a broken windshield or something doesn't work in their car, and they are stopped, and it turns out that they are illegally in this country, are they really the best candidate for deportation in this country, when there are so many others out who are really bad people?
GEARS: The best candidates for deportation in this country are those who are in the country illegally.
SANCHEZ: All of them?
GEARS: That's the criteria that the federal government applies. You are not deported because you have a broken taillight or some minor traffic infraction.
SANCHEZ: Hold on. They end up being deported for a violation as simple as that.
GEARS: And that's supporting the federal government, supporting the current laws. You are not deported for a traffic violation.
If you are in jail in Irving for a jailable offense, if it was a traffic violation, it most definitely included the fact that you couldn't identify yourself. If an Irving police officer detains you for any reason and cannot identify you, he is responsible for making a full custody arrest.
SANCHEZ: But here is the deal. You are picking people up now and whether it is a felonious offense or a misdemeanor, you are taking them in. And then you're calling ICE.
QUINTANILLA: That's correct.
GEARS: We take people into jail for the same reason we have always taken people into jail. And that's not going to change. ICE officials are screening every prisoner that is booked into our jail for the same jailable offenses now as they always have been...
SANCHEZ: I understand that, but let me ask you this question before we run out of time in this segment. And you will please pardon me for interrupting.
If someone has a busted taillight, how do they end up being deported?
GEARS: Because they're in the country illegally, and that's against the federal law. The current policy of the federal government is to deport any persons who are in the country illegally.
SANCHEZ: So, this is a circuitous argument.
Go ahead, sir.
QUINTANILLA: If I can interrupt, Rudy Giuliani said they're not criminals, and they're contributing in a positive and productive manner. They're providing jobs. They're creating businesses. They're paying taxes. They're contributing $800 billion to the national economy.
SANCHEZ: To be fair, though, in this city, they also make up 60 percent of the student population.
SANCHEZ: That's a lot of people; 36 percent of them last year didn't even know how to speak English. That's a problem. You would have to admit, if your kid were in that school system, you wouldn't want them trying to learn under those conditions, correct?
QUINTANILLA: Oh, absolutely. But you know what?
SANCHEZ: To be fair.
QUINTANILLA: We're also seeing educational achievement levels increase. We're seeing kids motivated. We're seeing kids succeed. We're seeing kids go to college.
GEARS: Right here in Irving, Texas.
QUINTANILLA: We're seeing some positive -- that's right.
QUINTANILLA: And they're children of immigrants.
SANCHEZ: Let's keep it here.
Mr. Mayor, we are going to come back and continue the discussion with you. A lot of tough questions, and you're a brave guy to stay here and field them as well as you do.
We are going to be continuing with this in just a little bit. And, also, we want to know what you think about this. Go to CNN.com. Scroll down and look for our Quick Vote question. Who should clean up the immigration mess? Should it be the federal government or should it be the local governments? We're going to show you the results of this a little bit later on. We're really looking forward to hear from you.
We have already heard from tens of thousands of you in the last couple of weeks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: You were telling me you have been here 40 years.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
SANCHEZ: And you say it hasn't always been that way?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. No.
SANCHEZ: What's going on?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know. I don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: What about the Mexican-Americans born in the United States? How are they responding to this new local strategy? We will have that for you.
Also, as the train goes by, we're also taking you to Tulsa, Oklahoma. It may be heading in that direction, where even an illegal immigrant -- giving an illegal immigrant a ride could have you end up in jail.
And then later, Long Island, where a roundup has local police and feds asking, who is really in charge here?
Stay with us. This is a special edition of OUT IN THE OPEN. We will be right back.
SANCHEZ: And we welcome you back. How big a hit is the United States' economy going to take if there were no cheap immigrant work force? Well, some say recession. Some say depression. Some say just a small hit if it's handled right. By the way, the crackdown is already under way.
With me again, Irving Mayor Herbert Gears.
Mr. Mayor, do you fear that, if nothing else, in construction, for example, you would see a slowdown if you lose your labor force, as you seem to be leaving -- losing some of the people in the school system?
GEARS: We don't think we're losing our labor force. All we're doing is allowing enforcement of federal law.
People on both sides of this issue demand that the federal government do their job, in fact, not the local government.
GEARS: And what you're seeing here is what it looks like when that happens. In order for the federal government to do their job, it requires cooperation by the state, county, and local governments.
We're not worried about a decimation of our work force. We're in one of the most dynamic economic regions in the United States. We're the home of the world's largest cooperation. We're in the top 1 percent in cities in size in the nation. And we're home to one of the most significant international airports.
SANCHEZ: And it's a good looking city and a clean city.
GEARS: It's a beautiful city.
SANCHEZ: And, by the way, you have got one heck of a football team that happens to be undefeated right now. We're going to get more on that in just a minute. I want you to be able to talk about your city, Mr. Mayor.
But, first, I want to do something now. I want to let you hear a conversation that I had. And then I want to hear you respond to it. These are two women. They're Mexican-Americans, proud Texans, American citizens. Here is how they feel about what's going on in their community.
GLORIA RODRIGUEZ, RESIDENT OF IRVING: I feel like it's almost like open season...
SANCHEZ: On Mexicans.
RODRIGUEZ: ... on Mexicans because of the fact that you are that and you can get away with it, particularly here in Irving.
SANCHEZ: So, they're hunting down Mexicans?
RODRIGUEZ: I feel like that.
DEBRA ALVAREZ, RESIDENT OF IRVING: It's like duck season.
RODRIGUEZ: It's like duck season, right.
SANCHEZ: And getting them any way they can, is that what it feels like?
RODRIGUEZ: At some points, yes. Yes. I try not to think, and I'm hoping that I'm wrong, but with some of the signs that I have seen around, when I see them stop someone, the searches.
SANCHEZ: It seems the city of Irving is saying we are going to set the example. We are going to show these people and we are going to drive them out of here, because they're not wanted. Is that what they're saying? Is that the message?
ALVAREZ: Well, it seems like that's what they're saying, and they're trying to say it for everyone, I guess.
SANCHEZ: You have been in this town for 40 years. You want to be respected.
RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely. Absolutely.
SANCHEZ: You're a hardworking woman, a citizen of this town. You have paid your taxes. You have paid your dues. You are an American citizen.
SANCHEZ: You don't want to feel like -- take me through your thought process as a person who...
SANCHEZ: ... in this town. RODRIGUEZ: I don't feel like -- talk about totally insulted. I can't imagine an American citizen in this country in this day and age having to go through the process of, where are your papers? Are we supposed to carry -- kind of like the gestapo, are we supposed to start carrying papers now?
SANCHEZ: She likes you. She thinks you're a good mayor. She told me you have done a good job and she is really disappointed with what's going on in her community now.
She is an American citizen who just looks Mexican. She feels like the cops are looking at her a little differently now and they're stopping her children on the way to school.
GEARS: And I can assure her that that's not occurring. There's been no difference in what is occurring in our police department.
And the complaints with this program should be directed at the federal government. We're proud to be participating with the federal government on this initiative. When you look at the numbers, we're proud that four murderers have been deported from Irving, Texas, and from the United States of America.
SANCHEZ: As you should be. As you should be.
RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely -- 200 drug dealers, almost 300 driving while intoxicated have been deported from Irving, Texas, and the United States of America.
SANCHEZ: As you should be, because that's a good thing, Mr. Mayor.
But let me ask you this. By setting out a wide net that says anybody who is picked up, whether it's felonious or a little cheap misdemeanor, we're hauling them in and we're calling ICE, by saying that, won't a lot of really good people, really good citizens who could potentially be great American citizens, also lose out on the American experience?
Shouldn't we have a federal plan that defines the real bad guys from the potential good citizens?
RODRIGUEZ: And when we do and if it requires an alteration in our program from the federal government, we will do so. But at this time the current laws are that if you're in the country illegally, you're subject to deportation. And it's the federal government's job to perform that service.
SANCHEZ: Have you called the guys who represent this community in Washington and say, why have you guys not come up with a plan that we can work with? Why are we dealing with an antiquated system?
RODRIGUEZ: I have personally visited Washington with over a dozen congressional representatives and talked about our Criminal Alien Program and explained, in fact, the difficulties that are being caused by the dysfunction in the national issue.
SANCHEZ: What do they say?
RODRIGUEZ: Well, they have praised Irving for our work, for cooperating with the federal government.
Our own congressman, Pete Sessions, came and presented us a proclamation praising our police department and myself and our city for working with the federal government.
SANCHEZ: But you must admit this is not it deal plan, right? What you're doing works in your...
RODRIGUEZ: Of course it's the ideal plan.
SANCHEZ: It's the ideal plan?
RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely. We're not engaging in the national debate. We're simply following the current laws. We are working with the federal government agency to assist them in doing the job that they are charged with. And it happens to benefit our community to do so. And that's why we allow it to happen in Irving, Texas.
SANCHEZ: You're a good man. And I appreciate the conversation.
RODRIGUEZ: I appreciate you as well. Very kind of you.
SANCHEZ: Thanks so much for letting us come to your city, Mr. Mayor.
RODRIGUEZ: Thank you. Thank you.
SANCHEZ: Later, Tulsa, Oklahoma, where a brand-new law has people packing up and leaving by the thousands -- when this special edition of OUT IN THE OPEN, "Running Scared," continues.
SANCHEZ: When you come to Irving, Texas, one of the first things you are struck by is some of the best Tex-Mex in the state in restaurants like this that line the Irving Boulevard up and down the street.
But, when you come to the door, you find this neon sign in many of the restaurants. It says stop deporting hardworking immigrants. It goes on to say that, under the pretext of looking for criminals, they're actually rounding up, hunting is the word that they use, regular immigrants. And then it says that 42 people with no criminal past have been arrested and deported simply because, it says there, they didn't have the proper documents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have had enough. I'm pissed off. I'm outraged.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The hostility, the environment that has been created, has caused them to leave. And that is sad. That is very sad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Our next stop, Tulsa, Oklahoma, where people are packing up and leaving by the tens of thousands.
And then later, the bitter aftermath of Long Island's roundup. Why don't the police and the feds trust one another on this one? We're looking into it. We are there.
And then we're going to go to Mexico City during this hour. People who just couldn't take it anymore, and they said, you know what? We're going home. What are they saying?
That's next on this special edition of OUT IN THE OPEN.
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a sunny day in San Francisco and Alison Levine is heading to the beach, but not to work on her tan.
ALISON LEVINE, POLAR ADVENTURER: I am down here at Ocean Beach training for a six to eight week expedition to Antarctica that I leave for at the end of November. And what I'm going to be doing is crossing the continent from the Ronne Ice Shelf to the South Pole. So it's about 550 miles of Antarctic ice and it's the coldest, windiest place on earth.
VELSHI: But Levine isn't a stranger to harsh environments. This former Wall Street investment banker has trekked to the North Pole and climbed the highest peaks in the world including Mount Everest. Still, her biggest challenges have been overcoming her own body's limitations, a serious congenital heart condition, and an extreme sensitivity to cold.
LEVINE: I had one surgical procedure when I was 17 and another one when I was 30. And 18 months later to celebrate my new state of good health, I wanted to go do something that I wouldn't have been able to do before.
VELSHI: Levine discovered this love of climbing during a vacation to Mount Kilimanjaro and found she was hooked. It wasn't long before she left her desk job for good and took up climbing and lecturing as a new way of life, one says she can live by for many years to come.
LEVINE: The only way I was going to be able to go do the things I enjoy doing to be an entrepreneur and start my own business and I have two or three months that I can go out and do the things that really get me excited about waking up every day.
VELSHI: Ali Velshi, CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: You think they should be able to stay?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.
SANCHEZ: Because they're -- do you think they're a burden? Do you see them as a problem?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think so. It's not a burden.
SANCHEZ: They're building your house.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly. I mean, I feel 90 percent of my work is getting done by -- I mean, maybe they're illegal or legal, I don't know, but you know, Mexicans.
SANCHEZ: Yeah, well, I can tell you they are illegal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.
SANCHEZ: There are those who say, yeah, but they're working for $8, $10 an hour, if they were Americans they would have to pay $15, $16 an hour and that's what we deserve, so they're taking away jobs from Americans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, you can look that way, too.
SANCHEZ: But you would pay more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly.
SANCHEZ: You would pay more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, definitely I would pay more on this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: We want to welcome you back now to Irving, Texas. I'm Rick Sanchez. What would you do without the immigrant labor force that makes our homes and our food more affordable? This is what the experts say. We're here because this is one of the epicenters of this immigration debate that the nation seems to be embroiled in. There's a crackdown here, but there's another crackdown. It's in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where if you hire, house, or even just give a ride to an illegal immigrant you can spend up to a year in jail.
Up to 30,000 people are leaving Tulsa, Oklahoma, as a result of this new policy, home builders, by the way, in that area are saying we may be left without any workers to do our jobs and we can't afford to continue to bring the prices of homes up, because they say nobody will buy them. Anger. There is a ripple effect. This is on both sides.
Ted Rowlands is following that part of the story for us now, he's joining us from Tulsa.
Ted, what you got?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well Rick, you're talking about a new law that goes into effect in a few weeks, but it was passed in May. And take a look behind me. People here say this is evidence of what this law has done, this place is vacant. We're in a Hispanic marketplace which is normally packed. We talked to shop owners here that say they have lost 40 percent; one person said she has lost 90 percent of her business because people are literally leaving Tulsa, Oklahoma, the reason, this new law which targets illegal immigrants.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know that we are doing something wrong, but we was in need.
ROWLANDS (voice-over): This family of three says they came to Tulsa 13 years ago after sneaking across the U.S.-Mexican border. They say they've always felt welcome here. Dad and mom have jobs and their 16-year-old daughter is a sophomore in high school. But now they say they're making plans to possibly move back to Mexico because of a New Oklahoma state law aimed at illegal immigrants.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to stay. I want to stay for my family, especially for my daughter.
ROWLANDS: The family who asked us not to show their faces says this is the first time they felt pressured to leave. They're not alone. The Tulsa Chamber of Commerce estimates that 20,000 Hispanics have left Tulsa over the last few months and 10,000 more are likely to leave before the new law goes into effect November 1.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The hostility, the environment that has been created, has caused them to leave and that's bad. That is very sad.
ROWLANDS: The new law carries serious penalties for anyone who hires or helps illegal immigrants including fines and possible jail time. Here in Tulsa, the crackdown has even gone further with sheriff deputies learning from federal officials how to do immigration checks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sit down, would you please.
ROWLANDS: And after this explosive public meeting, passage of a city resolution asking police to check people's immigration status.
DAN HOWARD, FMR STATE PATROL OFFICER: This is not about racism, it's about nationalism. It's about patriotism.
ROWLANDS: That's Dan Howard, a former state patrol officer and co-founder of OutragedPatriots.com, a Web site devoted to immigration.
HOWARD: If you crawled through a barbed wire fence, if you swam across the river, or if you rode here in the back of an 18-wheeler, you are not welcome in Oklahoma.
ROWLANDS: Howard says he and others are tired of illegals draining city services and through cheap labor, undercutting local businesses.
HOWARD: When it comes to Oklahoma, whether the rest of the country gets onboard or not, we're going to lead the way. We're not going to put up with this.
ROWLANDS: Some Hispanics are fighting back with public protests and a planned lawsuit challenging the validity of the law. Meanwhile, Hispanic community leaders are urging people not to leave.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know we did something wrong coming here but we did it for the right reasons.
SANCHEZ: Ted, let me ask you a question about what's going on there, because we're hearing numbers of about 20,000 to 30,000 people, as you have mentioned. Is it expected those numbers might even grow further?
ROWLANDS: Well, they're expecting probably another 10,000 people to leave as November 1 gets closer and possibly after. Others are waiting to see what actually happens, whether or not there's going to be increased enforcement and they're waiting it out. And community leaders are asking people, illegal or not, to please wait it out and see because they are challenging this in court and the hope is from that side of the fence that this will be ruled unconstitutional. On the other side, people in Oklahoma say they are sending a clear message you're not welcome here if you're illegal.
SANCHEZ: Unbelievable plan takes effect in November. Ted Rowands, thanks so much.
What I want to do next is turn to one of the authors of this Oklahoma law. He is Republican state representative Randy Terrill.
Mr. Terrill, thanks so much for being with us. Are you actually saying that if somebody is caught giving a ride in their car to an illegal immigrant, in your town, they'll be arrested?
RANDY TERRILL (R), OKLAHOMA STATE HOUSE: Rick, could you repeat that question one more time? I'm sorry. I had problems with the earpiece. SANCHEZ: Yeah, sure. I'd be happy -- no problem, sir, I'd be happy to. Are you really saying you want to live in a town where if somebody gives a ride to an illegal immigrant they should spend a year in jail?
TERRILL: Well, Rick, what our bill does is it creates a separate state level felony offense for harboring, transporting, concealing or sheltering illegal aliens. Of course, embedded in there is the mental element that you have to do it knowingly or in reckless disregard to the fact they are an illegal alien and in furtherance of their presence. What that means is that there has to be some commercial, financial pecuniary purpose to the transport, like to a job site or something of that nature. The merely taking somebody to school or to church, that does not constitute a felony under 1804 here in Oklahoma.
SANCHEZ: So, a priest who has illegal aliens coming to worship at his church, he's not going to be arrested either then, right?
TERRILL: That would be correct. As long as we're talking about something that is purely for a noncommercial, educational, charitable or religious purpose, that is not covered within the scope of the statute. The same way it's not covered within the scope of federal law, presently.
SANCHEZ: Are you concerned, because I've been reading from many of the articles that have been written on this and I've been reading some of the folks in your community, home builders, are concerned that they're going to lose their workforce. In fact, I spoke with the secretary of Commerce just last week on this issue. I want you to listen to what he had to say and then I'd like to get your response on the backside. Let's go ahead and go ahead with Carlos Gutierrez.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARLOS GUTIERREZ, SECRETARY OF COMMERCE: If you want to just absolutely abolish immigration, one way to do it would be to settle for either lower economic growth, no economic growth or a declining economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: There was a plan to try and come up with some -- I'm just going to pose a question real quick. There was a plan by Mr. Gutierrez, secretary of Commerce, to come up with some kind of immigration reform and it seemed like nobody was interested in doing it and now it's being done seemingly patchwork by cities like yours. Could there be an economic ripple effect on something like this?
TERRILL: Well, this is actually a statewide law, not a city law but the answer is I don't think so. The majority of workers in those occupational categories are mostly American citizens anyway and the people who frequently make that claim that this is going to have some sort of adverse economic impact conveniently overlook the fact that we live in a competitive free market economy where in the absence of that cheap illegal alien labor the wage rates and benefit levels will adjust up and then all of a sudden you'll have more than adequate labor force to perform that work.
SANCHEZ: By the way, I know Mr. Sullivan in your community was not for immigration reform. Are you?
TERRILL: Well, I guess it depends on what you mean by that. Obviously here in the heartland we have a much different meaning that we attach to the words immigration reform. We believe in real meaningful immigration reform here which is cutting off access to jobs, cutting off access to government benefits and giving our state and local law enforcement...
SANCHEZ: And nobody here is allowed -- I'm just going to -- I get it, but let me just -- I know we have this satellite problem. But that means nobody who's here now is allowed to stay, period? You're illegal, you go?
TERRILL: Well, in fact, what we're not suggesting is deportation. What House bill 1804 proves they will self-deport. If you cut off the jobs, the public benefits, and give local law enforcement the ability to enforce federal immigration law, it's basically deportation -- I'm sorry, it's attrition through enforcement. That's the reason the House bill 1804 has a target on its back.
SANCHEZ: I'm glad we got your explanation of that, sir. Randy Terrill, thank you for taking the time to talk to us tonight.
We want to know what you think about this. I know there's been a lot of folks who've been watching these newscasts over the last couple of weeks. We want you to go to cnn.com, look for our quick vote question. Who should clean up the immigration mess? Should the federal government have a role or should the local government have the role -- the chief role? Who do you think? We'll have them for you as we continue. By the way:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
It's terrified the immigrant community. These raids have broken up families. It's really created an atmosphere of terror.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Sound familiar? Well, in New York the police officers are angry as well. So are local officials. Coming up did the feds just go too far in the case? We'll tell you where when this special edition of OUT IN THE OPEN, "Running Scared," continues.
SANCHEZ: We are welcoming you back to Irving, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys. Happy to be here. Hello again everybody, I'm Rick Sanchez.
Here is an important part of this argument that my colleague Lou Dobbs and I spent a lot of time talking about in the hallways of the Time Warner building in New York. Are we punishing the wrong people? This came up in the conversation we were having moments ago from Tulsa.
Should we round up workers or the people that are hiring the workers if you really want to deal with this problem? In Long Island massive federal raids target immigrants who are criminals and gang members in this case. But, unlike other cities where the feds and local police have been unable to somehow work together, in one county there was a bit of a turf war between the two.
Dan Lothian is working the story for us. He's joining us now from Garden City, New York.
Take it away, Dan.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well hello, Rick. You know, earlier this week when federal officials announced that their ICE agents went out and rounded up more than 1,000 gang members, immigrant gang members, that was applauded by law enforcement officials across the country because, after all, they were removing some of the gang members who were part of MS-13 who were accused or convicted of murder, rapes, and other assaults off the streets.
But in this Long Island community, there wasn't a warm embrace, not by the police commissioner, who has an office behind me, and not by many immigrants.
(voice-over): Marta, an immigrant from el Salvador living on Long Island works three jobs chasing her American dream, but now she's scared, doesn't want her last name used or her face shown. But this woman who says she is in the U.S. legally does want to be heard.
(on camera): You're angry?
MARTA, IMMIGRANT: Yes. Much.
LOTHIAN (voice-over): angry after an immigration and customs enforce many raid last month, much like this one. It was aimed at rounding up dangerous immigrant gang members and resulted in the arrest of her 22-year-old son and more than 80 others, mostly illegal immigrants.
MARTA: My son no gang, my son no a criminal, no a smoking, no a drink, nothing.
LOTHIAN: Just working long hours, she says, as a roofer. Marta says she hasn't heard from her son since his arrest and she says she doesn't even know what he's been charged with. At this nearby immigrant support organization, it's a familiar story.
NADIA MARIN-MOLINA, EXEC DIR WORKPLACE PROJECT: It terrified the immigrant community; these rates have broken up families. It's really created an atmosphere of terror.
LOTHIAN: Also upset, the Nassau County police commissioner and the county executive who fired off this letter to Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff criticizing federal ICE agents and saying only nine out of 82 people arrested in their county were active gang members.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are some serious allegations of misconduct and malfeasance committed by the ICE officials.
LOTHIAN: And they accused ICE agents of have a "cowboy mentality," claiming that some of them drew weapons on local police.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had to tell agents to lower their weapons.
LOTHIAN: An ICE spokesman said the raids were in full accordance with the law, but they did agree to sit down with Nassau County officials. Now both sides seem to have reached an understanding, agreeing to disagree on some points.
Marta says she welcomes a crackdown on immigrant gangs to a point.
(on camera): So go after people who are bad...
LOTHIAN: But don't bother people who haven't done anything?
LOTHIAN: Now earlier on when there was a lot of the rhetoric going back and forth, the police commissioner here said that he would no longer take part in any of these operations, but after meeting with federal authorities he's now -- officials now here saying they will take part in future operations, but there will be better communication and they hope to be in a lot earlier in these operations -- Rick.
SANCHEZ: All right, Dan Lothian thanks so much.
Let's go back to Keith Oppenheim, now. He's following a citizens group here in the Dallas area that is called Citizens for Immigration Reform.
What are you hearing? What are they saying? What are their complaints? Keith, take it away.
OPPENHEIM: Well, at the podium behind me is Mike Cutler who is a former immigration agent and he has this crowd riveted and largely, Rick, because he's having a very strong criticism not just against illegal immigration, but against how the U.S. government has responded to it.
He says that there is no future if we can't protect against criminals and terrorists which he sees as a by-product of illegal immigration.
He also points out that he is not anti-Latino, that he's just emphasizing the rule of law and, furthermore, this was his biting comment, he called the department of Homeland Security the department of "Homeland Surrender."
Rick, back to you.
SANCHEZ: Hmm. Interesting. Keith Oppenheim thanks so much for keeping tabs on that for us. We'll continue to check back with you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN NEILL, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I'm Morgan Neill in the capital of Mexico where many people are returning home, afraid of getting caught up in a crackdown on illegal immigrants. I'll have that story coming up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: There's the seal of the great state of Texas. We welcome you back, everybody, I'm Rick Sanchez. We are here in Irving, Texas, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, undefeated, we know.
It's making international headlines, this story, and look, when I talked to Mexico's former president, Vicente Fox, I told him straight out his predecessors have caused part of this problem by robbing his people blind, and that's part of the problem to which he nervously and uncomfortably agreed. But, he also had this to say when I asked him about the situation here in Irving, Texas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICENTE FOX, FMR PRESIDENT OF MEXICO: I don't know if you have went to Irving, Texas lately, I mean, it's violent what they're doing is totally against human rights, and it's not fair the way they are behaving and, yes, by not deciding a federal Congress, local authorities are taking a steps, but the steps guided by fear, guided by the xenophobics, this is why I think rapidly, let's sit down and come up with a wise decision, a framework. I'm not claiming for open borders. I'm claiming for legality. I'm claiming for order. I'm claiming for a fair and just treatment to my (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: By the way, you can see my full interview with the former president right here tomorrow.
Now, we've been hearing tonight the tens of thousands of illegal immigrants are actually leaving parts of the United States. We told you about the 20,000 to 30,000 there in Tulsa, many are going to different states, many are going back to Mexico, we understand. So we sent our Morgan Neill, he's in Mexico City now following the story for us.
Morgan, I understand you got some sound that you're going to be sharing with us in just a little bit. What are people there -- Mexicans who live in Mexico who haven't come here and Mexico who've expatriated from the United States and gone back to Mexico, what are they both saying about the situation? What'd you learn?
NEILL: Well Rick, as you can imagine people here, Mexicans we talked to here, they don't much like the idea that fellow Mexicans in the United States are subject to being rounded up and deported. I talked to one woman who gave me her impression of how she thinks Mexicans are treated by authorities in the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They follow them like criminals and everywhere they go they have to take their documents, and if you don't have them, they report you right away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEILL: Now as you can hear, people here are certainly indignant by the thought that some people are subject to these kinds of conditions when they go to the states, they're worried that they're persecuted, followed wherever they may go. So certainly there's a lot of indignation about that -- Rick.
SANCHEZ: We're expecting some other reports from you. You're going to be staying by there and filing a couple reports for us here, OUT IN THE OPEN, talking to some people who've gone back and gotten their opinions on this matter as well. After all this is an international story.
Morgan Neill, thanks so much for bringing us up to date.
By the way, we're going to let you know now that we're also going to be bringing you up to date on the poll that we've been taking throughout the night. Nearly 20,000 votes on who should actually clean up the immigration mess. The results, we'll have them for you right after this.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com