[Congressional Record: October 24, 2001 (House)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE: HEIGHTENED BORDER SECURITY
The SPEAKER pro tempore ((Mr. Osborne). 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, as I have been waiting this evening to
address the House, I have, of course, been listening to the comments of
my colleagues from the other side with regard to airline security. It
will undeniably be an issue that will be brought to the attention of
the American public in this fashion as a point of general order and, of
course, discussions in the House as we meet daily. It is, of course, a
very important issue, there is no 2 ways about it, that people in the
general public believe that airline security has to be enhanced. I do
not know that there is a single Member of the Congress that does not
think that airline security needs to be enhanced. Of course, we will
have differences of opinion as to exactly how that should
happen and we, unfortunately, will take advantage of the differences
of opinion about this to make partisan points and to be incredibly
divisive and to reintroduce the whole issue of partisanship into the
debate about airline security. But that is, of course, the nature of
the business when we are in. When 2 individuals or, in this case, 2
parties have different opinions about issues like airline security,
each side will claim that the other side is being partisan for holding
on to their opinion.
It is intriguing certainly, intriguing, to say the least, that a
great deal of time is being spent on the discussion of airline security
with the thought in mind somehow that a change in who pays the wages of
the people who are charged with the responsibility for conducting
security, that somehow or other, this fact, this and this alone, will
change the whole arena and will change the whole feeling of the general
public about security, and will make people feel better about
traveling; just simply changing who pays the wages, whether it is the
Federal Government paying the wages or a private employer. Somehow or
other, people then will become much more intent upon doing their job,
much more competent in doing their job.
Well, I must tell my colleagues that I do not believe for a moment
that that is what will give us confidence in this country in terms of
our general, overall security. I do not believe it is the issue of who
is paying the person who is looking through that little screen as our
bags go through as to whether or not; and, by the way, people I guess
think of that as being some very complex job that only a very highly
skilled person, a ``Federal employee'' is able to do, right? Now,
again, I do not know what makes anybody think that a Federal employee
is more capable of looking into that little screen and seeing a light
go off, because they are not actually trying to identify any individual
part of the package going through; they are simply there to see when a
light goes off, and the light tells them, search that package, that is
it. Frankly, Mr. Speaker, it is not really a very high-level job. It
just means the light went on. Can you tell? If it does, search the bag,
Now, somehow or other, the other side would have us believe that if
we hire Federal employees, give them all the benefits of Federal
employment, of course, more importantly, the security of never being
fired for being incompetent, the security for being able to strike, the
security of being able to shut the whole Nation down by a work stoppage
because they can do that as a Federal employees union and never be held
accountable for it, that part never comes up in this discussion about
transferring this responsibility.
We are led to believe that if only the Republicans, these ideologues,
as my friends on the other side kept calling us, if only these
ideologues will agree to federalizing this entire work force, we will
be safer. But never has anybody said why. I ask my friends anywhere in
this House to tell me why it would be safer to have a Federal employee
looking through that screen to see the light come on, or any other
variety of jobs.
If we need better training for the employees who do this work, I am
all for it. I am all for it. If we want to federalize anything,
federalize the standards that have to be met. I have no qualms about
But who is the ideologue here in this discussion, in this debate? Is
it in fact the people on our side who are suggesting that the safer and
better thing to do would be to allow people to be hired and fired if
they are incompetent, to be fired if they threaten to strike and shut
down the entire Nation's air transport system, and yet be held to high
standards of ability in order to assure whatever degree of security we
want established at our airports?
Those of us who want that, are we ideologues, or could it be people
on the other side who want those people to be Federal employees? Again,
nobody has said why that is so necessary. The reason they do not want
to say it, Mr. Speaker, is because the reason they want Federal
employees is because Federal employees will contribute to the Federal
employees' union, which will contribute to the campaign coffers of the
people on the other side. That is ideological, in my estimation.
So the real issue here, as far as I am concerned, has nothing to do
with airline security; it has everything to do with securing our
borders. This is the issue we should be debating tonight, and every
single night and every single day.
I have never heard, and I have done this many times; as the staff and
maybe the Speaker will attest, I have have done this many times: I have
come to the floor on special orders to plead with my colleagues to look
at the issue of immigration reform, to look at the issue of defending
our border as the first line of defense in defending this Nation.
I have begged for that; and oftentimes, far too often, I have been
the only person here. I am happy to say that I am joined this evening
by a colleague to join in this debate who I will recognize in just one
second. It is just that never have I heard anyone from the other side
of this aisle come to this floor and talk about this issue.
Frankly, from my point of view, I am much more concerned about the
fact that we have porous borders through which people can come and do
come who wish to do us harm, and we have absolutely no desire to try to
stop them there, but we spend enormous amounts of time talking about
who should be the guy or the lady looking through the screen to see if
the light comes on in the machine. That is what is going to make us
I do not want them in this Nation to begin with. I do not want them
in the airport in the United States, the people who are here to do us
harm. I do not want them getting across the border. I do not want them
being given a visa in any nation in this world which requires a visa to
come to the United States. I do not want them getting it in the first
That is where our emphasis should be, because frankly, Mr. Speaker,
every single member of the organization that came here on September 11
and hijacked those planes, drove them into the World Trade Center and
into the Pentagon, and would have come here, were people who were not
citizens of this country. They were here on various visas, some of them
illegal because they had overstayed or not done the right thing on
their visa, and we did not care. We did not go after them. The INS
could not care less. I have tons of information we will get into
That is where I want our emphasis put. I want it put on stopping them
from getting here. I am all for airline security. I am all for making
sure that man or woman who is looking through the little scope on that
thing, and when the light goes off, I want to make sure that they say,
okay, open that bag.
Yes, I am all for it. I am actually for doing a lot more than that
with everybody who gets near the airplane. Food service handlers and
baggage handlers, let us make them accountable, too. We do not need to
make them Federal employees to get there, but that is a secondary
issue. The issue is, how do they get into the United States to begin
with, and why is it that we continue to be so afraid of paying any
attention to this issue, so afraid of discussing the issue of
immigration and immigration reform?
Someone who is not afraid of that has joined us tonight, and I yield
to my friend, the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Hayworth), for his
Mr. HAYWORTH. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Colorado for
yielding to me.
Let us acknowledge what he has said. Yes, it is important to
understand what is transpiring in terms of aviation safety. Yes, it is
important to have scrutiny to the point that we can ensure airliner
safety in many different areas, not only those who would come to get on
the plane and have themselves and their hand-carried luggage checked,
but also, transcending that, the caterers, the cleaners; a myriad of
other people who have access to aircraft. That is very important.
But it seems, to borrow the line from I guess Rogers and Hammerstein,
``Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.''
It is the unmistakable, undebatable function of the Federal
Government to secure our borders and to be in control of those who
would come to this Nation. My friend, the gentleman from
Colorado, points out the story of the 19 villainous vermin who came
here to do us harm; in fact, who launched this war with acts of terror
that were indeed acts of war that cost so many Americans their lives.
When we read the stories that our intelligence gatherers have been
able to come across, we understand that, either through
miscommunication or an unwillingness and inability to follow up on the
status of visas, or special visas that require really no scrutiny, we
allowed many of these horrific people to come and stay and perpetrate
their acts of terror and war.
We must secure our borders. The challenge in the early 21st century
is that there are those who would take an issue of national survival,
try to dismiss it as jingoism or xenophobia, or a myriad of attacks of
the politically incorrect, when, instead, they are elemental tools that
the American people cry out to see activated.
It is not only the border to our south. Mr. Speaker, I am sure there
are those who join us, and they see the gentleman from Colorado and the
gentleman from Arizona, and they say that it is the United States'
border with Mexico that causes the problems.
Mr. Speaker, I would point out that some who have perpetrated acts of
terror and war against this country came in through our border to the
north in Canada. I would point out the unbelievable situation,
according to some press accounts, that at least one of the perpetrators
voted in our Presidential election in 2000.
Now, there reaches a point in time when enough is enough. With the
war we confront and the nature of our enemy, we must take the steps
necessary to defend this Nation.
Governor Ridge has taken over as our director of homeland defense.
Our first line of defense is securing our borders and taking account of
those who have come here. It is very simple. The old saying is, when
you have dug a hole for yourself, stop digging. Until we get an
accounting of exactly who is here, and quite frankly, who should be
escorted beyond these borders, only then can we take control.
One other note. And lest this is confused, Arab Americans have a
chance to lead the way in our fight in terms of an understanding of
culture and language and their own sense of patriotism. They have a
chance to lead the way in this fight.
This is not for a second to impugn the motives or the patriotism of
any Arab American. Indeed, I know many personally who are guts-up
Americans who have served in the military of this country, who stand
ready to defend this land in any way, shape, or form.
But to those who have come illegally and to those who would do us
harm, it is time for a change; to harken back to what is absolutely
required of us in this constitutional Republic, and that is control of
our borders and an accounting of those who are here, and actions to
send home those who are here unlawfully.
Mr. TANCREDO. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for his comments.
It is not as if we had not been warned more than once. It is not as
if all of this happened to us in the United States, the events of
September 11, and we thought, Gee, how could this have occurred? Why
were we not warned? Why did no one ever come forward?
Well, of course, people have come forward. Many people have come
forward, and earlier than the 11th, actually years before. There has
been testimony before this House of Representatives, before the
Congress of the United States, about the dangers we face as a result of
having border that we cannot control.
As early as January 25, 2000, a terrorist expert by the name of
Stephen Emerson testified at a U.S. House of Representatives hearing on
international terrorism and immigration policy. Rereading Emerson's
testimony is chilling, but it is also infuriating, because he laid out
chapter and verse how terrorists enter the U.S.
Emerson virtually predicted the attacks. In a 35-page document,
Emerson listed the various reasons for the emergence of terrorist
groups in the United States:
One, an ability to operate under our political radar system;
Two, an ability to hide under mainstream religious identification;
Three, loopholes in immigration procedures;
Four, ease of penetration of the borders;
Five, limitation on FBI and other agencies performing law enforcement
functions, including the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the
More sophisticated compartmentalization of terrorist cells around
loosely structured terrorist movements;
Exploitation of freedom of religion and speech;
Exploitation of nonprofit fund-raising, and lack of government
Does all this sound somewhat familiar? Every single issue that he
brought up of course we now know to be part of the great mosaic that
has been presented to us here as the terrorist threat:
Increasing cross-fertilization and mutual support provided by members
of different Islamic terrorist groups;
Ease of ability to get student visas from countries harboring or
Failure by universities to keep track of foreign students and their
Protection afforded by specially-created educational programs;
Ease of visa fraud and the intervention of false credentials from
passports, driver's licenses, credit cards, and Social Security
Blowback from the anti-Soviet Mujahedin that the U.S. supported in
Again, it is almost uncanny, but this was testimony to the United
States Congress, and we chose to ignore it. Why? It is because this
issue, the issue of immigration and immigration reform, paralyzes so
many of us. We are afraid of the kind of epithets that are thrown at us
when we enter into this debate.
Mr. JONES. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. TANCREDO. I am happy to yield to the gentleman from North
Carolina (Mr. Jones).
Mr. JONES. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman, and certainly
the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Hayworth), as well as my friend, the
gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Tancredo) and the gentleman from Minnesota
(Mr. Gutknecht), who is here to speak in just a few minutes.
Concerning a point the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Hayworth) made as
well, and the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Tancredo), let me say today,
as a matter of fact, I was in a 1-hour call-in show in Raleigh, North
Carolina, the home of NC State, where this gentleman played football
years ago, and there came up several times a point you and he made when
I first came on the floor.
Certainly those of us in the Congress, whether they be on the
Committee on Armed Services, which I am on, or it could be on the
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and other committees, we
have known for a number of years that the possibility of a rogue nation
or a terrorist group making an attack on the American people was a
matter of probably when it was going to happen. Would we be prepared?
That is another question.
The point that was made today by four or five callers is prior to
September 11, we have had a problem in this Nation. I know that is what
the gentleman has been speaking about, I know that is what he has been
speaking about, and I know that there are many people in this Congress,
and the gentleman has taken the lead on some type of legislation.
We have done a very poor job as a Nation, as a country, of tracking
those who come visit our Nation and what they might be doing, and
whether they are extending their length of time in this Nation without
permission, so to speak, from the government.
We need, as the gentleman was saying tonight, and the gentleman from
Arizona, to do something. The time of debate about what we should have
done is past. What are we going to do is the debate of the present and
So I want to say that I am glad to be here with this group tonight
because the American people, the five callers that I had today on this
Raleigh radio station said, yes, we know we have a problem. What are we
going to do to reform the problem? What are we going to do to make sure
that American people are safe from a security standpoint?
Mr. TANCREDO. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman.
Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Hayworth).
Mr. HAYWORTH. Just to echo that point and to thank my friend from
North Carolina for mentioning my alma mater, although my football
experience there may not be quite NFL caliber, but we will not go to
But the town halls of the areas, whether it is talk radio WPTF in
Raleigh; KFYI in Phoenix, Arizona; a town hall meeting we held on city
cable in Scottsdale Friday evening, the people who came there demanded
that in this time of war we absolutely control our borders. That is the
first step in homeland defense.
It is not for a second to suggest it is the only step, but it is the
Mr. TANCREDO. The gentleman is so correct. We cannot stand here
tonight, nor have we ever stated in this debate that unequivocally we
know that if we simply control our borders, do everything we can
possibly do to make sure that the people who are coming in are
identified, that we know what they do when they come in here, that we
know when they leave, that if we did all of these things that we could
prevent any other kind of event. But not doing those things makes us
At this point in time I will say this, that God forbid, if there is
another event of a similar nature as there was on September 11, and it
occurs as a result of somebody else waltzing across our borders,
somebody that we should have been able to identify as being one of the
bad guys, somebody that we recognize or who even comes in under
legitimate passport or visa but then does something here for which he
should have been deported and we do not do it, if anything like that
happens, we are not just being irresponsible, we are actually being
culpable at that point. This Congress is culpable if we do not do
everything we can do to stop it. It may still happen, but we have a
It is like saying they still rob banks even though we have laws
against it. What does that mean? Should we pile the money on the
desktop in the bank? No. We should still do everything we can do to
stop it. And that is what we should be thinking about in this Congress.
Our immigration reform caucus, I see Members joining us here tonight
who are members of the caucus; and I sincerely thank them for their
participation in that effort because that is the only thing that is
going to move legislation through this is getting enough folks to add
their voice to those that have been raised in this debate so far.
Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Gutknecht).
Mr. GUTKNECHT. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman from
Colorado (Mr. Tancredo) and my colleagues that are here tonight for
having this special order because I think as we talk about this war on
terrorism, if we are not serious about really dealing with some of our
immigration problems, then we are not really serious about the war on
terrorism. Because if we have enemies from within and we are doing
nothing about it, I think the gentleman is exactly right, then we are
culpable. Shame on us for not doing more.
The more we learn about this, the more troubling this becomes. I was
surprised to learn, and I think most of my constituents, when I talk to
my constituents, I ask them, for example, how many people do you think
come into this country every year on average on some form of visa? I
get numbers like 100,000, 200,000. And when I say to them, it is 31.5
million people, they are taken aback. Then the question I ask is, what
happens to those people? Where are they now? And the truth of the
matter is we do not know.
One of scariest things if we look back at the events of September 11,
two individuals went up to the ticket counter of American Airlines at
Dulles Airport just a few miles from here, they used their own names
and they purchased tickets on American Airlines to fly. Now, the
interesting thing was the INS knew that those two individuals were
members of the Egyptian jihad. Now that did not preclude them from
coming into the United States. But the interesting thing is the FBI did
not know that, and neither did American Airlines.
I was at the Pentagon the other day, and I walked down the hall where
they have the pictures of all the people that were killed that day. And
I think the saddest picture of all is that picture of that young bride
in her wedding dress. Somehow when I think about that, that here the
INS knew that these two individuals, using their own names, were
members of the Egyptian jihad, and yet that information had not been
shared with the FBI or American Airlines.
Shame on us. We have got to do something about this. In fact, the
more I have learned about this, and I want to thank the gentleman from
Colorado (Mr. Tancredo) because he has done a great job of shedding the
light of day on this issue because we need to know. The American people
need to know. For example, in the last year that we have numbers for,
895 people came to the United States on visas from Iraq.
Now, we do not have a whole lot of business dealings with Iraq. We
buy a little bit of oil from them. We know that they have been
problematic relative to harboring terrorism. How did 895 people get
into this country on visas? And, most importantly, where did they go?
Mr. TANCREDO. Let me answer that question, at least a partial answer
as to where did they come from? How did they get here? How is it that
895 people from Iraq were given visas?
Something else your constituents should know about, something all of
our constituents should know about. There is another program operated
by the government, we passed it not too long ago. It is called
diversity visas. Diversity visas are given to countries that we do not
think have actually sent us enough people. As bizarre as this sounds,
this is the truth. Congress passed it a few years ago. There are 55,000
allotted every single year. They go to countries, as I say, that it has
been determined, it is a formula basis; and if a certain country has
not sent us enough people, then they go to the head of the line, these
diversity visas, 55,000 of them. The bulk of those 55,000 visas go to
countries in the Middle East, Egypt, Iraq, Iran. They are put on the
top of the list.
So I do not know if the 895 people from Iraq came on that basis. But
I am telling you that 55,000 visas are set aside just for those kind of
countries. They have not sent us enough people. That is as bizarre as
it gets. No, that is not as bizarre as it gets. Believe me, it gets
even weirder around here when you start talking about his issue.
Tell your constituents this, that of the 31 million people who come
here every single year on visas, something like 40 percent violate
their visas. That is 12 million people a year who do something to
violate the visa. They overstay it. That is the most common. But they
break our laws. That is another very common thing that happens. Of the
12 million who violate these visas, we actually end up with maybe
100,000 of them going into the judicial system, maybe 200,000.
Of the 200,000 of the 12 million who get to the immigration court,
about 100,000 actually get deported. No, actually get sentenced to be
deported. A judge hears the case. He hears about the person who beat up
the old lady, raped the young girl, murdered somebody in the street,
robbed the bank, whatever it was, and the judge sentences this person
to be deported.
At that point in time, in the system we now have, in the immigration
system, that person is turned over to the INS for enforcement
procedures. And I had a judge, an immigration judge call my office one
day and say I have got to tell you this because I am going crazy. I am
so frustrated. I have been here 12 years on this bench. He said, day in
and day out I listen to these stories. I adjudicate and I find someone
guilty of violating their visa and I order them deported. And day in
and day out they turn around and walk out the door, and I know they
will never be deported because INS does not go after them. They do not
care. That is not their main interest.
He said, I think there are about 225,000 of these people wandering
around the United States. So we went on the television and everywhere I
would go I talked about it. I said by now it is about a quarter of a
million. I thought I was pushing the envelope a little bit. He said the
information was about a year old. I thought by now it is probably a
Finally, someone from Human Events and a newspaper in California went
to the INS and kept pressing them. They finally admitted, yes, it is
true that there are a few folks out there who have been ordered to be
deported but they are not gone. How many? It was 300,000 per year.
This is what the INS says they have lost. No, the INS says we know
they have been deported. We cannot find them. We do not know where they
are, and we have not gone after them.
Can you imagine explaining this to anybody, a constituent, and having
them say, well, Congressman, what are you going to do about that? And I
say, it is very tough because you try to get any immigration reform
across here and they would rather talk about the airline security guy
who is looking through the screen.
Mr. JONES of North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. TANCREDO. I yield to the gentleman from North Carolina.
Mr. JONES of North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I will leave in a second;
and my good friend and part of our immigration caucus, the gentleman
from Virginia (Mr. Goode), will be stepping up.
Let me say, this is what I want to leave to my colleagues here
tonight from Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, and Virginia. We need for
the American people, we all have been on this floor numerous times with
friends, let me say this, that support you, we need for the American
people to understand that this is absolutely critical that we reform
the immigration laws of this country if we want to protect the national
security of the American people. And for that to happen, they need to
let their Members of Congress, their Senators, their President know
that this is a critical issue.
Mr. Speaker, I would like the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Tancredo)
to know that I will do everything I can to help him move forward with
this reform because it is critical to the national security of America.
I thank the gentleman for that.
Mr. TANCREDO. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the gentleman. I must tell
the gentleman, I could not be prouder of the people on this floor
tonight who are here to support this effort. It is great.
Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Goode).
Mr. GOODE. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman from Colorado
(Mr. Tancredo) so much for his leadership on the immigration issue and
for his work in diligent, hard-working fashion in finding out so many
statistics and facts that we need to bolster our argument to end
illegal immigration and to curtail legal immigration.
I wanted to share with you an article from the Arizona Republic that
talks about the 19 terrorists that were involved in crashing the
airlines into the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and into the field
in Pennsylvania. It appears that over half of those hijackers were
illegal. There are no immigration records on six of them. And I will do
the best as I can in reading their names. Fayez Rashid Ahmed, Satam
M.A. Al Suqami, Hamza Alghamdi, Mohand Alshehri, Saeed Alghamdi and
Wail M. Alshehri.
Those six have no immigration records. And the gentleman was talking
about the situation of walking in across the Canadian border or walking
in across the Mexican border, and any of those six could have taken
either of those routes into the United States.
Then we go to four that were here at one time legally, but they were
out of status and that means they were also illegal. They entered
legally but overstayed the visa was Nawaf Alhazmi, admitted to the
United States as a nonimmigrant visitor in January 2000. He appears to
have overstayed his visa. Waleed M. Alshehri, admitted in June 2000 as
a nonimmigrant; and on the date of the September 11 was in illegal
status. Ahmed Alghamdi believed to have been admitted as a nonimmigrant
student and appears to have overstayed his visa. The other, Hani
Hanjour, admitted as a nonimmigrant student in December 2000. INS
officials say they were unable to determine whether Hanjour was legal
on September 11.
Another issue in the area of immigration that I feel we need to focus
on is H1-B visas. These are the high-tech visas, and we recently in a
prior Congress increased the maximum number from 65,000 to 110,000.
In my opinion and I know the gentleman has worked for this and
others, we need a moratorium and H1-B visas. That is one thing that
could help our economy now because American citizens need these jobs.
I want to just briefly lay out the job layoffs in the fifth district
In my home town of Rocky Mount, 500 jobs were lost at Lane Furniture.
In Altavista, Virginia, 500 jobs were lost. In Clarksville, Virginia, I
received a call from the Mayor today, 600 jobs at Russell Stover are
lost. Last year, in Henry County, Virginia, we saw Tultex Corporation,
which was the biggest sweat and fleece wear manufacturer in the country
go completely out of business; JPS Converter, in Halifax County, 250
jobs, 2 months ago. And in Lunenberg, Mecklenberg, and Halifax Counties
we have seen tobacco workers lose their jobs because of the change in
climate in the tobacco industry. And there have been thousands of other
We need to be retraining these persons so that they can do the jobs
in the high-tech industry instead of bringing in persons from other
countries under H-1B visas.
And if the gentleman will just give me a couple more minutes, one
issue that is going to be facing us soon is going to involve an
extension of 245(i).
Mr. TANCREDO. The gentleman should perhaps explain.
Mr. GOODE. Well, 245(i) is a way for persons in this country
illegally, who have been here for some time illegally, to go around the
process and immediately get legal status.
This is a real slap in the face to those from other nations that go
through the process, that go through the interview process, that talk
with the consuls, that talk with the INS people, who get fingerprinted,
that wait in line for their turn. These people under 245(i) go around
the line and get to the head of the line and they are immediately
We are going to be asked, I feel, on the Commerce, Justice, State
appropriations bill to extend 245(i). The Senate passed it for, I
believe, an indefinite extension; and that measure has not made it
through the House, so they are going to attach something, I am fearful,
on that appropriations bill. And the message would be clear: if you can
get in here illegally, if you wait it out, you can get amnesty.
We do not need amnesty at this time. An amendment putting forth
245(i) for an extension, even if it is just for 6 months or a year,
would be the wrong message, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, on
the wrong bill. And I hope our body will defeat it.
Mr. TANCREDO. I appreciate the gentleman's comments, and I want to
reemphasize something he was talking about in terms of the economic
stimulus package that was passed earlier today. It was a very
controversial package of legislation, primarily dealing with tax cuts.
I hope that it will do the job. I hope that it will, in fact, provide
the stimulus this country needs to put people back to work and to deal
with the people in the district of my colleague, the gentleman from
Virginia, in the district of my colleague from Minnesota, all of whom
are looking at us for some way to describe what is happening to them,
some explanation of what is going on and perhaps a way to help out.
We can do certain things. We can tinker with the monetary policy, and
we can tinker with the fiscal policy, and we can hope that down the
road apiece all that will kick in and in maybe 6 months or a year we
will see the effects of it. But we could have done something today with
an immediate reaction, immediate reaction, and, frankly, I had asked
for permission to offer amendments to the bill but was not allowed to.
We were not allowed to bring this issue up. But I am going to talk
about it, and the gentleman brought it up tonight, and we are going to
continue to talk about this because we are going to introduce a bill
even in the next couple of days, and I hope my colleagues will join me
on this, and that is to repeal the particular provision that the
gentleman is talking about that has allowed us to expand the number of
people who can come in here on visas and take jobs.
We were told by many people that we needed them; that we could not
jobs with Americans; that no matter how hard they tried, no matter how
many ads they put in the paper, and we are talking now about white
collar jobs, these are not the folks that are coming in across the
border to do some of the more menial tasks. We are talking about white
collar jobs that are relatively highly paid, and we have been told for
years that we cannot get enough people in here to do it. Well, I think
we have people in the United States today, American citizens, who are
willing to do the job. But what is happening to us, because of the
visas we have allowed, the particular kind my friend refers to, and we
raised the cap on that visa, that particular visa, we now have allowed
195,000 a year, and they can stay for 6 years.
Now, figure that out. That is 1.2 million people after that period of
time, and that is only from this point on. It does not even count all
the ones that have come here up to this year under that visa program.
So there is 1.2 million potentially here in a relatively short time.
And we could close the door on that and we could improve the
opportunity for a lot of people in this country to get jobs again by
simply saying that if you are here, and I am sorry, if you are not an
American citizen and you are taking a job, you have to leave. Because,
frankly, we have our own people that we have to employ.
I am telling the truth here, and I am as altruistic as the next guy,
but I want to give the job to the American citizen before I give it to
somebody overseas. It is not as if we do not have people who want the
job. I have had people in my office, two just last week, both of them
displaced because they had people come in here on visas and take their
job. It was not because they did not want the job. That was not it at
all; but they could be replaced with somebody who would work for less,
pure and simple. So they are out of work.
And now, by the way, some of these visa holders have been thrown out
of work. And their visa says very, very clearly that they must leave
the country if that job ends. But the INS said just the other day, not
to worry; to spend a few months, they said, and look for another job;
compete with the Americans who have been thrown out of work, they said.
This is the INS. This is the group that we charge with responsibility
of monitoring our borders, of actually enforcing our immigration
policy. But they are not on ``our side'' here.
I had a debate in Denver, Colorado, not too long ago, with a lady who
was the representative of the INS in my region. During the debate the
radio announcer, the host, said to her, I do not understand, why does
the INS not go after these people who are here illegally and send them
home? And she said, without hesitation, this lady said, because that is
not our job. She said, our job is to help them find a way to become
I mean, I was flabbergasted. But I do not know why I should be
flabbergasted any more about things I have heard with regard to this
immigration issue because it is all mind-boggling. In fact, we are
compiling in my office, and if anybody has stories out there that can
be verified of these, what I call ``unbelievable but true stories,''
they can call our office, 202-226-7882, because we are compiling these
stories, and I will bring them to the floor night after night. I am
going to list the top 10 most incredible stories. We could be here
every single night for the rest of this Congress talking about these
incredible but true things like I have just described where an
immigration official said that the responsibilities of the INS was not
to go after people who were here illegally, but in fact to find a way
to get them into the United States and make them legal.
Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Minnesota.
Mr. GUTKNECHT. I will be real brief here, but the point the gentleman
is really making, and this is what we need to debate and discuss here
in Congress and for too long we have been cowed, and I want to come
back to that, from having an honest debate about immigration, but
Americans are being injured. We talk about what happened September 11,
and the list was very, very instructive from my colleague from
Virginia, but people are being injured every day by legal, semi-legal,
and illegal immigration in America today because no one is minding the
They are losing their jobs, people are being injured through crimes,
rape. We have had that actually happen in my town of Rochester, where
illegal people or people who were here on visas have committed serious
crimes, and yet there was no consequence. They are losing their jobs
and they are losing their futures because of this immigration, and at
the same time the INS is taking this unbelievably bizarre attitude.
Worse than that, we in Congress, the people who are elected to set the
policy for this country are cowed from debating this, or have been up
until the last several months, because we are all sons and daughters
and grandsons and granddaughters of immigrants.
We are a Nation of immigrants, and we understand that immigration is
part of our culture. And as Ronald Reagan said, we are one of the only
countries where people can come here and become Americans. I could go
to Germany, and my heritage is of German heritage, but in all
likelihood I would never become a German citizen. It is very difficult
to get German citizenship. You can go to France, but you will probably
never become a French citizen. And that is true of most of the other
countries of the world.
We permit every year more people legally to come to the United States
and become American citizens than all of the other countries combined
in the world. And that is good, because we are a Nation of immigrants.
But we have to have an honest discussion about illegal immigration and
what happens when those people who come here on visas and they break
our laws, when they take our jobs, when they do not play by the rules.
What are we going to do about it?
And the fact of the matter is we have not even had an honest debate
about that. But the good news is the American people are waking up on
this and they are far ahead of the public policymakers. When I have my
town hall meetings, when I talk on the radio, and when I meet with my
constituents, they understand. They get it. And they are way ahead of
us. And they are beginning to say, when is Congress going to begin to
take some serious action about this issue.
I want to make one more point before I yield back my time, and that
is to say, and our colleague from Arizona made this point, that we want
to be careful that we do not sound here on the House floor that we are
anti-immigrant or, more importantly, that we are anti-Arab or anti-
Islamic immigrants. We have a large number, about 300 in my hometown of
Rochester, folks who came here who are practicing members of the
Islamic faith. And I have never been prouder than last Monday when they
had a rally in Rochester, Minnesota, to hear people who could barely
speak English shouting and chanting with American flags in their hands
saying God bless America.
It reminded me of a country and western singer a couple of weeks ago
when he said something so profound and so simple, and it needs to be
repeated. He said, ``You know, the terrorists just don't get it. They
do not realize that we don't just live in America. America lives in
We do understand and appreciate the value of a balanced and fair
system of immigration. But the system has become so skewed and so
unfair. When we have 31 million people coming into this country and we
do not keep track of them on visas, when there are 200, perhaps 300,000
people who are in fact subject to deportation and yet there is no real
consequence, when there are people breaking our laws and no real
consequence, then the system is broken and it really is the
responsibility of the United States Congress to begin to fix it.
We want to work with the former Governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Ridge,
who has a very, very difficult job, and we all understand and
appreciate that. But we need to work with him, we need to work with the
administration, we need to work within the confines of the Congress to
make certain that we bring some sense of order out of this chaos,
because what we have right now in immigration policy is absolute chaos.
When people can walk up and buy an airplane ticket and the INS knows
in their computer files that they are members of potential terroristic
groups and that information is not shared, we
have a serious problem. When people can take jobs from hardworking,
law-abiding American citizens, and there is no recourse for those
citizens, there is something wrong with the system.
We have a chance, we have an opportunity, and most importantly I
think we have an obligation to fix that system.
We want to work with Governor Ridge. We believe he represents perhaps
the best opportunity to begin to get control of all of this and working
with the Congress to come up with a new immigration policy that
recognizes we want immigrants in our country, we want to be that
shining city on the hill that Ronald Reagan talked about, but we also
want to have some rules and see to it that those rules are abided by,
and that ultimately we do not have a system that literally invites
terrorists to come into our country to set up shop, to be able to move
freely around our country and never have to be accountable to anybody.
So I want to thank the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Tancredo) and the
gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Goode) for participating tonight to help
tell that story because I am convinced the more the American people
realize what is going on in this country, the more that they are going
to demand from their Members of Congress, from this administration,
from Governor Ridge and others that the system begin to change in a
Mr. TANCREDO. Mr. Speaker, I sincerely appreciate the gentleman from
Minnesota (Mr. Gutknecht) coming to the floor tonight, all of my
colleagues, because frankly I could not have said it better and
especially the gentleman's last statement in regard to his constituents
and others who were recent arrivals to the United States and stood up
there with an American flag and saying God bless America and saying God
Certainly, it is an interesting aspect when the gentleman talks about
the idea of dual citizenships, the fact that someone cannot go to other
countries and become a citizen, and it is very true that it is very
difficult in many countries to become a citizen of that country. It is
very easy here.
Another interesting aspect of all of this is that there is another
phenomenon we are witnessing with this massive influx of immigrants,
both legal and illegal, but the ones that eventually become legalized.
There are today as we stand here six million people in the United
States that hold dual citizenships, that have either refused to
relinquish at one point in time the citizenship of the country from
which they came or chose later to accept a second citizenship.
Mexico just recently passed a law a few years ago allowing for this
to happen and the numbers exploded. Six million here. I do not know
this of course, but I will bet my colleagues that not one of those
people that stood up where the gentleman talked about and waved that
flag and were singing God Bless America, I bet none of them have
latched on to dual citizenship because you have to ask frankly, whose
side am I on. When it really comes down to it, when a person takes the
oath of allegiance to become a citizen, that person is supposed to
relinquish any allegiance to any foreign potentate or power. That is
the old wording of it.
If the person has another citizenship, have they really done that?
Why is this happening? Should we allow it to happen?
I do not believe that United States citizenship should be conferred
on anyone who has some other loyalty. It is just another part of the
picture here that we have to bring forward and wonder about.
It has been a long time that I have been debating this issue, it is
true, and it is also true that now some Members of the Congress are
joining us. Those of us who have been in this caucus know that now we
are getting people coming to us and saying they want to join, and I say
that is wonderful. I hate the idea that it may have been the events of
September 11 that brought it about. I do not want to win on that basis.
I wish that was not the reason why this whole focus has changed
because it is such a horrific event, but we have to deal with reality
here, and the reality of the situation is this: That immigration is an
important part of this picture and immigration reform is a very
important part of the solution. That is undeniable. There is not a
Member of this body that can honestly look a constituent in the face or
another Member in the face and say forget about immigration, open
borders. Even organizations like The Wall Street Journal and others who
have been for years on their editorial page pushing the issue of open
borders, free trade and all this, and I am a free trader, so that is
not the issue at all, but even they now, I have noticed, have some
degree of reticence to come forward with those kinds of editorials and
I am glad of it. I just wish it had not been anything quite so
horrendous to force them into this position.
I yield to the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Goode).
Mr. GOODE. Mr. Speaker, in town meetings and public forums, even
before September 11, I saw in my district what the gentleman from
Minnesota (Mr. Gutknecht) was describing in his district, grassroots
America is fed up with massive illegal immigration, and they really
want to see legal immigration curtailed, and that was that feeling in
America before September 11 because these people are at the local
level. They are in the counties and cities all across America, and they
are seeing the impact in their communities.
The gentleman talked about the INS officials that do not deport. A
factor in that is once we deport them, if we send them north or if we
send them south, they can make a U-turn and come right back in. I know
the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Tancredo) is the chief sponsor of the
resolution focusing on the integrity of our borders, and I would like
to see that resolution moved forward and get us tighter security on
both the northern border and the southern border.
Mr. TANCREDO. Mr. Speaker, perhaps anecdotes are useful and I feel
they are useful to sort of portray a much bigger problem.
Every day somebody comes up to me because I have become sort of
involved with this issue and people know. So these people will tell me
stories about something they have heard something else that just
occurred. I will share with my colleagues and the Members here
something that happened again a short time ago, and it is one of those
things that one says no this cannot be, this is impossible.
Remember here, he was telling the story about, I thought at the time
three-quarter of a million people who were running around the country,
and I was saying to him, it is better to be a crook as an alien here in
the United States than it is to be a citizen crook. A citizen crook
goes to our justice system, to a regular justice system. In fact, if
the person is found guilty he is going to go to jail. It is a very good
chance if the person is found guilty as an alien, there is a very good
chance the person will never see the inside of a prison cell.
He said, again, well, listen to this. He said, You think that is
something, listen to this. This gentleman had been a member of the
Committee on the Judiciary, the gentleman from California (Mr.
Gallegly), a member of the Committee on Government Reform, and if I am
not mistaken, chairman of a subcommittee at one point in time, but he
was telling me about an immigration magistrate who had called him and
said I have had the most amazing thing happen. This is about the third
or fourth time.
He said a young man, I think it was 18 or 19 years old, came in, came
before me, and he had just mugged an old lady, broke her leg, stole her
purse. When the police arrested him, he had no ID, and so the policeman
said what is your name, where are you from. He said I am an illegal
alien, I am here from Mexico. So they took him to immigration court,
and the judge said, well, you have two choices. I will either send you
to jail or deport you right away. He said, well, judge, I will be
deported. So they put him on a bus from San Diego, sent him back to
He goes in as one somebody, the person he said he was, gets into
Mexico, calls his mother in the United States. By the way, this young
man I am talking about was born in the United States, parents were born
in the United States, grandparents were born in the United States. He
was a United States
citizen but he had learned the scam. He had learned that it was much
better to go before an immigration judge and be turned over to the INS.
So he calls his mom after they deport him, after they send him back
on a bus to Mexico, calls his mom and says bring down my ID. She gets
in the car, drives 120 miles, hands him his ID. He now enters the
country as John Doe, whoever he is, and of course, that record is
completely erased of who he was, that he went in and the violation.
They do not know anything about him. By the way, this magistrate was
telling the gentleman from California (Mr. Gallegly) this was not the
first time this had happened, that they had found this out.
Here is the thing. If the kid on the street, the average thug, a
mugger has figured out that it is better to be sentenced by an
immigration judge, what does that tell one about how many people are
actually taking advantage of the system who are, in fact, aliens? They
can with impunity violate our laws and do so and never fear that they
will ever be caught.
I see that we are coming to the end of our time. I want to thank the
gentlemen very much for joining me tonight, and I just want to end with
a little comment here that was on the earlier thing I read.
The U.S. can bomb Afghanistan to dust but terrorism will remain. In
some bizarre thought process understood only in Washington, D.C., the
possibility of tightening up immigration laws paralyzes most
politicians. Absolutely true, but not with the people who have joined
me here tonight, and I want to thank my colleagues for their courage.
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