An Interview With Roy Beck, Head Of NumbersUSA
Right off the bat, let’s just get a little housekeeping stuff out of the way. How many members does NumbersUSA have and can you tell us a little bit about how fast you’ve grown?
We established NumbersUSA in 1996. That’s when we put up our website. …When 9/11 happened in 2001, even at that point, we only had about 6,000 activist online members, but they were very active. They really did something. Then in January of ’04 when Bush came out with his amnesty…we had about 18,000. …but then once Bush came out with his amnesty proposal, we really took off — and we have basically been doubling every year since then until this year. We just crossed the 900,000 mark.
You know, that’s a lot of people, 900,000. I don’t know that there’s a half dozen outfits, other than political parties, that can count anymore than that — and we have an opt-in e-mail list of 1.6 million. So, you know, we’ve got even bigger communication than that.
Now the spin on John McCain’s mediocre performance with Hispanic Americans in the 2008 election, despite the fact he’s the biggest GOP advocate of amnesty — is it wasn’t him, it was the Republican Party. Do you buy that?
I think there is a little bit of something to that. But, here’s the thing: George Bush in the debate in 2004 in the fall, when he was asked directly about the amnesty, said he was opposed to amnesty and he didn’t clarify anymore, whereas Kerry said he was for it. Okay?
……And Bush got one of the highest percentages ever, for a Republican among Hispanics, around 40 percent. He didn’t win that on the basis of his immigration positions because he hadn’t succeeded in getting anything through. He won it because two things were going on. He had kind of a natural affinity with Hispanics from growing up in Texas and he really went after Hispanics on the basis of other issues.
……And also, it was before the Democrats racialized the issue. Soon after that, the Democrats put everything they could into race-baiting on the issue — and basically pounding Hispanics every month with the message of, “Republicans are racist against you because they’re working against illegal immigration.”
…..And so by the time it came up for this election last year, this is just like what you saw with every other major immigrant group that’s ever come in large numbers in this country. That is, until they get assimilated, they’re very, very susceptible to a “leader” saying, “Those guys are against us; the other side hates us.”
There was no way that most Hispanics could even hear that McCain had been the number one champion in Congress for amnesty because they had been hearing for years, “Republicans hate Hispanics.”
They didn’t hear it from the Republicans; they heard it from the Democrats — and the top Hispanic leaders said, “That’s right,” because the top Hispanic leaders are all part of the Democratic apparatus.
I think John McCain just proved that as long as you have a largely unassimilated immigrant ethnic group, that ethnic group is going to pretty much fall one way or the other. I mean, for most reasons it probably made sense for Cubans to be voting for Democrats, but until recently they voted entirely Republican because their leaders basically said, “You’re Cuban and Cubans vote for Republicans.”
The Irish, until the Irish became truly assimilated into the country — the Irish bosses just said, “You’re Irish; you vote Democrat.” So there’s nothing that a Republican can do on immigration that will get them the majority of Hispanic votes. I think McCain proved that.
Now the other piece of spin we’ve heard again and again from certain Republicans is that pro-amnesty Republicans have done much, much better in Congress than Republicans who are serious about border control in the last couple of elections. Is that true?
No, I mean it’s not – I mean I remember in ’06, for example, when the Republicans lost the House. We analyzed and found that Republicans who were members of the Immigration Reform Caucus lost seats at a much lower percentage than the Republicans who weren’t in the Immigration Reform Caucus. Okay?
In fact…a lot of the moderate Republicans are the ones who lost. Right? Now, there is no question that there are some high visibility, high profile enforcement Republicans that did lose, but there was a whole other story going on there. I mean, for instance, Tom Feeney. He was great on enforcement, but he had an Abramhoff issue and he was in a marginal district. The guy that ran against him didn’t run against him because he was an enforcement person; he ran on all these other issues. So generally, whenever you looked at somebody that was really good on our side that lost, there were other issues.
I can’t think of a single Republican who has lost office for taking a strong stand on enforcement.
Now one question a lot of people have, and this seems like a natural question: Why are so many Republicans in D.C. very pro amnesty and very weak on border security when their constituents are rabidly in favor of those things? What’s your opinion? Why is there such a split between the people in D.C. and so many of the people in the heartland?
Until recently, the Republican National Committee has been almost totally out of step with the Republican voters. That’s left over from the fact that they represented Bush.
So you had the Bush influence corrupting the top parts of the Republican Party. In the House, there really aren’t very many Republicans who have any sympathy for amnesty….
It’s more of a Senate problem?
…But, the Senate is a little different. We had about – what did we have? I think we had 12 Republican senators who voted for the amnesty in ’07, but half of them are gone now. And so there are probably only about six Republican senators left — Lugar, McCain, –
Graham and –
Yeah, and Specter — and maybe Voinovich. But, you know I’m not sure that McCain will vote for an amnesty this time.
Why wouldn’t you think so? I know he had that meeting supposedly where he was peeved that Hispanic Americans didn’t vote for him.
Yeah, I know. I’m not sure McCain will vote for an amnesty this time…he’s like Bush. This thing is an emotional thing for him. But …by the time he got to South Carolina, he was running ads about how he was the enforcement guy and he had erred in trying to resolve the illegal population before the enforcement…He managed to squeak out these victories (in the primaries) because he persuaded enough people he wasn’t an amnesty guy.
So, he could still support amnesty, but there has gotta be tough, tough, tough enforcement and the indications are that the Democrats…are saying now that they’re in such power — they say that a lot of the enforcement stuff in the 2007 amnesty was unfair and mean, and they’re not going to have all of that. I also think there’s a good chance the Democrats would bring forth an amnesty program with no guest worker program in it. So, I think there are a lot of reasons why McCain can say, “That’s not the kind of amnesty I can support.”
Well, let me ask a related question on that. I know NumbersUSA has a lot of contacts in Congress. You guys are wired in up there. When do you see another serious push at amnesty coming and how do you think it’ll do? Now, conventional wisdom is that the Democrats do have the votes to pass it. What do you think?
…I think they could pass it if all of us in the non-mainstream media…just stay back and are quiet. But, that’s not going to happen. We’re going to throw everything we’ve got into it.
Just look at the Senate. It looks like there’s going to be a good chance that the Senate is going to have 59 Democrats. …There were about 15 Democrats who voted against the amnesty in 2007. I think we ought to get about half of those and maybe more. If you got 8 Democrats to vote against it, that means you’d need 9 Republicans. I don’t see it. At most, I see 6 and they might not get but 2 or 3 — especially if they offend McCain.
What about the House? How does that look?
I don’t think Pelosi thinks she has the votes. …She goes out and makes statements that get all of us all upset and gets her applause from the Hispanic caucus. But …there were right around 50 Democrats who co-sponsored the SAVE ACT last year, which was a very, very strong enforcement bill. This amnesty will not have nearly the strength of that. I think one of the reasons that those Democrats signed that bill is that they’re from districts whose constituents are pushing them hard on this. So, I think we’d have a good chance to get 60-70 Democrats in the House to vote against that and I don’t think we ought to lose more than a half dozen Republicans. If we did that well, then we’d beat it in the House.
So it looks pretty good in Congress if it came up this time?
Again, only if the American people, I mean the voters — just slam their members of Congress back home when this stuff starts coming up . …they’re going to say, “I think the voters are just so tired of this issue and they’re distracted by other things. I just don’t think they’re going to rise up like they did in ’07.”
That is wishful thinking.
I think they’re thinking that the voters on our side are like the pro amnesty marchers. They had these gigantic pro-amnesty marches in ’06. And right after that the Senate passed an amnesty, but the House didn’t pick it up. That’s when the Republicans were in control.
Well, then the next year in ’07, they planned marches again — and I don’t think that even turned out five percent the 2006 level. The marches were just nothing and they’ve not been able to do it since. Well, they’re saying, “Okay, look our side really lost their enthusiasm; we think their side will too.”
…..And what I’m thinking is, “I don’t think so.”
I mean it is hard. A lot of our members complain. They say, “Man, I’ve been working with you for six years and we’re not getting anywhere. All we’re doing is fighting the same fight over and over again.” Well, that’s the way it is when you’re in these massive tectonic political shifts — and, I always tell them, “Democracy is tough.” This is a contact sport. It’s a participatory sport. Democracy is not about sitting on the sideline. A lot of people just want to vote and that’s it. That’s not enough. Voting is not enough if you want to affect things because it’s hard to throw incumbents out and in the majority of districts in the country, one party or the other, has it locked up. So, you really have to work on changing the way that a particular member of Congress votes — and that requires in-between elections doing a lot of contacting — and that’s why its so important to have all of these websites that constantly inform the public about what’s going on.
…Back when I was a newspaper man, in the ’60s and the ’70s and ’80s, I was working in the mainstream media and that was a monopoly. If half a dozen news sources decided not to cover something, you wouldn’t know it happened. Well, that’s not true anymore.
(Roy and I broke off for fifteen minutes at this point because he had to take a call from an unnamed member of Congress. We then got back together after the call was over.)
How is the Obama Administration doing on enforcing immigration law so far? Have they been in long enough for you to judge their performance?
They’ve been in long enough to scare the heck out of us who want enforcement. They’ve been saying enough things, doing enough things that are frightening. Napolitano is taking people who want to enforce the law to the woodshed and that is very frightening to us.
Exactly what’s going to happen? And it’s too early to even say if there is a major trend. And I think that what’s going to happen in enforcement is still to be determined by the way the public reacts with the various trial balloons they’re putting up.
I’m afraid that they will see that giving an amnesty through a vote is going to be too hard this year and so they will create a de facto amnesty — and the de facto amnesty will be this: the only enforcement that we will do will be against illegal aliens who are violent felons or suspected terrorists. I’m glad they’re going after those people, but if you aren’t one of those two things, you would never worry about it. You can stay here, you can work, you can live, you can use up as many public services as you can figure out how to get — and it’s going to be okay because we’re only going after the terrorists and the violent felons.
And that’s the signal. That’s the trial balloon that’s out there right now. And they’ve got a good PR system going there where they say, “Do you want us to go after some law abiding dishwasher instead of going after somebody that’s killed a couple of people?”
Well, “no,” I mean, of course, you say you don’t want that. I mean, of course, you want them to go after killers. The problem is though that once you say that we’re not deporting people unless they’ve pulled a knife on somebody, then all the illegal aliens know, “I just got to keep the knife in my pocket. So, I’m going to keep the knife in my pocket, I can stay here as long as I want.”
So, the key to deterrence is, I think……. was found with the Giuliani administration of New York. You know the broken windows policy. You start going after the people who are breaking the windows. You go after the people who are jumping the turnstiles. You basically tell people if we catch you breaking the law, it doesn’t matter how small it is, we’re going to get you.
I’ve had both active and retired immigration enforcement people tell me for a decade that the most important deportation that takes place is the deportation of, for example — illegal alien, mother of four kids who volunteers at the PTA, is at church three times a week, and is loved by all of her neighbors — because if the illegal community sees that you will deport even her, they’re less likely to decide to stay and the people in other countries who hear about this are less likely to try to become illegal aliens.
…That’s a de facto amnesty. If you want an amnesty, then you bring it up to a vote so we can defeat you. No back door amnesty.
Now in a recession, does an illegal immigration have a particularly negative impact on some Americans?
Yeah, I’ll say. Let’s take a fairly conservative view — which is officially, there are around 7 million illegal aliens who are holding jobs. Now the average illegal alien tends to have more than one job.
So conservatively, just say 7 million U.S. jobs are right now being filled by illegal aliens. About a million of those are in agriculture. If those million illegal aliens went home, most of those jobs would be filled legally through the H2A program. Just bringing foreign workers. So let’s take a million off the table.
…..But that leaves 6 million. So there are 6 million jobs in manufacturing, construction, and service that illegal aliens hold. Most of those jobs, not all of them, but most of those jobs are jobs that don’t require…..really even require a high school education. Those are lower scale, low educated jobs because that’s the kind of people that illegal aliens are.
Guess which group of Americans has an incredibly high unemployment rate that’s more than doubled the rate in the rest of the country? Lower skilled, lower educated Americans. We have 13 million Americans altogether looking for a job.
I have no doubt that if you were to just take those 6 million illegal aliens out of those non-agriculture jobs, that within a few months there would be 6 million fewer unemployed Americans.
I mean this is actually true most of the time, but it’s especially true now. Do you remember when – there was a case where there was a janitor’s position opened up in some company that was kind of a good company — and there were hundreds of people lined up to apply for that.
You know when they had these workplace raids before Obama took over. They would go to meat packing plants, which are really pretty awful jobs — and immediately they had hundreds of legal workers putting in applications for those jobs. So, it was kind of theoretical when the other side originally said, “These are jobs Americans won’t do.” Now, we know from watching what happens. Any time there is a raid, they drive illegal aliens out of those jobs and legal workers show up to take them.
…Right now this Congress and this administration have made the decision to keep 6 million Americans out of work because they are not doing anything to open up those jobs held by illegal aliens. I do not see where there is any illogic in that statement.
It makes perfect sense to me, too.
And then, of course, …we’re bringing in over 100,000 legal workers at a time that the economy is shedding 600,000 jobs a month. …I will grant that there may be 1,000, 2,000 at most of those workers who have incredible international-level skills and you could really say there’s nobody in America who quite has that skill that’s available. But, I don’t see why we should be taking in more than two or three thousand foreign workers a month. Why are we taking in 100,000?
With this kind of unemployment, we’ve called for a suspension of nearly all immigration. We would certainly allow family re-unification of a spouse or minor children.. You can adopt overseas — and we would, even though it is harmful in the job market, we would not stop very special circumstance refugee resettlement. But that’s it.
There is just no excuse for running immigration right now. During the Great Depression, net immigration was below zero because we had more immigrants leaving the country every year than we had coming in.
Well, that makes sense.
And we shouldn’t have it now.
Right. NumbersUSA is a bit unusual in that you make a strong case that environmentalists should impose illegal immigration. Talk about that argument for a minute.
Well, I mean especially with you writing for the Right Wing — we’re very clear that we are a non-ideological organization. We only deal with immigration, unlike an awful lot of groups that do deal with immigration and that are conservative, because they deal with a lot of conservative issues.
We deal just with immigration and we try to pull together people from the entire political spectrum. So we do. We attract a lot of environmentalists. We’ve got about 36 people who are either contractors or employees — and on that staff we have people across the political structure. We’ve got Republicans and Independents and Democrats and environmentalists and people who are pro-business and national sovereignty.
Except for a very small percentage of Americans, being for protecting the environmental resources of this country and the natural beauty and clean air is not something people disagree about.
The disagreement comes in how that’s done, how fast it’s done. Who pays for it? The regulations. You know that’s where the disagreements come from.
I actually covered environmental issues in the 1960s. I was one of the first reporters in the country that did that and what most people don’t know and the rest don’t remember — is the environmental movement in the 60s was actually about even Republicans and Democrats — but what’s happened over the last 20 years is that most of the really big groups, especially like the Sierra Club, have become pretty much wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Democratic Party — and not just the subsidiaries, but the very left wing. That wing was there in the 60s, but it wasn’t the predominant wing. That wing of the environmental movement (wants) to change the whole structure of society and government, kind of the Green Party in Europe.
What we try to do on the environmental side is to say regardless of where you are on the environment, on what your solutions are, the fact is you will be unsuccessful in the long-term if you continue to fill the United States with massive population growth from immigration.
Immigration and the fertility of immigrants is the only long-term cause of the population growth in this country. …The fact is we have this ramp in population growth here which makes……. which constantly puts pressure on more regulation, more regimentation. So, at least for conservatives we’re saying the faster this population grows from immigration, the more pressure there is for bigger government, more regulation which you hate. If you’re a liberal, we say the more population growth from immigration we have, the less likely it is that we are to actually meet these environmental goals.
…Most people could understand that if you add three million people a year to your country, that’s going to have a lot of inter-environmental impact. And of that three million, about two and a half million of that three million can be accounted for from new immigrants, legal and illegal, and from the births of immigrants. That’s two and a half million a year. Again, it’s just like with the jobs. Why are we doing it to ourselves? We have all these falling apart roads and bridge infrastructure in this country that we can’t maintain because we’re so busy having to build the additional infrastructure to handle the immigrants.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, shifting gears here a bit, which I find to be a habitually dishonest left wing hack group that spends a lot of its time deliberately trying to conflate conservative groups with extremist nut jobs — their attack on NumbersUSA which has been picked up by a lot of liberal groups is that you’re funded by John Tanton and he’s a scary, crazy racist guy. Can you talk a little bit about John Tanton and the SPLC?
Well, I mean first of all, a couple of facts. To say that we’re funded by John Tanton is kind of like saying we’re funded by Elizabeth Jones of Salisbury, North Carolina. The fact is that John Tanton has given us less than a half of a percent of our income. So, that’s kind of crazy to say we are sort of a Tanton funded organization.
It’s the kind of thing you get into if you go through the entire funder list — that you are responsible for everything a funder has ever done or said. That’s guilt by association. Every since Aristotle, it’s been considered in the western world to be inappropriate.
Now having said that, the Southern Poverty Law Center has done a real hatchet job on John Tanton. I’ve known John Tanton since the 1970s. He is a predominantly liberal environmentalist who has very, very strong concerns about national community and culture — which is a more conservative position and makes him hard to classify. John Tanton has pretty much been one of those people who I would say associates rights to people of every part of the spectrum — and I mean from socialists to, you know, very right wing.
It appears, although I don’t have direct knowledge, according to SPLC — they think he’s talked to people and written to some people who are beyond the pale — and you know, you can get into a fight about whether they are beyond the pale or not, but the fact is that they don’t have anything that he has ever done. They want to say that he’s a racist and he does all these hard things against non-white people — but, they don’t cite anything that he’s ever done to anybody who’s non-white.
…….And their thing is to smear him as far as possible and then if they do six degrees of separation with anybody in America, then that person is supposedly smeared, too. It’s the kind of thing that liberals roundly condemned in the McCarthy era.
Now, of course, some people really were communists, but the problem with McCarthyism is you would get branded as a communist if you ever spoke to a communist or if you ever went to a meeting that had communists there. That’s why McCarthyism was so bad.
Basically what the SPLC tries to do is…. if you have any connection to anybody who was ever connected to anybody who was ever connected…It’s not that there aren’t racists but, they’re just going around throwing the racist label at everything.
If you want to look and see whether Roy Beck or NumbersUSA is guilty of racism, you don’t go to see who is connected to whom …you look and say, “Well there is an organization that has been around for 13 years. They have written volumes and volumes of stuff on their website. Roy Beck has written four books and blogs all the time.” Could you find anything, anything that we’ve ever done or said or written that’s racist? The SPLC has found nothing.
They even say that in their little exposés they did recently. They admitted that nothing that we’ve ever put on our website indicates racism, but what they say is, we know that in their heart they must be racists.
They’re a ridiculous organization.
I believe that a tremendous march of progress…. economic, social, political progress that was happening from the ’50s on by the descendants of slaves in this country was substantially retarded, starting in the 1970s because Congress started importing huge numbers, volumes of foreign workers. You can see it. You can see what’s happened. So consequently you have figures like 38 percent of all working age black men who are not in jail do not have a job. Thirty eight percent.
Is it that high, 38 percent?
Thirty eight percent are not working. Now the unemployment rate is lower than that because not all 38 percent…. not all of those are looking for a job, but 38 percent of black working age non-institutionalized males do not have a job. Now to me, the most racist thing this country could do would be every month to import more foreign workers with that kind of non-employment among black workers.
We have a sad deficiency of moral leadership in this issue — and part of the reason, I would say a large part of the reason, why we run such an immoral policy against our own unemployed citizens is because of the efforts and success of groups like SPLC, which have made otherwise sensible people — not just politicians, but all kinds of people, scared to deal with the logical thing that’s in front of them.
A lot of people are scared to say the emperor has no clothes. They’re scared to say we shouldn’t have immigration right now because they’re afraid that SPLC or somebody else, some newspaper editorialist, will call them a racist. I mean, talk about insidious — to call somebody a racist for advocating less immigration when the people who would have benefited the most from less immigration would be black Americans and Hispanic Americans who are already here.
Now let’s finish up with a last question talking about legal immigration. This is highly improbable to say the least, but let’s say, if Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama came to you and said, “Roy, tell us how we need to design our system of legal immigration.” What would you tell them?
I’d say we should start from the bottom and just say: why have any immigration at all?. It would be like zero-based budgeting. What immigration do we need to serve the national interest? And I think, you know, the first thing that happen is, well, the national interest could be interpreted in different ways — and part of the national interest is individual freedom. So an argument could be made that it’s in the national interest for U.S. citizens to be able to marry somebody in another country and to bring his or her wife or husband into this country.
It’s in the national interest to allow people to adopt in other countries. You know, a person could make some arguments on the other side, but I would say that’s in the national interest.
I also believe and this may sound a little liberal, I don’t know, but I also believe that we have an obligation to take our fair share of international refugees where it’s been determined that they have no chance in their lifetime of getting back to their home country. Actually, believe it or not, only about 75,000 a year are determined to be that. And I think we should take our fair share of them….
Now, the only other thing it seems to me that’s in our national interest is when somebody becomes available who has a truly international level skill (and) we need this person to spend the rest of his career working inside the U.S….on cancer research or energy research or whatever. As I said earlier there is no way that could be more than one or two thousand a year. I mean maybe 5,000 a year. That’s in the national interest.
For the last 50 years, we’ve had this ridiculous program in which immigrants get to choose the next immigrants. Somebody is allowed to come in for one reason or another and then they are allowed to choose the next immigrants. They’re allowed to bring their parents, their adult children, their adult siblings, all of their spouses and children — and then basically their children get to bring their mothers and father-in-laws and their brother and sisters-in-laws — and it’s an endless chain.
They don’t come in based on their skill, based on humanitarian need. They don’t come in based on anything. …I mean you wouldn’t believe how many green cards are given out every year to people who have been working as nannies…. who have been working as landscape workers, pizza joint operators. That’s ridiculous. Why would we do that? I mean we’re a country of 300 million people. We do not have any kind of a worker shortage.
Now there are times when there are real short-term spot needs and that’s why you have temporary work visas, which we are in favor of, if they are done in the right way.
And how many total? How much? –
Oh yes, how much is the total? Well, because we’d allow unlimited numbers of marriages and adoptions, that’s going to go up and down. Aside from that, the total would be less than 100,000 and before chain migration was set loose, we were having around 40,000 marriages and adoptions a year. Now it’s getting up close to 400,000.
…And the reason is that most marriages overseas are to U.S. citizens who are themselves immigrants or whose parents were immigrants. So what would happen is at first if you went by what…. if you went by the rules that I just outlined, we would go from about 1.1 million legal immigrants a year to about 450,000. That’s where we’d be, around 450,000.
And then over a period of ten years, I think we would see the 450,000 start to drop where it would probably, I think….. there is a good chance it would get under 300,000. Just to give an idea.
…Roy, thank you for your time. It is much appreciated!