Bay Buchanan was at Lehigh Thursday to discuss immigration.
Former Reagan-era U.S. Treasurer and conservative pundit Bay Buchanan condemned the injustice of rampant illegal immigration in the country, offered no-nonsense solutions to the contentious issue and implored students to become involved in the raging debate in a talk at Lehigh on Thursday evening.
“If we do not solve this issue and stop the invasion of this country, we will lose our country,” Buchanan said. “You cannot expect to keep going down this path and expect to pass on the same great nation we’ve built to our children and our grandchildren.”
Buchanan, who temporarily left her post at CNN to devote her efforts to the presidential campaign of outspoken immigration critic and Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo, told a crowd of roughly 200 that the issue of illegal immigration is contributing to a level of anger among the electorate that is virtually unprecedented in her experience.
“I’ve lived through the days of Richard Nixon, when there was real anger in this country and he was forced to resign. I’ve lived through the Vietnam protests,” she said. “But as I travel around the country, it’s clear to me that there is no issue like this in all my days in politics.”
The anger, she says, spans the political spectrum.
“It’s Democrats, moderates, Republicans, left, right and center,” said Buchanan, who was campaign chairman for her brother, Pat Buchanan, during all three of his campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination. “It’s not a black or white issue either. This is a hot issue and the American people want a solution.”
She cited a recent special election in Massachusetts, where Niki Tsongas—the widow of the late U.S. Sen. Paul Tsongas and a candidate with high Democratic name recognition—was challenged by Republican Jim Ogonowski, a virtual unknown who made illegal immigration a center point of his campaign.
“He started out with no prayer of a chance that he could even gain 40 percent in a state as blue as Massachusetts, and he got 45 percent of the vote by tapping into that anger,” she said.
Blames Corporate America
Regrettably, she noted, the problem of illegal immigration did not diminish under the administration of George W. Bush, which is contributing to the urgency of the issue and the level of anger associated with it.
“We have as many as 12 million illegal immigrants by some account, 20 million by others,” she said. “Others say it could be as high as 25 or 30 million illegal immigrants in our country. We have completely open borders in our country, and no system for changing this. There is no control.”
Such unfettered access opens the door to criminal syndicates, increased drug trafficking and over-burdens schools, hospitals and other social services, she said. It also allows employers to underpay illegal immigrants, which in turn suppresses wages for hard-working Americans.
“Why is this happening?” she asked. “Because of Corporate America. Corporate America loves cheap labor. They don’t want to pay a fair living wage. And Washington has turned a blind eye. They are failing to enforce the laws of the land. The rule of law is a basic principle in this country, and if we do not abide by it, we have chaos.”
Buchanan said the solutions are not as complex as some might think, and involve a multi-tiered approach that includes securing the border with a physical—not virtual—fence, vigorously prosecuting companies that hire those who are in the country illegally, thwarting any efforts to grant amnesty, and deporting those in violation of the law.
“This isn’t about anger,” she said. “It’s just the law.”
Buchanan concluded by urging the students in attendance to become involved in the political system.
“You’re our future and you are our only hope,” she said. “I don’t care if you’re liberal or conservative or not even there yet. I just want you to care. We need leaders, and we don’t have them in Washington.”
Buchanan’s talk was sponsored by the College Republicans, the Visiting Lectures Committee, the Dean of Students office, the political science department, the Lehigh Patriot
, the Student Senate and the Young America’s Foundation.
Photo by Theo Anderson