Party: Make defense
of borders priority

By Jon Dougherty

Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress and the White House have failed to learn the lessons of Sept. 11 and instead are intent on adopting policies that will do nothing to enhance the nation’s security, especially on the borders, say officials with the America First Party.

Lawmakers and the Bush administration have “used the events of that day to promote and implement policies they say will secure our safety and freedom, but instead diminish our freedom and do little to enhance security,” said national party Chairman Dan Charles.

Specifically, Charles said party members have “expressed grave concern” over aspects of legislation currently being debated in Congress that would create a Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security.

“This bill grants draconian powers, which attack the very freedoms for which generations of Americans fought and died,” Charles said in a statement.

Charles acknowledged that national leaders had an obligation to protect Americans “against those who would attack this nation.” But he said Congress and the president were not doing enough to guard against potential terrorist threats coming across the porous U.S. borders.

“A closer scrutiny of the hordes of people entering our country has not been attempted, while infringement on the privacy of Americans has been increased to a frightening level,” he said.

Addressing Bush directly, Charles advised the president to “not get involved in an undeclared war” against Iraq, but instead focus more attention to defending U.S. borders.

“Mr. President, political correctness has undermined the responsibility of the government to protect its citizens,” said Charles. “Power lust has undermined the responsibility to defend our freedoms … defend our borders.”

Some lawmakers also have admonished the White House to concentrate on securing the nation’s borders before launching new attacks against Iraq, which administration officials say would be designed to dethrone Saddam Hussein.

“President Bush [has] pledged to the American people that he will seek congressional approval before he takes action against Iraq and attempts to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein,” Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., said at a Washington conference on immigration sponsored by the Federation for American Immigration Reform Sept. 5.

“I stand here today to emphasize that before we contemplate engaging in a war against Iraq, we must secure and protect our own borders,” he said. “The security of Americans on our home front should be first and foremost. …”

Last year, lawmakers passed a bill that ostensibly created a more security-conscious border and immigration system, but Tancredo criticized it as largely ineffective.

The bill allows “terrorists to waltz right through the front door of America” and “leaves our nation dangerously exposed” for several years, he said, adding that the full implementation of the reforms is not required until fiscal year 2005.

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