[Congressional Record: September 18, 2002 (House)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of
January 3, 2001, the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Tancredo) is
recognized for 60 minutes.
Mr. TANCREDO. Mr. Speaker, I want to address the House tonight on an
issue of importance, I think, to the Nation in terms of what we are
facing in the area of domestic policy decision, which I think is an
extremely important one for the country. Not surprisingly, I am going
to be talking about immigration and immigration reform and a number of
related issues this evening.
Mr. Speaker, recently in the Colorado newspapers there have been a
series of stories and editorials about an incident that occurred some
time ago that was brought to the attention of the public as a result of
a story published in the Denver Post maybe a month ago, perhaps a
little more than that. The story was one that identified a particular
individual in Colorado, actually a particular family in Colorado who
were illegal immigrants to the United States.
According to the news reports, even the Denver Post went to the
Mexican consul in Denver or the Mexican consul
went to the Post, I am not sure which way it happened, but somehow or
other they got together and decided to write a story about a family,
the Apodaca family. They decided to highlight a particular individual,
a young man that is the oldest son of the family, I believe, who is
graduating from a school in Aurora, Colorado, in my district, who has
evidently been a model student with very good grades who is now faced
with a dilemma. The dilemma is what to do about going to college; how
is he going to pay for it.
Mr. Speaker, across the country there are several attempts being made
to change State laws with regard to illegal immigrants' access to
higher education. I believe several States have actually changed their
laws that will allow in-state tuition for kids who are themselves
illegal or parents of illegal immigrants. This is a major push on the
part of the Mexican Government through the Mexican consuls throughout
the United States, and it is a major push by immigration advocates all
over the country and groups like La Raza and others who want a variety
of things, including free K-12 education which they already have, free
or taxpayer-subsidized public education, which they do not now have,
and driver's licenses and welfare and a number of other things that
would add up to citizenship. That is really the point of all of this.
The attempt is being made to erase anything that would be a
distinguishment of someone being here illegally. Because after all, if
you can come to the United States illegally, put your kids into school,
which you can today under Supreme Court rules, have them educated at
taxpayer expense, if you can eventually get taxpayers to subsidize
their higher education, if you can get taxpayers to subsidize welfare,
to pay for welfare for illegal immigrants into the country, if you can
get State legislatures to change their laws to provide driver's
licenses to people who are here illegally, then what happens, after a
while there is nothing that separates you from anyone who is here
If you are present, if you are physically present in the country that
we call the United States, you will have all of the benefits of being a
citizen, and it does not matter how you got here. This is the desire.
This is the hope; this is the plan. To some extent it has been
successful, as I say, in several State legislatures. I think California
is one, perhaps Utah is another. But the same thing is going on in
So there was this plan, if you will, to begin a lobbying process to
change our laws in Colorado to allow people who are here, who are in
the country and in Colorado in this particular case illegally, to have
access to higher education. So the Mexican consul provided the names of
a family, the Apodaca family, to the Denver Post. This was a
particularly sympathetic case because apparently these folks came here
7 or 8 years ago, by their own admission illegally, but have so far
lived the lives of model citizens. They send their kids to school. They
are employed, or at least the husband is employed; and so they now are
in this precarious position. They are trying to figure out what to do
about the problem they face. How do you send your kids to higher ed, to
the University of Colorado?
So about a month ago, as I say, the Denver Post highlighted these
people. They in fact put them on the front page of the Denver Post,
this family, put in a picture and ran this very, very long story about
the family and said, gee, these people, yes, they are here illegally,
but they are not concerned about that. They are, as I say, giving their
names and locales to the paper and we should in fact now be, of course,
cognizant of and sympathetic to their plight.
I read this story as did hundreds of thousands of other people in
Colorado and thought, is it not interesting that we are now at the
point where people who are here illegally can be so brazen as to make
that known publicly without the slightest fear of any sort of negative
ramifications? Is it not amazing, I thought, that the Mexican consul
would be so audacious as to become involved in domestic politics in the
United States? And, more importantly, is it not an affront to every
single person who has come to this country legally? Is it not a slap in
the face to every single person in this country who has gone through
the brain damage and the expense of coming here through the legal
Mr. Speaker, I have been able to go up to Commerce City, Colorado,
where we have had and where they still have ceremonies to recognize
people who are now taking their oath of citizenship to the country.
They are becoming new citizens. I have gone there and I have spoken to
these groups and I have said, first of all, I want to welcome you to
the United States. Secondly, I want to thank you for doing it the right
way, for going through the process, for spending the time, the money,
for being inconvenienced as I know you are, for trying to learn the
language as you are supposed to do. I want to thank you for all of
that, because you are acting as good citizens. And every time that we
do things like provide amnesty for people who come here illegally, it
is a slap in the face to all those who have done it the right way.
Mr. Speaker, I have in my office as I know you do and every Member of
this Congress, we have lists of people who have applied for some sort
of change in their immigration status and they have asked us to help.
And we have. Well over 100 I saw at last count in our office alone. I
know that in certain other districts, certain other congressional
districts, the numbers are higher; but in mine, a relatively suburban
district, 100, that is quite a few for us. We have actually two people
assigned to helping those folks come into the United States or if they
are here, to get their status adjusted under the law. That is a
resource allocation that I think is unique. I do not believe I have two
people among my staff who have a single responsibility or at least have
some partial responsibility for a single issue. But that is the load we
have, and that is the dedication I have to trying to help.
I thought to myself when I read this story on the front page of the
Denver Post that it is amazing that we are so blatant, so fearless
about the fact that you do not have to go through that process; that,
in fact, you are suckers if you do; that you are being naive if you try
to abide by the laws; that you will become celebrities. You will be on
the front page of the Denver Post. You will be characterized as heroes
because you have lived a good life and you have done what is expected
of you in America, you have had a job and you send your kids to school;
and therefore because you are an ``A'' student, we should ignore the
fact that you are here illegally and tell everyone in America who is
here because they came the right way that they have been suckers.
It also tells everybody in the world who is waiting for the
opportunity to come to the United States legally that they should
probably simply ignore the bureaucracy, which can be daunting in terms
of the obstacles it sets up, and they should simply go to the head of
the line. They should simply pass by everybody waiting and enter the
gate. That is what amnesty does and that is what we tell people when we
showcase them for being here illegally.
Mr. Speaker, I do not know the Apodacas. From everything I have read,
they seem to be very fine people who have, as I say, tried to come to
the United States for the same reasons that my grandparents, perhaps
yours, came here, looking for a better life. I do not blame them for
wanting it. But I must admit to you that when the decision was made by
the Denver Post and the family and the Mexican consul to showcase these
people, they put those folks in jeopardy. Because somebody is going to
say, Is this right that you can violate the laws of the Nation with
such impunity? Is it right that all those who have attempted to do it
the right way should be so insulted? I certainly did not think so when
I read the story.
So I waited about 3 weeks or more and finally I called the INS office
in Denver and I said, can I please speak to the head of the agency? It
was a gentleman by the name of Mr. Comfort. Again, a very nice fellow
whom I have met with in the past. I asked him in the beginning of our
conversation, I have a hypothetical situation to present to you and
that is this: today, Mr. Comfort, you as the head of the regional
office for the INS, if you walked
out of the office and were heading over to lunch at a restaurant across
the street and somebody came up to you on the street and said, I want
to tell you something if you don't mind. I am a person who is a good
citizen. I have a job. I have never been in trouble with the law. I
send my kids to school. I'm trying to get them an education, but I have
this one problem. I am here illegally. What would you do under those
He said, Well, of course I would have to take them into custody.
Those were his exact words. I would have to take them into custody at
that point, and I would have to then put them through the judicial
process. They would have a hearing. It would be determined by an
immigration law judge as to whether or not they should be deported.
I said, That is interesting to me, because I am wondering what you
did about the family that told you that, told not you that, but told
the entire State of Colorado that 3 or 4 weeks ago. They said they were
here illegally. They were looking for someone to help support their
son's higher education goals and expenses.
He said, Yeah, we saw that; we looked into it, but we're not going to
do anything about it.
I said, How come? I just asked you what you would do if this happened
to you on the street.
He said, It's a resource thing. I don't have the resources to
actually go after these people.
I said, I'm not asking you to send in a SWAT team. I'm not asking you
to devote any resources to this issue that would jeopardize the major
tasks you have in terms of felons who are here illegally and potential
terrorists and all that sort of thing. I don't want you to do that. I'm
just asking you what you do when somebody tells you this, as these
people did and as the Denver Post and as the Mexican consul did.
He said, I really don't know what to say. We don't have the
resources. He kept saying, We don't have the resources.
I said, again, What does it take? Would you send a letter? Would you
at least send a letter to the folks and ask them to please come in and
talk to you about the fact that they have stated publicly that they are
here illegally? He said, yes, that they would do that.
Shortly thereafter, I received a call from the Denver Post wanting a
follow-up interview to the original story about these folks. I told the
Denver Post, it was amazingly coincidental, but I had just talked to
the INS and I told them this story. The next day the Denver Post wrote
a story, it appeared again on the front page and it was entitled
something like ``Tancredo Demands the Deportation of this 'A'
Student.'' Forget about the fact that that was an interesting spin that
they put on it because I never even mentioned the student in my
conversations with the INS. I was talking about the family who had made
this statement to the Post. But, regardless, that was the story. It has
been amazing in terms of the reaction to it.
I have had literally thousands of e-mail and telephone calls and
letters about this into my office. Overwhelmingly, I should say that
the letters and e-mails are supportive. But the Denver Post is very
upset about the fact that I did this. I have tried to explain to them
that really what I did was what hundreds of other citizens I know have
tried to do and that is to talk to the INS, get them to look into the
situation, the situation that individuals may feel exists out there in
terms of illegals being here and that the INS routinely ignores those
inquiries and/or reports from John Q. Citizen. In this case because I
was able to get the head of the INS on the phone and speak to him
directly, they were perhaps less able to ignore my request to them to
look into the issue.
I did not demand, I should say, anyone's deportation, not Jesus
Apodaca who was the young man that was identified in this story as
being the ``A'' student who is looking for a college education, or
anyone else. I simply said, Would you look into this, would you simply
send a letter and ask these people to come in and talk to you? But the
press has portrayed this in a way, as you might imagine, to make it
appear as though I have taken it upon myself to become the head of the
INS and ``bully,'' I think is the word they use most often, and ``mean-
spirited,'' another one that they throw in there.
Then yesterday we got a call from the same reporter who had done this
story, and he said, we have found out because of good reporting that
Congressman Tancredo has hired people to work in his home, in his home,
in this case to finish a basement, and they were illegal, they were
here illegally, and they wanted to know whether we had a response. My
response was, I in fact did hire a company, a very reputable company to
finish my basement and to put in a home theater for a Christmas present
to my family. It was truly an expensive one, but it is one that we were
able to pay for by refinancing my home, which is what we did. I went to
a company in Denver, I purchased the equipment, and I asked if they
also installed. They said yes. I said I also need the basement to be
finished for this. They said they could do that. A part of their
company was also a construction company.
I hired them for this purpose. They were expensive, it is true, but
we checked out their references and they were good. And we felt because
they had promised me to get it done by Christmas last year, that we
would go ahead and pay the extra money that we thought we were paying
compared to other estimates to get this job done. So we hired them.
Now, Mr. Speaker, frankly, as you know, we are not home often,
especially if you live as far away from Washington as I do. We are home
sometimes on the weekend and during break. But we put a lockbox on our
door and we gave the key to the lockbox to the construction company.
And they were absolutely efficient and they did a great job, and I can
say nothing but good things about the experience. They finished exactly
when they said they were going to finish. The job is a great job. I
have nothing to complain about whatsoever. Now, I have no idea who they
hired, where they came from or anything else.
But, anyway, the Denver Post tomorrow is going to run a story, we are
told, they called us tonight to tell us they are going to run a story
tomorrow that states what I have just told you, that we have had people
working in our home who were in fact illegal immigrants.
Somehow, of course, I know they are going to try and tie this to me,
that I either knew, or, I do not know exactly what the point of it is,
but I know they are very upset about the fact that we have called them
on this issue of highlighting the Apodaca family. So, as a ``result of
good reporting,'' they have uncovered some more illegal aliens who are
in Colorado, and they are going to publish a story tomorrow about that.
Now, I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that I have been called a
bully, I have been called mean-spirited, because I called the INS and
asked them to look into the Apodaca story, which had been printed in
the paper serial several weeks before. But, Mr. Speaker, I have to also
tell you that I do not seek out people who are here illegally. I do not
ask people who may be serving me at a restaurant, who may be doing my
lawn work or putting on the roof of my house, or, in this case, the
laborers of a company that I hired to put in a home theater system and
finish my basement, I do not ask them to show me proof of the fact that
the people, I do not say, you know, the waiter that you sent me last
night could not speak English very well, or the cab driver that I got
when I came over here could not speak English very well, so I would
like to see whether or not they are here illegally. I do not do that. I
think that would be sort of mean-spirited, frankly. I do not do that.
I only got into this issue, became even acquainted with the Apodaca
family, because the Post and Mexican Consul and the family themselves
choose to make themselves known to me and to the rest of the people in
Colorado, the entire citizenry.
So, I do not know, Mr. Speaker, frankly, I have not the foggiest idea
of whether or not the people who were employed by the company that I
hired were illegal. I know they were good workers and did a great job.
That is all I know. But if the Denver Post continues to press this, if
they identify people and companies, then, of course, I would tell the
INS the same thing:
``Look, the Denver Post is once again pointing out people who are here
illegally. Are you going to do something about it?''
But I want to try to just make people understand the nature of this
debate. I know that I suffer the slings and arrows. I know that I am
going to be vilified in the paper. Tomorrow I am sure that the article
that the Denver Post writes about me will not be complimentary. But,
you know, I guess I am really thinking aloud here with you tonight, and
that is, who is really the bully? Who is really mean-spirited here?
I hope that we will enforce our immigration laws in this country. I
hope that we will stiffen those laws. I hope that we will in fact even
put military troops on the border to help enforce immigration laws. But
I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, quite honestly, that if this Nation
decides that it does not wish to enforce immigration laws, that if we
do not wish to have a border that requires somebody to get permission
to cross, that is okay with me. It is not okay, I would be a no vote on
that bill, but let us assume for a moment that this House and the
Senate, the other body, I should say, and the President agree that we
should abandon this whole concept of border security and immigration
policy. If it is the will of the majority, I would live by it.
The idea that we can have a law in place that says you cannot enter
the country illegally, but, on the other hand, if you do, and if you
are a nice guy and if you have got a kid who is an A student, I do not
know, if he is a B student, I am not sure we would cut him this slack,
or C or D or F, or maybe if he does not go to school at all, maybe then
we should try to deport him. So maybe we should make an immigration
policy that depends upon someone's grade point average, or whether or
not they have simply been in the country a while and kept a job and
stayed out of trouble.
You know, whatever we do, whatever this Congress and the Senate
decide to do, the other body decides to do, and the President agrees
to, that is the law of the land and I certainly would abide by it. But
if we, unfortunately for the Apodacas, have a law that says if you come
into the country illegally you are subject to deportation, even if your
child is an A student, even if you have lived in the country as model
citizens, you do not have the right to citizenship, as long as that is
the law of the land, then let me ask you, is it being a bully to ask
the INS to enforce the law?
Now, again, Mr. Speaker, I want to say we know there are between 9
million and 13 million people who are here illegally. That is true. I
have not the foggiest idea how many people I may have hired in the past
as taxi drivers, as waiters, waitresses, home improvement people. I
have not the foggiest idea how many of those people may have been here
illegally, and it is not my job to ask them. In fact, Mr. Speaker, it
is against the law to do so. You could be sued under the Civil Rights
Act if you go out and ask people that have been hired by somebody else
if they are here illegally or not. I do not do that. I do not inquire.
If you go to the Denver Post or any other newspaper and you say, ``I
am here illegally and here is the benefits that I want,'' then, of
course, I think it is a different situation, and the Denver Post and
the Mexican Consul and this family have to take some responsibility for
making the choice to become prominently displayed on the front page of
a major newspaper.
Now, I know that this is a very controversial and very emotional
issue. I know that, and I do not relish the idea of being here and
discussing it. Frankly, there are other things that are also important
to me, other issues; the tax policy of the country, the war, the
potential war with Iraq, there are a whole bunch of things that weigh
on my conscience very heavily and weigh on my mind, as I know they do
on yours, Mr. Speaker, and every other Member of this body.
But I must admit to you that what is happening here by attempts in
this case by the Mexican Consul and sympathetic news media, the
attempts to characterize illegal immigration as benign, that is wrong
and it is dangerous. The Apodaca family, certainly from all accounts I
have read, anyway, are no danger to the United States. They pose no
danger. They seem like good people, people I would be happy to have as
neighbors and friends. But it is irrelevant to the issue as to whether
or not they have broken the law to come into the country.
What is the most discouraging or disconcerting aspect of this whole
thing is that when trying to characterize and personify the illegal
immigration issue by using the Apodacas, what you do is ignore another
face of illegal immigration that is much, much uglier, much nastier.
That is the face of illegal immigration that you confront on the
borders of this country, both the Canadian border and the Mexican
border. It is the face of murder, it is the face of infiltration into
the country of people who are coming to do us great harm, it is the
face of drug smuggling. It is the face of rape and robbery, because
coyotes who often bring these people, in this case from Mexico, into
the United States, they charge them sometimes $1,000 or $1,500 to bring
them into the United States illegally, and when they get to the borders
they rape the women, they steal the money, they force the people into
the United States into some of the most inhospitable parts of the
country in terms of the desert, and they die out there. This is an ugly
It is the face of murder, where a little over a month and a half ago
a young man by the name of Kris Eggle, who was a Park Service employee,
he was a Park Ranger in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in
Arizona, and Chris, who was 28 years old, along with a colleague in the
Border Patrol, stopped two Mexicans who had come across the border
after having murdered four people in Mexico in some sort of drug deal
type of thing that went awry, or they were hit men for some cartel, I
do not know all of the details. But they came into the United States.
They were stopped by this young man, 28 years old, and when he got out
of the car, he was killed. They opened up on him with automatic weapons
and killed him.
I went to his funeral in Ajo, Arizona, where I saw his mother and his
father, I saw all of his colleagues from the Border Patrol, from the
Park Service, from the Customs agency, all of them coming to pay their
respects. But I saw no one else from the government. I saw no members
of the media to talk about that face of illegal immigration into the
I have not heard a thing about the fact that a short time ago, maybe
less than a week ago, two FBI agents on the border near El Paso, I
believe, were abducted, dragged across the line and beaten almost to
death. They are both in the hospital in Texas in critical condition. I
have seen nothing about that face of illegal immigration.
I have seen nothing about the fact that hundreds and hundreds of
thousands of pounds of illegal narcotics are confiscated on our borders
with both Canada and Mexico every year, and I have seen nothing about
the fact that agents are routinely placed in harm's way, Border Patrol
agents, U.S. Forest Service personnel, are placed in harm's way and
injured and in fact killed in defense of the Nation's immigration
policy, so-called immigration policy.
I have seen nothing about that in the Denver Post.
I have seen nothing about the fact that I received the following
message from someone who will remain anonymous, but here is what he
says: ``Sir: Until about 5 months ago I was a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
I was recently informed by a friend who is still with the U.S. Border
Patrol of another Ramirez-type incident that Border Patrol agents had
been ordered not to talk about and that the Border Patrol is
desperately trying to keep away from the media. A Catholic nun was
recently raped and murdered in Oregon by a Mexican illegal alien who
was apprehended earlier by U.S. Border Patrol agents in Deming, New
Mexico. The IDENT/ENFORCE system worked and the system alerted the
agent that the alien was a violent criminal. The subject was released
back into Mexico where he promptly made his way back into the United
States, traveled to Oregon and raped two nuns, one of which was also
murdered. The Border Patrol has put the word out to its agents that
this information is not to be divulged to anyone outside the U.S.
Border Patrol. The patrol agent in charge of the
Deming, New Mexico station has been relieved and temporarily assigned
to the sector headquarters in El Paso, Texas. The killing of the nun
made the news, but the fact that the killer is an illegal alien
recently captured and released by the U.S. Border Patrol did not.
Hopefully, you can change that. Keep up the good work.''
Well, thank you, sir, for your courage in telling me and telling,
therefore, the country about this. Because I can assure my colleagues,
Mr. Speaker, that this will not be on the front page of the Denver Post
tomorrow. The fact that I hired a company that purportedly hired
illegal aliens to work on my basement, according to what we were told
tonight by the Post, but this will not, although the story has
certainly made news earlier, they said it was news in Oregon, it will
not be there, because this is not the face of illegal immigration that
the press wants to present to the American public. However, this is the
face of illegal immigration on our borders.
Mr. Speaker, I have come to this floor many times. I have no doubt
that my concerns about illegal immigration, about the immigration issue
have made me a number of very powerful enemies. I have no doubt that
they will from this point on hound me, dog me, find out who delivers
the milk to my house, who cuts our lawn. I mean, I have no idea to what
extent they will go to try and vilify me for bringing the message. I
guess, of course, it is an intimidating thing, but I also know that,
because I have to ask myself and my own conscience, is this the right
thing to do. I have to search my own conscience, Mr. Speaker, about why
I do it. Is it out of some sort of animosity or animus that I have? I
truly do not believe that is the case. I know that I would be doing
essentially the same thing, as millions of others who are seeking a
better life in the United States, I would be looking for a way into the
I do not necessarily blame the people who come here illegally. I
blame our own government for encouraging it on the one hand by refusing
to actually secure our borders, and periodically giving amnesty so as
to tell people all over the world that the message is, by the way, to
come into the United States, and for not cracking down on people who
hire illegal aliens. If they knowingly hire somebody who is here
illegally, then, of course, there is a price to pay. And I only suggest
that if we want to have an immigration policy that establishes what the
borders of the United States are and that one must ask permission to
come across them, as we must do going to either Canada or Mexico, that
the law, and that those borders, ought to be actually upheld.
It is amazing to me and incredibly ironic in a way that the Mexican
consul has been so actively involved with trying to change our
immigration status. It is amazing to me that the Mexican consul and
advocates for immigration policies, for liberal immigration policies
continually ignore the laws that are in place in our neighboring
countries, Canada and Mexico. I have yet to see in the Mexican press or
the Canadian press negative stories about the fact that in these
countries if you enter illegally, you can be prosecuted for that. I
have yet to see a story in the press about the fact that neither Canada
nor Mexico, nor any other country of which I am aware, will allow you
to go to school at their expense, at the taxpayers' expense of that
country, go on to higher education at the taxpayers' expense of that
country, if you are not a citizen of that country.
I have never seen an article written attacking any country for their
mean-spirited immigration policy. I have never seen the Mexican consul
speak out in the United States, and certainly I would be amazed if they
did, of course, against the repressive actions taken by the Mexican
Government against Guatemalans who periodically come into the country
of Mexico illegally. Often, the Mexican Government will send troops to
that southern border, to their southern border and they will also, by
the way, round up, and I mean that in the ugliest sense of the words,
round up illegal Guatemalans, illegal aliens into Mexico from
Guatemala, they will round them up, send them back, they will
Mr. Speaker, I have actually been in detention facilities in Mexico
for people who have entered their country illegally. They are not nice
places. I assure my colleagues that the detention facilities that we
have in the United States are more like Hilton hotels than in
comparison to the detention facility for illegal entrance into Mexico.
But there has not been a word of concern about that, has there? Have I
missed it? Has any paper in the United States attacked the Mexican
Government for their attitude about illegal immigrants into Mexico? Has
any media outlet in this country suggested that Mexico should begin
educating all children who go to Mexico, regardless of where they are
from, at the expense of the Mexican taxpayer? We do that. We do that
because the Supreme Court has ruled that if you are here, even if you
are illegal, we need to give you a K-12 education.
Now, so far they have not ruled that we have to give you a higher
education at taxpayers' expense, but that is what they are seeking.
That is what the people that support a liberalized immigration policy,
that is what they are seeking. I have never heard anybody else, any
other country chastised because they do not do what they are demanding
of us. So is it mean-spirited, truly, for me to suggest that if we have
an immigration policy, we should uphold it; if we do not wish to do so,
we should abandon it?
I assure my colleagues, Mr. Speaker, and I have said this on the
floor many times, that I wish there was someone with the courage to
introduce a bill into this House that says we will abandon our borders,
there is no need for them, we want the free flow of goods, services,
and people. And if it passes, over my ``no'' vote, if it passes and if
it passes the other body, and if it is signed by the President, that is
the law of the land, and I walk away from the issue. But if, on the
other hand, we pretend that we have borders and that for some reason
that is important, which I think it is, then should we not do
everything possible to uphold the law about those borders, especially,
especially, Mr. Speaker, in times like these, in times that present the
United States with the potential for catastrophic terrorist activity,
catastrophic events that could be perpetrated by people who have come
across our borders illegally? Should we not try to defend those
borders? Should we not try?
When we go to the American public, either the administration or the
Congress goes to the American public and says, we are trying to do
everything we can, we are doing everything we can to protect you, can
we be truthful in that, Mr. Speaker? Do we believe that we are doing
everything we can to protect America? If that is the case, then why is
it still possible for, say, one mile on either side of any port of
entry in the country, you can walk across and no one is going to stop
you? Is that really doing everything that we can to protect the United
States of America? Should we not be as interested in defending our own
borders as we are in defending the borders of Korea or Kosovo? Should
we not be as concerned about our own safety in this country as we are
about perhaps deposing Saddam Hussein and, therefore, removing a threat
to the United States, which I happen to agree with? I mean, I agree
that he is a threat and that we should depose him. But is it not just
as important for us to defend our own country at the closest point of
vulnerability, and that point is the northern, the southern, eastern
and western borders of the United States? I cannot for the life of me
understand why we do not pursue that as aggressively as we do a war
If we go to war with Iraq, does anyone not believe that the danger to
the United States increases exponentially, that the danger will not
come on the battlefields of Iraq necessarily, although that is
certainly a dangerous place, but it will also come as a result of
increased infiltration into the United States of fundamentalist Islamic
cells designed and with the purpose, I should say, of doing us great
harm? Would that not be only logical to assume as a possibility? And
should any country not do the rational thing and try to actually defend
those borders, even if it means preventing the flow of illegal
immigrants into the country who are not coming to harm us?
But, Mr. Speaker, we cannot set up a sieve that distinguishes that.
We cannot really expect people on the border to go, I see you coming
across here, you look to me to be someone who is just coming across for
a job and a better education for your kids, so I am going to let you
come by. But you, you look like someone who might be coming across to
do us great harm. No, of course, we cannot do that. I mean, even if we
tried, the ACLU would go crazy and call it racial profiling or
something. So we cannot do that. We either defend our borders or we do
Either walk away from this and stop putting our Border Patrol, or
Forest Service people, our Park Service employees, our Customs agents,
stop putting them in jeopardy of their lives for a principle one is not
willing to uphold. One or the other, Mr. President and Mr. Speaker, one
or the other. Uphold the law or abandon the law, repeal the law. Those
are our choices. But this half-baked approach is the worst possible way
to deal with it.
And I will suffer the slings and arrows of an angry media and of
angry constituents and of angry members of the Hispanic and immigrant
communities in the United States, although I must say, Mr. Speaker,
that we get many, many supportive e-mails and calls and letters from
Hispanic Americans who consider themselves to be Americans only,
Americans. No hyphenated part in there, and they are worried about this
country's survival, and they are worried about the effects of massive
immigration, legal and illegal, and they support this position. It has
got nothing to do with ethnicity. I said this a thousand times if I
said it once. It has got nothing to do with the countries of origin. We
are talking about whether or not we are in fact a sovereign State or
whether we are not, and if we choose not to be, if we choose to go the
route of the European Union and begin the process of eliminating
borders, creating common currency and all that, that is okay as long as
it is done as a result of a legal process. It is called this body. We
vote on it. We make a decision on behalf of our constituents. That is
the way it should be done. It should not be done in a de facto way,
just having it happen and then 10 years from now we say, ``Gee, how did
this occur? Remember when there used to be an actual border between
Canada and the United States and Mexico and the United States? Remember
when we used to ask people flying in for visas and things like that? I
wonder why we do not do that any more. What has happened to the whole
So I guess I will continue to raise my voice in defense of the
American experiment, in defense of the people who have come here over
the last 250-odd years, who have come here seeking a better life, who
have come here legally. I speak in defense of them. I speak in defense
of all those folks who do not have the money to plead their case, I
suppose, with the INS, but they are in line, they are following the
rules, they are hoping that we will let them in and they will have a
shot at the good life. God bless them, I say. God bless them. They are
doing it the right way. And every time we slap them in the face, all I
can say is I am sorry. It is rude, it is mean-spirited and it is ugly.
Again, I tell them thank you for doing it the right way, for coming to
the United States legally, welcome to the United States to everyone in
this Nation who has come here the right way.
I hope, Mr. Speaker, that this issue eventually resolves itself so
that our Nation is defended and that the idea of sovereignty is upheld
and the hopes and dreams of millions of people seeking to come here
will be fulfilled, seeking to come here legally.
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