[Congressional Record: February 26, 2002 (House)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
IMMIGRATION INTO THE UNITED STATES
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mrs. Capito). Under the Speaker's announced
policy of January 3, 2001, the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Tancredo)
is recognized for 60 minutes.
Mr. TANCREDO. Madam Speaker, I come before the body tonight to talk
about an issue that has often times been in the forefront in my
thinking and a concern about the direction of the Nation; and that, of
course, is immigration and the effect of massive immigration on our
Madam Speaker, I and my wife and several other members of the
Congress of the House of Representatives just returned from a trip to
Turkey, and it was a very interesting, very fascinating trip. And as we
got back into the United States and were coming through customs, the
young lady who was the customs official that was stamping our passport
and checking to see what we have and that sort of thing at JFK looked
up at me and said, I think I have seen you some place before, maybe on
C-SPAN. And I said, Well, perhaps because I often am doing exactly what
I am doing here tonight. I have spoken often on the issue of
immigration. And she just had immediately got this sort of dejected
look on her face and said, What a mess. What a mess. And she said it in
a way that says it all.
Here is an official charged with the responsibility of implementing
part of our immigration laws; and she, as well as so many other of her
colleagues working in that area, recognize that it is in fact a mess.
Now, I have often come before this body and stood at this particular
microphone and talked about the implications, well, more importantly
the incredible situation we face with an organization, the INS, that is
dysfunctional, to say the least. We have a situation where we have
of people coming across our borders every single year that cannot be
accounted for, millions of people who actually end up staying here
beyond the time that they were allowed to come in under visas. And many
people, of course, coming across the border every single year without
any sort of visa or permission from this government to do.
There are many implications as a result of having this kind of
situation, a country that is completely unable to defend its own
borders. That is the situation that we face tonight. And I have talked
on many occasions about the implications of that situation, the
economic implications in this country, the incredible costs that we
In a recent article in the Denver Post, a columnist by the name of Al
Knight identified the costs to just the city and county of Denver for
the purpose of providing services for immigrants, both legal and
illegal, who come into the city in order to have their children, have a
baby. And then Medicaid picks up the cost of it for the most part, in
fact, 100 percent of it. And how much then it ends up costing every
citizen just for that one little chunk of the action. And it goes on,
of course, schools, roads, housing, welfare, enormous economic costs,
infrastructural costs for a Nation that cannot defend its own borders.
There are political ramifications. There are cultural ramifications.
And there are, of course, even security, national security issues that
are all too evident for us here tonight as a result of the September 11
events. And we have talked about these things, and I try to bring them
to the attention of my colleagues because, of course, I believe that
they are worthy of that attention, those issues.
Tonight I am going to focus just on a little bit of a different side
of this because as I said I just came back from a country that is a
fascinating place, and it is in a part of the world that is
experiencing enormous difficulties. Of course, that has probably been
the case for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. And I have been,
therefore, thinking about this issue that Huntington calls the ``clash
of civilizations'' because we were there where we saw civilizations
clashing. And Mr. Huntington in his book, ``Clash of Civilizations,''
points out that there are today no real ideologies clashing. There are
really not nations fighting nations so much as there are civilizations
clashing with each other. And this does have relevance to the issue of
immigration and certain other aspects of our national policy.
So I am going to focus on that for just some time tonight because I
do think again that is a side of this immigration issue that has not
really been discussed to the extent that it is warranted.
Madam Speaker, I wonder whether or not we have given enough thought
to some of the philosophical questions that develop as a result of
massive immigration into this country and combining massive immigration
with another phenomenon in America that I will call radical
Another great book, while I am speaking of that, is a book called the
Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society, by
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. He speaks to this problem, and he says what
happens when people of different ethnic origins, speaking different
languages and professing different religions, settle on the same
geographical locality, live under the same political sovereignty,
unless a common purpose binds them together, tribal antagonisms will
drive them apart.
In the century darkly ahead, civilization faces a critical question,
he says. What is it that holds a nation together? And that is what I am
going to address here for just a little bit this evening.
He goes on to say, no one in the 19th century thought more carefully
about representative government than John Stewart Mill. The two
elements that defined a nation, as Mill saw it, were the desire on the
part of the inhabitants to be governed together and the common sympathy
instilled by shared history, values and language.
Free institutions, he wrote, are next to impossible in a country made
up of different nationalities. Among the people without fellow feeling,
especially if they read and speak different languages, united public
opinion, necessary for the working of representative government, cannot
It is in general a necessary condition of free institutions that the
boundaries of government should coincide in the main with those of
Of course, that is happening less and less in this world. It is
happening less and less in the United States.
One can say and be accurate I think to suggest that America has for a
long time shown itself to be something in opposition to this definition
that Mr. Mill has given us of a cohesive country. After all, we are a
Nation that was born out of many ethnic origins, people from a variety
of different countries, of course, coming here to create what we now
call the United States of America; and many of them spoke different
languages and had different values and different religions and that
sort of thing, but they came together in this country and created a new
experiment, new experiment in the way we govern ourselves. We call it a
So how could it be then that the possibility or the problem of
massive immigration could possibly in the United States, which as I say
has a history of immigration, of course, people coming from all over
the world and having formed a very prosperous and workable country, how
could it be that we then look at the possibility that that might not be
the future for the United States?
Let me suggest, Madam Speaker, that there are some major and
significant differences between massive immigration today in the United
States and the immigration that brought this country into an existence,
For the most part, it is my belief, it is my understanding of
history, of our history especially, that it indeed is a country to
which many people came from different places but came with a common
purpose for the most part. They came here with the idea that they were
in fact joining something new, participating in a new experiment in
government, seeking a new life and seeking, most importantly, to break
the ties to the old, and this is a very important distinction that I
think we have to address. And when they came, the way that the culture
existed and, up until just recently anyway, all the forces internally
in the United States, the cultural and political forces, were driving
people into an amalgamation, if you will, a homogeneity, the melting
pot. That is where it comes from, where people came from a lot of
places but became one. E pluribus unum.
That amazing sort of phenomenon created this incredibly wonderful
country, and it held us together through a revolution and civil war,
World War I, World War II, Depression, all of the other things that
provided a threat to the national existence. It held us together.
Something is happening that I think we have to pay attention to.
Today and for the last actually I think probably almost 40 years, we
have seen a difference in the kind of immigration and the kind of
people who are coming to the United States, the kind of connections
they have to the countries from which they came and their desire to
maintain them, their desire to maintain another language, different
customs, different habits and even, even a desire to maintain some sort
of political affinity to the country from which they came.
This I suggest, Madam Speaker, is a new thing with which we must
deal, a new phenomenon, and we could deal with it still in this
country, this massive country if we were talking about immigration at
the numbers that were even high at the turn of the century, couple
hundred thousand people a year at the turn of the late 1800s, early
1900s. That was it. That was the highest we ever got 220 some thousand
people coming to the United States. We could handle that. But we are,
of course, far above that today.
When we combine the massive numbers of people coming into the United
States with this different philosophical background and difference in
terms of what they are looking for, what they want to be when they get
here and add to the mix this multiculturalism, this concept, this idea
taught in the schools, the idea promulgated by the media, the idea
promulgated certainly by what some people have termed the
elite in our society, this idea being that all cultures are the same,
that no nation state is really any different than any other nation
state, that there is nothing unique about the United States, that we
should not look to our past because they are nothing really, just a
bunch of dead white males who made up our history, we should eschew
that, we should move away from that, we should condemn that, we should
disconnect ourselves from that history and embrace this multicultural
I would suggest that these two phenomena, these two things, this
massive immigration with people coming with a different purpose in mind
and combined with this multiculturalism, I would say radical
multiculturalism, this is concocting a deadly mixture for the United
This manifests itself in a variety of ways, and there are some very
interesting statistics which point this out, what is happening to us.
We have allowed for many, many years, we have allowed people to live in
the United States while claiming citizenship in another country.
Relatively few people have ever done that in our Nation's history
frankly, but recently we have noticed a significant increase.
There are now estimates of six, seven or eight million people in the
United States who are claiming dual citizenship, and that is really
probably a very conservative estimate. Because between 1961 and 1997,
22 million legal immigrants, that is just legal, came to this country.
Seventy-five percent of them came from countries that allowed dual
citizenship; and many millions, as I say, now claim that.
Interestingly, a couple of years ago Mexico changed its laws and
allowed its citizens immigrating from Mexico to retain their
citizenship. They have even gone farther than that, and they are now
encouraging Mexicans in the United States to vote in both the United
States and in elections in Mexico.
We were recently in Mexico. I will never forget sitting at a luncheon
and sitting next to a gentleman by the name of Eddie Levy. Eddie Levy,
his name tag in front of us there. When we went around, introduced
ourselves, Mr. Levy introduced himself as a member of the Mexican
Congress. And indeed he was. He was a citizen of Los Angeles, but he is
also a member of the Mexican Congress.
There are cities in southern Texas where the mayor of the city is a
Mexican national. There is a city that has actually said that none of
its documents will be written in English anymore, will all be in
Spanish. It has actually said that nobody employed by the city can
enforce any immigration laws, any American immigration laws. This is a
city inside the United States.
The President of Mexico recently, he has something he calls the
Vision 20/20 plan for homogenous Americas. He is unabashedly staking
Mexico's future and fortunes on greener pastures in the north. This is
from a Gwinnett News Service article, February 21. He delights in
describing a borderless region, symbiotic in its relations, similar in
principle to the European Economic Union where jobs and people and the
Euro cross most borders as easily as the wind.
This is the President of Mexico. When we think of 2025, year 2025,
there is not going to be a border, Mr. Fox has said. Soon there will be
free movement of people, just like the free movement of goods.
We were in Mexico, as I say, not too long ago. We met with a
representative of the Mexican government who is a newly appointed
cabinet minister there for a newly created cabinet in the Mexican
government. His name is Juan Hernandez, and Mr. Hernandez's title
translates something like minister in charge of Mexicans living outside
It is a very interesting title, of course, and he was also unabashed
in what he described as the future he saw. It is one in which
essentially millions of Mexican citizens will be coming to the United
States, legally and illegally. He sees really no difference. Because,
as he told me, really there are not two countries here, he said. We are
just talking a region. This is a member of the Mexican government.
So there is a blending, that is for sure, there is a blending of
culture. There is a blending, and the border is in many respects almost
eliminated. It is gone, for all intents and purposes.
There can be a legitimate debate, as I have said often, as to whether
or not we should abolish the border between the United States and
Mexico, between the United States and Canada and form this sort of
European Union model that Mr. Fox wants and that many Members of this
Congress want, maybe even members of our administration want. We can
debate this point. A bill could arise for that purpose. We could have a
national debate as to whether or not we want to eliminate the borders.
I would vote ``no.'' I believe that there is a purpose served by
them, borders, that is; and they go beyond just the need for our own
immediate security. They go into this bigger issue that I am talking
about in terms of what makes a nation; what, in fact, holds a nation
together. But, nonetheless, it is a legitimate topic. We can debate it,
if that is where we are going.
The problem I have, Madam Speaker, is that that is where we are
going; but it is without the debate. We will not hear on the floor of
this House, we will not hear in any committee of this Congress a
discussion as to the efficacy of doing something like eliminating our
borders. We will talk about the need to revamp the INS and all that,
and I am all for it; but I really do think that the whole battle over
immigration is really a battle as to whether or not we should have
And the people who are the ultimate sort of multiculturalists, the
people who do not see a reason to attach any significance to what we
describe as the United States of America, its uniqueness and the
validity of our civilization, of Western Civilization, essentially, in
this clash of civilizations that we now face in the world, the people
who push that concept will push for the elimination of our borders. And
they are aided in that if they cannot get it via a bill through this
Congress, signed by the President, then they will get it as a result of
changing who we are and what we are in the United States.
As I say, it is not just massive immigration that is the problem. It
is massive immigration connected with this multiculturalism that
infects our system, our culture. It is the kind of thing that says that
schoolchildren cannot say the Pledge any more; it is the kind of thing
that will not allow flags to be flown in our schools and in public
institutions. Even after the outpouring of patriotic fervor after
September 11, there were places throughout the United States that
disallowed the flying of the flag because they said it may in fact
anger people; it may be an affront to somebody; that it may make them
uncomfortable. The flying of the flag may make them uncomfortable.
No, Madam Speaker, the elimination of any sort of recognition of
uniqueness of America from our public schools under this cloak of
multiculturalism, I guess I will call it, has resulted in a situation
where we have at least a generation, maybe two, who are incredibly
illiterate when it comes to American history and the American ideal.
I am a teacher by background. I taught for 8 years in Jefferson
County, Colorado. I taught civics, as a matter of fact. And I can
attest to something that I think is pretty much common sense, but it is
a fact that children are not born with an appreciation, an innate
appreciation of the Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights,
who we are as a Nation. They do not understand that innately. They have
to be taught. It has to be something that is appreciated in their homes
and reinforced in the school, the same way that most children do not
come to school with an appreciation of great art or great literature or
great music. We have to teach them that. They do not come to it
The same thing happens with teaching them about America and about the
uniqueness of this country and about what it means to be an American,
how it separates us from the rest of the world. But even saying that
today in a public school could get someone in trouble. Today, if a
teacher in a public school in this land actually said that there is
something unique about America, it separates us from the rest of the
world and it is better, they would be in trouble. There are politicians
that may be in trouble for saying it. There are certainly people in the
media who would rail against such a concept. I see aspects of this all
I think there are major implications to issues like drawing lines,
congressional lines, just for certain ethnic groups, and even caucuses
here in the Congress of the United States, where Black, Hispanic and
others are based on ethnicity. I always wonder about how that helps us
come together as a Nation; how does this help us actually define
ourselves as a Nation, the common set of ideals, of values, of
Now, I am Italian. I am 100 percent Italian. I am a recent arrival,
as a matter of fact, by heritage. My grandparents came to the United
States in the late 1800s and early 1900s, along with the wave of
immigration all over the world. As I say, both sides came from Italy,
so I am relatively new, if you want to think of it that way. I cannot
trace my heritage back to the Mayflower. So I am a relatively new
American, if you want to think of it that way. Yet I must say, Madam
Speaker, that in growing up, all the textbooks I was given in school,
all the things that I was told in my home, all of the influences of my
life, and all of the references to my history, our history, if you want
to say it that way, was all American history.
I grew up thinking of Jefferson and Madison and Adams, Patrick Henry,
Benjamin Franklin. These were the heroes of my history. That is what I
was taught, both at home and in school. There was never any idea that
we were somehow still tied politically or linguistically to Italy. As a
matter of fact, and perhaps even unfortunately, Italian was not allowed
to be spoken in my grandparents' home. It was an indication of their
desire to separate themselves from the nation of their birth and to
come here and start anew.
That, as I say, is what I think has changed. I believe our schools do
not teach that. I believe that we are witnessing this significant shift
in culture, and I think it is something worthy of us to discuss.
Massive immigration, combined with radical multi-
culturalism spells disaster, as far as I am concerned, Madam Speaker.
As I say, I have often come to the floor to talk about the other
implications of immigration, but tonight I just wanted to address this
topic for a short period of time because I do think it is worthy of
Perhaps it is because I just came back from overseas where I could
see the effects of this clash of civilizations; that everywhere we look
around the world, as a matter of fact, we can see tribalism breaking up
nation states, and that is the new world in which we live. It is
happening all over. Countries are facing this kind of problem, and I
worry about our own future. And I think that in order for us to sustain
ourselves, in order for the United States to sustain itself and be the
leader of Western Civilization, that we have to have a cohesion, we
have to have a homogenous society.
Now, I am not suggesting for a moment that anybody has to ignore
their background. Certainly I do not. Certainly I appreciate my own,
and I appreciate anybody else's desire to revel in their own cultural
background and heritage. That is not the issue at all. It is the issue
of whether or not we disconnect, though, politically, from what we were
to who we are today. And I worry that that is not happening.
There are certainly indications that something very, very different
is occurring in America today as a result of massive immigration into
the United States. Uncontrolled immigration. We can, in fact, still
have immigration. We do not have to slam any doors shut. We simply have
to reduce the number; and we have to, on the other side of the coin,
begin to once again focus on what it means to be an American in our
public schools, in our institutions, in our leaders.
I think the President of the United States and all people entrusted
with the responsibility of leadership in America should focus on that
and talk about it. It is imperative now, I think, as we enter into this
new world, this clash of civilizations that I mentioned. It is
imperative that we identify for the world at large and for our own
citizens exactly who we are and why there is the struggle against the
evil that we have identified as the terrorists in the world. It is in a
way a clash of civilizations, certainly; and it is important for
Americans to understand who we are, where we came from, and where we
We need a cohesive society. We need a language in which we can all
communicate. Even that, of course, as you know, is being challenged
continually. Bilingual education, as an example, is where children are
placed in classes and taught in a language other than English for the
purpose, they say, of increasing their educational attainment levels.
But even when it is shown over and over again that there is no actual
increase in educational attainment levels, people still push bilingual
education. So you have to ask yourself why. What is the purpose? If it
is not to actually help a child accomplish something, accomplish a
better education, obtain a better education, then why are we doing it?
It is, I suggest, Madam Speaker, as a result of this radical
multiculturalism; the idea that we do not want people to disconnect
from that other culture, wherever they came from and what they were,
and connect to a new one. We want to foster this Balkanizing sort of
phenomenon that we are experiencing in the United States. All very
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