Paul  Weyrich

What worries me is that all three of the remaining presidential candidates - Senators John S. McCain III (R-AZ), Barack H. Obama (D-IL) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) - support a general amnesty for illegal immigrants. And this amnesty is without any prior successful closure of the U.S.-Mexican Border that would halt further waves of immigrants. McCain pays lip-service to border security and assimilation on his campaign website. He states, "A secure border will contribute to addressing our immigration problem most effectively if we also: recognize the importance of a flexible labor market to keep employers in business and our economy on top, and recognize the importance of assimilation of our immigrant population, which includes learning English, American history and civics, and respecting the values of a democratic society." Obama's website is similar, listing border security as his main priority, followed by "bring[ing] people out of the shadows" to become citizens. Clinton uses much more flowery language but essentially posits the same message.

It should be noted that illegal immigrants do not live in the shadows. They attend American schools, use our hospital emergency rooms as though they were a general practitioner's office and work in specific businesses. If the Federal Government wanted to enforce our current immigration laws, which are sufficient to solve the problem, it could. But there is no willpower to do so.

I suspect that the reason for the drop in attendance at the rallies is not a new burst of patriotism for America among prior attendees but because the issue is not as pressing. What we need to do is return the debate to the topic of assimilation, of learning to speak English, of the value of becoming a citizen, and of pride in a country that provides immigrants from around the world with more opportunities for success than any other country on earth. The latter will be the most difficult. Immigrants need to assimilate to American culture but if we are to demand that they do we must first restore a proper sense of patriotism among American citizens. How can we demand that foreigners respect our country when our own elites so vehemently criticize and disdain everything connected to American history, culture, ideals, governance and traditions?

A return to assimilation and a coherent culture will not begin until we put our own house in order. We cannot expect others to respect us when many Americans themselves are ashamed of their country.

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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