Tom Fitton, JW President: Rick Oltman is Western Field Director for The Federation for American Immigration Reform. He is a long-time immigration activist and is based in California. Rick, you have been doing work up in Marin County, California, right?

Rick Oltman: I have been living in Marin County, but most of our work has been up in Sacramento, trying to keep the legislature from handing over the state to illegal aliens. I have been fighting the driver's license battle in California's capital, and many others in the West, Denver, Topeka, Austin, and other places around the country.

Fitton: Rick, it seems as if this is an issue where there is such a disconnect between the popular will and the political elite of both parties.

Oltman: You are exactly right. There has never been a bigger disconnect that I have been able to find between what voters have said repeatedly and what the elected officials do. They continue to ignore the will of the voter.

Fitton: Clearly, there has been a tremendous number of immigrants in recent years. Back in 1990 the percentage of the population that was here illegally was outrageous, and since then I think it has doubled. The numbers we are talking about are huge, and this is not simply a question of illegal immigration. This is also a question of legal immigration as well, and the fact that our borders are out of control.

Oltman: There have been estimates about the numbers of illegal aliens in the country for years. All during the 1990s, the government used the number "6 million." That was laughable. We probably have 6 million in California alone. Now the number has gone up to 10 million. But the truth is, Tom, nobody knows. What we are experiencing is a vertically integrated failure on the government's part - a failure to rein in legal immigration, which brings in over a million people a year legally into this country, far more than what we need for any good reason. This is about a failure at the border to prevent, not just illegal aliens, but criminals and drug traffickers and potential terrorists from coming in across the border. This is about the failure of law enforcement. We have virtually no interior enforcement going on right now which is why so many illegal aliens are employed in so many different businesses in the country.

Fitton: Now, as you know, the attack from the other side is that we conservatives are racists when it comes to this issue -- that we are just bad people for not wanting folks to come into the country like our grandparents did.

Oltman: That is the best they can do. And I say, keep it up. I think America is tired of being called "racist." We're not racists. Americans are the most generous people in the world. We give all the time, no matter what the situation is. Tom, the best they can do is to call us names. They cannot give us any real reason as to why we should continue to flood the country with people. You know we are almost at 300 million people in the country now. By the year 2050, at this rate, we're going to be close to half a billion people in the country. Do we want to leave that kind of legacy for the generations to follow? And where is this half a billion people going to live? Well, we know where they are going to live. They are going to live where people are living now, which means that cities will be bursting with people, resources will be short, and government services are going to have to increase to deal with it. This is the kind of legacy we want to leave for our children just so that business can continue to take advantage of cheap foreign labor? I do not think so.

Fitton: I am pretty offended by the charge of racism as well. There is nothing wrong with the desire to want to lead a better life in the United States. But that is not the issue. The issue is, as a matter of national policy, how many individuals should we be allowing into our country in a way that protects the economy and makes sure that people who are coming in are being properly screened? And this leads me, Rick, to your legislature out there in California. Judicial Watch is prepared to file a lawsuit over illegal immigration and the licensing issue. It is very unusual that a legislature beats Judicial Watch to a lawsuit. That has to be the quickest turn around in California history. What happened out there with respect to the repeal of licenses for illegal immigrants?

Oltman: Power to the people. This would not have happened had there not been a referendum under way. In California there is a way for us to go to direct democracy if the republic breaks down, and that is what the initiative and the referendum process is about.

Fitton: One theory with respect to why the legislature withdrew the law so quickly is because they have something equally egregious in the works.

Oltman: They are never going to stop. Proponents of illegal immigration are not going to stop.

Fitton: The federal government announced that it would stop a program which specifically targeted individuals coming from Middle Eastern countries because of concerns about terrorism - is this a bad idea?

Oltman: I am convinced that nobody in government wants another 9-11 to happen. Hopefully, they are taking the measures to prevent it. I just attended a two-day conference of top local law enforcement officers throughout the country and I can tell you that there is a lot of stuff in the works.

Fitton: If another 9-11 happens, it could happen because of a security breach in our southern border. I know the government is concerned about this, but it is not taking the proper steps. They are politically afraid to deal with what it would take to close the gap, and we are whistling past the graveyard when it comes to our immigration policy.

Oltman: I think you are right. I think that is exactly what many of these people at the top levels of government are doing. They are whistling past the graveyard hoping that it will not happen again while, at the same time, across our southern borders, are hundreds of thousands of people a month and tons of drugs.

Fitton: They could move a division of troops across from Mexico before we could figure out what went on. But, you know, immigration has affected the DC region just as much as anywhere else. It is a different type of immigration. It comes from Central America as opposed to Mexico, but we have a tremendous number of immigrants here and it is affecting communities that otherwise it would not have affected ten years ago.

Oltman: Ten years ago, it was pretty much confined to California, Arizona, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois and the Chicago area. But about the mid-1990s, as the economy continued to expand, businesses learned that there was virtually no interior enforcement going on in the country. Even though it is against the law for businesses to hire illegal aliens, there is virtually no enforcement. We must direct our anger at our elected officials. The best system in the world will not work if we will not work. We must grab the levers of this Republic and make it work.