'Enough is Enough': While Washington Vacations, a War Rages Here at Home

I was just about to speak to the Republican gathering in Ames, Iowa, Saturday when I learned something so distressing that it caused me to change the topic of my speech.

By now you have heard about the three young college students who were murdered execution-style in Newark, N.J., last week. Another student was shot in the head but survived.

What you might not have heard is that the shooter in this horrendous crime was in the country illegally.

This was not his first vicious crime. He was indicted last month for raping a five-year-old girl repeatedly over a four-year period and threatening to kill her family.

And 10 months ago, he was charged with assaulting patrons in a bar.

A career criminal whose illegal status, Fox News reports, the authorities have known since his prior arrests.

A murderer who, despite all these facts, was still free on a Saturday night to line up four young people in a Newark schoolyard and shoot them in the head.

At the funeral of one of the young victims, Newark Mayor Cory Booker pounded the coffin and shouted, “Enough is enough!”

He was more right than he knew.

The War Here at Home

There is a war here at home, and it is even more deadly than the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Far more Americans are being killed by violent, evil people here in America than in our official military “combat zones” overseas.

The truth is, all too many Americans are being killed. But what is so completely senseless is having the lives of three young, achieving students cut brutally short by someone who not only should not have been in the United States in the first place but also, after two previous arrests for violence, should not have been on the streets. Instead, the suspected killer should have been in jail awaiting trial, sentencing, prison and eventual deportation.

Another case in point: Authorities are now seeking an additional suspect in the Newark killings — yet another suspected illegal alien.

The second suspect is a Nicaraguan national who was ordered deported in 1993 but clearly never left. He, too, has a long record of arrests for violent crimes going all the way back to 1999.

New Jersey was already recently in the news for its failure to protect its citizens from illegal aliens when the federal government arrested six would-be terrorists for plotting to kill U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix. We soon learned that three of them had been illegally in the U.S. for 23 years, during which they had been charged by the New Jersey police more than 75 times. And still, our government never discovered they were here illegally.

Now the failure of our government to determine if a criminal is here illegally and to detain him has played a role in the execution-style killing of three young college students and the shooting in the head of a fourth student.

The Government of the United States Is Not Protecting the People of America

Yet the problem is by no means confined to New Jersey.

Mayor Booker cannot protect the people of Newark if the government of the United States is not protecting the people of America.

The federal government’s incompetence, timidity and uncoordinated efforts to identify and deport criminal illegal aliens have had devastating consequences for innocent Americans.

While Fox News has reported that immigration authorities knew that the Newark shooter was here illegally, the Newark Star Ledger quoted Mark Ali, head of the Essex County Prosecutor’s child abuse unit, who “questioned whether immigration officials would have taken any action to detain [the shooter] even if they had been notified of his prior arrests.”

Ali told the Star Ledger: “In 19 years, I have called immigration maybe a dozen times, and not once have they come to put a detainer or arrest someone.”

Trapped in Partisan Wrangling as Usual

As a father and grandfather, I am outraged that our government failed to protect these four promising young people in Newark.

As an American, I am sickened that the political leadership of America could continue to go on vacation and do nothing, even when there was the most painful and tragic proof of the failure of the current system.

As I told the crowd at Ames, a fundamental reality of where we are as a country is this: Real change requires real change.

No matter how painful, big or urgent the problem, we are trapped in politics as usual and partisan wrangling as usual:

  • Levees collapse in New Orleans as the local, state and federal bureaucracies fail and nothing is done to change the system.
  • A major bridge collapses in Minneapolis because of the failure of the federal and state bureaucracies and nothing is done to change the system.
  • Three young Americans are executed because bureaucracies in New Jersey and Washington have failed and nothing is done to change the system.

Real Change Requires a Special Congressional Session

The President should call Congress back into special session for three days to pass a single, decisive bill.

It should be called the “Terrance Aeriel, Dashon Harvey, Iofemi Hightower Act” in honor of the three young students who lost their lives due to their government’s failure to protect them.

We need a special session because, as the Newark Mayor said, “enough is enough.”

Either Congress will pass a bill to establish a new system for winning the war here at home and protecting Americans from criminal illegal aliens or Congress will fail to act and we would know we need a new Congress.

Either way, enough is enough.

The President, too, ought to be furious at the failure of bureaucracies to protect the American people.

Why are the August vacations for the President and the Congress more precious than the lives of young Americans who are being killed because of government incompetence and inaction?

The Aeriel-Harvey-Hightower Act to Protect Americans

The Aeriel-Harvey-Hightower Act should be very simple and straightforward:

  1. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security will jointly outsource the development of a virtually real-time identification system to check legal status of felons and have it up and running by Jan. 1, 2008. The system should be measured against the speed of automatic teller machines and should be run by private-sector companies who know how to build and maintain real-time identification systems and how to combat fraud.
  2. Every person arrested for a felony will be checked against the federal data base, and unless there is positive proof they are American citizens or legal residents in America, they will be presumed to be here illegally and will be detained.
  3. Any city, county or state that refuses to participate in checking every felony arrest will immediately lose all their federal aid.
  4. No illegal alien criminal will be released back into the American population to prey upon Americans. After they finish time for their crime, they will be retained until deported. Retention and deportation will be the responsibility of the federal government, and every state and local authority that has criminals serving time who prove to be illegal aliens will turn them over to federal authorities when their local or state conviction is completed.
  5. All current prisoners will be screened to identify who is in the United States illegally, and the illegal alien prisoners will be turned over to the federal government for deportation.

The War at Home Is Just as Important as the War Abroad

The issue is simple: Either Congress and the President want to defend innocent Americans from violent illegal aliens or they don’t.

Either the killing of three young Americans is a horrendous event that requires us to act or we will go on with politics as usual while young Americans in our inner cities are massacred by people who should not be here.

There is a war here at home that is just as important as the war against terrorism overseas.

There are combat casualties here in America just as there are combat casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.

When you watch the President and the members of Congress on their August vacations, ask yourself why they can’t spend a few days honoring the lost lives of Dashon Harvey, Terrance Aeriel and Iofemi Hightower by passing a law to save their younger relatives from the same tragic end.

We Should Demand More of Our Leaders, or We Should Get New Leaders.

Real change will only come when we, the American people, insist on real change.

A special session would be one step toward real change.

A law establishing a system for identifying felons who are here illegally and detaining them would be real change.

Having the government take responsibility for its failures would be real change.

More talk and more pious hand wringing while doing nothing is just politics and bureaucracy as usual.

We should demand more of our leaders, or we should get new leaders.

Imagine that these four college students had been your children, your nieces or nephews. We cannot expect Mayor Booker to defend Newark if the government of the United States does not defend America, and we need to win the war at home as much as we need to win the war overseas.

Please pray for the families and friends of these students.

Iofemi Hightower, 20 – Read a tribute to her here.

Terrance Aeriel, 18: Watch this tribute video to Terrance.

Dashon Harvey, 20 – Watch Dashon’s video when he ran for Mr. Junior.

Pray also for the full recovery of Terrance’s sister, Natasha Aeriel, 19, the lone survivor.

Had enough?

Newt Gingrich

P.S. — We had a great time at the Iowa Straw Poll in Ames. American Solutions held several informative workshops that can be viewed at Thanks to all who participated.

P.P.S. — Before the Ames Straw Poll, I appeared on Iowa Public Television’s premier political and issues show, “Iowa Press.” You can watch it here.

P.P.P.S. — The Minnesota Pioneer Press ran my op-ed on how to fix the I-35W Bridge in record time without raising taxes. You can read it here.