Dear President Bush, Perhaps you know me from my work. I wrote and directed the movies "Gettysburg" and "Gods and Generals." Walking Civil War battlefields, soaking up the letters and diaries of that generation, re-creating the world of our ancestors -- all this has given me a deep appreciation for our country. My dad was with the Army Air Corps in North Africa while your dad was in the Pacific. My French mother was liberated in Tunisia and became a lawful immigrant to the United States. For an American, my story is unique and typical at the same time.
You probably don't need to be reminded of the hostility and animus directed your way by most of the Hollywood community. Then again, I'm sure you don't take it personally. After all, they held Ronald Reagan in equal contempt. As one of the very few directors of major motion pictures who sees you in a different light, I implore you to listen seriously to what I have to say.
What is happening on the southern border is unprecedented. Not only in our own history, but in the history of the world. No country at any time anywhere has sustained the influx of tens of millions of foreigners across its borders. A wave of anti-American leftism is sweeping Latin America. A socialist radical may soon be elected as the president of Mexico, a country which officially encourages its emigrants to vote in Mexican elections, urging them to think of themselves as Mexican first and perhaps only. The eventual outcome is plain for anyone with eyes to see. This is invasion masquerading as immigration.
It may already be too late to avoid a future annexation of the Southwest by Mexico or the evolution of a Mexican-dominated satellite state. This is not to say Mexican people are better or worse than any of God's children. It is to say that millions of ethnically and culturally homogeneous people will seek self-determination in a land they will increasingly feel justified in claiming as their own. Especially when the natural weight of demographic change is accompanied by the soundtrack of radical demagoguery which seeks to legitimize and moralize this phenomenon as a "reconquista." Many pundits claim you will be remembered in history as the president who won (or lost) the war in Iraq. I see it differently. I believe you will come to be seen, in the years and decades to come, as the President who saved (or lost) the Southwest of the United States.
Mr. President, this is a time for candor. Your immigration policy is viewed as captive to the cheap labor -- big business lobby and inimical to the survival of our country. It is splitting the party and draining away support for your presidency. We who understand the vital stakes will not be placated by rhetoric or slogans. The failure to recognize this growing and deep disaffection among Republicans, conservatives, independents and, indeed, many Reagan Democrats, is, in the short run, going to lead to a monumental defeat for your party at the polls in November.
The last two years of your presidency will be plagued with impeachment hearings, with pressures to diminish the war against terrorism, with the cutting off of funds for the war of liberation in Iraq for which so many of our brothers in uniform have paid the ultimate price. The American people will once again be forced to endure a painful repetition of the humiliating withdrawal from Vietnam. We will be dedicating yet another monument to brave men who gave their lives for honor, country and a lost cause.
I understand that in your heart you want to believe that the border should be an open place where goods and people can move freely back and forth for the good of all. I do not question your integrity or the goodness and decency of your motivations. Dear Mr. President, this is a utopian creed, which must be discarded before it is too late.
When I watched the Senate Judiciary Committee's one-day public session on immigration reform (I suppose we should be grateful that Sen. Arlen Specter devoted one whole day out of his busy schedule for the public discussion of a problem regarding 20 million illegal aliens) it was remarkable for the near absence of any senator speaking on behalf of the American people or their own constituents. It seems the overriding concern of most senators of both parties is for the illegal immigrant population. Perhaps these senators should be reminded that they are supposed to represent and defend American citizens, not foreign nationals, illegal aliens or indeed anyone else. Listening to the self-serving and pandering speeches, you'd think the senators were elected in Mexico or any other country on the globe except America.
Where was the concern for American schoolchildren forced to sit in overcrowded classes, for American patients forced to wait in overcrowded hospitals, for American workers whose wages are being undercut, for American drivers forced to sit in interminable traffic jams in over-whelmed freeway systems, for the victims of organized gangs, for the American college students who are turned away from publicly funded state universities, for many African Americans who are being literally displaced from their neighborhoods while being moved figuratively, once again, to the back of the bus, for those environmentalists and conservationists who want to protect open space and slow down urban sprawl, for the American taxpayers who have had to bear the burden of billions of dollars in increased welfare costs, over-burdened prisons, extra police and security and even, adding insult to injury, for bilingual education?
Where was the concern that we as a people are compelled to deal with these "in your face" issues which have been imposed upon us by external forces, instead of focusing our time, energies and capital on our own indigenous, urgent concerns, like for instance, the medical care for our own countrymen and women. Might it be irresponsible to mislead the 20 million illegal foreigners already here and might it be immoral to encourage the yearly arrival of millions more when we cannot even take care of our own millions of poor and sick and hungry and, yes, dare I say it, our unemployed?
Working as I do in Civil War history, I have had to explore the ugly depths of the American institution of slavery, and have been privileged to work alongside civil rights leaders and specialists in African-American history. For this reason it troubles me that we appear today to be importing a second virtual slave class of low-wage workers who are hired to replace or displace less-educated or privileged Americans -- including the very descendants of American slaves.
I agree with you that "no child should be left behind." But that is precisely what immigration advocates are doing to the children of America's working class -- by flooding the market with workers from a desperately poor country, who depress the wages of high school and even college graduates.
Little in the current situation resembles the immigration we knew and cherished while growing up in America prior to the '80s. The new and radically dislocating phenomenon we are enduring is not the old, familiar immigration of yesteryear -- gradual, orderly, assimilating and lawful. The numbers alone are unprecedented. The American people have been made the victims of monumental social engineering perpetuated upon them without their consent and against their will by an arrogant governing elite. Those who try to neutralize their justifiable instincts of self-preservation as a people and a sovereign nation by constantly invoking the mantra of "a nation of immigrants" are trying to pull the wool over their eyes.
The House immigration bill isn't perfect, but it is a firm and realistic place from which to build an effective policy for the survival of our country. The McCain-Kennedy bill looks like it was drafted by bureaucrats at the United Nations, not by representatives of the United States.
To do the right thing, to take the safe course for protecting our country, you will have to endure even more vilification from the left, you will have to watch large and increasingly violent rallies by those who don't want to abide by our laws or the will of the American people -- who think they are entitled -- who believe this country already belongs to them -- who believe the rest of us should just move aside, shut up and smile. To pretend this problem will go away by pandering to the illegal population, or to leave it for the next generation to solve is national suicide.
The moment has arrived. The Senate has already begun its bloviations and self-agrandizing platitudes, its morality play of good and evil wherein they the noble senators are cast as the redeemers of the entire world population seeking only to "live the American dream." We know by their coded words they will do nothing meaningful to really solve the problem or to defend America. If their actions of the past 20 years are a guide, they will only take the pose of pretending to do so. As a movie director I can see bad acting a mile away.
Today there are two Republican Parties. One is now seen correctly by most Americans as responsive first and foremost to the demands of multinational corporations, the agro-business and the Chamber of Commerce. The other, best represented by the embattled members of the House, represents grass-roots America -- we the people. In this debate you have the opportunity to make the party one and whole again, to regain its soul and return it to the service and the sovereignty of the American people.
Dear Mr. President, you must disenthrall yourself from the failed policies of the present. I implore you to rethink this issue and to change course. Millions of Americans, a great majority of your fellow citizens will be with you. Start speaking and doing the sensible, courageous and right thing. You will see your poll numbers turn dramatically around. You will save your country.
Ronald F. Maxwell, a writer and director, is currently working on a satirical motion picture about immigration into America.