One of the most important topics of the decade and the most controversial will be deliberated and examined at the Western Growers’ Political Action Committee’s lunch on November 3 in Las Vegas. Two of the nation’s most knowledgeable and well-known media figures, Michelle Malkin and Ruben Navarrette, will go head-to-head so expect a few fireworks and a lot of fun.
These evenly-matched combatants are authors, syndicated columnists, professional speakers, and experts on immigration. In fact, each has written about this topic for more than 20 years. Approaching the issue with passion, nuance and clarity, they’ve fought every step of the way — with critics on both the Right and the Left.
The immigration debate is personal for these two. Malkin is the daughter of Filipino immigrants, and Navarrette is the grandson of a Mexican immigrant. She opposes comprehensive immigration reform or “amnesty” as she calls it, and he supports it. They have their reasons. They also have no trouble explaining their motives.
The major argument is over whether illegal immigrants should get a pathway to legal status or even U.S. citizenship.
She says no. Malkin believes a pathway to legal status or citizenship is “amnesty” and that forgiving bad behavior just encourages more of it. Those 11 million will give way to another 10 million or 20 million over the next decade because people in other countries will see if they come illegally and stick around long enough, eventually Uncle Sam will give them the golden ticket and let them stay. It’s also a security risk, since we don’t know anything about these people or why they’re here — something we can’t afford after 9/11.
He says yes. Navarrette believes the 11 million are never going “home,” and if we continue to deport them, many will come back because they have families and jobs here — better jobs and more opportunity than in their home countries. And while they came here illegally, it was with our encouragement as U.S. employers, who have been shown to hire illegal immigrants, are the accomplices to this crime by offering jobs. This acts as the real magnet for the desperate and the downtrodden.
Then, there are other smaller but related issues that these two disagree on:
• Navarrette thinks that race and racism drive much of the immigration debate, at least half of it; Malkin thinks that is outrageous and unfair, and that most people just want secure borders and for the rule of law to mean something.
• If there is reform, she might support parts of it if done piecemeal and if the first thing we do is secure the U.S.-Mexico border. He believes that is nuts; that we have to do it all at once or it’ll never get done, and that we’ll never “secure” a 2,000-mile border that goes over rivers, mountains and deserts.
• Malkin supports building more walls and fences along the U.S.-Mexico border. Navarrette thinks this is a mistake, and that it would only “pen” in millions of immigrants from ever going home to visit relatives because they’d be afraid it would be too expensive to get back. It can cost up to $3,000 for a smuggler.
• She believes that excessive, unchecked immigration is weakening America’s national identity. He believes immigration, and preserving one’s heritage, IS America’s national identity.
• Malkin supports Arizona-type laws (now in South Carolina, Alabama and elsewhere) that force local cops to enforce federal immigration law. Navarrette believes that’s a disastrous policy that promotes racial profiling, destroys trust in communities, and violates the Constitution.
• Malkin supports doing away with birthright citizenship by properly interpreting the 14th Amendment, arguing that it was never intended to mean that U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants should automatically get U.S. citizenship. Navarrette strongly disagrees, and thinks this provision is one of the things that makes this country great and we ought to leave it alone.
Michelle Malkin is a well-known conservative author, blogger, columnist, and entrepreneur. She began her career in newspaper journalism with the Los Angeles Daily News. In 1995, she was named Warren Brookes Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. In 1996, she joined the editorial board of the Seattle Times, where she penned editorials and weekly columns for three-and-a-half years. Malkin has been a nationally syndicated columnist for Creators Syndicate since 1999. Her twice-weekly column is carried by the New York Post, National Review, Townhall.com, and many other newspapers and websites. Her first book, “Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals & Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores,” published in 2002, was a New York Times bestseller. Her most recent book, “Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies,” was Number 1 on the New York Times hardcover non-fiction bestseller list for six weeks in a row. The daughter of Filipino immigrants, Malkin was born in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1970 and was raised in southern New Jersey. She lives with her husband and two children in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Ruben Navarrette is the most widely read Latino columnist in the country. He is a nationally syndicated columnist with The Washington Post Writers Group whose twice-a-week column appears in nearly 150 newspapers; and a CNN contributor who writes a weekly column for CNN.com. He has appeared on dozens of television shows and interviewed on local and national radio shows. He served as guest host for the nationally syndicated “The Michael Medved Show.” He has contributed to The Wall Street Journal, The Denver Post, The Chicago Tribune, Texas Monthly, Hispanic Magazine, Latino Magazine, VOXXI.com, TIME.com, Encyclopedia Britannica and other publications. A graduate of Harvard College and the John F. Kennedy School of Government, he is the author of “A Darker Shade of Crimson: Odyssey of a Harvard Chicano” (Bantam, 1993). He’s also a contributor to “Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul” and “Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul.” He spent 12 years working for major U.S. newspapers — The Arizona Republic (reporter/metro columnist), The Dallas Morning News (editorial board), and The San Diego Union-Tribune (editorial board). He judged the contest for the Pulitzer Prizes in 2013, and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary by the Washington Post Writers Group in 2012. Navarrette lives in the San Diego area with his wife and three children.
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