TT: Legalize them.

GA: Wow. We agree on that!

TT: Legalize marijuana, and that is big. Let me tell you, that drug war is lost; it has been lost for years. The billions of dollars spent, the thousands of upon thousands of lives that have been spent also in this war that is completely and totally un-winnable. I always argue this — and it's certainly one of the reasons, by the way, I am not governor of the state of Colorado.

Tom Tancredo (left) and Gustavo Arellano met for a debate — and both survived.
Tom Tancredo (left) and Gustavo Arellano met for a debate — and both survived.

PC: Wrap up with the message that you would like the audience to walk out with tonight.

GA: Since I had the first say, Tom, you can have the last word. I would just like the people out there to take, again, my family's story: My dad was an illegal immigrant, he came to this country in the trunk of a Chevy in 1968, he hopped the border fence, back when it was just chain-link and not the stuff you like out there now, three-pronged. He came, he crawled through a sewer, he came to this country every which way but loose. I was the first son of four, only spoke Spanish when I entered school. This illegal-immigrant dad, this illegal alien, this menace invading society, he created three children who have college degrees, two of them advanced, another son going to college. He votes in every election, he's even against illegal immigration, Tom. Go figure that one out....

TT: I can figure that one out.

GA: But in this family, this family of Mexicans who still basically live in Mexico in the United States, you have some of the best Americans you will ever meet, and my family is not the exception, we are the rule. The Reconquista is nothing more than myth coming from three different mythologies that I can't get into, but read — you can read it right there. We could talk about economics all day, but on the issue of acculturation, whether you want to believe it or not, Mexicans acculturate into America, and America does not want to believe that. That's been the case, going back in Colorado, in the Southwest, for 400 years. We Mexicans will continue to do what we have always done — which is be part of this country.

TT: The question, of course, that we never really got to deal with to any great extent is: What is being part of the country? Being in America does not necessarily mean you are an American. And it doesn't matter where you come from. It is of no consequence. The country of origin, the ethnicity of the people who come — America has been successful in this process of assimilation and acculturation for a long, long time. And we have assimilated people who have come from all over the world, and of every color and background and ethnicity. And it is a tribute to America that it has occurred, as a result of a push inside the United States for assimilation and a desire on the part of the people to assimilate. That was the great phenomenon, the thing that described our victory in being able to have a country made up of so many different people. We are indeed a nation of great diversity. Also, when driven to a certain point, that can be unhealthy. You cannot have a nation that is focused on the idea of diversity as being the central theme. It's oxymoronic to think of a homogenous society made up of completely different people who accentuate the differences...I don't believe it is working.

I do not discount for a moment the millions of Hispanic people who have come to the United States of America and been certainly as good Americans as my family or anybody else that you could possibly think of. I absolutely know that's true. I have never discounted that, ever. They are out there, I see them, they talk to me all the time. They vote for me...and I appreciate that. What I'm talking about, of course, is something else that's occurring. And that is this sort of focus on — and almost obsession with — the concept of multiculturalism. This, to me, becomes problematic. To bring up the spectre of what Teddy Roosevelt warned us about, you know, we have massive immigration and it's great, but immigration without assimilation creates not a nation, but a polyglot boardinghouse. And I believe that is what we are becoming. Or at least what we are in danger of becoming, and hence a debate like this is great, Gustavo, because we can at least make people think about this.

So this is a good thing!

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