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NOW on the News
5.4.07

NOW on the News with Maria Hinojosa

Transcript: Chris Simcox on Undocumented Immigrants
5.4.07

» More about this interview

HINOJOSA: Hi, everyone. This week the topic of undocumented immigrants and illegal immigration made quite a comeback as protestors across the United States took to the streets to ask for immigration reform. In light of this, we're talking to a cofounder of the Minute Man Civil Defense Corps, Chris Simcox. Hey, Chris.

SIMCOX: Good morning.

HINOJOSA: How are you?

SIMCOX: Nice to speak with you. Doing well.

HINOJOSA: I wanna talk to you a little bit about the rallies that happened on May 1st. Something that came out on your website that said, "On May 1st, anti-American lawbreakers will take to the streets, again demanding special treatment and threatening sedition and violence in order to get US citizen rights. And if you dare to object to their hate filled program, you will be labeled a racist." Tell me about who you saw that was out on those protests on May 1st. Who—who were you seeing on the streets?

SIMCOX: Well, we're producing a DVD right now of the alternative version of the coverage of the marches. Those anti-American extremist militants who were trashing the American flag, flying it upside down. Flying the Mexican flag or other nations flags above ours. Those who had sign that were calling for a purge of all Europeans from the North American continent.

I think it exposes an anti-American, anti-European sentiment. And we see that on college campuses across the country. The vitriol. The hate. The hate groups that exist on college campuses and then take to the streets are calling for a reconquista of the United States.

People do need to see that movement. It is real. Those types of people and those messages, you did not see on FOX, NBC, CNN or anywhere. But they were there. And we saw the violence this time, breakout in places like Dallas, Phoenix and Los Angeles where many of these groups are now emboldened because they know they can take to the streets.

And this time, they were committing acts of violence. Not only towards law enforcement, but against Americans who were out to counter protest.

HINOJOSA: At this point, now the LAPD is the institution that's being investigated for possible abuse. It's not the immigrants at this point. The Mayor has launched an investigation within the LAPD. And you say—

SIMCOX: When you have a group of people together, mob mentality sets in and the police are forced to address that situation. Unfortunately, innocent people oftentimes get caught up in that.

HINOJOSA: Have you spent a lot of your time, Chris Simcox, being with undocumented immigrants or being with those students on campus that you say are talking about this? I mean, have you spent a lot of time there?

SIMCOX: Yes. I've spent a lot of time addressing and conversing with those who we've rescued in the desert and we have great compassion for the families that are coming across. It's a sad situation when we see people being economically, basically, purged from their countries because of lack of economic opportunities. And being forced into committing further crimes just to feed their families. We're a pro immigration group.

HINOJOSA: Just to get back to this issue of the reconquista because as someone who has spent a lot of time on college campuses and universities, a lot of time with Latino students, I have spoken to undocumented immigrants probably every day for my entire life. And never once has any of those undocumented immigrants said, "Yes, I crossed that boarder and risked my life through the desert because I'm here to re-conquer my land."

It's an interesting philosophical conversation that students may have, but the actual immigrants, in all of my years, never heard that, Chris.

SIMCOX: Well, I beg to differ. At least in those that come out to—

HINOJOSA: So the people who you're saving in the desert when they are—

SIMCOX: —counter protest—

HINOJOSA: —the people you are saving in the desert, when they are dehydrated, they say to you, "I'm here to re-conquer my land"?

SIMCOX: No. we're talking about the people who showed up in the protest as well as on college campuses.

HINOJOSA: Right. But you're seeing, essentially, that that perspective of wanting to re-conquer is being fueled by undocumented immigrants flooding into this country. So, have you heard one of those undocumented immigrants that you have saved from dehydration say to you, "Mr. Simcox, I'm crossing this boarder because I'm here to re-conquer my land."

SIMCOX: We have encountered a variety of different types of people and with different agendas about entering this country illegally. Many of them are here to commit further crimes and potentially end up in college and potentially be involved in the racialist motivated groups who, for some reason, feel that they have an entitlement to this country because they felt that it was stolen from their ancestors.

HINOJOSA: So tell me, where are you right now, Chris?

SIMCOX: Right now, I'm speaking to you from Blacksburg, Virginia. We're here developing some new chapters in the Virginia area. We're approaching 100 chapters nationwide.

HINOJOSA: So, Blacksburg, that's Virginia Tech.

SIMCOX: Yes.

HINOJOSA: And tell me, who's interested in getting involved with the Minutemen from Blacksburg, Virginia?

SIMCOX: Well, it's local members of the community who are seeing a dramatic change in their communities. Especially with the criminal element that has entered their local communities. We're seeing an increase in crime all across America that are being committed by foreign nationals who've entered this country illegally across both of our boarders.

HINOJOSA: When you focus on crime as one of the central issues that people are concerned about, what's your response when you have more than one criminologist. One from Florida Atlantic University. Another one from Harvard, their sociology department, basically saying that, in fact undocumented immigrants are not a cause of crime? Statistically, they're showing that overall, undocumented immigrants are not causing higher rates of crime. So what do you say in light of those statistics?

SIMCOX: Well, I would say that those researchers are in denial of the real facts and the real statistics based on court records. Based on local law enforcements. We're seeing on a national level over 27 percent of incarcerated people in our Federal Prison Systems are foreign nationals in this country illegally. The facts fly in the face of the researchers.

HINOJOSA: The Federal Bureau of Prisons actually says that there are about 27 percent in prison who are foreigners, but that they don't know any percentage of that which could be people who are in this country illegally.

SIMCOX: Well, that's because they're not allowed to do any research on that. And you see—

HINOJOSA: But then how do you say, so categorically, that 27 percent of those being held in prisons are undocumented immigrants if there is no research?

SIMCOX: Well, then we'll go back and say 27 percent are foreign nationals. Whether they entered the country legally or not is an issue. Federally, the Federal Prison officials are not allowed to, you know, interview them or research their backgrounds for fear of civil rights violations.

HINOJOSA: Right, but essentially, Chris, I mean, what you're saying is that there is no reliable statistic. So when you make an allegation, you're basing it, not on anything that is actually factual.

SIMCOX: Well, the facts are that we have a million people a year, potentially entering this country illegally across our boarders.

HINOJOSA: Are you—a million? Because we also know that about half of the undocumented immigrants, statistically, actually don't cross the US Mexico boarder. They come in by plane and overstay their Visas.

SIMCOX: Well, yes. Clearly we're looking for 600,000 plus people who entered the country legally since the murders of 3,000 Americans on September 11th, 2001, who basically used the system, entered the country legally and have disappeared.

HINOJOSA: I'm wondering, though, because if we're talking about such large numbers. Half of the undocumented immigrants who are here, who have overstayed their Visas, what does that do to your plan of being on the boarder when you know that this boarder is thousands of miles long?

Can you really say that what you are doing by being on the boarder is actually effective in terms of having a real dent on the numbers of undocumented immigrants coming into this country via those boarders?

SIMCOX: Well, our goal is never for us to have an effect pragmatically on stopping people from entering the country. We can't do that.

HINOJOSA: So why are you at the boarders?

SIMCOX: Our goal is, this is a political protest. We are political activists who are attempting to be the catalysts to ignite the national debate and expose, as a watchdog group, expose that our Federal Government has failed American citizens.

HINOJOSA: So where do you see, ultimately if it's a political protest, where so you see that political change coming from? Who, essentially, needs to enact this change that you are trying to bring on by this political protest of being on the boarder, armed and watching the US-Mexico boarder?

SIMCOX: Well, ultimately, our goal is to be relieved from duty by the proper authorities. There should be no need for American citizens to be sitting on the boarders watching and reporting people entering this country illegally. The Federal Government, it is their constitutional mandated duty to protect the boarders of this nation.

Ultimately, our goal is not to have to do this. Politically, it starts in Washington, DC. From the President on down. And appropriating the funds and deploying the resources and the manpower to the boarders and to secure those boarders. And that's pro-immigrant. And we're a pro-immigration group.

HINOJOSA: But let me, wait, let me bring this back for one second because I find it interesting, Chris, that, you know, so essentially you do believe that the essence of change here has to come from Washington.

SIMCOX: Yes. Washington and then Washington being led by we, the people. We have empirical evidence that there are criminals entering this country to prey on a weak society. And that we have the world now watching us wrangle over this political correct approach to boarder security and immigration.

HINOJOSA: When your critics say, "Hey Chris. Look, you're really not stopping a lot of immigrants from coming in on the US-Mexico boarder," why not take your political protest, if you believe in the political process of this country, and take it to where you have said you believe the change needs to come from?

What would happen if you took all of the minutemen and staged a, you know, year long 24/7 kind of protest? The same way you want to do on the boarder, but do it at the Capital or at state capitals. If you are saying that that's where the change needs to come from?

SIMCOX: And we do. We have groups that are constantly on the phone. There are groups that are constantly addressing their representatives in Washington, DC. We're constantly lobbying and we're passing legislation. And we're working on a legislative level with our State Legislators and our local communities in enacting ordinances passing laws that allow local law enforcement, state law enforcement, and ultimately that will work its way up the food chain to Washington, DC. for them to realize that the American people are serious about security in their communities.

HINOJOSA: So let's talk about the legislation. There is legislation on the table that is comprehensive immigration legislation. The Wall Street Journal says that this is a restrictionist kind of immigration policy. Democrats are saying it's gonna be something of a hardship on these immigrants to go back home, to pay the fines, to continue to create some kind of legal process. What is the legislation that you want passed and where does it stand in terms of actually making it to a vote?

SIMCOX: Well, comprehensive immigration reform begins with the Federal Government working for we, the people, first. And finishing the job that they promised us in 1986, the last that we were deceived into accepting an amnesty.

HINOJOSA: But if we, the people, Chris, if we, the people, is what you're saying, then help me to understand when you have a USA Today Gallop poll that says 78 percent of the respondents feel that people now in this country without papers should be given a chance at citizenship. Is that not we, the people when you're—

SIMCOX: We'll address the citizenship if you quit changing the subject again, back and forth. We talked about the plan which is boarder security first. That's what Americans want. Then we want enforcement in the work place. And then, you know, if we have laws in this nation, they need to be enforced or we repeal them.

Anything less than that makes a mockery of our system. I am willing, and our organization is more than willing, down the road, after we get the boarder secured and the laws enforced, to provide a pathway for citizenship to those who have families in the United States, who've had children.

HINOJOSA: And the rest of the people who are here without papers, who don't have children born here, you believe that they should go back home.

SIMCOX: Especially if they've committed further crimes, such as Social Security fraud, ID theft, or if they've assumed a fake identity in this nation and we can prove that, then they need to be deported because they've committed further crimes and they're taking advantage of a weak society.

HINOJOSA: So how many people are we talking about here, that you believe are in this category that don't have children here and who should be deported now?

SIMCOX: We're not talking about deporting them, we're talking about creating an atmosphere where they will self-deport. Attrition through enforcement.

HINOJOSA: Realistically, millions of people self-deporting or millions of people being tracked down by the Federal Government that you have said, basically, have been inactive on this case for decades, when are we gonna see this change that you have been asking for? Because it looks like, realistically, it's gonna be almost impossible for these things to happen.

SIMCOX: Well, realistically, if it's impossible for our, by your premise, if it's impossible for our government to clean up the mess, then how is it possible for them to manage documenting all of these people?

HINOJOSA: That's a good question.

SIMCOX: And who's going to pay for that? And no one's talking about how much it's going to cost the American taxpayers to legitimately document the millions of people that are in this country. So it goes both ways.

HINOJOSA: At this point, we are talking about, in terms of the legislation, we're talking about immigrants spending more than $10,000 to get their paperwork in order. So that is money that will be paid to the Federal Government. I was looking at a lot of footage that's taken of the Minutemen. Describe to me who they are.

SIMCOX: Well, Minutemen volunteers come from all walks of life. A majority of them, I would say, would be retirees who have the time and the ability to come to the boarder and spend long periods of time.

HINOJOSA: When you go to college campuses, what kind of a response have you been getting? There have been some reports that many times you're on campus and there's quite a controversy. You've been shouted down.

SIMCOX: Yes, when we attempt to hold lectures on college campuses, typically it takes about 30 minutes and an average of four to five arrests to clear the room from the hate groups who show up to attempt to disrupt the lectures.

HINOJOSA: Now, you believe that the impact of illegal immigration into this country has a negative economic impact in this country?

SIMCOX: I know it personal, the effects that it has on the community, yes, when it comes to crime and when it comes to the taxpayers, basically picking up the tab.

HINOJOSA: In terms of the specifics of economics, if you believe that they are a drain, then how do you respond when the State of Texas, the State Controller, said in December of 2006 that only do illegal immigrants pay their fair share in taxes, but they're good for the economy. That illegal immigrants put about $420 million more into State coffers than they took out. So how does your perspective jive with the statistical information being put out by the State of Texas?

SIMCOX: Well, first we have to frame the discussion carefully. That it's not about immigrants. It's about illegal immigrants. Illegal aliens.

HINOJOSA: And this is what they were reporting on. This is what they were reporting on.

SIMCOX: And so in this case, I think a lot of what they're talking about tax revenues based on consumption. If you look at the numbers, it's more than likely because Texas, next to California, probably has the largest percentage of illegal aliens who reside in that State who are then consumers.

Now we're into the second generation of families, of children of illegal aliens who've entered this country. We're seeing that they are achieving more. They're more educated. And that they are using, the children are using, less of those resources than their parents did. So that shift is changing by shear numbers and because you're into the second generation.

HINOJOSA: But I'm trying to understand, because one of the statements that you make consistently, is that undocumented immigrants, illegal immigrants, are a consistent drain. And here you have the State of Texas that is essentially saying, by their statistical studies, from the State Controller, that illegal immigrants put in more than $400 million into the State coffers than they took out.

So when you have that report from the State of Texas, that flies in the face of information that you're giving that you don't have the statistical basis for it. So help us to understand how you respond to a factual report from the State Controller of Texas.

SIMCOX: Well, I respond by saying that's the State of Texas. And you have one state out of 50 who are reporting that the positive increase in tax revenues.

HINOJOSA: But you said that the State of Texas was one of the states with the highest number of undocumented immigrants.

SIMCOX: Yes. The highest number of illegal aliens reside in Texas and so it's just shear numbers.

HINOJOSA: I wonder, also, how you respond to an April, 2007 report—

SIMCOX: Well, I wonder how they know just exactly who is illegal—

HINOJOSA: So you're questioning the State Controller.

SIMCOX: —(UNINTEL) we've had that discussion about—

HINOJOSA: So you're, essentially, you're questioning the State Controller and their research. But let me ask you about the issue of a report released by the Council on Foreign Relations that essentially illegal immigrants are good for business.

SIMCOX: Oh, sure. You're going to get that from the Corporatist Oligarchy that runs this nation because they're the ones that are making egregious profits on the exploitation—

HINOJOSA: So you're saying that the Council on Foreign Relation represents the Oligarchy of the United States?

SIMCOX: Absolutely, they do. They're an evil organization. A globalist organization. And they are probably the leaders behind the curtain that run this oligarchy that, you know, that used to be a democratic republic in this nation.

HINOJOSA: So when you have reports, for example, that pears on the vine were drooping in California because they didn't have undocumented immigrants to come and pick. When you have Colorado making a decision that they have to use prisoners to harvest crops.

SIMCOX: We increase legal immigration. The pathway to enter this country needs to be streamlined a bit more. We need to help folks assimilate. We need to help them speak English and then to move and migrate where those jobs are available.

HINOJOSA: So, how does that happen, Chris?

SIMCOX: Well, it happens by, first of all, our Federal Government securing our boarders and enforcing an orderly queue into this nation.

HINOJOSA: And how does that, tell me about enforcing that orderly queue. What does it look like?

SIMCOX: Well, it looks like, granted our immigration system in this country is broken. And it takes far too long for the process to work. I mean, just look at people who wait five to seven years to legally immigrate to this country.

HINOJOSA: So, exactly. So since we know that there's a backlog, there's a beurocracy process here, tell me realistically what this looks like so that we can get a picture in our minds of how your vision of immigration reform really looks like.

SIMCOX: If there are jobs available, there is a system where those people in certain job sectors have an ability to recruit and work with the Federal Government to bring in people, legally into this country, to fill jobs that seems to be left vacant because of a lack of Americans that will take those jobs. I support guest worker program only in the agricultural industry.

HINOJOSA: Thanks so much for spending time with us on Now in the News, Chris Simcox.

SIMCOX: Thank you.

HINOJOSA: Chris Simcox is a co-founder of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. You can find this interview on our website at www.pbs.org/now. You can also send us your comments about our talk today with Chris Simcox.

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