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Boston Bombings Threaten Immigration Reform; Small Government Vs. Security

Aired April 27, 2013 - 09:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, HOST: Three dead in the blast, more than 200 injured. Nearly two weeks now after the bombings, Boston is slowly getting back to normal.

But as the country mourns the dead, comforts the injured, and pursues the how and why of this attack, another question has emerged -- has the outrage over the Boston bombings doomed immigration reform?

I'm Christine Romans and this is YOUR MONEY.

Last year, the United States handed out more than 1 million green cards. There are an estimated 13.1 million green cardholders in this country. One of them was Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older brother suspected in this attack, killed in a gunfight with police.

The United States also naturalized more than 750,000 citizens last year, new citizens including Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. He's the 19- year-old younger brother, now charged with using a weapon of mass destruction. He is an American.

Both brothers in the United States legally, both brothers accused of perpetrating terrorism against a country that embraced them, and all of this as the Senate begins consideration of a bipartisan bill to reform the U.S. immigration system. It would allocate $3 billion for tighter border security, provide a path to citizenship for about 11 million people in the country illegally, undocumented immigrants, and create new guest worker programs.

Now, some conservatives say what happened in Boston should delay this effort until we learn more about how the system failed. Liberals say opponents of immigration reform are exploiting the bombing.


SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: Let no one be so cruel as to try to use a heinous acts of these two young men last week to derail the dreams and futures of millions of hard-working people.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: I think we're taking advantage of an opportunity when once in 25 years we deal with immigration to make sure that every base is covered.


ROMANS: This debate is about citizenship, who deserves it and who doesn't. Does what happened in Boston make immigration reform more urgent or will it kill this effort all together?

Radio host Michael Cutler is a retired agent from the immigration and naturalization service. Ana Navarro is a Republican strategist and CNN contributor.

Michael, you say the Boston bombing should change everything about what we think about immigration. What do you mean?

MICHAEL CUTLER, RETIRED SENIOR SPECIAL AGENT, INS: Absolutely. Look, this idea of focusing purely on the Mexican border is short sighted. We need to look at the immigration system as a system.

There's so much fraud in the immigration benefits program. And, in fact, not only did these brothers get lawful status, they were given political asylum, the Boston bombers. They have to articulate a credible fear.

They did. Their parents did. The parents are back in Russia, the older brother goes to Russia apparently for training.

Clearly, they didn't have credible fear but this isn't new. The 9/11 Commission to which I provided testimony identified immigration fraud as abetting tactic and, in fact, Chuck Schumer had been one of the architects of the agricultural amnesty program of the '86 amnesty, and it turn out that Mahmoud Abdul Karim, one of the bombers of the '93 Trade Center attack, got agricultural amnesty even though he didn't work on a farm.

So we know that agriculture amnesty, political asylum, fraud --

ROMANS: All legal ways to access the American system which are fraudulently used by people you're saying.

CUTLER: Absolutely, and we have over 5 million people who violated the terms of their admission into the United States. So, clearly the way we admit people legally is flawed as well.

ROMANS: And so, Ana, let me bring in to you, because rising Republican stars like Paul Ryan for example argue that Boston is exactly the proof that we need to reform that system that Michael Cutler is talking about.



REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: We need a modern immigration system that helps us not only protect our border but protects national security and all of its aspects. So, if anything, I would say this is an argument for modernizing our immigration laws.


ROMANS: So, Ana, in your view, how does Boston change the dynamic in the immigration debate?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, Christine, if there are issues that are immigration issues and that are relevant that can be looked at and that can be addressed within this bill, we should do so.

What we should not do is use it as a justification to delay what is a necessary legislative action. I think Paul Ryan is absolutely right. We have an antiquated system. We have no way of tracking entry and exits.

We just have -- you know, most of the problems we have are people who overstay their visas here and we don't know where they are or who they are. We have a problem with people that are here, millions of people living in the shadows that are not part of the official society. We don't know who they are.

And I also want to talk to you personally about this. I also came to this country as a political refugee from a country called Nicaragua which was in the midst of communism and civil war back in the '80s. Most political refugees who come to this country love this country, are so grateful for the opportunity that we've been given to live in freedom and for the shelter we've been given in this country, we embrace the values.

So I wanted to make very sure that people understand that most immigrants in the United States, particularly political asylees are people who embrace the values, who love America, and we are ready to defend it with our lives if necessary.

CUTLER: I agree with you and, look, my mom came here ahead of the Holocaust, I was named for my grandmother who died in the Holocaust. I worked as (INAUDIBLE) president back in college to open up political asylum opportunities for true refugees.

The problem is that people coming out of the shadows will be able to use false names, they're not even doing face-to-face interviews now to take care of this DACA program, the deferred action program. So how does that provide us with additional security when we wind up giving identity documents to people who may well lie about who they are?

The system needs to have integrity before we call upon the beleaguered system to suddenly deal with what you say are 11 million -- I think if we look at '86 amnesty, it could 30 or more million.

ROMANS: I want to bring in the Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. She says that the Senate immigration bill would make us safer. For example, by better tracking Tamerlan Tsarnaev. I want you to listen to what she said.


JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: The bill does strengthen the electronic use of or electronically readable passports for travel and so forth, so that we don't have any manual entries. So, any time we can get rid of human error or the possibility for human error, that's a good thing.


ROMANS: So let me ask you, Ana, do you think that the Homeland Security Department, Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Congress, is going to be able to put together something that's comprehensive that's going to appeal to everyone, the people who are worried about terrorists, the people who are worried about high-tech workers having enough high-tech workers.

There are so many stakeholders in good immigration reform.

NAVARRO: Christine, I think there's going to be parts of this immigration bill of a comprehensive bill that appeal to everybody and there's going to be parts of it that people don't like. There's going to be something for everybody to like and something for everybody to dislike. I think that's pretty much how a comprehensive bill gets through Congress.

It's called a compromise. It's not something we've seen much in the last few years in this Congress, miraculously it's happening, it's happening on both sides of the aisle and it's happening on both sides of the chambers of Congress.

So, it's a pretty infrequent sight we are seeing and there's going to be something everybody likes.

ROMANS: But the last time we saw at '86, the last massive immigration reform President Ronald Reagan said, we had just ended illegal immigration and it didn't, you know? I mean, that's what people get so worried about. Michael?

CUTLER: There's nothing in there about enforcement. You know, I just testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 20th. There was no discussion about how do we make certain we actually enforce the laws? There's only a couple thousand immigration agents for the whole country. New York has 35,000 police officers.

If you don't enforce the laws and you don't disincentivize coming here illegally, violating our laws and providing, by the way, employment --

ROMANS: But let's bring it back to Boston, though, because this is what we're talking. We're bringing it back to Boston. Boston those guys from what it looks like weren't violating any immigration laws.

So, Ana, just close it up for me here. Does Boston change the immigration debate, or is it a bump?

NAVARRO: I think it's a bump. I think people who are against this are going to use it, they're going to use anything they can to try to derail this bill. But I think in the end there is enough consensus in Congress to get this through and make a constructive bill. And if there's issues that need to be addressed, they will.

ROMANS: Michael Cutler, thank you so much.

And, Ana Navarro, so nice to see you again. Have a great weekend to both of you. Thanks for your perspective both of you.

CUTLER: Thanks.

ROMANS: OK. Just one day after bombs went off in Boston, your elected officials already playing politics.


REP. XAVIER BECERRA (D), CALIFORNIA: You can't try to shelter from cuts, first responders, if you're in the city of Boston, because the federal government has just said to you we have to close our eyes, make cuts across the board to every program and guess what? We have to send you less money to help your first responders.


ROMANS: Are the forced budget cuts making us less safe? That's next.


ROMANS: How much are American taxpayers willing to pay for security?

Grover Norquist, anti-tax crusader, a frequent guest on this program, famously said he wanted to shrink the government down to the point where he could drown it in a bathtub. Two days before the bombings in Boston, he spoke at a Tea Party rally on Boston Common.


GROVER NORQUIST, PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: On the central issue that moves our vote, we want the government to leave us alone.


ROMANS: Obviously, Norquist and anyone else at the rally couldn't foresee the events of Monday. But it shows what a different time we seem to be living in just two weeks ago as the debate over smaller government raged on.

And in the aftermath of the bombings, government didn't leave Boston alone. Thousands of law enforcement officers from every level of government descended on that city, the unprecedented manhunt shut down much of the metro area, residents were told to stay home, stay inside but the show of force worked. Four days after the bombings, one suspect was dead, another was in custody.

CNN contributor, Republican strategist Ana Navarro is back with us. Ben Barber is a senior research scholar at the City University of New York.

Ana, polls show an overwhelming approval of the massive response to the Boston bombings. Polls also show Americans tend to favor a smaller federal government, can you have both?

NAVARRO: I think you can. I think there are a lot of things you can cut in the federal government without touching national security. I think that when it comes to keeping our homeland safe, keeping our families, our countries safe, Americans put that in a different category and have an exception for that.

But we also understand that there's gigantic bureaucracies all over Washington, all over government that can be cut.

ROMANS: Ben, do the response of the Boston bombings remind yes government can work for you or did it not move the needle for those folks?

BENJAMIN BARBER, SR. RESEARCH SCHOLAR, CUNY GRADUATE CENTER: Of course, it reminded them exactly of that and there's so much inconsistency in how we talk about the issues.

Ana wants to make an exception for national security. A lot of Republicans want to make an exception for the Pentagon. A lot of Democrats want to make an exception for entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicaid.

The problem is, we all want big government where it serves us, and we all want small government where other people are involved.

And that hypocrisy goes right across the political system and makes the life of both citizens and politicians absolutely impossible.

ROMANS: Let's talk about some of those programs. Earlier this week Congresswoman Diane Black, a Republican from Tennessee, she tweeted this, "Under President Obama, food stamp enrollment has increased at 10 times the rate of job creation."

Now, we know the spending on entitlements is expanding at the expense of discretionary spending, things like education and infrastructure. Ben, Americans don't trust the government to make the investments. So, what's the alternative? Is there an alternative? What's the alternative?

BARBER: Well, the alternative is we have to figure out how to afford the government we want and want the government we can afford, and that means some consistency. A lot of the issue here is not with the national debt, but our unwillingness on the Republican side to pay for it with revenue increases, tax increases and on the Democratic side the unwillingness to make some cuts in favor to entitlement programs.

We need to do both. President Obama in recent months has been offering a compromise saying yes, we will cut some of our favorite programs. You've got to raise some of the revenues on folks you don't want to raise it on.

Republicans have simply been saying no and then complaining about the debt problem. But the debt problem is a matter of more expenditures than revenues and you fix that not just by lowering expenditures but by raising revenues so you have an implacable quadrant of the U.S. Congress saying no revenue raises, no tax raises on anybody ever. That really creates paralysis in government.

ROMANS: You know, when you talk about government spending, Ana, one thing that was about the Boston bombings in particular and the two suspects that was distasteful to many was that the families of these two suspects had actually had government benefits, they were, quote- unquote, "takers" if you're on the campaign trail. You'll be talking about makers and takers.

You know, they had benefited from the safety net of the American government, even as the American government was trying to hunt them down. That inconsistency is something among conservatives really noted, that we are giving benefits to -- benefits that we can't afford all over the place.

NAVARRO: I think it's appalling to any American, Democrat, Republican, or libertarian, humanitarian, or vegetarian, that somebody that is on the dole in the United States, that's receiving the charity of the United States turns around and bites the hand that's basically feeding them. That a guy who hasn't work, his wife is working 70, 80 hours a week, and is getting government assistance, is doing terrorism against the United States and its citizens. Of course, it's appalling, it's shocking and it's disgusting.

And also, you know, there is abuse of the system. It's something we have to adjust. I don't think it's hypocritical or inconsistent to talk about some of these exceptions for national security.

ROMANS: All right. Ana Navarro, let's leave it there. So much to talk about, we'll talk with both you again very soon, a great conversation.

Benjamin Barber, nice to see both you. Have a great rest of the weekend.

NAVARRO: Thank you.

ROMANS: Security cameras helped identify the Boston bombing suspects. They are becoming increasingly effective tool for police. They aren't cheap, though. A look at the cost of surveillance, next.


ROMANS: How much does it cost to keep Americans safe? Video surveillance is a $10 billion industry in the United States. After the events in Boston, experts expect demand to keep growing.

But can we afford it? Who pays?

Joining me now is CNN business correspondent Zain Asher.

Good morning, Zain.


A typical surveillance camera like the ones used to identify the suspects in the Boston marathon bombings might cost a few thousand dollars. Experts say in a city like New York, you might need 10 or 20 cameras for just good visuals on just one block. Of course, you add that up, and keeping New Yorkers safe is a very expensive business.


ASHER (voice-over): Hard to believe these eyes-in-the-sky play such a vital role in protecting us from harm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are releasing photos of these two suspects.

DON ERICKSON, CEO, SECURITY INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION: The industry felt that our work was worthwhile after those photographs were released, identifying the suspects.

ASHER: A victory, yes, but one that comes with a price tag.

ROBERT HOROWITZ, PRESIDENT, ELECTRONIC SECURITY AND COMMUNICATIONS: A camera such as this with a decent megapixel count today is probably about a $3,000 investment.

ASHER: So this particular camera you're watching me through costs about $1,500. It's installed about 150 feet away from where I'm standing. But if you zoom in, you really can't see that much detail.

This camera on the other hand same distance, but a lot clearer. It is also double the cost. It costs about $3,000 to be installed on just one street corner.

Video surveillance in the U.S. is a $10 billion business. That number soared in the years after 9/11 which saw 30 million new cameras added to the streets.

ERICKSON: The tragedies have an impact on our industry. We are very concerned. We don't want to be perceived as opportunistic.

ASHER: From real ones to dummies to the inconspicuous to those monitored by humans, millions of cameras watch over the U.S. as part of the roughly $60 billion spent annually on domestic security.

But can we afford it?

ERICKSON: This is definitely a time of fiscal austerity.

ASHER: And how much should cost be a factor in public safety?

In London the suspects behind the subway bombings in 2005 were identified by name in just a few days. That's because the city has roughly one camera for every 14 people, a total of half a million.

In New York City, there are only 3,000 to 6,000.

The Urban Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, says that, for every dollar invested in surveillance cameras in Chicago, it saves the city about $4 in other possible costs.

NANCY LA VIGNE, URBAN INSTITUTE: Those are costs associated with crimes that didn't happen, costs to the court, costs to incarcerate people.

ASHER: But the costs of installing surveillance cameras doesn't fall on government alone.

The Boston bombing suspects were caught using footage from private stores like Lord & Taylor and images from ordinary citizens -- evidence we all share responsibility to keep our streets safe.


ASHER: And I also want to mention, Christine, that Boston has less than 1,000 cameras, which is roughly round one camera for every 600 people, of course, very different from places like London. Also, this is a time of budget cuts. The Department of Homeland Security has a nationwide grant of $1.5 billion to prevent terrorism, that includes things like video surveillance, among many other things as well. But that amount has actually decreased by more than half from a year ago -- Christine.

ROMANS: And we do know that privacy groups and civil libertarians have also encouraged some towns like, hey, you don't have to watch people all the time.

ASHER: Yes, privacy is definitely a huge concern.

ROMANS: Yes, there's that the other side of the story, too. All right. Zain, thanks so much, Zain Asher.

Coming up, congratulations. You've been accepted to college. Now, you have to pay for it.

How to get the most financial aid, next.


ROMANS: It could be one of life's most exciting moments, getting accepted to college. If you're lucky, you have a few different offers to consider. If the school you want isn't giving you enough financial aid, don't give up.


ROMANS (voice-over): Ten schools, that's how many colleges and universities want Erika Pardo.

ERIKA PARDO, HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR: It feels really great.

ROMANS: Now, the high school senior has a decision to make.

PARDO: A lot has to do with the financial aid, considering my mother has to pay it and I'll also be taking out loans.

ROMANS: Two-thirds of students graduate with debt and it is reaching new highs, averaging almost $27,000 in 2011. To keep your debt down, first, decode the financial aid offer.

MARK KANTROWITZ, PUBLISHER, FINAID.ORG & FASTWEB.COM: It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish what is a grant and what's a loan. They may not even use the word loan.


ROMANS: So, ask questions and, remember, you're not just paying for one year.

TYNES: It's not about that first year of college. It's ensuring that you are accepting a financial aid package that has renewable money.

KANTAROWITZ: About half of all colleges practice what's called front loading of grants. That means that your grant as a freshman are going to be more generous mix than your grants as a sophomore, junior or senior.

ROMANS: If you're disappointed, don't be afraid to ask for more money.

TYNES: There are other things that can be done. (INAUDIBLE), it's not the end all, be all.

ROMANS: But watch your tone.

KANTAROWITZ: Colleges are not car dealerships where bluff and bluster will get you a better deal. What you need to do is provide them with documentation, information that they weren't aware of, about your financial situation.

ROMANS: A job loss, major medical expenses, private K through 12 tuition for a sibling, caring for a special needs child or elderly parent, those can get you more financial aid. So make your case. Like Erika. She's asking for more since her mom supports her grandfather in Ecuador. One school has already responded.

PARDO: They went up in the Pell Grant, which is the free money. They went up about a thousand dollars.

ROMANS: Now, she's waiting to hear from the others.

PARDO: I'm usually in my guidance counselor's office, on the phone, calling all my schools. I'm sure they're tired of hearing from me.

ROMANS: If it means more financial aid, it will all be worth it.


ROMANS: We just checked in with Erica, DePaul University giving her a thousand more in grants. She'll be going there this fall.

Now, it's your turn to join the conversation. Find us on Facebook and Twitter, our handle is @CNNYourMoney. My handle is @ChristineRomans.

Bombings, foiled train attacks, letters with ricin, America is on edge. One tweet did this to the stock market this week. What could cyberterrorism do to your money? Coming up right here at 2:00 p.m.

"CNN SATURDAY MORNING" continues right now.