Posted on September 10, 2004

Republicans And Illegal Immigration: Waiting For The Next Fort Sumter

Robert Klein Engler, American Daily, Sep. 8

During May of 1860, the Republican National Convention was held in Chicago. The convention nominated Abraham Lincoln to head the ticket as candidate for President. He won the nomination on the third ballot. Lincoln would again face his old adversary Stephen Douglas, who was the Democratic candidate. How many at that Chicago convention knew that in a few years the nation would be torn apart by the War Between the States and in a few more years Lincoln would be assassinated? Who knew then that many of the social problems born out of that war would still be alive today? It is interesting to remember, too, that in Lincoln’s time, the War of 1812 was about as far from him as the Vietnam War is far from us, today.

Although there was talk of secession at the 1860 Chicago convention, few there ever thought the question of slavery would lead to the battle of Fort Sumter in 1861, less than a year later. In some ways the inability of those 19th century politicians to see or even control the events that lead up to the War Between the States is analogous to the inability of our current politicians to see and understand the growing tension illegal immigration causes in our society.

In our current election year, illegal immigration, especially illegal immigration from Mexico, is the one issue neither Democrats nor Republicans want to face. In my opinion, illegal immigration is to our time what secession and civil war was to Lincoln’s time. It is the violence looming on the horizon to which everyone turns their back and wishes would go away. Instead of warning us about the damage illegal immigration has done to the nation’s social fabric, the campaign for President has been so far about the Vietnam War and the Swiftboat controversy. It is as if the Lincoln/Douglas debates were about the War of 1812 instead of slavery.

There are many reasons why politicians in both parties do not want to face the problem of illegal immigration. One reason is that it is a problem which involves an unpopular solution. We need to detect, detain and deport millions. Who is willing to do that, at the moment? In 1860, few wanted to face the consequence of the abolitionist movement and secession, either. Instead, because of their blindness, there was civil war, social upheaval, and millions dead. So, today’s politicians are likewise reluctant to speak about the growing tension in our society that threatens another war with Mexico.

Just as it was difficult for some politicians in 1860 to sense the depth and concern of the abolitionists, so today, it is as difficult for some politicians to sense the concern and anger of those who demand something be done about illegal immigration. Right now, in Arizona, a primary fight in the Republican party is developing between a candidate who is following the White House line of “heads in the sand” on the illegal immigration issue, and other Republican challengers who want change. According to the “Arizona Daily Star,” Rep. Marian McClure of Tucson is running for reelection, but is avoiding the illegal immigration issue. She seems to have the support of so-called moderate Republicans and the White House. Nevertheless, her opponents have different priorities. “Douglas Sposito, of Sonoita, wants to . . . clamp down on businesses that hire illegal entrants. David Gowan, of Sierra Vista, said . . . he wants the National Guard placed on the border to cut out illegal border crossings.”

Ironically, as these politicians debate, thousands of illegals continue to stream undetected across the U. S./Mexico border each week into Arizona. Even in Illinois, the state where Lincoln is buried, the tide of illegals from Mexico is rising. In April, State Representative William Delgado (D) remarked, “We are pioneers. We might as well be in covered wagons because 10 years from now, this state is brown (” To remain ignorant of this threat to the union is to give new meaning to the old Know Nothing Party. We will do well to remember, too, that the pre-European Aztecs of Mexico were a brutal, bloody people without violins, much like the Nazis who were a brutal, bloody people with violins.

It is noteworthy that some states are already adopting secessionist policies in regards to illegal immigration. Illinois, for example, offers college tuition wavers to illegals and Chicago is a sanctuary city, flaunting its disregard for Federal immigration laws. There is also a movement to give illegals in Illinois drivers licenses the way 14 other states do. Many merchants in the state like banks and furniture stores will accept also the Mexican consular matricular card to open accounts, establish identity, buy property and get credit, instead of a valid U. S. Social Security card or state ID.

Regrettably, at this time the current leaders of the Republican party seem to be on the wrong side of the immigration issue. Republicans today should be as strongly against illegal immigration as Republicans in Lincoln’s time were against slavery and for preserving the union. Just as in 1860 when secession threatened the union, so the union is threatened by illegal immigration today. Once the issue of illegal immigration unites with Islamic terrorism, as it surely will, we can expect a blow to our society equal to the firing on Fort Sumter. It is not a question of why, but a question of when. Then, it may be another long and violent road to a New Gettysburg.