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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Battle on the Borders

Aired March 31, 2006 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again, everyone.
Tonight, the battle on the border -- we are coming to you tonight in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, two icons, a tablet with the statue's pedestal bearing those famous words, "Give me your tired, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free."

About 12 million immigrants came through Ellis Island's Great Hall, until it closed about 50 years ago, legal immigrants. But it's illegal immigrants who are the nation's focus right now, men, women, even children, jumping, tunneling swimming, even dying, whatever it takes to get into this country.

And take a look at this, just the other day, a truck X-rayed at the U.S.-Canadian border -- take a close look at those dark shadows. Inside, you can see what turned out to be a pair of men from Guyana sneaking into this country. They got caught. Many get away. There are 11 million or 12 million illegals in the country, in the United States, right now, maybe even more.

So, the question is how to secure the border. We're looking at it from all angles tonight. We watched a man jump the fence right in front of our cameras the other night. That was just in Arizona two days ago. It was brazen, yes, but, frankly, easy for him to do.

A security nightmare, a political mind field -- protesters on one side, hard-liners on the other. The Minutemen -- some call them vigilantes -- set to go back on border patrol tomorrow. Meantime, the president is taking on members of his own party -- all signs that this story, the story of the week, is not going away.

So, tonight a special hour, starting with CNN's Ed Henry.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush went to Cancun for a summit, and all he really got was the chance to give Mexican President Vicente Fox a civics lesson on the immigration battle heating up back in Washington.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, some guy, some -- some wag one time quipped, it's like watching people make sausage. It's kind of a -- you know, this looks -- looks -- probably appears a little unpleasant, from your perspective. But we're making progress.

HENRY: Maybe, but the president returned from Cancun to Crawford to mull the fact he has the same political problem. The immigration debate is still splitting the Republican Party, as he pushes border security, plus a guest-worker plan to deal with the nearly 12 million illegal immigrants already in America.

BUSH: And I want a comprehensive bill. And I have made that very clear to the members of the Congress, and I will continue making it clear to members of Congress.

HENRY: But many Republican members are not listening, dismissing guest-worker plans as amnesty programs that will turn off conservatives heading into the midterm elections.

REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: But I will tell you that, if a bill is voted on over in the Senate that has guest worker, temporary worker, it will be amnesty. And anybody that votes for an amnesty bill deserves to be branded with a scarlet letter A for amnesty. And they need to pay for it in the vote -- in the ballot box in November.

HENRY: Others Republicans look at the protests across the country demanding guest-worker protections, and worry the party will turn away Hispanic voters in droves. So, the president is seeking middle ground, insisting his plan treats illegal immigrants with respect and tightens U.S. borders.

BUSH: A nation of laws can also be a welcoming nation. And I believe a guest-worker program will help us rid of -- the society on the border of these coyotes who smuggle people in the back of 18- wheelers. I believe it's important for our nation to uphold human rights and human dignity.

HENRY: But the president dodged a question about whether he would veto a final bill that does not include a guest-worker program.

BUSH: So, no answer. I said I want a comprehensive bill. You're presuming there won't be a comprehensive bill. I believe there will be a comprehensive bill.

HENRY (on camera): But, in the end, the president may never get a chance to decide on a veto. This issue may be too hot for Congress to handle in an election year. They may stalemate and never send a final product to the president's desk.

Ed Henry, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Hmm.

So, with the possibility of a stalemate as the backdrop, CNN national correspondent John Roberts took a closer look at the legislation that they are fighting over. Here's what he found.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The centerpiece of the House bill is a border fence, much like this one. The trouble is, the barrier will only cover a third of the 2,000-mile frontier, pushing migrants, critics say, into dangerous remote deserts or rivers to cross the border. And they add: Show me a 10-foot fence. I'll show you a 12-foot ladder.

DEBORAH MEYERS, SENIOR POLICY ANALYST, MIGRATION POLICY INSTITUTE: Our experience today with the fences is that migrants have gone around the fences or have gone under the fences, or have entered the United States at legal points of entry, using fraudulent documents.

ROBERTS: The Senate would create a virtual wall, with unmanned drones and cameras, doubling the number of border agents by 2011. But the Border Patrol has tripled in size in the past two decades.

At the same time, the number of illegal immigrants skyrocketed. What's more, an estimated 40 percent of undocumented immigrants entered legally as visitors, then just never went home.

MEYERS: If we do more of the same, in terms of enforcement, I would expect more of the same, in terms of continuing growth of the undocumented population.

ROBERTS: Finding a solution has split the Republican Party between moderate Senate Republicans, who want to create a guest-worker program and a path to legal status...

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: They will have to earn the status of staying in the country.

ROBERTS: ... and House members, who reject anything that rewards people who broke the law to enter the United States.

REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: Anybody that votes for an amnesty bill deserves to be branded with the scarlet letter A for amnesty.

ROBERTS: But is it amnesty or not? The proposal does pardon illegal immigrants, the very definition of amnesty. But to get there takes six year, payments of fines and back taxes, a background check, and English lesson, almost an earned amnesty, and one that will likely never fly with hard-liners.

CHUCK TODD, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "THE HOTLINE": If any current illegal alien is allowed to, at some point, get legal, without having to leave the country, they will call it amnesty.

ROBERTS: The whole debate is perilous for Republicans. The harsh House position sent hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants and their supporters into the streets in protest. It was a frightening sight for a party that has worked furiously to court Hispanic voters. But immigration hawks were unmoved.

REP. VIRGIL GOODE JR. (R), VIRGINIA: I say, if you are here illegally, and you want to fly the Mexican flag, go to Mexico to fly the Mexican flag.

ROBERTS: Certainly, the immigration issue fires up the Republican base. But is it worth the risk? A recent CNN poll found only 6 percent of Americans ranked illegal immigration as the most important problem facing the country today.

TODD: It may be much ado about nothing, as far as swing voters are concerned. This is a big deal to a small group of people.

ROBERTS (on camera): And there are signs that the Republican House leadership is worried about a backlash. Speaker Dennis Hastert says he wants to be careful not to offend supporters of a guest-worker program.

So, when might an immigration bill get done? Some Republicans think by the Fourth of July weekend, the August recess, at the latest. As to what it will look like, no one is sure just yet.

John Roberts, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Yes, the devil is in the details.

CNN's "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" was covering the border problem long before it became a lead story elsewhere.

We spoke with anchor Lou Dobbs from Cancun earlier this evening.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Lou, let's talk border security. You always say, first and foremost, you have to secure the borders. Where do you start, though?

LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": I think you have to, first, start with an absolute demand upon the Mexican government that it begin interdicting its own people as they move north to their border. With cooperation from Mexico, we could -- we could take control of these borders very, very quickly.

COOPER: But how realistic...

DOBBS: And one other thing.

COOPER: How realistic is that? I mean, when I was down in San Diego a while back, you know, the border guys down there...

DOBBS: Sure.

COOPER: ... will tell you, Mexican police are watching people dig tunnels on the Mexican side.

DOBBS: Sure.

And that's why I say the first thing we have to do is demand immediately that the Mexican government begin cooperating.

The Mexican ambassador to the United States, President Vicente Fox saying, point blank: We're not trying to encourage illegal immigration.

You and I both know different. De facto, they're encouraging it, because they're not stopping it.

COOPER: But the -- I mean, the House immigration bill that -- that passed in December, they want to build a vast border fence. Is -- is that really practical?

DOBBS: Right.

Seven hundred miles? Yes, I think it's practical. Is it the right solution? I haven't really come to terms with what I think that really means. If -- it -- it would depend on, obviously, the fence. Duncan Hunter, the -- the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is recommending that. A fence is a relatively cheap way to go about this.

The fence they're talking about is a double fence with patrols and appropriate technology. If we're going to -- if this is a global war on terror, and this president, this Congress, this government has a responsibility to protect the American people, how in the world do any of us justify the fact that three million illegal aliens cross our borders every year, that only 5 percent of the cargo is -- is inspected coming into our ports?

I mean, this -- the Homeland Security Department is a sham.

COOPER: Is it possible, though, I mean, for a fence really to stop people?

You go down to San Diego, I mean, people are talking about building a fence...

DOBBS: Sure.

COOPER: ... all across Arizona. You go down to San Diego, you know, they have three layers of fencing, and there are still people...

DOBBS: Right.

COOPER: ... digging underneath it.

DOBBS: Well, they're digging underneath it because they're permitted to. And -- and -- and that is a -- a fairly easy thing to detect, in point of fact, so long as there's a will to do so.

There's immense corruption, as you know, on -- just south on the border that is permitting that sort of thing. And, along Smugglers Gulch, which I think is the area you're referring to, where you were -- and I have been there -- the fact is that fence shut down the trafficking in illegal aliens.

It pushed it over another quadrant. When the Minutemen, the volunteers, went to Arizona, over a 20-mile stretch, finally, the Mexican military decided to stop that, and they moved. The Tucson sector remains the most porous on our borders. And the reason is, we have -- we have limited what the Border Patrol can do. We have. I should say, this administration, this government has.

And we're not making a full effort to protect either our border patrolmen, to add to their staff.

COOPER: You have -- I mean, you have been down there for a couple days now. There has been a lot of focus on this all week. The president has been talking about it. In Washington, they have talking about it. Do you -- has anything actually -- has any progress actually been made this week?

DOBBS: Well, yes.

The -- the best I can say of the progress here is the president, Vicente Fox, as they did before they got here, agree that Mexican citizens should be going north to the United States and becoming U.S. citizens, and that more than $20 billion in remittances, the single largest source of revenue for the Mexican nation, should continue to flow from the United States from illegal aliens, who are being exploited.

That said, the president of the United States was able to say adios to president Vicente Fox, who will be leaving office in eight weeks -- the election in July -- and bid a great gust -- gust -- with gusto, hello to Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- beyond that, not much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, you can catch a special edition of "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" from Mexico this weekend, "Broken Borders." It airs Saturday and Sunday at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time right here, of course, on CNN.

And, tonight, we are getting up close and personal with the illegal immigration issue. We are going to go right to the border with Mexico, where thousands try to get in -- my trip there just this week. And we will meet one man whose job it is to try to stop them.

Plus, we will follow the long and dangerous journey through Mexico to the border, starting with the so-called death train that brings illegal immigrants from thousands of miles away.

And long hours, hard work and little pay not far from here, in New York's Chinatown -- why many illegal immigrants still say it is better than the life they had back home -- all that and more when 360 continues, "Battle on the Border," live from Battery Park.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And you're looking at a live picture of Ellis Island. It is now a museum. But, from the time it opened its doors, that great hall, in 1982, some 11 million to 12 million immigrants came through Ellis Island.

So, far, we have been looking at the big picture of illegal immigration today, the policy debate, the summit talks, what is going on in Washington. But, no matter where you stand on the issue, the fact remains there are real lives behind those headlines, real people willing to risk everything, including death, to get to this country.

Those are the stories we want to bring you now, starting thousands of miles southeast of here, on the U.S. border between Arizona and Mexico, where, just two days ago, I went out with the Border Patrol and saw some of that desperation firsthand.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): On a lonely stretch of highway, 20 miles north of the Arizona-Mexico border, Agent Sean King (ph) is searching for illegal immigrants.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the main corridor that goes in -- that they're going to hit. You know, if they're going to hit a road to get picked up and headed to Phoenix, Tucson, wherever they're headed, they're going to be picked up most likely on something like this.

COOPER: This area, south of Tucson, has become ground zero in the fight against illegal immigration. Nowhere else are more people trying to sneak into the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And every day this month, we will be averaging about 2,000 people. So, it's just a huge number. It's organized crime. We have got smugglers that run their business out of the United States and out of Mexico who will have components all of the way down into Oaxaca.

COOPER: Even though we're miles from the border, on the side of the road, it's easy to find evidence illegal immigrants have been here, backpacks, from Guadalajara, bottles thrown away.

(on camera): Border Patrol agents call this a layup spot. It's a dry riverbed that's used by smugglers. They will deposit illegal immigrants here. They will make them wait here for several hours. It's very close to the side of a -- a main road. As soon as a vehicle comes up, honks the horn, giving them the signal, the smugglers will tell the immigrants to run along these trails here.

And you find these trails all around this area north of the border. And, as they go, they start dropping all the items that they -- they have with them, bottles of water, food. Here, you see a whole bunch of things which have been dropped by some illegal immigrants. Here's some garbage bags used to keep the rain off.

These are bottles, bottles of water here. You can actually see, they're from Mexico. Here's some -- this is what they were eating, yogurt from Mexico as well. They leave all these items behind and they jump into a vehicle.

(voice-over): The terrain here is tough, the sun scorching. It takes days for illegal immigrants crossing in this area to make it to their pickup spots, which increases the odds Border Patrol agents will catch them. We came upon these people being arrested on the side of the road. (on camera): They just found this grouping of illegal immigrants walking all of the way over there by those mountains. A lot of them said that they crossed over yesterday morning, so they have been walking now for nearly two days.

They're going to be processed. And, within several hours, they will be brought back across the border into Mexico.

(on camera): Why did you come across?

(voice-over): This man says his name is Daniel (ph), he's 23, and it's not the first time he has entered the U.S. illegally. He says he worked construction jobs in New Jersey, but returned to Mexico because he got homesick. Poverty brought him back now. He paid a smuggler $2,000 to get across. And though he's been apprehended, there's a good chance he will try again.

(on camera): Is it ever possible to completely seal off a border, I mean, to build a wall, prevent anyone from coming across?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can build a wall 500 feet tall and go down in the ground 50 feet, so they can't tunnel underneath it. But, no, I don't think it's a possibility.

COOPER: It's impossible to seal a border, but you can just have layers of protection into the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Correct. We call it defensive depth. Correct combination of agents, infrastructure and technology will allow us to have operational control down here and allow us to contain -- you know, at least be able to see everyone coming across and attempt to apprehend them.

COOPER (voice-over): While politicians in Washington battle over bills and budgets, illegal immigrants just keep on coming, and the agents just keep on arresting them. The battle on the border shows no sign of letting up.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Heating up, if anything. The lengths and the miles that some people will go to, to get into this country, we take you on that journey. That is coming up.

First, Erica Hill from Headline News has some of the other stories we're following -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson.

President Bush has offered help to the victims of yesterday's deadly earthquakes in Iran. Mr. Bush said that, while the United States has differences with the Iranian government, it cares about the suffering of the Iranian people. At least 66 people are known to have died in the three earthquakes. Nearly 1,500 were injured.

Get ready, because here comes the sun. Daylight-saving time starts this weekend. And that means your clocks go forward one hour, magically, on Saturday night. And, next year, we're actually going to do our clock changing dance three weeks earlier because of a new law, which extends daylight-saving time.

And check this out. You're looking at two hermit rams discovered in New Zealand. They have got a little extra weight, as you see there.

(ANIMAL GROWLING)

HILL: They haven't been shorn in years.

And, apparently, they now roar like lions and tigers.

HILL: Tweedledum and...

(ANIMAL GROWLING)

HILL: Raar!

... Tweedledum, as they're known...

(LAUGHTER)

HILL: ... have been hiding out on a river island.

(LAUGHTER)

HILL: Word is, Anderson, they may have been lured from seclusion by the recent introduction of 600...

(ANIMAL GROWLING)

HILL: ... ewes.

(LAUGHTER)

HILL: How about that?

Can you see them?

COOPER: Yes.

HILL: I don't know if you can see them, because I know you're...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: I...

(CROSSTALK)

HILL: You're in the field, lumbering across, like -- I feel like that some days.

COOPER: No. I could. It's -- it's bizarre.

And, by the way, Erica, you mentioned your daylight-savings dance. I would like to see that some time.

HILL: Well, you know, we will see if we have time, maybe, next year in the show.

(LAUGHTER)

HILL: But I know you're kind of tight tonight.

COOPER: All right.

HILL: So, I don't want to steal -- steal your thunder.

COOPER: Yes.

All right, practice a little bit.

HILL: OK.

COOPER: Erica, thanks.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Illegal immigration is a risky business, certainly. But, for some, it is also a very profitable one. Coming up, meet one man who is willing to smuggle people across the border if the price is right.

Plus, this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SONIA NAZARIO, AUTHOR, "ENRIQUE'S JOURNEY": They risk using arms to the train, losing legs to the train, losing their life. But they're willing to take that risk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: They call it the death train. It is where the journey to the border begins for so many -- a rare look at the dangers along the way next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: They call that the train of death, the train that brings so many people up to the border. So many people have lost their lives on that train.

We're taking you inside tonight the journey that thousands of illegal immigrants make each year, a very long, very dangerous, and often deadly journey. It starts far from the U.S. border with desperation and hope, but little money, to get to the U.S.

Here's CNN's Ed Lavandera.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The trail of desperation starts here, in Chiapas, Mexico. These rail lines have been described as a graveyard without crosses.

SONIA NAZARIO, AUTHOR, "ENRIQUE'S JOURNEY": They call it "El Tren de la Muerte," "The Train of Death."

LAVANDERA: Tens of thousands of Central American migrants hop trains heading north on this 1,200-mile journey from Chiapas to border towns like Nuevo Laredo. they will battle bandits who rob and rape. They will go hungry and thirsty for days. And, out of exhaustion, some will fall off the trains. Thousands have died.

NAZARIO: Many of them die silently alongside the rails. They bleed to death.

LAVANDERA: Sonia Nazario says the journey is hell. She knows, because she rode the train, reporting for her book titled "Enrique's Journey," the story of a teenaged boy who rode the train.

NAZARIO: They risk losing arms to the train, losing legs to the train, losing their life, but they're willing to take that risk.

LAVANDERA: We asked Nazario to be our guide through Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

NAZARIO: Once you get this far north, the stakes are very high.

LAVANDERA: Nazario took us to a shelter in this border town. It's where we meet 18-year-old Narden Garero (ph). He spent the last month walking and riding the train through Mexico. He left Honduras with $10. Bandits robbed him of that. Some days, he only ate tortillas people would throw on his train -- all this to reunite with his father, who he hasn't seen in two years.

He says: "Having a father is the most marvelous thing in the world. I think about him all the time. He loved me so much when we were together."

Nazario says, the economic and personal desperation of their lives drives them to attempt this dangerous journey. And she warns, more will keep coming.

NAZARIO: It grows every year, and it's growing because of the desperation in these home countries, where people just cannot feed their children. And, so, they see it as the only way to be able to do that.

LAVANDERA: When night falls on the shelter in Nuevo Laredo, this group of migrants rest and pray. They survived the most treacherous part of their journey, but they're still far from the promised land.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: There is so much desperation.

And, of course, wherever there is desperation, there are people profiting from that, profiting from the journey, the big business on the border. They're called coyotes. And they promise to guide illegal immigrants into America, as long as the desperate have enough money to pay.

Also tonight:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are a lot of sad stories associated with these migrants crossing. There's a lot of young, healthy people. Most are young. Most are healthy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Speaking for those whose voices have been silenced by death, with more than a third of all U.S. crossings ending -- the grim task of identifying the victims falls to a handful of people.

We will meet them ahead on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And you're looking at a live picture of the Statue of Liberty. We are coming to you tonight from Battery Park in New York City, and the subject is immigration.

We are following the journey that illegal immigrants take to get into the United States. And no question, there are a lot of options for them. All of them dangerous. None of them guaranteed.

In fact, just two days ago on the border I met a young man who spent $2,000, paid $2,000 to a coyote to bring him across the border and he got caught. That money was gone, wasted. It is a big business. And for those who make it close to the border, well, the price to get across is higher than ever.

Here's CNN's Rick Sanchez.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Far from America's big cities, in the heart of border towns like Tijuana, Mexico, there are tens of thousands of people wanting and trying to get into the U.S. People like Ramon (ph), who prefers we don't use his last name. The man friends call "Money" lives just two blocks from where the money is, the U.S. border.

(on camera): You can't find enough money here. (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

SANCHEZ: I'm literally walking on the yellow line that separates the United States, San Ysidro, California, on this side, from Tijuana, Mexico, on this side.

There are an estimated 700,000 undocumented immigrants that enter into the United States each year. This is one of their points of entry.

(voice over): It's a point of entry that Ramon (ph) sees as an opportunity. His wife and four children live 17 hours away by car. That's why he chooses to live here alone, so he can more easily sneak into the U.S.

(on camera): (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)? How often do you go in?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

SANCHEZ: Three times you've tried to get in.

(voice over): All three attempts have resulted with his being caught and sent back across the border.

(on camera): (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

SANCHEZ: You're going to go in again?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

SANCHEZ: Why?

(voice over): He answers that if he doesn't keep crossing, he wouldn't be able to take care of his family.

(on camera): What do you say to Americans who are -- who criticize people like you, who you say you're breaking the law? (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

SANCHEZ (voice over): "The gringos," as he says, "are not willing to do the work." And he adds that as long as there is work, there will be reason for him and others to cross over.

The resistance, meanwhile, on the other side of the border has been stepped up. So, also up is the money smugglers are charging to "guide people across."

(on camera): About 15 years ago, the going rate was $200. (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

SANCHEZ: And $250 if you want to go above Los Angeles. Well, how much do they charge no now? (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE). SANCHEZ: $1,500.

(voice over): The man in the silhouette who doesn't want you to see what he looks like helps people across the border. He compares the people smuggling business to the narcotics trade.

(on camera): So it's like a drug deal?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

SANCHEZ: A chain?

(on camera): A chain, he explain, because the smugglers, or coyotes, as they're often called, pass off the immigrants at different steps along the way.

(on camera): How do they avoid being detected or arrested?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

SANCHEZ: The answer, he explains, has to do with corruption.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

SANCHEZ: You pay the Mexican police? (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)?

(voice over): Paid monthly, he says, to look the other way. If Mexican authorities are profiting, so are smugglers who know there will always be plenty of people like Ramon (ph) who want to reach the other side.

Rick Sanchez, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, we don't know if Ramon (ph) made it across the border. If he did, he is lucky, not because he succeeded, but because he didn't die trying. Others are not as fortunate. For them, if they're identified, the only journey left is the journey back home.

CNN's Dan Simon reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. BRUCE ANDERSON, FORENSIC ANTHROPOLOGIST: This is another individual presumed to be an undocumented border crosser.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Dr. Bruce Anderson is trying to identify the dead and reconnect them with their families.

ANDERSON: Most shouldn't be dead, but they are.

SIMON: Anderson is not a psychic medium. He has to rely on science to speak for the dead. Each body is a mystery.

ANDERSON: I look at this way, I'm trying to do whatever I can to generate a lead so we don't have to bury this person as an unknown.

SIMON: Anderson is a forensic anthropologist. His job, to identify the remains of illegal immigrants who had crossed from Mexico into Arizona and died in the desert.

ANDERSON: There are a lot of sad stories associated with these migrants crossing. There's a lot of young, healthy people. Most are young. Most are healthy.

SIMON: But their bodies don't offer a lot of clues. Many carry IDs, but they're often fake. Their personal belongings are usually of little value. And the bodies themselves, often by the time they're found, they're so badly decomposed there's no way to determine who they were.

ANDERSON: This has become our regular caseload. It didn't used to be this way.

SIMON: But this is the way it is now in Pima County, Arizona, where more illegal immigrants die crossing the border each year than anywhere else in the country.

Last year, 198 people found dead here, more than a third of all U.S. border crossing deaths.

(on camera): Is it fair to say your office has never been busier?

DR. BRUCE PARKS, PIMA COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER: Yes, that's true.

SIMON (voice over): Dr. Bruce Parks is Pima County's medical examiner. He's responsible for determining the cause of death. Mainly heat stroke. Sixty-eight people died last July.

(on camera): Sixty-eight people in one month.

PARKS: Yes.

SIMON: That's mind-boggling.

PARKS: It is. It is. We couldn't believe it. It was a very, very warm month, however, and that seems to happen, that the death rate goes up when we have -- when the weather is worse than normal.

SIMON: Dr. Parks' office was overwhelmed. So many bodies that it had to plant refrigeration trucks outside its building. That's in addition to the cold storage already inside. And it still needs the trucks.

(on camera): Here in Tucson, Parks and Anderson say they manage to identify about three quarters of the bodies they get. But that still leaves dozen without a name or an identity or a family. Some victims go unclaimed for months. Or maybe even forever.

ANDERSON: From 2005, there are probably between 30 and 40 individuals that we do not have name associations for right now. SIMON (voice over): Including these remains. But Anderson thinks he may have developed a lead. A Mexican who thinks he lost his brother tracked down Anderson and e-mailed him, wondering if his brother was found, saying he had several false teeth.

ANDERSON: And I told him this morning I would send him some photographs of three men who had partial dentures or dentures on dentures on the upper teeth, just in case the family -- he or some other family member might recognize the denture.

SIMON: The photos will be close-up shots of the dentures. Anderson wants to spare the family from seeing anything more graphic. Finding a match yields mixed emotions.

ANDERSON: And you can feel very good about yourself, but then you realize that you make the phone call to the next of kin, you're giving them the worst possible news they could ever hear. So you have to temper your enthusiasm and your satisfaction with doing a good job.

SIMON: As for those who never get a match, well, they're brought here to the county cemetery, with a simple mark identifying them as Jane or John Doe. American soil, their final resting place.

Dan Simon, CNN, Tucson, Arizona.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: It is such a sad story, so much desperation.

Ahead on 360, the rallies that defied expectations. We'll talk with a man responsible for the huge turnout. Once an illegal immigrant himself, now a major radio personality.

Also, another striking argument for border security, the terror threat. Newly-released recordings of desperate calls for help on 9/11. Why some of the victims' families say they should be heard unedited by everyone.

The 9/11 tapes ahead.

And in our next hour, he was one of our most beloved religious leaders of our age. The last days of Pope John Paul II, a 360 special coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: And we are here in Battery Park. That is a memorial for the Merchant Marine, a remarkable, startling memorial down here at the very tip of Manhattan in the shadow of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, where so many Americans first came through here with their ancestors.

Across the country, protests, some of them huge, have made clear just how deep a cord immigration reform has struck. The biggest rally, by far, Los Angeles last Saturday, where more than half a million people, perhaps as many as a million, marched in support of immigrants. An untold number were illegal immigrants themselves, which brings us to that man right there who you see in the video on the right-hand side of your screen, Eddie Sotelo, the number-one-rated morning radio personality in Los Angeles.

He has 1.5 million daily listeners and he used his clout to help turn out that huge crowd in L.A. Here's something else you should know, Eddie Sotelo himself was once an illegal immigrant.

He joins me now from Los Angeles.

Eddie, it's amazing all that you have accomplished in the United States. The journey that you took to get here, what was it like?

EDDIE SOTELO, LA DISC JOCKEY: It wasn't easy, Anderson. It was so hard when I was ready to cross the border. And after I was jumping, like two, three fences on the mountain of Tijuana, coming to San Diego, I was able to get into the trunk of a car. And then at the moment it was hard to breathe because there were two guys and myself inside a trunk. And I remember I couldn't breathe.

It was a moment that I was thinking that I was going to die. But I asked god to give me an opportunity to be in the United States. And I pulled up the (INAUDIBLE) of the trunk of the car and I was able to breathe through three holes, I remember, and that's why I'm really pleased what god has been doing in my life, and now I'm over here in the United States. I came to succeed.

COOPER: Let me ask you, you were really behind mobilizing a lot of people, you and a lot of other deejays. You really mobilized all the deejays to get people out. What was the message of that march? Because there's some people who look at those picture and say, you know, there were people waving Mexican flags and that those people were -- you know, some of them were illegal immigrants, why should they be out flouting the law, flouting that fact that they were illegal?

To you, what was the message?

SOTELO: The message was we came here to succeed and we're going to demonstrate that we have education. And we're going to be marching with the whole family, peacefully, at the same time, and we were carrying the (INAUDIBLE), because if we were going to be able to see trash on streets, we're going to pick it up.

And we were wearing a T-shirt, a white T-shirt, because we're going to be with, you know, peace. At the same time, carrying the USA flag to demonstrate that we love this beautiful country.

COOPER: Why should -- I mean, I understand what you are against. I mean, there's this House bill that a lot of supporter of illegal immigrants feel criminalizes, you know, people who are working hard in this country, criminalizes the 11 to 12 million immigrants who are here now. Why, though -- I mean, what do you think should be done on the border?

Are you for anyone being allowed to come across the border? I mean, should there be any limits in your mind?

SOTELO: No, I don't believe in breaking the law. But I believe everyone has the right to look for a better life.

COOPER: But what does that mean specifically? I mean, you know, now that you are here and there are 11 million to 12 million people, illegals, who are here, should more be allowed to come?

SOTELO: What happened is that I think everybody can have a chance. What happened, Anderson, there's so many people that don't even understand why we come to the United States.

It's so hard sometimes in our country. We're not able to find a job. We're not able to buy food with the money that sometimes we receive from our job.

So that's why we're trying to look for a better life. And we risk our life to be able to come to the United States.

And there's so many people who has a great heart. And we demonstrate by learning the language, by involved with the community at the same time, and I think anybody would do the same thing as us, as an immigrant, if you leave the same thing on your country. You know, no matter what it takes, I think you would do the same thing for your family, you would cross the border of any country to look for a better life.

COOPER: Eddie, your story is remarkable. And I appreciate you coming on the program tonight to talk about it and to talk about the demonstrations that you were so instrumental in. Thank you very much.

Eddie Sotelo.

We appreciate it.

SOTELO: Thank you, Anderson.

A reminder. The face of illegal immigration is not exclusively Latino. Next, we take you on to the streets of New York's Chinatown. It comes with sweatshops and very rough living conditions. We'll show you what the tourists do not see.

Also tonight, haunting and heartbreaking, the 9/11 calls. They were made to 911 from inside the World Trade Center. Today, the tapes were finally made public.

Across America and around the world, you're watching 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Those famous words from Emma Lazarus are inscribed, of course, on the base of the Statue of Liberty.

Of the 11 million illegal immigrants in America, some 500,000 of them are right here in New York right now. Many of them crowded together not far from here in Chinatown, where every day they continue to pay a very high price for freedom.

CNN's Randi Kaye has the reality of what life is like for them.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is the lower east side of Manhattan. But it feels like another country.

As we make our way through Chinatown's crowed streets, Peter Kwong, a professor of Asian studies at Hunter College, gives us the real story on illegal immigrants who came here in search of a dream.

PROF. PETER KWONG, HUNTER COLLEGE: They're willing to, you know, work hard, but this is a very, very bad kind of exploitation. And they don't deserve that.

KAYE (on camera): Hard to know exactly how many illegal immigrants are living here in Chinatown simply because it's tough to keep track. Most are smuggled in by plane, very few by ship. But no matter how they get here, they do so without being detected.

(voice over): This man, who calls himself Mr. Chung (ph), tells us he's been living here illegally for two years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We don't have legal status. We're always afraid of being catched (sic). Always worry about police coming, checking our identities.

KAYE: He paid a pilot $60,000 to smuggle him in. Many illegal who aren't students apply for student visas to get access to the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I love China. I want to be in the United States free in this country. That's why I'm willing to pay that much money.

KWONG: One of the problems in this community is that they're illegal, they don't speak English. They have no normal skills, marketable skills.

KAYE (on camera): So they take advantage of them.

KWONG: Take advantage of them.

KAYE: They pay them nothing.

KWONG: Pay them nothing.

KAYE (voice over): Still, $3.75 an hour is far better than the 10 cents an hour they'd earn at home. At this employment agency, Mr. Chung (ph) and countless other illegals search for work posted on paper slips, then wait.

KWONG: Employers will give a call to this office saying, you know, "I need three dishwashers. Could you send me?" KAYE: Oftentimes, the working conditions are deplorable. Inside this unmarked building we find a sweat shop. Men and women, mostly illegal, according to our guide, sewing clothes. They are caged in. The stench is stifling.

KWONG: These people really work -- literally work from 7:00 until 8:00 or 9:00 in the evening.

KAYE (on camera): And do they get any insurance or anything like that for a job like this?

KWONG: No.

KAYE: Nothing, right?

KWONG: Nothing. If you get injured, that's your tough luck.

KAYE (voice over): And after a long day's work, they don't have much to go home to.

KWONG: Six people living in the same room. They may share a bathroom, as well as a kitchen. Even more desperate, some of the people will share beds, rotating beds.

KAYE (on camera): If the immigration bill passes, will life change for these people?

KWONG: In some degrees, because if you're citizens, you could go to complain openly. And hopefully, they will be addressed. But right now, you can't, because if you complain, you might get yourself deported.

KAYE (voice over): So the illegals choose to remain invisible, trading dignity to avoid deportation.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: It is a terribly hard life.

This week, we learned that two undercover government officials carried radioactive materials over our borders, enough to make a dirty bomb. It was only a test, but imagine if they were terrorists, like the terrorists who attacked on September 11, just a few blocks from where I'm standing right now.

Today, New York City released 911 calls made by the victims trapped inside the World Trade Center. The tapes were edited to include only the voices of the operators. But family members say it's important for their loved ones to also be heard.

CNN's Mary Snow has that story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FIRE: All right. You said you've got a hundred people where?

106th floor. You guys trapped in there?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Another call at 9:02, just one minute before the second plane hit.

POLICE: Do what you think is best.

No, I cannot do that. We are getting millions -- millions of calls, sir.

SNOW: One after another, operators try to keep callers calm.

FIRE: All right. Just keep some windows open. If you can open up windows and just sit tight.

NORMAN SIEGEL, ATTORNEY FOR 9/11 FAMILIES: You know and we know that you can't open the windows at the World Trade Center.

SNOW: Norman Siegel represented nine families who joined "The New York Times" in forcing New York City to release all the tapes.

AL REGENHARD, FATHER OF 9/11 VICTIM: I think we can learn from our mistakes, the mistakes that were made. And the only thing that can come from this -- and I owe it to me son and all those that died -- that we do better in the future.

SNOW: One of the 28 callers the city identified was Chris Hanley, trapped on the 106th floor of the north tower. His family chose to share his final moments.

HANLEY: OK. Please hurry.

FIRE: All right. Just keep the windows open. If you can open up windows and just sit tight. It's going to be a while because there's a fire going on downstairs.

HANLEY: We can't open the windows unless we break them.

FIRE: OK. Just sit tight. Just sit tight. We're on the way.

HANLEY: All right. Please hurry.

JOSEPH HANLEY, FATHER OF 9/11 VICTIM: It's kind of painful to hear it again, to hear him, you know, alive like that. But I thought he distinguished himself very nicely under a great deal of pressure.

SNOW: Also on the recordings, examples of operators expressing helplessness to each other.

FIRE: It's an awful thing. It's an awful, awful, awful thing to call somebody and tell them you're going to die.

SNOW: As the 911 calls continue, the operators' voices change from struggling to understand to a growing sense of desperation. One operator finally telling a caller repeatedly, "God is here. God is here."

Mary Snow, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: It is so terrible.

Immigration, again, is on the radar tonight. Plenty of action on our blog.

Chris in Dallas writes, "Why don't the senators go down there and see how things really are instead of hiding in Washington? If they're afraid to make the hard decisions, we should vote them out of office."

Chris, that is precisely the kind of grassroots pressure we seem to be seeing a lot these days.

From Lynda in Canyon Lake, California, who is here legally and waiting for a green card, "It is frustrating to hear about all this amnesty rhetoric," she says, "and not mention of fast-tracking the ones already in the system."

It sounds like a story there.

And from Jim in Wilmette, Illinois, "This one world suggestion," he says. "If one takes away this idea of a border, then people will no longer feel a need to cross it."

Well, it's a story that took a year to tell. And we appreciate you watching this special edition of 360.

Next, though, CNN's Delia Gallagher is here to tell. An exclusive look inside the Vatican as history unfolded, the last days of Pope John Paul II, the only pope millions of people had ever known.

That is next. A special hour of 360.

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