I can say without fear of contradiction that I have now seen everything in the immigration reform movement.
And this time, at last, I mean for the good.
In an extraordinary event, a Republican Oklahoma State Representative Kevin Calvey has formally and publicly apologized for being wrong about introducing a state bill—which became law—to provide university tuition to illegal aliens at the same fee structure as legal residents.
Such an admission is, in my twenty years of immigration reform coverage, without precedent.
I am happy to say that Calvey's conversion began with my March 18, 2003 VDARE.COM column "Tuition Breaks For Illegals—Insults For 9/11 Families."
I wrote that one of the state representatives opposed to the tuition bill, Lance Cargill, asked Peter Gadiel, President of 9/11 Families for a Secure America to write a letter urging its defeat.
In his letter, Gadiel noted that state and federal inducements for illegal aliens are "An ocean in which terrorists hide."
But during a floor debate about the bill, Calvey mocked Gadiel by waving the letter to the audience (which included high school students who would benefit from the tuition breaks) and demanded to know who in the gallery appeared likely terrorists.
Gadiel, who lost his son James in the World Trade Center, wrote an angry letter to Calvey. Its conclusion: "the 9/11 attacks and the loss of our loved ones do not matter to you. They mean everything to us."
Now, more than three years later, Calvey is a Republican candidate for Oklahoma's Fifth Congressional District. And in April, Oklahoma resident and VDARE.COM contributor Izzy Lyman and her husband Wid heard Calvey speak out vigorously against illegal immigration.
According to Lyman, Calvey was repeatedly grilled after his speech about his tuition bill for illegals. Calvey replied to the audience that he "regretted it."
Privately, Wid Lyman suggested to Calvey that he write an apology to the 9/11 Families.
And he did. Here is it is:
"I am an Oklahoma state legislator who 3 years ago introduced a bill to allow in-state college tuition for children in the process of becoming legal residents and citizens. Or so I thought, from information given to me by Catholic Charities.
"I have found out since then that these children are only required to sign an affidavit saying they WILL seek legal residency at the earliest possibility (which is misleading, since they could go back to their home countries TODAY and apply for legal residency). In addition, upon further reflection, I think any policy that affects children of illegal aliens, even one that affects only 200 people like this tuition bill, should be repealed.
"I have been informed by Izzy and Wid Lyman that at the time the bill was under consideration, I made some comments that were offensive to some members of your group. Joe Guzzardi wrote about it on VDARE.COM. In particular, I apparently downplayed the concerns that members of your group have about national security and illegal aliens.
"Please accept my apology that my comments gave anyone the impression that your concerns are not valid. On the contrary, it is becoming increasingly clear that the criminal climate of illegal aliens, even though most may not be violent, gives cover to very dangerous terrorists and other violent criminals. Your concerns are very valid.
"I share those concerns. This year, I introduced legislation in Oklahoma, House Bill 2613, that would require everyone applying for public benefits to be ID'ed, and those that turned out to be illegal aliens to be reported to federal immigration authorities. In addition, I have supported legislation to repeal the in-state tuition provision in Oklahoma.
"I am a patriotic American, who joined the Army National Guard after the start of the Iraq War, in order to do my small part to help our nation win this War on Terror. I would like to commend your group for standing up for national security. I look forward to working with you in the future. I hope you will accept my apology.
Gadiel, expressing "deep, deep appreciation", wrote this reply to Calvey:
"To receive your email gives me a real sense of hope that we are getting our message across. It tells me a good deal about your own sense of obligation to the welfare of your constituents and your country.
There are many politicians who are on one side or the other for purely political purposes. I'd be the last one to say that every person who votes the way we'd like them to is doing so for the purest of motives.
However, it seems clear that when you offered your bill three years ago you did so from sincere conviction rather than for reasons of political expediency, and that your change of heart today is likewise because of a sincere belief. That makes your email even more meaningful to me and sets you above many other elected officials."
In an interview, I asked Calvey what factors contributed to his more vigorous stance against illegal immigration.
Calvey pointed to three things:
His discovery that, last fall, 200 students who took advantage of the in-state tuition program have not yet applied for legal residency, as they promised, but instead have merely signed an affidavit saying they will apply as soon as they can. Of course, Calvey (a lawyer) knows that the affidavit is perjury since any of them right now can go back to their home country and submit applications from there.
Calvey's other immigration opinions, he told me, include:
Speaking from the campaign trail, Calvey is sure that his immigration views reflect those of most Oklahomans.
Calvey's stance is working its way into more and more Congressional candidates, incumbents and challengers, platforms.
This is how it happens…our movement picks up a head of steam and our momentum keeps building.
There's no question about which side has the upper hand right now…we do…and it feels awfully good.
Send Calvey an e-mail to thank him for, as he puts it, "being man enough to admit when he is wrong."
Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.