From ESL Teacher to Immigration Enforcement Activist

Parsing Immigration Policy, Episode 109

By Mark Krikorian and Joe Guzzardi on June 15, 2023

Listen to "From ESL Teacher to Immigration Enforcement Activist" on Spreaker.


This week’s guest on Parsing Immigration Policy has over 35 years of experience in immigration policy and activism, perhaps more experience than Mark Krikorian, host of the podcast and executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. Joe Guzzardi is a California native whose journey through immigration activism began when he was teaching English as a second language to adults in the Central Valley.

The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which legalized nearly three million illegal immigrants, included a requirement to “learn English.” The INS defined this as 40 hours of English/civics instruction and the ability to show basic knowledge; as a result, enrollment in English classes went through the roof. Guzzardi noticed that many students had been living in the U.S. for years before taking the classes, but came speaking little or no English. The 40 hours of instruction were not sufficient to provide students with English language skills, yet he was pressured to sign-off on their having achieved basic knowledge.

Guzzardi details his advocacy for greater immigration enforcement, which began with his writing on immigration issues in local Central California papers, and later led him to run (along with 100 others) for governor of California during the recall of Gray Davis in 2003.

Krikorian closes the podcast with thoughts on this week’s extension of “Temporary” Protected Status for more than 300,000 illegal immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, and Nicaragua, some having received TPS, and had it repeatedly renewed, for more than 20 years. As he notes, “There’s nothing as permanent as Temporary Protected Status.”


Mark Krikorian is the Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies.


Joe Guzzardi is a syndicated columnist writing on immigration policy issues.


Joe Guzzardi syndicated columns

Institute for Sound Public Policy

DHS Continues TPS for El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, and Nicaragua


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Intro Montage

Voices in the opening montage:

  • Sen. Barack Obama at a 2005 press conference.
  • Sen. John McCain in a 2010 election ad.
  • President Lyndon Johnson, upon signing the 1965 Immigration Act.
  • Booker T. Washington, reading in 1908 from his 1895 Atlanta Exposition speech.
  • Laraine Newman as a "Conehead" on SNL in 1977.
  • Hillary Clinton in a 2003 radio interview.
  • Cesar Chavez in a 1974 interview.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking to reporters in 2019.
  • Prof. George Borjas in a 2016 C-SPAN appearance.
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions in 2008 comments on the Senate floor.
  • Charlton Heston in "Planet of the Apes".