In his latest best-seller, for “State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America,” Pat Buchanan makes his case that we must move quickly to erect a stronger, more restrictive immigration policy to stop and reverse the invasion of millions of illegal Mexican immigrants across our southwestern border.
If we fail to do so, says the conservative populist, the United States as we know it will disappear in 50 years. I reached the former presidential candidate, political pundit and syndicated columnist by phone on August 24 in New York City, where he was in mid-book tour.
You have concerns about the harmful impact of on our economy, our culture and our politics from illegal immigration. What is the most serious problem that needs to be addressed first?
Pat Buchanan: The first one — as in New Orleans, when the 17th Street levee broke — is before you do anything, fix the levee and stop flood. Even before you start pumping out the water, even before you start bringing folks back to their homes — fix the levee, stop the flood. We need to stop the invasion of this country with a 2,000 mile security border fence, all the way from Brownsville to San Diego.
That is the only thing that will do it, because the whole world now realizes America’s back door is now open. The numbers being apprehended along the border in the first five months of 2006 were 150,000 a month. That is more people breaking into this country each month than all the immigrants who came in the entire 1820s. That is more people breaking into the United States each month than all the troops we have in Iraq.
It is an invasion. And the president of the United States is obligated under the Constitution to stop that invasion …. That is the first thing that needs to be done. All else proceeds from that. You’ve got a lot of other steps, but that needs to be done immediately.
Who or what is most responsible for this “state of emergency”?
Buchanan: The government of the United States has failed to do its duty to enforce the immigration laws. It’s failed to do its duty to protect the states of the union and the American nation from invasion. As a consequence, we’ve got more illegal aliens here than all the Jewish folks, Irish folks and English who ever came to America. This is happening because of a dereliction of duty on the part of our political class. And our social and cultural elites have condoned it. Let me say this: The state is basically betraying the nation.
If this doesn’t change, if immigration isn’t restricted, and if the tide of illegals isn’t stopped and reversed, as you call for, what will America look like in 2050?
Buchanan: Bye, bye, “American Pie.” What will American look like? We will be a Third World country by national origin. We will be a Balkanized nation. We will be what Theodore Roosevelt called “a polyglot boarding house for the world” — not a nation at all. We will be a tangle of squabbling minorities — with all of us minorities. I think the future of the United States as one nation and one people will become an impossibility.
What should our immigration policy look like?
Buchanan: It should look like what John F. Kennedy recommended back in the late 1950s and was repeated in his book in 1959, “A Nation of Immigrants”: total immigration of 150,000 to 250,000 a year. Let’s set a figure of 200,000 a year. A security fence across the southern border. Enforced sanctions on all employers who hire illegals chronically. Those who do so ought to be put in jail or be doing community service, publicly. An end to all welfare benefits, except emergency services, for any and all illegal aliens. A reinterpretation of the 14th Amendment so that some women who the coyotes have moved across the border 50 yards and have their babies there, are not automatic citizens of America. Congress could handle that.
Finally, legal immigrants here — once they settle down — should be allowed to bring their wife and minor children. No more extended families — mom, dad, brothers and sisters — because we want immigration law returned to the government of the United States and not set by immigrants and not set by corporations going abroad hiring whomever they want.
If you do the steps that I recommend toward the end of this book, I believe there is a last chance to get control of this problem. But if there is an amnesty, if there is a guest-worker program, and if there is no border fence, for the life of me, I don’t see how you stop 20 or 30 million people from coming in the next 20 years.
How can you have any confidence that the people who have botched immigration for the last 30 or 40 years — politicians, bureaucrats, all the interest groups — can ever fix it?
Buchanan: What makes you think I have confidence in them, ha, ha, ha!
You’ve been around Washington. You more than anybody should know this is impossible.
Buchanan: It’s not impossible. Look, Dwight Eisenhower did it. You know what the name of his program was? — “Operation Wetback.” Say that and that will be the end of the Tribune-Review, ha, ha, ha!
But that’s just it: Political correctness is one of the problems. I’ve got a whole chapter — “Why the Paralysis?” One reason is that the corporations want open borders. They want to be able to bring in cheap labor. They want to be able to go abroad and hire labor and bring it to the United States. They want an amnesty for having broken our laws. And they pay the tuition in Washington.
Why can’t immigration be made more sensible and regulated and controlled, so that immigrants from Latin America don’t have to sneak across the border at night and die and trash the environment and everything else?
Buchanan: Well, one problem is that they come here and they overstay their visas. We’ve got too weak a system that can’t run all these folks out. We’ve got to stop it. Here’s the thing: We don’t need anymore low-wage workers in America. We don’t have a shortage of them.
What do you say to those who call you semi-hysterical — that these problems are not as dire or inevitably destructive to the United States as you fear?
Buchanan: They called me that in 1991 and now I sound like a moderate compared to what they’re saying. If they don’t follow these prescriptions, all I’m saying is, “Bye, bye to America.” I think the American people agree with me and understand this.