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ISSUE 120 VOL 18 PUBLISHED 4/20/2007

Immigration policy under fire

By Emelie Heltsley
News Editor

Friday, April 20, 2007

Political columnist Michelle Malkin critiqued U.S. immigration policy, uncovered myths about supporters of an open borders policy and fielded questions from the audience gathered in the Pause Tuesday night.

“I’m delighted to be here,” Malkin began, mentioning immediately that she had read the Opinions section of the Manitou Messenger that included an article asking for a boycott of her speech. She noted the irony of the article, which criticized her connection with the Fox News Channel, urging its readers to watch American Idol, a show that airs on the Fox network, instead of coming to her talk.

“I have no plans of breathing fire or making you cry,” she said to her audience. “I did not leave my husband or my two small kids to waste yours or my time, but to bring diversity of thought.”

In her 35-minute speech, Malkin presented several facts about the current state of U.S. immigration policy and the lack of systematic tracking of aliens. There are 20 million illegal aliens in the United States and one million legal aliens. There are currently 20,000 beds to hold illegal immigrants before they are deported back to their country of origin and only 2,000 governmental agents employed to track down illegal immigrants. “We have completely lost control,” Malkin said. “In a post-September 11 era, national interests, not special interests, should drive security.”

Malkin then debunked three myths surrounding an open-border immigration policy, first critiquing the belief that the United States is a nation of immigrants. “Eighty-five percent of residents were born here, and some people did not immigrate here,” she said. Malkin considers ignoring Native Americans, Alaskans and Hawaiians “insensitive.” Using extensive examples from letters and other primary documents from the Founding Fathers, Malkin argued that they wanted to protect the country from mass immigration. “We are first and foremost a nation of laws, not a nation of immigration,” she said. “Fulfilling the duties in the preamble (of the Constitution) cannot happen without an ordered immigration system.”

Malkin next tackled the myth that the borders are impossible to control. “We have barely begun to control our borders,” she said. “If we started enforcing the law now, it would send a very powerful message.” She described the current measures set up to control immigration and punish illegal activity (both on the parts of aliens and immigration court judges) as “toothless,” arguing that “there have to be consequences for breaking the law.”

Finally, Malkin addressed the claim that busboys are not terrorists, calling attention to the false belief that the border between the United States and Mexico is not involved with terrorists. She mentioned José Padilla and many other known terrorists who came into the United States through the United States-Mexico border. “Busboys may not be terrorists, but terrorists may look like busboys,” she said.

Before answering audience questions, Malkin addressed many critics’ opinion of her as a compassionless person. “Here’s where my compassion lies: with the people who died at the hands of terrorists,” she said. She asked the audience how many more Americans must die before the United States “clearly, consistently and unapologetically” cracks down on immigration.

“A country without borders isn’t a country,” Malkin said.

Malkin then turned to the audience in an hour-long question-and-answer session, giving her opinion on a myriad of topics, mostly relating to issues of border control and immigration.

One student asked Malkin to comment on providing mass amnesty status to illegal aliens, a prospect Malkin does not favor, whether the proposal comes from a Republican or a Democrat. “Before we add more people, we need assurance that the current deportation laws work,” she said. “My focus is guarding against the next terrorist attack.”

Another student took umbrage with Malkin’s assertion that the United States is not a nation of immigrants and asked how the country can judge who will cause harm and who will not. Malkin brought up the millions of people who line up and go through the citizenship process legally, stressing that the United States should “exhibit a willingness to embrace people who are willing to follow the law.” Malkin said that not every human with a desire to live in the United States will be able to come and does not think it imperialist or selfish to deny some people entrance into the country. “We need to get over our collective guilt,” she said. “We cannot absorb every person with dreams.”

One student said that many terrorists come into the country on valid visas, and wondered how that affected Malkin’s view of immigration policy. Malkin immediately drew attention to the failing system to keep track of those who stay in the country on over-stayed visas. “We have no good handle on who has come into this country, but FedEx can track millions of packages,” she said. Malkin brought up the problem of officials who allow people with sloppy and incomplete visa forms into the country. “If people [...] aren’t doing their jobs, all the border security in the world isn’t going to help us,” she said.

Some of the questions involved the northern border between the United States and Canada. Malkin considers the northern border a “big concern,” mentioning a time that she saw a single orange traffic cone acting as a deterrent instead of a border patrol guard. “You have to laugh because if you didn’t, you’d cry,” she said, also calling attention to Canada’s own lax immigration rules. “We haven’t done enough diplomatically to encourage Canada to tighten their policies,” she said.

When asked if extending Homeland Security would help immigration matters, Malkin said that the main problem was a “lack of will to enforce the laws already in the books.” On the other hand, removing all borders and opening the country to all would “be the ruination of this nation,” she said.

In a press conference before her speech, Malkin touched on other issues, including personal attacks against her, media reductivism, the tragedy at Virginia Tech and gun control.

Malkin said that she does not worry about expressing her own opinions. “I don’t consider what I do a schtick,” she said, criticizing a tendency among the media to reduce opinions to sound bytes and bumper sticker slogans. “All you can do is put your work out and hope that people will take it for what it is,” she said.

Malkin next touched on gun control laws, saying that Monday’s Virginia Tech shootings happened under current gun laws, which did not permit the shooter to own or purchase a gun in the first place. “Will more laws make a difference?” she said, mentioning a Virginia law that does not allow students to carry guns for self-defense. Malkin does not consider it to be too early to start talking about the shootings: “What better time to talk about it than when it’s fresh in everyone’s mind?”

Many students appreciated Malkin’s analytical and statistical approach to immigration. “I definitely disagreed with some of her opinions, but she was definitely informed, articulate and respectful,” Megan Remtema ‘07 said. “It was a truly educational event.”

Ishanaa Rambachan ’08 shared the sentiment. “I greatly appreciated an informed, conservative viewpoint,” she said, specifically mentioning Malkin’s use of stastical facts. “She was far more moderate than critics say.”

Chad Goodroad ‘09, however, did not find the speech respectful. “She was fairly reasonable,” he said, but thought that she was looking to spark arguments with “undertones that were unnecessary and rude.”

According to Pause data, 280 people attended the event, which was sponsored by the Political Awareness Committee (PAC).

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