Remembering Bill Buchanan

By Michael McLaughlin
Volume 26, Number 4 (Summer 2016)
Issue theme: "Islam in America"

The following remarks by the president of the American Council for Immigration Reform ANCIR President were delivered at Bill Buchanan’s funeral.


The Passing of Bill Buchanan

Bill Buchanan was our resident intellectual and scholar at the American Council for Immigration Reform (ANCIR). He has left a voluminous legacy of studies, papers, articles, and editorials on immigration issues that will continue to stand the test of time.

Last night I was rereading a brilliant article by Bill that he tried to get published in the Washington Times a few years ago. It was entitled, “Whatever Happened to Jobs? Automation, Immigration, and Joblessness” (see page 48). In only 1,137 words Bill managed to link mass immigration and automation to chronically low labor participation rates, declining wages, a growing wealth gap, and the prospect that matters will only get worse, not only in the U.S., but in the rest of the developed world. The number of jobs is not keeping pace with population growth, and good paying jobs are becoming scarcer thanks to automation and mass immigration.

Bill concluded that “Before Congress passes anything, they might want to consider that foreign workers are something we can no longer afford. Every job is precious.”

Only Bill could draw upon such disparate sources as economists Edward Wolff and Nicholas Kaldor, authors Jeremy Rifkin ( The End of Work), MIT professors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee ( Race Against the Machine), and futurist Illah Reza Nourbakhsh ( Robot Futures), and weave them into a compelling narrative to make his point.

And Bill provided this ominous, prophetic warning, “Among the entrails of the immigration argument, we find: ‘In diversity is our strength.’ A growing population faced with a declining job market will test that theory.”

Bill was also our legislative liaison, who closely monitored Congress on all immigration issues. I can recall vividly the times I, along with Bob Shoemaker, helped Bill distribute his studies to Congressional offices. We literally were running to keep up with him as he navigated the labyrinths of the various office buildings without missing a beat. Bill knew Capitol Hill like the back of his hand, and he could provide a history of the buildings, statues, etc. worthy of the best tour guide. He really loved being able to frequent the halls of Congress and he did it with a sense of awe and respect.

But Bill didn’t confine his activities to the indoors. He participated in many demonstrations around the country. I remember fondly the time we followed the McCain campaign for two weeks around Florida and South Carolina in 2008, demonstrating against the “Maverick” and driving over 3,000 miles in the process. Sometimes standing in the rain holding our signs as the McCain motorcade drove by or at his campaign stops, we were the Amnesty Truth Squad working with NumbersUSA, wearing these shirts along with vans emblazoned similarly. Sometimes it was a mixed message when we went through areas with lots of illegal aliens. When they saw “McCain equals Amnesty” on our vans they gave us a thumbs-up thinking we were part of the McCain campaign.

Bill has worked on the immigration issue for over 20 years. It has been frustrating for all us that we were unable to stop the disastrous immigration policies that are slowly destroying this country. Victories are measured by turning back each onslaught of amnesty, but the other side has been winning the war—until now. Immigration has now become the centerpiece in this Presidential campaign. And just as we have predicted, immigration can be a winning issue for those who know how to use it. The American people are against amnesty and the constant, unending flow of permanent immigrants and guest workers. Just this March a poll commissioned by management consulting firm, A.T. Kearney, for Bloomberg News, said that, “Sixty-one percent of Americans agree that ‘continued immigration into the country jeopardizes the United States.’”

From the article: “A belief that immigration jeopardizes the U.S. was common across age groups, although highest among baby boomers (65 percent) and lowest among millennials (55 percent). By education, it was highest among those with just a high school education or some college (65 percent), and by region it was highest in the South, including Texas (66 percent).

The article goes on, “The degree of concern is remarkable considering that the question was about all immigration, including the legal kind.” The only thing remarkable is why it took so long.

I wish Bill could have stayed with us a little longer to see how this all turns out. Bill was convinced that we could attract more African-Americans to our side and he never stopped trying. He personally got us involved in the D.C. mayoral campaign. We went into the 8th ward to interview African-Americans who had been hurt by immigration. It was depressing, especially since the Congressional Black Caucus is willing to sell out the very people they claim to represent.

The immigration issue has spawned an industry on both sides. Although the pro-amnesty, more foreign workers crowd is much better funded than our side, we have our own professional groups with paid staffs. ANCIR is not one of them.

ANCIR consists of unpaid volunteers. Bill labored in the vineyards often, using his personal funds. He did so out of passion and patriotism. Every so often we have made a difference.

During the 2013 fight over the Gang of Eight bill that had passed the Senate, ANCIR used its contacts in Virginia to get involved in the Eric Cantor primary race with Dave Brat. We knew the people in the Brat campaign, providing them information on the issue of immigration. And we had several exchanges of emails with Brat himself on the subject. In addition, we were able to cobble together funds to target 40,000 Republicans in Cantor’s district with robocalls, exposing Cantor’s plans on a Dreamer amnesty. We played a small part in pulling off one of the greatest political upsets in recent American political history. Little did we know how significant it was until Jeff Sessions credited Cantor’s loss with stopping the Gang of Eight bill in the House. He described it this way in an interview with radio host, Mark Levin:

Sessions noted that the special interests behind the Gang of Eight “had spent a billion dollars over a number of years — this group did — to pass this bill. It was designed; they had a campaign — like a presidential campaign to move it to passage. People went on TV — went in our living rooms — telling us Republicans that we needed to vote for this thing and pass it. It was a big money deal.”

“If it hadn’t been for Cantor’s defeat, according to an NPR report recently, now Speaker of the House Ryan had the votes to get it passed…He [Cantor] was defeated in his own primary over immigration, and that’s what stopped it at the last minute. It almost passed.”

Levin pressed Sessions to clarify further: “So Rep. Dave Brat’s defeat of Eric Cantor outside of Richmond sent a message — and a tsunami message — that got the attention of House Republicans, correct?” Levin asked.

“That is correct,” Sessions said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.”

Bill Buchanan invested a good portion of his life fighting a battle on behalf of his country, selflessly and tirelessly. He wrote, “History is replete with the carcasses of empires, nations, and city-states that failed to ‘get it right’ on the issue of immigration. After five decades of grossly misguided immigration policy, this may be our nation’s last chance to ‘get it right.’ We owe it to our children and future generations.”

Bill never gave up and neither will we. It has been an honor to call Bill a friend. He was a true patriot and will be missed greatly.

To paraphrase Saint Paul, “You have fought the good fight, you have finished the race, you have kept the faith.” Rest in peace, Bill.

About the author

Michael McLaughlin is president of the American Council for Immigration Reform (ANCIR).