May 2, 2006 -- CNN's Lou Dobbs has been one of the most vehement critics of illegal immigration and launches a nightly broadside against the United States' "broken borders" on the cable network.
A day after nationwide protests, which included massive rallies in Chicago, Los Angeles and Denver, and a boycott that shut down or partially closed companies like Goya, Cargill and Tyson, Dobbs said the country needed fewer illegal immigrants.
There are currently about 11 million undocumented or illegal immigrants in the United States -- 70 percent of whom are from Mexico, according to an analysis of government data by the Pew Hispanic Center. However, the investment firm Bear Stearns estimates that there are 20 million illegal immigrants. That is a number Dobbs cites often.
On Monday, Dobbs wrote a scathing online commentary in which he charged that "radical elements" were taking over the immigration movement. He accused Juan Jose Gutierrez -- who has appeared on Dobbs' show several times -- of having ties to the leftist group, A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism).
"I think that there are definitely, particularly in Southern California and a couple other parts of the country, a radical, leftist element that has chosen to move forward with the boycott," Dobbs said on "Good Morning America."
"The selection of May 1 as the date for the demonstration, International Workers Day, a leftist commemorative day, is an unfortunate choice."
Gutierrez said the May 1 date was merely a coincidence, picked to make the biggest impact on Congress.
"We're contemplating the congressional legislative calendar that basically was telling us … that we have midterm elections coming up in June," he said.
The protesters are trying to squelch a bill that would make illegal immigrants felons, something Dobbs said he did not support.
"What I would like to see … is felonies for those who illegally hire aliens in this country," Dobbs said. "We've got to get honest here. … We have to deal with this situation carefully, humanely and effectively. But the first issue we have to deal with is border security and port security. For 250 million and more citizens in the country who deserve protection."
The heart of the problem, Dobbs said, lies with the corporate interests who are profiting at the expense of working Americans. For example, Dobbs said that meatpackers made $19 an hour 20 years ago. Today, they make $9.
"I know these people [undocumented workers] to be hardworking, decent, good people -- that isn't even the issue," he said. "The issue is we have a middle class. Working men and women in this country who are watching their wages be depressed by illegal labor. At the same time, we are watching a decision-making process in Washington that is nothing less than expedient."