Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Does immigration debate matter?
Just wanted to say it's really nice to be back. I was off last week -- a rare attempt to actually have a vacation. The truth is, after a day or two off, once I'd caught up on sleep, I looked around and said to myself, "OK, so now what?" So it's nice to be back.

One of our guests last night on the program said she didn't think people in the United States really cared about the immigration debate. She was basically saying it's a creation of "the media" responding to press releases from right wing think tanks.

I didn't quite understand the logic. Clearly, the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators who have poured into the streets this week and in past weeks think this is an important issue. There are 11 million illegal immigrants in this country now (Lou Dobbs says he thinks the number is closer to 20 million), many of whom would like some legalization of their status. They must believe it's an important issue. Certainly those Americans concerned about border security believe this is an important issue.

Is it the MOST important issue facing our country? That's an arguable point, but I don't think dismissing the debate about border security and immigration reform is valid. Of course, the debate often just degenerates into a shouting match, which may be entertaining to watch for a while, but doesn't really serve any purpose, so we'll continue to focus on the topic in the coming weeks, and try to look at the issue from as many different angles as possible.

Also tonight on the program, we'll continue to look at the sorry state of America's education system. Oprah Winfrey is devoting two shows this week to the topic, and I went and shot some pieces for her in Washington D.C. Yesterday, I profiled two schools in Washington that are literally falling apart, and today's story is about a school that seems to be working.

What's amazing about this school is that it has taken students from failing Washington schools along with kids who were told by their own teachers that they'd never amount to much, and it has helped those kids become top performers. I was in a fifth grade class in this inspiring school, and all these little kids knew the date they were going to college. Not the date they were graduating high school, because that's not their goal. College is the goal, and these little kids could even tell you what colleges they wanted to attend!

Anyway, I'll be on Oprah today with a report about this school, and we'll talk more about it on "360°" tonight.
Posted By Anderson Cooper: 10:58 AM ET
  61 Comments
AC - welcome back. Immigration is one of those issues that gets pushed to the side until it becomes a serious problem. To me, it's a refreshing change from arguing about abortion or gay marriage.
Posted By Anonymous Allison, Atlanta, GA : 11:43 AM ET
I agree with your guest Alisa last night that there are certainly FAR more important issues than immigration currently facing us, and it's hard not to speculate that the current focus on the topic is meant more to deflect attention from Iraq, Iran, gas prices, failing schools, and incompetent and/or actively corrupt officials than to actually address a 'crisis'.

That said, there are some issues on the table that need airing, and one of the scariest is a sub rosa movement to get birthright citizenship out of the constitution. I first noticed this back in December, when the House tried to pass something that would make US citizenship hereditary; unconstitutional on the face of it, but there are still people on the right who think that the 14th amendment either should be modified to remove the implication that birth on US soil means US citizenship, or that it should be reinterpreted out of existance.

This is scary stuff. And I think it's important to know where people stand on this, because it helps you understand their positions on other aspects of the same issue.

People who think birthright citizenship should be overturned have an image of America as a nation of inherited, not earned, privilege and that's not a vision of America that many people would agree with.

I'd love to hear your panelists from last night on the subject of birthright citizenship - I think it would be enlightening, in more ways than one.
Posted By Anonymous Arachnae, Sterling VA : 11:44 AM ET
Anderson, watched Orpah yesterday and those schools in Washington are more than falling apart, that was terrible. Samething needs to be done, no child should have to go to a school in the state those schools are in. Our goverment needs to put more money in our schools and education then some of these other projects they spend our money on. We need to educate our children better then we do now, they are the future of our country. And from what we heard on Oprah yesterday, our country is in TROUBLE.
Posted By Anonymous Sandra Belvin Richmond, Va : 11:57 AM ET
First I will say Welcome back Anderson! You were missed.

I dont understand why people have to turn things into a racial issue. I agree with what the gentleman said last night, that it is a way to dodge the issue when you can not come up with something logical to respond with.

This is not a "brown" issue, as the lady eloquently put it; this is an illegal immigration issue that is very important on all of our borders. We are not saying we do not want them here, we are saying we just want them to come the legal way. It floored me that she said this was just something to focus on to take away from our problems with the White House. I think that is just another stab at avoiding questions being tossed her way.
Do I have an answer for what to do about the ones that are already here? NO. Is it right for them to be granted legal status when they broke the law to get here? NO, but, then what do you do?

I will be interested to know what comes out of this.
Posted By Anonymous Nicole, The Woodlands, Texas : 12:00 PM ET
.....most defiantly ....you are vacationing with the wrong people.

Anyway, immigration debate is a very important issue to stay on top off. It is ironic that 60% of Americans think that immigration is a good thing for cultural development. Then why are so many Americans opposed to legalizing illegal immigrants. We have the North American Free Trade Agreement, why not let the work force move freely as well. What are Americans scared of? Competition?

Also, new federal immigration policies impose expensive unfunded mandates on individual states. Who is going to pay for that? Employers that would have to pay higher wages?
Posted By Anonymous Katrina, Newtown, PA : 12:04 PM ET
Hey Anderson,
I watched 360 last night and was particularly disturbed by one of your guests in the 11pm hour while you took phone calls. As you said, it amazes me that people blame the media for covering this issue and then in the same breath try to get in any and all political digs they can unrelated to the immigration issue. This is a huge problem in this country. The problem is not the millions of people who have come here and remain here but want to become American citizens. Fine. What I take issue with is those that come here looking for work, utilize our schools, hospitals, and other resources but have no desire to actually become a citizen. My best friend is in the agriculture business here in Florida so I know first hand the type of labor that immigrants and illegal aliens perform. However, rather than attempt to get a work visa or become a citizen, they simply bounce from job to job and as you often say "hide in plain sight" from the police and immigration officials. Its time they make a decision to stay if they truly want to become an American. Otherwise, leave. Despite what is being touted by "experts" in this area as the collapse of certain industries if all the illegals are sent back, only 3% of the entire Agriculture industry would be affected. I appreciate your attempts to focus these debates as it is one of the few educational and intelligent formats in TV news. I watch 360 every night and often forward stories that you cover to friends the next morning.
Posted By Anonymous Felix, Tampa, Florida : 12:04 PM ET
Hey, nice to have you back! I totally know what you mean about vacations. It's only fun to be lazy when you know you have things to do, but when you don't, you wind up climbing the walls.

I didn't get that woman's logic either about illegal immigration being purely a product of oversensationalization by the media, so I was glad to see you put her in her place a little bit. I think there's a very close relationship between this and national security - if it were harder to get into this country, maybe we wouldn't have had 9/11. So it's a very important issue and should be discussed.

I wanted to add that schools falling apart is not a new thing. When I was in grammar school 20 or so years ago I remember things like chipping paint on stair railings and toilets that were perpetually out of order (or they were working, but then toilet paper was nowhere to be found!). I went to school in Brooklyn, so maybe that makes it less surprising than a school in DC, I don't know. But it's a problem that's been around for quite a while. And you should also remember that many schools are way overcrowded and lacking in adequate numbers of computers and other learning tools, so kids are getting shortchanged from many angles. I'm looking forward to the piece on the "good" school tonight. It'll be nice to see that not all hope is lost.

Enjoy your day!
Posted By Anonymous Allie, Piscataway, NJ : 12:09 PM ET
Of course we Americans care about immigration, just live close to the border as I do in San Diego. I see immigrates every day walking or hanging around looking for work. As one of your debaters said last night that all we talk about is Mexican immigrants, but that's all that I see out and about. I know there are other illegals from other countries out there but they stay hidden and are not vocal. You talk about what you see.

I enjoy a real debate and not shouting matches. Yes they are entertaining for about 2 seconds and then I get bored as I did last night by flipping through channels while it was going on.

PS. Welcome back, we missed you!
Posted By Anonymous Wynona, San Diego, CA : 12:09 PM ET
I think your guest is very wrong. I think the average middle class American cares very much about the issues surrounding illegal immigration. I think most Americans are fed up with the governments lack of response to a problem that is overwhelming this country. As far as Im concerned these people have no say in the laws of this country, no right to be here and therefore, no right to demand anything. Im also fed up with the media always using the term immigration debates. Call it what it is...these people are illegal. This is about illegal aliens, not immigrants. I believe immigrants are people who have respected the laws and people of this country and are going through the proper channels. I will support those people and not the ones who dared to protest in our streets. I think this also ties in drastically to the school problems we are seeing. The system is totally overwhelmed by illegals who can enroll their children in our schools and we the taxpayers pick up the tab. Its about time this country stopped being such bleeding hearts and got tough on issues that are going to destroy this country. Ossama Bin Laden wont have to do a thing!
Posted By Anonymous Lisa jacksonville FL : 12:12 PM ET
Anderson,
So glad to see you back. I do believe that the immigration issue should be in the forefront of our minds. While I don't mind people wanting to come to the U.S. to make a better life for themselves (that is what the U.S. is about), I don't think it should be so difficult that people need to come illegally.
Saw the Oprah show yesterday and the TiVO is set to record today's show as well. After watching, I see that home schooling my children is definitely the best choice for my family. However, I completely understand that a lot of people can not home school and that it isn't the right choice for their families... or even a choice at all. I still believe that EVERY child should have a right to a GREAT education whether it be at home or public school (or private). This is a shame that children must try to learn under the conditions they are in. This story should put us all, whether we have children or not, into action.
Posted By Anonymous Julie. Harrisburg, NC : 12:16 PM ET
This is all insane. These people demand and demand and demand. I am a Resident Alien, applying for citizenship and I can't believe what these peole are doing. They wave there own flag in the streets saying it is unfair and that tere jobs are horrible. If you want to live here respect this country. If you don't like it, go back home because I will tell you something: You people who demand citizenship need to jump through all the same hoops that everyone else has had to jump through.

Life is hrd, get a helmet.

Josh
Age 15
Posted By Anonymous Josh, Colorado Springs Colorado : 12:16 PM ET
Citizenship should probably be earned, rather than just placed on one's shoulders. However, gaining citizenship through an illegal act just doesn't make sense. If nothing else, the Courts should interpret the 14th amendment so babies only get citizenship if at least one of its parents are legal US citizens. Crossing a border illegally shouldn't be rewarded.
Posted By Anonymous Paul, Vernal, UT : 12:17 PM ET
Sure it matters! I saw the program yesterday and the guest which you refer to got really flusttered right in the beginning of the discution. Really, what was she thinking shouting all the time? Anyway, not the point. Here is the point: Forget the jobs, forget the economy, let's go basic. How does a government govern people that don't exist? Right now is about 10 million. But, imagine if you just forget about it. 20 years from now, might be double or triple, or more, or less. But the same question arrises, how does government govern them? You can't give them all citizenship because the current U.S. political system would disappear in a heartbeat, and you can't kick them all out because there are no resources. So this is the hardest part of the problem. Lou Dobbs has it right, close the borders so the injury can be treated, otherwise is like putting bandaid on an amputation. Forget about the people here for a second, and think about the people coming. The U.S. CANNOT take care of everyone, that's just a fact. All these people that are marching the streets, why aren't they making reforms in their government? Why aren't they marching in their country? I just want to point that if everybody is like Mexico, and doesn't want to enforce the borders, why not just give complete control of the government to the U.S.? And, I'm talking about the Latin American countries because they are the biggest problem at hand in border control. I am Latin American so racism is not an option, it's just the truth. It matters, and people should be talking about these, otherwise there will be another country inside of this one. The country of the people that are not governed
Posted By Anonymous Gui, Tomball, TX : 12:17 PM ET
Anderson, I was impressed that you brought back the young lady from the night before. At first I was shocked to see her again because she seemed so hostile the night before. I don't think her attitude serves her cause very well. It is not productive. Also, she does not help her argument by saying that the immigration debate is not important to the people of this country. It is of course, not the most important issue, but it is vitally important to all of us.

What is the MOST important issue facing our country is education. I can't wait to see your report on Oprah. I wish more people would read Jonathan Kozol's book. Education is "the shame of the nation", as the book is entitled. Education is the linchpin of everything and most people are not facing this hard fact. Brown v. Board of Education has been forgotten and abused. This country is going backwards and that trend is fueled by the lack of decent and equal education. If anyone understands the state of public education in most major American cities (New orleans, my hometown for example), they would think they had gone back in a time machine 50+ years ago to Plessy v. Ferguson--separate and unequal. As a side, the Former Gov. of Louisiana's (Mike Foster)grandfather was the judge on that case that made things separate but unequal. The divide between rich and poor is growing rapidly and hiding in plain sight unless we wake up. Education is THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE.
Posted By Anonymous Paige B., Austin, TX : 12:20 PM ET
Anderson:

Great to see your back from vacation and blogging again.

It was a disgrace to see that schools in America could be so poorly kept, especially in the backyard of our Capitol. If the buildings are being kept poorly, makes you question the education system?

I believe devoting time and energy to the education system is very important, but the most important key is the encouragement we give our young people. It was great to hear that the kids who were told by their teachers, of all people, they would never amount to much became TOP PERFORMS.

The young people are our future, so why not support and educate them the very best way possible.
Posted By Anonymous Vicki, Long Island, NY : 12:21 PM ET
American citizens definitely care about the immigration issue. We work hard to pay taxes that non-citizens are reaping the rewards for. We cannot get technology jobs because foreign nationals come in from India and take these jobs from us. Others of us lose our jobs because the services we performed are "outsourced" overseas. It is time for America to take care of Americans first!
Posted By Anonymous Patti, Alpharetta, GA : 12:30 PM ET
To answer your question, "Does Immigration debate matter?"
The immigration problem has been around for years. The only reason it is in the news right now is because our fearless leader's approval rating has plummeted to an all time low. He needed to shift peoples focus from the GWOT(which is becoming a much larger disaster)
Posted By Anonymous Brian Belleville, IL : 12:31 PM ET
I think people in the United States care very much about the immigration issue, it affects all of us living in this country in one way or another. To say that it's not an important issue is ludicrous, and I was surprised to hear your guest say that. (By the way, although I understand that woman's passion about her "cause", she has to be one of the most obnoxious people I have ever seen on your show! Sorry, but it's true!)

I do appreciate the fact that you are looking at this issue from all angles, it has certainly given me a new perspective on things. I am so tired of the media being blamed for all the problems in this country. It's their responsibility to report the news, it's up to everyone else to be intelligent enough to form their own opinions based on the information available. (Okay, I'll get off my soap box now!) Anyway, it's good to have you back on the show, although I'm glad you finally took a much needed vacation!
Posted By Anonymous Phyllis Lancaster, PA : 12:34 PM ET
Being an immigrant from Africa myself, I have some first hand experience of what it takes to enter The U.S.A. in the prescribed legal manner. It is not easy, but with integrity and self respect I did. How can anyone trust a person to abide by the laws of this country when they flout the law from the get go. This is the issue!
Why is it that thirty percent of the U.S. prison population is comprised of undocumented persons when the overall immigrant population make up only a fraction of the entire country's people? Because they don't respect themselves or the laws.
Posted By Anonymous P.Brown, Naples, Florida : 12:34 PM ET
I watched your show and Oprah's yesterday about the school system in America. It is in definite need of overhauling. But I have to say it was unfair to show two different schools on such extremes. I also am eager to see the success stories of our American school system.

I know this is TV and we all need the "shocking truth" to make us watch. Surely there were atleast 5 kids in America that could name the first five presidents of the U.S. and NOT every child in China could. Actually I'm surprised some kid didn't say no I can't, but I'll "Google" it.
Posted By Anonymous Ellen, Piscataway, NJ : 12:36 PM ET
Yes, illegal immigration is an important topic. However, middle America is unable to turn out the hundreds of thousands of protestors because we are too busy WORKING and supporting those people out there protesting! Illegals spit in the face of everyone who enter this country legally every day. They degrade the ideal of our ancestors who scrimped, saved and waited to get here and then assimilated (THAT is a whole other subject matter). The illegals are a drain on the economy, they keep salaries deflated, they use our public programs without contributing anything in return. They are called illegals for a reason...they have done something against the law! My question isn't SHOULD it be a felony, my question is why isn't it already a felony?

My other concern is that we are supposed to be fighting a war against terrorism. Isn't entering a country illegally and sucking their economy dry a form of terrorism? OK, maybe that's a little extreme, but we are sending the message that it's acceptable to sneak into this country. We seem to say, "Our borders are wide open, come on in and do what you will." Hasn't 9/11 taught us anything?
Posted By Anonymous Sue L., Hershey, PA : 12:37 PM ET
Hey Anderson, you know if you're so bored with your vacations you can transfer your remaining days this year to my employer for me. Just a suggestion.

I think your guest was questioning the timing of the debate. Of course it's an issue that needs to be dealt with, but why is it suddenly at the forefront now? I've read many comments on this blog that have stated it's been a huge problem for years. It just seems suspect that suddenly everyone is up in arms. The protests never would have happened without the legislation, so the question is why did our do nothing congress decide to get on the ball with this issue right now? However, your guest probably didn't get her point across due to her debate style. I'm glad you called her on it because I was heading for the mute. It wasn't as bad as the shrieking lawyers you sometimes have on, but it was in the neighborhood.

As for run down schools, I went to a suburban school district and it was pretty bad. It was funny watching you be shocked on Oprah about buckets in hallways. When I was in junior high our roof was so bad we literally had water run down the steps. After things were fixed they sold "I survived the flood" shirts. Our public schools are a disaster and it's not just in the inner city.
Posted By Anonymous Stacy, St. Louis, MO : 12:38 PM ET
I saw your interviews on immigration yesterday. It's rediculous to see some people pass off the immigration debate as a distraction from other problems at the White House. I find it quite puzzling how the feat of bringing out so much emotion from people marching through various US cities was all done as an attempt to deflect attention from the White House... That's quite an incredible accomplishment I must say! For whenever I run for office, can someone please get me the number to this brilliant stategist who managed to pull this feat off?
Posted By Anonymous Milena, Ft. Lauderdale, FL : 12:42 PM ET
I think the immigration debate certainly does matter. I also see it as a politian dream come true. Both sides get to slam the other over another minority issue and ignore us hard working tax paying Americans. They are out marching because who cares if they miss work, they have illegal jobs paid by who knows what major corporation. Me, I have to work so I can pay my bills, the IRS and what ever other government funded freebie someone has their hand out for. I would like to see all the American citizens that can take a day off of work, not sick time or vacation time used and see how the government is impacted on that day. Just imagine no tax money collected for one day, what message do you think that would send the government? I am just tired of the whole minority thing, whoa is me. I am so sorry you are breaking the law and the politicians do not think you should be held accountable, "for the people by the people." Bah humbug!
Posted By Anonymous Sharon L. Abner, Springtown, Texas : 12:45 PM ET
The present debate in congress and the demonstrations show that not only have we lost control of our borders, but the American law system has also become ineffective.

Now illegal immigrants are shown to have more polical clout than American citizens.

I read the comments on the Irish immigrant who started a pluming business and wonder how he could break so many laws and get away with it.

This shows that the government has also completely lost control of American laws.

You are right in questioning the need for the debate, as the existing American laws have become completely useless.

The politicans believe that three percent of the American population that can not legally vote { or do they get to vote anyway with fake documents ) and have time to demonstrate, are more important then the remaining legal citizens whom are also hard working.
Posted By Anonymous Steve, Indianapolis, IN : 12:45 PM ET
I think the immigration debate certainly does matter. I also see it as a politian dream come true. Both sides get to slam the other over another minority issue and ignore us hard working tax paying Americans. They are out marching because who cares if they miss work, they have illegal jobs paid by who knows what major corporation. Me, I have to work so I can pay my bills, the IRS and what ever other government funded freebie someone has their hand out for. I would like to see all the American citizens that can take a day off of work, not sick time or vacation time used and see how the government is impacted on that day. Just imagine no tax money collected for one day, what message do you think that would send the government? I am just tired of the whole minority thing, whoa is me. I am so sorry you are breaking the law and the politicians do not think you should be held accountable, "for the people by the people." Bah humbug!
Posted By Anonymous Sharon L. Abner, Springtown, Texas : 12:46 PM ET
I think illegal immigration and border securities are very important issues. There are a lot of factors that make it so: illegal drugs, our economy and homeland security to name a few.

I will say to those folks that say that we need this immigrants to do the jobs that Americans will not do. Well, there are many reasons why Americans will not do those jobs. I must also point out that once they become legal, these immigrants will refuse to do those jobs too.

What do we do then? Get some more illegal immigrants?
Posted By Anonymous Augie, Boston MA : 12:46 PM ET
Hey Anderson.

Great to have you back. Greetings from America's 53rd state, formerly known as Canada accordingly to your show the other night. See some Canadians do indeed have a sense of humour and it could have been interesting to see how John Roberts (formerly and fondly known as JD Roberts here in Toronto) would have responded Monday night to your trivia question. But I digress ...

The immigration issue is also in the news here, although not yet to the extent as there. The US resolution to this issue has great ramifications for Canadians also, as does the related issue of border control.

Not sure what the right answer is to all of this. I have relatives in the US. My Canadian-born aunt married an American and gave up her Canadian citizenship to become a VERY proud American. She has lived longer in the US than she did in Canada and had to pass the immigration test and meet all the other criteria. I know it bothers her a lot that she followed the rules, has paid ALL of her taxes over the years (not just property taxes through rent and sales tax on purchases as your guest last night suggested is sufficient), including business taxes as a small business owner. In other words, she has paid her "dues" and resents that others would not have to do the same.

Even with my American relatives, I could not go through the proper legal channels to immigrate to your country if I wanted to (of course it wouldn't be necessary at all if Canada really did become the 53rd state...), despite being an educated, law-abiding Canadian who can afford to buy housing in the US, but not at the $ amount currently required. My relatives could not even sponser to work for their company (a liquor store) because they could not prove a US citizen could not fill the job instead of me.

So say I slip over the border for a "vacation" and just stay on and work at my relatives' business anyway with them paying me "under the table". Who would be the wiser?? Under this scenerio, I could even save on the "property taxes" because rather than buying a house of my own I could stay with my relatives who would pay the same property taxes regardless of whether or not I was there. And sure, you would get some of my money in sales tax, but if I was there legally you would get that anyway. So you would lose money on me if I was there illegally, just as you are losing money on those who are there illegally there now. Boy, I sure hope no one from US immigration is reading this and making a note on my "file" for next time I try to take a little vacation in the US ...

Another issue is, of course, that when people go through proper channels to immigrate, there is a criminal background check involved. If you enter illegally, no such check is done, which is potentially very problematic.

Just a few thoughts on the situation. Good luck with all involved in trying to come up with a resolution. They really need it!
Posted By Anonymous Nancy Tallevi, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada : 12:47 PM ET
Hi Anderson,

As a Bronx special education teacher, I just want to say thanks for covering the crisis of inner city schools and please keep pursuing this story. I'd love to have you or one of 360's correspondents (Randi Kaye!) check out some of the schools in the South Bronx. It's a real eye opener. Would you consider being principal for a day at a South Bronx high school? We'd love to have you, and I have a hunch my students would listen to you. (I mean, if you can handle some of those guests who get out of line, you could probably handle my students.)

Also, I love that Randi Kaye did that story on the young woman with Asperger's Syndrome a while back, and I'd love to see her look into how students with such disabilities are treated in NYC's public schools. Randi is a top notch reporter, and I think she'd produce an amazing story on the topic.

Thanks again.

Christine
Posted By Anonymous Christine, New York, NY : 12:49 PM ET
Hey Anderson, welcome back! I know what you mean about vacations, that happens to me too. Good to see you back on the air.

I don't understand Alisa's way of thinking about this issue, or at least what I heard when she wasn't screaming. Of course the immigration issue is important, and it's about time it started to get this much attention. She just had a political agenda and she was going to see it through, even though it meant disrespecting your show. Her arguments were ridiculous and actually I hope you don't have her on again.

I'm glad you'll be on Oprah again today, I missed it yesterday because I was with my vet and my horses all day but it's a really interesting story.

I was lucky enough to be raised in a well off community, but it was amazing that how even though it was a top rated school, it was AWFUL. The heat didn't work, a light exploded over my head once, the drinking fountain water turned orange if you left it overnight. And the kids were terrible, and mean. Besides smoking in the bathrooms which I guess sadly isn't so surprising anymore, a few students actually ripped sinks and urinals from the walls one year. And the staff never did anything about any of it. It's unbelievable what goes on at schools and I hope you keep reporting about it.
Posted By Anonymous Courtney, Chagrin Falls, OH : 12:56 PM ET
Illegal immigration probably isn't the most important issue we're facing today but it's the only issue that's bringing hundreds of thousands of people to the streets. Why is that woman spending time screaming on your show instead of organizing huge demonstrations on what she feels are the important things being ignored by the media?
Posted By Anonymous Coco, Ann Arbor Michigan : 12:57 PM ET
I agree that Americans truly care about the immigration debate, including many teenagers. Last night I participated in a 90 minute debate, along with about 15 other high school juniors and seniors, about the issue of immigration. We were meeting with our U.S. Representative Joseph Pitts as part of his Youth Advisory Council. Each of us had taken the time to learn about the problems in the immigration process, as well as with border security. It does matter to us. While Pitts supports the House bill on immigration, there were those of us who voiced our opposition and each of us proposed our own ideas on a possibe bill. Thank you for continuing to cover all the angles of this debate- the more knowledge people have, the more likely they are to act.
I also wanted to thank you for covering the issue of high school failures. I think this year's college admissions proved without a doubt the importance of a good education. It's definitely an issue that needs to be addressed.
Posted By Anonymous Kimberly Miller, Lancaster, PA : 12:57 PM ET
If this is a "brown" issue and not an illegal issue, put all 11 million people in New Orleans. Ray Nagin wants a chocolate city, let him deal with them.
Posted By Anonymous jp, altamonte springs, fl : 1:00 PM ET
Hey Anderson, it's great to see you back.

Did anyone else catch the irony in your guest (Alisa) comments. She said that the media is portraying this immigration debate soley as a Mexican issue when there are so many other races, and that making it a synoym is wrong. However, she later said this whole debate was a "brown" issue.

As a "brown" person, I think she's full of crap. Sorry if i'm being blunt, but honestly. It's awful that latino's can go on TV and claim that the media is being a little to racist, and then use the race card to attempt to justify this whole debate. It's a shame.

None-the-less it was a good debate. I was nearly jumping on my bed when you (Anderson) stopped the both of them to let them know this wasn't a shouting match. I was yelling "Yeah, Anderson. Tell them...tell them".

I actually said your name as said in the sketch for SNL. "Annduson Coopa"

Hah. Anyways, I'm very glad you're back.
Posted By Anonymous Andres - Las Cruces, NM : 1:04 PM ET
I think the issue of immigration is very important. Obviously, we cannot continue to let immigrants enter this country illegally, especially considering the unsafe methods and dangerous methods that they use to get here. The immigrants who reside in this country now have proved themself to be an important part of this country and I think some measures must be taken to reward their efforts.

As far as education in this country goes, I was appalled to see the conditions that those schools were in. By allowing that we are sending a message to our kids that we don't care. How can we expect kids to excel in an environment that is more fit for prisoners than children?
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer Carr, DeSoto,TX : 1:07 PM ET
ABSOLUTELY NO AMNESTY, expand the work visa and Green Card Programs, lock the border down. Anybody caught here illegally must be exported that day.
Posted By Anonymous Scott, New Bloomfield Pa. : 1:08 PM ET
Dear Anderson.. welcome back.


Please let us know exactly what man-made laws these 'illegal aliens' are breaking? Could this law have come from the 1986 act?, 1916, the Sioux law?, the Tribal law of the Cherokee in 1105 AD?, the Constitution??

Are they the same historical set of laws that Rosa Parks broke when she 'illegally' sat down on that Alabama bus?

Is it possible that these laws istorically came from the laws that our 'illegal' forefathers (Samuel Chase, John Hancock, Geo. Washington, et al) broke when they declared independence from the British?

The only laws that will be paramount to the whole of mankind are the laws of nature. These 'illegals' have come from thousands of miles, across oceans and deserts. Migration has been ongoing since the advent of man and they will come risking life, limb and everything to make a better life for themselves and their families. No amount of wall, barrier, guns or laws will stop them from coming.

This is not a race, religion, political, economic or any other issue except.. this is a human issue. Mankind is looking at America now and wondering how we will address this. This a historic opportunity for America to show the world what America is all about. Before any debate starts, lets put ourselves in these 'illegals' shoes then decide which proposed set of laws you will vote to support.




ps. We can always imagine a North America in the grips of an ice age, making this whole continent barren and frigid. Would it be illegal to move our families to a warmer, more bountiful Mexico? How would we want to be treated then?
Posted By Anonymous G. Briese - Libertyville, IL : 1:09 PM ET
What are the MOST important issues facing our country today, tomorrow and in the future?

Border Control
Illegal Immigration
Health Care
Education
Energy Resources
Fuel Prices
Crooked Politicians
The Homeless
Affordable Housing...

The list just keeps on growing, but I doubt that any of these issues will find a resolution during my life time.

But I hear that miracles do exist.
Posted By Anonymous Donna, Minneapolis, MN : 1:11 PM ET
Interesting...this sounded more like a journal entry than your usual posts. Sort of stream-of-thought. Your vacation must have mellowed you out. Good post, and glad you and Oprah are working together. Good work 360!
Posted By Anonymous Sarah shaw, Charlotte, NC : 1:15 PM ET
The automatic grant of citizenship to any child born in the United States is unique to this country. No country in the EU, for example, will grant citizenship simply because the mother happened to be in country at the time of birth.

To be opposed to the automatic grant is a simple position to take if you believe that a country, including the US, has a right to control its own immigration policy. If, on the other hand, you believe that countries do not enjoy that right and that only immigrants should have the right to decide the immigration policy, then the issue is moot.

The Constitutional argument in favor of the policy is not so clear as some seem to believe. The 14th Amendment was passed to secure the right of newly freed African-Americans, to ensure that citizenship could not be denied to them by reactionary elements after the Civil War. It was not passed to ensure citizenship to every child born in the US, irrespective of the citizenship of the parents. (The children of foreign diplomats do not enjoy this privilage today.) Bear in mind that the grant of citizenship to immigrant adults requires an affirmative oath of allegiance to the US and a renunciation of allegiance to any foreign power. A baby clearly is in no position to do so.

This unique U.S. policy of granting citizenship to babies, irrespective of the parents' citizenship, is regularly exploited as an end run around US immigration laws and procedures. While millions of people around the globe patiently wait for their visas, for the opportunity to come to the U.S., there are others who believe that the rules should not apply to them. Coming to the U.S. to have a baby, to obtain citizenship for the child and then, by extension, preferred status for the extended family, is a common ruse, another way to jump the queue. Entrepreneurial businesses have grown up to exploit this opportunity. For a fee, they bring in expectant mothers from all over the world, expressively for this purpose.

It would make far more sense to do as other countries do: recognize that the citizenship of the minor child reflects the citizenship of the parents. This provides citizenship to the children of all U.S. citizens, whether 10th generation or newly naturalized. It does not permit a cynical end run around U.S. immigration policy.
Posted By Anonymous Kelly San Francisco, CA : 1:21 PM ET
Hello Anderson, Great to have you back.

Of course debate matters for it shows every American who puts in his/her opinion gives us a better picture of what America is all about.

Beyond the noise that hate, fear and hysteria brings we also see wisdom and tolerance. Mankind has been looking to America for leadership and sometimes moral compass, this is a chance for us to lead the world by example.

Germany and other nations have begun to sprout pockets of anti-immigrant violence lately. Will this grow towards another holocaust? who knows?

Every American joining actively or even passively on this debate will know who they really are as a human being.
Posted By Anonymous Jon Op.- Kenosha, WI : 1:21 PM ET
It is often said that children are our future, and that is so true. What they can accomplish with the proper tools and encouragment is limitless. I hope our government will stop wasting so much and invest in what is really important!
Posted By Anonymous Victoria Monaca, PA : 1:24 PM ET
Hi Anderson!

We have missed you on the blog (and of course on 360.)

It is interesting to me that there probably are many people who do not place a lot of importance on the immigration issue, but the fact is they should, we all should.

Regardless of your viewpoint on this issue, it certainly is a one that will not go away and will affect our country for decades to come. How we handle immigration today will impact our future in either a positive or negative way. The choice is ours. It is up to America to decide NOW which way it will be. I think we have a responsibilty to future generations to stay informed.
Posted By Anonymous Christine, Canton, OH : 1:25 PM ET
Before we decide what to do with the illegals already here, we need to secure our borders to keep anymore illegals from coming in.
Posted By Anonymous Kim, Bolingbrook, IL : 1:27 PM ET
Maybe if we spent less money paying the salaries of members of government who's jobs seem to consist of bickering like 3rd graders and playing political games all day, we'd have more funds to actually spend on schools and the like. Or on making sure the only people in this country are ones who pay taxes. Or on developing an actually reasonable process for people who'd like to come live in America as hardworking, taxpaying citizens.
Posted By Anonymous Dan, NY, NY : 1:28 PM ET
Most of you say sent those illegals back to where they came from. In a way, I wish that that would really happen. Why, because the fun part would be watching the people who said send them back, crying "BRING THEM BACK". You know that us mexicans are the ones that do the all low paying jobs around here. If you have Americans doing these low skilled jobs, you know they will demand higher wages. The employer to cover his high paying loses will increase the price of their product.

How many Americans are crying about the high price of gasoline. We are paying close to $3 a gallon while they are making record breaking profits. This will happen with other products where illegals used to work for at cheaper wages. Look at the food market. You don't see Americans picking fruits and vegatables at the fields. You don't see a big number of Americans working at meat processing plants. These are all illegals doing the dirty work. This in return lets us get cheaper prices. This is how they contribute to the U.S.

I became a resident alien at the age of 13. I went to school, received a college education and am now a paralegal. I came to this country as an illegal alien. I remember having to go to the fields instead of school to help and support our large family. I was only 9 years old. I know how hard you have to work when you are not educated in order to make ends meat. I go to Mexico and see the situation over there. The majority of the people only want to work to support their family. Even if it means taking mess from your boss and not being able to stand up for yourselves because you know what your situation is.

Just let them stay here and earn their living. If they get sent back, I guarantee that they will be back. This time legally because the U.S. will have an amnesty so that they can work for low paying jobs.
Posted By Anonymous Ivon, Dallas, Texas : 1:31 PM ET
Happy you're back and blogging.
Happy you're talking about education w/ Oprah, Bill & Melinda and Lisa Ling...it needs to be discussed. It IS the most important issue facing our country, without reform & change, we aren't going to have a country to speak of.
I can't believe how you're riding the jeopardy champion thing...
Posted By Anonymous Melissa, Saratoga Springs NY : 1:32 PM ET
Look...It's not just about the illegal immigrants and what they want. What about what the working class wants?

What will the future hold for our children? Each generation has lost some jobs, and this is understandable. However, our children are facing the following: Outsourcing; Lack of job security; Stagnant wages; No social security; Rising collage tuition; and paying off our huge national debt. We have preserved nothing for our children while giving corporate CEO's raises, and allowing them to import cheep labor and outsorce jobs to increase profits.

What other issue is more important than addressing our poor and middle class before taking care of those who aren't even here legally?
Posted By Anonymous AG, Boston, MA : 1:34 PM ET
I do understand why immigrants want to come to this country. However, illegal is illegal, and if you think about it, debating will solve nothing. It will only serve to anger both sides. I do think, however, that we need to have some rules and regulations which need to be enforced. Let's say there are approximately 20 million illegal immigrants and half of them have 4 or 5 children. How long do you think the U.S. will be able to sustain such overcrowding. For the very same reason they come here, they will have to leave--to find a place with better opportunities. Because with so many people competing for jobs, many will be left out, including legal citizens.
Posted By Anonymous Lavenia, Los Angeles, California : 1:38 PM ET
Immigation debate is critical to bringing to light all possibilities and solutions. Somewhere out there is wisdom waiting to be heard.


The leverage of fear that Lou Dobbs, Rep Tancredo, Sensenbrenner, Sen Jeff Sessions et al uses to connect border security with their transparent hate for the 'illegal aliens' is a fascinating view of how propaganda works.

These 'illegals' broke the same kind of man-made laws that Rosa Parks did when she 'illegally' sat down on that Alabama bus. Same kinds of laws that our forefathers broke by 'illegally' declaring independence from the British.

Debate will bring out who we truly are.
Posted By Anonymous Rocky Tee - Gilbert, AZ : 1:40 PM ET
Welcome back, Anderson! You have been sorely missed.

The immigration debate is a very important one simply because immigration laws are not evenly enforced. What the current trend seems to be is "if you arrive illegally and refuse to leave, we'll give you amnesty and you can apply for citizenship". This is patently unfair to those who follow the proper channels to immigate legally.

My friend's German husband has been trying for over a year to move to the states. He's been allowed to visit for 90 days at a time, but must return to Germany for 30 days before coming back. This is a very expensive endeavor, but to be a legal resident he and his American-born wife are so far following the rules. And constantly being screwed. You wouldn't believe the number of federal offices in Washington, New York, Florida, and in Germany that they have had to satisfy with one "one more document in triplicate".

I was taught that "the law is the law". That was a long time ago, true; but I still believe that anyone who enters the US illegally - for whatever reason - should be deported and put at the end of the immigration waiting list behind everyone who is doing the right thing by the law.

And those who come on a student or work visa - they must return when it expires. Yes that means having to keep track of them, but I'd rather have our government keeping up with our country's visitors than spying on US citizens.
Posted By Anonymous Deb, Richmond VA : 1:42 PM ET
Yes it matters! the minute we stop worrying about illegal immigration we put our country at risk, and we'll soon be overpopulated. There has to be a system otherwise our country will destroy itself. Personally I can't stand tax increases but that's what happens when illegal immigrants come to this country and work tax free WE pick up the tab for the cost's they create. As for the school subject, instead of looking at the school system as trying to teach kids right from wrong that's a parents job but I have 2 teenagers in school and I have yet to see a teacher do her/his job correctley, My kid's have been in 14 different schools (military family) and not once have we found a dchool that actually teaches to standard.They are more worried about teenage sex and sports maybe that's why we are so far behind as for teaching my kid's WE do it at home, The school assigns the work we teach our kid's at home then the work get's turned in and that's it. If theyeven look at the kid's work half of the time I'd be amazed. Teachers are expected to be parents , it's not their job make them teach. Plus if we can get rid of the trouble makers at school instead of trying so hard to help those who are disrupting classes maybe our kid's can stay focused. Teachers need to teach and that's it, and if they don't get rid of them, they do not work as hard as other professions and get plenty of time off so being under paid is the wrong excuse, most teachers make more in the first few years than I make working 15 years without much time off and military do not get paid overtime. Don't blame the system' blame those who are so greedy that they are willing to strike during the school year to be paid more for doing less. When the teachers start doing the job they were hired for then I will support pay raises. 14 different schools and all the same;so yeah I have my facts straight!!!!!!!!!
Posted By Anonymous Jon Tacoma WA : 1:42 PM ET
Anderson,

I, see thousands of illegal immigrats protesting/demanding of their rights. What rights do they have? THEIR ILLEGAL IMMIGRATS!!!!! I, think if they want to be American Citizens we should have the Marine and Army Recuriters in those cities recruit these illegal immigrats from 17 to 23 year of age in our AMERICAN country services. Once they have completed the 4 years of obligation as well as spending time as all American service member does in Iraq and Afghanistan then they are citizens. The rest of illegals will have to go back and do it right next time.

As for our crops going bad if we don't have immigrats working the fields. If we would do things right we would have all prisoners in this country out working in the fields earning their living in prisons. Its simple if someone trys to escape then the guard will shoot to kill. Instead of earning a degrees, lifting weights in their gyms and playing video games. Lets make them earn some of that money back that cost us to keep a roof over their heads.
Posted By Anonymous Bobby, Jacksonville NC : 1:44 PM ET
Of course it is important, but isn't just about security of the borders. It is about what essentially does it mean to be an American. If any one can come here illegally and have all of the same rights as those of us who were born here, then why bother? They have not done any thing to earn the right to be called an American. In fact, they have broken our laws within the first hours of being here. Until they can come legally, work on the books, pay taxes, etc., why do we feel some obligation to pay for their every need. There are plenty of American who have no health insurance because they make too much for Medicaid but their jobs either don't offer it or they can't afford it. Why should their children [not born here] be able to clog our schools and force to provide them services that no one else gets? On the other side, I think it is unreasonable to think we can send them all back. To ask that they submit to some list of criteria to become legal is not too much to ask. They make most of their money under the table and tax free, so a fine is not unreasonable in my opinion. And, this isn't about race. There are plenty of people who come here on student visas and never leave. This applies to them, too. If you want to stay, then you have to be legal.
Posted By Anonymous D Rhoades, Valdosta, GA : 1:48 PM ET
A lot of schools are failing their students and it just isn't the inner city schools. There are schools in the suburbs that really don't look at the potential some of these students have and nurture it so they can do something worthwhile. Really I think, if the teachers would look at the students as individuals they would be able to keep these kids in school.

One think that has bothered me for a long time is that one student I spoke with told me her teacher told the class reading wasn't as important as math or science. I was really shocked to hear this because in order to do math or science you must be able to read. I was one of the lucky ones my school promoted reading heavily and that is where my love of books and history came from. Maybe if we went back to the fundamentals(reading, writing, etc)of education the teachers wouldn't be so stressed and the students would be able to learn more. I'm not saying get rid of all the high tech stuff, but plain old flashcards might do a better job.
Posted By Anonymous Marcia, Warren MI : 1:50 PM ET
I've worn myself out on immigration. I can't say enough the paramount importance of the word illegal and can't fathom how a crime can so easily go unpunished. But my commetn is on public schools. I'm 24 and I remember the crumbling walls and non-functioning lavatories. Termites would fall into our hair from the ceiling. There was no technology, I lived in the technological gap of the country (Google Whiteville and Clinton for story), little has changed. There is nothing new about poor schools, they receive lip service before any electio. Most people in the area just smile and laugh. We know how much will really be done to solve the problem. Nothing.
Posted By Anonymous Blaise Hartman, Travelers Rest, SC : 2:39 PM ET
Hi Anderson,
I haven't been able to get a comment to go through to your particular postings in WEEKS..Mr Popular..See what being a good journalist and an Oprah guest can do..
I think the people of America DO care about immigration and schools in disrepair. All of these things are the reality of the world we are in. Your debate last night was excellent..I was struck by the split screen, one guest on the right, one on the left, and you in the middle..For me, it summed up all the issues we face..As they say, There are "Two Sides to every story, and somewhere in the MIDDLE, lies the truth or the answers..Great work..Take Care.
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 5:09 PM ET
Keep up the Good work Anderson! All of America is participating with you and Lou Dobbs love this interactive TV. I have been busy writing to my representatives here in Masachusetts about the immigration problem, they do not respond. I can't waite till the elctions I'm sure one of them will make some empty promises, how can we make these elected officials responsible for their actions? If I send out a product and my customer is not satisfied I have a responsibbility
to make it right and they knoow it! I was a legal immigrant that came to this country after the 1956 Hungarian revolution at the age of 8. My family had sponsors from the Chamber of Commerce, their responsibility was to encourage us to become citizens. My parents had to go to night school to learn English after putting in a 8 hour work day. They become upstanding citizens and felt proud to be American.
Posted By Anonymous Heidi Carman, Newton, MA : 5:23 PM ET
Well, it had to happen sometime. I actually disagree with Anderson Cooper about something. I am a pollster, and night after night, my firm speaks to thousands of Americans. And night after night, we ask the open-ended question-"what are your top two priorities for the US government?" And immigration and border control are never in the top 10. Never. They come nowhere close to the urgency of healthcare, economic concerns, education, gas prices, pollution, etc.

It is yet another wedge issue, like gay marriage-that Republicans use to shift the focus away from all of their miserable failures.
Posted By Anonymous Amy Lubchansky, Miami Florida : 5:31 PM ET
Someone on your blog commented:

The automatic grant of citizenship to any child born in the United States is unique to this country. No country in the EU, for example, will grant citizenship simply because the mother happened to be in country at the time of birth.

The truth is lots of countries do just that, to name just a few France, England, Canada, Australia.. should I continue?

Hoeever some don't. such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bruney, etc..

Best Regards


Walter
Posted By Anonymous Walter Pittsburgh : 11:29 AM ET
The debate does not matter if and only if the elected officials continue to refuse to listen to there constituents..
It's time for a politcal revolution...Time to ban Lobbiest and Corporate money of any kind from politics...time to vote out every incumbent politician... time to start is right NOW
Posted By Anonymous steve. Olympia Washington : 2:48 PM ET
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