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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

[Congressional Record: November 6, 2001 (House)]
[Page H7841-H7846]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr06no01-105]                         

                           NATIONAL SECURITY

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. KENNEDY of Minnesota). Under the 
Speaker's announced policy of January 3, 2001, the gentleman from 
Colorado (Mr. Tancredo) is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of 
the majority leader.
  Mr. TANCREDO. Mr. Speaker, I rise tonight on an issue that is similar 
to that which has been discussed on this floor for the last hour or so, 
and that is national security. It was focused almost entirely, the last 
hour, that is, on airline or airport security.
  It is an incredibly important issue. No one denies the fact that what 
is happening around the country in our airports in terms of security 
has got to be improved, and that there is a great deal of concern about 
how that should be accomplished, whether it is the federalization of 
screeners at airports or not.
  That seems to be the major sticking point, and it is an interesting 
one, certainly. It is not a very relevant point, however. I am afraid 
it is only a rhetorical point. It provides the minority party the 
opportunity to come to the floor of the House and suggest that the 
majority party is responsible for a lack of action that would lead to 
airline and airport security because we have not passed their brand of 
airport security.
  Now, that is predictable; it is understandable. That is the way this 
House operates.
  It is interesting to note that little, if anything, can be 
accomplished in terms of true overall airport security and certainly, 
very little can be accomplished in terms of national security by simply 
doing what is suggested needs to be done over the objections of the 
majority party; and that is to federalize the screeners that look 
through that little box as stuff passes through the x-ray machine as 
one tries to reach one's flight.
  That is really what this is all about. Should those people, the 
screeners, be Federal employees? Somehow, we are led to believe that in 
doing that one thing, just by making that one person, because remember, 
Mr. Speaker, regardless of the fact that those folks who were up here 
for the last hour kept talking about federalizing the system, we are 
not talking about federalizing the system.
  The system includes airplane pilots and airplane attendants and 
baggage handlers and food handlers and mechanics and people who sell 
the tickets at the airport and people who pick up bags when people come 
to the baggage check-in area. That is the system. That is the airport 
system. No one, absolutely no one that I know of up to this point in 
time, has suggested federalizing that whole process, eliminating the 
private entrepreneurial activity that goes on in airports all over this 
country, eliminating airlines taking over instead of the variety of 
airlines that we have.
  Federalizing the system would mean one airline run by the Federal 
Government. It would mean all pilots, all airline attendants, everybody 
I mentioned earlier would be part of this, quote, ``Federal system.'' 
That is what federalizing the system means.
  Now, they use that phrase, ``federalizing the system,'' but they are 
not really talking about that. They are talking about federalizing one 
tiny little part, making Federal employees of the people who look 
through that screen to determine what is going past the x-ray machine. 
And they are suggesting that somehow, somehow by magic, as if by magic, 
doing that, making those people who peer through that screen Federal 
employees, we will all be safer.
  Now, there is a cachet to the whole concept of federalization. I 
understand it. It is a knee-jerk reaction. The other body had that 
reaction when they passed the original bill. It was a knee-jerk 
reaction. Some of those Members of the other body closer to the second 
half of knee-jerk were on television explaining why that needed to be 
done and suggesting that there is some enormous advantage to be gained 
as a result of making all of the folks who screen your baggage and look 
through that little machine Federal employees. But no one has ever said 
why.
  Not once, not even in the 1 hour previous to this debate that I am 
having tonight, this discussion, did I hear anybody say that if we 
federalize these screeners, we will all be safer because. Because why? 
They will be what? Better trained? Well, fine. Does that mean that only 
a Federal employee can be trained?
  Well, I do not think so. I do not think anybody believes that that is 
the case. Then why would it be better just to make them Federal 
employees?
  Mr. Speaker, I do not know how many times my colleagues take 
advantage of that particular mode of transportation, airplanes.

                              {time}  2130

  I do it twice a week. My family periodically joins me out here. My 
sons, my daughters-in-law, my grandchildren all fly on airplanes quite 
often.
  They are the dearest things in my life, and to suggest, as our 
Members did in the previous hour, that if we vote against the 
federalization of airport security workers, of these baggage screeners, 
we are really surrendering to these money interests who evidently have 
put a lot of money into all these campaigns, and that is what has 
corrupted the system, they have suggested that the gentleman or I would 
in fact vote for a piece of legislation because somebody put money into 
my campaign, even though I thought that we would be less secure as a 
result of it.
  First of all, Mr. Speaker, I put every single person who donates 5 
cents to my campaign on our Web site. Anybody can go to it any time 
they want. That is more than the FCC requires. They require that we 
disclose periodically anybody that has given us over $200. We put 
everybody there. Everybody who gives us any money, we list them. We 
disclose them.
  I challenge anyone to go to our Web site, my Web site, and find any 
contribution from Argenbright or any of these other organizations that 
we are talking about, security organizations.
  I will tell the Members something else: if I were in charge right now 
of airline security, airport security at DIA, I would think very, very 
strongly of firing Argenbright. From everything I have heard, they are 
not doing a very good job. That may be the case. But I suggest, Mr. 
Speaker, it is easier to fire Argenbright security than it is to fire 
even one Federal employee.
  I suggest something else: if the same circumstance would happen in 
the future as happened yesterday or the day before in Chicago when 
someone went through the security process; now as I understand it, here 
is what happened: somebody came through the security process, and they 
were detected as carrying something that needed to be identified; and 
those screeners found this gentleman carrying two knives, and they took 
them away from him.
  What they did not do at that point in time was search his baggage. 
That happened some point later in the process when he was trying to 
board the plane and they found these other knives.
  Okay. Now let us assume something was wrong in this whole thing, that 
they should have searched his bags earlier; undeniably true. But 
remember, they found, these incompetent private employees found the two 
knives initially and took them away. That is what they were supposed to 
do at that point.
  Maybe there was some problem with what should have happened next, and 
as a result of that, some people may very well be fired as a result of 
not doing what was right and following procedure. I do not know exactly 
what the procedure was; but if there was something wrong, they could be 
fired, and I would suggest that they should be fired. We are not 
talking about an unimportant activity here; we are talking about the 
safety of the flying public. So I think the standards should be very 
high. If somebody did not meet that standard, they should be dismissed.
  Think for a moment, Mr. Speaker, what would have happened if the 
exact same scenario that I just laid out had occurred, but the 
employees there had been Federal employees.
  Does anybody think for a moment, by the way, that if we federalize 
the screeners, that this similar type of situation would not happen? Is 
that what I am being told by the other body, by the other body and 
including the other

[[Page H7842]]

Members who spoke earlier, that if we federalize the screeners by 
making them Federal employees, somehow what I have just described, this 
process that happened in Chicago, would not happen?
  Of course, why? Just making them Federal employees would make them, 
what, more astute, more intent on making sure that the procedures were 
followed? No. It is a problem, of course, of training and of standards. 
We know that. And it is silly to assume that just simply having Federal 
employees there would have changed the outcome.
  But what would have changed, Mr. Speaker, is the possibility of the 
kind of action taken against the employees, because if they were 
Federal employees, regardless of what we try to write into a law about 
our ability to fire a Federal employee, about our ability to transfer a 
Federal employee, about our ability to stop a strike or a work slowdown 
of a Federal employee, all those things have been challenged in court; 
and time and time again they have been thrown out.
  So it is just enough to put that into a piece of legislation, and to 
suggest that that is the way in which we would build a firewall between 
irresponsible action on the part of the union and the safety of the 
flying public is a ruse. It cannot happen. We cannot write laws 
to force people or to make it illegal for people to go on work 
slowdowns and strikes and to actually be fired if they are Federal 
employees if they do something wrong.

  Mr. Speaker, I spent 12 years as the regional director of the U.S. 
Department of Education. I assure the Members that the ability to 
actually dismiss someone for incompetence as a Federal employee is 
darned near impossible. It would take, sincerely, it would take years; 
and it would take hundreds of thousands of dollars to get rid of just 
one, let alone several people who we found to be incompetent.
  So I wonder, with that being laid out there, I just wonder, Mr. 
Speaker, what would be the outcome if these were Federal employees who 
had not followed the regulations correctly, as perhaps this happened in 
Chicago? We can at least fire the ones in Chicago. We will never be 
able to fire the Federal employees who would go through that same 
process and unfortunately make the same mistakes.
  Now, somehow people, again, as I say, would feel better. They would 
go, oh, gee, that is all right. I feel better. I am more secure if 
these guys are Federal employees that are looking through that screen.
  That is not it. If Argenbright, which has been referred to oftentimes 
in the last hour as the major contractor for security, if they are not 
doing it right, fire Argenbright. Fire Argenbright tomorrow. Bring 
someone else on who can do a better job. If whoever is responsible for 
hiring and firing Argenbright does not do their job, then hold them 
accountable politically. That is the process that I believe would make 
us more secure.
  I fly, as I say, every week, Mr. Speaker, twice a week to my family. 
I would never do anything, I would never cast a vote for anything that 
I did not believe would improve the security for my own family, and 
certainly myself.
  So to suggest that our opposition to this particular proposal is 
based on, on what, payments I had gotten, or other Members have gotten, 
for voting the way we vote? As I say, go look. We were moving close 
there to taking down the gentleman's words when he suggested such a 
thing.
  The other countries, we can look around the world and think about the 
other countries that have tried this. Yes, I know that they brought 
this up saying, well, the other countries have done this, but they are 
not like America. They do not have a political system that allows us or 
allows their politicians to be bought off. That is what they were 
saying.
  I do not know about the Speaker, but I think that kind of statement 
is irresponsible. I think the suggestion of the Members on the other 
side that it is only our system of government that prevents us from 
federalizing airport security, and that is essentially what they said. 
Go back and read their words. They said that other countries do not 
have a system that allows the corruption of politics to occur as a 
result of the money that private companies put into this.
  As I say, I had never heard of Argenbright Security in my life until 
this discussion over airport security began some month or two ago. They 
have certainly never contributed to my campaign; and I will tell the 
Members what, if they had given me 5 cents or $5,000, which I suppose 
is the most they could give; no, they are a corporation, perhaps they 
cannot give a dime.
  I do not know what the actual legal status of their arrangement is, 
but the reality is they have never given us any money. If they are a 
corporation, of course they never have been able to give any Member of 
this body any money.
  So to suggest that our support for a private company being held to 
high standards, federally established standards, is somehow injudicious 
or an aspect of corruption, then I suggest that we take a very close 
look at those people who are making these charges and ask ourselves, 
for what purpose would they be coming to this floor with those kinds of 
spurious allegations?
  There are many countries, many countries, such as the Netherlands, 
Japan, Belgium, France, Great Britain. These are excerpts from articles 
from the Washington Post with regard to countries who have at one point 
in time either employed or used federalization as a way to handle the 
airline security and moved away from it, or never started it to begin 
with.
  The Netherlands: ``As an armed member of the Dutch Royal Police 
looked on, the guard, an employee of a private contractor who had 
undergone a year of training through the Royal Police Academy, began 
questioning the couple.''
  These are examples of what we can have, where we can have Federal 
oversight and private actual implementation of the process.
  Japan. At Japan's Narita International Airport, the airlines hire 
separate companies to screen checked baggage, but combine to hire one 
contractor, one contractor to X-ray carry-on bags.
  Belgium. Sixty government inspectors work at the Brussels airport to 
oversee about 400 employees of private companies; 60 inspectors oversee 
400 employees of private companies.
  Securitas, an arm of the Swedish Securis group, AB.
  So there are alternatives to this Argenbright outfit, evidently.
  France. In France, airports do the hiring of security contractors and 
must draw from a list of companies approved by the Interior Ministry. 
Fine. No problem.
  Great Britain. Britain allows its airport to either hire a contractor 
or to perform the work themselves. Fine. Our bill, the bill that they 
so readily castigated over here, does exactly that. It allows the 
President to make whatever choice he wants in terms of how we will 
handle this issue, federalization or private or some combination 
thereof.
  But it is the height of hypocrisy to come to this floor and suggest 
that the only way this can be done, because, of course, we are the only 
Nation that would be in this position of having private security firms 
overseen by the Federal Government, actually be responsible for the 
security of our airport; to castigate us for that and not share with 
the American public the truth of the matter, that there are many 
governments that do. And this is not a definitive list of those 
countries that have tried federalization of airport security and moved 
away from it; there are many others.
  I suggest that we all should look carefully at this issue, and we 
should refrain from suggesting on the floor of this House or in any 
other medium that if a person votes for or against the bills that were 
on this floor not too long ago with regard to airline security, that we 
are doing so for any reason other than what we believe in our hearts to 
be the best thing for this Nation, and certainly for our own personal 
security, if nothing else, and for the security of our families who fly 
all of the time.
  Now, Mr. Speaker, let me get to the second point of my discussion 
this evening. It will probably not be a surprise that that point is 
going to revolve around the issue of immigration and immigration 
reform.
  I find it fascinating that we spend many hours on debate, in debate 
on this floor on the issue of, in this case,

[[Page H7843]]

airline security, and whether or not to actually make that individual 
who looks through that little box a Federal employee.
  This has just been so, so difficult for us to handle, such a major 
issue, such an incredibly important change in the procedure in America, 
that it deserves the hours that have been spent here in debate.
  I find it amazing that we have chosen to spend that much time in the 
debate over whether or not one tiny part of the entire airline system, 
just the lady or man who looks through that little screen, should be a 
Federal employee, that we find that to be the most important thing to 
talk about when it comes to our Nation's security; and we spend little 
if any time dealing with what I consider to be a far, far more 
important issue, and that is this: Would it not be better, would it not 
be better to spend at least as much time in the determination of who 
gets into this country in the first place, keeping track of them once 
they get here; trying to keep people who want to do us ill, want to do 
us ill, is it not better to do that than to even worry about what 
happens to them as they go through airport security, once they are 
here, once they are in the Nation?
  How is it that we can ignore the fact that there are millions of 
people in this country illegally, that there are millions of people who 
have overstayed their visas, millions of people who violate our laws 
all the time, and we are so worried here?
  I heard reference after reference to the fact that some of these 
private companies hire ``noncitizens'' to do the security at the 
airport, to look through that screen.

                              {time}  2145

  This has been said with aghast, taken aback, to use the Casa Blanca 
line. They are shocked, shocked to find that noncitizens are being 
employed at the airports. Hello, noncitizens, and not just noncitizens 
but illegal aliens in the United States are being employed in every 
aspect of American life; and no one seems to care about that, and no 
one seems to care about the fact that hundreds of thousands, in fact, 
millions of people cross our borders every single year, without going 
through the system, without going to apply for a visa, without coming 
through a border checkpoint so that someone could determine who they 
are and where they are going and why. Millions of people come across 
our borders where there is no checkpoint and where no visa is required. 
They sneak into the country.
  It is true that certainly a huge, vast percentage of the people who 
do that are not coming here to do harm to the United States. They are 
coming here for their own personal benefit, and it is understandable. 
It is also true that some of them may not have the best interests of 
the United States at heart. It is true that some of them who come 
across illegally may, in fact, be coming here to do us harm.
  Mr. Speaker, 19 people, all of them noncitizens of this country, on 
September 11, 19 people, as we all know too well, hijacked airplanes, 
crashed them into buildings or were prevented from doing so by the 
heroic efforts of certain efforts of the crew and/or passengers, I 
should say, on one of those flights.
  Who were they? Who are these people? Who were these people? All, of 
course, unable to tell their own story because they are dead. But who 
were they and how did they get here?
  My staff asked the INS shortly after September 11 for a list of those 
people and for their immigration status. We got nothing back; and 
finally, the only thing that they told us to look at was a press 
release from the FBI that listed all 19 people and had three of them 
identified with a particular status, and all of them were visa holders.
  One of those they had identified had overstayed their visa. It turns 
out that 13 were here on visa status of one form or another, one 
category or another, some of those here illegally because they had 
overstayed their visas or were not doing what the visa had said they 
were supposed to be doing here.
  Six of them, Mr. Speaker, up to this point in time, as to this time 
right now, November 6, we have not the slightest idea how they got here 
or who they are. We may know their names, but we do not know what their 
status was. We do not know how they entered the United States of 
America, six of them. The INS finally had to admit it. It is one of 
those shrug-your-shoulders, I-do-not-know, I-am-not-sure, I-do-not-
know-how-they-got-here.
  Let me suggest that they did not come through the regular process. 
Let me suggest that they did not apply for a visa in Saudi Arabia. We 
would know that. Let me suggest they did not come through one of the 
border checkpoints and use their name. We know that. We would know 
that.
  Let me suggest they got here some other way. How could that be? How 
could it be that somebody could come into the United States and we 
would not know it? Of course, that is how millions of people come into 
this country. They swim across rivers. They take canoes across rivers 
in the north. It is a little colder. They walk across into the deserts 
of the South or into the mountains in the north, but they come by the 
millions.
  We have absolutely no plans today to defend against that. Nothing 
will change. Nothing has changed. We are approaching the 2-month mark 
since the tragedy in New York and Pennsylvania; and yet I have seen not 
one significant piece of legislation on this floor or even in the 
developmental stages that would reform the process, reform the 
immigration system so that we could begin to think that our borders are 
being secured. Nothing.
  We are certainly concerned about whether or not the person that looks 
through that little device at the airport is a Federal employee. Give 
me a break, Mr. Speaker. Where in the world are our priorities here? Do 
we honest to God think that if we only federalize the screeners that we 
will be safe in America? That something as horrendous, if not even more 
so than the September 11 event, would not occur? Do we really believe 
that? Of course not. Of course not.
  It is political rhetoric, my friends. It is partisanship rearing its 
ugly head on this floor. Incredible as that may sound, that appears to 
me to be what is happening here; and it is a reluctance on the part of 
this body, certain Members of this body certainly, to advance the 
concept of immigration reform because of the fear of two things: one, 
the political backlash that will occur among certain ethnic groups.
  There is a fear that if we were to try and clamp down on our borders, 
especially Mexican nationals who come to the United States, stay here 
for a long enough period of time, either vote illegally themselves or 
through gaining legal status or their children who are born here as 
American citizens and who then vote, would somehow make one of our 
parties pay the price for being hard on immigration.

  There is that fear. There is a recognition of the fact that most of 
the people, massive numbers of immigrants coming across the border 
eventually grow into, as they become eligible to vote and some of them, 
of course, unfortunately, voting even if they are not eligible to do 
so, but will vote primarily for one party, in this case the Democratic 
Party.
  So the Democratic Party is reluctant to talk about this issue, 
although they are very happy to talk about whether or not screeners 
should be Federal employees, spend hours on it. But they will not talk 
about illegal immigrants coming across the border and the threat that 
porous borders poses to this Nation. Again, I say it is not the vast 
majority of people coming across those borders illegally that pose a 
threat to the health of the Nation or the stability of the Nation in a 
very immediate sense, although they may pose that in the long run. But 
the fact is that unless we secure our borders against all of those 
people who are trying to come here illegally, we cannot hope to prevent 
another incident.
  Even if we did, I understand fully well, Mr. Speaker, that even if we 
did do everything I am suggesting, put troops on the border, if not 
active military put on National Guard troops to secure our borders, use 
technology to monitor the borders, use every aspect of military and 
police work available to us to make sure our borders are secure, 
overnights and patrols and electronic monitoring, if we did all of 
that, we cannot be absolutely positive that nothing else would ever 
happen as a result of somebody sneaking into the country.
  But let me ask, Mr. Speaker, let me ask the American public, should 
we do

[[Page H7844]]

any less? Should we not do everything we can to make sure that those 
borders are secure simply because we cannot make sure they are 
absolutely impervious?
  Mr. Speaker, I have said on more than one occasion that, God forbid, 
if something else happens similar to the occurrence of September 11, 
and we find that they are perpetrated by people who came into the 
United States illegally, or even came here legally with a visa status 
that we gave them but did not monitor, and they perpetrate another 
event of a similar nature, I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that we are not just 
going to be held to be irresponsible as a Congress, but we are going to 
be held to be culpable. And I recognize that this is a very strong 
statement, but I cannot for the life of me figure out why it is not 
true.
  We sit here, Mr. Speaker, with the ability to put in place a system 
that would be far more efficient than presently exists. We are the only 
people, this Congress is the only thing that can act. We cannot expect 
States to actually do the work of immigration reform for us. We have to 
do it. We are the only ones with that authority and with that 
responsibility.
  But why is it that we have refused to do so? As I said, there is a 
political price to pay, that is for sure. And we understand that there 
is a political benefit to pandering to illegal aliens. There is also on 
our side of the aisle a reluctance to deal with this issue because of 
economic implications. The fact is that many, many of our jobs are 
being taken, many jobs in this country are being taken by illegal 
immigrants or by people who are here legally but are willing to work 
for less than an American citizen would work for. That is true. And, 
therefore, we have pressure on our side, on the Republican side, the 
people who have business interests, to avoid doing anything that might 
impede the flow of low-cost employees, low-wage, low-skilled people; or 
in some cases like H1B, which I will talk about in a minute, high-
skilled people but still lower paid.
  Let me go into that for a moment, Mr. Speaker. H1B is a visa category 
that allows people to come into the United States, about 160,000 a 
year, by the way. And they can stay here for up to 6 years to work in 
jobs that, quote, ``no one else will take.'' Jobs like computer 
programmer at some of the most prestigious companies in America in 
terms of technology. These really rotten jobs that no one else will 
take, computer programmer, analyst.
  We were told by the mavens of industry that in this particular arena, 
technology, that we could not hire enough people. They could not hire 
enough people, qualified people, here in the United States. So we had 
to grant H1B visa status to 165,000, at least, every single year. Let 
them stay for 6 years. So we now accumulated several million, 4 or 5 
million people here in the United States on that status, H1B visa 
status.
  Now, unless it has escaped us, Mr. Speaker, and I do not believe it 
has, there has been a change in the economy over the last year. 
Starting with the last quarter of the Clinton administration, the 
economy has begun a slow but steady decent into what is now undeniably 
a recession. Yesterday, I believe it was, unemployment figures came 
out; and the figures were frighteningly high, higher than they have 
been in well over a decade. Especially frightening in the area of high-
tech jobs where hundreds of thousands of people have been laid off.
  Mr. Speaker, in America today there are factually millions of people 
looking for work, people who can operate in this capacity as a computer 
programmer or whatever and people with various other skills who are 
looking for work.

                              {time}  2200

  I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that it is time for us in this body to 
revisit the whole idea, the whole issue of H-1B, and I have, in fact, 
introduced a bill to abolish H-1B visas. I think, Mr. Speaker, we do 
not need them anymore. I do not think we needed them when we passed 
them. I think we did it as a favor to some large corporations in the 
United States because they could get people to come to the United 
States and work for less than they could hire an American worker to do 
the same job.
  And I say that with the recognition that there are people in the 
United States who I know today are unemployed and unemployed because an 
H-1B visa holder took his or her job, took a job that those people 
would be qualified for and would be doing except, of course, they asked 
for more money.
  Now, this kind of thing, to my friends on our side who are 
Libertarians and who feel as though we should not really care about the 
issue of high wages for American employees, that it is all a function 
of markets and we should just simply erase the borders, let people come 
and go freely, that is all fine. It is an idealistic concept. But the 
idea of open borders, I think by now has been totally and completely 
discredited, for obvious reasons. Look where we are. Look what has 
happened to us. Look what happened on September 11.
  The idea that American citizens who need and want jobs should be kept 
from those jobs because there are H-1B visa holders here is, I think, 
unconscionable. But it is where we are.
  And let me tell my colleagues what has happened, Mr. Speaker. It is 
true because there have been many layoffs in industry, the high-tech 
industry especially, that some of these H-1B holders are out of work or 
were out of work. Now, the law says, by the way, that if they are no 
longer employed by the company that hired them to bring them over here 
as an H-1B visa holder, they must go home. That is the law.
  The INS has said essentially that we are going to look the other way. 
They say, do not worry about it. When H-1B holders call them and say, 
what am I going to do, I am out of work, am I going to have to go home? 
They say, well, we are in the process of writing regulations, so we 
will let you know. Other people have been told they have a couple of 
months to look for another job; take another job away from an American 
citizen because, after all, you are here. We would not want you to be 
disadvantaged. We would not want you to have to leave the country.
  The INS is no longer an organization that looks out for the best 
interests of the United States. The INS is an organization that has 
turned into a bunch of social workers. Immigration social workers. That 
is how they think of themselves, Mr. Speaker. They are not concerned 
about the health of this Nation, about the impact of massive 
immigration on the overall course of the Nation, and certainly not 
concerned about the fact that American workers are being displaced by 
H-1B visa holders.
  Why do we still have H-1B visa holders in light of the fact that 
there has been a significant turndown in the economy? For one reason, 
Mr. Speaker, because this body is afraid to take that up. There are 
powerful interests who want the H-1B visa status to be expanded, 
certainly maintained, because they get many workers here at a lower 
price than they can hire American workers for. That is the story. I 
wish it were not true, but it is true.
  And it is actually totally understandable, I suppose, if you are an 
employer whose eye is only on the bottom line and could not care less 
about the United States of America. And, believe me, what we now call 
multinational corporations, that is a good, good descriptor. They are 
multinational. They could not care less about America. Their interests 
are bottom line, and so should they be.
  Maybe we can argue their interests should be just that, bottom line. 
But I argue that our interests in this body should be for the people in 
the United States who are citizens of this country, who are looking for 
jobs and are competing with people who have been brought into the 
country, albeit good people.
  I do not suggest for a moment because someone is here as an H-1B visa 
holder that they are a bad individual. That is absolutely not true and 
irrelevant. They are fine people looking to better their own lives. I 
understand it. I empathize with them. But my job is not to make sure 
that every single unemployed person in the world is given the 
opportunity to take an American job. That is not what I consider to be 
my responsibility as a Member of this body.
  Yet my bill for the elimination of H-1B status will not be heard, I 
will predict. We will not even get a hearing, Mr. Speaker. My bill to 
put a moratorium on the deliverance of visas will not be heard, I fear. 
My request, as the

[[Page H7845]]

chairman of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, to have a bill 
that would actually reform the INS by abolishing that responsibility 
that they take so casually, that is for enforcement, abolishing that 
and creating a brand-new agency that includes some of the 
responsibilities that are now given to the INS, Customs, Treasury, 
Coast Guard, and others for border security and internal security.

  We would abolish those agencies, or those parts of agencies that are 
now given that responsibility, an overlapping and confusing and 
conflicting responsibility, and create a new agency under Governor 
Ridge, under the Homeland Defense Agency. We could call it the National 
Border Security Agency, or whatever we want; but let us make sure that 
it has only one responsibility, not to on the one hand hand out green 
cards and help individuals get legal status in the United States, help 
them figure out a way to get here and achieve their life's dreams as an 
immigrant, but has as its only responsibility to make sure that people 
we do not want in this country cannot get into this country, and to 
make sure that those people who are here illegally are deported.
  Now, that is the true and real responsibility of a Federal 
Government. It is especially our responsibility now. It does not mean 
we slam the door shut to every single immigrant. We will hear that, I 
know; that what we are trying to do is deny our heritage as immigrants, 
as a nation of immigrants. Poppycock. It is irrelevant to talk about 
the fact that we are all here as immigrants.
  Yes, well, so what? What has that got to do with September 11 and 
what we should do from that day forward? It is irrelevant. It does not 
matter. Because if we continually look to the past in that respect to 
try to determine what we do in the future, why do we not simply abandon 
the border? How much of a death wish do we have?
  It is not the fact that we cannot grow our own terrorists. It has 
happened. But it is the fact that right now the most significant threat 
we face to this country does not come from a homegrown terrorist; it 
comes from an immigrant, people who are here either legally or 
illegally, who are not U.S. citizens, and are here to destroy this 
Nation.
  Now, how do we stop that? Do we just say that only those people whom 
we deem to be potential terrorists are going to be given a hard time 
trying to get a visa? Well, that is what we have proposed.
  That is the huge immigration reform proposal we have had so far, that 
we are going to make it much more difficult, Mr. Speaker, for anybody 
to come into this country on a student visa; and we are going to 
actually try to make sure if they do come in on a student visa, they go 
to school.
  Well, I feel so much better. That, combined with making sure that 
that person that is peering through that little box a Federal employee 
will make me sleep so much easier at night. Idiotic. Almost 
incomprehensible. But here we are. Here we are.
  By the way, when I talk about my suggestion for a bill that would 
move us in the direction of a brand-new agency, it will not be heard. I 
am sure it will not find its way into legislative format. I am more 
than willing to draft a bill, Mr. Speaker, but if history is any guide, 
I am going to bet that I would not be very successful in getting that 
bill heard in the committee of reference, the Committee on the 
Judiciary, chaired by the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner), 
or any other place in this process.
  I suggest that there is a problem that needs to be addressed of far 
greater significance than who pays the salary of the person who looks 
through the screening device at the airport when we talk about the 
security of the Nation. Far more serious. Far more serious. The defense 
of the Nation begins with the defense of our borders.
  I find it fascinating, almost, again, incomprehensible that time and 
again I have to come to this floor and plead with my colleagues to do 
something significant about immigration reform, to do something that 
would in fact improve the security of the Nation; that in fact would 
help us all sleep a little easier.
  I ask my colleagues to think about the fact that as we stand here 
tonight on the floor of the House, not one thing has happened to 
improve the security of our borders, although a great deal of attention 
is paid to trying to get on an airplane in America. And whether it is 
improved or not, I do not know. I certainly go through a lot more 
security every single week than I ever did before.
  But nothing has really happened to change the fact that if a person 
wanted to come into this Nation and avoid being detected, he or she 
could easily do so. All it would take is the willingness to expend a 
little energy to get around the border security checkpoint. That is all 
it takes.
  We talk about tightening the visa requirements. I am all for it. But 
I ask, Mr. Speaker, for us to apply just a tiny bit of logic to this 
whole process, this whole question, to this controversy.

  Let us assume for a moment that we have someone, a member of the al-
Qaeda, or any one of the other various groups that want to do us harm, 
and that person is in, let us say Saudi Arabia today, or Pakistan or 
the UAE, or any country that requires a visa. And by the way, we do not 
require every country to actually approve visas for people coming into 
the United States.
  But let us say that person is coming from one of those countries, and 
they go to the consulate to try to get a visa and they find out the 
requirements are a little more difficult: that there is actually a form 
they have to fill out, maybe even a fingerprint they have to give, 
maybe even some other form of identification that actually will be 
shared with other agencies; and that information from the CIA and other 
groups will all be stored in one place, and we will be able to 
determine whether this person trying to come into the United States is 
connected with a terrorist organization; and therefore we will say to 
them, no, sir, you cannot come in, we will not give you a visa.
  Then will we go, oh, thank God, that stopped that. That person is now 
probably going to go home and say, you know, Mr. bin Laden, I tried to 
get into the United States but, hey, they would not give me a visa. So 
I guess I just will not go any farther with this plan. I will just go 
home and take my bomb with me. I do not think so. I do not think so, 
Mr. Speaker.
  Again, let us apply a little logic. If that person wants to come into 
the United States, and let us assume we actually tighten up visa 
requirements, then that person, of course, will come the way that 
millions of others come every year. He will simply walk across the 
border, the part of the border that is undefended, and come into the 
United States, probably the same way that at least six of the nineteen 
hijackers on September 11 came in. We do not know because, as I say, 
the INS cannot tell us. They have not the slightest idea how they got 
here. They shrug their shoulders. I do not know. Gee, we are just the 
INS, do not expect us to keep track of people.
  Here is an interesting statement that was reported in the Marietta 
Daily Journal in Georgia. It is from Fred Alexander, who is the INS 
Deputy District Director, speaking to a group of ``undocumented day 
workers.''

                              {time}  2215

  If I am driving without my driver's license, I am undocumented. But 
if I am here illegally, I am an illegal alien. ``It's not a crime to be 
in the United States illegally. It's a violation of civil law.''
  Oh, I see. It is not a crime to be here illegally. That sentence 
makes all of the sense in the world. No problem. I do not know if this 
fellow is really that unable to understand the English language. 
Perhaps he himself is not able to really communicate well in English, 
although his name does not suggest it. It is not a crime to be in the 
United States illegally; it is a violation of civil law. I do not know 
what that means except this guy is trying to say do not worry about 
being here illegally. The INS is here to help you. That is what he is 
saying.
  Members wonder why we are concerned about the INS and why we are 
trying to push this body into truly reforming the INS. There will be 
bills put into the hopper that will split the INS into two. That idea 
is not good enough because of course, if we do not gain control over 
the entire process, we will soon be left with this peculiar and at

[[Page H7846]]

least questionable method of border security where people actually look 
at lines, and this happens, Mr. Speaker. People will actually view 
which line is being monitored, and this is coming across the border 
now, which line is being monitored by border patrol and which line is 
being monitored by any other agency. Customs in this case in 
particular, because of course Customs has certain regulations that they 
have to follow and Border Patrol has others. Border Patrol does not 
look in certain places where Customs will look. If you are trying to 
smuggle drugs in, you will come in via one line; and if you are 
smuggling people, you will come via the other. That happens. It is 
incredible, but it is true. It is because we have this mish-mash of 
responsibilities.
  Trying to actually change all that, reform the system, this is our 
greatest opportunity, Mr. Speaker. This is the greatest opportunity we 
have ever had to reform immigration; but I fear that the lethargy, the 
inertia is so strong and the political obstacles to overcome are so 
great. We fear the political ramifications of immigration control, both 
Republicans and Democrats. Those ramifications are significant, but 
none more so than the potential safety of the Nation.
  We have asked, this is our e-mail address and if Americans want to 
get in touch, we have encouraged them to write 
Tom.Tancredo@mail.house.gov for more information about immigration 
reform and for us to be in communication with people when there are 
important bills coming up in the Congress that they should be aware of 
and that we can request their help.
  This is the only way that this will happen, the only way any of the 
reforms will be accomplished is if there is a huge outcry, to both 
Senate and Members of the House, to please, please do something more 
than just give lip service to immigration reform. Please develop true 
immigration reform proposals, put them in front of the President for 
him to sign.
  We are going to be looking at one issue coming soon, and that is the 
extension of 245(i). The only thing we are going to do is perhaps 
extend amnesty for literally millions of people who are here illegally. 
That is going to be coming up on the House floor. Whether it is a part 
of the Commerce, State, Justice appropriations bill or a freestanding 
bill, that is what we are going to be asked to do, not throw out H-1Bs 
or diversity visas which give 55,000 visas to special countries because 
they do not send us enough people, many of those Middle Eastern 
countries, not to reduce or eliminate the number of immigrants coming 
into the country, not border security, not doing anything about truly 
trying to significantly change and improve immigration at INS by 
creating a new agency, entirely new agency. None of that.
  What we are going to be asked to do is to extend, for the ability of 
people to stay without going through the process of being reviewed in 
their country of origin so we will not know whether or not they have a 
criminal background or whether or not they are connected with any sort 
of agency that will bring harm to the United States. That is what we 
are going to be facing.
  If people are willing to help us, we encourage them to go to that Web 
site, Tom.Tancredo@mail.house.gov. We need the help of everyone on this 
issue. It is the only way we will improve the whole procedure of 
immigration. It is the only way we will reform immigration and the only 
way we will be able to sleep easier at night, and that is what we are 
seeking here. It is far more important in my mind and in the mind of 
most people than who pays the salary, than the person who looks through 
the screening device at the airport.

                          ____________________



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