How to Fix Our Broken Border

The final of three excerpts from “In Mortal Danger: The Battle for America’s Border and Security.”

I firmly believe that we must reaffirm the principles of citizenship and of American identity if we are to survive as a free people in the twenty-first century. This comes not from a fear of immigration. As a son of immigrants, 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. Our destiny is not to be a vague, confusing collection of ethnic groups or religious sects, but rather it is a continuation of the land of freedom and opportunity, the world’s beacon of hope for all who are oppressed.

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To rekindle that desire and remain focused on that destiny, we must renew the bonds of citizenship and the values and institutions that nourish and sustain those bonds. The ideology of multiculturalism does not understand this. In fact, the multicultural movement is at war with every idea of America as has been understood for more than two hundred years.

I hope and pray that most Americans understand this and will do everything in their power to ensure our success. With the help of the good people of this nation, we will prevail. But we have to be willing to confront this issue, no matter how uncomfortable it is for us to talk about it and no matter how challenging it is to overcome.

It is undeniable that massive immigration combined with the multicultural philosophy in this country has huge ramifications. Some may believe those ramifications are positive; I believe they are negative.

I believe that the leadership of this nation must begin a dialogue with America. When I say dialogue, I mean renewing a commitment to the idea of America on the part of all the people who come to positions of authority and responsibility. Is Western civilization, as epitomized by the American experience, worth saving? This is the question we must pose. And to answer it correctly, we have to have all information available to us.

We have to teach our children about the nation’s value as well as highlight its warts. It is important that we not gloss over the inequities, that we not discard from our text any discussion of slavery or any of the issues we know to be negative in our history. They have to be discussed and understood in order to be overcome. Additionally, we must 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 pop culture? Why is it so comfortable for members of the pop culture and the people in television and in the movies to stand up and criticize—only criticize—what it is to be an American when they reap so many benefits from being American themselves? How hypocritical. But how comfortable and profitable it is for them to do so, and how easy it is for them to do so.

Shortly after 9/11, when Congress was engaged in a debate over the possibility of a conflict in the Middle East and the efficacy of that conflict—whether or not it was in the national interests of the United States to embark upon this venture, whether a preemptive strike by the United States was justified, and whether or not sending men and women into harm’s way was appropriate—I took the House floor to quote from some speeches made at “pro-peace rallies” in Washington, D.C. I said the press likely misidentified these speeches as “pro-peace,” just as the media had misidentified the rallies I attended and spoke at as “pro-war.” Most of the discussions and most of the people exhorting the crowd were not really interested in the concept of peace and the need for it but talked instead about the problems with America and saying that America needed its own “regime change.” That America needed another “revolution.” They also led chants of Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar, at these rallies.

Many in the crowds of these “pro-peace” rallies were Hollywood actors and actresses. I was intrigued by the attention given to these entertainment celebrities. In one radio report, an actor shared his opinions about the war. He was, of course, very critical of the United States and our actions. I have no qualm with this actor. He has every right to express his opinions, as does a postman, a waitress, any citizen of this country. What I found interesting, however, was the attention paid to that particular point of view by these people who, admittedly, have no particular expertise.

After 9/11, a friend was getting into a cab. He saw on the front seat a newspaper report about former President Clinton’s speech in which he said he linked the 9/11 attacks with America’s treatment of Native Americans in the past and the history of slavery.

My friend said to the driver, “I see you read about President Clinton’s speech. What did you think of it?”

The cab driver replied, “I thought it was baloney.” He said of the terrorists, “These people do not hate us for what we have done wrong; they hate us for what we do right.”

What an interesting and profound observation. The cab driver said that we do things right. We help people. We have such freedoms in the United States—freedom of speech and the press, freedom of religion, freedom of the sexes to vote and to share the rights afforded to all citizens—so many rights that are not recognized in the countries from which the 9/11 hijackers came.

Now, a little story such as that found no play in the national media at the time of the “pro-peace” and “pro-war” rallies. Perhaps there was no reason to report it because, after all, this was a Washington DC cab driver. What was his expertise? He talks to a lot of people, but he’s not really a person we should listen to because of his great acumen and experience.

Yet, interestingly, the press pays a great deal of attention to people in the media and the entertainment world who come forward with their pronouncements about what is right in terms of our foreign policy and what is wrong. They turn to actors like Sean Penn and actresses like Susan Sarandon (although she does not want to be called an “actress” because that distinguishes a gender difference). These people are given a lot of attention and tremendous airtime. People listen to them and say, “Wow. That is how they feel.”

I am intrigued by it because they are all, without exception, extremely liberal and, as such, are opposed to any U.S. military action in either Afghanistan or Iraq. Ironically, I don’t remember anybody condemning President Clinton for tossing missiles around when he felt they were appropriate. I don’t recall any of them complaining about his pursuit of a war in Yugoslavia that was against a country posing absolutely no threat to the United States. No one ever suggested that former Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic was a threat to this country. He was a horrible national leader, no doubt, but he posed no danger to the United States. Yet we carried out a war against him, and all of today’s outspoken critics of American foreign action were silent.

During this war against the murderous Saddam Hussein, I have heard these high-profile celebrities constantly rail against the United States because we deposed him and wiped out the terrorists we believe he was sponsoring. I suggest these “stars” have absolutely no more grasp of this issue than the cab driver in Washington, D.C. I happen to agree with the cab driver’s interpretation, but I don’t recall seeing him being interviewed on television. And yet, because of the many people that he sees during the course of a day in the nation’s capital, he is more likely to be politically astute than anyone in Hollywood. But we don’t talk about him because he is not a national figure—and, of course, because he has a different interpretation of events from that of the stereotypical left-wing anti-American sentiment that is expressed by the pop idols.

Yes, something has changed dramatically. The right-minded people who exist in that medium are afraid to express the cabbie’s sentiments for fear their peers will shun them. What has happened that has allowed this to occur? I suggest that it’s time to regenerate a discussion of American principles and ideas; to help everybody—our children and adults—understand the importance of those ideas and ideals; to expect the immigrants coming to this country to have a burning desire to be Americans, and that to come here for any other reason is not acceptable. To come here simply for economic gain and to hold allegiance to other countries politically, ethnically, and linguistically is not acceptable.

It is not acceptable because this “nonallegiant” attitude is cancerous; it will sap the strength of America. Such a cancer will destroy our ability to be successful in the ongoing clash of civilizations. It will lead to our demise.

For that reason in December 2005, as chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus, I sent a letter to House majority leader Roy Blunt and Rules Committee chairman David Dreier sounding the alarm to fix our broken immigration system. I wrote:

Our border crisis is multifaceted—it has created problems on many policy fronts that one would not think pertain to immigration. For each problem Members will want to propose a solution, and as a courtesy to you, I have listed some of these proposals from my colleagues on the House Immigration Reform Caucus below.

Fixing Our Broken Borders

Begin Building a Border Security Fence

• Put troops on the border
• End “catch and release”
• Mandate passport usage for everyone traveling internationally
• Make volunteer border patrol a sanctioned federal activity
• Suspend visa waiver program

Enforcing the Law Throughout the Country

• Require a federal response when local law enforcement asks to have illegal aliens arrested
• Restrict federal money that goes to local governments that have illegal alien sanctuary policies
• Close the loophole that allows religious organizations and their agents to be immune from illegal-alien-harboring laws
• Make DUI a deportable offense
• Increase penalties for the smuggling of illegal aliens
• Increase penalties for terrorists who are illegal aliens
• Increase penalties for gang members who are illegal aliens
• Draft minimum standards for birth certificates and birth/death registries
• Make unlawful presence in the United States a felony

Stopping Businesses from Hiring Illegals

• Make employment verification mandatory
• Eliminate the business tax write-off for illegal workers
• Increase the penalty for employers who hire illegal aliens
• Make businesses that hire illegal aliens ineligible for future guest workers

Reducing the Incentive to Come Illegally

• Disallow all federal funding for states that offer in-state tuition to illegal aliens
• Disallow the matricula consular card as a legal form of identification
• Reform the use of individual taxpayer identification numbers
• Eliminate Social Security totalization for illegal aliens

Disentangling Foreign Policy from Immigration

• Block any immigration provisions from trade bills
• Block visas to countries that refuse to take their nationals back
• Reduce the availability of yearly legal visas per country by the number of illegal aliens from such country

Restoring the Meaning of Citizenship

• End birthright citizenship for illegal aliens
• Eliminate dual citizenship
• Make English the official language
• Write the oath of citizenship into law
• Strengthen safeguards against voter fraud

Reforming Legal Immigration

• Eliminate the visa lottery
• Eliminate chain migration
• Eliminate H-1B visas [temporary work permits]
• Eliminate unskilled worker green cards
• Create a Department of Immigration or a cabinet-level agency

It has been nearly a decade since Congress rewrote the immigration law, and we are only now dealing with it again because we have a security crisis on our hands. Over the last decade, Americans have cried out to seal our porous borders and to enforce the law. We must seize this opportunity to accomplish real reform.