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[Congressional Record: June 6, 2001 (House)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
THE AMERICAN IMMIGRATION CRISIS
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Rogers of Michigan). 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, America is in the midst of another crisis.
It is not just the energy crisis that we face and that was so lengthily
dealt with here for the last hour. It is almost ironic, I suppose, that
I end up following a discussion of the energy crisis in California,
because a lot of what I have to say this evening revolves around that
crisis, but it takes perhaps a little bit of a different look at the
reason why we have such a crisis.
I believe very strongly, Mr. Speaker, that America is in the midst of
an immigration crisis, a crisis far greater in terms of its impact on
the United States of America than the energy crisis that presently
confronts us in several States and perhaps even around the country.
Since 1970, more than 40 million foreign descendants have been added
to the local communities of the United States. Just last month, the New
York Times reported that the Nation's population grew by more people in
the 1990s than in any other decade in United States history.
Is it not time that we ask ourselves, what level of immigration is
best for America and what level of immigration into the United States
is even good for the rest of the world, to help the rest of the world?
These can be difficult questions to ask about immigration, because we
recall, all of us here I am sure, our own families coming to the United
States, entering probably through Ellis Island during the height of the
immigration period that we sometimes refer to as the golden age of
immigration, the early 1900's, the late 1800's. That was a period of
time most people believe that the greatest number of immigrants entered
the United States through those gates.
That is incorrect, Mr. Speaker. It is a myth. The greatest number of
immigrants ever taken into the United States during the ``golden age''
of immigration was 200,000, approximately 200,000.
Every year, every year, for the last 8 years at least, exactly five
times that many immigrants enter the United States legally. Our
immigration cap now is approximately 1 million people, plus another
300,000 or 400,000 that we classify as looking for refuge. This would
be refugee status. So we have about 1.3 million or 1.4 million
immigrants coming into the Nation every year legally. We have probably
double that many people coming into the United States illegally every
year; and when I say ``coming in,'' we probably have 10 million people
coming in, but we end up with about a 2 million person net gain every
year, from illegal immigration alone.
Now, what does this mean? Numbers like this are really quite
extraordinary. If I could get a page to put up one of the charts over
there, I will refer to it in just a moment.
I think back to my own family's background, and certainly I am a
relative newcomer to the United States. My grandparents came here in
the late 1890's. They settled, all of them, in Colorado, in and around
the Denver metropolitan area, strange as it seems, because most people
had some intervening place they stayed, New York or Chicago or
someplace like that. But not mine. They came right to Colorado.
I often talked with my grandparents, my grandfather specifically,
about the trip over from Italy to the United States and the kind of
trials and tribulations that he faced. It is an interesting story. I
certainly enjoy it. I tell my friends about it. I enjoy my heritage. I
understand perfectly the desire for anybody to come to the United
States, especially poor people, as my grandparents certainly were. They
were looking for a better life. I completely sympathize with all of
those people who are looking for that better life. I am sure that if I
were in their shoes, I would be trying to do exactly the same thing
they are doing, get to the United States.
But we have another responsibility here in the United States. It is
to our own country and to our own countrymen, because at some point in
time we have to wonder how many more people we can absorb and how many
more people this Nation can afford to provide for.
I know all of the issues that have been debated about immigration and
about immigration reform. Many people suggest that we have no reason to
be concerned about massive immigration across our borders, that in fact
it is an issue of economics; that the more people we let in, the more
lower priced help we have, the lower priced labor that businesses can
access, meaning in the long run lower prices for the American consumer.
Well, I will tell you, what that is is really a euphemistic way of
describing what happens when immigrants come here, especially illegal
immigrants. They come here, and they are, oftentimes, unfortunately,
given jobs that perhaps other Americans would not take, and they are
exploited. They are exploited oftentimes by the employer, who pays them
less or will not give them the benefits they deserve, because he knows
that this person is probably not going to go and complain about it,
because they are probably here illegally anyway. Even legal immigrants
have an effect of depressing the wage base for people with mid or low
skills, low-level skills.
So, immigration of this nature, of this kind, massive immigration, is
five times greater just in terms of the legal immigration coming into
the country, five times greater than it ever was during the heyday of
immigrants coming to the United States around the turn of the century,
the last century.
Well, these numbers have an impact on everything in the United
States. It has an impact on the quality of life that we all share here.
Do you ever wonder why, when you are driving down the street and you
remember that just a few months ago, maybe even a month ago, when you
went past this very same point that was at that time a nice pasture
land or open area, a greenbelt, do you remember thinking to yourself,
gosh, is it not amazing? Now all of these houses are being built here,
all these apartments are being built. Is it not incredible how many
cars are on the road? I cannot get to work anymore in the same amount
of time that it took me just a few short months ago to get here. What
is going on? How come there is so much talk about growth? How come
there is so much concern about growth in the United States? Is it
because our country, the people who live here are simply having so many
kids that they are placing this kind of infrastructural pressure on the
system? No, Mr. Speaker, that is not the case.
The chart I have on the easel down in the well is a very interesting
chart. It is a population chart starting in the year 1970. The green
area on the bottom is what we would identify as the population growth
in this Nation from those people who are already here. These are what
we would call indigenous Americans. The fact is that we have had
population growth among that group. We call it the baby boomers. There
has been a baby boom echo; and it has gone up, as we can see, from
about 203 million people living here in 1970 to 281 million people here
at the last census, the 2000 Census. But we also see there that of the
281 million of us that there are now in the United States, that 243
million of those would have been the natural growth rate of the
country. Those reflect the natural growth rate of the country. The
rest, those identified in red, represent what has happened to us from
immigration and their descendents.
So we can see that we have had the same amount of growth among that
particular group as we have among native-born Americans. So we have
essentially doubled our natural growth rate in this country by
Is it surprising, then, to anyone that we heard our colleagues on the
floor from California spend the last 1 hour complaining about the lack
of resources, about the incredible problems that the State of
California faces from an absence of energy? I also recognize that my
colleagues from California were complaining about the administration's
proposals to increase the amount of energy available to all of us.
Well, let me suggest this, that there is another responsibility that
is uniquely the responsibility of the Federal Government, that the
absolutely no power to control whatsoever, and that is immigration
policy. That is the responsibility of all of us who serve in this body,
to establish an immigration policy for the country. And when we ignore
the fact that people are coming into the country at the rates they are
coming into the country, then it is very difficult for me to get
terribly excited about the impact that those numbers have if no one
wants to address the issue, no one wants to talk about it.
Everybody wants to talk about just simply the fact that we no longer
have a lot of oil, or we no longer have a lot of electricity, and is
that not terrible, and how are we going to get more. What I am saying
is that the reason we do not have the resources is because the demands
being placed on our resource base are so great that they are depleting
it faster than we can replenish it. Why are the demands so great? It is
because of the numbers, the huge numbers of people coming into this
country and the children that they both bring with them and have here.
It places an enormous amount of strain on our resource base.
Now, it is all right, it is perfectly fine for us, I think, to go
ahead with a massive immigration policy if we have it, as we have, if
everybody in this body agrees with it, understands it, knows what we
are doing and says, yes, we have debated it fully. We recognize that
bringing a little over a million, a million and a quarter people in
here legally and have at least 2 million immigrants into this country
net every year is okay. We understand all of the implications of that.
We recognize that it will cause California, for one thing, to have to
build a school a day, a school a day in order to keep up with this
population pressure. We understand that. We understand that we will
have rolling blackouts. We understand that we will not be able to buy
gas at a price that most of us would consider to be convenient or
acceptable. It is going to get a lot more expensive. So is every other
form of resource we have in the United States, natural resource. Why?
Well, where is the demand coming from? We are, in fact, making
products every single day that use less and less energy. The
refrigerator that is in your house today uses far less energy than the
refrigerator that was in your house even a short 5 or 6 years ago. Air-
conditioning. Cars getting better gas mileage. All of these things
should, in fact, determine a downward energy use per capita in the
United States. But it does not matter if there is a downward spiral or
a downward pressure of per capita energy use if the number of people
keeps going up so rapidly, so dramatically. We will have to continue to
exhaust the supplies, to go elsewhere in the world, rely on both our
friends and our enemies for help in providing oil resources. We will
have businesses going bankrupt, having their business interrupted by
these blackouts. All of these things we see are a result of numbers,
the numbers of people. And this is something that we cannot seem to get
I recognize fully well, Mr. Speaker, that I am one of the individuals
here who has taken on the challenge of trying to make this a public
debate. It has gone on plenty of times in the halls of this Congress.
It goes on around the water coolers of Americans in their jobs, I
understand and I believe that. I know it happens a lot. I know people
sense the problem that exists in the United States with regard to
massive immigration; but no one is willing, or I should say, very few
people are willing to actually bring these issues forward for public
debate, because, of course, there is always someone who is going to
stand up and say, this is a racially tainted issue that we cannot talk
about it. Any discussion of it, any attempt to reduce the numbers has
some sort of racial implication. I say, for one, Mr. Speaker, that it
has absolutely nothing to do with race or ethnicity from my point of
view; it has to do with numbers. I do not care whether they are coming
from Mexico or Guatemala or Nigeria or Canada. I do not care where they
are coming from. It is the numbers that we have to deal with.
Now, there are other implications of massive immigration from
countries that do not have English as their primary language and I will
speak to that in a moment or to. But originally, my point is to make
reference again to this chart and to show my colleagues that if we were
to actually have just relied upon the population growth from the baby
boomers in a short time, in just a few years, we would actually see a
leveling off of population growth in the United States and an actual
decline as we got to 2100. Now, that is not going to happen. Because,
as I say, we have already increased the numbers dramatically, and so we
are going to have to deal with the fact that the population of this
country is going to go up, even if tomorrow we were to stop immigration
Growth has enormous impacts, as I have suggested, on all of us, every
single State. I can recall just coming back from our district work
period and looking at what was happening in my own State of Colorado,
the incredible number of highway projects that are being undertaken,
the incredible number of schools that are trying to be built, the
incredible amount of money and tax dollars that we are going to require
from taxpayers in order to pay for all of those things.
Now, Colorado is a beautiful place to live. There are no two ways
about it. I certainly can recommend it. But I also just recommend that
you come and visit and not stay for very long. The reality is that
immigration into the country has actually had an impact on Colorado.
Most people think that some of the southern tier States, Texas,
Arizona, southern California, are the only States that are impacted by
massive immigration. That is not true. All States are impacted by
immigration. The fact is that huge numbers of people move into these
southern tier of States and, in many ways, displace people who were
living there. They move because they do not like the quality of life
anymore. They move to other States. They move to Colorado in huge
numbers, but so have immigrants directly from other countries coming to
Our numbers are up dramatically in the State. My district is adjacent
to the fastest growing county in the Nation, Douglas County; and I
should tell my colleagues that when we look around, again, as I drive
down the street and I see all of these houses popping up out of the
ground where there were simply meadows before, prairies before, I do
not like it any more than anyone else. I remember Colorado. I was born
there, I remember a much more pristine environment. It is not
benefiting us to have this kind of massive immigration. It is a cost to
Where is it coming from? Do we all just assume that it is from people
from other States moving in to where all of us are experiencing growth,
just people coming from other States? It is wrong. There are not that
many States losing population. Every State gained population. It is not
an issue of people leaving all of the rust-belt cities and now moving
just to the south; it is an issue of massive immigration, immigration
from all over the world. People have to be somewhere. We are going to
see the effects of it over and over and over again.
Mr. Speaker, I have mentioned the impact on our roads, the impact on
highway systems, the impact on our water, electricity; but there is
another impact, a huge impact of massive immigration. It is on our
schools. Our children are in temporary classrooms all over the place,
all over the Nation. We hear about this again and again and again. How
come? Where are these people coming from? Remember California? I
mentioned that they would have to build a school every day of the year
to keep up with the State's increase in population, every day of the
year. Well, they cannot do it. So kids, of course, are housed in
various facilities, temporary facilities. It will not be long before
Colorado, before Arizona, before Texas and other States are
indistinguishable from California in terms of immigration patterns and
the things that we have to do to deal with it.
I guess the attitude of many countries, we talk about the need for
other countries to take care of their own people, to develop an economy
that would provide jobs and benefits for those people who live there
today so that they would not be looking for the need to leave the
country; they would not be looking to immigrate. And we get a lot of
talk, by the way, we hear a lot of talk from other countries about
their willingness to do something to help stop the flow of immigrants,
specifically Mexico. President Vicente Fox
and others have suggested that they would, indeed, try to help us deal
with the massive numbers of people coming across the border.
Well, Mr. Speaker, do we know what form that help has taken? Right
now, on the border with Mexico, the government is providing people who
are embarking upon an illegal trek into the United States, they are
providing them with a care package. This care package consists of some
food, it consists of a map, it consists of water, it consists of little
books about how to take advantage of the system once you get here and
oh, yes, condoms, of course. Why that has to be a part of the care
package, I do not know, but it is in there.
This is how the government of Mexico is in fact helping us deal with
massive immigration on its border.
The reality is, Mr. Speaker, that most of these countries look to the
United States as a safety valve. They do not look to do something
constructive in their own country, they look to us to be able to take
what they cannot handle; to take all the people in their country that
are impoverished and that would become a highly, highly unstable
portion of the population if they were kept there because they cannot
find jobs for them.
One reason, of course, that they cannot find jobs for these people is
because they refused to embark upon a free market economy. The only
thing I think that will ever get them there is to say to them, it is
sort of a tough love thing, to say to the President of Mexico, ``We are
going to shut down the border. We are going to put troops on our
That is the only way that we can actually curtail the number of
people coming across. It is almost at the flood stage. It could be
thought of as an invasion, and therefore, it is appropriate for us to
actually put American troops on the border to protect our borders, and
we are going to do that. We are going to cut down illegal immigration,
and we are going to cut down legal immigration.
We are going to put a moratorium on all immigration. That is what I,
of course, hope we would do in a very short time. That is what we need
to tell Vincente Fox and others. We need to tell people like Sheikh
Hasina Wajed, the President of the Nation of Bangladesh, who, when he
was confronted with the kind of population explosion that is almost
unbelievable, he said, and Bangladesh, by the way, has a population
that is expected to reach 120 million by the year 2050.
When asked how his country could feed, educate, employ, and house a
population of that size, President Hasina answered, ``We will send them
to America.'' That is a candid statement. It is not often made by these
leaders, but I congratulate these people for actually saying the truth.
That is exactly what they think they will do.
Our task is to try and figure out what we will do in response, what
we will do in response to the enormous pressure that is going to be
placed on the United States from a variety of different places in order
to achieve some other country's goals.
There were a number of people on the other side condemning the
administration for what they considered to be a lack of attentiveness
to the energy problem, people preceding the gentleman from California
(Mr. Rohrabacher). It is my contention that there is absolutely a way
to deal with the energy problem in California, and the one that is
going to get worse for the rest of the country, and that is to deal
with immigration, because to a large extent, it is the numbers.
Mr. Speaker, I yield to my friend and colleague, the gentleman from
California (Mr. Rohrabacher).
Mr. ROHRABACHER. First of all, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the
gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Tancredo) for yielding to me. He is a
relatively junior Member of the House.
Mr. TANCREDO. Not even that, Mr. Speaker, I am a sophomore.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. The gentleman has taken on a tremendous
responsibility and has done a terrific job in calling attention to some
issues that are vital to our national security and vital to the
interests of the American people.
Unless we address the problem of immigration, and I would put it, of
illegal immigration, and we might have a little disagreement on that,
but the fact is that those people who are concerned about immigration,
and we have about 1 million people a year who come here legally into
this country, which by the way, legally those people entering the
United States, if we put the rest of the world all together, it has
about the same legal immigration into their countries as we do into our
But, on top of that, there still continue to be millions of people,
probably 3 million or 4 million people a year, entering this country
illegally. It is frightening to see the lack of attention that has been
given to this very serious threat by our government, both in the
Clinton administration, and we will have to wait to see what happens
with President Bush.
But even among the Republican leadership, we have not been able to
move forward with a program designed to stem this flow. I think it is
basically because there is a fear among people who are politically
active of being called racist. It is just this basic element, we do not
want to be called names, and we are afraid that someone will impugn not
only our integrity but our good hearts, so we have shied away from this
This issue will destroy this country. This issue will destroy the
standard of living of our people, and it is currently doing so. In
California we feel this acutely, but again, no one wants to face it.
Proposition 187, which tried to hit at some of the real problems
caused by illegal immigration, passed overwhelmingly. In fact, it was a
landslide, and even right before the vote they were saying it was going
to be close. Since that time, those same people who said it was going
to be close and might lose have perpetuated the myth that in California
we have in some way lost the Hispanic vote by being against illegal
Mr. Speaker, the gentleman from Colorado is offering the leadership
that is so vital to our country and to our well-being, because the
people throughout the country understand what a threat this poses.
When we talk about education and class size in California, we are
talking about illegal immigration. There is plenty of money in
California to educate our children and to have a class size that is
appropriate so that our children can learn. Instead, because we have
permitted illegal immigration to go unabated, our children, the
children of U.S. citizens and the children of legal immigrants who are
here in this country and who are going to our schools, are being
Why are we doing that? Why are we permitting the education standards
to drop like a rock, and our kids to not be taught or be given training
they need to sustain a good life? Why is that? Because we are afraid to
be called racists.
Give me a break. What is our responsibility? We have got to step
forward and say that we care about those young people who come from
another country illegally. We care about their families and fathers and
mothers, because they are mostly, and I am sure the gentleman from
Colorado agrees with me, 95 percent of all the people who come to this
country, even the illegal ones, are good people. But the fact is that
we cannot take care of everyone in this country from everywhere in the
world who wants to come here.
Mr. TANCREDO. Mr. Speaker, I have mentioned before that it sometimes
gets lonely on this floor talking about this issue, and I should have
remembered that there is always one person that I can rely on, because
he has both the integrity and the guts to come up and also address the
issue with me. That is my friend, the gentleman from California (Mr.
The gentleman is absolutely right when he talks about the fact that
this is a dagger pointed at the heart of America.
I do not for a moment want to be misunderstood. My desire is not to
see a reduction in a certain group of people, a certain ethnic group of
people. It is simply the numbers game we play, from my point of view.
It is overwhelming us.
I will tell the Members that I do have a concern about the way we
deal with immigrants from countries where the language is not English,
and the kinds of problems that poses to us from a cultural sense.
I happen to believe that there is one thing we need, and this is a
country of many different colored people, many different kinds of
ethnic backgrounds. We do not all worship at the same churches, we do
not all eat the same kinds of foods, we do not all dress and think
alike. We have a great disparity among Americans. That is, in a way, an
aspect of our greatness.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Yes.
Mr. TANCREDO. But there is one thing that is absolutely imperative,
it seems to me, in a situation like that. That is to have a common
language, so that we can in fact communicate with each other about the
things that are important.
When we see that, along with massive immigration from countries that
do not speak English, English is not the primary language, when we see
the pressure that places on us here to expand the number of languages
that we teach in schools, let me tell the gentleman an interesting and
almost I think incredible fact.
Not too long ago, I read that a gentleman who could not speak English
was operating a nail gun and, because of whatever reason, he ended up
shooting himself in the leg with this nail gun. The gentleman could not
speak English. He therefore determined, or I am sure it was some lawyer
who determined this for him, that his best thing to do was to sue the
manufacturer of the nail gun because the directions and the warnings
were not printed in more languages than English, in his particular
There are places around the country where police have to go on calls
and have to take with them linguists, people who will speak a variety
of languages, when they get to the door. The reason is because if they
get to the door and they cannot speak the language of the person who
has made the call, they, the police, could be sued for not
appropriately addressing the situation.
We have had a 911, and this actually happened, a 911 call that comes
in from someone who was not speaking English. The person on the other
side of the phone could not speak the language. A lawsuit is developing
as a result of this. Manufacturers are being told that they have to
start providing all these warning labels in a whole bunch of languages.
I ask the gentleman, where will this stop? How many signs do we put
up on street corners? How many one-way signs? How many languages do we
print them in?
Mr. ROHRABACHER. If the gentleman will continue to yield, Mr.
Speaker, the gentleman from Colorado brings up a serious, serious
First and foremost, the reason we would like immigration to be in a
very controlled and rational process, rather than what we have today,
which is totally out of control, a chaotic situation, is because people
who come here should come here and be able to, number one, speak the
English language, because they should be able to take care of
themselves, that is number one; they should be healthy; and they should
be honest; just those three things. If they cannot speak the English
language, obviously, in a country like ours, they are not going to be
able to earn a good living and take care of themselves.
I have no complaints, as I say, about the level of 1 million people
coming in here, especially when we consider we have 2 million or 3
million that are coming illegally, and many of the people that the
gentleman is describing right now are people who have come here
illegally and expect to have the services provided to them in their own
language. This is adding insult to injury.
Mr. TANCREDO. Mr. Speaker, there are 375 voting districts in this
country where ballots are provided in more than one language. This is a
fascinating phenomenon. I ask my colleagues to think about this, and
people who may be observing us here.
If we have to print a ballot in a language other than English so that
a potential voter can understand it, what does that tell us about that
voter's ability to have understood the debate leading up to that
election? How do they know what the issues are? How do they know how
any one of those candidates they are voting for feels about an issue if
they cannot understand English?
It is an idiotic thing to present someone with a ballot in another
language when that means they could not have understood the debate
leading up to that election.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. The gentleman makes a good point. If he would yield,
I would also point out that in order to vote in this country, one is
supposed to be a citizen of the United States. In order to become a
citizen of the United States, one has to be proficient in the English
language. That is part of the requirement of citizenship.
By the way, in Orange County, just like most of California and the
rest of this country, our people were conned into, for many years, this
bilingual education concept. It was not until 3 or 4 years ago that we
finally got rid of bilingual education.
Mr. TANCREDO. I would like to know how the gentleman did that.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. We had an initiative on the ballot, and the people
overwhelmingly voted to get rid of bilingual education. I might add,
even in the Hispanic community they voted to get rid of bilingual
education. In our county, in Orange County, we pushed hard to make sure
that that law was complied with and bilingual education was eliminated.
Does the gentleman know what the results have been in? In the last 15
years, we have had bilingual education in Orange County and the
Hispanic kids have been, in the test scores, always at the bottom of
the deck, always down there at the bottom of the ladder. The Hispanic
kids always came in last in all the tests.
Since we have eliminated bilingual education, the Hispanic kids now
are getting higher grades, and they have averaged out like every other
child in the school district.
Bilingual education was a cruel hoax perpetrated on the Hispanic
community by liberals who were trying to tell people that they were
giving them something for nothing by appealing to some sort of anti-
American nationalism when, instead, they should have been appealing to
the better instincts of these people and trying to help them learn
English, which was a prerequisite to success.
We have done a monstrous crime. The liberals have done a monstrous
crime against the young people in our Hispanic communities throughout
this country in making sure that they did not learn English
proficiently by having them taught at a young age in a bilingual
setting, which just inhibited them from learning English as we now find
they are doing in southern California.
Mr. TANCREDO. Mr. Speaker, the point the gentleman from California
(Mr. Rohrabacher) brings up about bilingual education is an extremely
important point. I hope people understood and heard what he said, about
not only the willingness of people of the State of California to
eliminate it, but a large, a significant number of a part of that
population that voted to eliminate it were Hispanics themselves.
Because most of the people that come here from Mexico or anywhere
else, they come here as poor people looking for a better life. They
understand one thing very clearly; that is, in order to get that good
life for themselves and for their children, they need to speak English.
They do not want their children in these bilingual classes.
It is this educational elite that wants to force these children in.
Well, there are a lot of interesting reasons. Some are political, some
are cultural. But we passed in the Committee on Education and the
Workforce, and in the education bill that we passed out of this House
just a short time ago, we included a provision for bilingual education
that, for the first time, will require parental approval, not just
notification, but a parent has to give their approval, an affirmative
statement that they want their children in a bilingual classroom.
One cannot imagine how that was looked upon by the other members of
the committee, by members on the other side of the aisle especially. It
was fought tooth and nail.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, is the gentleman from Colorado trying
to say that the people on the other side of the aisle opposed giving
Hispanic parents even the choice of having their kids in bilingual
Mr. TANCREDO. Absolutely, Mr. Speaker. This was an anathema to them
that they would ask an Hispanic parent or any parent, it does not have
to be Hispanic, someone who could not speak English, permission to put
their kid in a nonEnglish speaking classroom.
Colorado, it used to be until a short time ago, that one could spend
one's entire career in school K through 12 in the Denver public school
system without ever being in an English speaking classroom. Now that
has changed: It is down to 3 years.
But I will tell my colleagues this, that all of the attempts on the
part of the education establishment are to keep these kids in longer
and longer and longer even though they learn nothing. I tell my
colleagues that thank God for those parents, smart enough to know,
smart enough to know they may not have terribly marketable skills in
some of the high-tech areas or whatever. But those parents are smart
enough to know that their children have to learn English and should,
just like their grandparents and mine came over here, mine would not
speak Italian, they would only speak what, my grandmother used to say,
speak American, speak American.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. TANCREDO. I yield to the gentleman from California.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, it should be noted that, in California,
there were actual demonstrations by Mexican Americans at the Board of
Education against bilingual education. The Board of Education, of
course, would not listen to them. It was not until people were forced
through a ballot initiative to eliminate bilingual education or at
least give these parents a chance to have their kids taught in a
nonbilingual setting, which then gave them the ability to compete and
have better lives.
What a crime against these young people we have seen. I hope the
Hispanic community notes this, notes the effect and who caused this,
who caused the lowering of the potential of their child by forcing them
through this antieducational environment that is called bilingual
I would like to note something while we are talking now about illegal
immigration. A lot of times people will suggest that this massive flow
of illegal immigrants really has not hurt anybody in this country. We
have already pointed out that in California, at least I think this is
true in other parts of the country, that the class size alone shows us
that young people in our country have been damaged severely by having
an extra, in California I will bet about a third of the class members
in most classes in southern California are illegal immigrant children
whose parents have come here recently, never having paid taxes, and now
their children are immediately enrolled in a school system they have
never contributed to. Is that hurting somebody? You bet it is. It is
hurting the kids of the legal immigrants and the kids of the citizens.
But illegal immigration by being out of control as it has has had a
tremendous impact on the standard of living of our people. We have just
gone through 10 years of a major upsurge in our economy. This is one of
the great times since Ronald Reagan turned the economy around in 1983,
we have had one of the longest periods of economic growth in our
Yet, what is confounding the economists and the others who are
analyzing all of the figures from the last Census is, how is it
possible that wages have not gone up even though we have had this major
increase in the economy and the GNP? All of the models would have had a
big increases in wages. In other words, the standard of living of the
American people should have gone up of average working people, but it
Why did it not? They have figured it out that, instead, our liberal
colleagues have been downplaying how many illegal immigrants are in our
country. They have been telling us maybe there is 4 or 5 million
illegal immigrants in our country. No, the Clinton administration lied
to us. There are between 10 and 20 million illegal immigrants in our
Do my colleagues know what that has done for the average person? All
of that money that should be going into the pockets of our own citizens
because wages would have increased, that did not happen at all. That
did not happen because there were more people there offering themselves
at a lower price to undercut our own citizens, our own legal residents.
In other words, janitors in our country should be making more money.
Guess what? Janitors in the United States of America, if it was not for
illegal immigration, would be making a lot higher salary. What about
people who work in hamburger stands? What about people who work in
parking lots? What about people who work in all those many millions of
jobs throughout our country that, yes, they are at the lower skill
level, but they deserve to have some of the benefits of an expanding
Our poor people deserve to have their standard of living go up when
things are good in the United States of America. But what has happened
is we permitted ten to 20 million illegal immigrants into our country,
and thus the standard of living of the lowest part, the lowest rung of
our society, people who are just struggling to get by, their capability
of raising their standard of living was undercut by, of course, the
liberals who care so much about the poor people.
I hope that people in this country realize that this has gone so far
that even their labor unions now have turned a corner and are saying
that we should permit illegal immigrants to come in and take labor
When we are doing that, we are undercutting our own people. Our own
people will not even get into those unions.
This is a terrible crime against the people of our country. I will
have to say, the Republican leadership has not stood up to this. I am
hoping that President Bush will. But President Clinton and his liberal
gang just betrayed the interests of the American working people over
and over again, and illegal immigration is one of the best examples.
Mr. TANCREDO. Mr. Speaker, the point the gentleman from California
makes, especially about the impact, the negative impact of immigration
on immigrants themselves, is something that we must not overlook here.
It is not simply for a selfish benefit that we propose to reduce the
number of immigrants into this country, both legal and illegal, it is
because it is also the best for immigrants themselves.
We can, in fact, accommodate a certain amount of immigration into
this country, and we will all benefit by it, the Native American, if
you will, or the indigenous American, if you will, and the immigrant.
But we cannot do it at these numbers, not in a million a year legally
and 2, 3, 4 million a year illegally.
Here is what happens. There was a report not too long ago that was
kind of perplexing. It was confounding in a certain way because it
talked about the growth of poverty among children in America. Once
again, one says to oneself now this is anti-intellectual. It does not
seem right. It does not seem logical. How can we have a growth in
poverty in the United States of America when in the last 10 years, 12
years, 20 years, 15 years probably we have had this enormous economic
Well, if one studies the numbers, what one finds out is that there is
a growing number of children that are ``in poverty''. But who are these
children? They are the children of immigrants themselves, because they
cannot achieve the American dream for the same reason that my colleague
explains. There is a depressing effect of the numbers on the wage
rates. This has been documented over and over and over again.
Yes, maybe it is a little better than they could have made in their
country of origin, but they still cannot accumulate the necessary
trackings of the good life over here because they have to take the
lowest wage jobs. Because in the numbers they come in here, it
depresses that whole wage.
You bet I hear from others. It is not just ``liberals'' who oppose
any sort of lessening, reducing immigration, reducing the numbers and
trying to do something about shoring up the border, it is many, many of
my more conservative business people who come to me and say, I have to
have these people. I have to have them. I would say, what do you mean
you have to have them? They say, well, I cannot get people to
work. I say, you cannot get Americans to work for that wage. Put that
in there, and I cannot absolutely understand that. Yes, it is true.
So believe me, I am not just here condemning this sort of, what I
call the noblesse oblige attitude of the left. It is also these very
selfish interests of many people on the right who are impoverishing
both the people coming in who are taking advantage of them, who are
manipulating them, and at the same time they are actually reducing this
quality and sound of life for the rest of America.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, we may have a disagreement on the
decline on bringing down the legal number of immigrants. I think a
million people coming in in a very rational approach and trying to
bring in people who can take care of themselves are honest and healthy
and is a positive thing.
I think we can absorb a million. But what is skewed to me, what has
skewed this whole situation and, as the gentleman was saying, even
those people who are being seriously affected now is the fact that we
have let illegal immigration go totally out of control. While we let a
million people in legally, there are 3 and 4 million illegal immigrants
into our country coming in through other means.
The gentleman from Colorado is precisely correct when he says it
impacts those legal immigrants as well as the poor people in our
society. For example, and he also pointed out, that it is not just
liberal elected officials who are involved with not caring about this
issue that is hurting our people, but he pointed out that there are
many businessmen who are taking advantage of it.
When I said the standard of living of our working people is not
increased because of the legal immigration, we have to remember that
many of the businessmen will not offer health care and other benefits
to their workers because they do not have to. They do not have to.
Go down and check the health care departments throughout the United
States of America, and one is going to find they are swarming with
illegal immigrants who have come here, either people who are sick and
wanted to come here and get free operations, or people who came here
are healthy people, went to work, and worked at virtual slave labor
prices for big businessmen.
Big businessmen, if they are going to expect that the market is going
to protect them, that we believe in the market, thus we believe they
can charge what they want for their goods and services and what they
offer for people, the market has got to work when it comes to labor as
well. If labor is going to cost more money, business is going to have
to pay more money for labor. We expect that because we expect the
standard of living of poorer Americans to rise right along with the
rest of our society.
But if we have a situation where the poor people of this country have
joined a liberal coalition that turns its back and permits millions of
illegals to come into this country, our poor people will never be
offered the jobs that have health care. They will never be offered a
The poorer people of this country have been betrayed by the liberal
coalition who have made themselves an ally with illegal immigration in
our society. Whether it is health care or whether it is good jobs, it
is all being undercut by the liberal coalition and big businessmen who
are, yes, many of them are Republicans.
One last note on that point. The gentleman and I faced an issue here
recently just last year. How many times did we hear about H-1B Visas?
Right? H-1B Visas. Does the public know what an H-1B Visa is?
We were being asked to give hundreds of thousands of jobs to people,
basically people from Pakistan and India, in order to come in and get
these great high paying or mid level and high paying jobs in the
computer industry. At that time, the high-tech industry said, oh, we
cannot find Americans to do these jobs. I talked to these businessmen.
Oh, you have got to give us these.
Yes, they could not find Americans to do it because they were paying
$50,000, and now the market value for people that could work in those
high-tech jobs was more like $75,000 or $80,000.
But how did American business want to deal with that? I will tell you
how: by beating American citizens into the ground, by bringing in a
hoard of people from overseas to undercut their ability to get a higher
wage. Give them H-1B visas. Let us bring in 600,000 people from India
and Pakistan to get those jobs.
I would say to the businessmen, have you tried to go down to the
local high schools and pick out the young kids who do not have the
means to go to college but have the skills, the academic skills, and
offer them scholarships if they will come and work for you? Oh no, they
did not do that.
Well, did you go to the disabled community where we have people in
wheelchairs who can do work, but maybe they do not have the use of
their legs or something? Did you go to try to recruit those people to
set your shop up, so they could do the job and pay them a good and
decent wage for a change? Oh no, we have not done that.
No, what we want to do is bring in these young Indians and Pakistanis
who will work for one-third the wage of what our people will work for
and let those other Americans go to hell, as far as they are concerned.
This is not what this government is supposed to be about. This is not
what Republicans are about, at least not these Republicans, because we
care about the citizens and, yes, we care about the legal immigrants in
our country. And we should not be supporting policies that undermine
the ability of our people to have their incomes increase or undermining
the ability of our poorer people because of an economic boom to have a
Mr. TANCREDO. The gentleman brings up so many good points and
addresses them so articulately that I am always inspired listening to
him. I enjoy it tremendously because I believe the gentleman is a
patriotic American who understands the real challenges to this country.
We have said this before, but they do not want to look at this issue
of immigration. They are afraid of it for a variety of reasons, but as
my colleague says, one reason is they will be confronted by name
calling and epithets. And I guaranty you when we get back to our
respective offices our phones will have been lit up, and for a long
time, with people saying a lot of relatively nasty things. I have gone
through this before. I understand it. I am willing to go through it
time and time and time again, because I believe this is one of the most
serious pressing problems we face as a Nation.
I believe with all my heart that we will not exist as we are, a
Nation with the kind of quality of life that we have, unless we address
this head on and take our lumps. And people can call us all the names
they want to call us and whatever, but somebody has to bring this to
the attention of the American people.
And I will say one more thing about what my colleague mentioned
before on the part of many businesses to ignore the alternative, the
alternative being to force the school systems. If we are having a
problem, if the problem is that our school system just simply cannot
produce, does not produce the kind of quality skills and level of
skills that business needs, there is a way to address that. They can
demand more from the schools. Or they could avoid all that. They can
avoid putting money into the school system, they can avoid challenging
the schools with school choice and a variety of other things, and they
can take the easy way out. Business can say, I do not have to get them
here because I can go to someplace else, I can go to India and Pakistan
to get them.
I suggest it is just like when we talked earlier about the fact that
we are giving Mexico and other countries, for instance, the President
of Bangladesh, when he was confronted with the growth in his population
and what he was going to do about it, he said, ``I'm not going to do
anything about it. I will let America take care of it. I will send them
to America.'' This is the problem; that we give these nations an out.
We become their safety net.
It is the same thing here by letting these employers off the hook and
not forcing them to go to the school systems, not forcing them to
improve the quality of education and then they can
get the kind of help they need. We give them a safety net. We say go
Mr. ROHRABACHER. If the gentleman will yield once again, the irony of
this is that so many of these countries that are sending their people
here, many of the people coming here are their educated people and they
need them in their own country. Many of the people who come here from
other countries are indeed people who believe in our democratic system
and are the cream of the crop. And, as such, what we have done is take
away the ability of that other country to have progress in their
country while at the same time undermining the United States, the
people of the United States of America and their standard of living.
We are going to keep having shortages in energy, as the gentleman
said, in transportation, health care, and especially education. We are
going to continue to see the standard of living of ordinary Americans
just stagnate unless we get control of this illegal immigration. And if
we do not stand true to our principles of keeping English the official
language, it will create total chaos and division in our population.
I congratulate the gentleman for his leadership he is providing and
let us work together on this.
Mr. TANCREDO. I thank the gentleman very much for coming down here. I
hope we will do this again and that I will be able to convince the
gentleman that even a million a year illegally is too much.
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