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[Congressional Record: May 24, 2001 (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 as the designee of the majority leader.
Mr. TANCREDO. Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening to talk about an issue
that I care very much about and one I hope that will garner the
attention of this House during the 107th Congress. It is an issue that
is seldom discussed, unfortunately, although I consider it to be one of
the most significant problems, one of the most significant issues
facing the United States from a domestic policy standpoint, and that
issue is massive immigration into this country. I hope that we can
demonstrate tonight to everyone, to my colleagues and to those
listening, the numerical realities of mass immigration and some of the
burdens that come with it.
Mr. Speaker, since 1970 more than 40 million foreign citizens and
their descendants have been added to the local communities of the
United States of America. Just last month, The New York Times reported
that the Nation's population grew by more in the 1990s than in any
other decade in the United States history. For the first time since the
19th century, the population of all 50 States increased, with 80
percent of America's counties experiencing growth. Demographic change
on such a massive scale inevitably has created winners and losers here
in America. It is time that we ask ourselves, what level of immigration
is best for America and what level of immigration into America is best
for the rest of the world?
Now, as we have witnessed, Mr. Speaker, the previous speaker spent
some time discussing the problems of energy in California specifically,
or I should say the lack thereof. Of course this is a monumental
problem facing the Nation. Something almost unbelievable is happening
to us, a Nation, the richest Nation on the face of the Earth is now
experiencing, in one of the richest States of that Nation, rolling
blackouts, energy shortages. How can this be? The previous speaker had
some idea as to why it occurred. But, of course, it is only a symptom,
Mr. Speaker. All of the problems experienced by California and that
will most certainly be experienced by other
places around this Nation, the problem with not enough resources, not
enough energy to supply the needs of the population, goes back to a
much deeper root. It is not just the inability of the bureaucracy to
move quickly for the approval of power plants or the number of
companies that are transporting the product from place to place.
It is, in fact, numbers. It is people. California has experienced, as
well as the rest of the Nation, an incredible increase in population
over the last couple of decades. That population increase naturally
forces all kinds of other things to occur: Great demands on our natural
We wonder when we look around, all of us, is it not interesting that
every single day as we come to work and we recognize how difficult it
is, how many more cars there are on the road and how much longer it
takes to get to work and we say to ourselves, gee, where are all these
people coming from? Believe me, in Colorado, my home State, we are
experiencing a dramatic, almost incredible growth rate. And where are
these people coming from? Is it the natural growth rate of the
population, the indigenous population of this country? No, sir it is
not. It is, in fact, immigration, massive immigration, the size of
which, the numbers we have never experienced before in this Nation's
Now, we have for a long time found it difficult to wrestle with this
question of immigration. People are concerned about coming forward and
actually debating this point. The reason, of course, is that there is
always a taint associated with it. When you start talking about the
problems of massive immigration, opponents of those of us who want to
limit immigration always want to use race cards in the discussion. They
always want to talk about this as being a racial issue. But I assure my
colleagues, from my point of view, it has nothing to do whatsoever with
race. It is simply a matter of numbers.
It is difficult to talk about it when we see nostalgic images of
Ellis Island and we know that our own families, all of us here, have
come to the United States, probably most of us, I should say, through
that particular port of entry. We all recognize that that is our
heritage. We all know someone, an immigrant who is here, who is
struggling and striving to achieve the American dream, and we think
about them nostalgically and we think about them as admirable people,
and they are.
Mr. Speaker, I have absolutely nothing against those folks who come
here, and I would be doing exactly the same thing if I were living in
their condition, in their situation. I would be looking for the way to
get into the country. But, in fact, we have a responsibility in the
United States, and the Federal Government has a unique responsibility
here. It is something the States cannot deal with on their own. We
constantly fight this battle about what is the appropriate Federal role
and the appropriate State role, but in this case with the issue of
immigration, there is no question, it is a Federal role.
Only the Federal Government has the role and responsibility to
establish immigration policy. And so it is only appropriate that we
should be discussing this tonight, and I hope many more evenings and
many more days on the floor of this House in the 107th Congress,
because, Mr. Speaker, it is about time somebody brought this up. It is
an issue that underlies so many of the things that we discuss here that
are really in a way the veneer.
We just passed an education bill out of this House increasing the
Department of Education's budget by some $20 billion to $22 billion.
There was a lot of discussion about the need to build more schools. We
are quite concerned about our Nation's schools, and we are forced to
come here to the floor of the House of the United States Congress to
deal with education which of course is not even in the Constitution as
a role and function of this body. But we do it because the pressure is
building out there across the land for something and somebody to do
something because education is a problem.
Let me again suggest that one significant aspect of this education
problem in America is massive immigration. In California alone, to meet
the demands imposed upon that State by the massive number of people
that are coming in there, immigrants, and, by the way, we are only so
far talking about legal immigration. We are not even discussing for the
moment the numbers of people who come here every single year illegally
and actually stay here, become part of the population, do not return to
their country of origin. I am just talking about legal immigration and
the pressure that legal immigration puts on this country.
Specifically, the State of California would have to build a school a
day for the next several years in order to meet the demands being
placed upon it because of the population growth in that particular
State. It is not unique. We are seeing this happen all over. These are
tough questions but they can no longer be avoided, Mr. Speaker. As we
enter the fourth decade of the highest immigration we have ever
experienced in this country and we struggle with its impact, we must
Some people express shock that Americans could consider cutting
immigration and thereby violating what they claim to be the country's
tradition of openness. But they truly misunderstand U.S. history. It is
actually the high levels of immigration during the last three decades
that have violated our immigration tradition. From the founding of the
Nation in 1776 until 1976, immigration has varied widely but the
average was around 236,000 people per year. Now, this was a phenomenal
flow into any single country. It was unmatched by any country on the
face of the Earth. It should be noted that during these times, the
United States had vast expanses of virtually open land and was
certainly much better able to handle 236,000 newcomers annually.
Then suddenly in the 1970s and 1980s at the very time the majority of
Americans were coming to the conclusion that the United States
population had grown large enough, due to changes in our immigration
laws, immigration soared above traditional American levels, rising to
an average of more than 500,000 a year. We averaged around 1 million a
year during the 1990s. The cumulative effect of years of high
immigration has taken a while for Americans to comprehend. But many
have awakened to a rather startling realization that the unrelenting
surge of immigration above traditional levels is changing their
communities, changing communities throughout the United States into
something oftentimes the residents do not like, do not recognize even
as their own.
I am joined on the floor by my dear colleague and friend the
gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Goode), who has I know some great concerns
about the issue because he is a member of our caucus, a caucus we
started last year called the Immigration Reform Caucus. I would like to
now turn to the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Goode) for his comments on
this issue and thank him very much for joining us this evening.
Mr. GOODE. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman from Colorado
for addressing immigration and for pointing out the figures that are
impacting the Fifth District of Virginia and most every House district
in this country.
One piece of legislation that I would like to see addressed by this
Congress would establish English as the official language of the United
States. I am not advocating that all in this country should speak
English only. In fact, I would encourage all students to learn other
languages. I have encouraged my daughter in her efforts to learn French
and Spanish and to be fluent in both of those languages. We should try
to learn other languages and other cultures, and I believe that our
President is a stronger President because of his fluency in Spanish.
But we need to have English as the language of this country. Having one
common language is a unifying force for a nation. We will be stronger
as a nation with one language which all persons in this great country
share and which all could use in communicating with persons all across
the United States.
We can avoid the Canadian situation. In Canada, they have held
several referenda to break apart that country. The French-speaking
Quebec province has sought several times to split from Canada. In the
last referendum, there was a very close vote and the separatists almost
prevailed. If we drift into a situation in this Nation where all
persons in a region speak and use only a non-English language, then the
separatist spirit may arise in the United
States. I do not want to see a situation in this country develop like
that in Canada.
By adopting English, we can avoid certain other problems. We can
avoid the need to have multilingual highway signs. Can one imagine the
cost on each State if we had to adopt multilingual signs. If all of our
governments had to adopt forms and papers in the various languages, it
would be a huge cost on the Federal Government and the individual State
governments. We can prevent a separatist spirit from arising here by
choosing English as our official language now.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman from Colorado (Mr.
Tancredo) for his focus on this important issue.
Mr. TANCREDO. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Virginia (Mr.
Goode) for joining us this evening and for his comments. The gentleman
from Virginia (Mr. Goode) brings out a number of issues specifically
related to the problems that we confront in the nature of when we have
pressures brought in our schools to teach children in languages other
than English, in our businesses to have forms in the language other
than English, in our politics to go to the polls. At a time, there were
probably half of the counties in Colorado that actually, by law, had to
have ballots written in two different languages. There are still
counties who do that. There are still places throughout the country
that require that.
Now, let us think about what that really means. If, in fact, one
cannot understand English, and at the point in time that one comes to
vote, one has to be given a ballot in a different language, does that
not mean that one is also most likely unable to understand the debate
that occurred prior to the decision one makes to vote?
All of the discussion of the issues were inevitably in English. All
of the candidates speaking, let us say 90 percent of the time anyway,
were speaking and telling us their particular positions, their
attitudes, their ideas in English. But if one cannot understand that,
and one goes to the polls to vote, on what basis does one make these
decisions if one cannot understand English and have to be given a
But that is just one point that we have addressed this evening that I
have mentioned before as being many facetted, many, many different
problems that we confront as a Nation as a result of massive
Many Americans have awakened to a startlingly realization, Mr.
Speaker; that is, that the unrelenting surge of immigration above the
traditional levels, as I said earlier, is changing our communities and,
as the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Goode) mentioned, in ways that we
The unprecedented flow of immigration has dramatically reshaped the
social and ecological landscape all over America. None of this, none of
this has been inevitable. Legal immigration into this country has
quadrupled over the traditional American level for one reason and one
reason only. Congress and the various Presidents for the last several
years have made it happen.
I do not know if anyone ever intended for such an onslaught to take
place when the immigration laws were changed in 1965, but for nearly
three decades during various efforts to control illegal immigration,
Congress has stood by as the much larger legal immigration numbers have
soared and citizen opposition has risen correspondingly.
It is common when discussing negative trends from high mass
immigration to focus on individual immigrant skills, education morals,
their country of origin, culture and race. If one side points out that
some immigrants are prone to crime and destructive behavior, the others
note that most immigrants arrive with high motives, good character, and
Some observers fear that the volume of nonEuropean immigration
threatens to swamp America's cultural heritage. Others welcome an
evermore multicultural society. Nonetheless, the chief difficulties
that America faces because of current immigration are not triggered by
who the immigrants are but how many they are. That is the point we have
to focus on. It is the numbers.
The task before the Nation is setting a fair level of immigration,
and it is not about race. It is not about some vision of a homogenous
America. It is about protecting and enhancing the United States' unique
experiment in democracy for all Americans, including recent immigrants
regardless of their particular ethnicity.
It is time for us to confront the true costs and benefits of
immigration numbers. They have skyrocketed beyond our society's ability
to handle them successfully. These huge nontraditional numbers have led
to many unwanted consequences.
Every single committee I sit on, the three committees I sit on, deal
with some aspects of this. I am on the Committee on Resources, and
almost every single hearing, we are confronted by the problems that the
citizens of this country face when trying to actually even access on a
recreational basis the beautiful places in this Nation that are
available to them.
The other day, we were talking about Yellowstone National Park, and
there is a great concern because of the numbers of people presently
trying to visit that park every single year. We are talking about
making reservations, having people make reservations to visit any of
the national parks, sometimes years in advance because we cannot
accommodate the numbers.
We are talking about what happens to the deserts of this country by
the many people who are trying to exercise, again, their rights to
recreate. We understand that. It is a constant balance, a constant tug
of war between the desire to get out there and experience this great
and wonderful land on the one hand and the recognition that the numbers
of people that we have trying to do that will eventually lead to the
complete elimination of those valuable resources. It certainly will
lead to their almost immediate degradation.
Why? It is because of the numbers. Everything we face, it seems like
every time we turn around in this Congress, we are faced with numbers.
We keep looking at the symptoms. We try to figure out a way to allow
people to get into the national parks and, like I say, making
reservations for them years and years in advance and saying one can
only use snowmobiles on certain trails, one can only walk on certain
trails, one cannot drive one's car off the road here. We keep trying to
figure out ways to contain the numbers of people.
What happens, of course, is that the quality of life declines for all
of us, not just those who want to seek the pleasures of a pristine
America, but those who live in cities where all of the services in that
city, the demands for services grow astronomically, almost
exponentially. The demands for schooling, the demands for sewage
treatment facilities, the demands for streets and highways all grow
beyond our ability to actually deal with them successfully because of
The huge number of people that are coming into this country as
immigrants have created for us a significant problem. There is another
aspect of this. Mass immigration has depressed the wages of many an
average American worker. Despite two decades of economic boom, the
wages of our most vulnerable working Americans have remained relatively
flat or even declined. This sorry recent record contrasts markedly with
the rapidly rising wages of all Americans during the two decades after
World War II.
Before 1965, the Congress wisely pursue a supplied-side labor policy
of managed immigration that limited the number of immigrants to the
traditional and historic level of around 200,000 a year.
During that age of managed immigration, tens of millions of Americans
rose from poverty into the middle class. A supply-side labor policy
demonstrably works. Mass immigration does not. To protect America's
middle class and help more people at the bottom move up to the middle
class, it is time to end America's experiment with mass immigration.
Immigration, massive immigration and the numbers that we are watching
here has endangered American education. Children native-born and
foreign-born are not achieving the educational standards that are
certainly possible and necessary for them to eventually go on and get a
slice of the American dream.
So these children are not only threatened by the depressed wages of
many of their parents, but they are menaced by the decline of America's
public schools. It is a decline not made because of immigration, but it
is exacerbated by mass immigration.
The poverty level for America's children is growing, a phenomenon
none of like to imagine. How can this be happening in the United
States, in the richest country in the world?
Let us look specifically, if we look closer at the problem, as is so
often the case with this issue, we see that it is in fact growing but
growing among only a particular group of people. These are the children
of immigrants, both legal and illegal.
Now, these problems that confront this country again, we will try to
deal with here. We will pass massive budget increases. We have been
doing it every single year for Health and Human Services. We will
actually in 5 years, of course, double the appropriations for the
National Institutes of Health, and I have voted for that.
I understand the concerns that we have and that we have to address
it. But the reality is, where is this coming from? Why are we facing
these problems in a way that has never before confronted the United
States? I tell my colleagues, Mr. Speaker, I believe with all my heart
it is the numbers.
I mentioned earlier that the massive overcrowding that is plaguing
America's public schools can be blamed specifically, it goes directly
back to immigration. Mass immigration also harms recent immigrants. It
is the recent immigrants themselves who are most at risk on America's
default on its commitment to a middle-class society. It is the children
of recent immigrants, many of whom cannot speak English, whose future
has been put at risk by the damage mass immigration has done to
We hear more and more about a disturbing trend involving immigrants
who cannot speak English holding society liable for their inability.
The other day, I was reading an article in the Denver Post relating to
a story that the ambulance drivers were being forced to hire a Spanish
speaker to ride along to communicate with non-English speakers being
treated by them, primarily, of course, illegal immigrants.
These teams felt obligated to retain these foreign speakers for one
reason, to protect themselves from the rash of lawsuits being filed by
non-English speakers against emergency medical teams who could not
understand them when the ambulance arrived.
The gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Goode) alluded to another aspect of
this where products being made, manufacturers of various products are
being threatened with suits because their products were misused by the
people who could not read the instructions in English that accompanied
According to the New York Times, the product liability consultants
have begun to advise companies to provide warnings in foreign languages
or that at least include Spanish on warning labels because ``it may be
thought to be necessary by some judges and juries in certain
Mr. Speaker, with over 140 languages being spoken in America, the
issue of warning labels leads down a very slippery path. How many are
necessary? If one opens a box and cannot read the instructions or the
warning label, how many languages should that be printed in, in order
for one not to have the possibility of being sued?
How many street signs do we need to change into how many languages so
that the people driving down the street will not sue the city if
someone runs into them because they are going down the wrong way on a
one-way street? But they say, hey, that sign was in English. I could
not read it.
As bizarre as this sounds, as incredible as this sounds, this is
happening. Police now are having to hire, not just medical teams, but
police are having to hire these people to go with them also on their
Well, okay, maybe one can handle this. Maybe the cost of this can be
borne by one's local community if one is just one language other than
English that one has to be concerned about. But what happens when there
is, in my own school district, when there are literally hundreds of
languages that are being spoken?
How many people need to go with the cop to the door to answer the
domestic dispute call? It could be in a variety of languages. Will they
be held liable, will the police be held liable if they cannot
understand the language of the person at the door?
There are other recent newspaper articles demonstrating the problems
with and attendant to a massive immigration. Monday in the Denver Post
was a printed story about just how overtaxed Amercians enforcement
mechanisms have become. In Durango, Colorado recently a group of
illegal immigrants were detained in a motel because the Immigration and
Naturalization service had no other place to hold them.
The illegal immigrants, of course, escaped out the window of their
motel room, perhaps never to be seen again. But of course the numbers,
again, these are the numbers we are talking about, massive, 1 million a
year, legally. Then we add to that about another 300,000 or 400,000 who
come here under a different category all together but still legally.
Refugee status that is called. Some people estimate even double that
number all together, 2- or 3 million that we gain every single year,
net gain, of illegal immigrants.
And what does that do to all of the mechanisms that I have described
here? Enforcement mechanisms that are at our Nation's border have
become a farce. Another news outlet recently reported the Mexican
government has begun providing ``survival kits'' to 200,000 people
planning to head north illegally. The kits contain medicine, condoms,
cans of tuna, granola, and information about crossing the desert. This
is at a time when the Mexican government is telling the United States
Government that they want to act to discourage illegal immigration.
But, Mr. Speaker, I put it to you that there is no desire whatsoever
on the part of the government of Mexico or several other countries to
discourage immigration because we are their safety valve. That border,
an open border, is their safety valve. And, Mr. Speaker, it would be
one thing if we only had to be concerned about the quality of life in
Mexico, but it is also our responsibility to be concerned about the
quality of life in the United States.
Now let us take a closer look at the demographic effects of these
decades of mass immigration. From 1924 to 1965, approximately 178,000
immigrants annually are brought into the United States. At no other
time in history was the country so positive about immigration or did
immigrants assimilate so quickly or were they so welcomed.
In 1965, Congress changed the law. Democrats promised that our
immigration numbers would not rise by more than 40,000 a year, but that
quickly rose by hundreds of thousands a year, and Democrats have fought
all efforts to correct the mistake. So during the 1990s, we averaged
not 178,000 a year, but 1 million legal immigrants each year. That is
why there is so much concern about immigration out there. It is not
that everyone has turned mean-spirited and not that we have suddenly
changed our minds about immigrants or the foreign born. It is just that
the numbers have gotten so high at the very time most Americans had
decided they wanted to stabilize the population like the rest of the
Now, there is actually quite a bit of ambiguity on the part of
Americans on the topic of the population. Polls show that most
Americans, when asked, like the immigrants they know. In general, they
say they are hard-working and add some things to America individually.
I would certainly say that if asked. But a majority also say there are
simply too many.
I am now going to show something that I believe is most important in
the context of understanding the immigrant issue that is before us. In
fact, I do not believe any immigration decision should be made in this
country without referring to this or how they relate to the charts I am
going to show you. The chart in the well there is U.S. population
growth since 1970 in millions.
In 1970, we had 203 million people in the country. A small number
down there in the circle, left-hand side of the chart: 203 million. The
green part of that chart represents the growth in U.S. population that
lived here in 1970. You can see now that there was a baby boom. It is
called on the chart the baby
boom echo. So there was an increase in the number of people who lived
here. Now, we are not talking about immigration, just indigenous
population at that time, from 203 to 243 million people recently.
Around 1970, American people, through personal choices, decided to
start having small families. As a result, we ended up with a fertility
rate that was just below replacement level. We still had growth,
because even though the baby boomers had small families, there were so
many baby boomers that we kept on growing in population, but by less
and less. Demographers have taken a look to see what the growth will be
in the rest of the century from 1970-based American population.
As you can see from the green, the baby boom echo will add for a
while and then actually, about 2030, it stops. That baby boom growth
stops, and then it begins to recede back to the 1970 levels.
Now, does the green assume a zero immigration level? The answer is
no. This is actually replacement level immigration. Because it assumes
the same number of immigrants coming into the country as Americans are
leaving it, at about, by the way, 200,000 a year. But look at the red
on the left-hand side. It represents every immigrant above the
replacement level who came here since 1970, plus their descendants,
minus the death from both groups. Now, that means that there has been
more population growth from immigration as there has been from natural
growth from 1970 stock population.
So where it says 281 million, that is where we are now. And what it
shows is the growth in the immigrant, the legal immigrant remember,
legal immigrant population into the United States which matched the
growth of this country naturally. That means that in this period of
time since 1970 to today we have had to double all of the additional
infrastructure expenditures we have had for the country. We have had to
build twice as many schools, twice as many sewage treatment plants,
twice as many roads and streets. All of this additional needs of this
country have doubled because the Federal Government has quadrupled
Now, let us look at where we are headed according to the U.S. Census
Bureau numbers. The Census Bureau tells us that this will be the future
if immigration continues at today's rates. This is what we will
bequeath to our children and our grandchildren this century. This is
not conjecture, this is not speculation, it is not subjective, this is
not what might happen, this is what will happen if Congress keeps
immigration four times higher than traditional levels.
If Americans are feeling overwhelmed by congestion, the traffic, the
overcrowded schools and the sprawl at this level, down there at the
2000 level, when you go to school, when you go to work every single day
and everything around you, you see all the land being consumed, of what
was yesterday a beautiful farm is today beginning to sprout houses, and
what was a pasture not too long ago is now an industrial park, and you
keep saying where is this coming from? I do not understand it. It is
surprising because I just did not think the natural population of this
growth of this country was creating this, well, you are right, it is
not the natural population growth of the country that is creating it.
It is the massive numbers of immigration of immigrants into this
country, both legal and illegal, that is causing the problem.
Remember, this chart, the red you see on that chart, does not reflect
illegal immigrants. It is just what would happen if we keep our
immigration policy today at the same legal number. So if you think we
are crowded today, if you think that it is harder and harder to find a
place to go and recreate, harder and harder to get out to the mountains
and get away from it all, to find a place where there is nobody around,
and how many times have we wished we could be in that situation, just
be alone for a while, when it is harder and harder to be alone for a
while today, what do you think it is going to be like in 2050 or at the
end of the century at these levels?
We have some of our coastal areas even today showing signs of
societal breakdown, at this present level of immigration. As I started
out with my whole discussion this evening, I was reflecting upon the
previous speaker's concerns about California. Well, California is just
a microcosm of where this Nation will be in the not-too-distant future.
And not just in terms of its energy problems, but in terms of the
population growth and all of the other problems that are attendant to
massive population growth.
There are people who suggest that it is our responsibility to bring
these people in because, of course, they are poor, they are
impoverished, and we need to help them out. Please understand this.
Even if we continued to take a million a year legally, we cannot even
put a dent, not even the slightest dent into the world population of
poor. Every single week, every single year, millions upon millions are
added to the number of poor people in the world. And that is a terrible
shame. Every year, 80 million. We take one. We are adding 80 million a
year impoverished all over the world to the already 3 billion people
who fit that category.
What can America do about that? How many can we take to make a
difference? I suggest that if we truly wanted to be concerned about and
show concern about the people in other countries, do not allow those
governments off the hook, do not allow Mexico, for instance, to use the
United States as their escape valve. Force them to deal with their
problems internally. Force them to improve the quality of life for
their own residents. That is the only way that we even can remotely
hope to improve the quality of life for people around the world. We
cannot do it by taking them in here. We will bring both ships down.
A lot of people wonder if immigration will be brought down to
something in the more traditional level. Well, I do not have a crystal
ball, but I can say that I believe the pressure for us to do something
will grow, and I believe that this Congress will act. I do not know if
it will be today. I hope it is today. But my gut tells me that it will
not be. That it will be some time before we will ever have the courage
to actually address this problem of immigration.
Let us be realistic about it, there are people in this body who look
at this problem and look at this issue from political vantage points
and suggest that massive numbers of people coming into the country will
benefit one particular party over another. And it is, I suggest, their
own very shortsighted, very political point of view that has prevented
us in this body from doing anything about limiting going immigration
now for some time. There is a political advantage to be gained by one
party over another by having high levels of immigration. But look at
what it is going to do to the rest of the Nation and to the immigrants
themselves. It is not the best thing.
Massive immigration is not the best thing for immigrants, it is not
the best thing for America. Do we act now, while we have the strength
to help the rest of the world, or do we wait until years from now when
we are in such a situation of disintegration and turmoil that we can
only look inward? Do we cut the numbers now, while most Americans still
have favorable feelings about the foreign-born Americans living with
us? Those are the options we face as Americans. It is why it is urgent
and important that every American make sure that their own Member of
Congress is working towards something like this rather than what the
majority is now doing, giving us something like that on the chart.
There are really two immigrant debates taking place in America today:
the numbers debate and the characteristics debate. There are those who
argue that we should either increase or decrease the total level of
immigration and others who argue we should increase immigration based
on the characteristics of the immigrants themselves. I believe that the
second debate cannot take place independently of the first. After all,
every immigrant that we admit to the United States has specific skills
or good characteristics, and that contributes to a huge overall number
of immigrants that I spoke of earlier.
I want my colleagues to understand I am not anti-immigrant. I am
anti-mass immigration. I firmly believe that we must take overall
numbers into account in any immigration debate and look at the impact
of those numbers and how they affect our communities.
Mr. Speaker, I hope that we have begun the process even tonight of
establishing a dialogue and a debate on this issue. It has for too long
been held in secret even around the halls of Congress. For too long
there has been a fear to address the issue of immigration for fear that
people will attack those of us who are attempting to deal with it and
use all kinds of spurious arguments against it.
I encourage us all to think about the need to once again gain control
of our own borders, reduce the number to a level that is the more
traditional level of 175,000 to 200,000 a year legally coming into this
country and then try our best to deal with the illegals who are coming
at a rate of 1 or 2 million into the country, a net gain to the
country. We have to address it. The States cannot do it.
Mr. Speaker, it is our responsibility and ours alone. It is time to
take that responsibility. Stand up, take the heat. There will be plenty
of it. Mr. Speaker, I can guarantee that tomorrow, and probably
tonight, the phones are ringing off the hook. The racial epithets; we
have been through this before.
I am willing to take the heat and be called the names because I
believe that this problem is a significant, perhaps the most
significant, serious domestic problem we face as a Nation. Whether it
is resource allocation, schools, buildings, hospitals, or just the
quality of life, it is the numbers, Mr. Speaker. It is the numbers.
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