CAFTA's big secret

By Lou Dobbs, CNN, June 30, 2005

DOBBS: Coming up next here, CAFTA's big secret. Why critics of this so- called free trade agreement say CAFTA will only add to this country's immigration crisis. That's right, immigration crisis....

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DOBBS: The controversial Central American Free Trade Agreement is expected to go before the full House of Representatives in July. President Bush says CAFTA will open up new markets for American companies. Critics say CAFTA will kill American jobs. They also point to 1,000 pages of international law that is included in the CAFTA agreement, 1,000 pages. The United States would have to follow those laws if CAFTA were to become law in this country. And there's a good reason why it should not.

Lisa Sylvester reports from Washington.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): CAFTA is much more than a trade agreement. If it passes, it would become the highest law of the land, determining rules from health care, to zoning, to immigration.

Current federal, state and local laws could be called into question.

LORI WALLACH, PUBLIC CITIZEN: Any violation of 1,000 pages of international law imposed on us is taken to an international tribunal, not U.S. courts, where if the U.S. does not conform its law, we face perpetual trade sanctions. It's a huge attack on our sovereignty and our democracy.

SYLVESTER: If a local community passed a law to limit urban sprawl, it could be challenged under CAFTA by a foreign investor who wants to build. States with buy American laws that give preference to local companies could be asked to reverse those laws. Even U.S. immigration laws and visa requirements could be considered a violation under CAFTA.

Any company wishing to come into the United States, and either start a business or complete a contract, can bring their employees in from the country of origin. Even if our visa system is -- or even if our visa quota is full.

SYLVESTER: The U.S. trade representative's office points to a side agreement to CAFTA that excludes immigration. But Congressman Tom Tancredo said the side agreements from the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico have not been worth the paper they're written on.

REP. TOM TANCREDO, (R) COLORADO: Scores of them have been ignored. Because they're not part of the agreement. That's why it's called a side agreement. And because they're not part of the agreement, they have no legal bearing.

SYLVESTER: Supporters of CAFTA say it will open up Central American markets to U.S. companies and lead to lower prices for consumers. But critics are urging lawmakers to look at the fine print, because they may be giving away far more than they're getting.


SYLVESTER: 28 governors initially committed to CAFTA, but nine of those states withdrew their support because of the concerns they had with these non-trade issues included in CAFTA -- Lou.

DOBBS: Lisa, thank you very much. Lisa Sylvester reporting from Washington.

Well, it seems Vice President Dick Cheney isn't aware of those back-door immigration provisions in the CAFTA agreement. During a radio interview today, Vice President Cheney explained why he believes CAFTA would help solve another critical issue that faces this country, and is worthy of being our quote of the day. Vice President Cheney said, quote, "One of our big problems these days is illegal immigration. A certain amount of it is coming out of those Central American countries. The best way to counter that is to make certain that they have the opportunity to grow and develop their own economies, so they're folks will stay at home and can find decent jobs there instead of trying to come to the United States illegally."

Yes, CAFTA would let them come here, but not illegally.

Read the complete transcript.

Also see: Keystone to Convergence, by William Norman Grigg, The New American, published on, April 18, 2005

CAFTA: Exporting American Jobs & Industry, By William Norman Grigg, The New American, published on, April 18, 2005