Welcoming the Enemy

Review of “Invasion: How American Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores,” by Michelle Malkin

By Mark Krikorian on December 9, 2002

Review of Invasion: How American Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores, by Michelle Malkin

National Review, December 9, 2002, Vol. LIV, No. 23

Even more than other areas of law, immigration policy tends to be made by anecdote. Every Woodward-and-Bernstein wannabe is an easy mark for open-borders groups trying to get immigrant sob stories into print. Until he retired in December of last year, Anthony Lewis at The New York Times was one of the worst immigrant-anecdote peddlers in journalism. Especially after the 1996 immigration-law changes, he wrote a column practically every week on hapless immigrants ground down by the fascistic INS -- a Chinese businesswoman who was barred from entering the U.S.; a Barbadian illegal alien whose deportation, after being repeatedly postponed, was finally to be carried out; a Turk being deported for nothing more than a little drug-dealing; et al., ad nauseum.

Well, goodbye Tony Lewis and hello Michelle Malkin.

Malkin's new book, Invasion: How American Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores, counters these anecdotes with compelling stories of the fallout from our failure to enforce the immigration law. She tells us not only about the individual terrorists, criminals, and other foreign menaces, but also about their victims. She devotes an entire chapter to the case of Angel Resendiz, the illegal-alien Railway Killer, including capsule profiles of the people he murdered -- people like Noemi Dominguez, a 26-year-old former school teacher in Texas, who was raped and beaten to death by Resendiz in 1999. Malkin also tells the stories of police officers murdered by aliens who should not have been out on the street--such as the murder of Sgt. Ricky Timbrook of Winchester, Va., who was shot in the head by Edward Nathaniel Bell, an immigrant from Jamaica scheduled to be deported for earlier crimes.

Malkin's chapter on human-rights violators from abroad taking up residence in America includes the tale of Kelbessa Negewo, a sadistic secret policeman from Ethiopia who was granted political asylum in 1988 and U.S. citizenship seven years later. In a chapter sporting the unofficial motto of immigration lawyers -- "It Ain't Over Til the Alien Wins" -- she includes brief descriptions of various immigrant lowlifes who have gamed the system to avoid deportation. One such is German immigrant Stephanie Short, who was convicted of encouraging her three-year-old daughter to submit to sexual assault at the hands of her stepfather--but was not deported because she supposedly had not committed a "crime of moral turpitude"!

Malkin's use of anecdotes differs from that in much of the previous debate over immigrant's vices and virtues, in that it focuses not on immigration policy as a whole but simply on enforcement of the law. Rather than generalizing from individual stories -- some immigrants are criminals, so end all immigration or, conversely, some immigrants are geniuses, so end all border controls -- Malkin's emphasis is on profiling bad guys who should not have been able to do what they did had the existing law been applied. But the book is not simply a collection of anecdotes. Unlike most journalists writing about immigrants, Malkin, Philadelphia-born daughter of Filipino immigrants, actually learned something about our immigration system and uses the profiles of individual immigrants to flesh out her picture.

And it's a grim picture indeed. She starts, naturally, with the 9/11 hijackers, and examines how they got here. She describes the myriad ways terrorists have penetrated our nation: lax border security; fraudulent marriages to U.S. citizens; bogus asylum claims; illegal-alien amnesties; lax standards in issuing visas for workers, students, clergymen, and wealthy investors; the visa lottery; and the Visa Waiver Program.

In explaining this, she does, of course, excoriate the INS for its many scandals -- crooked or incompetent employees, Clintonian bureaucrats lying to Congress, unbelievable technological snafus. But rather than leave it at that, as too many observers do, she digs deeper, to find out why we have such a ridiculous system in the first place. In two chapters -- "Pandering While Osama Plots" and "The Profiteers" (another virtue of this book is that you couldn't flip through it at Borders and claim not to know the author's point of view) -- she lays out the rogues' gallery of groups responsible for our inept immigration system: politicians pandering to Hispanic voters by promoting illegal-alien amnesties; ethnic pressure-groups trying to get drivers licenses for illegal aliens; local governments declaring themselves sanctuaries for illegals; universities seeking ever more foreign students, even if they're in the country illegally, and resisting any measures to track such students; the American Immigration Lawyers Association, "a powerful lobbying network against all major immigration reforms during the past four decades"; and, perhaps worst of all, the corporate rope sellers, like the travel and tourism industries (which seek to speed foreigners into the U.S. at any cost), or banks eagerly seeking the deposits of illegal aliens, or employers of cheap immigrant labor, or border-town chambers of commerce.

Malkin's discussion of these "profiteers" suggests a topic for her next book -- a more in-depth examination of the individuals, organizations, and industries pushing for weak immigration controls. In Invasion, she outs the corporate miscreants and their libertarian fellow-travelers - but we also need to know more about the leftists, the people who love immigration because they hate America. This information would be especially important for those conservatives who, like the president himself, have been duped with fairy tales about shifts in the Hispanic vote toward the GOP. This hoax is actually being peddled by those on the Left who realize that mass immigration is, in truth, an enormous boon to the Democratic party. I think Malkin would do a great job digging into the background of open-border activists like Jeanne Butterfield; it's already known that before becoming executive director of the abovementioned American Immigration Lawyers Association, Butterfield was director of the Palestine Solidarity Committee, a Marxist group linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Malkin's current book is a valuable contribution to popular understanding of how our immigration system actually works, and her policy prescriptions are generally sound -- as far as they go. There is no question that, in Malkin's concluding words, "It's time to take out the trash, fix the holes in our fences, and defend Lady Liberty from all those who would trespass against her."

But there's more to it than that. In her assessment of the causes of our illegal-immigration mess, and the way out of it, Malkin shies away from identifying the elephant in the living room: mass immigration itself. No matter how honest or competent or technologically proficient the INS were to become, there is simply no way it could efficiently and securely manage today's unprecedented volume of immigration. Last year, more than a million green cards issued, not to mention another million-plus long-term "temporary" visas. If the agency is going to be able to reform itself, take on vast new security responsibilities, and resume enforcing the law, it needs breathing room, and that can come only from curbs on immigration.

Facing this reality has been difficult for many, especially on the right, who genuinely want to shut the "back door" of illegal immigration but keep open the "front door" of massive legal immigration. The impossibility of such an approach is becoming increasingly apparent, and I expect that Malkin and other conservatives, whatever their prior ideological or emotional tendencies, will come to realize that the level of immigration is the real root of the problem.

With that caveat, I highly recommend Invasion to anyone interested in why our homeland is so vulnerable to our enemies.

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