Sound Judgments
Sound Judgments with Will Loconto
The Border Crisis and the American Dream
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The Border Crisis and the American Dream

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As Chuck Schumer said in 2009, "Illegal immigration is wrong, plain and simple." With our own immigrant families, we believe America is still a welcoming country,  but there is a right way to do it.

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This is from a previous Pushback.us podcast episode but is very relevant today, given the continuing issues with border security and immigration policies.

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Transcript

Will Loconto:

I'm Will Loconto, and I'm back with my partner in crime, Cindy Bass. We're here to talk about immigration, the border crisis, illegal and legal immigration. You might think we'd start off speaking about illegal immigration, but actually we're going to talk about legal immigration at first, and I want to begin with an American dream story who also happens to be my father, Pat Loconto, and will let him speak in his own words.

Pat Loconto:

I have always had a great desire to be the best. How did I get that way? Well, the truth is that as a child, my parents expected me to be the best. I was one of three sons of immigrant parents. In her attempt to learn the English language to obtain her US citizenship, my mother attended night school. Because she couldn't leave me at home, I was only three years old, she took me with her, and as a result, I learned to read and write before I entered kindergarten. I skipped the second and fifth grades, and I graduated number two in my class at the ripe old age of 11. By that time, my parents had singled me out as "the smart son," the one who must go to college so that my life would be easier and more enjoyable than theirs. My scholastic achievement became expected and even taken for granted. I can still recall a degree of disappointment because I was only number two in my class, and the way I respected my parents, I was a little disappointed too. I just wouldn't let them down again.

I went on to graduate from high school in three years, was awarded a Ford Foundation Scholarship, and hit the concrete jungle of New York City to attend the only Ivy League school with no Ivy. I was 15 years old and away from home and family for the first time in my life. During my four years at Columbia, I learned more about life and people than I did about history, calculus, or physics. I learned more from people than I did from books. I learned that my classmates at Columbia were as smart, and many were smarter than me. I learned that a 128 pound 15-year-old couldn't play football against 220-pound 19-year-olds. I learned that broken hearts hurt more than broken limbs but that they heal faster. I learned that a 15 year old boy is in no position to choose a career. I learned the importance of the balance between required between academic achievement and social maturity. I also learned that in all the transactions of life that I had encountered, it was not important where you started, what was important, is where you finished.

Will Loconto:

So that's my dad. He went from sweeping a barbershop for 5 cents a day to becoming the CEO of Deloitte Consulting. Truly an American dream story. The son of immigrants who came through Ellis Island, his father worked in coal mines. His mother took him to English class with her at night. When he was three years old, his parents pushed him to succeed. He was the first in his family to go to college, graduating from Columbia University. He was very successful. They pushed him to succeed, and he was a wonderful man. I miss him a lot, but he's a great story, great example of an immigrant family living the American dream and the pursuit of success and the pursuit of happiness.

Cindy Bass:

You are an immigrant family. Yes. And you're proud of it?

Will Loconto:

Very proud. My family on my dad's side came from Italy in 1917. My kids are half Cuban ethnically. They were born here, but very, very multicultural heritage. Very proud of it.

Cindy Bass:

Multilingual family.

Will Loconto:

Yes. The kids speak different languages,

Cindy Bass:

And so my family came from France. You came through, your family came through Ellis Island, New York and mine came through Louisiana and settled in Texas. It's really, really important that as listeners, that we both are immigrant families. They worked hard and like you said, the American dream, they wanted to do it the right way. It's wonderful and it works. What's happening in our country right now is not working, and it's overwhelming our country, and it's putting a burden on our country and our taxpayers

Will Loconto:

And it's unsustainable.

Cindy Bass:

Correct.

Will Loconto:

The true issue that we have at the border, the morality binary that they try to promote to everybody is the humanity of it. The idea that everybody has to be helped because it's the humane thing to do, and we understand it. We sympathize with it. I have empathy for people who pack all of their stuff up to try to move to a better life just like my grandparents did. I do have empathy for it. However, the practicality, the reality, the burden, the stress, the economic cost is immeasurable. The strain on public services, schools, hospitals,

Cindy Bass:

Law enforcement,

Will Loconto:

Law enforcement, everything is an unsustainable situation. We are a welcoming country. We should be a welcoming country. We can't let everyone in the entire world come to be a citizen of the United States,

Cindy Bass:

And we can't accommodate everyone.

Will Loconto:

We can't, and being a citizen of the United States is a privilege. More people need to look at it that way, that it's a privilege to be a citizen of the United States. It matters. The government of the United States should be treating citizens of the United States as more important than non-citizens. The policies of the United States should focus on the citizens of the United States, protecting the citizens of the United States, protecting the jobs of the citizens of the United States, protecting the businesses of the people of the United States. There is a legal process to come to the country. I have many friends that are immigrants from all different countries that came to America. They love America. They became citizens. They did it the right way. They went through the process, and honestly, it's both awesome and sad that my friends who immigrated to this country, many of them love this country more than a lot of people that are born here.

Cindy Bass:

Yeah,

Will Loconto:

That's true. And they respect this country more than a lot of people.

Cindy Bass:

Where are some of them from?

Will Loconto:

Israel, Brazil, Mexico, Greece, a lot of different ones.

Cindy Bass:

I have some from Africa, Afghanistan, Mexico, Peru. Family all came in the right way.

And obviously, family is Italian. My family is Italian and Cuban, and extremely proud of that. But they are also more proud to be Americans than they are to be ethnically wherever they're from.

Yes,

Will Loconto:

That should almost be a prerequisite of being an American citizen, is that the pride in the country and the pride in the pride in the American ideal and the pursuit of happiness and the pursuit of individual freedom. And there's a reason why so many people in the world want to come here, but as I said earlier, it's unsustainable to let everyone in and when we have to prioritize who's coming versus who prioritize certain people who get in versus others, that it doesn't make sense for it to be necessarily a random chance of who gets in. So they have asylum laws where somebody can come and request asylum to get into the country. Generally, the rule says if you are being persecuted politically, then you or a fear of harm, politically, retribution, things like that, such as the people coming from Afghanistan that worked with the United States. Obviously staying in Afghanistan is physically dangerous to them and their family, and they would be prime candidates for asylum.

Cindy Bass:

But not economical.

Will Loconto:

No, an economic reason is not an asylum reason. There is no economic, just because you come from a poor country, just because you were born in a poor country doesn't mean that you should have the right to come in here. And somebody that's going to say, well, what about your grandparents? Well, at the time, my grandparents came and did it the right way. Whether it takes one year, two years, five years, eight years, it can be done because I have a long list of friends that have done it, done it the right way. It is irresponsible for the border to be essentially open and by essentially open, what I mean is if the border patrol apprehends people coming in and then lets them go into the country that's essentially letting them go. And most of those people do not return for an immigration hearing at all, and it's ludicrous. It's insulting to the public that they say, we're just going to let them out and tell them to come back in six months or a year for a hearing to determine if their asylum claim is valid. 99% of those asylum claims are invalid and would be denied

Cindy Bass:

When they come over the border. They get fingerprinted. I don't know that. How do they keep up with criminals in other countries and what kind of databases do they have, if they have any? I don't know how they really communicate with our American databases, but I feel like that they could be a predator or anything coming right in and like you said, let go.

Will Loconto:

Well, they're unvetted.

Cindy Bass:

Unvetted. Yeah,

Will Loconto:

That's a good word. They have to be unvetted because the current encounter numbers at the border, they have 7,000 illegal alien encounters every day on the southern border.

Cindy Bass:

I also read in April that the total month encounters was 234,088

Will Loconto:

80 month. Well, and when you look at those numbers in the context when Trump was president and telegraph the message that we're going to send people back if they try to come across the border, the level of immigrant illegal aliens trying to come across dropped completely, almost to just a tiny fraction of what it is now

Cindy Bass:

Because there wasn't an invitation.

Will Loconto:

There wasn an invitation and anybody wants to see that invitation that about what's happening now. You can go back to the democratic debate where Joe Biden actually said he encourages the migrants to rush to the border the day after he is sworn into office. He encouraged them to rush to the border. It's an unsustainable path for the country, and I get a number of people arguing that what's the humane alternative? Well, the humane alternative is first of all, setting it up so that they don't just get lost into our country because that's a responsibility to our citizens. And then the other part of it is at some point, this humanity part of it, the government of the United States responsibility must end at some point. It there's a responsibility also on these people who choose to come across and try to come into the country when they know there's a chance that they're not going to make it in and they're not going to get in. And of course you feel bad for all of the people that are victimized by traffickers and drug cartels. But again, this is something where the numbers just bear out impracticality and sometimes policies need to be made based on numbers and not based on humanity and saving a life or a number of lives, and we can't save everybody.

Cindy Bass:

Well, my personal opinion is at the border and that this doesn't mean humanity or that I wouldn't save someone or that I don't love all people, but I take Americans first and whatever happens to them, how it affects them matters first. And if I was on the border, I would be looking at all the people trying to come in as, you're not my people yet. You can be. Here's how you do it, and you're going to do it this way and the legal way, and we're going to know who you are. You're going to follow our rules. Then when they get here, just like your friends and mine, they thrive and they have families and businesses and they're wonderful, but just like us, we wouldn't go to another country and expect them to let us in and put us in a chartered private jet to our, give us destination.

Will Loconto:

Give us a debit card, put us in a hotel.

Cindy Bass:

Cell phones,

Will Loconto:

Give us a cell phone. That's almost ludicrous to think about. It

Cindy Bass:

Is, and that I was reading about that International Organization for Migration, which is a un agency. They say that they're over there on the other side of the border distributing those debit cards. They're $400 loaded on the card. That's prior to coming to or through the border to America. They're given $400 a piece to use, and it says so that it makes their experience easier. What the like Yes,

Will Loconto:

Borders are. There's a reason that there's a border there. We've talked about the manipulation of language before, and this is one of those big things with immigration where people will talk about illegal aliens in the US code illegal aliens is the term, right? Because they are breaking the law coming across the border without permission. That's a crime period. The first crime is a misdemeanor. If you do it again, it's a felony. Those are crimes. They should be prosecuted. People should be held accountable for breaking the law, softening it up by calling them undocumented workers. Migrants a migrant makes it sound like they're some itinerant worker that works in Mexico half the year and then comes through the border to California to pick grapes.

Cindy Bass:

It almost sounds like birds migrating. Yes.

Will Loconto:

Well, it's trying to soften this whole question of,

Cindy Bass:

Yeah, we were looking at the words how they have evolved, and we started with illegal alien, undocumented immigrant, undocumented worker, unaccompanied minors, immigrants, and this is the woke language, and I was reading and we were laughing about it is a word now that they're using in the White House is irregular migration.

Will Loconto:

Irregular migration. That's the idea that migration is some normal thing and a cross border migration is some normalization, normalized thing that isn't issue is part of that agenda. What they're trying to do is say the irregular migration that by calling it migration, they're trying to soften the blow destigmatize, the illegal alienness of it and get more, nor it's not even getting more sympathy for it. It's normalizing the idea that we shouldn't consider crossing that border a crime

Cindy Bass:

Because Biden wants open borders.

Will Loconto:

I don't figured out really yet why they want to. I'm not a hundred percent sure I buy in. I don't buy into the replacement theory thing that they just want Democrat voters to come in. I think it's different than that. I think it's more of a woke social justice equity agenda. I don't think it has as much to do with how they're going to vote when they come in.

Cindy Bass:

I disagree

Will Loconto:

Because I don't think that believe that replacement theory is actually a real thing.

Cindy Bass:

I do.

Will Loconto:

Can you elaborate on it?

Cindy Bass:

No, I'm just saying it's my opinion that when they open the border, these people are going to come in and I wouldn't say every one of them would vote a certain way, but I would say at least 75% of 'em are going to vote the

Will Loconto:

Way in those 7,000 a day, 7,000 encounters a day. Those are just the ones that get caught. I mean, I would imagine there's two or three times that amount every day that well at least double that don't get caught. Right. I would imagine,

Cindy Bass:

And the burden that puts on our, we can go on and on and on about this, but the real problem is the burden it puts on every aspect of America is in New York, wasn't it? New York that is giving Medicaid to illegals that are over 65, that Scott to be because they don't have social security coming in or benefits like that,

Will Loconto:

But it's also normalizing people that are illegally here to stay.

Cindy Bass:

It's giving them the way I believe in deterrence. I

Will Loconto:

Believe a wall would've been a good deterrent.

Cindy Bass:

A wall is a deterrent, and I believe in a wall. I believe in deterrence

Will Loconto:

And Trump actually proved though you don't even really need the physical wall if they know they're going back. If

Cindy Bass:

The invitation is, and

Will Loconto:

Then the crazier part of it is that what else is coming across the southern border? Because when you look at it, we were seeing with the Ukraine war, they were seeing two to 300 Ukrainians a day coming through the Mexican border into the United States illegally, 200 to 300 a day Ukrainians, so there are people from all over the world somehow managing to get to Mexico and then coming up through the southern border to illegally enter the United States.

Cindy Bass:

Yeah. Who's getting them from the Ukraine area to the Mexican border and

Will Loconto:

Well, they're groups that do that. They're groups that fund these gigantic caravans that come from Central and South America,

Cindy Bass:

And that's wonderful because that's truly a crisis. That is true asylum, in my opinion. Well, from

Will Loconto:

The U Ukraine, yes,

Cindy Bass:

From the Ukraine, from a

Will Loconto:

War zone. That's different. I'm a war zone. Again, that's like with Afghanistan, the people that worked with the US military. Yes. They have a case to be made to to be brought here,

Cindy Bass:

And that's an emergency.

Will Loconto:

Yep, no problem with that at all. No, and so it's crazy, but not even when we're talking about immigration. We leave out the drugs, the drug cartels, the fentanyl

Cindy Bass:

That we were just reading also, that our government was wanting to say that fentanyl is a weapon of mass destruction. They want to call it that. I disagree with that personally. I think it's just a drug, not just a drug. It's one of the worst that's ever been, but that's clearly coming from Mexico.

Will Loconto:

Yes.

Cindy Bass:

It's identified as coming from Mexico.

Will Loconto:

Well, and the crazy part on a little bit about that is that because it's politically incorrect to militarize the southern border of our country, I don't understand. People were laughing at a comment that came out that said that Trump had said something about hitting drug cartels with missiles, and everybody laughed about it, thought it was the stupidest thing ever, and I don't know that it would be a stupid thing. I don't know that if it was something other than drugs, if it was weapons, if it was something else, I don't know that we would hesitate to go in and blow it out of there, but militarizing the southern border might be the best thing that we could do. The border patrol is overwhelmed and the federal government is refusing to spend the money that's required. As a matter of fact, we had just saw that they cut the budget on enforcement at the southern border and expanded the budget by 80% on illegal alien care.

Cindy Bass:

It was 700% increase for non-citizen processing in care, which is just care.

Will Loconto:

Yes. That's not enforcement of anything. Again, it comes back to that, the idea that as far as the American government is concerned, the priority of the American government should always be the American citizen

Cindy Bass:

And protecting them

Will Loconto:

And protecting them

Cindy Bass:

And protecting

Will Loconto:

Their interests, their businesses, their infrastructure, their hospitals, their schools. The fact that you have to have X number of bilingual teachers to accommodate kids that don't speak English. So why don't we make us,

Cindy Bass:

I should say that I was a teacher in high school and I was horrified that they brought a child in that spoke no English into my class. She sat there, she didn't know what was going on

Will Loconto:

In the middle of the year, right.

Cindy Bass:

In the Yes. And the kids around. If I told a little joke or the kids started laughing, she wouldn't know what the joke was or if we were even laughing at her. I mean, she just didn't know anything, and I had to try to translate everything that I was telling her individually, and it took, which slowed down the class. It took away from the class, and I'm not saying that it was just unfair to the kids that were in the class to her, it's unfair to her, but then I believe that when she or her family comes into the United States, that her first concern would be to learn our language, and even if it's our

Will Loconto:

Language, even if that meant a full immersion class, that the only thing she does is learn English,

Cindy Bass:

Full immersion works, and that's what they need to do as soon as they come here to learn our language.

Will Loconto:

Well, and these, that's the other thing is these problems are actually addressable. There are common sense solutions to these problems. There is, but a lot of people don't want to focus on any of that because they have an agenda to push and are afraid to offend anybody. Everything isn't okay. Everything doesn't need to be funded. We can't save everybody. The government of the United States can't help every single person on the planet. Things need to be prioritized, but again, that priority should start at home. I think that applies to foreign aid as well. There's a lot of money that goes out to all these other countries that maybe shouldn't be. We have enough problems here that we need to fix 40 billion that went to Ukraine. I wonder how much the wall would've cost if it and stepped up enforcement on the southern border because it, it's one of those things where if they signaled stepped up enforcement, the numbers would go down because that is how it works.

Cindy Bass:

And I've talked to law enforcement myself personally. Everyone knows that as soon as they come over the borders, they get a fake id. And these fake IDs, I was a previous bar owner, some of these IDs are just as good as the official. They're passing everywhere.

Will Loconto:

Even in the government entities, they're passing Yes,

Cindy Bass:

Fake documents, get in and get social security, get benefits. You haven't paid a diamond and they wonder how things go broke or that we could pay all of our life into social security and then not have it in the future. Wonder why you're giving benefits to people that haven't paid into it. And another thing is the danger in all this, it is so dangerous. I have a friend that has a thousand acre ranch down in south Texas and the other ranchers down there, not getting into the gun thing again, but they have to protect their land, and the illegals are coming through, drug cartels are coming through, they're laying

Will Loconto:

On, human traffickers are

Cindy Bass:

Coming through. Human traffickers are coming through, and it's so dangerous. I was reading an article where Biden discontinued the use of ankle monitors on illegals as a tracking device because the advocates insisted that it was humiliating and uncomfortable. Wow. I'm saying when you commit a crime, you can have an ankle monitor drug people can have, well, that's

Will Loconto:

Ankle monitors. Right. The idea that, well, you don't want to stigmatize people, but they committed a crime

Cindy Bass:

When they come out of prison like a drug person, they go to a halfway house, they're ankle monitored. Well, where are the advocates to say that it's uncomfortable to them or humiliating, because that is humiliating. Right.

Will Loconto:

But I'd argue it should be humiliating because you committed a crime

Cindy Bass:

For them and the illegals committed a crime. Yes, they did. They came over illegally. So you get a ankle monitor that way we can track you and make sure that you come to the hearings and that either you get to the process,

Will Loconto:

It ensures that you're going to do it the right way,

Cindy Bass:

And if something happens bad, you get taken out of the country. It reminds me of this story that I wonder if people even think about the insurance. Just insurance. We know that if we have a storm and our house gets damaged, our insurance goes up, usually our car

Will Loconto:

Wrecks. Yes. And here in Texas, one of the largest incidents that happens is wrecks. And the person at fault turns out to be an illegal alien that has no insurance, has no driver's license, but was driving a car. Anyway, so

Cindy Bass:

That happened to me and the illegal guy, he was drunk, no driver's license. It wasn't his car, and there was no insurance, and it caused a really bad wreck. We chased him down and finally got the police there. They got him out and they arrested him. The officer looked at me and said, ma'am, you're just going to have to file this on your uninsured motorist. You're not going to get anything. He's illegal. And I said, well, you are taking him back to Mexico and deporting him. And they said, I don't know. He'll probably get released because it costs so much money to do this deportation, and I can't imagine how much money that would cost and manpower. But when he hit me, I looked at him and I said, I am not going to have my insurance rates go up, and that's not going to come out of my pocket.

He is going to pay for it. And the officer laughed at me and said, yeah. Right. So I found that as a challenge, and I did some little work finding out that he falsified the report and then I did a little surveillance and found out where he lived, saw the car that was damaged and got someone to translate to him that he better have my money by the next Friday X amount. It wasn't any more than what the damage was. And I said, I'll be here next Friday at five. Have me my cash to fix my car. Low and behold, I came back the next Friday and I got my money. And that's a story I tell a lot, but it was awful what he did to me, and he came into this country illegally and caused me monetary loss.

Will Loconto:

No, that's a real loss. Yeah, that's a real loss. And it could have killed you.

Cindy Bass:

It could have killed me. And I am very serious about this, and I was not going to have it come out of my pocket. I didn't care what happened. He was going to pay for it. I was challenged to do that, and I got it. But you know, think about the big picture here. And we are required to have insurance. We have to have it. We have to have it. They don't because they're illegals. No one knows they're here. Right. They're not accounting for

Will Loconto:

Well, and there are active policies with police departments to where just like in that situation where that guy was really in no danger of being deported when the police came to the scene, when they get stopped by the police, they don't, don't call immigration. They don't, don't call ice. Most law enforcement, local law enforcement agencies don't cooperate with

Cindy Bass:

Ice. But the saddest part of that is, is that he had been drinking. He had been drinking. So not only was he here illegally, no insurance, not his car, no driver's license, no documentation. He was drunk and he could have killed me. And all it takes is for this country to have what is already in place. No, we don't want open borders. We want existing laws enforce the laws that are on the books.

Will Loconto:

You had made a comment to me before about a hypothetical, like you said, what would happen if suddenly something in the world happened that made Mexico the most successful country in the world and money and businesses and everybody was flocking there to work and Americans started crossing the border to go to Mexico? They wouldn't just let people

Cindy Bass:

Come in. No, they wouldn't. They would not.

Will Loconto:

Other countries don't let you just come in undocumented and live there. If I was going to Germany, I can't just move to Germany and not get permission. And also I can't just move to Germany and not learn to speak German.

Cindy Bass:

That's right. You will do what they do in their country and you will follow their rules and you won't ask for their rules to get changed. You certainly won't ask for a $400 debit card and a private jet.

Will Loconto:

Yes. Right. But on the positive note, we are people who come from immigrant families. We're proud of our immigrant families. Yes, we are proud of the immigrants that come the correct way. We're proud of the immigrants that love the United States and love being part of the United States and are willing to come to be part of the American dream.

Cindy Bass:

And don't come into America and fly your flag of another country in the back of your car, fly an American. If you're coming to America.

Will Loconto:

If you're coming to America to be here, you're coming to be an American. And that has no color, that has no religion, that has no creed, that has nothing except a national identity.

Cindy Bass:

It's not talking about pride of where you came from, but there's a clear difference when you fly a huge flag in the back of your truck in Texas, a Mexican flag, you're making a statement

Will Loconto:

And the statement isn't, we're happy to be here.

Cindy Bass:

Yeah.

Will Loconto:

That's not the statement that that's putting

Cindy Bass:

that's exactly right.

Will Loconto:

The American dream is still alive and it's still happening for immigrants every day. There isn't some coordinated anti-immigrant effort to destroy people from coming into the country. There's no xenophobia in conservatives. There's room for immigrants.

Cindy Bass:

Yes.

Will Loconto:

We're proud to lock arms with immigrants, and it goes back to my dad talking about his life and his dream, and the idea that it's not where you start. It's where you finish. Everybody still can climb the ladder. There's still the American dream. They're still the American ideal. Even if we don't meet it every single time, we strive for it and we want everyone to be a part of it. All Americans should be striving for it all Americans should build it up, not looking to tear things down.

Cindy Bass:

I would like to say that I am very proud that I knew your dad. He was a wonderful man. Yes, he was. And somebody to admire.

Will Loconto:

Thank you. Well, I think that's probably it for our show today. We will see you next time. Thanks.

Cindy Bass:

See you next time.

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Sound Judgments with Will Loconto
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