With the Senate about to finally address immigration reform and President Bush renewing his call for a guest-worker program in last week’s State of the Union, Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R.-Ariz.) tells HUMAN EVENTS he foresees a troubling scenario that will result in an amnesty plan being “shoved down the throats” of the American people.
Hayworth, author of the new book Whatever It Takes: Illegal Immigration, Border Security, and the War on Terror, said Senate Republicans are poised to tinker with an already weak House immigration reform bill and bow to Bush’s demands to include a guest-worker plan.
In an exclusive interview with HUMAN EVENTS, Hayworth said, “I have every belief that the Senate will take the vehicle the House sends them, will end up passing a guest-worker/amnesty plan, and that will be sent back to the House and shoved down the throats of the American people—unless the people wake up right now and say ‘no.’”
Hayworth’s book outlines the problems facing the United States as a result of its porous border with Mexico (including the threat of another terrorist attack). He also offers solutions, some of which he discussed with HUMAN EVENTS.
What makes immigration reform so important for you personally?
One thing we understand about the nature of this problem is that is that is transcends all others—our national security, our economic security, the future of Social Security—all of these issues—healthcare, education—all tie into this issue. The book, in a sense, holds a mirror up to America.
What inspired you to put this on paper and to write a book about illegal immigration?
I think there are two primary reasons: First, and most importantly, to win the political argument against a guest-worker program, that I think would reward law-breaking and lead to more illegal immigration; and secondly, this book is a wake-up call. It is to sound the alarm to the American people that unless they coalesce and make their voices heard in Washington, a lot of politicians and a lot of special interests will shove a guest-worker plan right down their throats.
Make no mistake about it, this guest-worker program is driven by the most craven and cynical special interests. Big Business believes it gets an almost endless supply of cheap labor. The left believes it gets a source of cheap votes. And the American people get a huge bill to pay in terms of entitlements that people, quite frankly, are not entitled to. We’ve just got to stop this because guest worker equals amnesty equals surrender. It is a rip-off that must be prevented at all costs.
How do things stand now in Congress on immigration reform and what do you expect the Senate to do in terms of acting on the House bill that was passed in December?
There’s no way to sugarcoat it—the House bill was just so much holiday window dressing. The fundamental problem is this: When it comes to illegal immigration, Washington views this as a political problem to be managed, instead of an invasion to be stopped. That’s the fundamental problem.
Because they look at it as a political problem to be managed instead of an invasion to be stopped, you got a bill that, essentially, was nibbling around the edges—and, yes, there was that celebrated amendment about the fence, but that was exception and not the rule. By and large, you got a lot of nibbling around the edges. And instead of enforcement first, basically the House bill is: enforcement, maybe, if we can get the Senate to go along, and perhaps we will acquiesce to the President’s priorities.
You don’t have to parse the words with this President. He’s made it very clear where he stands on this issue. He visited Tucson in the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I’m paraphrasing him, he said to those gathered there that proponents of stronger enforcement must understand that it can only come with a guest-worker program. That type of equation is just the wrong way to go.
I have every belief that the Senate will take the vehicle the House sends them, will end up passing a guest-worker/amnesty plan, and that will be sent back to the House and shoved down the throats of the American people—unless the people wake up right now and say “no.”
In terms of some of the ideas you outline in the book—you talk about employers and the problems that are posed there and some of the issues involved with that, and as you mentioned, you have this whole idea of the fence. What do you think are the most realistic ideas that can get through the Congress and would be acceptable to President Bush?
Again, quite candidly, I don’t know, given the current mindset of the White House and certain key members of the Senate, any notion of enforcement-first—other than poll-driven comments that appear to be verbal tranquilizers really translate into action. I just have to be candid about it.
I have a great deal of respect for our President, a great deal of admiration for him. In fact, it’s been said, on nine out of 10 issues he has no stronger ally in the Congress than J.D. Hayworth. But on this issue, there is a profound disagreement. So I don’t know if in good faith I can say to you what would be acceptable to the President. With due respect to the presidency, I think the question ought to be: What is acceptable to the American people? And operating from that template, we need to have enforcement first.
What do I mean by that? I mean literally a one-two punch: stronger border enforcement, including a military presence, on our border; and the advent and the usage of the high-tech abilities we have for continuous surveillance of our vast borders. But simultaneously, interior enforcement—holding businesses accountable and holding illegals accountable for breaking the law.
Because what is being propagated by the so-called cheap labor crowd is this notion that everyone who crosses our border is only here to look for a job. Nothing could be further from the truth. And there is an effort underfoot to excuse illegal behavior. The question is often posed to me: If these people are just here working hard, what’s wrong?
Here’s the problem: Chances are they have used false documents. We know that fraudulent use of a Social Security number is a felony. And we have to get tough on illegals and those who knowingly hire illegals. And we have to put in place mechanisms, as I outlined in my enforcement-first bill, that ends the bureaucratic stove piping, that ends the absurdity of the Social Security Administration writing employers to say these numbers don’t match up, but don’t you take any action, you could open yourself up to an immigration lawsuit.
Instead of the Social Security Administration playing a store-front lawyer, the Social Security Administration should do the job it is supposed to do. The fraudulent numbers, and those utilizing them, that information should be shared with the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security. But instead of utilizing information literally at Uncle Sam’s fingertips, Uncle Sam has had his hands tied and that information stove piped and taken away.
We need to end the gaming of the system. We need to return to the original intent of the 14th Amendment, what Sen. Howard advanced when he spoke about that amendment when he proposed it on the floor of the Senate, that sadly has been changed drastically through court interpretations in the 20th century. And we have to understand that by turning off the magnet and by putting stricter controls on benefits, we will offer a powerful disincentive to those who come here illegally.
You outline all of this in detail in the book, and you go through point-by-point information that people probably wouldn’t necessarily know about or have at their fingertips. You say the American people need to wake up. Is your book the vehicle that you think will be able to do that?
I think this book serves as the wake-up call. I think it could be a rallying point. When readers pick this book up, and after they read Sean Hannity’s introduction, they read chapter one, “Overrun,” and in one place there is a litany of real-time experiences with the abuses of our system by illegals; with the abuses of our system by business interests; with the abuses of our system by left-wing grievance-mongers, all too eager to pander in the name of political correctness.
I believe it outlines the problem and the dimensions of the problem. But we don’t leave it there. We offer tangible solutions that were in my enforcement-first bill that sadly were watered down into an enforcement-maybe bill in the House of Representatives—a bill I, in good conscience, could not case a vote in favor of.
You come from a border state and your two senators, John McCain and Jon Kyl, are on different sides of the debate, at least it seems. Each has a separate bill in the Senate. Give me a rundown of both of those, and if those aren’t good enough, what the problem is with each.
With both of those bills, and rather than go through a litany of my criticisms of the bills, let me step back and say it this way. Unless and until you enforce existing laws, there is no incentive for any new approach to work. Because if people do not obey existing laws, and if the government refuses to enforce existing laws, what makes us think any new laws are going to be either enforced or obeyed?
I have a great deal of respect for my colleagues in the Senate, but in the final analysis, that fundamental question fails to be addressed. That is the first and primary fault line. Now I could go through a litany, and goodness knows if either of those plans advances in the Senate I’ll be happy to do that, but in the final analysis, the first question remains the last question remains the constant question: If people are not obeying existing laws, if the government fails to enforce existing laws, what on earth makes us think any new laws would either be enforced or observed?
Do you think since 9/11 the situation has improved or worsened? Obviously, in that time we’ve seen a lot more attention paid to the issue, but has any impact really been made?
The most disappointing, and in a sense the most troubling aspect of this entire question, is the pronouncement by the secretary of Homeland Security that we could have operational control of the borders within five years.
Now, just stop and think about that for a second. He made that announcement in late 2005 that it was his goal and his belief that the American nation could have operational control of its borders within five years. That means 2011—10 years after the brutal attack on our homeland in 2001.
And I think each American, as we pause for reflection on that, I don’t believe anyone in their wildest nightmare, could believe that the bureaucrat-laden language of long-term goals would include security our border 10 years after we were attacked. That is inexcusable, it is unconscionable, and it is the wrong approach for the wrong reasons at the wrong time in our history.
It brings me pleasure to say that, but one of my jobs is not simply rally around the administration, but as a member of the United States Congress, regardless of partisan label, if something’s wrong—if we’re mired in what political scientists call bureaucratic inertia, what we just have to call inaction—it is highly inappropriate and it is very dangerous.
Accordingly, I don’t believe the progress has been made that should have been made—both reflective of a nation on a war footing and realistically addressing the nature of the threats we confront here in the United States.
How much of an impact does Big Business have on the Bush Administration and have on this debate because of their desire to have cheap labor?
I think you see interests that I would consider traditional allies. The United States Chamber of Commerce, the agri-jobs group, the service industries are just bound and determined that they want to have what is in effect corporate welfare—a permanent subsidy to absorb their costs of doing business by bringing people in and creating a new status of worker that essentially would be paid for by the taxpayers of the United States to facilitate a new American caste system or a permanent underclass.
That is what I believe, quite frankly, is a major part of the problem in Washington and why so many of my congressional colleagues view this as a political problem to be managed or finessed rather than a threat to be confronted or an invasion to be stopped. And there’s been no secret about this. The White House went to work, it was first reported in the Los Angeles Times, that a coalition of border security and economic security hired Dick Armey, the former Republican leader, and Cal Dooley, a former Democrat member of Congress from the agricultural areas of central California, and they’re out pushing the notion of a guest worker.
The battle has been joined, and the President, to his credit, does not engage in parsing of words, but he has decided that a guest-worker program is the prescription he wants to follow. And I politely but profoundly disagree.