Help today's immigrants integrate: Keep tomorrow's out

Do you want to get good and steamed up about illegal immigration? See "Border War." Do you want to get a better sense of what needs to be done to secure the homeland? See "Border War." Remarkably, this documentary is coming to a theater, or at least a screen, near you.

But first, a reminder about the stakes of the border war. Homeland security is an international concern; ask any Israeli who supports building a wall for self-protection.

Or ask John Howard, the prime minister of Australia, who also is taking stern measures to protect his people from foreign onslaught. Mr. Howard knows that hundreds of millions of Muslims, pouring out of nearby countries such as Indonesia, could overwhelm his lightly populated island nation.

In an opinion piece published earlier this month, Howard declared that "Australia has been greatly enriched by immigration, and most people who have come to this nation have happily integrated with the community." Note the "and" in the previous sentence, which connects "immigration" and "happily integrated." Which is to say, only those who integrate can enrich their new country. Those who don't integrate are a source not only of impoverishment but also of endangerment.

Howard added that becoming "part of the fabric of the nation" requires more than just moving in physically; it also requires moving in emotionally: "That means embracing Australian values, accepting our culture, being able to speak English if it's not their first language, and understanding that men and women have equality." A good vision for Australia, and a good vision for America, too. The challenge is in getting there. But the surest way not to get there is through a guest-worker program, as advocated by President Bush and most Democrats in Congress. A guest-worker program is the opposite of becoming part of the fabric of the nation; it is a state-sanctioned category of separation, guaranteeing that newcomers never "happily integrate." And if, as many suspect, the guest-worker program is just a holding action meant to disguise the real goal, which is amnesty for millions, then America would get the worst possible outcome: Huge blocs of people would come here to work, and then would stay here to live, permanently and un-integratedly. That's a formula for Babel-like calamity.

Fortunately, a save-America counter-movement, led by Reps. Tom Tancredo (R) of Colorado, and J.D. Hayworth (R) of Arizona, has been gaining momentum. House Republicans are in open revolt against the reckless globalism espoused by many other Republicans and most Democrats. Fired-up news reports proving that Washington still doesn't "get it" on immigration – such as new data showing that immigration from Muslim countries into the US hit a 20-year high in 2005 – Messrs. Tancredo, Hayworth, and Co. seek drastic action: They would begin by building a wall across the southern border. Then and only then would it be possible to consider how best to integrate everyone who lives here into the happy fabric of our English-speaking union.

Now, these political warriors have been joined by a cultural warrior, a man with a documentary camera. Meet David N. Bossie, president of the conservative-activist group Citizens United: He saw the problem on the border and decided to show others, too.

The result of his work (Kevin Koblock is the producer, and also wrote and directed) is a full-length movie, "Border War," which chronicles the lives of various protagonists on all sides of the conflict. Some are for tough enforcement, others for no enforcement, but all get to say their piece. Yes, the film brings a hawkish, pro-wall perspective to the border issue, but Mr. Bossie has a light touch compared to the heavy-handed propagandizing of, say, Michael Moore.

Boosted by conservative radio talk show hosts, "Border War" already has opened in big cities such as Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Washington. It will come to more theaters and, of course, to DVD. And it will have a huge impact on the immigration debate in 2006 – and even more in 2008.

James P. Pinkerton is a columnist for Newsday. ©2006 Los Angeles Times Syndicate.

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