An Interview With Congressman Tom Tancredo (R – CO)
John Hawkins:: Do you think offering amnesty to illegal aliens currently in the United States would cause an explosion in the number of illegals coming to our country?
Tom Tancredo:: Only if you believe that rewarding illegal behavior will increase illegal behavior, and of course it will. It has happened before, it’s completely predictable. If you tell people they will be benefit from coming into the United States illegally, not by waiting in line like everybody else, they will come. And why would they not?
Of course, it’s a terrible idea. It will not only encourage illegal immigration, but it will tell every single person who has done it the right way, who has waited in line, who has paid the fees, who has hired the lawyers, who has spent five or ten years trying to come in, it’s telling them they’re nothing but suckers. It’s telling everyone else who’s waiting in line to do it the right way that they’re also suckers.
John Hawkins:: Just out of curiosity, how many people are waiting in line in Mexico? I’ve heard it’s a pretty substantial number.
Tom Tancredo:: It’s hard to say, but across the world there are literally millions — maybe 20 or 30 million that are in the pipeline.
John Hawkins:: It’s terrible for them to have to wait while other people are sneaking in illegally. For our readers who aren’t familiar with it, what is the Matricula Consular and what is the issue that you have with it?
Tom Tancredo:: The Matricula Consular is a card issued by foreign governments, not just Mexico, although in this case they’re of primary concern. The foreign governments have the ability to provide to their citizens living abroad, ID cards. We can’t interfere with that and I couldn’t care less about what Mexico wants to give their citizens living in the United States or anywhere else. The issue is whether or not we’ll accept them for identification purposes when we know that 99.9% of all Matricula Consular cards are given to people living here illegally. Because you see, you do not need any card issued by a foreign government if you’re living in the United States legally. If you’re a foreign national and you’re here legally, you have something called a green card or a VISA or a stamp on your passport. You have something that the United States government says that gives you the right to be here. We should never, ever, use some foreign government’s card to determine whether someone has legal status here in the United States.
About a year and a half ago, Mexico embarked upon a plan — I have to give them credit, this was a good strategy — they decided to begin providing Matricula Consular to all of their nationals living in the United States illegally and then use their consular offices all over the country to lobby states and cities to accept the cards, to accept them for driver’s licenses, for social service benefits, anything that a regular citizen would use their driver’s license for. Some of these cities have gone along with this; we call them “sanctuary cities.” What happens, of course, is that it essentially provides legal status for people living here illegally. That’s how Mexico is getting around the Amnesty issue.
The FBI testified in front of the Immigration Subcommittee that these cards were in fact a security threat in the United States because they are easily forged and we’ve already arrested all kinds of people with 7 or 8 of these cards, with their own picture on it, but with different names. We have people going around door to door in Los Angeles selling them.
You must understand, the Matricula Consular, the Amnesty issue, all of these things are designed to in fact destroy the whole concept of citizenship. This is what they’re pushing for — a place and a situation in which there is essentially no distinction between anyone living here legally and anyone living here illegally. Everyone will be simply residents.
John Hawkins:: So basically, Mexico is trying to push for open borders by default, by getting so many of their people here that it just doesn’t matter…
Tom Tancredo:: Yes is the answer. When I was in Mexico not too long ago, I met with a guy by the name of Juan Hernandez (from the office of Mexicans Living Abroad) and I asked him, “How did this thing get started?” and he said, “to increase the flow of Mexican nationals into the United States.” By the way, Mr. Hernandez is a dual citizen; he was born in Texas, he lives in Texas…
John Hawkins:: Do you believe we should allow that, dual citizenship?
Tom Tancredo:: Of course not, it’s a horrible idea…and I said, “What do you mean ‘increase the flow,’ why do you want to increase the flow?” He said there were a lot of reasons. The issue of remittances where we have millions of Mexicans working in the United States sending back dollars. He said they send back 10 billion dollars a year. Well, that’s about 30% of the GDP of Mexico (Editor’s Note: I was alerted that the 30% figure does not appear to be correct). Then he said, “Beyond that, we have a problem with unemployment.” The population in Mexico, people 25 or younger, has doubled over the last decade. Can you imagine? Of course, this is horrifically dangerous because when you have high unemployment and a huge number of young people in your demographic profile, it’s a recipe for unrest. So they’re shipping their unemployed to the United States, they’re getting them to send back dollars and he said — this is the other thing — he goes, “They will influence the foreign policy of the United States towards Mexico.”
John Hawkins:: And they’ve said very openly that they intend to do that, have they not?
Tom Tancredo:: Absolutely! There were two other members of Congress with me and all of us were just flabbergasted that in fact they’d be that open, but they have been. Many of the Mexican officials have talked about this Matricula card openly and stated that it was their way of getting around the Amnesty problem.
John Hawkins:: In poll after poll, by a large margin, Americans have appeared to support cracking down on illegal immigrants. Why do we have so many people in government who still don’t seem to take our immigration laws seriously?
Tom Tancredo:: Because they don’t believe that people will vote on it exclusively. Most of my colleagues believe that they will be able to finesse this issue. That is to say, that they will be able to tell their constituents, “Yes, it is a problem, we’ll have to look at it,” but it won’t be the thing most people vote on, it won’t be the ultimate issue. As long as that’s the case, they can get by with finessing it.
John Hawkins:: But why are they finessing it? Why not just take it on?
Tom Tancredo:: There are three reasons. The Democratic Party looks at massive immigration, legal and illegal, as a source of voters. The Republican Party looks at massive immigration, legal and illegal, as a source of cheap labor, satisfying a very important constituency. The third reason, of course, is that the President of the United States is trying to create a wedge issue here and trying to get a portion of Hispanics to vote for him where they haven’t in the past. So you have these three huge problems with trying to get anything done in the Congress.
John Hawkins:: What’s it going to take to get their attention because I’m not seeing any progress on this issue in Congress, nobody is taking this seriously at all. Maybe the terrorism threat has gotten them to move a little bit on securing the borders, but not very much…
Tom Tancredo:: If we have another event like 911 perpetrated by someone coming across the border illegally, that would do something. Here’s what it will take: it’ll take somebody running for President and winning on this issue.
John Hawkins:: Do you think that’s possible?
Tom Tancredo:: Yes, I do. I think that if somebody like McCain were to take this issue on — now he’s totally opposed to me, everything I stand for, so he’s not the guy — but I’m telling you, somebody who has a large following like him, if he could run on this issue, he would win on this issue.
John Hawkins:: I think they could, too. I just wish someone would grab it and go with it. Let me ask you about this: some people, Bill O’Reilly for instance, have talked about putting troops & Predators on the border…
Tom Tancredo:: Long before Bill O’Reilly said it, I proposed that we militarize the border and that we use drones, sensors, cameras, radar & every other technological advantage we have in this country to actually control our borders.
The marines did a little (exercise) just north of Idaho. One hundred marines with three drones and two radar stations controlled 100 miles of the most rugged border you ever saw in your life. While I was there, just one week-end while I was there, they intercepted four people coming across on ATVs carrying four hundred pounds of drugs, we got a light plane trying to come in under the radar, and so it can happen. We can control our borders, we just choose not to.
John Hawkins:: So it’s very clear that if Bush made a decision that he wanted to control the border and Congress got behind him, we could get the border under control in what — a year or two?
Tom Tancredo:: Absolutely, absolutely. Does anybody really believe that the United States of America really can’t control our own borders? Does anybody really think that? When people go, “Oh, it’s impossible,” they’re talking like we’re a third world country. In fact, we will be if we keep this up.
I have to tell you that we are facing a situation, where if we don’t control immigration, legal and illegal, we will eventually reach the point where it won’t be what kind of a nation we are, balkanized or united, we will actually have to face the fact that we are no longer a nation at all. That is the honest to God eventual outcome of this kind of massive immigration combined with the cult of multiculturalism that permeates our society. …The fact is, that won’t occur in a legal way, it will occur in a de facto way.
John Hawkins:: Because the numbers will be so great it won’t make a difference?
Tom Tancredo:: That’s right. There are places right now in East LA & Southern Texas that you would not honestly — there is absolutely nothing that you would say makes them part of the United States of America. They are a separate country — it is (like a) separate country — right now, at this moment. Read a book called: Mexifornia…’
John Hawkins:: Ah, Victor Davis Hanson, I’ve: interviewed: him before…
Tom Tancredo:: He’s brilliant; it’s a great book. I talk about it on the floor of the House all the time. It is a microcosm of where we will be in the nation as a whole. …Here’s the thing; if this nation does not believe in the importance of borders and we simply want to become a place where people reside and not a place where they are in fact citizens, then erase the borders, abolish the border patrol, eliminate the ports of entry, and let people simply come and go. Because the worst of all worlds is when you pretend like you have an immigration policy, you make coming into the United States without our permission illegal, and then you actually don’t enforce it. That’s when you end up with people dying in the desert, dying the back ends of semis, and you end up with border control agents being jumped. Why put everybody into harm’s way if you really don’t have the intent to secure your own border?
John Hawkins:: You know, that frustrates me because a lot of people I talk to about that issue say they don’t want open borders, but then they don’t really want to enforce the laws that we have either.
Tom Tancredo:: There you go. They can’t have it both ways…
John Hawkins:: Do you think the children of illegal aliens who are born in the United States should automatically become citizens?
Tom Tancredo:: Absolutely not. We’re the only nation in the world that does such a stupid thing. It’s a misinterpretation of the 14th Amendment. It was never meant to actually allow people who are here illegally to achieve legal status for their children by having them born here.
John Hawkins:: I’ve heard we have anywhere from 8 to 10 million illegal aliens here in the US…
Tom Tancredo:: Oh, it’s way more than that.
John Hawkins:: Really?
Tom Tancredo:: 13-20 million.
John Hawkins:: Wow. Realistically, what are we going to have to do to get rid of the illegal aliens who are already here?
Tom Tancredo:: If we in fact were to begin enforcing the law against people who are hiring people who are here illegally, we would go a long way towards eliminating the problem. Because if you dry up demand, you naturally dry up supply. If we had true enforcement of our laws from an employer’s standpoint, then you would find that many of the millions of people who are here would go back home. Then the ones who remain, we could begin deporting — and, yes, I mean deporting, the word nobody wants to use, but you see if you are here illegally, that’s the punishment, deportation.
But you can only do all of this if you secure your own borders. Because what’s the use of rounding up and deporting millions of people if you in the meantime leave your borders wide open so they simply turn around and walk back in? You must do two things simultaneously. You must secure your borders and begin enforcement of immigration law — or the third option is to repeal the laws. Don’t be so hypocritical as to pretend that we have immigration policy. Don’t be so cynical, so despicable, that we send people to the border and tell them that their job is to stop people from coming in here illegally and then simply ignore the fact that they’re being swamped. What you’ve done is told people to go to the border, given them a sieve, and told them to stop the flood. Those are our only options, we have no other decisions to make. I want the President of the United States of America to tell the people what he wants to do. Does he want to enforce the law and protect or borders or not?
John Hawkins:: In your opinion, is (Bush) serious about this at all?
Tom Tancredo:: No, he’s serious about avoiding it. Serious about trying to find a way…to say on one hand, “We are trying to defend our borders,” and on the other hand doing absolutely nothing that would truly secure them.
You know, I’m a Republican, I’m a Conservative, I voted for George Bush. In many ways, he’s a fine President and I’m glad that he’s there. But this achilles heel that he has on immigration is so threatening to the survival of this nation that in my mind it begins to overwhelm all of the good things that he does. He can fight terrorists overseas, but he leaves our borders so they can come in here and do their thing. Does that make any sense? We send troops thousands of miles away to fight terrorists, but we refuse to put them on our own border to keep them out. Then we tell the Justice Department to find them when they’re here, swimming in a sea of illegals.
This issue, if not addressed, leaves any President, including George Bush, open to the criticism that they are essentially ignoring the destruction of the nation and I believe that with all my heart. I believe that is what we are actually facing here.
John Hawkins:: Now you’re on the “Subcommittee on International Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Human Rights” so you should certainly be qualified to talk about any terrorist related issues. To begin with, how strong do you think Al-Qaeda is today compared to it’s level of strength on 9/11?
Tom Tancredo:: What we have been able to do is to disrupt their command and control process. Their numbers are growing, their devotion to the cause is intensifying, and all they are trying to do is essentially regroup. What I mean by that is to establish their command and control process.
We have been enormously lucky — lucky maybe isn’t the right word — I believe John Ashcroft has done a great job. Many men and women in the Justice Department deserve medals of honor for what they’ve done. Frankly, well, I’m telling you right now, there are things that could have happened to this country since 9/11 that would have been just as disastrous, if not moreso.
John Hawkins:: Really?
Tom Tancredo:: Yes.
John Hawkins:: I assume you can’t tell me, it’s classified?
Tom Tancredo:: Yes. But I can tell you that is the situation. So we have to give them great credit. They’ve been enormously successful. But what are chances of this being the norm? How long can you rely on this kind of enforcement efficiency and effectiveness? The Department of Justice’s ability to do their job is minimized and jeopardized by the fact that the numbers are so great.
You know who Doris Meissner is? She was the Clinton head of the INS?
John Hawkins:: Yeah, I’ve heard of her…
Tom Tancredo:: Well, she said at a hearing that she had 25 million open cases. 25 million…wow. That was a statement by the head of the INS. The idea that we have 9, 10, 11, 12, even 13 million illegals here is ridiculous.
John Hawkins:: Let me ask a follow-up question about Al-Qaeda. You said their numbers are growing…
Tom Tancredo:: They are…
John Hawkins:: Now I know their training camps in Afghanistan were destroyed. So how are they recruiting?
Tom Tancredo:: They are recruiting in our prisons and in our inner cities. They are recruiting in Muslim communities that have branched out all over the world. We have huge Muslim communities that branched out all over the world. There are huge Muslim communities in Canada, Mexico, Latin America, and in Western Europe — all of these places where recruitment goes on day after day after day.
There is a place (in) Brazil that is referred to as the “Tri-Border Area” — Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. This area is responsible for a huge flow of illegal immigrants into the United States including large numbers of Middle-Easterners. They come into South America, into Brazil; they are kept there for a period of time to become a little bit better with the language. Brazil is a country, very eclectic in nature; you cannot look at anybody and say they are Brazilian. You have no idea. They’re black, they’re white, they’re brown, they’re everything. So they’re given Brazillian documents and move them to the United States. We talked to the border patrol not too long ago and they keep numbers on everybody they arrest and their point of origin. For ya know…fifty years the number of people from Brazil coming across has been minimal, but all of a sudden, in the last six months, it has gone off the charts. Well they’re not really Brazilian at all, they’re in fact Middle-Easterners and Asians paying up to $30,000 to Mexican cartels operating out of Brazil.
John Hawkins:: So you think we have a lot of terrorists coming into the…
Tom Tancredo:: Absolutely we do, there are no two ways about it. We have terrorists coming into the country both through our northern and southern borders. I guarantee you that is happening. There is a huge Muslim population in Calgary, Canada. They are responsible for huge amounts of methamphetamines. The ship the components into the United States. They then cook them down here and they send the money back to the Muslim cartel in Calgary and they in turn support terrorist activities all over the world with the money. In fact, the place where we have indicted more terrorists or potential terrorists, is our northern border.
John Hawkins:: Really? Well I know we need to lock down on the borders, but in your opinion, what else do we need to do to destroy Al-Qaeda?
Tom Tancredo:: Well, this is a huge issue. There is a gentlemen named Samuel Huntington who wrote..
John Hawkins:: The Clash of Civilizations…
Tom Tancredo:: The Clash of Civilizations. I happen to be a devotee of Mr. Huntington and believe it’s true, it is a clash of civilizations. I believe that what we are fighting here is not just a small group of people who have hijacked a religion, but it is a civilization bent on destroying ours. Radical Islam has been the foe of Christiandom for centuries. The most serious foe of Christiandom. The battle ebbs and flows, peaks and becomes less intense, but it has been going on for centuries. We have never really been bothered by it, because the world was a place in which you could not really attack the United States physically. There were oceans separating us and if you did come, what were you going to come with? A gun, a rock, an arrow? But today it has all changed, it has taken on a different dimension.
People ask me, “Well of the Islamic Community, how many would you say are really terrorists?” I say, “There are relatively few, less than 10% of the Muslim population that you could categorize as (supporters of) terrorists.” Now how many people in their heart of hearts in that community want to see the demise of this country? How many would cheer, not out loud maybe, but in their heart when things like 9/11 occur and I’ll tell you; it’s a majority among them. Now this becomes a little more complicated, so hang with me. Remember that I said the threat to the United States comes from two things; the act of immigration combined with the cult of multiculturalism? We strain to tell Americans and aliens in this country that there’s nothing unique about America, nothing unique about American civilization, nothing that requires their allegiance, nothing of great value that they should sacrifice for. Then of course people come here in big numbers, from other countries, in other cultures, in other political and religious ideologies, and they come ready to do battle and we encourage it. We don’t try to integrate them, we actually encourage their separateness. We encourage them to stay separate, to retain political allegiance to other countries, to other ideologies. This combination, massive immigration & radical multiculturalism, is a prescription for our own demise.
We will never be able to win in the clash of civilizations, if we don’t know who we are. If Western civilization succumbs to the siren song of multiculturalism, I believe we’re finished.
John Hawkins:: Yeah, I believe you’re right. Let me ask you another couple of war on terrorism related questions, quick ones. Do you believe Osama Bin Laden is alive?
Tom Tancredo:: Yes, I do.
John Hawkins:: One other question — well, actually a couple — do you think we should be going after groups like Islamic Jihad, Hamas, & Hizbollah?
Tom Tancredo:: We should be going after every one of them. We have to fight radical Islam wherever it exists. It’s in Afghanistan, it’s in Saudi Arabia, throughout the Middle-East in big numbers and it’s in the United States. We have to fight it everywhere and you fight it not just with arms, you fight it with ideas. …Just the force of arms will not succeed.
John Hawkins:: One of the ideas that the White House does seem to be working on is setting up a successful Democracy in the Middle-East and trying to help it spread. I think that would help combat radical Islam if it did. What do you think of that idea?
Tom Tancredo:: We have to implant democracies where there are now dictatorships. Now that is not easy as evidenced by Iraq. We have to encourage and create the spread of moderate Islam and that happens only in Democracies…
John Hawkins:: Let me ask a tie-in question here. Now you say we need to fight radical Islam. But when you’re talking about somewhere like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan, places where we’re not going to go in and bomb, how do we fight radical Islam there?
Tom Tancredo:: There are various ways. The use of the media — we can spread the word so to speak by both radio and television. You then combine your efforts with covert operations, international pressure — there are all kinds of “weapons” at our disposal. You have to deploy every one of them. Propaganda, military, moral persuasion, economic threats and sanctions…
John Hawkins:: To force these countries to crack on the elements of radical Islam in their societies…
Tom Tancredo:: You can bring down governments, you can do a lot of things that are in your own interests even though liberals will get very antsy when you start talking about it.
John Hawkins:: Let me ask you another question, it’s Iran related. I heard that you support the National Council of Resistance (NCR), a political arm of the Mujahedin-e Kalq (MEK)…
Tom Tancredo:: Yes, I do.
John Hawkins:: While they are certainly an anti-Iranian group, the State Department says they are also terrorists. Do you believe that to be the case and…
Tom Tancredo:: Well, if you’re a mullah in Iran, you definitely view them as a terrorist. They’re not a terrorist threat to the United States. They pose absolutely no threat. In fact, they are a great asset. They are the ones who have brought to light almost everything we know about the nuclear capabilities…
John Hawkins:: Now I’m just asking, have they made any sort of attacks on civilians or US troops?
Tom Tancredo:: Back in the 1970s, right around the time of the takeover of our embassy and that sort of thing, they were accused of launching attacks against Americans. They deny it, but whether it’s true or not, it was more than twenty years ago and they metamorphosed into the most significant threat to the present regime in Iran that exists today. The head of the organization is a woman who is very charismatic, she believes in women’s rights, she believes in Democracy in Iran…I do support their efforts. I understand that the US characterizes them as a terrorist organization, but what you have to understand is that they were identified as such only after the Clinton administration agreed to mollify the regime in Iran. They wanted to reach some kind of detente with Iran, with the mullahs. The mullahs had only one demand, and that was that we put the Mujahedin-e Kalq on the terrorist list and so it was done for political reasons, not because they posed any threat to the United States.
John Hawkins:: And they don’t kill Iranian civilians or that sort of thing either?
Tom Tancredo:: Well, they attack and do assassinate members of the Iranian government, yeah. That part of the world, it’s not a Sunday school picnic over there.
John Hawkins:: I understand. A lot of people seem to think Iran is going to fall in a revolution at some point. How long do you think they have or do you think that’s the case necessarily?
Tom Tancredo:: No idea. Believe me, these things are much too hard to predict. We’re talking about so many variables. I can tell you, it would come quicker if we supported the Mujahedin-e Kalq.
John Hawkins:: Should we be giving them a push…
Tom Tancredo:: Absolutely, we should be aiding them instead of restricting their activities…
John Hawkins:: As far as our Iranian policy goes, should we use troops, should we funnel arms to them…
Tom Tancredo:: No, no, no, absolutely not. We can use the Mujahedin-e Kalq, they are in fact warriors. Where we need to use that kind of force, we can use them. Where we need to apply other kinds of force, we can do it. Economically, surreptitiously…we can do it.
John Hawkins:: Wrapping this thing up, there are just a couple of questions I have left. Are there any political websites you’d like to recommend to our readers?
John Hawkins:: Last but not least, is there anything else you’d like to say or promote?
Tom Tancredo:: I’m sure we have run the gamut, my friend; I hope it has been productive for you.
John Hawkins:: This has been a fantastic interview. Thank you for your time.
Although I have yet to finish The Thomas Sowell Reader, so far, so good. Sowell is a brilliant thinker, an
Last week, I got together for my second interview with conservative comedian Evan Sayet (first one here). What follows is