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Tancredo Ad: Illegal Aliens Are Terrorists

Tom Tancredo has managed to get on the national radar screen, if briefly, by launching a bizarre ad campaign suggesting that illegal aliens are terrorists.

Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo on Monday unveiled a television ad depicting a hooded terrorist detonating a bomb inside a shopping mall, a message the Colorado congressman said he hoped would vault illegal immigration to its rightful place at the center of the campaign.

Critics accused Tancredo of fear-mongering.

The 30-second spot, which began airing on cable television in Iowa, casts Tancredo as the only candidate brave enough to buck political convention and discuss the true threat of immigration — terrorists crossing into the U.S. It ends with the image of a backpack abandoned in a crowded mall, a black screen and the sound of a loud explosion. An on-screen message declares: “Tancredo . . . before it’s too late.”

Here’s the ad:

Immigration lawprof Kevin Johnson thinks the ad will have the opposite of its intended effect:

In my view, this is another unfortunate linkage of immigration and immigration reform with terrorism. Since September 11, security concerns have dominated all discussions of immigration reform, with the result being the failure to pass any immigration reform.

Steve Benen sees a kernel of truth hidden in this demagoguery:

Right now, he’s a third-tier afterthought, perceived as a xenophobic nut. But with this ad on the air, people will know he’s a xenophobic nut, and everyone will be talking about how painfully insane a xenophobic nut he really is.

All of us want to keep terrorists from coming into the country. Most of us want to control the flow of immigrant labor coming into the country as well, differing mostly at the margins of public policy.

But no serious student of either sees substantial linkage between the issues. Terrorists are coming in on student visas or other legal means. Or they’re already here. They aren’t wading across the Rio Grande in the middle of the night.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. legion says:

    Right now, he’s a third-tier afterthought, perceived as a xenophobic nut. But with this ad on the air, people will know he’s a xenophobic nut, and everyone will be talking about how painfully insane a xenophobic nut he really is.

    While true, one must also bear in mind that he is also a member of Congress, and has been made so by voters (presumably US citizens :-) since 1998.

    With about 300 million people in the US, there are a significant number of xenophobic nuts who would be perfectly happy to put one of their own into power.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  2. TLB says:

    The ad doesn’t suggest “that illegal aliens are terrorists”, only some illegal aliens. Can I suggest reading your post over and over in order to determine whether you really understand the ad and this issue?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. MyCategory says:

    I just saw the final paragraph. Wow. Please see the category linked under my name for all the “serious students” warning about that very thing, including TX Congressmen (D and R), the head of the FBI, TX’s HS director, etc.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. John Wunderlich says:

    James Joyner makes a classic error in logic, he does not logically connect the facts with the logic that when people cross the border illegally in large numbers, then people such as terrorists who are not allowed into the US legally (remember the terrorist watch list) will join those economic refugees simply, but illegally seeking work and a better life in crossing the border.

    Since big money elites want open borders and have financed the campaigns of the first tier candidates of both parties, it takes a Tom Tancredo to bring a different message, the truth. I guess that is what is so unusual today, his fighting big money’s greed and lust for more power. They will fight hard against him and paint him as negatively as possible. But their obvious bias is brought out by such logical fallacies pretending to be grounded in reason and fact.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. mannning says:

    James, you do not stand at the border checking out who is a terrorist and who isn’t. Neither does anyone else. It is quite possible that major groups of terrorists have waded across.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. Campbell says:

    In reality it is a matter of time. Congress spends 12 billion dollars a month on the Iraq war but won’t commit to 3 billion to secure our nations borders. Terrorist bombers are a reality in the Middle East and in Europe. To assume that it will never happen in the United States is a fools bet.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. Karen Schweiker/AZ says:

    There appear to be blinded eyes when it comes to the intent of this ad. It was basically presented to relay the fact that the top tier candidates are refusing to address the border issue with the facts in hand–a porous border that they want to keep open so they can enjoy the fruits of cheap labor and a life in the present, rather than regard for maintaining the sovereignty of a country. They are denying what most of us know to be true. By the way James, Tancredo is the only candidate brave enough to discuss the real threat of illegal immigration. This is a serious issue, and it needs to be addressed and Tom Tancredo is doing the job that no American wants to do. Face the facts, denial of a situation is a form of fear, so the fear is there regardless of what the ad portrayed. He simply brought the denial to the forefront. There are numerous ramifications, too many to relate here, that go hand in hand with illegal immigration, but a country’s defense and lack of supervision of its borders brings in all sorts of unwanted customers, and that includes terrorists not on student visas.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  8. legion says:

    Wow. Lotta Tancredo mouthpieces here today. Must be googling his name pretty hard to get this many attack poodles one one lonely blog in one afternoon.

    Of course, they all dodge the point that while a court document or research paper might merit word-by-word parsing,this is a political ad. And one that very clearly brings the tone that all immigration is bad, and guarantees an attack by islamic terrorists, and still manages to get a shot in at the (utterly ridiculous figure of) 20,000,000 immigrants that are here to “take our jobs”.

    If you want to parse something, take note of the fact that the commercial never once mentions _illegal_ immigration – Tancredo is against “open borders” and by inference, immigration in general. The “before it’s too late” threat at the fadeout is clearly a pathetic, bigotry-driven and ham-fisted attempt to invoke the visceral fear of the old “daisy” commercial of the cold war. Tancredo is a racist and a thug. This just shows more of his true face.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  9. BruceThreat says:

    There is no contradiction between being against “open borders” (i.e., knowing everyone who enters and why they are here) vs being for increased LEGAL immigration. IMO, “legion” should debate the facts and refrain from name-calling.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. rpkinmd says:

    mentions _illegal_ immigration – Tancredo is against “open borders” and by inference, immigration in general. The “before it’s too late” threat at the fadeout is clearly a pathetic, bigotry-driven and ham-fisted attempt to invoke the visceral fear of the old “daisy” commercial of the cold war. Tancredo is a racist and a thug. This just shows more of his true face.”

    So Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey were bigots driven by invoking fear? I voted against them and would not assign that motive to them, but that is the difference between the right and the left. We argue facts the left resorts to name calling.

    It is misinformed to equate opposing to open borders with racism, bigotry or any other name you choose to use. Opposition to open borders does not mean that you are opposed to legal immigration it mean you support ONLY legal immigration.

    Since you raised the issue please cite your source of the amazing statement in the last sentence .

    “But no serious student of either sees substantial linkage between the issues. Terrorists are coming in on student visas or other legal means. Or they’re already here. They aren’t wading across the Rio Grande in the middle of the night.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  11. Matt says:

    How dishonest is the title of this article? Some simpleton took a look at an ad which is meant to bring attention to the fact that it is entirely conceivable that a terrorist would take advantage of our un guarded borders to do harm to this country, and then tried to change the argument into whether or not Tom thinks illegal immigrants are terrorists. Only an open borders fanatics try to change arguments away from what it is to something where they have a chance of winning a debate. It is a very real possibility that a terrorists would try to sneak in to the US thru either Mexico or Canada and we need people like Tom who aren’t afraid of hustlers calling him a racists or changing his words in hopes of rallying people against him. Tom is right, this is one more reason, on the great big pile of reasons, we need to gain control of our borders.

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  12. Alexander says:

    You do not understand what the term “open borders” means. It means that the policy is to let anyone come and go across the border as they please. Are you aware that many illegals from Mexico do not recognize our southern border as legitimate.
    “We did not cross the border, the border crossed us”
    is the chant of this generation of Mexicans.
    http://www.mexica-movement.org has their view of our continent. “We want the continent back”.and “We reject all European divisions of our continent.
    We reject the artificial border divisions of our people.”
    If you are not aware of this then that would explain your confusion about the “open borders” reference.

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  13. Brittanicus says:

    Comment in violation of site policies deleted.

    Those wishing to buy advertising should send inquiries to otb@blogads.com

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  14. Valerie Protopapas says:

    Perhaps if someone had said this before September 11th, 2001 that date would not have taken its place with December 7th, 1941.

    Illegal aliens, to begin with, are just that ILLEGAL. Besides that, they are a terrible burden on the local taxpayers, healthcare systems, schools and prisons. So though most of them won’t be planting bombs, the entire ‘invasion’ is a ticking time-bomb waiting to explode with far more devastating force than a single ordinary bomb.

    However, that doesn’t mean that jihaddists and OTHER terrorist-types (drug lords and gangs) aren’t running loose because of our government’s stupid and blind policies. A ‘dirty bomb’ could be detonated in any US city given the availability of nuclear material. It doesn’t have to be nuclear itself, merely cased in highly radioactive cobalt or some other material. And then there is chemo and bio terrorism – just ask the Japanese about the Serin gas attack on the Tokyo subway!

    The time has come to CLOSE THE BORDERS and DEPORT ILLEGALS back to their country of origin including all their families as well as children born here. If the children of diplomats who are born in American hospitals are not considered American citizens, then why should the children of those who have no right to be here obtain citizenship because their parents were able to sneak in.

    The days of the ‘lettuce picker’ illegal is long gone – if, in fact, it ever was. These people are being SENT here especially by Mexico to wage war against this country and to keep them from starting a revolution against their own corrupt government. The United States is quickly becoming a Third World nation because we are being populated by people from the Third World.

    Wake up, Americans and get rid of any politician who won’t fulfill his or her oath to protect the nation and its people. Time is fast running out.

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  15. [...] Tancredo Ad: Illegal Aliens Are TerroristsOutside Beltway – Tom Tancredo has managed to get on the national radar screen, if briefly, by launching a bizarre ad campaign suggesting that illegal aliens are terrorists. Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo on Monday unveiled a television ad depicting a [...]

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  16. [...] James Joyner points out from Outside the Beltway: All of us want to keep terrorists from coming into the country. Most of us want to control the [...]

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