By Tom Duggan – May, 2010
Congressional candidate Sam Meas sat with Valley Patriot editor Tom Duggan and his WCAP co-host Paul Murano for an on-air interview about his life escaping the killing fields of Cambodia and how his experience with communism and socialism shaped his political ideology about freedom, capitalism and the Ameriocan way.
MEAS: I came to this country about 24 years ago from the land of the killing fields, Cambodia, where about 2 million Cambodians were slaughtered like animals by the Khmer Rouge. I came to this country by the sponsorship of Catholic Charities of Richmond, Virginia. I was placed in a foster home and I was, 2 or 3 years later, adopted by an American family, who provided me with everything that I have gotten today.
Paul: Were your parents killed?
MEAS: My father was taken out by his own students back, probably in 1970 to 1971, to be re-educated and he was never to be seen again. Of course, I guess that’s a pseudonym that they use in the Khmer Rouge, when you were considered to be the enemy of the state,. You had to be taken out to re-education camp and 99.9% of the time, they were to be executed almost instantaneously. I got separated from my mother back in, probably some time in 1983 or 82, when we were living in a refugee camp, more like a resistant camp, where there were resistant fighters who were fighting against the Vietnamese government, [who] were communists. At some point during that time, the camp was overran by the Vietnamese Advancing Force, so I got separated from my mother, sisters and the rest of the family and I tagged along with my older cousin, who subsequently brought me to another refugee camp inside Thailand called Kawidan, where, after two weeks of living in the camp, my older cousin left me there all by myself.
Paul: How old were you then?
MEAS: I don’t know my own age. Officially, I am listed as 38 years old, was born in 1972, December 31, but those days were just picked by me.
When I was living in the camp, instead of living in an orphanage, I lived from family to family with fellow Cambodian refugees. In order to survive and in exchange for them sheltering me and providing me clothes and a living atmosphere, I did all sorts of work for them. I babysat, I cooked, I cleaned, I sewed, I shined shoes, I carried water, I chopped wood, pretty much anything to survive.
Tom: Why are you running as a Republican for congress?
MEAS: Well, I think there were 3 criteria that [made] me want to be a Republican. One, is that I have always thought that I came to this country as a result of President Reagan. The Reagan Doctrine allowed a lot of Asians, a lot of those people who were fighting against the communist to come and resettle in America.
Remember, after the Vietnam War, America left this country and the Democratic party abandoned Southeast Asia.
They let them fall under communism and in particular in my country Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge took over and they killed a lot of people and under the Democratic government, Jimmy Carter stood by, idly by. Even though, with the information that Khmer Rouge were committing genocide, they did nothing.
Tom: Come on, though, Jimmy Carter was having subcommittee meetings.
MEAS: [Laughing] So, to me, I wasn’t aware of that, because I was eating bugs and insects and everything else I could find to survive, I mean there was nothing for us to eat and there was no information, so thanks [to the Democrats] that they had some sub-committee meetings and hearings, but you know what? It was President Ronald Regan that actually did something. He went out there and supported the people and gave the resistant fighters military support and financial support.
Tom: How are you going to go up against a powerhouse name like Niki Tsongas, she is very good at constituent services?
MEAS: Thank you for asking that question, I think it’s important, but as much as I like you, I would beg to differ. Based on my conversations with a lot of the constituents that I have been meeting … remember, I’ve been campaigning for this office for over a year now and I have met so many people who have a different perspective about what you said. Based on what I am hearing and based on my personal experience, anytime when a constituent e-mails or calls the congresswoman’s office, they get a form letter. Even, when they got something back, the answer was totally different from the question that was asked, so I am not too sure that congresswoman Niki Tsongas has been serving in the way that you have described. On another note, if she is serving the constituents the way that you have described, she would have not voted for the healthcare bill, which I believe she had not read at all, which is wrong. How could you pretend to represent us, our interests, when the vast majority of the people in this district oppose the healthcare bill. I believe that Niki Tsongas and all of us should not be in agreement 100% of the time, otherwise, we’d be living in communism.
Paul: Don’t you think that sometimes being a leader means to take a position that you want to lead on, rather than follow the constituents?
MEAS: Based on her record, congresswoman Niki Tsongas … based on her record, she has voted with her party line with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reed, almost 100% of the time. Now, if you were representing the people of your district, there are 650,000 of us. I am sure at some point you will be deviated from your party line and agree with the people whom you are representing. But remember, her job, or my job should be to represent the interest of the people of the district and the interest of the USA, not a party line, not for the Democratic or the Republican party line, but she has always been representing the interest of the Democratic Party, which is wrong.
Tom: Where do you stand on illegal immigration?
MEAS: Well, I believe that illegal is illegal. When my guests come to my house I prefer that they come through my front door, not the back door. Now, the way to solve the illegal immigration issue, first and foremost, is to lock down our borders. No matter what you do in this country, if our borders, both the northern part and southern borders are porous, we will continue forever to have this illegal immigration issue.
Tom: So, what do we do with those who are already here?
MEAS: I think we can send them home. Here are a couple of solutions that I’ve been thinking abou and I don’t believe our congresswoman, Niki Tsongas, has thought of yet. Every year the USA spends billions of dollars to foreign aid – giving it to foreign countries through USDA, basically. Now, we have a lot of illegal immigrants who are utilizing Emergency Rooms, our hospital system, they don’t pay for it and Federal tax dollars ended up subsidizing their medical treatments.
My thinking is that instead of just letting them go free, we will require hospitals and clinics who treated those illegal immigrants to get their names, addresses, nationalities and the country of origin. That way, we can bill their government or subtract the money that is earmarked to their country in foreign aid to reimburse local hospitals and clinics for the treatment of their nationals.
We are giving foreign aid to Guatemala, I don’t know what the exact aid is to Guatemala. Say we give the country of Guatemala 300 million dollars and foreign aid, but it just happens that 150 million dollars are being used to treat [their citizens] with healthcare. This president will never allow it, but if I am in Congress, I will co-sponsor a bill to make this happen.
We need to make sure that immigration rules and regulations are enforced, at the Federal level as well as the local level. So that when local law enforcement officers stop someone and that person happens to be an illegal immigrant, we should arrest that person and report it to ICE and have ICE take care of it and send them home.
But there are also 26 million other Latino and Hispanics who are living in this country legally who tend to be conservative socially, fiscally conservative as well… we want two things from this demographic. One, is that if they don’t vote for us, let’s hope that they don’t give money or voting support to the Democratic Party. Now, if we are not careful about our own rhetoric, we will alienate these people. We want that vote in the future and if you want to grow the Republican Party, we need to also, make sure that we be very inclusive. We have to be able to use the same strategy as the Democratic Party to grow our party.
Paul: Being an immigrant yourself, from a very difficult situation in Cambodia, do you have sympathy for illegal immigrants in this country?
MEAS: No. And this is the reason why: See, in Cambodia or Southeast Asia, it is a country that is full of corruption. Likewise, in a country of Latin America, like Mexico or these Central American countries. Now, if we allow our country to be as corrupt as they are by acknowledging that someone breaking the law is Ok, then there is something wrong. As a law abiding citizen, as a legal immigrant, I came to this country in a legal way after surviving the killing fields, but I also wanted to make sure that the principal, the values that were founded in this country is upheld and that is the rule of law. When we cease to uphold the rule of law, we cease to be a civil society, we cease to be the America that I know of. I do not want America to become Mexico, I do not want America to become one of those Southeast Asian corrupt countries.
I want immigration reform that allows people who wish to come to this country in a legal manner who apply at the consulate or the embassy of the USA and their respective countries. There are millions of people who are waiting in line every day all around the world to come here legally. I want to make sure that those people who are doing it in a legal way have an opportunity to come to this country, because remember, they will come here and know how great this country is.
Let’s face it, Americans need jobs as well. Americans need government assistance. I am all for helping people, poor people in foreign countries, but first and foremost, I want to have Americans helped. Then, after the needs of the Americans are satisfied, then I want to help other people.