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President Bush Set to Talk Immigration With Mexican and Canadian Leaders; The Illegal Immigration Debate

Aired March 29, 2006 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We are really at ground zero for the battle on the U.S.-Mexican border. This is the border right here. I'm standing in Nogales, Arizona. A few feet in that direction is Mexico. All that stands between Mexico and the United States right here is this fence, corrugated steel.
It is really a patchwork fence, as you can see. This piece has just been soldered on. The fence was built in 1998. It stretches for some two-and-a-half miles around here in Nogales, Arizona. But it has been literally drilled through, tunneled under. Every means possible, people have tried to get through this fence.

Parts of Arizona don't even have a fence. And we will show you what it's like trying to keep people from entering the United States illegally in those area -- we went out with some very hard-working Border Patrol agents earlier today.

Tonight, we are talking about who is crossing this border, how they're coming in, what happens when they get here, and the battle over what to do about it. The story really touches all of us -- so, all angles tonight from all points on the map, Washington, D.C.; Jackson, Wyoming; New York's Chinatown; the Canadian border; Nuevo Laredo, Mexico; and Cancun, where President Bush arrived just a short time ago.

That is where we start, with CNN's Elaine Quijano.


ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When President Bush sits down with the leaders of Mexico and Canada this week, he will bring with him longstanding views on immigration policy.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're a nation of law and we ought to enforce our borders.

QUIJANO: In the red-hot debate over the issue, the president's proposed temporary worker program has infuriated fellow conservatives. Yet, he remains unflinchingly attached to the idea.

BUSH: There are hard-working people here doing jobs Americans won't do, and they ought to be here in such a way so they don't have to hide in the shadows of our society.

QUIJANO: President Bush's position is rooted in his years spent in the Texas governor's mansion, which he says gave him firsthand experience.

BUSH: Illegal immigration puts a strain on law enforcement and public resources, especially in our border communities.

QUIJANO: But his stance now is also tied to his west Texas upbringing.

Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News has covered George W. Bush for more than a decade.

WAYNE SLATER, "DALLAS MORNING NEWS": As a young man in Midland, he got to know a number of Hispanics who worked in the community. And so these are not alien people to him.

QUIJANO: In addition, Slater says Bush's time as managing partner of the Texas Rangers exposed them to immigrant baseball players.

SLATER: And I think it strengthened in George Bush's mind was understanding not simply of people as a class or a particular race, but of people who have families, have needs to work, people he understood and feels very comfortable around.

QUIJANO: In this 1999 interview, then presidential candidate George W. Bush outlined the beliefs that continue to drive his immigration policy today.

BUSH: We've got to enforce the borders, but I understand family values don't stop at the Rio Grande River. And see, what I understand is, is that when you're a man and you've got kids to feed and you're making 50 cents, and you can look up north and see the chance to make $50, and your kids are hungry, that you're going to come.

Mi casa blanca es su casa blanca.

QUIJANO: In the months after his election, the president began pushing comprehensive immigration reform. But September 11 happened and any thought of opening the borders was viewed as too risky. Now with the election-year immigration debate boiling over, and his approval ratings in the 30s, it's clear some fellow Republicans have no problem distancing themselves from their president on this divisive issue.


COOPER: Well, Elaine, the president seems willing to expend whatever is left of his political capital on this issue. Any sign he might give a little or -- or -- or make a compromise?

QUIJANO: Well, you know, it's interesting, Anderson.

The president is not showing any signs of backing down. In fact, before he left Washington for Mexico, the president made it a point to reiterate his view that, in fact, he sees improving border security as including this guest worker program, that idea that has infuriated some of his fellow conservatives. He thinks it's essential to any kind of solution put forth to improving border security -- Anderson.

COOPER: Elaine, thanks.

Tomorrow, as the president sits down with his Mexican and Canadian counterparts, the Senate is expected to take up the Judiciary Committee's version of an immigration reform bill. Now, that version allows illegal immigrants to pay a fine, keep working, and eventually qualify for permanent residence.

It more than doubles the number of border agents. It provides for a network of electronic border sensors to monitor the border, and it creates a special guest-worker program, under which workers can also earn permanent residency.

Now, that is one version. There are several. Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, wants to nix the first item. Others want a real fence, not an electronic one. There's a House version of the bill which cracks down on employers for hiring illegal immigrants.

It is a debate largely, though not exclusively, within the Republican Party. Politics are bare-knuckle and they are fascinating. We're going to address them as we go along tonight.

First, though, the people, their stories are inspiring and troubling, and they speak loudly to the promise of immigration and the problems caused by illegal immigration, problems hiding in plain sight.

First tonight, the problems, the case against, here's CNN's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): All along the Chesapeake Bay, where hard work and long hours define many jobs, low- wage jobs have drawn large numbers of immigrants. No one knows how many, but everyone has a guess, including contractor Ronnie Turner.

RONNIE TURNER, CONTRACTOR: Within the last seven or eight years, the Hispanics have quadrupled here, basically.

FOREMAN: He has no complaint with legal arrivals, but illegals are something else.

TURNER: A lot of companies hire these immigrants for a lot less wages, lowers wages, than they do, you know, other guys.

FOREMAN (on camera): You think they drive down wages for everyone?

TURNER: Oh, sure.

FOREMAN (voice-over): The Federation For American Immigration Reform, FAIR, estimates that illegals directly cost American taxpayers $70 billion a year, money for social services, emergency medical care, police, and other government agencies. And, FAIR says, wages driven by the illegal work force, may cost U.S. citizens another $10 billion annually.

Town Council President John Ford has heard it all. And he says illegals do bring unique challenges.

(on camera): Are they likely to call the police if they have a problem?

JOHN FORD, PRESIDENT, EASTON TOWN COUNCIL, MARYLAND: They're unlikely to call the police if they have a problem.

FOREMAN: Are they likely to have medical insurance?

FORD: My feeling is no.

FOREMAN: What about housing?

FORD: Housing is a problem for anybody at the lower economic level. And it's critical with the immigrant population, because of the -- the rabid influx that we're experiencing.

FOREMAN (voice-over): FAIR estimates, the nationwide cost of educating the children of illegals at $7.5 billion.

At this elementary school, immigrant children now comprise 10 percent of the student body. It's not clear how many are illegal, but principal Kelly Griffith says, when they do arrive illegally, she often does not know how old they are or what grade they should be in.

KELLY GRIFFITH, PRINCIPAL, EASTON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: It's not just about educating them academically, but it's also about really, truly educating them culturally.

FOREMAN (on camera): Many people here will tell you, so far, their community is handling all of these problems relatively well. But they worry about the future. What will happen if more and more illegal immigrants come?

TURNER: If they come in legally and work, I'm all for them. If they're here illegally, no matter what -- what the circumstances, I don't think they should be allowed to stay here.

FOREMAN (voice-over): But, right now, this area is grappling with the hard truth: Illegal immigrants are staying, more and more and more.

Tom Foreman, CNN, on the Chesapeake Bay.


COOPER: Well, that's the case -- that's the case against. The case for speaks, we think, to something you can't escape when you're out here, the simple notion -- and it's an inspiring one -- that people are willing to risk death to come to this country.

They come, and, as CNN's Joe Johns discovered, they prosper.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Antonio, not his real name, came to this country from Mexico more than 20 years ago, and took up renovating houses in Baltimore, where we met him last year, an illegal immigrant in business for himself.


JOHNS: He is exactly the kind of undocumented worker advocates of immigration reform point to in making the case that illegal workers are good for the U.S. economy. Antonio told us he works hard, pays taxes, that he hires his own employees.

ANTONIO: We produce money. No -- we no need nothing from the -- from the government.

JOHNS (on camera): When you say that, did you pay taxes last year?

ANTONIO: Yes, I pay exactly -- exactly, I pay $11,200 for taxes.

JOHNS (voice-over): In fact, undocumented workers pay a lot of taxes. Many pay real estate taxes, either as homeowners or as part of their rent. They pay sales taxes. And, according to the government, three-quarters of undocumented workers pay payroll taxes, contributing as much as $7 billion in Social Security funds that they will never claim.

Antonio says all he wants is his peace of the American dream, and that, by being here illegally, he's not stealing anybody else's dream or anybody else's job.

ANTONIO: And United States, they have many jobs. They need many hands.

JOHNS: Those who could use help from the Antonios of the world include small business owners, like Tom Wolfgang, whose refrigerated trucking company in the Baltimore area has been suffering from a work force crunch.

TOM WOLFGANG, TRUCKING COMPANY CO-OWNER: We have actually had to downsize our company over the last three years, because we can't find either truck drivers and warehouse people. We have probably downsized about 20 percent.

JOHNS (on camera): Not because of supply and demand, but because you couldn't find people?

WOLFGANG: No, actually, it curtailed sales, because there's more business than I can handle, just because I can't get the labor.

JOHNS (voice-over): Wolfgang's company doesn't hire illegal immigrants and finds it difficult to compete against the companies that do. But he's spending a lot of money, $50,000 in advertising last year alone, plus big bucks for legal help to try to get specialized visas for qualified applicants.

It's the kind of work that keep's Baltimore's immigration lawyers busy, including attorney Geoff Tobias, including attorney Jeff Tobias, who argues that the American company can't do without the immigrant labor force now working in the shadows. Take the restaurant business.

GEOFF TOBIAS, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: It would almost cease to exist. The construction industry would have a great difficulty, so many seasonal industries, agriculture, landscaping, construction, transportation.

JOHNS: And, says Tobias, companies wouldn't waste all that money paying him to help them get foreign labor if they could get U.S. workers.

TOBIAS: We're talk About 18-dollar-an-hour welding jobs. We're talking agent 18-, 15-dollar-an-hour trucking jobs -- truck driving jobs that men -- they just cannot find people to handle.

JOHNS: As for Antonio, he said he wishes he had legal status. But with it or without it, his plan is to keep on working.

ANTONIO: Maybe, some day, I take your job. Why not?

JOHNS: Joe Johns, CNN, Baltimore.


COOPER: Well, few people have covered this issue more extensively than CNN's Lou Dobbs. He is in Cancun with the president. "TIME" magazine's Joe Klein is in New York.

Our conversation took place earlier tonight.


COOPER: Lou, I want to start by talking to you about what you think should happen to the millions of illegal aliens, illegal immigrants, who are in this country right now. Let's listen to what Senator Kennedy said earlier today.



SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Look, we have about 12 million undocumented here. The alternative is, are we going to deport them? That's cost of $240 billion just financially, plus what the kind of disruption that that would have in terms of families, and, finally, the disruption it would have in terms of the American economy.


COOPER: What about that, Lou? Do you think they should be deported? DOBBS: The answer is, I don't believe they should be deported. I have never suggested that they should.

But I think the senator first is underestimating the number of illegal aliens in the country, and, secondly, minimizing the economic impact of their presence. The idea of amnesty for illegal aliens turns over effectively our immigration policy such as it is to Vicente Fox. He has been in charge of it for the past five years.

More than half of those in the country, illegal aliens, have come over in the last five years. And we're putting the emphasis in exactly the wrong place at the wrong time. The emphasis must be on border security, because without control of our borders, we cannot control immigration.

If we can't control immigration we can't reform it. And there's nothing in this guest worker program or any semblance of this legislation, that does not address border security, that would prevent another 12 or 20 million illegal aliens from entering this country over the next five years.

COOPER: Joe, what about that? Is what the -- the Senate is now suggesting, or at least the Judiciary Committee suggesting, what the president wants, is that an amnesty for the -- the illegal immigrants currently in this country?

JOE KLEIN, COLUMNIST, "TIME": Well, it's -- it's a long-term program to -- to gradually integrate them into our society, which is exactly what we should be doing.

COOPER: Well, Lou, what do you think about that?


COOPER: Should -- should there be more legal immigrants?

DOBBS: Should there be more legal? If we truly need more immigrants in this country, then we should have a United States Congress with the courage and the guts to raise the H-1B visas, to raise all of the levels of visas. We don't need a guest-worker program. We already provide for it in our immigration law.

And this business about a guest-worker program is silliness. It's all about amnesty for an estimated 12 million...

KLEIN: But, Lou, how...

DOBBS: ... to 20 million people.

KLEIN: How would you deal with those 12 million? That question remains.

DOBBS: Please, let me -- I -- it says "Anderson Cooper" up there on the...

KLEIN: What are you going to do about it? DOBBS: ... on the door there.

Let me -- let me answer Anderson's question, if I may, first, Joe.

And -- and -- and the truth of the matter is, the -- the idea of a burden, it idea of a burden here, there are 280 million legal citizens of this country. They -- they are the ones carrying the burden of 20 million illegal immigrants. Oh, it's a great benefit for those in illegal employ...

KLEIN: But, Lou, it -- you know, Lou...

DOBBS: Please.

KLEIN: Lou, the least we...


DOBBS: It's a great benefit -- it's a great benefit for illegal employers.

But don't you dare, Joe, because you know better -- don't you dare suggest that that is a benefit to working men and women, who are watching $200 billion of wages disappear every year because of illegal immigration.

KLEIN: Lou -- Lou, those are -- those -- that's...

DOBBS: They're...

KLEIN: ... apples...

DOBBS: They're paying for their health care. They're paying for their children in schools that are overcrowded.

We are failing the people who built this country, the American middle-class. Don't tell me how important illegal immigration is, because it's utter nonsense.

KLEIN: I didn't say it was -- I -- I said the legal immigration was really important.

DOBBS: You said that we were going to...

KLEIN: But -- but, Lou -- Lou, let me -- can I get one word in edgewise here?

COOPER: Joe...

DOBBS: That's up to Mr. Cooper.


COOPER: Joe, go ahead.

KLEIN: No. I'm -- I'm...

COOPER: Joe, it's your turn.


You know, all I would say is this. They're here. There are 12 million of them. We're going to have to set up a process for dealing with that. A -- a guest-worker program, leading to citizenship, is the only rational way to do that. And by the way, Lou, if they're going -- if they're going to cut our lawns, and if they're going to patronize our businesses, and if they're going to say -- pay our sales taxes, the least we can do for them is take care -- care of them when they're sick and educate their kids.

COOPER: Lou, there have been some who have suggested, though...


COOPER: ... that these -- these workers should -- you know, they can stay for another two years or so, but then have to go back to Mexico for at least a year. I mean, there are sorts of graduated programs. Which do you support?

DOBBS: Of -- of the programs that are out there, I believe the idea under the Cornyn-Kyl bill, is -- putting security first is critically important.

I think the issue of deportation is -- it's not practicable. I agree with that. I also believe that it's absolutely unconscionable to frame this debate on guest workers, when it should be about whether or not this administration is carrying out a sham, through its Department of Homeland security, to the point it cannot keep three million illegal aliens from crossing our borders every year.

KLEIN: I absolutely agree -- agree with that, by the way.

DOBBS: Joe, let me -- let me say something to you.

KLEIN: I'm just agreeing with you.

DOBBS: A guest-worker program, making a decision about those who are in this country illegally, whether it is -- they have been here seven years or 10 years, have paid taxes, not just sales taxes, Joe, but income taxes, have paid their full share, have provided for their families, and have not been a burden on society. Frankly, I am all for a process where they become legitimate citizens.


COOPER: Well, we all know how big a problem illegal immigration is. Next, we will take you on the journey. We will show you how people travel great distances to get to the U.S. border. You may surprised just how organize it all is.

And we will take you here to the border, where people are trying and failing to get into the country illegally. We saw this guy just a couple hours ago right here on this spot. We go out on patrol with U.S. border agents.

And this:


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you have got any kind of compassion at all, it seems to me, you have to be out here and doing whatever you can to relieve the suffering and save as many lives as you can.


COOPER: And these people are patrolling to help the illegal immigrants once they cross. Meet the samaritans who discovered that no good deed goes unpunished -- all that when 360 continues.


COOPER: Well, if you don't live here by the border with Mexico, you might have a hard time believing just how many people are streaming into the U.S. every day. In fact, did you know that, in this sector, the -- the -- the Tucson sector, they get about 2000; they apprehend about 2,000 illegal immigrants every single day in this month?

They're coming literally by the thousands every day. Earlier, we went out with the people trying to stop the flood, the Border Patrol.


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?

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.


COOPER: So, how exactly do would-be illegal immigrants get here to this spot, to the border? It is a slice of the story we rarely see.

Coming up, climb on board what some people call the train of death, people literally dying to get out of Latin America, a human river flowing right into the United States.

And many of those who make it across still end up here in the coroner's office, reduced to a bag of bones. We will tell you about the tragic end to these people's lives -- when 360 continues.


COOPER: Entering the U.S. -- millions have the dream. Many are chasing it illegally. How do they pull it off? How do they get here? We will take you inside the journey itself -- 360 next.


COOPER: And all those people coming here. We're here in Nogales, Arizona. It is one of the busiest hot spots of illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Now, we have already given you an inside look at border security. Now we will take you inside the journey here. It can be very long, very dangerous, and, in some cases, even deadly.

Covering all the angles, we begin the journey with CNN's Ed Lavandera in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.


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 teenage 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 this shelter in this boarder 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.


COOPER: And they keep coming. Whether that train has brought them to the edge of Texas, New Mexico, or here in Arizona, the last leg of their journey may require hitting the road. Think of this as a depot for illegal immigrants. It is on the Mexican side, not far from where we are tonight.

Just ahead we'll show you how it helps move people into the states.

That story and more ahead on 360.


COOPER: We're following the journey that illegal immigrants take to get into the United States. And no question they've got a lot of options. All of them dangerous, few are cheap, and none guaranteed. But it is big business, and for those who make it close to the border, the final leg of the journey can start at a virtual depot for human trafficking.

Here's CNN's Rick Sanchez.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Demilitarizing the border, sealing down urban areas, shifting traffic, migrant traffic into more isolated desert, desolate rain.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Kat Rodriguez (ph) is a human rights organizer who's monitored the shift in undocumented immigration away from urban border towns like Nogales to more rural areas like Altar, Mexico. They arrive there from throughout Central America, and from there they're shuttled 60 miles to the brick yard. And from there, another four and a half miles to the border town of Sasabe.

(on camera): We're in Mexico, and that is the U.S. point of entry. Undocumented immigrants can't get through there, so they're dispersed instead either to the right or to the left through the desert.

(voice over): And through the desert, we saw vans shuttling immigrants, like Benjamin (ph) from Guatemala who left home more than a month ago with nothing but this bag.

(on camera): Tienes zapatos. You have some shoes. Otro pantalones, another pair of jeans. Y tienes comida.


SANCHEZ: La manzana, some apples, some crackers. (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)? All you have in your entire life?


SANCHEZ (voice over): What he can't show us is his money. That's hidden from lurking coyotes and bandits who take advantage of desperate immigrants.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The majority of migrants that I've talked to often expect to get robbed.

SANCHEZ: And there's the desert with its cactus, snakes, scorpions and scorching sun. It's a journey that kills dozens every month, and yet many of these immigrants keep crossing, some repeatedly.

Elizabeth Madril (ph) lives in Tucson and helps newly-arrived immigrants.

(on camera): You've seen some of your clients arrive, get deported and they're back the next day by dinner time?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's an absolutely ridiculous idea that you can seal the border.

SANCHEZ (voice over): So what is the better option? Human rights workers like Rodriguez (ph) say there should be a screen process to allow immigrants to enter the U.S. legally. If need be, charging them the $2,000 they now pay to coyotes to get across. (on camera): If you could pay that $2,000 legally and be allowed in the United States, (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)? Would you pay it?


SANCHEZ: You would pay it? Yes.

(voice over): They say the backlog in immigration makes it impossible for them to wait. So they keep coming, along this newest route, along the Arizona-Mexico border.


COOPER: So that's basically just a depot in the middle of nowhere. I mean, how did it grow there? How did they know to go there?

SANCHEZ: First of all, word of mouth. People throughout Central America now know it's there.

The other thing that's going on is there's a little less vigilance there. And think about it. Most people though no one's going to try and cross through there. There's deserts, there's all kinds of animals, it's way too remote.

Guess what? They're crossing, and they're crossing in big numbers, despite the fact that a lot of people call it the literal gauntlet of death.

COOPER: More than 200 people I know died in the Tucson sector alone last year. It is a very difficult crossing. And as the -- as the months go and the summer and the heat, it really heats up, a lot of the coyotes tell them it's only a couple hours' walk, and it turns out it's several days walk and they don't have enough water for the journey.

SANCHEZ: And remember, they're coming from as far away as Tegucigalpa, Honduras. So the journey doesn't really begin there for them.

I mean, I took you through that part that's called Altar. Prior to that, they've got to go through different parts of Mexico and in many cases different parts of Central American countries.

COOPER: It is quite a journey. Rick Sanchez, thanks very much.


COOPER: People dying to get a chance at a better life. It can be hard not to feel compassion. Coming up, meet a group of people dedicated to helping illegal immigrants who cross the border, trying to ease some of their suffering. But are these merciful acts or are they crimes?

Plus, the immigration issue isn't just for border towns. We'll go far north to Jackson, Wyoming. And what's happening there might be happening in your town. Across America and the world, you're watching 360.


COOPER: Well, the firestorm that has erupted over illegal immigration is really nothing compared to the killing heat of Arizona's desert. Try air temperatures in the 130s during the summer. It is in the desert that the journey ends for so many, and so do many of their lives.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve is there covering all the angles. And as she reports, there are people determined to end some of the suffering and dying even if it breaks the law.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Volunteers hunt for illegal immigrants. Not to stop them, but to give them food, water, and medical care, even transportation to a hospital if they need it.

They are members of a group called No More Deaths.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you've got any kind of compassion at all, it seems to me you have to be out here and doing whatever you can to relieve the suffering and save as many lives as you can.

MESERVE: Lives are lost in this treacherous stretch of desert south of Tucson. At least 216 last year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, socks? Everybody has socks already?

MESERVE: Some of the illegal immigrants No More Deaths meets this day are healthy, but are lost, discouraged and asking to be turned over to the Border Patrol for return to Mexico.

Shanti Sells (ph), another member of No More Deaths, has met people like this on her patrols.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He says the Border Patrol has passed him two or three times and hasn't stopped for him.

MESERVE (on camera): Last July, Shanti Sells (ph) and a colleague were transporting three dehydrated immigrants to a hospital for medical treatment when they were stopped on this road by the Border Patrol. The volunteers were arrested and charged with transporting illegal aliens, a felony.

ISABEL GARCIA, ATTORNEY AND ACTIVIST: I think it's an absolute outrage and misuse of public funds to prosecute two young people that were trying to save lives.

MESERVE (voice over): But the head of the Border Patrol here is adamant.

CHIEF MICHAEL NICLEY, BORDER PATROL TUCSON SECTOR: There's no free ride for someone who wraps themselves in the cloak of humanitarian aid and yet violates the law. There is no special dispensation, if you will, for somebody who's violating the law for a certain set of reasons.

MESERVE: Laine Lawless couldn't agree more. Head of a group called Border Guardians, Lawless is crashing a meeting of No More Deaths.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Laine, Border Guardians. I'm excited to be here.

MESERVE: No More Deaths is not excited but let's her stay and invites her to participate. There is no changing Lawless' opinion of her host and what she sees as their aiding and abetting of illegal immigration.

LAINE LAWLESS, BORDER GUARDIANS: It's all about transporting them away from the border. Humanitarianism is just a cover.

MESERVE: While we are with No More Deaths, they direct a group of migrants to hide when they hear what they believe is a Border Patrol helicopter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You better get under the tree over there.



MESERVE: When he was a pastor in the 1980s, John Feif (ph) gave sanctuary to Central American refugees and was convicted of harboring and transporting illegal aliens. But he denies that is part of No More Deaths' agenda and he rejects complaints that the group's provision of food, water and medical care is encouraging illegal immigration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We provide no incentive at all. The incentive is all hungry children and desperate families in Mexico.

MESERVE: In Tucson, No More Deaths holds a vigil for those who have died in the desert, reading and posting the names of those who have perished.

Shanti Sells (ph) is here but three names are not. The names of the men in her car when she was arrested last July.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, in the Sonoran Desert.


COOPER: Well, from the border to high in the Rocky Mountains, the destination for thousands of illegal immigrants, it's in a resort town that caters to the rich and famous. That story coming up.

Also, the protests in California. Thousands are demonstrating and they're getting their marching orders from just one person. We'll tell you who it is ahead on 360.


COOPER: That is a live picture right here on the border of Nogales, Arizona, about a two and a half mile stretch of fence, then the fence ends. And there is -- well, there's open desert, and a lot of people crossing. Two thousand people arrested each day in the Tucson sector here in Arizona.

Up to this point tonight we've talked a lot about the journey that illegal immigrants take to the border, how some succeed in getting to America and how some return back and how some even die trying. For the ones that do make it across, however, the hard part is far from over. They then have to provide for their families and put food on the table.

Thousands are doing just that. And in places that may surprise you.

All angles tonight from all points of the map.

Here's CNN's Gary Tuchman from Jackson, Wyoming.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's 1,3000 miles away from the Mexican border. It's cold and snowy, even in the springtime. But that hasn't stopped Teton County, Wyoming, home of the Jackson Hole ski resort, from having one of the most dramatic increases of Mexican immigrants in the United States.

Sergio and Fernanda Sosa moved here with their four children.

(on camera): Do you like Wyoming?


TUCHMAN: Over the last 15 years there has been a 1,700 percent increase in the number of Mexicans here. Sergio and Fernanda clean condos near the ski resort.

(on camera): In a good week, how much money do your and your wife make here?

SOSA: It's around $1,100.

TUCHMAN: Eleven hundred dollars?

SOSA: For a week.

TUCHMAN (voice over): He says he and his wife would be lucky to make $150 a week back home.

In a posh resort town there are many jobs to fill, and locals usually don't want the more menial ones.

Scott Horn is a vice president with the resort.

(on camera): What would happen if all the Mexicans who came here went back to Mexico?

SCOTT HORN, JACKSON HOLE RESORT, HUMAN RESOURCES: Unfortunately, not only us, but a lot of businesses in this town would have to shut down.

TUCHMAN (voice over): Linda Churney (ph) is the housekeeping boss.

(on camera): How many of your housekeepers are not Mexican?


TUCHMAN (voice over): Fifteen years ago, there were fewer than 200 Mexicans in this county. Now, in a county of 18,000, there are around 3,000, maybe more, because many are believed to be here illegally.

But in this health food restaurant there are eight documented Mexicans who work here among a total of 12 employees.

Jesus Lacaraga (ph) moved here five years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I got here I found the most beautiful people in the world.

TUCHMAN (on camera): In Wyoming?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually in this place.

TUCHMAN: Jackson?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Jackson. So I like it. I love it.

TUCHMAN: You like the people but you like the money, too, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, yes. It's part of it. It's helped us.

TUCHMAN (voice over): It appears the Mexicans and long-time residents of this Old West community get along well.

Steve Dure (ph) leads the Chamber of Commerce.

(on camera): Is there any tension between the old-timers and the Mexicans who've moved here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that's been a learning curve where no one likes change. And this is an old cow town, so having any foreigners, even from Minnesota here, was a big deal. I'm from Minnesota. And so that's changed over time, and now we embrace the Hispanic and Latino workforce because we're all from someplace else.

TUCHMAN (voice over): At the Latino Resources Center, where new arrivals get advice and assistance, there are always new faces coming in.

CARMINA OAKS, LATINO RESOURCES CENTER: If they find a job, you know, that they can come and pursue their dreams, they will be here.

TUCHMAN: For many Mexicans, chilly Teton County, Wyoming, continues to be a hot spot.


TUCHMAN: Now, there is some grumbling among some of the non-Mexicans about the influx, but there's no definite answers from the people we've talked to about what should be done about the jobs if the Mexicans would leave.

Now, there is one more factoid, a very interesting one at that. There's one hospital here in Jackson. Back in 1990, there are 330 births at that hospital. None of them Latino babies.

Fast forward to 2005. More than 100 Latino babies porn at that hospital. That's about a quarter of all the newborns in this county -- Anderson.

COOPER: And where do most of the workers there, where do they live?

TUCHMAN: A lot of them live 50, 60, 70 miles away. And a lot of them room with each other because the real estate here is so expensive.

But we should tell you that many of the non-Mexican ski bums who come here to work also live together and also five 40, 50, 60 miles away.

COOPER: All right. Gary Tuchman, thanks.

And we want to thank our international viewers for watching as well.

Coming up from Nogales, the case for zero tolerance on illegal immigration. We'll have that story.

And this...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So they have to work very low-end jobs, and employers know that. Employers will say, hey, look, you know, I know you're illegal, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And they take advantage of them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take advantage.


COOPER: The story in New York, home to an estimated half a million illegal immigrants.

Also, how immigration can split families right down the middle. The story of a sister and a brother on opposite sides when 360 continues.



ANNOUNCER: Battle on the border. Jobs, security, the future. The president takes the immigration fight to Mexico.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Many people who have come into our country are helping our economy grow. It's just a fact of life.

ANNOUNCER: But with his party divided, can he save the GOP from political civil war?

Desperate dreams. The illegal immigrants of Chinatown working around the clock in sweatshops and living in horrible conditions. Tonight, the high price of freedom.

And making a run for it told in pictures. Border cross: the life and death journey to come to America.


ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, "Hiding in Plain Sight: Illegal Immigrants."

Live from Nogales, Arizona, here's Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: And we are right on the Arizona-Mexico border. This the fence.

You've heard so much about it. It's -- it is corrugated steel. It is -- has certainly seen better days. This piece here has just been soldered on.

This fence has been drilled through, it has been tunneled under. People have thrown rocks at the border agents.

The fence goes down for about a mile in that direction, another mile and a half in the other direction. It's a total of two and a half miles fence. But here in Arizona there are plenty of miles that have no fence at all. And that is where some of the biggest problems lie.

We have a very full hour ahead here at ground zero for a story that is playing out personally, politically, and geographically, because you cannot find a spot in the country anymore that is not somehow touched by illegal immigration. All angles tonight from all points op the map.

We're talking about Washington, D.C.; Jackson, Wyoming; New York's Chinatown; the Canadian border; Nuevo Laredo, Mexico; Cancun, where President Bush arrived just a short time ago.

And that's where we begin with CNN's Elaine Quijano.


ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When President Bush sits down with the leaders of Mexico and Canada this week he will bring with him longstanding views on immigration policy.

BUSH: We're a nation of law, and we ought to enforce our borders. QUIJANO: In the red-hot debate over the issue, the president's proposed temporary worker program has infuriated fellow conservatives, yet he remains unflinchingly attached to the idea.

BUSH: Recognizes there are hard-working people here doing jobs Americans won't do, and they ought to be here in such a way so they don't have to hide in the shadows of our society.

QUIJANO: President Bush's position is rooted in his years spent in the Texas governor's mansion, which he says gave him first-hand experience.

BUSH: Illegal immigration puts a strain on law enforcement and public resources, especially in our border communities.

QUIJANO: But his stance now is also tied to his west Texas upbringing.

Wayne Slater of the "Dallas Morning News" has covered George W. Bush for more than a decade.

WAYNE SLATER, "DALLAS MORNING NEWS": As a young man in Midland, he got to know a number of Hispanics who worked in the community. And so these are not alien people to him.

QUIJANO: In addition, Slater says Bush's time as managing partner of the Texas Rangers exposed him to immigrant baseball players.


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