IMMIGRATION PROBLEMS & IMMIGRATION REFORM
By Tmomas G. Tancredo
Illegal Aliens & America's Porous Borders--The Influx & the Resulting Hardships for American Citizens:
I will start with a discussion of a couple of persons who I met not too long ago, when I was on a trip to Arizona, and specifically, to the border area around Douglas, Arizona. I want to add them to the list of people who we have identified over the last several weeks and months as belonging to the group that we have described as homeland heroes. They are George and Linda Morin. They own and manage a cattle ranch of 12,000 acres, lo- cated only 4 miles from the Arizona/Mexico border. Their ranch house is only 5.5 miles from the border.
They have one son, age 26, who lives on the ranch and helps run the business. George Morin's grandfather came to America in 1908 and bought a dairy farm in southern Ari- zona. He speaks Spanish and has a half brother living in Mexico. After living 54 years in this border region, he knows both sides of the border very well.
Beginning in the late 1980's, things began to change along the border, and we heard this refrain often. We heard this same thing from almost everybody we talked to there. Most of the people who live in this area have been living there for generations, and they have witnessed the phenomenon of immigration over that period of time. They have witnessed people coming across the border looking for jobs, people that they have befriended, people they have aided economically.So, this has never really been a huge issue for them, except in the last 10 or 15 years.
George and Linda noticed a steady increase in the number of illegal aliens crossing the border and coming across their land. Over the past 5 or 6 years, this flow has become, as they put it, a flood. They run the cattle ranch as a family business, and it is a lot of very hard work. Drought, cattle diseases, volatile market prices for beef cattle, all of these make cattle ranching a tough business under the best of circumstances. The massive flood of illegal immigration across the border has brought many more hardships.
Among the recent experiences, consider the following: The waterlines that carry water to their cattle have been cut and broken so many times that they have lost count, and again, by the way, this is a complaint that we heard over and over again. Water in this part of the country is, of course, very valuable, and it is something that ranchers depend upon for their very existence. The people coming across the border, for reasons that are sometimes difficult to explain, oftentimes vandalize the waterlines and wells. They do this, even though many of the ranchers leave out cups for these people so they can drink from the well and not do anything to harm it. Despite the consideration shown to them by the ranchers, the illegal aliens vandalize the wells anyway.
The same thing goes for cattle fences. Repairing cut fences is now a routine task. We saw hundreds of miles of broken-down fences along the border.
Electric switches for water pumps are often jammed or vandalized.
The Morin ranch has lost 8 cattle in the last year to death by eating plastic trash bags that trespassers drop as they pass through the land. This is also a site that is all too common throughout this particular area. Throughout the Southwest, and especially in southern Arizona, there are places that are referred to as pickup sites. These are places where large numbers of illegal immigrants will gather for the purpose of getting a ride eventually. These places, often near back roads and sometimes near highways, are often on private land, sometimes on public land. They are places, as I say, in which large num- bers of these folks will gather.
When they gather there and start to undertake the next part of the journey, they discard everything that they have been carrying because the "coyotes"--the people who bring these illegal aliens across the border--tell them that there has to be a lot more room in the trucks, so they must discard everything they have. Hence, they throw everything away at these pickup sites. Walking through them, we find that these sites really are similar to large refuse piles, trash dumps essentially.
I have, sometimes not so facetiously, referred to many of our parks in the area as dumps --referring to the Cactus Pipe National Park, for examole, as the Cactus Pipe National Dump--because of the way they appear.
The trash is everywhere. The discarded plastic bags are everywhere, and the cattle eat them and die. Trash left behind by the thousands of trespassers are not only dangerous to the cattle that eat it, but also is despoiling the land and environment in numerous ways. In one day, Mr. Morin collected 42 syringes left by one group along with discarded drug containers.
All of this goes on, by the way, in plain sight. It is something that would cause a public outcry, if the media would pay attention to it and publicize the situation.
We wonder why there is not an outcry from groups like the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and various other environmental organizations that often raise Cain about the despoiling of the land. These organizations seldom say a word about this particular en- vironmental and health problem we are talking about. The reason, of course, is that the problem is connected with illegal immigration, and this is a topic which the Leftwing po- litical agitators who lead and speak for the environmental extremists are not willing to discuss.
We wonder how many people are coming across the border. Do the landowners and other residents in the area along the U.S. side of the border see these illegal aliens? Do George and Linda Morin see them coming across? How many do they see? Can they actually identify people who are coming across illegally? And of course, that is very pos- sible.
Two years ago, George Morin woke up to some noise at about 5:30 in the morning. He discovered a virtual army of 600 trespassers walking through his ranch within eyesight of his ranch house. He called the Border Patrol. They did come this time and loaded 297 people onto buses and took them back to the Border Patrol station for processing. About half of the 600 got away, scattering to the hills and back trails, before the Border Patrol could load them onto buses.
Sometimes these folks coming across the land illegally get lost, or they are abandoned by the "coyotes," the very people the illegal immigrants had to pay to bring them into the United States.
It is common for ranchers and Border Patrol agents to hear from a group of illegal aliens that their coyote pointed them to the lights in the distance and told them there is Phoe- nix. Maybe it is Tucson or maybe it is some small town only about 40 miles from the border.
One Thanksgiving morning 4 years ago, George and Linda Morin woke up to find about 80 Iranians walking across their property right in front of their house. The Border Patrol agents who took them into custody said that they had been told by their coyote that they were only 10 miles from San Diego, California.
On April 24, 2003, 90 illegal aliens were caught walking through the grassy expanse of the U.S. Army's Fort Huachuca near Sierra Vista, Arizona. The military police caught them and marched them to the fence, where the Border Patrol loaded them into vans.
One thing that is important to understand is this, as I mentioned earlier, is a new type of phenomenon. We have always had illegal immigrants coming across the line, but we have seldom had this happen in the numbers that we are witnessing today and/or in ways that are so organized. It is no longer just a few people coming across looking for jobs.
It is now a very well-organized effort, a very well-organized activity conducted largely by people who have heretofore been involved with drug smuggling into the United States. Smuggling aliens into the U.S.A. has become very lucrative. That is why the drug cartels have become interested in this business. They are paid between $1,000 and $1,500 for a Mexican national to come into the United States illegally, but costs for a Middle East- erner or an Asian being smuggled tnto the country will amount to about $30,000.
So, there is so much money now in people smuggling that it rivals drug smuggling into the United States, in terms of just the sheer volume in both human beings and dollars.
If aliens are poor and they want to get smuggled into the United States, they do not need to come up with the ongoing price of $1,000 to $1,500 to get the help of professional smugglers. One can now be smuggled into the United States on the installment plan. It is happening this moment on a very large scale. This fact is widely understood by the Bor- der Patrol and by state and local law enforcement agencies in the American Southwest.
What happens if one gets to Phoenix or Los Angeles or Omaha and doesnot make his promised payments? Some very bad things happen.
In late April, two illegal aliens who had made it to Phoenix were killed by members of the Mexican gangs that had smuggled them into the country. They were killed because they did not make their mordita payments. People smuggling is currently a "travel now, pay later" business. But if you cannot pay, it is "travel now, die later."
Not only have the numbers of nationalities of people coming across the land changed over the last 10 years, but the character of the people and their attitude has also changed. Twenty years ago, it was not uncommon to encounter illegal aliens on the ranch who would ask politely for a drink of water or ask for directions. Ranchers were normally cordial, and often did not report the trespassers, if they were in small groups or posed no immediate threat.
In the past decade, this has changed because the groups are larger and more aggressive. Part of this change is due to the increase in drug smuggling. The people who are trans- porting drugs across the open rangelands are usually armed and dangerous. They do not want any interference, and they will usually take what they want and not ask for it po- litely.
One recent trespasser George Morin encountered was angry because he had been caught and was being turned over to the Border Patrol. He told Mr. Morin: "You don't belong here. You are in Mexico, and you don't know it. We are going to take it [the land comprising the American Southwest] back and you will be gone.
This man was not delusional. He was deadly serious. He was voicing a goal of a small and radical movement within Mexico and the Southwest U.S.A. that looks forward to what it calls "Reconquista." This is the reconquest of the lands Mexico lost to Texas in 1836 and to the United States in the Mexican War of 1846.
The Multiculturalist Movement:
There is a larger and more persuasive movement that is more powerful and very influ- ential. The changes this movement seeks, in my opinion, pose a threat to our civic and legal institutions that provide the foundation for our freedom. I am talking about the multiculturist movement.
This movement is very political and "politically correct." It is becoming very influential in our universities, our public schools, our foundations and our mass media. The prob- lems raised by this movement go far beyond the immediate concerns presented by illegal immigration. Yet the two sets of problems tend to reinforce each other.
Many of the problems created by large numbers of illegal immigrants are exacerbated by the diversity movement because of the many proponents of multiculturalism who are welcoming illegal immigration and opposing measures to control it. .
The Illegal Alien Flood, Environmental Damage, & the Silence of Environmentalists:
I have tried to deal with the issue of immigration reform in a variety of contexts. We started off talking about the problems with porous borders and what that means to the United States, especially in terms of our own national security. We talked about another segment of the issue, the economic impact of massive immigration of low-skilled, low- wage people. We also talked about the environmental damage.
We spent 1 hour here talking about just this one aspect of it, the environmental damage that is being done by the literally millions of people coming across our southern border, both walking and driving through pristine land, destroying some of the most beautiful and important national monuments.
All of this, as I say, is happening without the attention that would normally be focused on this kind of activity by the environmental groups in the United States. If it were done any other place, any other way, any other time, you would have hell to pay. The environment- al groups would be just going crazy about the fact that we were destroying so much of our natural environment. Yet nothing is said about it here because we are talking about ille- gal immigration, and nobody wants to touch that subject.
Massive Immigration & Population Growth:
Let's take a close look at what is happening in the United States, in terms of population growth. By the year 2100, if we do absolutely nothing, if things continue as they are to- day, if the numbers increase and the aliens continue to come from the same places from which they are coming today, here is what will happen. We will reach a little over half a billion people in the U.S.A.
The fact that we will get there via immigration and descendants of immigrants is the im- portant point here. It may be a very good thing. It may be very positive for the United States to have population growth of this nature, so dramatic and so important in terms of many things, including the economy. People talk about the need for growth in the econo- my, so maybe it is a good thing. Maybe this kind of growth is good.
It is important to understand that this growth is not coming as a result of the natural birth rate in the United States. It is coming as a result of immigration. So we have to make a decision as to whether or not this is where we want to be in 2100 .
Again, this will be the situation if immigration just stays at the present level. This is all U.S. census data here. This is not something we are interpreting. This is where the U.S. Census Bureau tells us we are and where we are going and how we are going to get there.
Let's go back to the one part we talked about, in terms of immigration reform, and what this really means, in terms of the impact on the environment. I come from Colorado, and I will tell you that things have changed pretty dramatically in my state over the last sev- eral years. The increase in the state's population has been dramatic. All of the infra- structure costs that go along with massive increases in people are, of course, prevalent, and they are to be paid for by the taxpayers of the State of Colorado.
This is happening not just in Colorado, but in states all over the nation. But where is this growth coming from? Again, I want to emphasize, it is not the natural growth rate of the country.
It is a growth rate made up of immigration and the descendants of immigrants.
Again, this could be what we want. It could be absolutely where we want to be, so that pretty soon it is much more difficult to get through on congested highways, to visit the national parks, to experience that pristine wilderness that we have all enjoyed. But may- be that is all worth it. Maybe giving all of that up is worth it, because the economy de- mands this kind of population growth rate.
But what we do not talk about and what I want to focus on here is the effect of immigra- tion, and it is very important to discuss this matter, or at least pay some attention to it.
It is not just immigration that poses a cultural threat to the United States. Heaven knows that this is a nation of immigrants. We have talked about this over and over again. We are all here because somebody in our past, some grandparents, great grandparents or however far back, decided to leave wherever they were and come here. I do not care if you call yourself a "Native American." The reality is somebody many, many, many generations ago came across a land bridge from Asia to what we now call America. So all of us came here as a result of somebody making a decision to leave someplace and come here.
This has been a source of great strength for the United States. It is something to be en- joyed. Diversity is a good thing. I am not arguing that point.
By the way, this level of immigration, this rate of immigration, is something far greater than anything we have previously experienced in this nation. It is far greater than what we experienced in the early 1900s when, in fact, my grandparents came here. The num- bers are huge .
Now, this does not even account for illegal immigration into this country. We talk about the fact that there are--we do not know for sure--maybe between 13 million and 20 mil- lion people in the country illegally. Combine that with all the people who have come into the country legally, the large numbers that have legally entered the country because we expanded our immigration and opened our immigration doors wider than ever in the past.
Massive Immigration Combined With Rabid Multiculturalism:
I am not saying that we should slam the door to all immigration. Certainly not. But what I am suggesting is it is important for us to review as a nation the connection between mas- sive immigration into the country and something else--something we call multicultural- ism, a sort of rabid multiculturalism.
What do I mean by that? Multiculturalism is a philosophy that permeates our schools and society in so many ways, and it says essentially this: There is nothing unique about American culture. In fact, if there is anything noteworthy about American culture, or Western civilization, it is that it is bad. It has been a culture developed on the backs of slaves, and all the people who created the American dream were slave owners, people who came to pillage and rape the land. That is what we teach children and youth about America--that there is nothing unique about America, that there is nothing special or precious as regards the U.S.A. as a nation, nothing that would justify our being proud and loyal Americans, nothing that would justify an immigrant's transfering his national iden- tity and true allegiance from the country of his origin to the U.S.A..
A very serious danger to the American nation is inherent in the combination of massive immigration and the rabid multiculturalism that tells people there is nothing unique about America, and that, if you come here, you should probably not only not integrate into our society, but you should, in fact, keep separate from it, keeping a separate culture and separate language.
We go to the extent of spending billions of dollars every year to teach children in our public schools in languages other than English. I think that this is a dangerous phenome- non.
I think that we can handle immigration into this country. We always have. We have been able to handle immigration into the country because people coming into the United States were, for the most part, coming from something else and coming to connect to a new idea. At least that is what my grandparents always said.
My grandparents came here around the turn of the 20th. century, and I can remember very distinctly my grandmother telling my grandfather all the time: Speak American. Speak American. There was this implied and sometimes not so subtly implied desire on their part to really Americanize themselves.
I think of that when I think about a lunch I had not too long ago with a gentleman in Col- orado. His name is Gomez, and he happens to be a Catholic bishop. Bishop Gomez asked to have lunch and discuss this issue of immigration, because he knows I am quite con- cerned about it. He knows I talk about this issue an awful lot here in the Congress of the United States, and he does not agree with me. So, I certainly agreed to have lunch with him.
In the course of our luncheon, he said something that I found very illuminating. He said: "Congressman, I don't know why you are so worried about all of this immigration from Mexico. You know, they don't want to be Americans anyway."
I thought that was just an amazing statement. He said, "Don't be worried."
He thought, for some reason or other, I was worried that these people were coming into the United States to become Americans, and I did not want them to. Of course, it is ex- actly the opposite. I explained to him that was exactly why I was worried about massive immigration today. It is a different thing.
We have argued about this issue since our nation's inception. People have come to the U.S.House floor over the past 200 years to talk about concerns about the newest wave of immigrants from someplace else and how that might affect America or whatever, and I do not mean to suggest that these old arguments hold water.
I am not talking about the simple fact of immigration, although it has, as I say, implica- tions. Regardless of whether or not it was connected to the multiculture issue, it has implications for many things just because of the numbers, which are far different than it ever was before.
But regardless of this fact, something new is happening, and that is what I keep harping on, that is what I keep trying to bring to the attention of anyone who will listen, that there is a different immigration pattern today, and it is, as Bishop Gomez accurately described. He said, the new immigrants don't want to be Americans. That was his comment, an ex- act quote: "They don't want to be Americans," so I should not worry.
The Old Immigration & the Immigrants' Desire to Assimilate into American Society:
The new immigrants are, for the most part, only coming here for economic reasons, to escape poverty. My grandparents came largely for the same reason--to escape poverty. However, they and many others came to the U.S.A. to escape not only poverty but also the blight of their history and the past.
There was this other aspect to that immigration of past years, this one thing that said: I want to disconnect from that old way, from those old ideas, from that bankrupt history. I want to connect to something brand new in the United States of America. I want to be a part of America, a proud and loyal member of American society, a proud and loyal citizen of the American nation.
When my grandparents came to this country, they no more would have thought about the possibility of having a dual citizenship status than they would have attempted to fly over the planet Jupiter. They really wanted to disconnect from the old country. They came to the United States, and they took an oath of allegiance and swore to end any allegiance to any foreign power or potentate. That is the same oath that immigrants seeking U.S. cit- izenship take today, but something else is happening.
Immigration, Dual Citizenship, & Divided Loyalties:
Sometime in 1947 or 1948, the United States government decided to allow people to have dual citizenship. Now, the U.S. government did that primarily because of what was hap- pening at the time in Palestine, later to become Israel.
But this action on the part of our national government did not immediately have far- reaching consequences. At any given point in the last 50 years, there were maybe 100,000 people in the United States, according to our research, holding dual citizenship. Now, however, something has happened. Something brand new is occurring that reflects, I think, the problem that I have just described with this concept of multiculturalism, the intention of immigrants to retain political and cultural ties with the country of origin and the lack of any desire to attach themselves to any American experience.
About 2 1/2 years ago, Mexico allowed their citizens to actually have dual citizenship, something they had never done in the past. And they also began to encourage a large flow of Mexican nationals into the United States, the flow which created the kind of problems faced by the Morins on their ranch--a situation they and other ranchers had never seen before. As I said, the Morins had, for generations, lived on their ranch in the southern Arizona border area, but they had never seen the kinds of problems that they are seeing today, the numbers of illegal aliens that are coming across, in this case from Mexico.
So, Mexico is encouraging the movement of Mexicans into the United States and both Mexico and the U.S.A. are allowing people to take dual citizenship. This kind of combi- nation of events is having an interesting effect here in this country.
For instance, we now think that there are between 6 million and 10 million people living in this country who claim dual citizenship. This is an interesting new phenomenon. Is it worthy of our discussion here? Is it something that anybody thinks is interesting, rele- vant, important? What does this mean? What is the effect of having this many people in this country with divided loyalties? And that is really the only way that one can describe it. Teddy Roosevelt said, we can have no 50-50 Americans. Either a man is an American and nothing else, or he is not an American at all.
The idea that we have so many people clinging to other citizenship, clinging to other countries politically, is, I think, a little bit problematic. At least it is worthy of our inter- est, our debate. Yet it is something we hardly talk about. Certainly it does not come up in this body very often. Nobody wants to really push this issue, for fear that we will make someone else a little bit upset with us, that we will offend, or insult, somebody else, some ethnic minority in this country, some dual citizen, some "something" hyphenated Ameri- can. Well, I would suggest that we should not worry about that kind of offense, that we should and must talk about the situation, since it is meaningful in this country. It is im- portant to understand what is happening here .
What It Means to Be an American--A Fading Concept:
I want to go back for a moment to what I was talking about in terms of the current pat- terns of immigrant behavior and attitudes and the whole concept of what it means to be an American, how that concept is fading away, how difficult it is now to actually define this idea, this "concept America."
When I was a child, when I was growing up in Denver, Colorado, and attending St. Cath- erine's Elementary School and, later on, Holy Family High School, I was taught about my heritage, who I was, and what my history was. If someone would have asked me then, if someone asked me now, what is my heritage, I would say it is American. Who are my heroes? Who do I look to in my history and the history of who I consider myself to be from a heritage standpoint? I would say Jefferson and Lincoln and Washington and Adams, because I connected directly to that heritage, even though I am a relative new- comer to this land. My ancestors did not come here on the Mayflower. But I connected to America, because that is what I was taught. I was taught by my parents and by my school that that was my heritage, that I was here now, and that this was the American ideal to which I was to aspire . And I did.
I would challenge people today to go out and ask a student at almost any school in Amer- ica what it means to be an American. Ask the student to define the term "American." I think many students would have a very difficult time in doing that today. They have been told, frankly, that it is not a very good term, that it really does not--and it should not--be used to signify something select and different and unique, something distinct.
Not long after 9-11, the National Education Association put out a list of suggestions for teachers and parents as to how they should address the issue of the attack on the United States on September 11, 2001. In the 3-4 page program which it distributed, the NEA did not say one word about the uniqueness of America, the importance of defending this na- tion. The entire purpose of this little descriptor was to tell people, tell parents, children and youth, that they should not think about these people who attacked our country in negative ways, that they should not use the attack to cast aspersions on any group or any organization, that there are many bad things in America and bad things we have done to other nations, and that maybe we even actually brought the 9/11 attacks on our- selves.
An ex-President of this country said essentially the same thing. Bill Clinton, speaking at Georgetown University, said that the reason why we were attacked was because of slavery and the way we treated the Indians. Now, this is the most incredible stuff. But this kind of pernicious malarkey is what we are teaching our children and youth about America.
This is, I think, dangerous stuff. It is reflected in other ways. I have seen it in the way in which a large part of the media has portrayed the conflict in Iraq. I was in Europe re- cently, and while there, watched CNN International, and could not help noticing their biased and distorted coverage of the war in Iraq. It was fascinating because the news anchors could not report a single story without some sort of anti-American twist they could add to it. Every single event in Iraq, no matter how difficult it was to describe in this context, they managed to add their anti-American twist.
CNN International is not unique in the dissemination of anti-American propaganda un- der the guise of reporting the news. I think that many, many aspects of the American media could be described fairly and accurately as being overly sensitive to the other side's attitudes, opinions and ideas, overly critical of American interests. And this is what I am talking about. We cannot even report stories factually anymore. We have to couch everything in this sort of multiculturalist light so that no one might come to the conclu- sion that there is anything better about the United States of America and Western civi- lization--no institution, no set of values, no pattern of behavior that would set us apart as being better than any other country or culture. And that is why it was so hard for many members of the media to really analyze an issue or event objectively and report it ob- jectively. They are stuck in this multicultural miasma. And they are, of course, helping to expand and to incorporate that kind of thinking into American schools and American thought.
The New Diversity & Reverse Assimilation:
I realize I am walking into somewhat uncharted waters here, and I want to make some very important distinctions. When I talk about multiculturalism and the problems I see in it, I am not talking about cultural diversity that brings into our society the music, poetry, art, and dance from different cultures of all continents of the globe. Certainly our nation has been enriched and continues to be enriched by these contributions. I am not talking about people of other nations bringing their language and religion with them, and con- tinuing to speak their language and practice their religion in our free society. Freedom of religion is, of course, one of the most cherished liberties we have and must remain so. I am not talking about new immigrants who continue to speak their native language in their homes and want to pass it on to their children as part of their biethnic heritage. What I am talking about is the current politically motivated drive to enshrine diversity as a goal that requires and demands a change in our fundamental values governing Ameri- can civic institutions.
What the advocates of this new diversity seek is a kind of reverse assimilation. They want American society to assimilate and adapt to the values of other cultures. For exam- ple, a major goal of this political drive is to establish bilingualism as a national standard for official business in government operations and commercial life. Previous generations of immigrants expected that their children would learn English. My grandparents ex- pected this of my parents and of us, demanding that we learn English as quickly as pos- sible. Only in the recent past, have we seen a political movement that seeks to perpetu- ate a parallel culture that does not speak English and thus cannot participate fully in the mainstream of American life. There are schools in states throughout this nation, in cities throughout the country, where pupils can actually spend years without being taught Eng- lish. (For a time, one could actually go 12 years to a Denver public school and never be taught in English).
I believe that the demand and push for manufactured diversity in every facet of our lives has a political motivation. Its purpose has nothing to do with toleration of other cultures. Our nation has historically been the most accepting, most tolerant, people on earth; and this has not changed, nor should it. But Americans could and did accept millions of immi- grants from diverse cultures precisely because we had a set of institutions and a set of civic values that all of the new immigrants were expected to adopt. In doing so, these immigrants did not give up their language, their music, their religion. They became Americans in certain essential ways that allowed them to assimilate into American life and enjoy the benefits of liberty. I am gravely concerned that our recent and current immigration is not of the same character as our historic immigration and that the impact and effect will be to weaken our civic culture and our political institutions that guarantee life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
I will give a concrete example of this changed character of our recent immigration, and especially the impact that can be expected from granting amnesty and citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants.
I speak now of the matter of a divided loyalty and a growing acceptance, as I mentioned earlier, of this dual citizenship. Do members of Congress think it is a mere accident or happenstance that the oath of allegiance taken by every one of the tens of millions of naturalized American citizens who had passed through Ellis Island over the last 150 years contains these words: "I hereby renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, State, or sovereignty of which I have heretofore been the subject or citizen"? These words explicitly and unabashedly require new citizens to give up any loyalty to the foreign country.
I have spoken to immigrant groups coming into this country. I have gone to citizenship ceremonies where people take the oath of office and have spoken to these new immi- grants to and new citizens of the United States.
I have gone there and said to them, first of all, I want to say to you welcome to the United States of America. Secondly, I want to say, thank you for doing it the right way. Thank you for coming here, working through the process and doing it legally. Also, I want to tell you how important it is to now adopt a new life around a set of ideals that we can share, that we Americans, naturalized citizens as well as natural born citizens-- have in common.
I want--and do my best--to encourage that attitude and pattern of behavior. I say this because I want to reemphasize the fact that I am not opposed to immigration. While not opposed to immigration, I certainly do believe that it is in desperate need of reform.
The Cult of Ethnicity & Its Implications:
I think another way to describe what is happening, besides using the word "multicultural- ism," is to talk about the people who have developed what is called a cult of ethnicity. It challenges the idea of what it means to be an American.
There are major implications to this phenomenon. I have talked about, to a certain ex- tent, the problems we have when we do not encourage Americans, especially our children and youth, to understand and to believe that there is something unique about America worthy of their allegiance. Americans do not need to be taught to be chauvinistic, but they should be encouraged to simply understand the basic reality of the situation.
The Basic Reality That Americans Should Be Encouraged to Understand:
That basic reality is this: Western civilization has provided the world, certainly America, with the infrastructure that has enabled us to actually grow the greatest culture on earth. That there is something better about what we have, is a personal observation; but I think it is also empirically provable.
I am proud of what we have. I am proud of being a product of Western civilization. I am proud of the infrastructure. I am proud of the principles that we embody in this organi- zation we call the Congress of the United States. I am proud that we have an adherence to the rule of law. I am proud that we believe in and strongly defend the right to pursue our own religion, to speak openly about our feelings about government.
All of these things really are an aspect of and a product of western Civilization, and they are worthy of our allegiance and are worthy things we should tell our children and youth about, and that we should encourage them be proud of and loyal to these fundamental American values and institutions. If we do not, we will find ourselves lacking in a number of ways. We especially will find ourselves in a dangerous situation when this civilization is, in fact, threatened, as I believe it is today.
The Clash of Cultures--Militant Islam Versus Western Civilization:
Now, this gets me into an even more controversial area than what I have already spoken of, if that is even possible. I believe that what we are witnessing throughout the world is, indeed, a clash of cultures, and I believe Western civilization is threatened.
I think the major threat today comes from something that we can refer to as radical Islam, militant Islam--not the religion of Islam, but it is the religion married to a political philosophy that says that all other people on the earth have to be annihilated, abolished, eliminated.
Actually, this is a clash that we have seen for centuries. This confrontation is not new. This conflict has been going on, as I say, for centuries . It peaks; it goes down; it comes up again. There are times of a great deal of activity, and times when there is not a lot of activity associated with this phenomenon. But it has been going on for a long time, and it goes on even today.
It is important to understand this conflict, because it must be fought. If we are going to defend Western civilization, it has to be fought with force of arms, as we have witnessed in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also has to be fought in the world of ideas. The clash of cul- tures has to be fought with ideas as well as with military forces.
Western civilization rests upon certain ideas and ideals. They, in fact, need to be taught to children and youth and to adults.
I was a teacher. I taught for 8 years in the Jefferson County public schools. I taught Civics. Very, very few children ever come to school with an innate appreciation of certain things like art and music. They need to be taught. They do not just wander in the door thinking, you know, I just feel something really good about Mozart or about Picasso. We have to teach children. We have to teach people about the value of these things to get them to appreciate them, more often than not. Some people may have that gift, but most of us do not.
Likewise, children do not come to school with an innate appreciation for Western civili- zation or what it means to be an American. They have to be taught. When we abandon this teaching area and offer it up on the altar of multiculturalism, we risk a great deal, especially when, as I say, there is the threat to the system.
Now, anybody can feel sort of a visceral response to somebody driving a plane into a World Trade Center building and killing 3,000 of our citizens, driving a plane into the Pentagon and killing a couple hundred of our fellow citizens there, or crashing a plane into Pennsylvania and killing all the people that were aboard.
Anybody can get a visceral reaction to that and say, yes, I want to confront that outrage and punish whoever perpetrated that crime. That is fine. It is fine if, in fact, that conflict only lasts a short time, and that we identify the culprit and we take care of business.
But Americans must understand that each of the 9/11 Islamic attacks on the U.S.A. were part a longterm, continuing conflict. The conflict is not just with a segmented chunk of society. The conflict is not just with a group we call al-Qa'ida or a group we call the Tali- ban--or with an individual we call Osama bin Laden, or another individual who we call Saddam Hussein.
Unless we realize that it is something much broader, that the conflict in which we are engaged is something much bigger, Americans will lose heart for this conflict, because they do not connect it to anything bigger than an attack on the Pentagon, an attack on the World Trade Towers.
This is why I say that this is an important issue for us to discuss as Americans, and un- derstand that there are cultural ramifications to massive immigration when it connects with this rabid, bizarre multiculturalist philosophy which permeates America.
Massive Immigration Connected With Rabid Multiculturalism--Cultural Ramifications:
There was a book written not too long ago by Arthur Schlessinger, Jr., certainly someone that I would not previously have thought I would have found myself having a common ground with, but he wrote a book called The Disuniting of America. I have liberally ex- cerpted from it this presentation.
Schlessinger says: "The historic idea of a unifying American identity is now in peril in many arenas: in our politics, our voluntary organizations, our churches, our language."
What this esteemed historian saw as peril in 1991 is even more evident today in the question we are confronting--the most fundamental question a nation can consider as a matter of national choice and deliberation: What is America?
This question is not one that has been created by illegal immigration. We would confront this question sooner or later, even without massive illegal immigration into the country. Nor is the question now more urgent because the levels of legal immigration has far sur- passed historic levels. The additional numbers of immigrants brought to America by our immigrant policies no doubt exacerbate the problem of national identity, but they have not created the problem.
What has created the problem is the influential ideology of multiculturalism discussed so eloquently by Arthur Schlessinger and accurately described by him as deeply hostile to our historic ideas of assimilation.
Now, remember, Mr. Schlessinger is not a Conservative. He is not--and cannot reason- ably and fairly be called--"ethnocentric." And he cannot be accurately described by any of the other names and epithets that are thrown at people who suggest that there is a problem with multiculturalism. He has lifelong Liberal political credentials and is a liberal scholar.
On July 4, 1915, President Woodrow Wilson spoke in Philadelphia at a mass naturaliza- tion ceremony. On that day, at the President's behest, all members of the cabinet and other prominent members of our society spoke at naturalization ceremonies across the Nation.
As we all know, President Wilson was an idealist in matters of world politics and a Lib- eral reformer in domestic policy. But on that day in 1915, he spoke for all Americans when he addressed the new citizens assembled to take their oath of citizenship and told them this:
"I certainly would not be the one even to suggest that a man cease to love the home of his birth and the nation of his origin. These things are very sacred and ought not to be put out of our hearts. But it is one thing to love the place where you were born, and it is another to dedicate yourself to the place to which you go. You cannot dedicate yourself to America unless you become in every respect and with every purpose of your will thoroughly Americans. You cannot become thoroughly Americans if you think of yourself in groups. A man who thinks of himself as belonging to a particular national group in America has not yet become an American, and a man who goes among you to trade upon your nationality is not worthy to live under the Stars and Stripes."
American Citizenship & American National Identity:
I firmly believe that we desperately need to reaffirm the principles of citizenship and of American national identity. We must do this, if we are to survive as a free people in the 21st. century.
I firmly believe that this concern is not just a fear of immigration. As a son of immi- grants, I welcome and support immigration.
What worries me is that the nation our new immigrants seek to find at the end of their journey may not be the nation of their dreams and grand ambitions. If we are to remain true to our history, we must also remain true to our destiny. American destiny is not that of a vague and confusing collection of ethnic groups or religious sects. Our destiny is to continue as the land of freedom and opportunity, a beacon of hope for all the world's oppressed.
To succeed and find that destiny, we must renew the bonds of citizenship and the values and institutions that nourish and sustain those bonds. This ideology of multiculturalism does not understand this. In fact, the multicultural movement is at war with the very idea of America, as it was understood for 200 years.
But most Americans, I am convinced, do understand the traditional idea of America and do want to strengthen the idea. With the help of the good people of this nation, we will prevail. But we will not prevail, unless we are willing to at least confront this issue, no matter how uncomfortable it is for us to talk about, no matter how challenging it is.
It is undeniable that massive immigration combined with a multiculturalism philosophy in this country has ramifications. Some here, some throughout the country, may believe those ramifications are positive. I believe, however, that, for the most part, the ramifica- tions are negative.
American Leadership, American Education, & America's Survival as a Nation:
I believe that the leadership of this nation must begin a discussion with America--a dis- cussion about renewing the commitment to the idea of America, a commitment on the part of all the people who come here and on the part of all the people who are here. Is Western civilization, as epitomized by the American experience, worth saving? This is the question we must pose. And in order for anybody to answer it accurately, they have to have all information available to them.
We have to teach children about its value, along with its warts. It is important that we do not gloss over the inequity, that we do not discard as part of our text any discussion of slavery or any of the issues that we know to be negative in our history. They have to be discussed and understood in order to be overcome. But why is it not equally as important to discuss the factual positive elements of Western civilization and what it has brought to the world?
Why is that so scary to the academic community, to the media, and to the pop culture? Why is it so comfortable for members of the pop culture, the people in television and in movies to, stand up and criticize--and only criticize--what it is to be American, in spite of the fact that they reap many of the benefits of Western civilization and American citi- zenship themselves? How hypocritical it is for them to do so. But how comfortable it is for them to do so. How easy it is for them to do so.
Is it not intriguing that, in the world of Hollywood, it is so difficult for one to stand up and be a patriotic American, saying things that reflect a true love of the country? This was not always the case. In the 1940s and during the Second World War, Hollywood was looked at as a bastion of patriotism. The movies they put out were patriotic in nature, and it was not looked down upon to express those feelings.
Something has changed dramatically, and now people who exist in that medium are afraid to actually express patriotic sentiments, for fear they will be shunned by their peers. What has happened that has allowed this to occur? Well, I suggest to you that it is time to regenerate a discussion of American principles and ideas; to make everybody, our children, youth and adults, understand the importance of those ideas and ideals, to ex- pect from immigrants coming to this country to really want to be Americans, and make it absolutely clear and unambiguous that, to come here for any other reason, is not accept- able.
To come to and makes one's home in America simply to achieve economic goals, but to hold allegiance to other countries politically, ethnically and linguistically, is totally unac- ceptable. It is not acceptable because it will sap the strength of America. It will sap our ability to be successful in the clash of cultures. It will lead to our demise. And that is why I take to the House floor as often as I do to talk about the immigration issue.
The Immigration Issue & American National Survival:
The immigration issue is far, far more significant than just the matter of large numbers of low-skilled, low-wage foreign workers competing with American citizens on the American job market and the fact that the presence of such large numbers of aliens increases the tax burden of American tarpayers in the areas of healthcare, schooling, and highway con- struction and maintenance. All of those things are true. All of the problems we have with population increases, most of which are the result of massive immigration, are quite real and have to be dealt with. But immigration is even more important--far more important-- than the economic and public-funding problems. The issue goes to our very existence as a nation.
Massive immigration in this country will determine not just what kind of a nation we will be. It will also determine whether we will be a nation at all
Still More on Immigration & Illegal Aliens
Thomas G. Tancredo is a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the Sixth Congressional District
of Colorado. Congressman Tancredo presented the foregoing statement as a speech on the House floor on April 29, 2003.
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