From the New York Times
GOV. RICHARDSON: By the way, I'm Bill Richardson. I'm the governor of New Mexico. (Laughter, cheers, applause.) Nice to meet you all.
You know, it seems that John wants to start a class war. It seems that Barack wants to start a generational war. It seems that Senator Clinton with all due respect on her plan on Iraq doesn't end the war -- (audio break from source). (Laughter, cheers.) And I say that -- I say that because these are the fundamental issues.
Do our plans end the war? Do our plans make America energy independent? Do our plans give health care to every American? Are we creating jobs and economic growth? Are we resolving the real problems affecting this country? You know, let's stop this mud slinging. Let's stop this going after each other on character, on trust. Let us debate the issues that affect the American people -- (cheers, applause) -- and let us be positive. Let's be positive.
Driver’s License for Undocumented Immigrants
GOV. RICHARDSON: Well, my answer is yes, and I did it. You know why? Because the Congress -- I notice Barack mentioned the president, but the Congress also failed miserably to pass comprehensive immigration. And we need to have it in this country.
I did it four years ago. My legislature sent me a bill. I signed it. My law enforcement people said it's a matter of public safety. What we need is public safety, a reduction in traffic fatalities. We wanted more people to be insured. When we started with this program, 33 percent of all New Mexicans had -- were uninsured. Today it's 11 percent. Traffic fatalities have gone down. It's a matter of public safety.
Solving the Immigration problem
GOV. RICHARDSON: -- secure the borders, a stronger relationship with Mexico. Those that knowingly hire illegal workers should be punished, and a path to legalization. That is the solution.
MS. MALVEAUX: George Ambriz. He's -- you're a graduate student here, and you're also a mentor for children. I understand that you have a concern about immigration.
Q Yes, I do. (Speaks in Spanish.) It seems that many political commentators such as Lou Dobbs are guiding the debate and strongly shaping U.S. policy on immigration by insinuating a linkage to terrorism. As many people know, no terrorist has come from our southern border. Do you consider fighting terrorism and slowing the flow of illegal immigration coming from our southern border as intrinsically related issues?
MS. MALVEAUX: Governor Richardson, since you're the only on this stage who does not support even building a fence, why don't you take this one?
REP. KUCINICH: That's not true.
GOV. RICHARDSON: By the way, Dennis, you keep -- stop including me in all these votes. I've been a governor. I'm in New Mexico. (Laughter.) I'm not in Washington. (Applause.)
Here's my answer. You know, two years ago -- and I'm the only one that's dealt with the immigration issue directly.
You know, and by the way, with the Congress, let me just say, the Congress's approval rating is 11 percent. Now, you know who's higher? Dick Cheney and HMOs. (Laughter.)
My point is that, you know, let's talk about the need to bring this together. Dysfunctional relationships exist between the president and the Congress that needs to be corrected.
Here's my answer. Two years ago, I'm the first governor that declared a border emergency because the federal government wasn't doing its job in stopping the flow of drugs and people. But you know what? We should stop demonizing immigrants. We should stop doing that. (Applause.)
And I'm against the fence -- and I am against the fence because it will not work. The Congress only funded half of the fence, and it's not America.
What I would do is I would do four quick things. One, we have to secure the border. Double the number of Border Patrol agents. Keep the National Guard there a little longer; detection equipment, as you mentioned.
Secondly, those that knowingly hire illegal workers should be punished. (Applause.)
Third, we should have a relationship -- it's called foreign policy -- with Mexico. They're our friend. But we should speak frankly to our friends, and it should be something like this. "Mexico, give jobs to your people." (Cheers, applause.) "You know, at the very least, stop handing out maps on the easiest place to cross." (Laughter.) And then, lastly, a legalization plan -- a legalization plan --
MR. BLITZER: Thank you.
GOV. RICHARDSON: -- not amnesty, not citizenship, but a path to legalization that involves conditions -- learning English --
MR. BLITZER: Thank you.
GOV. RICHARDSON: -- paying back taxes.
MR. BLITZER: Governor, thank you.
GOV. RICHARDSON: This is a very important issue.