Mona Shield Payne
Friday, May 10, 2013 | 2 a.m.
Editor’s note: This Q&A is one of two interviews published jointly, one from a staunch opponent of legalizing immigrants residing in the country illegally and the other with a naturalized U.S. citizen from Mexico who is a long-time activist for immigration reform. To see the other Q&A, click here.
Larry Brown first thought of immigration as a social and political issue in the early 1980s, when he drove past a San Fernando Valley billboard sponsored by the conservative-leaning Federation for American Immigration Reform. It was, he said, a “call to arms against illegal immigration.”
Brown, who worked at a bank in Irvine, Calif., studied the issue and started following the work of activist Glenn Spencer, a vehement opponent of any legalization plan for immigrants.
“It became a big concern, because I quickly determined that illegal immigration is at the nexus of all your major policies: education, health, crime, homeland security; any major issue, you can tie it back into immigration,” said Brown. “And so to me it became the issue of our time.”
Today Brown, 65, is retired and lives with his wife and son in North Las Vegas. He spends time almost daily looking at news on immigration and writing letters to news publications and politicians.
Brown, who says an immigrant used his Social Security number to illegally work in Southern California, is an advocate of tougher enforcement and opposes any plan that includes legalization for any immigrant group, young or old, in the country illegally.
As the U.S. Senate debates an immigration reform package that touches on everything from high-skilled work visas to border security and a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants in the country illegally, the Sun sat down with advocates on the both sides of the immigration issues.
When you think if immigration reform, what’s your vision?
I understand that legal and illegal immigration are tied at the hip. There’s never been a time where there was high illegal immigration when there wasn’t high legal immigration and vice versa.
That’s why I’m worried about this amnesty. I’m concerned the legalization process for 12 million to 20 million foreigners will increase illegal immigration, and your legal immigration is going to skyrocket, too.
I’m a proponent for illegal immigration enforcement reform; that’s the reform that I think Americans are really interested in. They want to put an end to illegal immigration.
So what type of enforcement measures do you think will work?
I lived in Riverside and my congressman (Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif.) was one of the initial supporters of the E-Verify program, and I believe that’s a key to ending illegal immigration. Because what this does is it ends the job magnet and gives America a legal work force. So, people around the world thinking of coming to the U.S. know that they cant find work, and they’re going to say, ‘No, it’s not worth it. We can’t come to the U.S., there is nothing there for us.’
Also, people here already illegally are denied access to work, and they are going to self-deport. They will go on their own, without the so-called ‘roundups’ that opponents of enforcement always bring up. They’ll leave on their own.
You don’t want the Dream Act or anything like that. You don’t want to encourage people with driver’s licenses. (They encourage) people to come here, and it makes it easier and inviting for them to break our laws.
Let’s complete the border fence. Let’s put sonic barrier technology in there that’s proven and inexpensive, and let’s get ICE to identify, detain and deport people that they come across.
What do you think the solution should be for families with two parents in the country illegally but their three children are all U.S. citizens?
I think families should be reunited in the country from which they came from, and if parents who came here illegally are willing to abandon their children here in the U.S. that’s pathetic, it’s outrageous. It’s up to them to keep their families intact and take their children with them.
When you say you witnessed the ‘demographic shift,’ what changes alarmed you or made you take notice?
I noticed the cultural change. I didn’t care for it because English was becoming a secondary language in the San Fernando Valley. Credit card forms were being offered in Spanish. You had drunk drivers who were here who were illegal aliens and they were responsible for a lot of damage, death and destruction, and this was because of our lax immigration enforcement policies. So, I noticed that, and I noticed the political pandering by Democratic politicians who were eager for these people to become voters. Never mind anything else, they wanted these people as voters.
What are you doing to help voice your opinions and get others involved?
Every morning I wake up, get a cup of coffee and head to my computer to send out my nasty email. I put the heat on politicians, especially the Republican Gang of 8 members. I may send 75 to 100 emails a day (to politicians and newspapers).
That’s the intensity I feel toward the issue and that’s what I’m counting on, that people who feel like myself have this intensity.
I’m a nationalist. I’m an American. I don’t feel myself as a citizen of the world. I’m a citizen of this country. We should have our own rules, procedures. This is our club, our country, we decide who gets to come here. We decide who becomes a citizen, who gets American citizenship, not just some Washington elitist club back there. They are going to feel the heat as we get closer and closer to a vote (on the immigration reform package). The pressure is going to intensify, it will ratchet up and I believe the whole thing will collapse like it did in 2007.