[Congressional Record: November 27, 2001 (House)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
GENERAL CONCERNS ABOUT OUR BORDERS, LAND, AIR, AND WATER
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the
gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Souder) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. SOUDER. Mr. Speaker, I wanted to talk a little bit tonight about
our north and south borders. We have general concerns in the United
States about our borders, our land, air, and water, for any number of
reasons; and our challenge is how to keep our trade flowing and our
traffic flowing while still meeting our security concerns.
Drug issues are a big concern in this country, illegal immigration,
and other products that are either illegal to come in, like Cuban
cigars, or of particular importance in regional areas such as cheese or
other products. And of course the big concern that all Americans have
right now is terrorism. It is of particular importance on the northern
and southern borders of the United States, where trade with Mexico and
Canada have become vital to the economic systems of our nations.
My Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources
of the Committee on Government Reform is conducting a series of
hearings over the next few months in both the north and south borders.
Our first hearings were held at the Highgate Springs, in Vermont, on
the Montreal-Boston interstate corridor, and in Champlain, New York, on
the Montreal-New York City corridor. In 2 weeks, we will be having a
hearing in Blaine, Washington on the Vancouver-Seattle corridor.
In addition to these hearings, we have also been systematically
meeting with the Coast Guard on Lake Champlain and will be in Puget
Sound with the Border Patrol, with INS, with Customs and DEA. We also
visit some of the lower traffic ports of entry in each of these areas.
Some of these in the past have only been manned part-time with one
person. There are many areas along our borders, both north and south,
where you can just walk across. These are clear challenges as we try to
control not only illegal drugs and immigration and products but also
terrorists from entering our Nation.
With these hearings, because of the importance of working with our
neighbors, we have invited participants from the parliaments as well as
business representatives from Canada and plan to do the same with
Mexico. As a result of our first hearings, in which Parliamentarian
Denis Paradis from Quebec participated, he asked me to come to Ottawa
to discuss with the numerous committees and other parliamentarians, as
they enter into the final stages of their debate on anti-terrorism
legislation and immigration bills what we have passed here in this
I returned from Ottawa a few hours ago, after spending a day and a
half with our Canadian friends and our U.S. Embassy, and I would like
to discuss a few of the important points tonight, and probably get a
little bit into these again tomorrow.
Twenty-five percent of all trade from the United States is with
Canada. To put this in perspective, the trade crossing the Ambassador
Bridge between Windsor and Detroit, not all the trade that comes
through Detroit, the tunnels and the other bridges, just the Ambassador
Bridge alone, the trade over the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit is
greater than all U.S.-Japanese trade. All the trade with U.S. and Japan
does not equal what goes across one bridge in Detroit.
As Canadian Parliamentarian Susan Whalen of the Windsor Riding has
pointed out to me multiple times, it is not just trade and tourism,
which are big, for example, our Speaker's State of Florida, if the
Canadians do not come down to Florida, it is not clear what would
happen to the tourism business. Many United States Congressmen and
women represent more Canadians at this time than the Canadians
themselves in their parliament do. We have a big tourism exchange. Many
people retire and go back and forth with their relatives.
But we also have workers across the border in Canada and in Mexico.
In Windsor, there are 1,100 nurses who daily cross to meet the needs of
the Detroit hospitals and the Detroit area hospitals. What are the
people in these hospitals going to do if we wall off the borders or, as
is currently happening, it takes 4 hours on many days? They are not
able to get to the hospitals. The hospitals do not know how to staff.
They are running into these problems on borders.
Clearly, we have to figure out some different methods of how we are
going to do this long term because maybe a 2-hour is tolerable, but 4
hours is pushing the extreme. We have a 30 to 50 percent reduced
traffic right now. What is going to happen if the traffic comes back?
How are we going to meet the economic, the tourism, the trade and the
workforce movement pressures?
Now, there are real reasons why traffic has slowed down. It is not
just to spite either one of us on either side. There are real concerns.
In the narcotics issue alone, we have seen a rise in illegal narcotics
coming across from Canada, not just Mexico. BC Bud and Quebec Gold both
are very potent forms of marijuana like we have never seen before in
the United States. BC Bud is very near the levels in THC of cocaine.
They have brought it into Indiana. Indiana has now become an exporter
of marijuana to California and around the country. They bring it in,
and they plant it in our soybeans and corn.
Quebec Gold is being shipped down to New York City and is right now
more higher priced because of its potency than cocaine on the streets
of New York. Ecstacy is coming in predominantly from Holland and
Rotterdam into Canada and down, precursors for methamphetamine labs and
Clearly, we have to work on the narcotics issues, but both nations
have other concerns as well, and the terrorism, and I will get more
into how both our parliament and their parliament are trying to address
these concerns and balance the needs of both commerce and terrorism.
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