This is the third part of multi-part interview with Mark Ellmore, candidate in the GOP primary, where he’s facing Amit Singh (also interviewed at Blacknell.net). The winner of the June 10th primary will face long time incumbent Rep. Jim Moran (D) this fall. Part I is here and Part II is here.
(If some regular readers have had enough of the immigration discussion, I encourage them to scan down to “The REAL ID Act and the Security State” section.)
MB (Mark Blacknell): So let’s jump onto some other issues. Immigration. This is an area that’s benefited greatly from immigration. This is an area that’s taken a very different approach than, say, Prince William County where, you know, they want to find every brown person and lock them up.
ME (Mark Ellmore): Well, it’s not just brown. That’s just not fair.
MB: No, I’m pretty sure of it.
ME: If somebody was pulled over, and they didn’t have proper ID, somebody from the Ukraine, or the Czech Republic, or China or Japan, they’d get the same treatment.
MB: Sure, but in the recent [Prince William County Police] report that came out, we didn’t see any Ukrainian, or Chinese people in Prince William County jails. Really, from my perspective, immigration seems to be an issue that’s ginned up as a good motivating issue for the Republican base, or for some subset of people. So do you really believe it’s a huge and important issue facing this country?
ME: Well, illegal immigration is a huge thing that we’ve got to get control over. Obviously I can’t go to Germany and just pull up and land at the airport and say “Oh, by the way I’m here! And I’m going to stay here! And if I have a child here, the child’s going to be a German citizen. And if I want benefits, oh, let your people pick up the tab.” You just can’t do it. You can’t do it in Mexico, you can’t do it any other country. And just say, oh, I’m here. What I believe is that we have to have some consistency in the law. So I say first, I did not support putting a Berlin Wall on the border with Mexico. I am absolutely against a concrete wall.
MB: But you’re in favor of a fence.
ME: Yes, a fence.
MB: A wall versus a fence?
ME: Right, because a wall [gives more of a sense of separation.]
MB: There’s a difference between the two?
ME: There’s a difference between bricks and mortar and a Berlin Wall with gun turrets on it – that image – as opposed to a border security fence. I see them as completely separate and distinct, and that’s what I’m pushing for. The reason why is because we have to say, it’s not just saying “well, there are more brown people coming from . . . “ it’s people from South and Central America, and other people, potentially, coming across – well, can you obey the rule of law?
ME: I support in this country, saying okay, if you are here, and you are here illegally, would you please get a worker ID? I support a worker ID program. I do not support amnesty for these folks that came here illegally, though.
MB: Okay. So help me sort this out. Say I’ve come across the border and I’ve been here 15 years. I see the proposal coming through – what do you want me to do as an undocumented worker? What should I do to make things right?
ME: Okay I believe – and there’s nothing I can do today – this is just my personal philosophy is one, that the USA needs to adopt a program to allow these people to stay and work with a worker program ID. To allow them [ . . . ] to follow the process to apply for citizenship. I do not support the amnesty program. I do not support the George Bush . . .
MB: What is “amnesty”?
ME: Well, amnesty just means hey, by the way, come here and pay us a couple thousand dollars for breaking the law and then you get your citizenship in a period of time. I believe that first we need to identify who is here. That we need to know who is in this country, and if you’re here illegally, please sign up at the door.
MB: Well, why would they do that? I mean, how are you going to get what – 8 to 12 million people –
ME: We don’t know. We don’t know.
MB: – to sign up for that program. What assurances – what kind of program are you going to propose that ensures that those 8 to 12 million people sign up and say “Hey, we’re here.”?
ME: Well because we want to make it so that if you do come forward and you’re here illegally in this country that we determine what it is so we know what we’ve got on our hands. And again, it’s far bigger than what we can solve right here. But if you take it and say – first we need to identify who’s in the country. And you ask then, “Please, can you have a little bit of respect for us?” That’s number one, respect the law. Secondly, is that by making it so that the people do have a process to follow, to get into the – to the back of the line, so to speak – to apply. To make it so that the employers are held accountable, if they’re going to have people working here, just please either get a worker card or [make sure] they’re full and properly documents or they penalties set up for employers and those companies that are blatantly breaking the law and are undermining our American workers.
And then next up would be to make it so that, again, we want to come up with something that is more I guess, supportive of those that have come here. So, basically, I am saying that if you’re here illegally, first we gotta get you documented so that we know what’s going on here. Otherwise, you know, that’s just asking for trouble. I don’t support, you know, an “anchor baby” program. But I do support making it so that those who come to the country, follow the rule of law, for instance, and if you’re in this country legally, we want to make it so we’ve got a couple of caveats that we want to offer up in the general [election] make it so that it’s not any easier, but that it kinda, streamlines the process [for legally applying for citizenship].
[Then Ellmore describes a legislative proposal to provide that green card holders can apply for citizenship one year before the five year anniversary of their green card status instead of the present 90 day window.]
So what we’re doing is we’ve got punitive on one side, for illegals, and we want to make it so we start doing something for the people who’ve obeyed the law. Doing more – not to make it so that it’s easier – but to make it more “welcome aboard, but please guys you just gotta follow the rules, and we have to have some order.”
MB: Just a few clarifying questions.
[we clarify the nature of his citizenship application proposal]
MB: So that proposal will result in some extra work on [the immigration agency’s] part?
ME: They’re already doing it. Not at all.
MB: Do you see them as generally swamped in these applications, and that’s why the whole agency is backlogged?
ME: They’re in overdrive with – if you talk to the agency – it’s the backlog of background checks. It’s unbelievable. I’ve had people come up to me on the campaign trail [and ask for help with their applications].
MB: So how do you address that?
ME: Well, there’s nothing you can do now, until things calm down with this whole national security issue. You can say “ Do more people need to be hired and put into that?” or maybe there are other agencies in the government, at some point, while we’re trying to streamline and redefine government – rather than taking people, should an agency need to be done away with [ he inserts caveat that he’s not actually made such a determination yet] – why don’t we move some of those people over into the Homeland Security area, so that we can fill some of these voids, and get the people that we need to properly get the system up to speed. Cause people are suffering. They came here legally, we invited them here. And now we’re doing this to these people. So you have to have an understanding and respect for these people. So you bring them here, and oh by the way we’re gonna treat you like an illegal and not do what we’ve committed to do through the due process.
MB: And speaking of “the illegals”, what I don’t hear you saying is that [the US should identify and deport all illegal immigrants].
ME: No. You cannot deport 12 million people. That’s why I support an identification AND work program for them. Because that’s the only thing that will work. Give the people an opportunity to get into the system legally. But we must start with knowing who’s here. We need a headcount. We need to know who’s here with good intentions, and is working, and has a work history and a track record. And then you look at it like you would with any common sense approach. You can’t tell 12 million people that, by the way, there’s the door.
MB: That puts you at odds with some of the folks in your party [who want to register and then deport].
ME: But again, I as individual, cannot. It’s above me. All we can do, should it come up for vote, is say that this is how I would vote and offer my views and vision on that. But again, you have to understand what the problem is. And in my business, when I’m doing things, I deal with people. We have to get to the cause, before you get to the solution.
[ . . . ]
The cause was, the door was open, and everybody’s in. So the solution is not going to be to round ‘em all up and kick ‘em all out. We’re talking about potential collapse in certain areas. I say [to the illegal immigrants] “you’re here illegally, though, guys. You’re not going to be given citizenship because you broke the rules. “ You will have to come up with a process that makes it so they can apply for citizenship and come about it the right way. And those that are here illegally and don’t want to follow the rule, they will absolutely filter out and go back to where they came from., through that process.
[Ellmore criticizes the “hardliner” approach of across the board deportation as not practical, an reemphasizes the need for an orderly process by which illegal immigrants are registered in a worker program]
They were allowed to get in here, in some way shape or form, and shame on us for not doing a better job of securitizing our borders. Shame on us.
The REAL ID Act and the Security State
MB: Turning to another issue – and speaking of identifying people – do you have any position on the REAL ID Act?
ME: I don’t think the REAL ID Act would be beneficial for everybody. It’s like the PATRIOT Act. I think – and again, without having the entire piece of legislation in front of me – but when you just talk about getting a government ID card, that kind of scares me. Because again, it takes away from individual liberty and freedom. And that kinda throws me over here. I do believe, on the other hand, that the principles of the PATRIOT Act – to keep us safe – and we’re talking about terrorists – we’re not talking about me, you, or the guy working over here at the 7-11 – trying to keep track of those folks. Again, it’s a broad base of information. But I would say that the REAL ID Act, where they just want to give people ID cards so you can . . . no. I don’t think I could sign off on that.
MB: You’re saying “you, me, and the guy working at the 7-11”, but we’re the same people who are going to be asked to share our information, and we’re getting treated this way because of “the terrorists”. Doesn’t that seem a little silly?
ME: No, because we live in a post-9/11 world. It’s a different world now. The threat is different. We would be just so naïve to say oh, by the way, there are not people, you know, looking to harm us. So unfortunately, when we go to the airport, you’ve got to take your shoes off, do basically a strip search – you can’t even take your Gatorade on the plane anymore because they’re going to blow the plane . . .
MB: That all seems reasonable?
ME: Well, no. It is what it is. There is no rationale. And no reason. It is a direct product of what is going on outside of here. So, no, it doesn’t seem reasonable. It doesn’t seem fair. Unfortunately, they caught people getting on planes with over three ounces of whatever, with the potential to blow us up. And to blow up an airliner. Then what would we say? Unfortunately, we are forced to overprotect. That’s why now, they won’t let you carry on a pair of nail clippers on the plane. Why? Because the guys got on the plane with box cutters. They won’t let you get on without taking your shoes off? Why, because Richard Reid got on an American Airlines flight and tried to light his shoe on fire and bang. Everything would have shut down after that.
MB: Don’t you think that’s a well-worn excuse? I grew up in countries that experienced terrorist attacks in the 80s and we did fine, the US beat the Russians in the Cold War without taking away our basic civil liberties, and yet all of a sudden, since some guys managed to crash a plane, we’ve got to give them all up.
ME: It’s deeper than that. And the Soviet Union, outside of the Cuban Missile Crisis, never threatened to knock on our door. These guys brought it here.
MB: [He catches my WTF? look.]
ME: I mean, [the USSR] did not line up on the Canadian border. And to get here, we’ve got water on both sides. And they didn’t come through Mexico. So that’s what I mean. Literally. I’m not talking figuratively, challenge us, and Mr. Khrushchev and these other guys. I’m not talking about that. That’s lobbing bombs. I’m talking about where they literally came here and we’re not fighting a country. We’re talking about crazy people that want to die.
MB: Right, but we didn’t do this, say, after the bombing of the Atlanta Olympics. And we didn’t do it after Timothy McVeigh. So what’s changed?
ME: Well, because when they had it here, and they knew that the Morrow building was an inside – the minute they got that, and identified that. When you have international terrorists – just like what went on at the Olympics in Atlanta – where they claimed that the guy did the bombing or whatever –
MB: It was not Richard Jewell.
ME: Right, it was not Richard Jewell. But, the same thing – the people that do terrorist acts, like they did on the USS Cole, the embassy in Kenya, Khobar Towers, the barracks in Beirut. They get on the phone and say “Hey, guess what I did today.” Click.
MB: [I have a rather confused look on my face]
ME: Do you understand what I’m saying? There is intelligence out there. Yes, they absolutely broadcast it as an act of service to God.
MB: But didn’t the guy that blew up bomb at the Olympics do the same thing? Eric Rudolph? He thought he was doing a service to God, too.
ME: That could have been, right, but I don’t think Eric Rudolph was an international . . .
MB: He was a domestic terrorist.
ME: Right, but it’s a different form of terrorism . . .
MB: It was “service to God.”
ME: Right, but we’re doing a review of a different form of . . . jihadists, that are coming here en masse . . .
MB: How does that threaten us more than [McVeigh and Rudolph]?
ME: We were dealing with an individual kook, and now we’re dealing with millions of people who will die . . .
MB: Are you saying that there are millions of “Islamists” who are willing to die . . .
ME: I am saying that there are millions of jihadist . . . there are millions of wonderful Muslims. As a matter of fact, my kids are Palestinian. I speak Arabic. I speak enough Farsi to make an idiot out of myself. I’ve been to the Middle East. I know it. I know the culture inside and out. I am indoctrinated in Arab culture. On the other side of that, I’ve been to the mosques. I’ve spoken to the imams. I’ve spoken to the mullahs. There are great Muslims. I’ve got tons of Muslim friends. But the difference between these people, that don’t agree with out foreign policy is, they’re not willing to die for it. They will debate and disagree. They will call us, you know, haters. They will call us all kinds of names. But they’re not willing to take it to the next level, which means, I’m willing to die for my faith. And to kill myself. See, that’s the difference.
MB: It’s a religious war?
ME: That is not Islam, that is radical Islam. They have hijacked the religion. And it’s not just one or two. You know, like the guy in Atlanta.
MB: I was just going to say – can’t you draw the parallels here? Eric Rudolph, he’d call himself a pretty good Christian, right?
ME: Yup. Eric Rudolph was an absolute fraud if you’re talking about Christianity.
MB: So, would it be fair of me to say that he’s a “radical Christian”?
ME: Yes, you would be able to say that Eric Rudolph was an absolute heretic.
MB: So why don’t we talk about these other terrorists like that, instead of saying these “fanatic Islamists”?
ME: Well, we do, there are great people that are in the Christian faith, and there are great people that practice Christianity that are absolutely whack jobs. They are great people that practice Hinduism, and there are Hindus that go out and blow up Muslims. There are great people that practice Islam, and that they say, you know what just like Christianity isn’t defined by Eric Rudolph, it’s the same thing. But it’s not Eric Rudolph, which I’m sure they determined was an individual. Ted Kaczynski was an individual. McVeigh was an individual, maybe a militia guy, one or two. Whacko. These guys put it all on there, and we’re coming to get you over and over and over again. With all the events. With the embassy, USS Cole, World Trade Center. The individual events. So they’ve got history. Now you’ve got to take extreme measures, unfortunately. Id like to be able to go to the airport like I used to in the old days and just show my drivers license and I walked in there with whatever. Those days are done based on these people who have created a situation for us, and the goal, the responsibility of the United States government is to keep you safe. That’s goal number one, at all costs.
MB: Actually, isn’t “goal number one” to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States?
[Mr. Ellmore’s answer to that and the rest of my questions will be posted in the next, and final, installment.]