Silvestre Reyes vs Bill O'Reilly

In this transcript O'Reilly calls mexicans wetbacks, for the record he never said he was sorry for using the term wetback in referring to mexicans. He just ignored all the e-mails and the hispanic groups who demanded an apology. A few days after he said it, he gave a bogus quote to the NY Times, but only after they called him and asked about it. He said it was a mistake, he meant to say coyote, but he never said he was sorry for saying it.

BILL O'REILLY: In the "Unresolved Problem" Segment tonight, a new FOX News Opinion Dynamics poll says 79 percent of Americans favor putting U.S. military on the borders to stop illegal immigration. Yet the president will not order that.

Joining us now from Washington is Congressman Silvestre Reyes from the El Paso area.

Why do you think 79 percent of Americans want the troops on the border?

REP. SILVESTRE REYES (D), TEXAS: I think it's driven by concerns after 9/11. It's also driven a lot by what they hear and see in the media and...

O'REILLY: Guys like me.

REYES: Well, absolutely. While those of us that live and work, were born, and represent border districts understand the dynamics of living in the border region, I think it's important for the rest of the country to know several things about the proposal to militarize the border.

First and foremost, it's not a cheap solution. It's going to be very expensive.

Secondly, where do we get the troops… As you know, I sit on the Armed Services Committee and on the Intelligence Committee, and our operational tempo has been extremely busy for the last five, 10 years, so we don't have the troops to pull from.

O'REILLY: The expense to put troops on the border would be dwarfed or is dwarfed by the amount of illegal narcotics that come through from Mexico. Seventy-two percent of all the cocaine in America comes from Mexico, 20 percent of all the heroin, and 2.3-million pounds of marijuana.

The social problems that these drugs cause would dwarf any kind of military expenditure that would cut this by all estimates in half. If you put the military on the border, right away, tomorrow, half of the narcotics traffic would cease.

The other thing is that I would put, at first, National Guard units to back up the Border Patrol. Now you're a former Border Patrol agent…

REYES: Right.

O'REILLY: ... most of the Border Patrol union heads — I can't speak for the rank and file — but the union heads agree with me. They want military backup. You don't. Why?

REYES: Remember that I spent the last 12 years of my career with the Border Patrol as a chief, and it's important that we understand that if we're going to do the job right, let's recruit, train, and deploy professional law-enforcement officers. Let's give the Border Patrol the kind of resources that...

O'REILLY: But we need help now. Especially with the Iraq war. And, look, you know as well as I do, congressman, this is out of control. You're not going to dispute it.

REYES: Well, Bill, in an emergency, the president has the authority to...

O'REILLY: Sure he does. He could do it tomorrow...

REYES: ... deploy...

O'REILLY: ... and he won't do it for political reasons...

REYES: No.

O'REILLY: ... because he's afraid he won't get the Hispanic vote.

REYES: No, Bill. That's not true at all. We have over 100,000 reservists that are activated right now and more to be activated...

O'REILLY: Some of them should be on the border...

REYES: Well...

O'REILLY: ... backing up the Border Patrol right this second.

REYES: Bill...

O'REILLY: Listen, congressman, it drives me crazy. Look, you're a good man. I know you. You're a good man.

You know illegal narcotics — most of it comes through Mexico. Not going to stop it. They're going to keep coming through…

You know the INS put out a report last Friday at 5 p.m. so none of us would see it that says eight million illegals are here and 500,000 come over every year despite the intense security after 9/11.

You know that in your home state of Texas, nine percent of violent felons are Mexican nationals. In California, that goes up to 12 percent. You know 33 percent of Mexican nationals in this country right now are receiving some kind of welfare.

You know the extent of the problem. Yet you can't say let's train more guys. That's going to take years. We need help now. What's the solution now, congressman?

REYES: Bill, the solution is to continue to recruit and train Border Patrol agents. I think with the new Homeland Security Agency and the consolidation of the different agencies, that's going to help tremendously, I think, with the...

O'REILLY: You believe in the bureaucracy. The bureaucracy hasn't worked in 35 years.

REYES: Bill, when you talk about the amount of narcotics coming into this country, 90 percent of those narcotics come through the ports of entry, not in between the ports of entry where the Border Patrol is patrolling. They come through the ports of entry. That's why I'm saying let's give the Homeland Security Agency an opportunity...

O'REILLY: All right. Let me...

REYES: ... to get the technology to help.

O'REILLY: What would be the harm in moving troops to help the Border Patrol not only in Mexico, but in Canada, where they just found a big Al Qaeda big shot up there. We know that border's a sieve as well.

What is the harm in giving us more protection by using the military the way they should be used? If you read the Constitution, the military's primary mandate is to protect the borders of the United States.

REYES: Bill, immediately after 9/11, we did do that. We deployed several thousand military people, both on the northern border and some on the southern border.

We did not have the resources. It costs too much to continue that kind of a deployment around the clock and throughout the year. That's why I'm advocating that we continue to hire professional law-enforcement officers.

Let's supplement them with the kind of technology that's available today, that...

O'REILLY: Oh, I am with you there. You've got to get the high-tech stuff there.

But I'll tell you what. I've talked to the commanders, and they tell me, "Look, you deploy us down there, we stop the drug traffic dead"…

We'd save lives because Mexican wetbacks, whatever you want to call them, the coyotes -- they're not going to do what they're doing now, so people aren't going to die in the desert. So we save lives, all right, and we seal it down and make it 100 times harder to come across.

And 79 percent of Americans see that, Congressman. You are in the minority on this one, and so is President Bush. I'll give you the last word.

REYES: Listen, just because we're in the minority doesn't mean we're not right, Bill. I already told you, if you're concerned about narcotics, then we need to focus on the ports of entry. That's where 90 percent of the narcotics...

O'REILLY: The Army will be there as well, Congressman. They'll be there with their high-tech gear, with their nightscopes and everything else.

All right. We appreciate you coming on.

REYES: Thank you, Bill.