Michelle Malkin, whose nationally syndicated column appears regularly in HUMAN EVENTS, has become one of the most prominent and powerful voices speaking out against illegal immigration. Her newest book, Invasion, reveals in shocking detail how lax enforcement of U.S. immigration laws has allowed terrorists to enter and remain in our country while plotting to kill Americans. The book, published by Regnery, a HUMAN EVENTS sister company, is currently No. 14 on the New York Times Bestsellers List. HUMAN EVENTS Editor Terence P. Jeffrey talked with Malkin last week about some of the issues raised in her book, and about what the all-Republican federal government must do now if it truly intends to secure our national borders. Here is an edited excerpt from their conversation.
HUMAN EVENTS: There seems to be a consensus in the country today for tightening enforcement of immigration laws. Yet, it doesn’t get done. Who is on the other side pushing for lax enforcement? Michelle Malkin: It’s two main interest groups. On the left, ethnic constituencies and the Democratic Party have long benefited from loading up voter rolls as a result of amnesties that grant illegal aliens legal permanent residency and then ultimately citizenship and voting rights. On the right, it is big business that profits from cheap labor. HE: If the Democrats believe illegal immigration plays into their interests and big business, which is sometimes assumed to be in line with the Republican Party, believes it plays into theirs, who is right? In your estimation, is illegal immigration good for the Democrats politically or the Republicans? Malkin: I guess if you had to net out the benefits, they go invariably to the Democratic Party and I think we saw that with this most recent election. Despite all the pandering by the Republicans—setting up the White House web-site in Spanish and giving Berlitz courses to all the Republican National Committee leaders—in the end Hispanics—and, let’s face it, they are the chief illegal alien lobby in this country—still voted Democrat. HE: If the September 11 terrorist attacks did not create a great enough crisis to generate the political will in our national leaders to stop illegal immigration, what possibly could generate that will? Malkin: Oh gee—possibly an illegal alien toting a suitcase nuclear bomb across the border and killing ten times as many people. Truthfully, I don’t know what it’s going to take. I think probably the reason the connection between illegal immigration and national security still has not been made is that people fixate on the fact that all 19 of the September 11 terrorists originally came to America on legal visas. So people still don’t get it about border security. They think that if you fiddle around with visa-issuance reform, the problem will be fixed. They’re not seeing the statistics that someone from the Border Patrol sends me every month showing all the Middle Easterners that keep pouring into the country across the southern border. HE: Among the many amazing things you report in Invasion is that there indeed have been people from the Middle East who have come across our land borders with Mexico and Canada, and that some of these people have had terrorists connections. Malkin: That’s right. I have an appendix in the book that lays out all the different ways Middle Easterners have come into the country over the past decade. It’s not just with tourist visas and student visas. There have been smuggling rings run by Iraqis, for example, that have collaborated with Mexican middlemen, bringing thousands of people across our Southern border. There are also Middle Easterners who have used the transit-without-a-visa program to enter the U.S illegally through our airports. This program allows millions of foreigners to fly into the country without having to go through the regular consular screening process. HE: Open-borders advocates often make the argument that we should practice benign neglect towards illegal aliens because they are really just hard-working people who have come to America looking for jobs and a better life. How do you answer that argument? Malkin: There are millions of people around the world who would like to better their lot and pursue the American dream here, but I think that we would want an immigration system that favors people who are doing it the right way—following the rules, paying the fees, undergoing criminal background checks and medical screening. Instead we favor people whose first act on our soil is to break the law. That doesn’t seem to be an immigration system that conforms to the constitutional provision that our government must provide for the common defense. HE: Isn’t this also unfair to honest, law-abiding people who live in countries that may not have a land border with the United States and who very much want to immigrate to the United States but want to do it by the rules? Malkin: It is a complete and utter affront to all of those people around the world, some of them my own relatives who are in the Philippines and who have been waiting in line for years to come to the United States, to see the U.S. government send the message out that waiting in line is for chumps—and that instead you should hop on a boat, go to Mexico, and just cross the border. HE: In Invasion you argue that there should be some form of immigrant profiling. What exactly do you mean by that, what criteria should an immigrant profiling use? Malkin: We have to profile in favor of people who want to come here and live the American dream and not destroy it. That starts, first of all, with screening out people who disrespect the rule of law. I don’t think we should be awarding American citizenship to people whose first act on our soil was to break the law. That means no more amnesties, period. I think also it means saying to people who are coming from terrorism-sponsoring nations, who don’t have legitimate and credible claims of religious persecution: Sorry, we’re not going to accept you right now. We’re fighting a war against terrorism and that means Yemeni families that want to come here and go to Disneyland are going to have to wait. HE: For the first time since 1954 we have a government totally under Republican control. What should this all-Republican government do legislatively to begin getting this problem under control? Malkin: Well, it’s not legislative, but the first thing that President Bush should do is replace INS Commissioner James Ziglar pronto. HE: He’s announced his resignation, but is still sitting in the office. Do you have a candidate to replace him? Malkin: I like Pete Nuñez, who was a Bush I Treasury Department official, and who is teaching immigration law right now in San Diego. He really understands that immigration has to be treated as a national security issue first. HE: So once Pete Nuñez becomes INS commissioner, what’s step two? Malkin: Getting serious about fixing our deportation system. In my book, I quote the late Rep. Barbara Jordan [D.-Tex.], who headed a federal immigration reform panel several years ago. She said, and I paraphrase, that credibility in immigration policy requires three things: letting people in who deserve to be here, keeping people out who don’t deserve to be here, and kicking people out who got here illegally. As the case of sniper suspect Lee Malvo shows, our deportation system is in complete shambles. HE: Estimates of the number of illegal aliens in the United States run as high as 11 million. Are you ready to quite literally deport every one of them? Malkin: Yes. Either our laws mean something or they don’t.