There were two summits this week and if you can’t guess which was more productive, please repeat the last four years’ classes. One was held in Cancun, Mexico, between President Bush, Mexican President Fox, and Canadian PM Stephen Harper. The other one took place in Beirut, where Hizballah leader Sayyed Nasrallah and Hamas chieftain Khaled Meshaal sought money and other support from the assembled “Fourth General Arab Conference to Back the Lebanese and Palestinian Resistance,” according to a report in the Beirut Daily Star. (John Batchelor’s report yesterday on AmSpecBlog adds representatives of Imad Mugniyah, Abu Musab al Zarqawi and Islamic Jihad. That would make the Beirut meeting the terrorist equivalent of the 1957 Appalachian summit of the five mafia families.) We cannot doubt that whoever was there also seized the opportunity to meet, in safety and in secret, to discuss future terrorist operations. It took a third event to place the first two in their correct and deadly context.
Hizballah — the Iranian-backed Lebanese/Syrian terrorist organization — has more American blood on its hands than any Islamic terrorist ring with the sole exception of al-Qaeda. On Thursday, FBI Director Robert Muller announced that though the FBI and Customs had caught others, Hizballah had succeeded in smuggling some operatives across the Mexican border into the U.S. He said, “This was an occasion in which Hizballah operatives were assisting others with some association with Hizballah in coming to the United States…That was an organization that we dismantled and identified those persons who had been smuggled in. And they have been addressed as well.” These are the ones that were caught. But of the half-million or so illegals who entered this country last year, how many others like them remain undetected?
My friend and former CIA undercover operator Wayne Simmons has been warning of this problem for years. He spent almost two decades posing as an intelligence operative working with Colombian drug lords and risking his life to thwart their operations. Simmons’s warning is dire. He asks, how many former intelligence operators from the KGB and GRU and others such as they are hiring out to plan terrorist smuggling operations through Canada and Mexico? Those who smuggle drugs and illegal aliens across our borders won’t scruple at bringing terrorists and their weapons in for the right fee. And for enough money they can hire people just as good as Wayne Simmons to get their cargos past our border operations. It would be foolish to think they are not.
The pinata of platitudes that was burst over Cancun proved redundantly that we aren’t serious about protecting our borders. If we were, the guys and gals working for Muller would be backed up by everything in our arsenal of economic, military, and political muscle. Have you noticed that there is roughly no coverage of the Cancun results? There’s a reason for that. There weren’t any. Except for giving Mexico de facto license to get away with at least one more year of promoting illegal immigration, there’s not one thing that came out of this summit. It didn’t have to be so. The president could have lowered the boom on Fox and done what Americans have been yearning for: establishing the framework of a real border policy that both of our neighbors would sign on to.
PERHAPS THE GREATEST SCANDAL of our time, one that will make our society permanently less American and less secure, is that our politicians seem so scared of losing Hispanic voters’ support that they won’t give more than lip service to enforcing America’s borders. To be fair to FBI Director Muller and the other folks working hard against the smugglers, some success is being achieved. But how much are they missing?
We can, like Sen. McCain, choose to parse words over what is amnesty for illegals and what isn’t. We can, like Sen. Reid, demagogue the issue as Republican racism. Or we can — unlike the whole sorry lot of them — look at what we can do to secure the borders and then deal with the illegals that are here.
The president — who earlier promised to veto any immigration bill that didn’t contain his guest worker program — caved preemptively during the Cancun meeting. Which leaves us caught between McCain’s pride and Hispanic accusations of prejudice, between sense and Sensenbrenner. On one side is Rep. Sensenbrenner’s bill to make illegal entry into the U.S. a felony. That proposal has brought hundreds of thousands of protesters waving Mexican flags to the streets of Los Angeles, New York, and many other cities. It has the benefit of appealing to our emotions, but as I pointed out last week it’s anything but serious.
On the other is the McCain-Specter-Kennedy formula of “earned citizenship,” which does almost nothing to prevent more illegals from entering the nation. Neither approach addresses the real issues we face. Let’s take a deep breath, step back, and define the problem. Congress’s “ready, fire, aim” approach should be brought to a crashing halt, and both sides should regroup around three issues.
FIRST, WHAT WILL IT TAKE to end the massive flow of illegals across the Mexican and Canadian borders? In other words, what will it take to increase the effectiveness of the FBI, Customs and Immigration, Coast Guard and other agencies’ efforts to stop the people smugglers, and catch the individuals who come in? There’s an objective measure for this. If an estimated half million illegals are getting in each year, what will it take to cut that number down to one-tenth the current rate? To one one-hundredth?
Second, what shall we do with the eleven million or more illegals that are here? We won’t ship them all home. But we can’t allow a huge subculture in our nation that is used to disregarding the law. A guest worker program sounds good, but why should we have any confidence in our government’s ability to organize it and enforce whatever limits we choose to place on it? And why should anyone bother to follow McCain’s “earned citizenship” plan if they can stay here for decades without being penalized for disregarding the law?
Third, how can we ensure that those illegals who are to become citizens truly assimilate and become Americans? We don’t want to follow the French example and create such obstacles to assimilation that a whole smoldering, angry alien underclass forms in our cities and towns. Actually, we’ve already created that deeply entrenched set of obstacles. It’s called multiculturalism.
How can we expect anyone to become an American when we don’t agree what that means? How few among us even think of ourselves in un-hyphenated terms? To ensure assimilation, we have to remove the obstacles to it in schools, in business, and in government. We know what they are, but lack the courage to state them. Let’s make it easy by killing a few sacred cows. In the schools, eliminate multilingual education and teach American history and American government as our history and our government, not an abstraction. Continue in the business world by removing preferences for minority-owned businesses and let the market work. And, in government, scorn those who trade on race or ethnicity. No, it’s not about to happen. But it could if we were honest about it. Si, si puede.
TAS contributing editor Jed Babbin is the author of Inside the Asylum: Why the UN and Old Europe Are Worse Than You Think (Regnery, 2004).