Immigration was a defining issue in Thursday’s British vote to leave the European Union. It’s also at the center of the presidential campaign in the United State, thrust to the forefront by presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
One group that’s pleased to see it there is the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a conservative organization that advocates, among other things, substantial reduction of legal and illegal immigration to the country. They’ve been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, but rejected this claim and remained a mainstream political player in Washington.
On Wednesday, InsideSources sat down with FAIR’s executive director, Bob Dane, at the group’s annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire Radio Row” — an event with talk radio hosts from across the country broadcasting near Capitol Hill. Dane talked about the rise of Trump, whether Mexico would really pay for a border wall, and why he supports deporting immigrants in America illegally. The conservation has been edited for length and clarity.
“One of the reasons Donald Trump is resonating this year — and this is not an endorsement of Donald Trump — but the American public feels increasingly marginalized, ignored and demonized, when they look around and say, ‘What is happening to our jobs, our culture, our schools?’ … This failed experiment of globalization is fattening the pockets of corporate and political elites. It’s a way for them to stuff their pockets, but it’s the road to run for all of the rest of us.”
InsideSources: How is it that an influx of immigrants from Mexico threatens the culture in particular?
Bob Dane: The Mexican ethnicity doesn’t threaten the culture, except to the extent that people refuse or are unwilling or unable to assimilate. What defines an American, aside from the legal definition of citizenship, is willingness to abide by and pledge allegiance to our constitutional way of government.
In the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, I think it shows that someone who has a radical interpretation of Islam — a radical interpretation, mind you — is not fit to become a U.S. citizen. Why? Because that’s no longer a religion. That’s a violent, radical ideology that seeks to overthrow our constitution and replace it with Sharia Law. No nation on the planet could ever allow that kind of disorder, chaos and danger. We all succeed when immigrants succeed, but our system is based on chain migration. You are coming into the country based on who you’re related to, not with any respect to whether you have a job skill or an ability to carry your own weight. Unless somebody has an ability to succeed and has a job skill, they can’t assimilate economically, and if they don’t do that they don’t assimilate to the rules of our society.
Is it your sense that many folks coming here from Mexico are not assimilating and not latching onto the constitutional system? What’s your evidence for that?
I think that’s very apparent when you’ve seen recent protests where, instead of waving the American flag and exercising their freedom of speech, they’re waving the Mexican flag. Why?
Maybe because they still feel some affinity for Mexican heritage?
Well, I think we would certainly be more welcoming to immigrants if they were waving the American flag.
I want to follow up on the issue of screening for “radical Islam.” Do you think Trump’s proposed temporary ban on Muslim immigration is a good idea?
Before we run off half-cocked on a complete ban on Muslim immigration, we have a lot of work to do. First of all, we need to limit immigration overall to more sensible levels. We need to limit immigration and do more thorough screening from countries that have high rates of terrorism. We need to do a better job of implementing the unfinished business of the 9/11 Commission — we still haven’t implemented REAL ID or the Visa Waiver program. We don’t have a biometric exit system in place, nor do we have a secure border. So we need to do the fundamentals before we ever get to that approach. It’s not necessary at this point.
True immigration reform has a lot more to do than just building a fence and getting Mexico to pay for it. By the way, parenthetically, we already said we’d pay for the fence, because back in 2006, the American public encouraged Congress to pass the Secure Fence Act — we said we’ll pay for it.
You think there’s any chance Mexico would pay for it?
No, but on the other side, Hillary’s immigration policy is pretty clear. She simply wants to double down on Obama’s executive amnesty abuse.
“Look, I think Donald Trump teed up the immigration issue pretty well. However, sometimes knocks the ball of into the rough. This is a very delicate matter. There are cultural sensitivities. There are necessities for national security. It requires a thoughtful discussion with a lot of detail for the American public to consider.”
What would you do with folks who are here. For example, a deportation force — is that something you favor?
You remove those who have been identified, according to the law, but you otherwise allow them to leave voluntarily — which they will if you dry up the incentives causing so many to come and stay. If you get into the country and you have immunity from the law, in-state tuition, protection from sanctuary cities, eligibility for the full, pure honey pot of benefits, who wouldn’t come?
So that would be a “self-deportation” approach?
You can call it self-deportation, self-attrition or good old fashioned going home. Amnesty doesn’t work, because there’s three fundamental aspects of amnesty — it rewards the illegal behavior, it encourages more and, most importantly, it’s fundamentally unfair to those coming here legally. I mean, where is the fairness of people waiting years to come into the country, and yet those who’ve broken the law come in demanding instantaneous amnesty, entitlements and benefits. Where’s the fairness in throwing the American worker under the bus and glutting the jobs market? Where’s the fairness in reducing wages?
So, just to be clear, immigrants who were identified as being here illegally, you would favor them being forcibly removed?
The law stipulates that.
So, the deportation force — you would support that?
When you say deportation force —
That’s Trump’s term. He’s talked about an armed deportation force that would go and —
I’m not here to answer for Donald Trump —
I understand, but you’re a leader in these policy discussions.
I don’t know what the phrase du jour is with the Donald Trump organization, and I’m not really that interested. I do know that deportation exists under law. It’s a deterrent. It heightens our national security, and it’s the right and responsibility of every sovereign nation to remove those who have no legal right to be here.