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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Iran Going Nuclear?; Duke Rape Investigation Moves Forward; America Without Immigrants?

Aired April 11, 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, everyone.
With tension already high and war planning in the headlines, Iran makes it official: It has gone nuclear.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: One step closer to nuclear weapons. What is Iran up to? And what can we do about it?

What if illegal immigrants left the country, all of them, overnight? Would it stop the country cold?

And:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Walls falling down, bathrooms locked, kids actually burning themselves on the pipes.

ANNOUNCER: Failing schools, from coast to coast, some just steps away from the White House. We're "Keeping Them Honest," Oprah, Bill Gates, and some brave kids who deserve a whole lot better.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Across the country and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.

Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, here's Anderson cooper.

COOPER: Good evening again. Thanks for joining us.

We begin tonight with Iran and their announcement that they have gone nuclear. Now, Iran does not have the bomb, nor does it have enough enriched -- enriched uranium to make one or even run a nuclear reactor. What Iran did today is show that it can enrich uranium and that it will. For the rest of the region and the world and the U.S., that could be a problem.

All angles tonight: How much closer did Iran get today to building a bomb? What can we do to stop them, diplomatically and militarily? Also, just what kind of country is Iran? A startling look at a country few outsiders get to see -- some inside perspective from CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

First, though the headline from CNN's Brian Todd. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice over): Dancers chanting "God is great," holding two canisters of uranium. Is this patriotic show a prelude to Iran's first nuclear weapon? Standing by a banner that reads in English, Using atomic energy is our certain right, Iran's president makes an announcement watched around the world.

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The nuclear fuel cycle at the laboratory level has been completed, and uranium, with the desired enrichment for nuclear power plants, was achieved.

TODD: Experts tell CNN this means Iran has enriched uranium to the quality needed for nuclear power plants, but it's not enough in volume to run those plants or produce a nuclear weapon.

DAVID ALBRIGHT, INSTITUTE FOR SCIENCE & INTERNATIONAL SECURITY: And that's going to take them at least three years before they can have a nuclear weapon.

TODD: And possibly longer because of technical problems in nuclear development. But Iran has successfully tested a new missile that can evade radar and hit multiple targets at the same time.

And in going ahead with uranium enrichment, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is openly defying U.N. and Western calls for Iraq to give up all nuclear activity, and he's backed by his own people. Eighty-five percent support the nuclear program.

SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: If Iran continues down this pathway of defiance, you will see a parallel increase in the pressure on Iran from the international community.

TODD: Pressure that might include U.N. sanctions or even U.S. military action. But the U.S. defense secretary had this response to reports the U.S. is considering a preemptive nuclear strike.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The president has indicated his concern about the country. But it is just simply not useful to -- to get into fantasy land.

TODD (on camera): Iran again insists it is not developing uranium for weapons and claims U.N. nuclear monitors have seen its whole program. But it's not clear if those inspectors witnessed the most recent enrichment, and experts are worried that Iran might decide to accelerate its nuclear program, to the point of being on the verge of a weapon, ahead of all the predictions.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, a bit more on the "What next"?

As a backdrop, Sy Hersh's article yesterday about war plans. It's clear tonight people in the region seem to think there is something to it.

A poll done on the Internet today by al-Jazeera shows that 59 percent of respondents believe a U.S. airstrike is likely. Forty-one percent said no. Now, this was not a scientific poll, but it was a large one. About 18,000 people took part.

Back home, President Bush also has polls to consider, and they continue to fall, 38 percent approval rating in the latest "Washington Post" survey, 37 percent in "USA Today," both new lows. He has got allies to get on board and 130,000 troops tied up in Iraq. So, where does that leave the White House?

Reporting for us tonight on that angle, CNN's Ed Henry.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush dismisses talk of war with Iran as wild speculation.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The doctrine of prevention is to work together to prevent the Iranians from having a nuclear weapon. I know, I know, here in Washington, you know, prevention means force. It doesn't mean force, necessarily. In this case, it means diplomacy.

HENRY: The good news is, skillful diplomacy could work, according to experts, who say Iran is still far from actually obtaining a nuclear weapon.

DAVID ALBRIGHT, INSTITUTE FOR SCIENCE & INTERNATIONAL SECURITY: They can be stopped through diplomatic means.

HENRY: But the bad news is, rallying the international community diplomatically has always been a question mark for this president, who has seen his poll numbers plummet, and his credibility questioned, amid negative developments in the CIA leak case here at home and on the ground in Iraq.

ED GOES, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: There always has to be concern of the drip, drip, drip of -- of negative news coming out of Iraq.

HENRY: And if diplomacy fails, the president could have trouble making the case for war in Iran, given the lingering questions about the justification for war in Iraq, not to mention concerns that conflict has already stretched the U.S. military thin.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: It's going to be harder to argue to the United States public and to the world at large that the intelligence we have in Iran makes them even more threatening than Iraq, and, therefore, we have to do very vigorous, daring things, and -- and possibly use force, because it's very hard to govern. It's very hard to lead people if they don't fully trust you.

HENRY: It's not just foreign policy. The president headed to Missouri to pitch his Medicare drug plan, which has faced heavy criticism for being too complicated. After several seniors lauded the plan, the president basically acknowledged his credibility dilemma.

BUSH: You may not believe me, but you will believe Bob.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: Or you will believe Helen, or you'll believe Jerry.

HENRY: But the question, ultimately, will not be whether Americans believe Helen or Jerry, but whether they will put their faith in the president and his plans for Iran.

Ed Henry, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Some perspective now from CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour. She was recently in Iran, where she got unprecedented access to the government and ordinary Iranians. She joins us tonight from Miami.

Christiane, good to have you on the program.

If the U.S. hopes to foment regime change in Iran, which a lot of people seem to think they do, how tough is that? I mean, how popular and powerful is their president?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it will be tough.

I mean, certainly, the -- the hierarchy in Iran believes that the pressure over the nuclear issue is about regime change. But, if you talk about the people there, I did not sense -- and I don't think anybody really senses -- that the people there are ready for any kind of, get out into the streets and overthrow their regime.

The fact is that President Ahmadinejad has really introduced much more sort of fear, really, amongst the people about how far they can go, whether it be in their own cultural, political, journalistic, whatever activities, and there seem to be a lot of red lines and self- censorship amongst the people -- all that to say that, despite reaching out by the United States and other governments to the people of Iran, the notion that it would lead to some kind of upheaval that could get rid of this regime there does not seem likely at the moment.

COOPER: How much top-down control is there?

You know, I have heard reports this president has put in, you know, lots more members of the Revolutionary Guard, sort of infiltrating them throughout the -- the civil service in -- in Iran. Their foreign policy seems muscular, to say the least.

AMANPOUR: There has always been top-town supervision, top-down enforcement. You know, this is not a -- a free, liberal democracy, to say the least. There is an element of a police state about it, not nearly what it was like in neighboring Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Nonetheless, there is a very organized control mechanism. But, having said that, the people of Iran are amongst the most sort of free, if you like, of many in that part of the world, in that there's a lot of robust debate internally. There's a lot of questioning of political leadership. There's a lot of participation, a lot of talk amongst themselves over the Internet.

So, it's not the kind of fear enforcement that you found in Iraq or other dictatorships in that region.

COOPER: But -- but -- but, I mean, a lot of the people I remember you talking to, I mean, there were kids playing in a rock band who had to do it in secret in some underground bunker, and there were people surfing the Internet, but -- but their Farsi Web sites were -- you know, were sort of policed, and there were whole parts of the Internet they couldn't even get to.

AMANPOUR: Well, that's my point about red lines and -- and top- down supervision. But it's also my point that people get around it, and they do it.

So, there is a lot of -- of activity and debate and youthful activity going on there. But in terms of kind of a coalescing political come -- sort of dramatic revolution to get rid of this current regime, that does not seem to be anywhere near a possibility.

COOPER: It was fascinating to see those pictures earlier in the program of, you know, those dancers holding, allegedly, I guess sticks of -- of uranium. That's apparently what they were doing.

I mean, is there -- is there a sense -- we heard one poll in Brian Todd's piece about support for -- for at least nuclear power in Iran. Did people talk to you about that, about how they see the -- the idea of nuclear weapons?

AMANPOUR: Yes.

People talk about the nuclear program and nuclear power. It is true that this government has waged a very successful campaign to get the people of Iran on board and behind them on the nuclear question. And they always talk about it, in terms of it being a peaceful nuclear program. The people of Iran, who I spoke to, and even people who I know well, people, let's say, who are my friends and others, who perhaps I might expect different from, many, many people say that, if everybody else in our neighborhood has it, why shouldn't we? If Israel, if India, if Pakistan has it, why shouldn't we? We're a developed, proud country. We are an educated country.

And we just want a peaceful nuclear program. It's our right. We're allowed to do it, under all the treaties and signatories to all the various agreements that we are. So, people there do believe that they have that right. But, if you ask them, do you think that it should be a right taken right to the brink of confrontation with the rest of the world, well, they don't want any more confrontation with the rest of the world.

COOPER: Interesting.

Christiane Amanpour, thanks very much.

The U.S. fears that Iran is trying to create a nuclear weapons program, something that only really a handful of nations are believed to possess. Here's the raw data.

Under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, five countries have declared having nuclear weapons. They are the United States, Russia, Unite Kingdom, France, and China. Although not part of the treaty, India and Pakistan have conducted nuclear weapons testing. It's also widely believed that Israel has nuclear bombs. And, most recently, North Korea has resumed its nuclear weapons program.

So, what happens if, as many say, Iran has bomb-making facilities and the U.S. needs to take them out? Coming up, Tom Foreman looks at the problem. He takes us on a tour, a virtual tour, of the places that are causing all the concern.

And we will talk about the U.S. military options with a pair of experts.

Also, this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL NIFONG, DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: It doesn't mean nothing happened. It just means nothing was left behind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Even without DNA evidence in the Duke rape scandal, the district attorney is going forward. We learned that today. But does he still have a case? We will look at what he says.

And the state of our schools -- in a word, pitiful. We will show you the problems and look at what Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey are trying to do about it.

A break first. You're watching 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUMSFELD: We have, I don't know how many, various contingency plans in -- in this department. And the last thing I'm going to do is to start telling you or anyone else in the press or the world at what point we refresh a plan or don't refresh a plan and -- and -- and why. It just isn't useful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Donald Rumsfeld explaining his ideas on any plans the U.S. might have for a military strike against Iran. Many details of Iran's weapons production capabilities are already public knowledge, locations of facilities, specialized manufacturing plants. It's all known, even underground structures. Military planners know both the stakes and where to look.

So does CNN's Tom Foreman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, if you want to know why people are worried, just look at the satellite images of Iran. These are the suspected nuclear-related facility, chemical, biological weapons facilities, and, then in green here, the missile-related facilities.

All of that matters because of what you see when you look much, much closer. One of the places that's been of cause for alarm is Natanz. Look at this place from the air here. This is a space where the Iranians acknowledge that they have nuclear facilities in that blue zone.

What's interesting, though, is what's above that. Look at that dirt area right up there. And look at pictures from just a couple of years back as to what was being developed there. Look at this, roads and tunnels and all sorts of facilities being built into a hillside here. Now what does that look like? It has all been covered over with dirt. So, it looks like this. So, what you see is an empty plane next to the area which the Iranians are acknowledging is one of their nuclear facilities.

What's underneath there? We don't really know. We do know that this is a picture from just a couple of days ago. And you can see what it looks like, again, a big empty field. The dirt has all been smoothed out. It looks like nothing has ever gone on there. We don't know what's going on beneath the ground, but it doesn't look like a bowling alley.

We do know this. When you widen out and look at the region, you consider the missiles they have, if they put the right warheads on them, look at the range, 1,300 miles in all directions, into Africa, all the way over to India, up into Russia, even over into Europe. That's why people are watching so closely what's going on in Iran -- Anderson.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Tom, thanks.

The question now is, what will the U.S. and the rest of the world do next when it comes to Iran?

Joining me now, Peter Brookes, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense; also, CNN military analyst David Grange, a retired brigadier general.

Gentlemen, thanks for being with us. PETER BROOKES, SENIOR FELLOW, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Thank you.

COOPER: Obviously, diplomatic track is what is most being discussed out of Washington. The military track, though has been making a lot of headlines, Sy Hersh's article, some articles over the weekend.

General Grange, what are the U.S. military options, in terms of either stopping this program or even trying to effect regime change that some believe this administration wants?

BRIGADIER GENERAL DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I believe that there's many military options. Probably, the -- the preferred would be by air or -- or things launched from the sea, instead of ground forces.

Having been on the ground in Iran on training exercises, it's -- it's a very tough set. But there's -- there's many options, difficult to do, but I can assure that you we have options to do something, if that course of action was decided on.

COOPER: And -- and, Peter, if the course of action was trying to stop a nuclear program vs. regime change, I assume regime change is a lot harder.

BROOKES: Absolutely.

And, in fact, if you take military action against their nuclear program, you certainly could harden people's feelings towards the United States and -- and actually could turn into supporting the regime. So, this is kind of a double-edged sword here. You're worried about a nuclear Iran. You may have as many as 400 different targets you would have to hit to get the entire program, although you could hit some major facilities that could push it back a significant time period.

But, yes, you could certainly, by attacking Iran, you would harden the feelings of the people, potentially, and make them support the regime even more.

COOPER: General Grange, there had been also talk in the Sy Hersh article about the use of, by the U.S., of tactical nuclear weapons to try to get very deep underground in some of these -- these facilities in Iran. When you hear of tactical nukes, what do you think?

GRANGE: Well, it's -- for very difficult targets that are subterranean, it may be a weapon of choice, but then you have the political ramifications, of course, of using any kind of nuclear weapon.

And, in that case, not only do you -- maybe you harden the feelings of the people of Iran, but you will harden the feelings of many in the region, especially Muslim religion. So, I think that the ramifications of that are pretty severe.

COOPER: So, Peter, what do you make of today's announcement by Iran?

BROOKES: Well, it's troubling. It's troubling.

What they have done, from what I understand in the initial reporting, is that they attained the capability to enrich uranium, you know, 3 to 5 percent, which can be used for fuel. And it's probably in very small quantities, not enough to fuel a reactor, certainly not enriched enough to create a bomb.

But the -- the challenge here is to figure out, now that they have developed this capability, what's the next step? The thing I worry about is that there are a lot of intelligence analysts out there that are estimating when Iran would be nuclear capable, especially with weapons.

But the question is, what happens if they did something like we did with the Manhattan Project and put a significant amount of resources towards the nuclear program, whether it's peaceful, which I don't think it is, or towards a nuclear weapon? What -- how much quicker could they reach that status using additional resources or significant amount of more resources towards -- towards doing that, something like a Manhattan Project we did during World War II?

COOPER: And, General Grange, I mean, I think back to the Iran- Iraq war and what I have read about the Iran strategy, I mean, they used to send waves of children, basically, through mine fields. It is a military which, though maybe not technically all that savvy, is certainly determined, and they certainly have a lot of bodies.

GRANGE: Determined, and three major threats, Iran puts -- puts in front of us.

One is the nuclear issue, if they pursue that. And I do believe they're pursuing nuclear weapons. Number two is their missile capability. They really learned from the Iran/Iraq war and other things -- other conditions in -- in that part of the world, that missiles are key.

And the third is their support of terrorism, the Hezbollah, and others. And they will unleash those three things. That's quite a dangerous country to deal with. And I believe that they're up to pursuing all three of those capabilities against us and others.

COOPER: There's a lot more to talk about. We are going to have to do it another time.

Peter Brookes, appreciate you being on the program.

BROOKES: Thank you.

COOPER: And, Brigadier General David Grange, always good to have you.

GRANGE: Thank you.

COOPER: More twists in the Duke University sex allegations case coming up.

But, first, Sophia Choi from Headline News joins us with some of the other stories we are following tonight -- Sophia.

SOPHIA CHOI, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson.

Neil Entwistle, the British man accused of murdering his American wife and child, has pleaded not guilty. Court documents allege that, before the killings, Entwistle searched the Internet for escort services and looked into ways to kill himself. More than two months ago, Rachel and Lillian Entwistle was found shot to death in a bedroom in their Massachusetts home.

Mob kingpin Bernardo Provenzano was arrested today in what authorities say is a decisive victory over the Sicilian mafia. A police raid on a farmhouse ended a 10-year hunt for the 73-year-old Mafia boss. He had been on the run for more than 40 years.

And less than three months before hurricane season, the American Red Cross has promised that vital supplies will be immediately available in emergencies. The agency was criticized for not responding quickly enough to Hurricane Katrina last August. It plans to work more closely now with federal and state emergency groups in the future.

Also, the childhood home of President George W. Bush is now a museum. The president and his family lived in the three-bedroom home in Midland, Texas, in the 1950s. It was President Bush's home from ages 9 -- 5 to 9.

And, Anderson, they have restored it back to what it used to look like when he lived there.

COOPER: All right. Sophia, thanks very much.

For anyone who thought the alleged sexual assault case at Duke was going away, the DA said otherwise today. He made a dramatic appearance at the school of the alleged victim. We will have the latest developments.

Plus, what would life in America be like if all illegal immigrants were gone? How would it affect your wallet? A fascinating look coming up on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: The latest on the Duke sex allegations. The DA talking tough. What does he know?

Plus, what America would look like if every illegal immigrant suddenly left the country. You might be surprised -- next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHAWN CUNNINGHAM, STUDENT, NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL UNIVERSITY: You have minimalized my sister to a stripper and an exotic dancer.

(APPLAUSE)

CUNNINGHAM: She walks in campus every day going to class, trying to provide for her family. You don't identify her as a mother. You don't identify her as a student. You don't identify her as a woman.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: A stirring defense today from a classmate of the alleged victim of a gang rape at Duke University.

Today also brought a significant twist. Just yesterday, negative results from an initial DNA tests were touted by defense attorneys as exonerating members of Duke's lacrosse team. Well, the message from authorities today, not so fast.

CNN's Jason Carroll has the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They should have been handcuffed. They should have been arrested.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a vocal audience that gathered for a legal forum at North Carolina Central University, the same school attended by a young woman, an exotic dancer, who says she was raped by three Duke University lacrosse players.

The forum was arranged last week in response to accusations. Most students came here to listen and to respond to what Durham's district attorney would say about the case. And what he said did not disappoint.

MICHAEL NIFONG, DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: A lot has been said in the press, particularly by some attorneys yesterday, about, this case should go away. I hope that you will understand by the fact that I am here this morning that my presence here means that this case is not going away.

(APPLAUSE)

CARROLL: District attorney Michael Nifong told the audience he's still waiting for more DNA test results. As for the results that are in, showing no match between the players and the accuser, Nifong explained it this way.

NIFONG: It doesn't mean nothing happened it. It just means nothing was left behind.

CARROLL: Feelings about the fallout from the case were expressed here, too, mostly from students at the historically black university, who criticized the media and Duke University's handling of the case. SHAWN CUNNINGHAM, STUDENT, NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL UNIVERSITY: You have minimalized my sister to a stripper and an exotic dancer.

(APPLAUSE)

CUNNINGHAM: She walks in campus every day going to class, trying to provide for her family. You don't identify her as a mother. You don't identify her as a student. You don't identify her as a woman.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

TOLOUPE OMOKAIYE, STUDENT, NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL UNIVERSITY: We all know, that if this happened at Central, and the young lady was from another school or another persuasion, the outcome would have been different. They would have been in jail.

CARROLL: Defense attorney Bill Thomas says, the district attorney's refusal to drop the case could inflame lingering sentiments in Durham. He appealed to the accuser to put the case to rest.

BILL THOMAS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I would say to her, it's OK to come forward, to come forward and to tell the truth in this case. The agony that these young men and their families have been put through, I simply cannot describe to you in words.

CARROLL: DNA from 46 players was tested. The lone player not tested is black. The accuser says the three players who assaulted her were white. The father of the African-American player stands behind his son's team.

CHARLES SHERWOOD, FATHER OF DUKE UNIVERSITY LACROSSE PLAYER: I think there was a slight overreaction, but now that the DNA's coming in and showing that the players are pretty much innocent of any physical wrongdoing, that's a good thing. And maybe the rest of the Durham community can find that out. And maybe some peace will be restored down there.

CARROLL: Here at Duke University, the DNA test results brought some satisfaction.

KATIE GRANT, STUDENT, DUKE UNIVERSITY: I was actually kind of happy, because I really felt like they were -- the boys were treated unfairly, you know, by the community.

STEPHANIE OKPALA, STUDENT, DUKE UNIVERSITY: It was like a sigh, like a breath of relief. I really, really hoped and prayed that it would come negative. But people -- there's still talk about, you know, it not being 100 percent sure.

CARROLL (on camera): Since the DA won't drop the case, they must prepare themselves for what could be his next likely move. That, they say, is going to be when he presents his case to the grand jury seeking formal charges against the three players. Jason Carroll, CNN, Durham, North Carolina.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Well, we'll be following the Duke case as it unfolds.

Now imagine this. Life in the U.S. without illegal immigrants. What would it really mean for you and your wallet? And the economy in your home state? The answer, well it might surprise you.

Also, the immigration debate takes another turn as lawmakers drop one of their demands. Will it be enough to jump start the legislation stalled in congress, coming up on "360."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELMER ARIAS, PROTESTOR: We come to this country to work. To make a better living, to help our family. We're not a criminal. We're not here to live by the government. We pay a lot of taxes to the government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: We are not criminals. We heard that sentiment over and over yesterday from immigrants who turned out at rallies across the country. Making it a felony to enter this country illegally quickly became a lightning rod in the immigration debate. Today republican lawmakers pulled the plug on the idea. They agreed to drop the felony provision in hopes of jump starting legislation that's essentially stalled. Tonight Joe Johns has another piece of the immigration debate. The numbers in his report might surprise you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The best way to measure the economic impact of illegal workers is to zero in on a specific state that counts on that low-wage work force, a state like North Carolina, where nearly half of the Hispanic immigrant population living there in 2004 was undocumented. Researchers at the University of North Carolina looked into the costs and benefits of immigrants on the state earlier this year. They found that nearly three-fourths of all Hispanics in North Carolina were employed in construction, wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing and agriculture.

They zeroed in on the impact if immigrants left the construction industry where Hispanics account for nearly a third of all workers in the state. If all Hispanic immigrants left, construction work could be cut by up to 29 percent, a loss of up to $10 billion, up to 27,000 houses not built. Take away just the illegals, as many in congress want, and you're still talking about billions in lost revenue. Thousands of homes not built, and a dire shortage of low-paid labor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many North Carolina industries they entered were under immense cost pressure from Mexico and China and other lower-wage labor surplus sites. So the workers going into these manufacturing industries perhaps gave them a chance to compete in global markets, in these lower-wage labor-intensive manufacturing sectors where otherwise the facilities would have had to close entirely, and the jobs would have left the country.

JOHNS: Cheap labor would have to be replaced by more expensive workers. Good for the workers unless that drives companies out of business. The report also found that immigrants cost the state government $61 million more than they generated in taxes. But that they also generate over $9 billion in business revenues. Take away the immigrant workers, and the economy takes a hit. With ripple effects that could deliver a hard knock to a low-wage worker state like North Carolina. And while the last complete study on the U.S. immigrant work force was done some ten years ago, a nationally recognized expert says the impact on the entire country might be about the same.

MICHAEL FIX, MIGRATION POLICY INSTITUTE: Well, the effect would be pretty concentrated and be pretty intense in the short term. The concentrated in agriculture that would feel the effect, the concentrated in construction, the concentrated in home services.

JOHNS: Bottom line, experts say closing down the undocumented labor force could increase the cost of American products and force consumers to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for the services that the shadow economy now provides. Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: No doubt a lot of people argue with that as the debate over immigration reform continues, the flood of illegals grows. Coming up, should illegal workers leave or get some form of amnesty? We'll hear from two strong voices in the debate.

Also, we want to hear from you. Call us with questions about immigration reform. Toll free number is 877-648-3639. Our guests are going to stay around to answer your calls.

And this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

So the ceiling actually just fell down.

Yes, part of it.

It could have been hit.

Possibly, yeah.

Very lucky.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: In the shadow of the White House, this is where kids come to learn. Falling ceilings, crumbling plaster. It's more than run down. It is a wreck. But Bill Gates is on the case, so is Oprah Winfrey, so are we. Tonight we're "Keeping Them Honest," ahead on "360."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We're going to be taking your calls about the immigration issue. 1-877-648-3639. The debate over immigration reform is nothing, if not, complex. And the story took a new turn today with republican lawmakers dropping their efforts to turn illegal immigrants into felons. Joining me now are D.A. King, an anti- immigration activist and founder of the American Resistance Foundation and also Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, a blogger and author of "Make Him Look Good." Appreciate both of you being on the program.

There's so many things we could talk about, I want to try to narrow it to two things. One, reaction to the republican leaders today agreeing to drop efforts to make entering the U.S. illegally a felony and also what both of you think, should it go on with the 11 million or however many million illegal immigrants who are here now. So, D.A. let me start off with you. What do you think about the republicans' action, no longer make it a felony?

D.A. KING, THE AMERICAN RESISTANCE FOUNDATION: It's not exactly accurate Anderson. Entering the country illegally at present is a misdemeanor. But, having been apprehended and then removed from this country and then re-entering has been and still is a felony. So there's a lot of misrepresentations apparently from the media about whether or not an illegal alien who has entered the country the second time is a felon. He is by existing law.

COOPER: But certainly in this house bill and in the senate bill, I mean, this was a provision which is part of the thing which mobilized many people out into the streets, the idea that you're equating making a felony actually crossing over the border.

KING: The first time.

COOPER: The first time, correct. So it is, I mean, it is correct to say that the republican leadership took this out of that provision. I suppose you do not support that?

KING: Well, to be quite honest, I don't have a problem with it at all. Once you enter the country and take a job with false documentation, that's still a felony. Once you use a fraudulent social security number or accept more than $600 a year in cash without reporting it to the IRS, that is still a felony. I think too many people are paying too much attention to what degree of a crime it is to enter the first time.

COOPER: Alisa, what do you think about it?

ALISA VALDES-RODRIGUEZ, ALISAVALDESRODRIGUEZ.COM: I think -- I'm actually really surprised because I think your other guest and I are on agreement on this issue. When I was driving in here this evening, I was listening to Spanish language radio, talk radio here in Los Angeles and someone was calling in saying what is wrong with the government and all of these people who are protesting about us? We want to pay taxes. We want to be legal. That's the whole point. I think people who are on the other side of this debate are saying oh, they're illegal. They don't want to pay. The whole point is they want to pay taxes just like you and me, and our government's not letting them, so this is a step in the right direction.

KING: I think most of the world would be very happy to live in this country and pay taxes. We should all base our thought process on the fact that there is no universal civil right to live in the United States. Most people want to live here.

COOPER: Alisa, do you believe that it is okay -- and we've talked before -- you seem to believe that any form of limiting access across the border is unfair or should not be done. Is that -- I don't want to misrepresent you. I mean, do you believe it's okay to have border control and to limit who gets into the country?

VALDES-RODRIGUEZ: You're completely misunderstanding me. My entire approach to all this has been as a journalist, watching the news coverage that's been done on this, including the segment that preceded ours right now. And the terms that are being thrown around as synonyms, I'm surprised, actually, after having been on your show last night, and as I'm speaking, you're showing, I'm assuming, Mexicans running across the border when a large percentage of illegal immigrants in this country are college students who have overstayed their visas, they are people from countries other than Mexico, they're professionals who are working and overstaying their visas.

Just last week in Los Angeles a man from Sweden stole a Ferrari and wrecked it on the street, and he was on drugs, and he's an illegal immigrant criminal, and you're not showing his face on the evening news. This is what's bothering me. That you guys in the media -- and I used to be a daily reporter at the "Boston Globe" and the "L.A. Times," are equating Hispanic Spanish-speaking Latino immigrant illegal Mexican, none of those things are synonymous. I want you guys to have this debate. If it's truly about immigration, don't make it about Hispanics, make it about immigrants because many of us --

KING: I couldn't agree more.

VALDES-RODRIGUEZ: 60 percent of the Hispanics in this country were born here, and the majority of the other 40 percent are legal or working towards citizenship or are citizens.

COOPER: I would also point out, last night we did a large piece on Irish immigrants and a struggle one man and one family is having. So I do think we are trying to be very specific about the terminology used. D.A., what do you think should happen to the -- I mean, you don't believe it's 11 million. You believe it's upwards of 20 million. Most figures that are being bandied on Capitol Hill are 11 million. However many million of illegal immigrants who are here of all different ethnicities and all different countries of origin, what should happen to them?

KING: Again, Anderson, as we talked about last night, people here in violation of our law have to understand that there is some kind of a penalty to pay, a punishment. Presently the punishment is to be deported. We tried an amnesty for 3 million illegal aliens in 1986, and we were told that after we do the amnesty, we will then secure our borders and sanction these criminal employers. That promise was not fulfilled. The only part of that was the amnesty. If we do that again, we have to expect the same results.

I would like -- just very quickly to say, I have been called anti-Latino for saying that people in this country illegally should be punished. It's not just the news media who is confusing these terms. It is done with intent by the amnesty and the open borders lobby who will use whatever trick possible to make someone look less than American for saying the law should be secured or enforced.

VALDES-RODRIGUEZ: It's being done on both sides. In the United States, the media are notorious for confusing socioeconomic class, race, ethnicity, all of these different issues, nationality, citizenship. Another big mistake that is being made that I heard on talk radio here in LA. today, is one where people are saying, well, now African-Americans are upset and aren't supporting the immigrants. Well, even if we were only talking about a Hispanic immigrant group, 95 percent of the African slave trade took place in Latin America. And the largest African Diaspora in the Americas is in Brazil. There's a large African-American population in Vera Cruz, Mexico. So you've got lots of Latinos who are black and I think we need to remember that. And also, lots of Latinos who are white. I'm feeling kind of sorry for the right wing in this debate sometimes because --

KING: Thank you.

VALDES-RODRIGUEZ: There's a huge white, conservative, Latino population in South Florida that you guys are unintentionally alienating in this debate.

COOPER: Just let me interrupt you guys there. I'm going to bring you back on the other side in the 11:00 hour taking a lot of calls. Because we're already getting a lot of calls on this. D.A. King and Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, they're going to be sticking around to answer your questions on illegal immigration. If there's something you want to know, you can call us toll-free 877-648-3639. That's 877- 648-3639.

Also tonight, crumbling walls, broken bathrooms, broken plumbing. I'm not talking about some third-world country. We're talking about a public school right here in the heart of the nation's capital. Bill Gates and Oprah are drawing attention to the problem. Their mission when "360" continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, the figures are scary. 1 million kids drop out of school every year. That's about a third of all students. The minority failure rate is even higher. 50 percent of African- Americans, Hispanics and native Americans do not complete high school. 50 percent. The figures come from a study of high school dropouts commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill and Melinda Gates say if the public school system was a business, it would be bankrupt. They've started a campaign to raise standards for our kids. Here's what Bill Gates had to say today on "Oprah" about this problem which we're calling "Hiding in Plain Sight."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OPRAH WINFREY: You used a statistic that shocked me. You said only 6 percent of students from low-income neighborhoods will earn a college degree from a four-year college. 6 percent?

BILL GATES, BILL & MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION: Well, I think the country's most basic principal is equal opportunity. And yet we're not delivering on that.

WINFREY: One of the things you said is we've broken our promises.

GATES: Right.

WINFREY: Right.

GATES: Six years ago, the supreme court said, you know, separate but equal wasn't going to cut it. You know, we're still not anywhere near to the equality that was the spirit of that decision.

WINFREY: They seem more separate and more unequal now than ever before.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: For today's "Oprah" show I visited two schools in Washington, D.C. right in the shadow of the White House and took a look at the appalling conditions kids and teachers there have to endure. What you're about to see may shock you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: In some third-world countries, you wouldn't be surprised to find school buildings that look like this. But we found these conditions just minutes from the White House in Washington, D.C.

It's surprising to me that in our nation's capital, this has been like this for years.

Nearly 60,000 children go to school in the District of Columbia, and the conditions some of them face are shockingly bad. Walking the halls with Brandon Eatman, the principal of this school, is like being on an obstacle course.

So the ceiling actually just fell down?

BRANDON EATMAN, PRINCIPAL: Yes, part of it, part of it.

COOPER: And a kid could have been hit.

EATMAN: Possibly, yes.

COOPER: Very lucky.

I was lucky that on the day I visited, it wasn't raining.

EATMAN: When it rains, the water will fall down. We put a bucket down to catch it.

COOPER: You actually put a bucket here?

EATMAN: Yeah, yeah. On days that it is raining.

COOPER: You can actually see all the way through to the ceiling.

EATMAN: Once again, that's from the steam pipe.

COOPER: I'm sorry. The steam pipes and plumbing are a constant problem. And in this area of the school, things are so bad, they shut off the power to try to keep the kids out.

The boy's bathroom at the boy's gymnasium is, basically, you can't use it. This toilet is completely destroyed. Let me shine a light and show you what that looks like. Then you come over here. The urinals, they broke last summer. The principal put in a request order to try to repair the plumbing, but instead of doing that, they built this box over all the urinals. Obviously those can't be used. And over here, there's tiles missing from the sink. And paper towels. This is completely broken.

And then in the ceiling here, the skylight, you can actually see all the way through to the skylight above, about three stories. It's amazing. I mean, this bathroom, it's not even usable. Man, there's a lot of work orders here. Back in the principal's office, the stack of work orders just keeps on piling up. And this one -- this is actually from 2002. It says "top of ceiling on the third floor has a big hole in it. Plaster's falling from the ceiling. This needs immediate attention as the plaster can fall on the heads of the students and teachers." That's the room we saw.

EATMAN: Yes.

COOPER: So that was filled out in January of 2002 for that to be repaired. So that's been more than three years?

EATMAN: Yes.

COOPER: It's got to be so frustrating.

EATMAN: It is, it is. Because you always want the best for your students.

COOPER: The next stop is a high school that sits less than two miles from the capitol building. The sign reads "The Pride of Capitol Hill."

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: Make sure the outside of the schools are so pretty and nice. But when you come in, look at it.

COOPER: My guides here are two seniors, Brandon and Robert. They're so fed up with their school, they've started photographing the conditions they deal with on a daily basis.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: Walls falling down, bathrooms locked, exposed pipes, kids actually burning themselves on the pipes. Radiators uncovered. You can see the broken windows. If you go out back, you can see some classrooms, they don't even have windows.

COOPER: Is there something about walking through these halls every day, these sort of dimly-lit halls, seeing these cracks, seeing all of these exposed pipes and stuff that --

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: It makes you kind of sad. It makes you sad.

COOPER: Do you think that people just don't care?

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: They don't care. They don't care. I believe a lot of the students deserve better.

COOPER: This is the nation's capital.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: You'd think that out of all the schools in the country, we would be the most updated, the best school.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Yeah. Well, you would think. Oprah's devoting two shows to the problems of our kids and our country that the problems that we all face because of the failure of public schools. Tomorrow, a different kind of school. A school that actually works. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

You're talking about college? What, you're in fifth grade?

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: Yeah. That's what they teach us to think ahead, about college, and how you can get a good education.

COOPER: So what year are you going to go to college?

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: 2013.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: All these kids in the school, you ask them what year they're going to college, they all know. It's the first thing they learn when they go to the school. That's on "Oprah" tomorrow. We'll have more of that tomorrow night.

Don't miss the special report on education in America tomorrow on "Oprah." And we'll have more on the topic of immigration reform. Coming up, we'll be taking your phone calls, we'll give you the toll free number again in just a moment, but first Sophia Choi from "Headline News" joins us with some of the business stories. Sophia?

SOPHIA CHOI, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Anderson. On Wall Street, stocks fell today partly due to inflation fears. The Dow dropped more than 51 points, the Nasdaq slid more than 22, and the S&P slipped down 10. Fewer homes will be sold, but prices will rise slightly. That prediction today from the National Association of Realtors. It says existing home sales will fall 6 percent this year. Meantime, the median price for those homes should climb more than 6 percent. New home prices should rise only about 2 percent.

And famed boxer Muhammad Ali has sold 80 percent of the marketing rights to his image and name for a hefty $50 million. The deal was made with the entertainment and licensing firm CKX, which has created a new firm, "Greatest of all Time," to look after the Ali name. That's what's in a name Anderson.

COOPER: Sophia, thanks very much. So if you've got a burning question about illegal immigration or a comment you want to make, we have guests on both sides of the debate, we want to hear from you. Call us toll-free, 877-648-3639. We'll be right back, it's "360."

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