What May Day really meant

(John Andrews in the Denver Post, May 7) Father Time, what a joker. A couple of decades can make old certainties laughable. Back in 1986, Congress and the president struck a bargain that was supposed to settle the immigration issue for good. Millions of illegal aliens were legalized, in return for tougher enforcement at the border and in the workplace. Sounds ridiculously familiar, doesn’t it? Those same 20 years did funny things to this Republican’s former disapproval of Democrat Dick Lamm. As Colorado’s chief executive in 1986, Lamm earned the nickname Governor Gloom for warning about such dangers as a potential “Hispanic Quebec” in the southwestern U.S. We at the Independence Institute called for an imaginary Governor Growth to rescue the state from Lamm, since I was sympathetic to open borders back then.

But today Dick and I are co-chairs of Defend Colorado Now, an amendment to cut off tax-paid services for illegal aliens, except in emergencies or when federally mandated. We’re campaigning for 100,000 signatures in 100 days to put this sensible measure on the ballot. He correctly foresaw trouble in the convergence of Mexico’s social and economic dysfunction with America’s political and cultural cowardice. My optimism was misplaced. Point to you, Governor Gloom.

As some predicted at the time, Reagan’s amnesty for immigration lawbreakers failed disastrously. Why expect the amnesty now being negotiated by Bush to work any better? Guest worker plans and paths to citizenship in advance of real border security are like mopping a bathroom flood before turning off the water: useless. Awarding the last few million trespassers “part ownership” in America merely invites the next few million to disobey our entry rules as well.

Waldo Benavidez helps Dick Lamm, Fred Elbel, and me lead the ballot campaign. A Democrat long active in liberal causes, profiled last month in the New York Times, Waldo and countless other Latino supporters illustrate the utterly non-ethnic character of Defend Colorado Now. His patriotic cry that “enough is enough” takes the race card off the table.

It’s not nativism when we the people tell all comers: If you broke the law to get here, don’t expect government help in staying here. It’s just the way any civilization defends itself – at least any civilization with backbone. When the Post approvingly editorialized on Monday that immigrants in the May 1 boycott wanted to “send a message that they’re the backbone of this country,” I had to differ. Our spine as a nation is neither the foreign-born nor the native-born; it’s consent of the governed and rule of law.

This truth has been forgotten lately as the immigration protest movement has confused a lot of good people, some illegally working here, others simply putting emotion ahead of logic. Whether we realize it or not, the protests dramatize a stark contrast of worldviews, one beneficial to our future, the other poisonous to it – and the organizers’ choice of May Day, hardly coincidental, speaks volumes.

America’s miracle of human betterment rests on the timeless wisdom of Jefferson and Lincoln (and of Dr. King, whom the protesters falsely invoke), teaching that liberty and law are inseparable, and that lawbreaking must carry consequences. The misery in many other countries grows from the revolutionary utopianism of Marx, Mao, and Castro. May 1, lest we forget, has long been these revolutionaries’ holy day.

If our self-government, including the rules for who is welcome here on what conditions, accepts the Marxist lie that the end justifies the means, might makes right, DNA is destiny, and class struggle determines truth, we can kiss America goodbye. Those migrants who were hell-bent on getting into the land of opportunity by fair or foul will find, to their sorrow, that foul play soon strangles opportunity for them and everyone – and then there is hell to pay.

The silent invasion of illegal aliens hurts family budgets, public budgets, national security, national identity, and respect for law. It must stop. While the solution is mostly up to Washington, Coloradans are not helpless. Ending handouts to lawbreakers is one step we can take.