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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy


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This is from a few days ago, but I only recently just saw this extremely revealing interview with Mr. Dobbs. What happens when Lou Dobbs is interviewed by people who actually research the accuracy of what he says? Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales, hosts of Democracy Now!, the Pacifica Network syndicated radio show, sat down with Mr. Dobbs. Here are some highlights (please excuse the length of this post, but this is really interesting and I have a feeling Dobbs would have skipped this interview if he knew what was going to happen):

AMY GOODMAN: And then let's talk about it.

    LOU DOBBS: Let's say the number is eleven million,
    although some studies put the number as high as twenty million illegal
    aliens in this country. That not only amounts to a shift of six to ten
    congressional seats among the states based on the population of illegal
    immigration. The fact is, those illegal aliens are costing our economy
    $200 billion in depressed wages for working Americans. It is costing
    $50 billion a year in social and medical costs. And it's costing us, no
    one knows precisely how much, to incarcerate what is about a third of
    our prison population who are illegal aliens.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Lou, you said a third of the prison population are illegal aliens.


AMY GOODMAN: The fact is, it's something like 6% of prisoners in this country are non-citizens, not even illegal, just non-citizens.


AMY GOODMAN: And then a percentage of that would not be documented.

LOU DOBBS: Well, it's actually--I think it's 26% in federal prison.

AMY GOODMAN: But you said of all prisoners.

LOU DOBBS: I said about--yes, but I--and I misspoke, without question. I was referring to federal prisoners.

AMY GOODMAN: But you didn't say that, and so it leaves people with the impression--

LOU DOBBS: Well, I didn't, but then I just explained it to you.

AMY GOODMAN: But you have a very large audience on CNN.

LOU DOBBS: I have a very large audience and a very bright audience.

AMY GOODMAN: And you told them that a third of the
population of this country are illegal immigrants. 6% , which is under
the population of immigrants--

LOU DOBBS: 6% , right.

AMY GOODMAN: --in this country, of prisoners--

LOU DOBBS: In state prisons.

AMY GOODMAN: --are immigrants.

LOU DOBBS: In state prisons. In state prisons.

AMY GOODMAN: No, 6% overall are immigrants. You said 30% are illegal.

LOU DOBBS: Well, I think we've established--we could sit
here and say this all day, Amy. The fact is, the number is 26% in
federal prisons. That's what I was referring to. I did not--I misspoke
when I said "prisons." I was referring to the federal prisons, because
that's the federal crime: immigration. And that--

AMY GOODMAN: Have you made a correction on your show to say that 30% of--?

LOU DOBBS: I'm sure we have. We've reported--absolutely.

AMY GOODMAN: We didn't see it.


The legal immigrant population is pretty well
documented. It's about twenty-three million. And then you add maybe
another eleven to twelve million of the undocumented population, and
you get thirty-five million. The point is--my point is this: if 12% of
the non-citizen population of the United States--non-citizens comprise
12% of the population. They comprise 6% of the prison population. That
suggests to me that crime rates are far lower among non-citizen
immigrants--legal and illegal--than they are among the general population
of the United States.

LOU DOBBS: Can I ask you a question?

JUAN GONZALEZ: You have raised the issue of crime--you've raised the issue of crime in relationship to immigrants.

LOU DOBBS: Well, silly me, silly me.


AMY GOODMAN: It was called "Truth, Fiction and Lou Dobbs."
Columnist David Leonhardt wrote, "Mr. Dobbs has a somewhat flexible
relationship with reality." Leonhardt highlighted this profile about
you that aired on CBS's 60 Minutes.

    LESLEY STAHL: One of the issues he tackles
    relentlessly is illegal immigration. And on that, his critics say his
    advocacy can get in the way of the facts.

    LOU DOBBS: Tuberculosis, leprosy, malaria?

    LESLEY STAHL: Following a report on illegals carrying
    diseases into the US, one of the correspondents on his show, Christine
    Romans, told Dobbs that there had been 7,000 cases of leprosy in the US
    in the past three years.

    CHRISTINE ROMANS: Leprosy, in this country

    LOU DOBBS: Incredible.

    LESLEY STAHL: We checked that and found a report issued
    by the US Department of Health and Human Services saying 7,000 is the
    number of leprosy cases over the last thirty years, not the past three,
    and nobody knows how many of those cases involve illegal immigrants.

    [interviewing Dobbs] Now, went to try and check that number, 7,000--we can't. Just so you know--

    LOU DOBBS: I can tell you this: if we reported it, it's a fact.

    LESLEY STAHL: You can't tell me that. You did report it--

    LOU DOBBS: No, I just did.

    LESLEY STAHL: How can you guarantee that to me?

    LOU DOBBS: Because I'm the managing editor, and that's the way we do business. We don't make up numbers, Lesley, do we?

AMY GOODMAN: A day after the 60 Minutes report aired, Lou Dobbs discussed the issue on his program with his reporter, the CNN reporter Christine Romans.

    LOU DOBBS: Then there was a question about some of
    your comments, Christine, following one of your reports. I told Lesley
    Stahl we don't make up numbers, and I will tell everybody here again
    tonight, I stand 100% behind what you said.

    CHRISTINE ROMANS: That's right, Lou. We don't make up
    numbers here. This is what we reported. We reported: "It's interesting,
    because the woman in our piece told us that there were about 900 cases
    of leprosy for forty years. There have been 7,000 in the past three
    years. Leprosy, in this country." I was quoting Dr. Madeleine Cosman, a
    respected medical lawyer and medical historian. Writing in The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons,
    she said: "Hansen's disease"--that's the other modern name, I guess, for
    leprosy--"Hansen's disease was so rare in America that in forty years
    only 900 people were afflicted. Suddenly, in the past three years
    America has more than 7,000 cases of leprosy," Lou.

    LOU DOBBS: It's remarkable that this--whatever, confusion
    or confoundment over 7,000 cases. They actually keep a registry of
    cases of leprosy. And the fact that it rose was because of--one assumes,
    because we don't know for sure--but two basic influences: unscreened
    illegal immigrants coming into this country, primarily from South Asia,
    and the--secondly, far better reporting.

    CHRISTINE ROMANS: That's what Dr. Cosman told us, Lou.

    LOU DOBBS: And, you know, in talking with a number of
    people, it's also very clear no one knows, but nearly everyone
    suspects, there are far more cases of that. It is also, I think,
    interesting, and I think important to say, one of the reasons we screen
    people coming into this country is to deal with communicable diseases
    like leprosy, tuberculosis. The fact is, if we would just screen
    successfully, all of those diseases can be treated effectively,
    efficiently and relatively quickly.

AMY GOODMAN: That's Lou Dobbs on the show. The source behind
the claim that there was a spike of 7,000 new cases of leprosy was a
controversial medical attorney named Madeleine Cosman. In 2005, she
described undocumented immigrants as "deadly time bombs, because of the
diseases they bring into the country." Cosman, who died last year, has
also been criticized for these comments she made about Mexican men.

    MADELEINE COSMAN: Recognize that most of these
    *******s molest girls under age twelve, some as young as age five,
    others age three. Although, of course, some specialize in boys, some
    specialize in nuns, some are exceedingly versatile and rape little
    girls age eleven and women up to age seventy-nine.

    What is important here is the psychiatric defenses: Why do they
    do what they do? They do not need a jail; they need a hospital. They
    are depraved because they were deprived in their home country. But more
    important is the cultural defense: they suffer from psychiatric
    cognitive disjuncture, for what does a poor man do if in his home
    country of Mexico in his jurisdiction if rape is ranked lower than cow
    stealing? Of course, he will not know how to behave here in strange
    America. This is thoroughly reprehensible.

AMY GOODMAN: Madeleine Cosman, that's her quote. She actually
is not a medical doctor. She's a Renaissance author and scholar of
sorts. Lou Dobbs?


JUAN GONZALEZ: OK, Lou, I'd like to get into--take this in a much deeper perspective than just the particular fact--

LOU DOBBS: I hope so.

JUAN GONZALEZ: --because I've been very concerned about
the lack of historical understanding of the immigration battles in our
country, going back to the Irish in the 1840s. Father Joseph
Fitzpatrick, who was a wonderful sociologist of Fordham University,
once did a study of the criminal populations in New York City in 1859,
concluded that 83% of all the criminal convictions in 1859 in New York
City were Irish--were Irish, not Canadian, Scotch, English or Germans or
the other bulk of the population in New York at the time, but were
Irish, right? Henry McLaughlin, the--

LOU DOBBS: What in the world is your point?

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, I'm getting to my point, but give me
the time to do it. We have time on this show, unlike--we don't do
soundbites here, alright?

LOU DOBBS: No, and you certainly don't do representative journalism, either.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Henry McLaughlin, Lou, was the guy who was
the main consultant to the US Congress in developing the immigration
restriction laws of the 1920s, a eugenicist who, interestingly enough,
examined the facts--high crime rates among the immigrant population in
the 1920s. Tuberculosis, disease, drunkenness--and these were the
reasons--his studies of the population of the immigrant population were
the basis upon which Congress decided on its restrictive laws to limit
the number of southern Europeans, of Jews and of other nationalities
that were coming into the country at the time. My point is that the
issue of crime and the issue of disease has always been attempted by
those who want to restrict immigration, right? But identifying--

LOU DOBBS: Juan, you're smarter than this. I mean--

JUAN GONZALEZ: --with the immigrant population coming into the country.

LOU DOBBS: You're smarter than this. You're better than this.

JUAN GONZALEZ: You know, you're doing the same thing that Henry--

LOU DOBBS: No, I'm--

JUAN GONZALEZ: --McLaughlin did in the 1920s--

LOU DOBBS: Oh, you're--

JUAN GONZALEZ: --and the same thing that was done against the Irish--

LOU DOBBS: Juan, if you believe that--

JUAN GONZALEZ: --in the 1850s.

LOU DOBBS: If you believe that, you should look into that
camera and say you apologize for trying to mislead people purposefully.
The reality is this. Have you ever once heard me say anything other
than I have the greatest respect for illegal immigrants in this
country? Illegal immigrants. Forget immigrants, illegal immigrants.
Have you ever heard me say anything other than that? Have you ever
heard me say anything other than, I believe that the illegal alien in
this entire mess is the only rational actor? Have you ever heard me say
that? Have you ever read the transcripts of my broadcasts? Do you have

JUAN GONZALEZ: Yes, I've read quite a few of your transcripts. Not all of them, I have to confess. I work with--

LOU DOBBS: Would you like to tell me? Have you ever heard
me say anything other than that? Have you ever heard me say that I want
to have immigration restricted? I mean, my god, man, do you have
any--any--sense of fidelity to the reality?


JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, I'd like to move on. I want to play a
report from your show covering former Mexican President Vicente Fox's
May 2000 visit to the United States. Your reporter Casey Wian--


JUAN GONZALEZ: Wian, I'm sorry--described the visit as a, quote, "Mexican military incursion." This aired on May 23, 2006.

    CASEY WIAN: This Mexican military incursion was fully
    authorized: a Mexican air force jet carrying President Vicente Fox, who
    was not just invited to Utah, but encouraged to visit by Governor John

    PRESIDENT VICENTE FOX: We fully support the businessmen from Utah and Mexico...

    CASEY WIAN: It's
    estimated Utah has about 100,000 illegal aliens, and the number is
    growing rapidly. Utah is also a part of the territory some militant
    Latino activists refer to as Aztlan, the portion of the Southwest
    United States they claim rightfully belongs to Mexico.

    could call this the Vicente Fox Aztlan tour, since the three states
    he'll visit--Utah, Washington, and California--are all part of some
    radical group's vision of the mythical indigenous homeland, Lou.

    LOU DOBBS: Casey, thank you very much.

JUAN GONZALEZ: The Southern Poverty Law Center criticized CNN
for airing that report, in part because, as your reporter Casey Wian
spoke, a graphic appeared on the screen. It was a map of the United
States highlighting the seven Southwestern states that Mexico
supposedly covets and calls Aztlan. The map was prominently sourced to
the Council of Conservative Citizens, which is considered by many to be
a white supremacist hate group.

AMY GOODMAN: Your response, Lou Dobbs?

LOU DOBBS: You know the response, and you know the reality. That--how long was that screen up? How long was that map up?

AMY GOODMAN: Enough to see it.

JUAN GONZALEZ: A few seconds.

LOU DOBBS: The field producer who--did you know it was from the CCC? Which is a hate group.

AMY GOODMAN: It's attributed right there. It says Council of Conservative Citizens.

LOU DOBBS: Right. And it couldn't be clearer, could it? I
mean, we weren't hiding anything. We had no idea what they were. The
field producer who used it went on the web, pulled--did a "grab," as
it's called, and put it up. And she was suspended for a day for doing


LOU DOBBS: Barbara Coe was never a guest.

AMY GOODMAN: No. She was quoted on the show--

LOU DOBBS: That's different.

AMY GOODMAN: --bitterly attacking Home Depot for betraying
Americans, apparently because Hispanic day laborers often gather in
front of the store looking for work. Not mentioned were her group,
listed by the Southern Poverty Leadership Council as a hate group, or
the fact that she routinely refers to Mexicans as "savages." Coe
recently described herself as a member of the Council of Conservative
Citizens, the white pride group formed from the remnants--

LOU DOBBS: What year was that?

AMY GOODMAN: --of the segregationist White Citizens' Council of the '50s and '60s,--

LOU DOBBS: What year was she--

AMY GOODMAN: --which Thurgood Marshall called the "Uptown Klan."

LOU DOBBS: My god, Amy, what year was that on our broadcast? What year?

AMY GOODMAN: Not clear. You can tell me what year was it on your broadcast.

LOU DOBBS: Well, actually, I can, but it was years ago. And it was before we knew what the heck was going on.


AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Spencer, head of the anti-immigration
American Patrol, has been interviewed at least twice on the show in
2004, maybe many more times after--I don't know. Spencer's website is
jammed with anti-Mexican vitriol. He pushes the idea the Mexican
government is involved in a secret plot to take over the Southwest--


AMY GOODMAN: --facts never mentioned on your show. His
group is regarded as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center
and the Anti-Defamation League.

LOU DOBBS: You know, well, I really don't care what--

AMY GOODMAN: Spencer has spoken at least twice to the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens.

LOU DOBBS: You know, I got to be honest with you. I have
no knowledge of this fellow. I have no idea--and you're not telling me
when he was on the broadcast.

AMY GOODMAN: You had him on the show. I said--

LOU DOBBS: No, I did not have him on the show. He was quoted--

AMY GOODMAN: January 7th--

LOU DOBBS: He was either quoted in a piece--

AMY GOODMAN: No, no, no. No, no, Lou. On January 7, 2004, and June 4, 2004--


AMY GOODMAN: --he was interviewed on your broadcast.

LOU DOBBS: He was not on our broadcast. He may have been in a field report. He was not on our broadcast.


AMY GOODMAN: Another guest that you've had on the show--now,
this is a very important point, and this is one that you would agree
that you've covered, and that is Arizona--this is very important--the
Protect Arizona Now referendum. In late 2004, it was revealed that the
new head of the national advisory board to Protect Arizona Now, an
anti-immigration organization, was a longtime white supremacist who was
also an editorial advisor to the racist Council of Conservative
Citizens. Although Virginia Abernethy's controversial selection was
reported prominently in virtually every Arizona paper, and despite the
fact that Lou Dobbs heavily cover the anti-immigration referendum that
Protect Arizona Now was advocating, you never mentioned the affair at
all, her controversial selection as head of this group.

LOU DOBBS: And she was featured in how many reports?

AMY GOODMAN: The point is, you covered Protect Arizona
Now extensively, and this is certainly significant, when it turns out
that the head of the board of Protect Arizona Now is--

LOU DOBBS: And when was the last time she was on the show?

AMY GOODMAN: No, the important point is, you didn't report the news of this very controversial--

LOU DOBBS: Is it possible--

AMY GOODMAN: --racist woman who headed Protect Arizona Now, which was virtually in every Arizona paper. The question is--

LOU DOBBS: Concurrent with our reporting?

AMY GOODMAN: --what you report and what you don't.

LOU DOBBS: Concurrent with our reporting?

AMY GOODMAN: Of course. This is in 2004. The point is, what you report, Lou, and what you don't report.


AMY GOODMAN: But let me give you one more clip, and that is around the issue of the Minutemen.


AMY GOODMAN: This was the Minuteman Project, organizers
calling their effort a peaceful protest over the government's failure
to secure its borders. Both the Mexican government and the Bush
administration have described the Minutemen as vigilantes. You have
been a vocal supporter.

    LOU DOBBS: I just want to be clear to the Journal
    and to this audience: I support the Minuteman Project and the fine
    Americans who make it up and all they've accomplished, fully,
    relentlessly and proudly.

AMY GOODMAN: That's you, Lou.

LOU DOBBS: That's me.

AMY GOODMAN: Bill Parmley, a Minuteman leader in Goliad
County in Texas, quit the group because of, what he described,
widespread racism. Another Texas Minuteman, Janet Ahrens, had resigned
because members, she said, wanted to "shoot the taco meat." You never
mentioned either of these people. Why not talk about these people
quitting, because they're concerned about how racist this group is?

LOU DOBBS: Well, frankly, I didn't know about it.


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  1. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
  2. hmm's Avatar
    So Dobbs is actually capable of acknowledging some mistakes? I thought he was just a poor guy in need of professional medical help, but he sounds quite rational. I guess Dobbs is not hopeless then.
  3. USC's Avatar
    Really nice post. CNN needs to get rid of Dobbs for good.

    Also below is a link to a story on the hate group, FAIR
  4. Another voice's Avatar
    This guy Dobbs felt flat on his face, I hope many people get to see this just so they know what kind of credibility this guy brings to CNN.
  5. Pete's Avatar
    Amy and Juan have done an excellent job (as usual) in cornering Lou Dobbs, but I doubt he will change his ways because he gets his bread and butter doing these despicable things and he would be out of job if he did not indulge in sensationalism. I infact pity this man for his lack of honesty.
  6.        's Avatar
    Fear not. The way things are going, one day Carlos will buy TW and employ Lou to pick fruit on his farm.
  7. Shannon (N5KOU) McGauley's Avatar
    First of all you need to know that those people in this article are not members of The Official Texas Minutemen Those people were members of the Texas Chapter of Minutemen Civil Homeland Defense better known as MCDC. We formed the 2nd week of April 2005, before MCDC filed their corporation papers so in fact we are older than them.

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