RUSH: We are thrilled to have with us one of the good guys and one of our good friends here to join us, the new White House press secretary, Tony Snow. Tony, welcome to the EIB Network. “Welcome back,” I should say, “to the EIB Network.”
SNOW: Exactly right. Great to be here, Rush.
RUSH: So, Tony, how are things going for you up there? I have to tell you, I think it was your first day — and I forget at what point in your briefing you made this point; I think it was toward the end — you said something that really touched me. You looked out at the reporters, and I guess you’d gotten some kind of a question, I don’t remember what it was, but you said (paraphrasing), you know, “Look, gang. Look at where we are. We are all really fortunate to work in this place, and it’s an awesome responsibility, and we have to treat it with great respect.” I’m paraphrasing what you said, but the people in the White House press pool I think have never been spoken to that way —
RUSH: — in terms of being asked to consider just how fortunate they are —
RUSH: — to have the position they’ve got.
SNOW: Well, it struck me the first day I was here. I have a wonderful — I’m looking out — my West Wing office right now, and I see all the TV positions, but there’s a walkway that leads out to Pennsylvania Avenue, and I take little walks, and I went back, and then I turned around and I looked at the White House, and I saw those big columns on the North Portico, and I thought, “I’m working at the White House!” You know, and I’ve worked here before, but somehow when you go out, it does give you the chills — and then I made my way down, and I was talking to a guy who’s been working here for 30 years, and he talked about how much he’d loved the place and all the people he knew and we were walking around and looking at different things, and it’s one of the… You know, it is really easy, when you come to work at the same place every day, to get blas? about it. But you really never should get blas?, even for a minute, about being at the White House.
RUSH: How long is your day? I’ve often been curious when you have to get there; when you get home.
CALLER: Well, let’s see. Today I will have gotten here about six in the morning and I’ll get home, nine or 9:15 at night. Now, that’s a little longer than usual, but at least at the beginning it’s getting here between 5:15 and six and getting out between 7:30 and 8:30.
RUSH: Now, as to your health, are you still taking any treatments, chemo?
SNOW: No. Fortunately I’m done with treatments. I’m done with chemo. I will still have some aftereffects that will take another year probably to work their way from the system, from the chemo that I concluded last September. But I had two operations last year, the last one in November, and so every three months what we do is we take CAT scans to make sure I’m still clean. We do a blood test to look for cancer markers, but the last time the CAT scan was described at “pristine,” and that was about a week before I accepted the job. Actually it was like the day before I accepted the job is when I get the report, and the blood test was good, too. The doctor said the job wouldn’t give me cancer. (Laughing.) He said the only danger was it might give me heartburn.
RUSH: (Laughing.) Your energy level is back to normal, pretty much, then?
SNOW: Yeah, yeah.
RUSH: For you to keep this kind of schedule?
SNOW: Yeah, exactly. The only thing I miss is the opportunity to kind of work out, and as I get more comfortable with the job and more efficient I’ll have a little more time, get home earlier, take care of myself a little better. But right it’s now that early rush of activity where you’re trying to learn all the policies and get yourself part of the team. It takes a little longer.
RUSH: Well, that’s right. Now you get sent out; you brief the media, then you answer their questions. You have to be informed by something or somebody before you get out there. Who informs you? Do you have actual meetings every day. With who?
SNOW: Oh, yeah.
RUSH: With who?
SNOW: It’s a reporting job. At a bare minimum we have what’s called senior staff, and that’s all the sort of top-tier advisors of the president. We have a morning meeting every day. But I’ll run around and, you know, if necessary I can walk into the president’s office and say, “Sir, what do I need to know?” I have not abused that privilege, I’ll have you know. But quite often I’ll just hoof it to whatever department or whatever office. If somebody’s got a question about an individual I ask the individual. If somebody’s got a question about the policy, I ask the people who do the policy. The thing that I really kind of underestimated is how much this is a reporting job. (Laughing.) There are always people in a bureaucracy who are going to try to clutch information and hold it close and tight to their chest, and I have to say, “Sorry about that, but the American people need to know.” So, you know, I hustle and I’ll talk to other departments and agencies. I mean, this week I’ve talked to the secretary of state; I’ve talked to people at the Treasury Department, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Justice. You’ve got to make whatever calls are necessary to get the information.
RUSH: So it’s a reporting job with advocacy though?
SNOW: Well, absolutely. What you’re doing is you’re trying to figure out exactly what the facts are so that you can go out and present the president’s policies and answer questions about them.
RUSH: Do you go through mock rehearsals of daily press briefings?
SNOW: We do a little bit of that, yeah, especially now because I’m still getting my feet wet. Maybe as we go forward we won’t do it. But I actually did do briefings a day on a typical day. The first one is called a “gaggle.” That’s off camera. It’s a little shorter, 15, 20, maybe 30 minutes. Then you do the on camera briefing later, and I’m doing murder boards before both of them. I have people toss me questions, because sometimes there are policy points that I don’t know and it’s really good to say, “I don’t know,” while you’re in your office as opposed to out there on the podium.
RUSH: So are you still in your honeymoon period with the press corps?
SNOW: I think so. But, you know, I also understand that such things are shortly lived. I’ll enjoy it while it’s here, but (Laughing.) I’m certainly not going to take it for granted.
RUSH: You said something about you have to call people. I would think… Now, you’re the first press secretary I’ve ever asked any questions to —
RUSH: — and I’m sorry if these questions are na?ve, but it seems to me like the responsibility you have, any press secretary has, is heavy. I mean, it is awesome. You don’t know the questions you’re going to get. Maybe you can predict them nine out of ten times, but there’s always the oddball that you’re going to get.
RUSH: And, yeah, if you don’t know it’s best to say you don’t know but it’s expected that you’re going to know. It’s expected that you’re going to have to have an answer, and I would think people would be calling you in the administration, “Tony, here’s what we’re doing over here. Here’s what’s going to come up today.” You make it sound like you have to call them and drag information out of them.
SNOW: Well, sometimes you have to do that, and sometimes you just don’t know what the policy is. Rather than having people call in every day, what we are setting up is a series of regular phone calls with all the people who do this stuff for all the cabinet agencies. I’ve had a number of conversations with my peers especially at the Departments of State and Defense. So I do keep tabs on things, but if somebody, you know, has to figure out what the president said about… For instance, today, I had to go back and do back research on anything the president had to say about Ken Lay, just in case the subject came up, you know, and so I had to make some calls just the people who had the institutional memory and could get their hands on the data, and, yeah, I expect that to be part of the job. Over time I’ll have the files that are good enough and also people will call me to give me a heads up about things that are likely to happen. Look, I gotta tell you. When I do make a call (laughing), people react pretty quickly. I don’t have any problem getting the information.
RUSH: I’m sure. What about the cameras? I keep hearing back and forth cameras are going to be taken out of the briefing —
SNOW: No. No.
RUSH: — that people want them out, or they’re going to stay. What do you want in that regard?
SNOW: No, look, I don’t think there’s any way you can take the cameras off the briefing. One of the reasons there was some conversation — and this was mostly by previous press secretaries, Marlin Fitzwater and Mike McCurry, and David Sanger of the New York Times had also suggested it. I think they thought that the briefings were getting a little too zoo-ey, too much political theater, not enough information. And, you know, at least in the first two weeks we’ve done pretty good on the informational side. I think if we avoid having these fisticuffs in the briefing room I don’t think there will be any problem with —
RUSH: Just wait, Tony, ’til the honeymoon ends. It’s an election year.
SNOW: Oh, I’m ready! Don’t worry.
RUSH: All right, can you hang on for one more segment?
RUSH: I gotta take a break. We’ll be back. We’re talking with the White House Press Secretary, former guest host of this program, Tony Snow.
RUSH: We are with White House Press Secretary, former guest host of this program, Tony Snow whose now-terrific career launched (laughing) while sitting behind the Golden EIB Microphone.
RUSH: Hey, Tony, I’ve noticed that you’re going out of your way to correct inaccurate reporting, more so than past secretaries, press secretaries, that I recalled. Is that an agenda that you had that you brought with you as an outsider, having watched these briefings before?
SNOW: I think it’s a responsibility. You know, I’ve been saying to the members of the press, “Look, you guys gotta hold us accountable, but I’ve got to hold you accountable, too.” So I’ve made it pretty clear that, you know, if they get something wrong, we’ll issue a correction, and for the most part — it’s interesting, because at first a lot of people react with shock and alarm and — they kind of get it. We’ve had to issue fewer corrections this week.
RUSH: Yeah, well, that’s excellent. I got high hopes.
RUSH: But, you know, I’ve always fantasized about having your job for one day, and I generally have this fantasy after watching David Gregory and the “zoo” that you referred to earlier, that was really hit a peak with poor old Scott McClellan. But I don’t think I would want it right now, because I would have a tough time doing your job. I know you’re speaking to the press, but I don’t understand the disconnect that exists between Washington and constituents. It’s a bigger disconnect than I’ve seen in 18 years: illegal immigration, the reaction of the House leadership to the William Jefferson search, office search. Everybody in Washington seems tone deaf on immigration to what the American people want and say, and it defies logic — and I don’t know how you explain it to people.
SNOW: Well, I mean, for instance, the issue came up today, and you and I probably disagree at least in part on this, but my view is the president’s right — and I’m not just saying this; I said it while I was running a radio show — that if you’re going to deal with this problem, you gotta deal with everything at once, and here’s the reason why. I think border security is something that’s going to take a couple of years to get right. So already, by the way, the president is going to start moving assets first week of June. He’s not going to need a special bill from Congress, and that’s the good news. But the fact is it’s going to take a couple of years to get every —
RUSH: You’re talking about the wall?
SNOW: I’m talking about the wall; I’m talking about electronic surveillance; I’m talking about getting Border Patrol agents trained up, because at different places you’re going to need different stuff. In some places you need a wall. In some places you need agents, and in some places where you’ve only got, you know, 200 miles of Sonoran desert and mountains, you probably need sensors and surveillance. You put in place what’s necessary to make that part of the border secure. So it takes a while to do it. Now, I don’t think anybody wants to sit around and wait to go after employers who are hiring people illegally and know it. You want to go after them right away, and I don’t think people want to wait to figure out who the illegals are. You want to find out that is rapidly as possible, and I, frankly, don’t think people want to wait to start figuring out what we do with the 11 or 12 million illegals, and that’s really what the president… It’s interesting. I’ve heard… Every conservative I talked to on Capitol Hill says, “We want to do that stuff, but we want to do it later.” My answer is, “Why? Don’t you want to go after employers now and don’t you want to figure out who the illegals are now and don’t you want to start solving this mess now?”
RUSH: But the Senate bill doesn’t do any of this though!
SNOW: Well, sure it does. What the president’s proposing does. I mean, you take a look, for instance, at the issue of illegals. You get these tamper-proof IDs with biometric stuff. You can’t fake that. Now, once you have that in place, employers no longer can say, “Man, I don’t know. That birth certificate looked okay to me, and that fake driver’s license, I thought it was legitimate.” Suddenly you’ve got something you can’t fake.
RUSH: Wait, now who’s going to get these cards? Is it legal employees going to get them or illegals?
SNOW: Well, see, it’s going to be illegals.
RUSH: Well, how you going to find ’em?
SNOW: Easy. The employer’s now under pressure.
SNOW: If they don’t have it, guess what? They get hit. Furthermore, as you know, in a marketplace like ours if somebody thinks that a competitor nearby is using illegals and undercutting them in terms of price and stuff, guess what they’re going to do? Their first call is going to be to the immigration authorities to say, “You know, that go is hiring illegals and I’ll bet he doesn’t have the documentation for them.” If you don’t have it all of a sudden now, unlike in the old days, if you don’t have that particular kind of ID, you’re in trouble — and so it gets enforceable in two ways. The employees have to find it if they want to work, and the employers have to make sure they got it if they don’t want to end up paying big fines and wind up in jail.
RUSH: Why should we believe there’s going to be enforcement now when there hasn’t been since ’86, there hasn’t been in Simpson-Mazzoli?
SNOW: Well, a couple of reasons.
RUSH: Because the enforcement appears to be voluntary on the illegals. They’ve got to show up to pay the fine. They’ve got to show and up go to the back of the line. They’ve got to show up and do this. Now they’ve got to show up and get this card, this ID card. What’s the incentive for them?
SNOW: There are several reasons. First, on the ID card, again, you get the discipline from the employer side. The employer doesn’t have it, and they’re doing it — and you and I have seen places, you know, in our neighborhoods and elsewhere where guys were probably illegally, they get there they work early they do all the stuff but they’re illegal! Now if all of a sudden somebody shows up and says, “Show me your cards,” and they don’t have it, that does change behavior. The other thing is, this issue is of far more concern now than it was in 1986. From 1986 until, what, eighteen months ago, most people didn’t give a rip. I mean, they really didn’t. Now all of a sudden it’s top of mind, which means the people who see activity that they find objectionable and illegal, they now think, “Okay, I can call the government to do this. I can call the cops on this. I can call the Border Patrol. I can call the legal enforcement.” They suddenly realize that you’re going to have a government that also has gotten a message because for a long time people didn’t the give a rip — and, as you know, this town, Washington, response when people say, “Hey, you gotta do something,” and I think the message has been received pretty loud and clear. We need to do something.
RUSH: Well, I’ve been aware of it for longer than a year and half, I haven’t been able to go to California for the last five years and not have a conversation about this among people who are livid.
RUSH: Prop 187 certainly older than a year and a half.
SNOW: Well, that’s right. That goes back to Pete Wilson years, but I’m telling you: rising to the level of national concern. It’s been hot in California for a long time; it’s been heating up in Arizona, but now it’s an issue. It’s an issue in Iowa; it’s an issue in Utah; it’s an issue in Ohio; it’s an issue in Maine. It’s now an issue that has reached all around the country and people are concerned about it. So before, you just didn’t have enough momentum to get everybody in Washington sort of focused on it. I mean, look, it has taken this long. Do you think that the House speaker was giving speeches on this three years ago? I don’t think so. I’d have to go back and look at the record, but the point is issues like this take a certain amount of time to get to a boil.
RUSH: Well, they do. The history of this is it takes 20 years. Every 20 years it metastasizes. It gets to the point where people notice it, and it becomes a burden in their lives that they can’t explain. They don’t understand why “illegal” doesn’t mean anything. They don’t understand why they [people for enforcing the border] are called “nativists.” I mean, Tony, just politically here, I’m talking about what’s coming out of the Senate now.
RUSH: You know, it clearly is amnesty. There’s no other way to describe it.
SNOW: Well, you see —
RUSH: Now, wait. Wait just a second.
RUSH: It seems to me to be a death knell for the Republican Party, and we have Republicans going along. This is nothing more than a plan to get a bunch of future Democrat voters in the country.
SNOW: Okay, two things. Number one, the 1986 bill, you remember the one first granted amnesty to three million illegals? You know what they categorized what level of crime it was to cross the border illegally? It’s a misdemeanor. You know what they listed as the penalty? Nothin’. So for 20 years they basically said, “It’s a misdemeanor, by the way. There’s no punishment for it.”
RUSH: Wait, wait, wait. That’s not what [Reagan Administration Attorney General] Ed Meese said. Ed Meese in the New York Times piece yesterday said he looks at the legislation today versus Simpson-Mazzoli, and it seems practically identical.
SNOW: Yeah, but I’m — I’m telling you what the ’86 bill said. Here’s what this bill says. It says if you’re here illegally — and I guarantee you Simpson-Mazzoli didn’t do this. It didn’t say: “You gotta pay a fine,” one thousand, 2,000. I don’t know. They’ll figure it out. Number two: You gotta pay back taxes. Number three: You have to stay continuously employed and you gotta have that card so that we can track you. You’re going to have regular background checks. You also have to keep your nose clean. You have one felony or three misdemeanors, you’re outta here. You gotta learn English. You do all that stuff, and what happens? You go to the back of the line — that’s right: you go to the back of the line even though you’re on American soil — and you’re on probation for a dozen years. You break the law? You don’t keep working? You’re not paying taxes? We don’t know where you are? You do any of this stuff —
RUSH: But that’s not onerous! That’s —
SNOW: Wait a minute. The people that do this are going to have to pay more money and wait longer to stand up to become American citizens than any group in history!
RUSH: Forgive me, but none of that is onerous. We all have to do that stuff anyway! This is being passed on as a hardship to these people. Learning English is of benefit to them.
SNOW: No, no, no.
RUSH: We have to all keep our noses clean. This $2,000 fine? Chuck Grassley says doesn’t have to be paid for eight years!
SNOW: Well, I’m telling you that — look, that’s something that Chuck Grassley has to work out, as he knows. He’s got a say in this, and this bill is hardly done. Both houses are going to be doing it and you and I both know the House has the considerably tougher stance on this than the Senate does.
RUSH: I know, they do. Hey, look I’ve got 30 seconds, and I don’t know if you have to go or not.
SNOW: No, I can stay.
RUSH: Okay, because I hate to interrupt you in the middle of —
RUSH: No, I don’t want to drive you of the opportunity to make your point —
SNOW: Yeah, I love it.
RUSH: — on the largest radio talk show on the country and I don’t want to be rude and cut you off on it. We’ll give one more segment after we come back from the break at the bottom of the hour.
RUSH: We are back with White House Press Secretary Tony Snow here on the EIB Network. Tony, one of the things I’m hearing from people that has them the most agitated regards Senator McCain’s answer to the question of what happens to these people who have committed identity theft to get fraudulent Social Security cards and then bank accounts, a driver’s license and all that, who will be forgiven, no penalties whatsoever? You and I go out and steal somebody’s identity, and we’ve got hell to pay. These people are going to be forgiven for that, and they’re going to get their Social Security benefits to boot. This just offends people’s sensibilities.
SNOW: Yeah, and, look, I’m working for a White House where we just had an identity theft initiative and everybody is worried on about what’s been going on with the veterans. So rather than responding directly to Senator McCain as, now, a spokesman for the president, I think it’s safe to say that that’s one of those issues that you know is going to get on the table when they get to conference, when the House and Senate start taking a look at all the fine print.
RUSH: Yeah, it is, but in the meantime, a Republican is proposing it, and it baffles me, because it seems to me there’s some tone deafness in regards to the damage this is going to do to the Republican Party.
SNOW: I think what happens is everybody just sort of cherry picks what seems to be kind of the most outrageous thing, and I’d say, “Step back and look again,” because I’ll just tell you what the president’s talking about, and it makes a lot of sense. He is trying to get more assets on the border more quickly than even the House of Representatives in its bill proposed. In other words, be serious about enforcement; start doing it, hey, how about two weeks from now? So that’s the first thing. The second thing is, then you figure out we clearly didn’t do the job when it came to enforcing the law with employers or monitoring illegals. So how do we fix that? That’s the second step. That’s the IDs and the steps against employers. The third thing is: how do you make sure that you have law-abiding citizens? And I think the Senate has addressed that when they talk about these things. So there are going to be plenty of items either in the House or Senate bill that somebody can say, “Can you believe they’re doing that?” And at this point, you know, it’s good to get people concerned about it, and to highlight as many of those things as possible. The reason they take these things before the House and Senate is so they can clean it up.
RUSH: Well, let me tell you why I’m worried about this House-Senate conference. I also thought the Supreme Court was going to fix the mistake that was McCain-Feingold, and they didn’t, and we’re stuck with an abridgement of free speech in campaigns. And I’ve sort of learned my lesson on, “Yeah, this is onerous, and that’s bad, but it will be taken care of later. The president will veto it or it won’t stand or the House will take it out.” The fact that it’s in there at all, some of these things, they just defy logic and explanation to me. Let me give you just a couple excerpts of Ed Meese’s piece yesterday, because I referred to it — and he’s very supportive of this administration, and I know that you know that. But he was talking about when he was with the Reagan administration in ’86 during Simpson-Mazzoli and he said, “In exchange for the amnesty, which is what they called it in ’86, the president, Reagan, decided that border security and enforcement of immigration laws would be greatly strengthened, in particular through sanctions against employers who hired illegal immigrants. If jobs were the attraction for illegal immigrants then cutting off that option was crucial. Path to acceptance was not automatic. The legislation stipulated several conditions. Immigrants had to pay application fees and?” It almost reads word-for-word this bill in the Senate as to what ’86 Simpson-Mazzoli did.
SNOW: No. It —
RUSH: He said, “The current Senate proposal would place those who have resided legally in the US on a path to citizenship provided that they meet a similar set of conditions and pay a fine and back taxes.” It’s almost identical. The question is this: We were told in ’86, “We’re going to get border security,” and we didn’t. We’re being told now we’re going to get it but we didn’t in the past and a lot of people have — it’s easy to believe that something that hasn’t happened isn’t going to happen again, or that something that has happened is going to happen again, and when you have so many things identical in this bill to ’86 —
SNOW: But they’re not identical. It’s not as if people haven’t learned from ’86. We’re all talking about it. I mean, we’re talking about what they didn’t do. What Ed didn’t mention is, they didn’t impose any penalties for coming here illegally. They didn’t end up putting people on [the border]. The president’s already talking about getting 6,000 Border Patrol agents and doubling the number during the course of his administration to make sure you got assets on the border as fast as possible. They didn’t do that in ’86. People have been able to fake their way past employers because that wasn’t addressed in ’86. Guess what? Everybody learned from that. So, you know, it’s very easy to say, “We’ve been here before,” but, guess what? Some people actually do learn from the mistakes of prior administrations, and that’s what we’ve done. We’ve learned from the mistakes because we get it. Here’s another interesting thing — and this is a little known fact.
After September 11th, guess what happened? Because, A, the economy seemed a little bit shaky to some people, but also because there was greater concern about border security, do you realize that the number of illegal border crossings declined by a third? We don’t have, even though everybody is concerned about this right now, the numbers have actually been down. We’ve got a chance if we do it right to go ahead and discourage people. You don’t think public displays of having federal officials — federal force discouraging people from coming over? Of course it does. And walls are going to discourage people and having people get rounded up. The other thing is we’ve had inefficient use of our Border Patrol. A lot of Border Patrol guys, they pick up somebody at the border — and you’ve heard this and I’ve heard it too — then they’ve got to drive a couple of hours to a jail. They spend a couple of hours doing paperwork, then they turn around and drive back. Guess what? They’ve lost a day. One of the reasons we’re putting National Guard in there is to make sure that Border Patrol agents don’t have to be cab drivers. We can have other people doing transportation. We want the people who are trained to do this stuff and are good at it and have the specific skills to pull off the job, we want them there, and we want more of them. So… And I love Ed, but I disagree with him. This bill is nothing like Simpson-Mazzoli. It defines this as a crime. It has specific punishments. What Ed’s talking about is that they said to illegals, “Now you have to do the same thing everybody else does. You know, you gotta pay for your paperwork.” Anybody who has been through it process either getting a green card or going to citizenship knows what that is. All that did was say to illegals, “Now you have to do the same stuff as everybody else.” We’re adding to that two other things. Number one: you’re going to pay a fine. Number two: you’re going to pay back taxes — actually several other things — Three: you’re going to have a federal background check on a regular basis —
RUSH: Yeah, for three of five years!
SNOW: — and we’re going to keep an eye on you!
RUSH: Back taxes for three of five years. The fine is much less than what they paid the coyote to get them in the country in the first place. It’s a sweet deal.
SNOW: Well then lobby people to make the penalties stiffer! I don’t think you disagree with the idea of having —
RUSH: No —
SNOW: All I said was in the past there wasn’t a punishment. If you don’t think the punishment is big enough, ask for a bigger one.
RUSH: I just don’t (sigh). My frustration is that none of these rules in the past have ever been enforced, and what’s going to happen to the people who don’t follow the new rules in this bill, if it ever becomes law? What’s going to happen to them? We don’t have the —
SNOW: In many cases it’s bye-bye, period. It’s not only bye-bye, but it’s bye-bye not to the border, back to your original hometown. There are some treaty constraints we have to deal with. Some countries don’t accept them back. We’re working with them on that. See, that’s another piece of puzzle that nobody thought of in the past.
SNOW: You know, you’ve gotta give us a little credit, Rush, for learning from past mistakes. You’re telling me we’ve made past mistakes. Duh! (Laughing.) We know that!
RUSH: I understand. Look. (Laughing). I’m not denying or favoring credit. I’m just simply looking at what’s happening.
RUSH: We are not enforcing the laws of Simpson-Mazzoli now, and because we didn’t enforce them we’ve got this problem.
SNOW: We’re not enforcing a law that said it was a misdemeanor for which there’s no punishment! How do you enforce a law that says, “Oh by the way? There’s no punishment.” How do you enforce it? I mean, the whole point of having enforcement is to have a penalty —
RUSH: That’s not what I’ve been reading.
SNOW: — and guess what important thing they forgot to do? They forgot to do what the punishment was.
RUSH: It’s not misdemeanor. It’s a felony to cross the border illegally.
SNOW: No, it’s a misdemeanor.
RUSH: It is a misdemeanor?
SNOW: They wanted to make it a felony in the House bill. It’s a misdemeanor!
RUSH: All right, then I am misinformed on that. By the way, in 1986 — just two more points here — they developed a form called the I-9 and the employers were to question employees and those forms are to be audited, and they rarely are including in this administration. The I-9 formed contained information about an employee’s place of birth, et cetera. Now we’re going to have the card, the ID card apparently replacing the I-9. What’s the difference in a piece of paper form and a card if it’s not going to be audited and if the —
SNOW: Number one there’s going to be money set aside for more vigorous enforcement, and I think if you’ve been… You can have somebody do a Google — or you can Google, you’re computer-literate. You can take a look and see that there has been pretty stepped-up enforcement. If you look at a lot of local papers recently, you’ll find businesses where they’ve gone in and been forced to pay fines or in some cases shut down because they’ve been knowingly using illegals and in some cases these guys can’t even fake it. They don’t even have the fake ID or the fake birth certificate. There’s a big difference between being able to, you know, to go to some convenience store and have somebody in the back room make up a fake ID. You can’t fake your fingerprints or the — I mean I don’t know what kind of Jack Bauer stuff they’re going to use, but it’s going to be something that is unique to that person. You can’t fake that stuff.
RUSH: I’ve researched the card. I understand all of that, but it’s still, if an employer still takes somebody who doesn’t have a card and you don’t find out about it, the government doesn’t find out about it, then —
SNOW: Yeah, but don’t you think — and this gets back — you don’t want the government monitoring every business. You and I both know that if you said, “Okay, we’re going to deploy somebody to look at every business,”you and I would both be absolutely going crazy about it.
RUSH: They already do. That’s the point!
SNOW: But, but, but, but —
RUSH: These small business owners are so papered over with regulations —
RUSH: — the IRS and everything else, and these people are getting a free pass!
SNOW: Yeah, but, as I said before, you know generally what industries are going to be affected and you also know that their competitors are playing by the rules. In the past, as a competitor, you think, “What do I do here?” Now what they can say is, “Okay, you go over and find out if that guy’s got the cards. You find out if that guy is doing what he needs to do.” The marketplace sometimes does, as you know, there’s fierce competition, and from time to time guys —
RUSH: I understand that.
SNOW: — more often than certainly happens now, people are going to blow the whistle on those who are bad actors. Right now you’re absolutely right. Why do you do it? Well, it’s not happening as often as it should. Now you’re going to have a law that has a specific penalty that lays out the steps, you know, is going to have fines for employers and other sanctions against employers. All of that stuff has just sort of been kind of whimsical. It’s a lot firmer now than it used to.
RUSH: Is it really? Because —
RUSH: — I think the law is pretty clear. I mean, the law is just not being enforced. I’ve heard stories of Nebraska meat packers being asked for, by then-INS back in the late nineties, Social Security numbers. “We want to check your workers.”
RUSH: And they found over four months that they had three out of 4,000 were illegal, and they told them to get rid of them and so forth and the meat packers called senators from Nebraska, senators called the INS, said, “Back off. These are my constituents.” The law wasn’t enforced even when the INS tried to do so.
SNOW: Well, again, that gets back to I think we’re living in a different world than we were in 1998 or 1999, for a whole series of reasons, and I think people are going to react differently, and (Laughing.) a story like this gets out about a senator from anywhere, it’s not going to be good news for them.
RUSH: All right. One thing here because I’ve got to go to a break, and I’ve got to let you get back to work. This situation doesn’t seem to be that complicated to us serfs. It’s real simple: We’ve got 11 to 12 to 20 million illegals, whatever the number is. Nobody’s talking deportation. We have to assimilate them. I don’t even think we’re talking about “immigration,” Tony. I think these are just people seeking jobs. We’re not making a face-saving little farcical show out of English language and so forth, but I don’t see these people trying to become Americans. They just want jobs and I don’t blame them for that, but that’s not what our immigration program is.
SNOW: Well, but —
RUSH: But if… They’re here. So we need to find a way to assimilate them and deal with it, and then close the border to the massive numbers. If that were to happen, something as simple as that, there would be no controversy, and members of Congress and White House would be loved and adored.
SNOW: Well, that’s why, again, look: If you want to compare, compare the House bill to what the president is proposing on border security. I mean, we’re more serious than the others guys, and I think everybody, when they look at it, says, “Humph. I’m glad they’re doing that.” So I agree with you on border security. But here’s another thing. You and I are optimists and I don’t think people can stay in this country indefinitely, unless they’re terrorists, and not say to themselves, “This is a great country.” I mean, I simply think you know, there are going to be some people — right now the statistics indicate that 20, 30% of the people who come here end up going back. What we’re talking about is now a process where some people are going to wait 15, 20 years, and you know what? When they do put up their right hands and they take the oath in English, those are people that are going to become Americans. This is a system that is also going to weed out those who want to be Americans and those who don’t. But you’re right. I couldn’t agree more. So what I’m saying is we’re doing the border stuff, and I don’t think you or I want to sit around and wait to two to three years before addressing the other stuff. Let’s do the other stuff now so that —
RUSH: No. No, no, no, no, and I don’t know that anybody is suggesting wait two or three years. Look it, I’m really long and I’ve gotta go —
RUSH: — and I wish we could continue this, and I I’m thankful and grateful you gave us so much time it’s really good of you to do that.
SNOW: Well, I’m honored. Rush, thanks it’s great talking to you.
RUSH: Great, and tell everybody up there that still cares that we said hi.
SNOW: We will.
RUSH: All right.
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