Reflections on Border and Internal Security Battles - An exclusive interview with Robert H. Goldsborough

By Peter Gemma
Volume 22, Number 2 (Winter 2011-2012)
Issue theme: "AAAS - American Association for the Advancement of Silence?"

For more than 50 years, Robert Goldsborough has been involved in the  immigration reform movement, particularly the vital link between protected borders and national security. He was appointed by Congressman Francis Walter (D-PA) as a staff investigator for the House Committee on Un-American Activities, served as a speech writer for Gov. Louis Nunn (R) of Kentucky, and has headed up national organizations opposing illegal immigration from the mid-1960s until today. TSC Contributing Editor Peter Gemma recently interviewed Mr. Goldsborough.

TSC: Bob, it’s so nice to get re-acquainted with an old friend and veteran activist. In the late 1950s, you worked with Congressman Francis Walter, who co-authored the important McCarran-Walter Immigration Act. Tell me about that legislation and the fight to get it enacted.


Robert Goldsborough holds Riley, his West Highland White Terrier, the Scottish breed commonly known as a “Westie,” in the den of his Baltimore home, January 13, 2012.

RG: Senator Pat McCarran of Nevada, chairman of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, and Pennsylvania Congressman Francis Walter, chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, sponsored the legislation. The McCarran-Walter Act moved away from immigration based upon country of origin. Instead it focused on those who were willing and able to assimilate into the U.S. economic, social, and political structures. That changed how immigration law was handled. The 1952 Act set a total quota of about 155,000 persons each year -- the figure was based on one sixth of 1 percent of the number of persons in the U.S. in 1920 and who traced their origins to a specific country. Half of each quota was first for certain groups whose skills and services were needed, 20 percent for spouses and children of permanent resident aliens, 30 percent for parents of adult American citizens, brothers, sisters, and adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. Other immigrants could come in on unused portions of the required quotas. Non-quota immigrants and refugees increased total annual immigrant numbers to approximately 300,000 per year. The Act established a preference system that determined which ethnic groups were desirable immigrants and placed great importance on labor qualifications. President Harry Truman vetoed the bill, but Congress overrode the President’s veto by large margins in both the House and Senate. Congress did so partly to ensure the enactment of the bill’s domestic security provisions. McCarran-Walter authorized the deportation of any alien who engaged or had purpose to engage in activities prejudicial to the public interest or subversive to national security. We understood then that the solution of the problems of Europe and Asia would not come through a transplanting of those problems en masse to the United States.

TSC: The McCarran-Walter Immigration Act has been amended many times and was modified substantially by the Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965. That’s about the time you served as President of the American Committee on Immigration Policies (ACIP). That group was involved in fighting the changes in the McCarran Act -- what were the issues at stake then?


RG: ACIP’s strategy was to block the 1965 liberal bill with a filibuster. We had 13 senators on our side. Judge Richard Arens, who drafted the 1952 Act, and I wrote all of the three and a half hour filibuster speeches. At the last minute, Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina made a deal with the White House and refused to filibuster. He sent a note to Senator Strom Thurmond who showed it to us. Ervin rendered the filibuster impossible. The rumored deal was that if Ervin pulled out of the opposition, the White House would promise no Democratic opponent would run against him in a primary. The most dramatic effect of the legislation was to shift immigration from Europe to Asia and Central and South America. Those constituencies who still have difficulties assimilating -- as the those of us in opposition warned. It set the U.S. on an entirely different course, away from the American majority’s unique historical and cultural inheritance.


TSC: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think various amendments to the McCarran Act were also passed in 1965 that introduced the idea of chain migration --foreigners already here sponsoring their relatives from overseas. That’s an issue which seems to come from todays’ newspapers, but you must have fought hard against such radical changes when they first came to fruition.


Bob Golsborough points to a framed ancestral chart of his family tree, a meticulously detailed lineage of the Goldsboroughs impressively chronicled by his brother. The family chart takes up a sizable portion of a wall in his home. The Golsboroughs were one of the five founding families which settled in Maryland in the 1600s. The genealogical record of the Goldsboroughs predates the founding of the Republic by more than 100 years.

RG: The 1965 Act and its riders abolished the national origins quota system which had promoted assimilation. President Lyndon Johnson said it was not a “revolutionary” bill. However, the legislation flung open the door to unskilled workers in occupations if there was an “insufficient labor supply” -- a caveat that encouraged greedy business interests to recruit low-earning immigrants to take the jobs of employed Americans. The influx of immigrants ended up being three and four times what the supporters predicted. The liberals deceived America on the idea that the legislation was simply meant to eliminate the national origins quota system, not to increase immigration. It would lower the barriers of discrimination. But we contended from the start that the bill did not eliminate national and racial discrimination from our immigration laws, but only instituted a new form of discrimination against our traditional immigrant groups. Assimilation was fundamental in that fight -- and we lost.


TSC: I had to do some research before we got together, and I found this quote from Senator Ted Kennedy: “The bill [the Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965] will not flood our cities with immigrants. It will not upset the ethnic mix of our society. It will not relax the standards of admission. It will not cause American workers to lose their jobs.” Yeah, right. That must bring back some memories.

Bob Goldsborough stands next to the family crest and motto, Non Sibi, “Not for Self,” in the staircase of his Baltimore home.

RG: Yes, it was the Kennedy-led fight for the radical changes in America’s immigration policies that drastically reduced quotas for the Irish, British, and other Northern and Western European nations. His Irish-American supporters in Massachusetts should have rebelled but didn’t. Kennedy was the floor manager for the bill that ended the system of the decades-old -- and successful -- assimilation policies and ushered in the era of ethnic power groups. I believe it eventually paved the way for Barack Obama’s presidential victory.


TSC: Sometimes when discussing the fight against illegal immigration, we get mired down in doom-and-gloom. Tell me about some victories and some of the leaders you worked with who inspired you.


RG: The defeat of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill in George W. Bush’s second term was a major victory. Congressional switchboards were flooded with calls from irate citizens opposed to the ultra-liberal McCain-Kennedy legislation. It was amnesty for illegal aliens plain and simple. A majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives opposed the bill, and it fell 14 votes short in the Senate. I remember news media headlines like “Bush crestfallen.” It was a defeat of the cheap-labor lobby. Bush was really caught off guard -- he was so sure that it would pass that he actually had offered to take in 100,000 Palestinian refugees as American citizens if there was some sort of permanent agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Unbelievable. The legislation gave illegal aliens an open door to full citizenship at taxpayer expense.


TSC: I suppose you take little solace about being right in predicting dire circumstances, but by the start of the 1970s the number of illegal aliens had doubled or even tripled since 1965. The illegal immigrant population was estimated to be over one million. President Carter finally enacted employer sanctions for hiring illegal immigrants and provided slightly better border security -- but he also supported amnesty for illegal aliens. It seems like we were taking two steps back for one step forward.


RG: The employer sanctions bill alone could have passed according to the Minority Counsel on the Senate Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee. Our organization, Americans for Immigration Control, helped lead the opposition to the legislation -- the one that included amnesty -- but another group was suckered into supporting it. It passed with the amnesty clause which liberal senators promised would be a one and only time amnesty. The naïve believed the liars. Neither Carter nor any other president has authorized adequate security on our southern border. It is estimated that over 60 percent of illegal aliens in the U.S. are Mexicans. And most do not want to assimilate.


TSC: Now let’s jump ahead to the 1980s. You were working with Americans for Immigration Control -- you now serve as its President -- tell me about the organization.


Bob Goldsborough served as an assistant to Kentucky Gov. Louie B. Nunn (1967-1971). Gov. Nunn Commissioned Goldsborough as a Kentucky Colonel on June 10, 1968.
RG: AIC was founded in the early 1980s by Palmer Stacy, who was at the the time chief counsel for a U.S. Senator. AIC is a non-partisan nationwide organization open to all U.S. citizens regardless of race, creed, color, etc. We lobby for reducing legal immigration to traditional levels of no more than 250,000 self-supporting immigrants per year, ending all federal public assistance to non-citizens except emergency health care, repealing federal bilingual education programs and bilingual balloting, and cutting foreign aid and deployment of U.S. troops abroad to fund immigration enforcement. Our first duty is to protect our own nation and its people. Period.


TSC: By 1986, the total illegal alien population was estimated to be five million, and Congress again tinkered with the Immigration Reform and Control Act. A few more sanctions against hiring illegals were set in place but more than 2.7 million illegal aliens living in America were granted amnesty. That was in the heyday of the Conservative movement, yet President Ronald Reagan signed the legislation. How did that happen?


RG: Reagan admitted years later that it was the biggest mistake he made while president. He was deceived into believing that the amnesty would be a one-time-only amnesty and would solve the illegal alien problem. The grand bargain was supported by the leaders of the Republican-controlled Senate and the leaders of the Democrat-controlled House. I believe that Senator Simpson of Wyoming, a so-called conservative, and Attorney General Ed Meese helped sell Reagan on the disastrous move. Ted Kennedy and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Peter Rodino were pushing hard for passage. That should have sent off loud alarm bells in the White House. The bill was very complicated -- 100 pages long. It provided for four separate alien legalization programs. Some provisions stipulated that illegal aliens did not have to meet any English-speaking or civics requirements to get a green card, and some classifications even allowed aliens to apply from outside the country. It eventually granted amnesty to three million illegal immigrants, probably more. I mean, how do you count people who hide from the law? It was wrong to let millions of illegals remain here and take jobs from American workers, and doubly wrong to believe it would be a one-time-only deal.


TSC: I suppose that would be like a “one-time-only” tax increase — such promises come back to bite you time and again. Since the 1990s, one new development that has empowered the open borders lobby has been “free trade” treaties such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Of course they have nothing to do with free trade -- they’re managed trade deals giving multi-national corporate elites favors, exceptions, and precedence. Tell me how such trade and financing arrangements impact American workers.

RG: A key provision in these agreements can be found in the fine print -- NAFTA was a thousand pages long -- and it’s something call an H1B or L1 license. This particular visa program originated with the 1970 Immigration and Nationality Act. It allows American companies to recruit foreign workers for certain specialty jobs. The foreign workers are supposed to stay one to three years, but that can be extended by their employer to six years. About half of these people stay three years. Most members of Congress had no idea that the 1995 World Trade Organization treaty included provisions that guaranteed the U.S. would provide access for foreign workers for up to 65,000 H1B visas per year. India has 30,000 nationals working here right now. And by the way, these foreigners get paid less money than the prevailing wage for American workers because they just need to get what they would earn in their homeland for the job. Not only are we sending jobs off-shore, but Washington is giving “in-shore” training to this special class of visa holders so they can take new skills with them to teach the workforce back in their home countries to compete against the U.S. It’s a vicious circle.


TSC: Bob, what’s your honest assessment of where our country stands today. I know there are tens of millions of illegal aliens living here, and the border with Mexico is pathetically porous. But we do have states like Alabama, Arizona, and Kansas successfully enacting legislation at the local and state level which protects their citizens from the impact of illegal immigration. Does the good news outweigh the bad?


RG: Obama has Attorney General Eric Holder filing suits left and right against various states to stop them from doing what the federal government can’t or won’t do to stem the tide of the illegal alien invasion. I know Indiana went all the way to the Supreme Court in a case of voter ID and won. All the usual suspects, from the ACLU to the professional ethnic lobbyists, were on one side, but Indiana won the right to ensure elections are secure from illegal aliens by requiring voters to have a photo ID at the polls. States like Alabama have some tough new laws and they’ve actually won the court challenges to keep important parts of the legislation in place. I said important parts -- not all restrictions and requirements are protected from meddling judges. The Obama administration is attacking the rights of states on how they handle the illegal alien threat along a number of fronts, and they have lots of resources -- especially our tax money. The Supreme Court holds the key to many questions of how far states will be allowed to protect their citizens. Congress lost its will to fight the larger battle: the greatest threat to U.S. homeland security comes from illegals who enter the country. It is all too easy for illegal aliens to slip in beneath the radar -- never being detected and deported. And that’s not to mention the well-armed Mexican drug cartels who are spreading their war from South of the border into Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. National security is the duty of the federal government, not the responsibility of the states. The same security issues at stake with the McCarran-Walter Immigration Act are still vital today -- more so in light of the 9/11 attacks.


TSC: Well, this has been very rewarding -- your background and record are most helpful in keeping things in perspective. Any final thoughts?


RG: It’s election time -- throw the bums out!

About the author

Peter Gemma  is a columnist with  Middle American News and has been published widely, including USA Today, The, The Quarterly Review (England),  and Military History magazine.