Wednesday, March 29, 2006
The real battle of the border
Tonight we are broadcasting the show live from Nogales, Arizona, what some call ground zero in the battle to stop illegal immigration.

Right now I'm out on patrol with the U.S. border patrol south of Tucson. This is the most active sector for illegals crossing over. Just a few hours before we arrived a horse trailer carrying 42 illegals crashed. About a dozen were injured, the smuggler escaped.

Sixty-thousand illegals have already been apprehended in this sector this month. Next month the border patrol expects to catch more than 70,000.

It's fascinating to see the border patrol in action up close. For all the talk in Washington, this is where the rhetoric meets reality.

Tonight we go from Arizona to lesser known battlegrounds like New York's Chinatown and Jackson, Wyoming, all the angles on the battle of the border.
Posted By Anderson Cooper: 3:07 PM ET
  30 Comments
What would be extremely interesting and enlightening, would be interviews with some who are stopped/apprehended in trying to cross the border, as well as with those who are doing the smuggling.
Posted By Anonymous Sid, Chicago, IL : 3:59 PM ET
Hearing about the thousands of people so desperate to improve their situation that they leave their families and risk their lives, makes me appreciate all that I have had the opportunity to achieve living in the US. A good education, stable job, savings for retirement, a great husband and baby on the way...I feel blessed and my problems are minor (knock on wood). I've had the opportunity to see some of the challenges in developing countries and I think most Americans don't realize that the people attempting to cross the border aren't coming with the intention to cause trouble, but rather to try and better their lives with huge sacrifices, in the hope of someday acheiving many of life's blessings that so many of us take for granted. I don't know what the solution is, and I know there are problems from illegal immigration, hopefully, Anderson, you can help us figure this out.
Posted By Anonymous Lisa, Miami, FL : 4:11 PM ET
I'm very excited to see the show tonight. I feel as if I am not well informed about the border issue facing our country. I hope to come away with information tonight that will allow me make a decision about what my opinion is on illegals and their role in America's society and especially our human society. We all came from somewhere and I can't help but think that if I was in desperation and there was a light leading the way that I would follow that light even if it was dangerous in order to better my life. Thanks for keeping us informed of all the latest issues facing our world today!
Posted By Anonymous Linda Konitsney, Warren, OH : 4:16 PM ET
I would very interested to know the stories of the people who try and cross illegally. Do they just want a better life or are they running from something? What's life like for those people who risk their lives to get into another country? We don't know anything until we have walked a mile in their shoes.
Posted By Anonymous Nicki Ferguson, Calgary, Alberta : 4:36 PM ET
People who care enough about the United States of America follow proper channels to become citizens of this Nation.

There's a right way: Going through a process. And there's a wrong way: Going through a fence.
Posted By Anonymous Ruthie Rader Portland, Oregon : 4:46 PM ET
All this immigration talk does not discuss three issues:
1. We can not afford to let every person seeking politcal refuge into this country.
2. We can not afford to let every child born in the country be a citizen just because the mother made it here. There must be more criteria established to be a citizen.
3. 100 years ago, those who came to this country seeking to become United States citizens had a check-up, were quarantined if sick and needed a skill. We can not afford for uneducated, unskilled or sick people to come into this country and call it home.
Thank you, Elizabeth Abrams
Posted By Anonymous Elizabeth Abrams, Philadelphia, PA : 4:47 PM ET
If the war on drugs has to lock up petty drug users, why the heck can't we focus enforcement of immigration laws with employers- the demand side. I have lived and worked in Midland, Michigan for over 25 years, but when I took my latest job I had to produce 2 forms of identification to prove my status in this country. Great, we have enforcement where it clearly isn't needed - like forcing thousands of elderly US citizens to take off their shoes when they fly.

I'd like to see the US put the enforcement where it will do the most good, on the demand side. If a large fraction of people come to work in US agriculture, while the US is having a crisis of obesity, maybe the price of food should be increasing, instead of going down? Maybe farmers should pay a better wage - one that isn't so low that they have to run the whole operation under the table?

No matter what programs are in place, if employers in America can undercut the prevailing wages, then people will sneak in to work at these rates that US citizens cannot work for. That's right - cannot. People in the US, working illegally are not paying their share of the taxes, but US citizens do. So you get this cycle of employers not paying enough for legal citizens and residents to live on, but you can live on it if you are living under the radar screen.
Posted By Anonymous Kim , Midland Michigan : 4:47 PM ET
Anderson, thank you for bringing attention to this side of the story.

It's easy for people to sit in Washington and make statements that about any reform permitting amnesty or workers permits is like "rewarding illegal behavior and that will encourage more illegal behavior." I hope there can be real immigration reform, so that people will not have to risk their lives just to find a job and support their families,and that human smugglers will not continue to benefit from it. That's the real crime here.

I love your show.

Linda
Boulder, Colorado
Posted By Anonymous Linda, Boulder, Colorado : 4:49 PM ET
Why don't the Senators go down there and see how thing really are instead of hiding in Washington? I can only hope everyone remembers who did what come election day! If they are afraid to make the hard decisions, we should vote them out of office.
Posted By Anonymous Chris James Dallas TX : 4:49 PM ET
The real issue isnt the border or the immigrants. It is the corporate abuse of the workers. In Maryland, Virginia and DC Mexicans who are illigally here are hired at half wages, pay no taxes and do not act responsibly in the community in ways such as having auto insurance, etc. They work as construction labor, concrete workers, road repair labor, asphalt workers, drywall and framing labor displacing local crews and individuals. Since many if not most of these locals are subcontractors their losses are not recorded using the outdated unemployment application measure. They are not eligable. These are not jobs that "Americans" will not fill. Raising racism, borders, etc as a cover and diversion serves the continued trashing of the working class. There aren't enough MickyD's to hire them all.
Posted By Anonymous Patrick, DC : 4:56 PM ET
As a native Arizonan I have seen first hand the problems that accompany illegal immigration. I am not hispanic, but there are parts of my family that are and part of them have lived in Mexico. I am tired of people saying we are racist and anti-immigration because we want something done about illegal immigration. I don't carry any hatred toward any race of people. I am for the big melting pot. I support anyone who wants to come to this country (and my state) looking for a better way of life. All I am asking is please do it legally. Being here illegally should not automatically grant someone the rights of citizens, no matter what race that person is. Note to the rest of the country; it's not just people from Mexico who illegally cross our southern border. There are no quick fixes and the solution is not easy. Arizona has tried to combat this problem at a state level, but why should the border states bear this burden alone. I am not going to jump into a big debate over the impact they have here, people who live here deal with them on a daily basis. Overcrowded emergency rooms, overcrowded schools, day labors hanging out near high schools (Chandler High School)and businesses, raids on drop houses, human smuggling, illegal immigrants dying in the desert, I could go on. If the US Gov't really wants to do something about this problem, why not try to help make Mexico a better place to live. Help them build up their infrastructure and economy. I have only seen one journalist make this kind of suggestion. That part of the solution seems like the obvious one yet no one wants to mention it. Considering the mindset of this president and his current administration I am not surprised. All I have to say is you go Gov Napolotano!
Posted By Anonymous Melina - Mesa, AZ : 5:00 PM ET
The US government has got to be able to monitor and have some control over who comes into the country and under what circumstances. If that means building a wall along our borders, so be it.
Posted By Anonymous Augie, Boston MA : 5:01 PM ET
I greatly appreciate all that I have been given and worked hard for. Immigrants should have the same opportunities and support that natural citizens enjoy. This being said, illegal immigrants are also searching for these opportunities. I believe the United States should help these impoverished people, but the illegals should be made to contribute to the system. They should pay taxes on their earnings just like everyother American citizen. They use government support from various programs, ie food stamps and medicaid, but do not pay in any taxes to help support these programs. If they want some of the benefits, they have to contribute to the benefit pool.
Posted By Anonymous Joni, Dublin Georgia : 5:08 PM ET
Good job! Whenever a correspondent gets on a story like illegal immigration people take notice. You being on the front lines serves a real purpose. Show us exactly what it's like so we on the east coast can understand what needs to be done.
Posted By Anonymous Diane Hilliard, LURAY, VA. : 5:09 PM ET
I'm grateful you've come to the state of AZ. to allow others to see up close what we as natives deal with everyday. Living in a border state we deal with overrun schools, hospitals, and prisons. Illegal immigration has become a travesty in our state. I hope those who are watching can become more fully aware of the impact of illegal immigration because it's on the move nationwide. I'm no longer sitting on the fence or unsure....I live it!
Posted By Anonymous Elisha, Mesa, Arizona : 5:11 PM ET
I am an American Citizen married to an illegal immigrant. We have a family and work very hard to support our children and own a home. The current laws do not permit any avenue for my husband to become a legal resident without leaving the US and returning to Mexico for a period of up to one year. Our children will miss their father and I will be a single mother until he returns. We have struggled witht the decision for my husband to seek legal status or remain illegal for 6 years, hoping for some avenue to open so that we can keep our family intact. Something must be done to reform immigration that does not include tearing apart families.
Posted By Anonymous Rachel Phoenix, AZ : 5:14 PM ET
What is it about 'illegal' that people do not understand? If I go to the rallies of the illegal immigrants and take their wallets, will they be OK with that? Will they still love me and want me to have all of my rights? I don't think so! They would want me to suffer the appropriate consequences for my actions. And yet, each and every day the illegal immigrants in this country steal money from me and millions of other hard working, tax paying Americans. My mother is a legal immigrant. My daughter is a legal immigrant. I have no problem with immigrants. Breaking the law is breaking the law and it is time we stopped the political sensitivity and game playing and address this issue!
Posted By Anonymous Holly Green, San Diego, CA : 7:36 PM ET
All the protests here in the Los Angeles area recently, and most don't even acknowledge the main argument. This has to do with the illegal immigrants not the legal ones.

There is a process that needs to be followed to become a legal immigrant, for those that want to come to this country. Yes it takes time, but there is a process.

If you break the law, you should not be rewarded for it, such as offering a drivers liscense for illegal immigrants.

If you knowingly hire or marry an illegal immigrant, you know there are going to be repercussions.

It's like getting caught speeding, just because most people do it, it doesn't make it legal. Sometimes you get caught. We know better, but choose to take the risk and suffer the consequencies if you get caught.
Posted By Anonymous Chris, Pasadena, California : 7:45 PM ET
Enough of illegal immigration. My grandparents got here legally 100 years ago. The answer is for all these folks to revolt, overthrow their poor governments and stay in their own countries. I really don't care what their problems are as long as they are not coming here. The US Border should be like another Berlin Wall as far a I am concerned.
Posted By Anonymous Tom, Hubbard, Oho : 7:47 PM ET
I am a mexican citizen currently studying a P.H.D in Finance in Arizona State University, and I just want to say that due to all the ignorant rhetoric that floods popular media about this issue, it is of the utmost importance to report the truth behind the massive immigration flows from ALL countries into the US. The huge demand that exists for cheap labor, and that all of us are responsible for causes a pull factor that is hard to overlook for current and potential immigrants. The status-quo needs to change but it needs to focus on aligning incentives along with strong law enforcement, but with the absolute respect towards an individual's human rights, which are inalienable regardless of legal status.
Posted By Anonymous Luis, Tempe Arizona : 8:01 PM ET
It seems that in all of the many facets of this controversy that are discussed we are missing a huge problem. There must be a terrible human rights problem in Mexico for so many people to be risking their lives and freedom to cross the border and to be subjugated and exploited and destested by so many. What about that? I am sick of Bush always yukking it up with Vicente Fox. Why isn't Fox taking care of his people? This country is on our doorstep and the people there are suffering. Why don't we do something to help that situation? Then they won't be trying to escape for their lives.
Posted By Anonymous Paige B., Austin, TX : 8:04 PM ET
If I break the law and get sentenced to time in jail, do I get to complain that my family was torn apart? Everybody has to face the consequences of their actions. If somebody came here illegally, they broke the law and they should face the consequences too. Expecting and relying on an "amnesty" is not a very wise choice. In fact, it is those citizenship-granting amnesties that cause more and more people to come here illegally and to falsely claim that they'd been living and working here for years in order to get the benefits. This is a very bad solution, and I hope the Senate doesn't approve yet another amnesty which will only exacerbate the situation.
Posted By Anonymous Derek, Boston MA : 8:10 PM ET
The immigration issue is getting more complicated that it needs to be. It's not about racism, the problem is that it must be balance between border security and immigration. Lets faced it, America needs and wants the cheap labor, this people because they are illegal are payed poorly by some americans who take advantange of the situation. But at the same time America should not have millions of John Doe's.Too many people go uncheked. For security reasons(terror), drug traffic, taxes,etc. A big wall at the border will not work. Congress should increase security at the border,that's is the first priority, but the problem will not be solved until a functional process that facilitates legal immigration. When this is done illegal immigration will minimized.
Posted By Anonymous Agustin Aponte,Cayey,PR : 5:05 AM ET
Compassion vs. self-preservation? In the state of Illinois, state employees pension funds has been raided by the state to pay for state programs, like education/medical care. Also, bills are submitted to have illegal immigrants pay less for college tutition in the state of Illinois than the Illinois LEGAL residents? If it is happening in Illinois, it may be happening in other states. Are legal working class Americans willing to give up their pensions for this cause to help illegal immigrants? Will this issue of illegal immigrants working for pennies, no insurance, no OSHA, no labor laws - speed the way to the elimination of the middle class? Is the USA headed for a civil war over this? What message is this delivering to our children and to other countries?
Aren't we at war and thus are vulnerable? It is time for the working class and the unemployed legal citizens class to start standing up for themselve.
When pensions are not available and Spanish is the USA primary language, maybe then they will ask "how did this happen". Now is the time to fix the core problems for working Americans.
Stop rewarding illegal behaviors.
Posted By Anonymous Patti Collins, Alsip, IL : 5:05 AM ET
The are some very key words in all of this. One of which is border security. It seems as if it is about as inane as jumbo shrimp. The borders are so easily breeched it clearly is a national security issue. This seems to me that the President, and congress are ignoring, as it is an election year. Just once can these 435 or so people become American instead of republican or democrats. Illegal is just that and should not and cannot be tolerated. Tighten the borders for everyone's security. Let's be proactive rather than reactive. The results are better and the cost is lower.
Posted By Anonymous RK Springboro, OH : 5:09 AM ET
Why is it so difficult to understand.
1 key word says it all. ILLEGAL
Posted By Anonymous DALE GEIB LAWRENCEVILLE,GA : 6:25 AM ET
There is a economic crisis in Mexico, and it's been like that for decades.Does that give people the right to come to this country illegally?The answer is NO!!

Should the U.S grant Amnesty to Illegal Immigrants?Again the answer is NO!!If they do, then they should also grant Amnesty to all the felons in prison, that have broken the Law.

I live in the Dallas-Ft.Worth area, and was confused about the protests in downtown Dallas over immigration laws.The reason was it consisted of KIDS, that had skipped school,and they where waving the Mexican Flag, not the National Flag of this country.This is not Mexico, this is the United States of America.These kids don't understand what this is about, and neither does Washington.

I work with a man who came into this country legally from Mexico and I have nothing but respect for him.But there is something wrong with a system that allowed him to immigrate, but not his wife and kids.With all this going on he is scared to go back and visit his family, even though he has citizenship in this country.

The immigration system is broke, and needs to be fixed.I believe that if a person has come here illegally, then they need to face the full force of the law.But those that have gone through or are going through the immigration process to become legal citizens, like my Great Grandparents did, I wish them the best of Luck.
Posted By Anonymous Stev P., Lewisville, TX. : 6:28 AM ET
This maybe the only issue that I ever agree with W on, even if I think his reasons behind it are screwed up (ahem, approval ratings). I don't think amnesty is a bad idea at all. Maybe I'm being cynical, but my tax money is going somewhere, it will be spent somehow, and I do not think that getting rid of all the illegal immigrants will significantly lower my taxes or solve the overcrowding issue. I think the illegals make a convenient scapegoat for all of our problems but if we deported every single one of them tomorrow, the problems would still be there. We'd just have to find someone else to blame them on.

I've lived in Baltimore my whole life and in the last ten years, I've seen the Hispanic population increase significantly, but the schools, hospitals, and prisons were overcrowded long before then. It's easy to attack and blame someone who does not have a voice in our government or in our society, who doesn't even speak the same language as us. But the whole promise of America is that you can be anything you want regardless of where you come from, if you work hard and pay your taxes. My father did not graduate from high school and my grandmother never made it past ninth grade, but I'm a successful businesswoman with a college degree. That's the American Dream, and if our country is so great, why can't we share it with everyone?
Posted By Anonymous Sarah, Baltimore MD : 7:25 AM ET
I have an idea that seems ridiculous at first may bear further thought.

What is the point of separate countries anyway? Why is there an arbitrary border between two pieces of land? It is understandable if there are different forms of government that people have chosen. But if they are both relatively the same then what's the point. Why not make the United State and Mexico part of the same country? If one takes away this "idea" of a border, then people will no longer feel a need to cross it.
Posted By Anonymous Jim Graham, Wilmette IL : 7:23 PM ET
I am a legal immigrant, trying to do the right thing, I cannot work here legally, so I sit and wait (now 5 years) till our green card is processed (expensively), it is frustrating to hear about all this amnesty rehtoric, and no mention of fastracking the ones already in the system.....
Posted By Anonymous Lynda Canyon Lake, Ca : 7:55 PM ET
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