[Congressional Record: October 10, 2001 (House)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
IMMIGRATION REFORM AND BORDERS OF INTEGRITY
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mrs. Wilson). Under the Speaker's announced
policy of January 3, 2001, the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Tancredo)
is recognized for 60 minutes.
Mr. TANCREDO. Madam Speaker, the issue I wish to address tonight is
the issue that I have had the opportunity of addressing several times
on this floor, it is the issue of immigration, immigration reform, and
specifically the problems we are encountering in this country as a
result of our inability to develop over the past several years a
mechanism, some way or other, to actually have borders with integrity.
For quite some time, it has been the prevailing point of view in this
body, I think, and certainly in the past administration, and, to a
certain extent, even the present administration, that the concept of
open borders was appealing, and appealing for a variety of reasons,
some of which had to do with economic benefits that may accrue to the
country as a result of having massive flows of individuals and goods
and money back and forth across borders.
There is that kind of argument to be made with regard to the issue of
immigration and open borders, and that argument held sway. There was
also a political argument, and that was that, in fact, if we could get
a large number of people into the country, and that those people could
stay here without detection, eventually have children, and those
children of course would become American citizens by virtue of being
born here, it was a long-term strategy, I agree, but nonetheless the
strategy was that those people would become part of a political party
and cast votes primarily for one of the political parties in the
country. And, of course, that is the Democratic party.
That was another reason why it was so hard to ever affect change. It
was so difficult to ever get anybody to pay attention for any call for
immigration reform because we had those two sides. On the Republican
side, we had a great deal of opposition to immigration reform from
business and industries that wanted cheaper labor and that wanted to be
able to access large numbers of immigrants, both legal and to a large
extent, unfortunately, illegal immigrants in the country for the
purposes of getting their labor and doing so for a sort of reduced
So with those two very powerful forces at work, it was very difficult
to ever advance the idea of immigration reform. Anyone that attempted
to was automatically subjected to derision, name calling, and the like
for being both racist or xenophobic or a wide variety of other kinds of
nasty names, because immigration was an important issue to them. To me
certainly it is, and it has been for quite some time.
But there has been a huge shift in attitudes here, I think, in the
Congress of the United States, and certainly, to a large extent, even
in the country itself. That is to say, I think for the most part if we
would have asked people before how they felt about immigration,
especially illegal immigration, a majority would always say they were
opposed to it and that they wished that we would do more to stop it.
And this, by the way, interestingly, was a majority of white Americans
and a majority of black Americans and a majority of Hispanic Americans.
All of them felt the same way about the issue of illegal immigration.
Now, the majorities were not huge, but they usually were always the
majority opinion; that we should do something about immigration,
especially illegal immigration. But ever since September 11, of course,
things have shifted dramatically. And I must say, Madam Speaker, that
there is absolutely no way I would ever want to have this issue won in
the halls of Congress or anywhere else because of the events that we
had here on September 11.
But for whatever reason that is where we are. Things have changed,
and I am glad they have. I am glad there has been at least now more and
more emphasis placed on and attention paid to the whole issue of
immigration and immigration reform.
As we approach the legislative process here and we begin to develop
pieces of legislation to deal with the events of September 11, we will
undeniably be looking at legislation emanating out of the Committee on
the Judiciary that is sometimes referred to as the antiterrorist
package of legislation. That is coming up relatively soon, I
It is truly unfortunate that most of that package got watered down.
It is almost incredible, as a matter of fact, to recognize that as part
of the overall strategy that this government is going to employ to deal
with the issue of terrorism, that we would not concentrate heavily on
securing our borders and trying to do everything humanly possible to
stop people from coming into the United States who have evil intent.
This is not easy. It is not easy to do. It is not easy to identify
people who are coming here with that kind of intention, but there are
certain indicators that America may have a problem with various
It is amazing to recognize the following:
In 1990, the U.S. passed a series of immigration laws. They were
sponsored by a member of the other body from Massachusetts, and it
instructed the State Department employees that mere membership in a
terrorist organization or advocacy of acts of terrorism should not
exclude foreigners from receiving U.S. immigration visas. Mere
membership in these kinds of organizations should not exclude anyone
from getting a visa.
Again, in light of everything that has happened, this seems almost
unbelievable that any Member of this body, this body or the other body,
would ever say such a thing, would ever put such a thing into law, but
that is exactly what happened. This is sometimes referred to as the
fellow traveler law because for a period of time there was an
immigration law that said foreigners may not come into the United
States if you belong to an organization that has called for the
overthrow of the United States Government. We were concentrating on
members of the International Communist Party at the time. If you were a
member of some organization that had committed an act of terrorism, you
could not come into the United States.
But in the heyday of political correctness, at a time when we were
searching our souls to figure out how we could possibly apologize for
being who we are as Americans, when the philosophies of relativism,
moral relativism were being breached in all of the campuses around the
country and all of the textbooks were telling people our culture was no
better than any other, and we could not possibly characterize another
culture as being inferior to ours, that kind of what I would certainly
call muddle-headed thinking ruled the day. It certainly did in the
media, it certainly did in academia, and it certainly did in the halls
of Congress. Political correctness.
One of the more bizarre aspects of that muddle-headed thinking to
which this Nation went and to a certain extent still exists, even here
in the halls of Congress, as evidenced by the fact that we watered down
the terrorist bill, but as a result of that we passed this law that
instructs the State Department employees that mere membership in a
terrorist organization or advocacy of acts of terrorism should not
exclude foreigners from receiving U.S. immigration visas.
In an article in ``Human Events'' it says, ``Under the law as it is
someone who belongs to a Middle Eastern terrorist group and has
publicly stated the desire that the World Trade Center towers be blown
up, cannot, on those grounds alone, be denied permission to legally
enter the United States as a prospective citizen. In such a case, the
ultimate decision of whether to grant the immigration visa is up to the
State Department officials, subjective evaluation of a person's
knowledge and intent.''
According to the official Foreign Affairs Manual posted on the State
Department's Web site, immigration law requires that a foreigner must
be denied a visa if he or she has, quote, ``indicated intention to
cause death or serious bodily harm and/or incited terrorist activity.''
If they come in and say I would like to apply to a visa to the United
States of America, the consular office official says, here, fill this
out. If you put down I intend to blow up your buildings, then I can
keep you out. Then you can say it does not look like you have filled
out this paperwork correctly because I cannot let you in as long as you
These things would be funny if they were not so tragic and idiotic.
It is just a manifestation of this goofball thinking of how dare we
think that we cannot keep someone out of our country because their
culture may be inferior. And I am going to state categorically there
are cultures that are inferior to ours. There are cultures that do not
put as much emphasis on human rights, on individual human rights, and
on human freedom; and I believe that makes them inferior to ours. And I
do not mind saying so.
I believe in the past we fought with cultures and political
organizations inferior to ours. I believe that Nazism and communism
were inferior in many ways, and certainly worthy of our disdain. And
they rose to the level of those kinds of organizations and groups and
philosophies that we should be wary of, and we should try our best to
keep people out of the United States if, in fact, they proposed to
advance these ideas.
It is not to our benefit that these people come in. Things happen
when they come. Sometimes places get blown up. Sometimes people are
killed. Sometimes governments teeter, thank goodness not ours, but
certainly in other countries. These acts of terrorism have been
successful in bringing governments down.
I am not suggesting for a moment that if tomorrow we were to be able
to place troops on the border, which I hope we can do, or completely
revise and improve the quality of the work done by the INS, which would
be an astronomical undertaking, and improve the technology that we use
as sensors to see whether or not people are coming across the border, I
do not for a moment suggest if we did all of these things we would make
our borders impervious to these incursions. Someone could get through.
What I suggest, Mr. Speaker, is that we have to try. We have to try.
We have constructed a strategy, a military strategy to deal with the
Taliban and Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda group that he directs, and
any other terrorist organization that gets in our sights.
We have described in detail to the American public that strategy. We
will go in initially with the assets that we can deploy there in the
air, both missile and airplanes; and we will try to destroy the
We hope that we can develop an indigenous population that will
support our efforts and will act against the Taliban. We will seek out
these organizations even if they are some place outside of Afghanistan
and perhaps go after them also.
At the same time, we will use humanitarian efforts. We will drop food
packages and leaflets and go into psychological operations, and we will
broadcast into Afghanistan and drop pamphlets. This is a
multifaceted war on terrorism. All of that I agree to. I believe it is
But there is another important facet to the war, another important
strategy that for some reason has not really developed into a well-
publicized or even well thought out strategy as far as I can tell
because I have not seen anything so far that would indicate that we
have developed a strategy to indicate that we have tried to keep these
people out to begin with. I have not seen a detailed, thought out,
well-thought-out, well-delineated strategy to try to keep them out to
begin with. That is amazing.
It is, of course, our responsibility to think of every imaginable way
there might be in order to defend and protect the lives and property of
the people of the United States. Well, it certainly seems to me only
logical and only rational that part of that strategy be something to do
with the protection of our borders.
There is no doubt about certain things that happened on September 11.
One is that all 19 of the hijackers and terrorists were here from
another country. I think, although we do not know this now because the
INS and the Department of Justice will not tell us, but I think we will
find that most of them were here on visas, various kinds of visas, and
that many of them had violated their visas, and would have, therefore,
been eligible, not just eligible, but would have been placed in a
situation of being deported had we found them, had we known about it.
We did not know about it, but that is not too surprising because there
are, according to recent estimates, somewhere near 4 million people in
the United States who have simply overstayed their visas, making them
illegal immigrants into the United States.
So every time we talk about the number of immigrants who come across
the border every year illegally, and how those numbers are added to the
total numbers every year when we talk about illegal immigration into
the United States, we do not, for official purposes, count the at least
4 million people who are here illegally as a result of visas
infractions. People who have overstayed their visas, people who have
just simply forgotten about it, walked away, they know there is nothing
that is going to happen to them. There is not much fear in the heart of
anyone out there who has simply decided to hang on, stay and live your
life in the United States. Get a job, vote.
I know you are not supposed to, you are not supposed to do that if
you are not a citizen, but it happens. One of the individuals we know,
we found out voted twice. No, they were not here illegally. I am saying
one of the individuals, one of the hijackers. He was known to have
voted. I am sure that we will find many more who did the same. It is
not that unique. It is not that unusual.
We do not know exactly how much it happens, but we have this thing
called the motor-voter law which is such a flimsy attempt to try and
actually bring any degree of validity to our voting system.
Anybody can get a card. Anybody who wants to can get a driver's
license. Anybody who wants to can get a Social Security card.
In Denver, one can go to a flea market, but there are a variety of
places. I just happen to know about this one place because an ex-
governor of the State of Colorado, Richard Lamm, will talk about it
periodically. This is an issue with which he is involved also, the
issue of immigration and immigration control.
He went to this flea market, and he purchased after about I think 15
minutes of haggling over the price, and I can't remember for sure, I
think it was something like fifty dollars starting up to about a
hundred, maybe got him down to fifty dollars, but he purchased a
driver's license, a Social Security card and a variety of other
documents right there on the spot. They can take one's picture in the
little booth and ring up a little card and the person is off to the
With that, of course, a person can do almost anything, including, by
the way, vote. So do we believe that these people who are here
illegally do not vote simply because on the form that you fill out it
says are you a U.S. citizen and you have to check that off, yes, I am;
oh, okay, well now you are and therefore you can vote?
Well, that fraud is rampant in this arena, and the fact is that there
is very little that any of these people who are here illegally, any of
the millions of people who have overstayed their visas, very little
they have to worry about. They can take up life just like any other
American, and unfortunately, they can act in ways that are certainly
detrimental to our health as a Nation.
The scope of the problem is almost mind boggling, and it is a result
of the complete ineptness on the part of the INS to actually address
their responsibility, the responsibility with which they have been
charged for years, to try on the one hand to maintain the integrity of
the borders and on the other hand to help people who want to come here
legally. They have completely lost their way, Mr. Speaker.
I will tell my colleagues that in a debate I was having in Denver on
the radio with a lady who was I believe was the public affairs person
for the INS in Denver, she stated when asked by the moderator why is it
the INS does not round up all these people who are here illegally and
send them back home, she said that is not our job. That is not our job.
Our job is to help them get here and get legal.
Now, I think she was confused about her job, but I also believe that
she is not unique at all in thinking that that is her job. That was the
job of the INS, to simply get people here as much as they could, get
them legal because they put very little resources into actually sending
people back who were here illegally, finding the ones who had violated
their visa status or had come across the border recently, very little
effort was placed in that, and almost all the effort was placed on
getting people here, getting them legalized, getting them eventually to
become citizens of the United States.
My colleagues may recall, Mr. Speaker, the previous occupant of the
White House forced the INS to rush through as quickly as possible and
as many as possible applications for citizenship and get them qualified
to vote before the last election. I think it was in the congressional
elections actually before that that this occurred, but there was such a
press to get people into the ranks of voters who were here as
immigrants, that a huge, huge faux pas occurred and thousands,
estimates are up to 60,000 people were made citizens of the United
States who had criminal records, had felony convictions against them.
They became citizens because they were rushing them through so quickly.
So it was not just this lady who was arguing with me on the radio who
has this concept about the INS. The INS is the culture because actually
it is an old, established agency and a lot of bureaucratic inertia, and
there are many, many good employees, many of them who have contacted my
office by the way, many of them who have actually written us letters
saying, Mr. Tancredo, you are right to do what you are doing, to say
what you are saying, because the INS is in bad shape; it needs to be
reformed. All of its efforts are directed in areas not related to the
actual security of our borders or the strength of the immigration
For the most part these people feel as though they are crying in the
wilderness and they are. It is true they are because that particular
agency simply does not care about the fact, did not care and to a large
extent I think still does not care about the possibility of having
people come across this border who would do us harm.
Why do I say that? Well, let me give you another statistic that is
almost amazing, and again, it goes to the scope of this problem.
Every year, as I say, there are millions of visas which are violated.
We give out something near 30 million visas a year, and that only
represents a small portion of the people who come to the United States.
There are over 550 million visitors to the United States every year. So
less than 10 percent of that number end up being required to have a
visa. So 30 some million visas, 35 million approximately visas are
handed out every year and somewhere near 40 percent of those are
violated in the course of the year. So somewhere near 12 million people
every single year are here in some violated status; that is to say,
they are here illegally.
A lot of them still do go back home at some point in time. It is
true, we do not end up with 12 million people a year, but we have ended
up with 4 million. Massive problem, 12 million a year violated. What do
we expect the INS to do? Well, I know that it is tough, that is a tough
job, how are we going to keep track of them. Very difficult to do. It
is a matter of resource allocation.
How about this one, Mr. Speaker, forget about the 4 million who are
here illegally, have simply walked away from their visa requirements
and are just simply living life as they wanted to as an American
citizen. Forget about that for a moment. Think about this.
Of the millions of people who are here and who have violated their
visa, we do get some of them into the judicial system. They are brought
to the bar. It is usually, by the way, not for simply overstaying their
visa. Usually it is for committing a crime, and in the process of
arresting and finding out about them we realize, oh, by the way, they
are also here illegally because they overstayed their visa and so they
were brought to court, an immigration court, and an immigration law
judge listens to the case and a decision is made, and he or she hands
down a verdict, and the verdict could be that they are to be deported.
So now we actually go through a couple of hundred thousand cases a
year of people who violate their visa, come before a judge and are
ordered to be deported, couple of hundred thousand a year
approximately. Maybe 40,000 of that number annually will actually be
deported. The rest walk away, turn around and walk away.
We know that there are about a quarter of a million of these people
out there. I think it is probably far higher, but right now even the
INS will attest to the fact that there is at least a quarter of a
million people wandering around the country, not just as visa
violators, not just as overstaying, but they have committed a crime and
they have been ordered to be deported and they are simply walking
around the country.
Why, Mr. Speaker? Because the INS could care less, pays absolutely no
attention to it, turns around, walks away from the immigration control
point and says you are essentially on your own. Why? Because they do
not care. It really boils down to that. They do not care. It is not a
big deal to them.
I have heard from individual agents. I have heard from retired
agents. We had an INS agent in my office just last week. He has been on
the job a long time. He is still afraid of being fired if he becomes
known publicly, and we are supplying him right now with all of the
information necessary so that we can protect him if we have to through
whistleblower laws because if I can get him to come public with his
stories, many years, I will not say how many because that would help
identify him, but many, many years in the INS as an agent who has
worked in almost every aspect of immigration control. If I could just
get him to tell his story publicly, people would be amazed. We would be
amazed. The general public would be amazed. The INS would not even be
slightly surprised because, of course, they know their own culture.
They know that what I am saying here is accurate, that they do not care
about people here illegally.
A lot of sound and fury is going to be directed toward the INS right
now as a result of what happened on September 11, and let me go to
another article here. This one appeared in the Los Angeles Times on
September 30. It says, The September 11 terrorists did not have to
steal into the country as stowaways on the high seas or border jumpers
dodging Federal agents. No audacious enemy, quote, inserted them
commando style. Most or all appeared to have come in legally on the
kinds of temporary visa routinely granted each year to millions of
foreign tourists, merchants, students, and others. Nothing in the
backgrounds of these middle class men from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and
elsewhere apparently aroused suspicion among the State Department's
consular officers who review visa applications.
Let me point out once again that even if there is something
suspicious that had come up, by law, that could not keep them out, like
if they had belonged to some terrorist organization. Jot down al Qaeda,
I am a member. That could not have kept them out.
Once here the 19 hijackers-to-be did not have to fret much about
checkpoints and police stops, even after some of their visas expired
and they became illegal immigrants. The suicide attacks that killed
6,000 and more have brutally exposed shortcomings in airline security
and intelligence gathering, but the strikes also highlighted another
vulnerability. This is the Los
Angeles Times, Mr. Speaker. It says, another vulnerability, the
Nation's visa granting and immigration regime, and if that is not an
understatement, highlighted some shortcomings.
It goes on to say that the entire system is principally geared toward
meeting another kind of threat, people of modest means whose concealed
aim is not to bomb or wreck havoc but to work illegally in the United
Moreover, proposals by Congress to keep closer track of immigrants
living in the U.S. have been delayed or blocked because of complaints
that the new rules will be too restrictive. That the Members know has
We have actually passed laws in this Congress, in 1996 specifically,
that were designed to try to do something about the fact that we cannot
keep track of anyone who is here, especially student visas and what
happened? The colleges and universities got upset with us and said we
are academicians, we are not paper shufflers, we are not supposed to be
just filling this stuff out, and essentially they have not done it.
They have not kept track of people.
We are going to have to try to deal with that of course eventually,
but they would not dirty their hands, the universities, with trying to
keep any sort of records and documentation of whether or not this
particular alien here in the country, visa holder of a particular
nature, usually a study visa, is actually doing what he or she said
they were going to do.
Going back to this article, what little is known of the hijackers'
history in this country suggests a certain confidence that immigration
law could be circumvented where necessary. Again, what an
understatement. For example, it says confidential records indicate that
two possible hijacking ring leaders, Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi,
presumed pilots of the jets that hit the World Trade Center, overstayed
their initial visas.
Hey, you know, they and, what, 12 million other people that year.
``It is an abuse that can void the travel document.''
Yes, it can, but, of course, somebody has to find them.
``But despite having no valid visas, both men left the country and
were allowed to return on flights through Miami and New York last
January, said an INS official who reviewed the records.''
So, now, look what we have here, Mr. Speaker. Listen to this again.
Not only do they overstay their visa, but, okay, you cannot find them.
I know it is a problem. Oh, gee, there are 12 million. How are we going
to find all the people that overstay their visas? But these two guys,
they were both on invalid visas, both left the country and were allowed
back in, through Miami and New York last January.
``Other hijackers have been in the country on lapsed or otherwise
invalid visas as, authorities say. Officials declined to provide more
That is certainly true. We have asked, my committee, my caucus, I
should say, the Immigration Reform Caucus and others, have asked the
INS for specific documentation about these 19 hijackers. I want to know
who they are, I want to know where they came from, and I want to know
what was their status in the United States. All we have is anecdotal
information here and there, because what they sent me back was a press
release issued by the FBI that listed all 19 of the hijackers. It had
absolutely nothing to do with their visa status except for two here on
some sort of study visas, and one of them had overstayed his, if I
As many as 4 million, I mentioned this, legal tourists and others
have become illegal immigrants, according to government and academic
estimates. These are the people with visas who overstayed them and stay
here. They never go home. Federal officials acknowledge that they have
no idea where all these people are.
In 1998, as part of a crackdown on illegal immigration, Congress
passed a series of laws zeroing in on abuses of temporary-resident
status, with changes including expediting the expulsion of convicted
felons and bogus asylum claimants. But other congressional mandates
were never put in place.
One measure directed the INS to develop an automated system to track
the entry and departure of all visa holders. Another provision called
for the accounting of hundreds of thousands of holders of student and
other temporary visas.
However, Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that I have to report this,
because, again, the powerful interests that I mentioned at the
beginning of my presentation, in this case it turned out to be the
powerful special interests of businesses and commercial interests that
violently, vehemently opposed any of the restrictions that we had
passed, that were to be placed on people entering into the country so
we could keep some sort of track of them. Especially people from the
Canadian border states complained that the new reporting requirements
on people exiting the country would slow down transport or commerce.
The Canadian Government also balked. The plan was put off. Likewise,
academic institutions also objected to more controls, as I mentioned
earlier, on their growing population of foreign students. That plan too
was put on hold. All these things had been passed, Mr. Speaker. All of
them were simply junked.
Now, here is an interesting aspect of this. One of the September 11
hijackers who went by the name of Hani Hanjour entered the country on a
student visa ostensibly to study English at the Berlitz School in
Oakland. There is no record that the Saudi ever enrolled, school
officials say. No one checked. There is no law requiring schools to
verify student visas. So we are now, of course, going to be looking at
putting something like that in place.
The fact is that the INS complains when these things are brought to
their attention. They complain that they do not have the resources.
They simply have not been able to develop enough resource allocation
from the Congress. We have not given them enough money so that they
have not been able to put enough agents on payroll and that sort of
The reality is, of course, in the last several years we have
quadrupled the budget for INS; but it has gone essentially to waste. It
has not gone into the area of enforcement. It has gone to,
unfortunately, build a bigger bureaucracy in areas that have nothing to
do with immigration enforcement.
There are many questions that we have to ask INS; and we have to ask
ourselves, Mr. Speaker, about this issue of immigration, especially in
light of the fact that this threat of terrorism comes from an
identifiable group of alien males between the age of 20 and 35 and that
we can now get a profile. They can and do quite easily travel in the
What is more alarming, Mr. Speaker, what is really incredibly
annoying, is that however those people got into the United States
before September 11, they could get into the United States on October
10. Six thousand are dead; threats of biochemical terrorism, nuclear
terrorism, abound. We read in the paper, I hear one of my colleagues,
the gentleman from Connecticut (Mr. Shays), over and over again telling
the media that it is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when we will
have to experience another one of these kinds of attacks.
Every time I hear that, my heart sinks, because, of course, not just
because of the fact that is a distinct possibility, but because of the
fact that in this particular area, in this one area of immigration
control, we have essentially done nothing to stop it, and the bill that
we will see soon coming to this floor does essentially nothing to stop
it, nothing with regard to immigration control.
We will call it a bill to deal with terrorism, an anti-terrorism
piece of legislation. But, Mr. Speaker, in terms of the most
significant activity with which we as a Nation should be involved, that
is, the protection of our borders, the protection of the life and
property of the people who live in this country, our number one role,
as I say often from this microphone, it is more important than all of
the other things we do. It is more important than all of the other
Departments that we fund. The role of the protection of the life and
property of the citizens of the United States is paramount. And where
does that begin? It seems to me it begins at our borders.
We can certainly, and certainly should, go beyond our borders to find
people like Mr. bin Laden and others and deal with them wherever they
are; but the next, and I mean not just the next thing to do, but along
with that, at the same time, certainly we should be doing everything we
can do, mustering every ounce of our energy in this country to defend
Let me suggest something that could be done tomorrow. It would not
take any activity on the part of this House. We would not have to pass
any law, we would not have to go through a committee, we would not have
to come to a vote, we would not have to deal with it at all. The
President of the United States could pick up the phone and call the
Governors of the various States that are on the borders, north and
south, and ask them to deploy some of their resources in the form of
National Guard troops on the border to help us defend that border.
We do not have to even use the regular military of the United States,
active duty military of the United States. We could, of course, employ
without that. There is something referred to as the posse comitatus law
which people suggest would be problematic if we wanted to actually
employ troops on the border, active duty troops.
We do not have to deal with that. We could go to every Governor and
say would you please do that. I believe that most, if not all, of the
Governors would agree to call up the National Guard and allow some of
those resources to be placed on the borders, to help us defend the
border. That could happen tomorrow.
We could demand from Mexico and from Canada their help in defending
the border. We could threaten, if they did not give us that help, that
there would be ramifications, economic ramifications and others,
diplomatic, if they would not agree to providing support and resources
on the border, to help us defend our border. We could do that tomorrow.
It does not require any action on the part of this Congress.
Then the Congress has certain other responsibilities. One, we could
establish a brand new immigration control authority. We could
essentially abolish the old INS. For all intents and purposes, Mr.
Speaker, it would be the best possible thing we could do. We could
replace it and the various other organizations that are all out there
unfortunately sometimes stepping all over each other; we could abolish
those agencies. That would require, of course, congressional action,
administrative approval; and we could combine them all in one border
We could take away certain responsibilities that are now given to the
Department of Justice and INS, given to the Department of Agriculture,
given to the Treasury for customs enforcement.
Right now we have customs, and this is one of the more bizarre
stories that has come to light during this debate. You can, and often
people do, people who are attempting to come into the country illegally
for various purposes, will stay behind, say, somewhere behind the
border, say in Mexico in this case, watching through binoculars,
watching the various lines. Because, you see, in certain lines, an INS
officer will be in charge, and they can do certain things; but they
cannot do other things in the course of their investigation of you as
you cross the border.
In the other line you may have a Customs official, and they are in
the same situation. They can do certain things, but things that INS
cannot do. But they are not together.
So people actually watch, and this happens, Mr. Speaker; and it has
been attested to more than once, people actually watch the lines to try
to figure out which one is being watched by an INS agent and which one
is being watched by a Customs official. Because the Customs official,
by the way, or the INS guy, one or the other, I cannot remember which
now, cannot open the trunk. That is within one of the regulations. One
can do it, but the other one cannot open the trunk.
So if you are going to smuggle drugs into the United States, for
instance, you watch to see which line is the line that is being handled
by the agent that cannot open the trunk, and that is the line you get
This is again almost mind-boggling, but it is absolutely true,
because we have got so many different kinds of organizations trying to
run the border; and none of them talk to each the other, none of them
share information with each other.
The INS has at least three, sometimes they say four different kinds
of computer systems, none of which talk to each other. If you were a
person in Saudi Arabia that wanted to come to the United States and you
go to get a visa application, there is no way for that counsel or
official to check that application through a series of data banks that
might come up with something that is important. They only have one.
They do not have the State Department. They do not have the FBI's or
the CIA's. They cannot cross-check. So, of course, many times, many
times, if you are not on the State Department's list of bad people, but
you happen to be on the FBI or CIA list, it is okay, no problem. You
can get through, your computer will not identify you.
It is amazing how incompetent we have become; and it is because,
again, as I say, the culture, the culture in the INS and the whole
immigration community that says, really, who cares? Bring them in. Do
not worry about it.
We go back to the whole issue of moral equivalence again and the idea
we should not probably be keeping anybody out that wants to come to the
United States. What right do we have to do something like that, to
suggest they should not come in? This is the kind of bizarre thinking
we were dealing with.
Now it has changed. So now what do we do? How long are we going to
keep this goofball activity going on at the border, two different lines
run by two different agencies with two different sets of regulations?
How long is that going to happen? The INS, how long will they be
unable, unwilling, but certainly for a long time, but even now unable
to check various data banks? How long will it be before we actually put
into place some method of tracking a person who comes into the United
States under a particular visa for a particular purpose, and then we
will be able to find out if that person is not living up to that set of
regulations? How long will it be until we do something like that? Every
day that we wait, Mr. Speaker, is a risk that we should not take.
I cannot guarantee, as I have said over and over again, I certainly
cannot guarantee that we will be able to completely and totally seal
the borders from people who should not come into the United States; but
I can guarantee this, that we have to try. We have to try. Just because
people steal from banks and do so successfully almost every day in this
country does not mean that we should leave the money on the counter.
Simply because they do it, why should we try to stop them? Just because
they come across the border illegally does not mean we should not try
to stop them from coming illegally. And no matter how unpleasant this
is to talk about, no matter how difficult it is because, of course, we
run into all of these issues, we run into both domestic and foreign
policy agendas that conflict with our attempts to deal with border
security. Mexico will not like it, I have heard. That is true. The
Canadians might not like it. That is true. That is tough. That is
tough. It is not the safety of Mexico or Canada that I am primarily
concerned with here, but it should be their concern also because in the
total scheme of things, we are all in this boat together. It is not
just the United States Government that these terrorists want to topple
and our way of life they want to destroy; it is the West's way of life
and Western Civilization that poses a threat to them by its very
Our Nation, I believe, suffers as a result of massive immigration,
and has for years. I was here long before September 11 talking about
immigration and my concerns with regard to massive immigration, legal
and illegal. I think there are major problems for the United States as
a result of it. But regardless of the cultural issues, the quality-of-
life issues as a result of huge population growth, all brought on by
immigration, and some of those old figures that I used to use, not old,
just figures I used to use here before September 11 when I used to
concentrate on sort of the demographic problems of immigration, massive
immigration, showing that by 2050 we may reach, if
things go as they have been for the last several years, according to
the Census Bureau, if our population grows at exactly the same rate as
it has been growing for the last couple of decades, that by the mid-
century, we will be at the half-a-billion mark in this country
population-wise; and 90 percent of that increase from now until mid-
century will be as a result of immigration, legal and illegal. Believe
me, those numbers do not count the kinds of things we have talked about
here: 4 million people running around the country who just simply
overstayed their visa; they are not even counted in that figure.
So regardless of all of that, regardless of the kinds of problems
that the Nation faces in terms of resources, resource allocations, the
degradation of the environment, and again, the quality-of-life issues
that confront people all over this country; talk to people from Los
Angeles, if we do not think that the quality-of-life issue is relevant
when we talk about immigration. Every time I give this particular
speech and I walk back to my office, there are calls, most of which are
from California and people saying they are very supportive; some, of
course, not so supportive, but most are; and they attest to the fact
that there is a quality-of-life issue to massive immigration, huge
numbers of people coming across the borders. We cannot sustain it. We
cannot build infrastructure fast enough to sustain it, to sustain a
high quality of life.
Those are the issues that we used to address before September 11.
They are still important. They are still meaningful. I wish that we
could make the case just on those points alone. But I have never been
able to overcome the opposition of the political side of the process
here that says, those people will eventually become good members of the
Democratic Party, so let us not keep them out, and on the other side
here saying, we need them for cheap labor. I have never been able to
really wrestle with those two big Goliaths. Those are very tough, very
difficult, very powerful interest groups.
But now, forget all of that. There is something far more significant
and immediate. Those threats I mentioned, those problems were all long-
term threats to the health of this Nation and the survivability of the
Nation as we know it. But what I am talking about now is, of course,
immediate threats to our survivability. I am talking about people who
came here for the express purpose of murdering thousands; and they
would not care if it were millions, of our fellow citizens. That is why
they came, and they were able to come across our borders without the
slightest bit of concern; and they were able to stay here, even in
violation of our visa laws, without the slightest bit of concern.
It is despicable, Mr. Speaker. We cannot rationalize this in any way,
shape, or form. And if we can, if anybody in this body can rationalize
the past and say well, gee, we just did not know it would ever turn out
to be anything like this; although again, prior to September 11, I must
say that I and many other Members talked about the dangers to the
security of the Nation with having porous borders. But regardless, if
one can rationalize in one's own mind that we had to do it that way,
that it was really just the altruistic nature of our country that it
says ``give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to
be free'' on the Statue of Liberty, all that meant that we had to open
our borders, go ahead, rationalize it away; but now, think about the
future, think about tomorrow. Think about the unthinkable, the
possibility of another event as big as, if not worse, than the last
one, and imagine what it would be like having to rationalize their
position then and say, I knew it could happen but I chose to ignore it
and not vote for immigration reform. Mr. Speaker, I choose not to be in
that situation, and I hope a majority of my colleagues will join me in
our attempts to reform this system and keep America safe.
Share this page
Bookmark this page
The leading immigration law publisher - over 50000 pages of free information!
© Copyright 1995- American Immigration LLC, ILW.COM