[Congressional Record: February 12, 2002 (House)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM; IMMIGRATION REFORM
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Brown of South Carolina). 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 to talk on a subject that
often brings me to the floor of the House, and that is immigration and
Before I do that, I have had the opportunity to sit here and listen
to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle discuss the upcoming
legislation referred to as campaign finance reform or the Shays-Meehan
bill which we will be discussing tomorrow.
It strikes me that some other viewpoints may need to be made this
evening. First of all, it is intriguing in the way that we can actually
identify a piece of legislation to fit our personal desires, as the
Members that have introduced it have done. Certainly I have done it. I
introduced the Sudan Peace Act. I hope if it passes, eventually we will
have peace; but I have no hope that it will happen immediately, or the
Nonetheless, it is interesting how we characterize pieces of
legislation here with terms and titles and phrases that we want to put
it in a certain light, and we call this thing that we will be
discussing tomorrow campaign finance reform.
But, Mr. Speaker, it is anything but that, as many of us know. I have
often had the opportunity to discuss this issue and to refer to a game
that I am aware of. When I was much younger, I used to work at an
amusement park in Denver, Colorado, called Elitch Gardens. I started
there as a sweeper when I was 16 years old, and stayed every summer.
Pretty soon I was the rides manager of the park and then the summer
manager of the park. It put me through college. It was a great place to
One of the things that we had in that amusement park was a game, and
it was called Whack a Mole. It is a game which at that time the player
put in a quarter and took a little hammer out, and the game started.
Little mole heads would start popping up. The player would hit the mole
here, and it went down, and then the player would hit it over here. And
then it started moving faster and faster and faster, and the player
tried to keep up with it. And pretty soon the player realized they
probably were not going to win. The player probably could not win
because it would keep popping up faster. You never could actually beat
Mr. Speaker, every time I hear a debate on campaign finance reform, I
think of that game because really that is what we are talking about
here. We are talking about trying to stop the flow of money into the
process of politics. Living in a free society, living in a society
governed by the rule of law and the Constitution, in this case the
Constitution of the United States which equates and has said over and
over again, in politics money is speech; and, therefore, we have a
right to free speech, we will never, ever, ever, stop the flow of money
Now, let us recognize that at the beginning of this discussion. It is
never going to happen. If there is anyone out there who thinks it is,
and anyone who thinks that it happens anywhere else in the world under
any system, let me disabuse that Member of that idea. Money does flow
into politics. Is it all because there are people who want to work
their way with the Congress of the United States? Undoubtedly some
people contribute for that purpose. But the fact is for this country's
history, far more, millions more people contribute to the political
process with their money not because they want to get something
special, not because they want to buy off the politician that they are
giving the money to, but because they are supporting people who feel as
they feel about issues. It is as simple as that.
Mr. Speaker, in my last campaign I was trying to recollect what we
raised, and it was over a million dollars, I know that. I cannot
remember the exact amount right now. But I also know when we averaged
out the contributions to the campaign, it came to something like $55
I assure you that the literally thousands of people that contributed
to my campaign in amounts of $1, $2, $3, $5, $10, $25, I do not think
any of them really believed they were buying my vote on any particular
thing. As a matter of fact, I do not believe that most of the people
who gave me $1,000 believed they were buying my vote and that if they
gave me $1,000, which is the maximum, that somehow I would change who I
am, what I believe and what I think and vote for them, for their way,
for their attitude and idea.
Mr. Speaker, what really and truly I have to say to the people in
this body, to the people listening this evening: if there is a single
Member of this body who in their whole career on this floor or in this
House has ever cast a vote against their conscience and because a large
donor wanted that vote, then they should vote for Shays-Meehan.
Because, Mr. Speaker, they need that kind of rationalization, they need
to salve their conscience maybe. They need to somehow get out from this
feeling that they are being bought. I have heard colleagues stand up
here, and in the other body, and say, ``The system is corrupt, we're
all bought, we're all paid for,'' and that sort of thing. Maybe they
are. Maybe they are. But I must tell you, Mr. Speaker, they do not
speak for me.
There are issues on which I feel very strongly. I express them here
on the floor. I express them in my vote. In the conference I try to
convince my colleagues to see things as I see them, to vote my way.
Yes, I came here because I believe in issues. I love the debate. But I
should tell you, Mr. Speaker, that people support me, I think, not
because they are hoping to change my opinion but because they like my
opinion. They want that opinion expressed.
As an example, I am known in, certainly Colorado, for being a very
strong critic of the public school system, especially the monopoly
system that runs the public schools, not for the teachers themselves,
not for the people who work so hard trying to accomplish a task, but
the teachers union. I attack it all the time because I think they are
an obstacle to education reform. The teachers union, the NEA, the
National Education Association, has never given me a dime, not a penny.
Nor should they. And I am positive that this thought has never crossed
their mind, that maybe if we give Tom Tancredo $1,000 or $5,000 from
their PAC, he will start voting on our side on this issue. They know
that is not true. They do not give me money. No matter how much money
they gave me, I would not vote on that side of the issue. And they know
it. That is the way, I am sure, that most of my colleagues are.
We came here with a set of principles, a set of ideas that we want to
advance and we tell our constituents what we are and who we are and
what we believe in. And they elect us or they do not. And if they elect
us, then they expect us to come here and be as forceful as we can, to
advocate those positions. And because some people give me money for my
campaign who happen to also believe what I believe, would I not be
doing them a disservice if I did not try my best to advance those
But I again say, if you are afraid of this, if somehow or other you
feel you have been bought and that you cannot withstand the pressure of
a large donor that is maybe wanting you to vote for something you do
not believe in your conscience, vote for Shays-Meehan. Maybe somehow
that will get you off the hook. But I assure you, Mr. Speaker, it will
not really change the process. We will once again hit the mole on the
head, and it will go down; but it will pop up here and there and
everywhere. As you know, Mr. Speaker, when they talk about soft money
and hard money, for the most part I think most Americans have not the
foggiest idea what we are talking about here. But they maybe like the
sound of it: ``We're going to stop soft money from coming into the
Congress.'' ``Oh, right, good, great. That's exactly what I hope they
The reality is, of course, even in this bill that is being brought
forward, and it will be brought forward tomorrow afternoon, we do not
stop soft money. We do not stop even really the contribution of hard
money. We will still have millions of dollars flowing into the system.
They will find other ways
to come up. The mole's head will come up in a variety of other holes,
and it will come into the system.
I say, look, who cares? Eliminate this charade that we are playing
here. Forget about it. I really wish we would remove all restrictions
and just say we report every dime. Mr. Speaker, on my campaigns, I
report every single penny that comes in, as long as we can identify it.
If somebody sends $5 without a name, I guess we cannot. But if someone
tells me who they are and they contribute to my campaign, we post it,
even though we are not required by law to do that; I think it is
anything less than $200. But I post it all, every single penny. Then
people can make their own decisions. They can look and say, gee whiz,
look, he got all this money from Enron, which I did not get any money
from Enron; but from any of these organizations or people, let them
make their own conclusions as to whether or not that influenced my
vote. Does that change who I am because they gave this to me?
Frankly, Mr. Speaker, it is a charade. That is what is so
discouraging. Many of my colleagues stood up in the previous hour and
they talked about how cynical people are about the system, that the
American public, I think that is the word they used over and over
again, that they are cynical. I can understand that. I can understand
that. Because if you listened to what was said tonight, you may come
away, if you are not really perhaps well aware of the way the process
works, you may come away from the debate, you may have come away from
our colleagues and said, you know, I think if we pass this bill, there
will be no more, quote, ``soft money,'' and that we will have reformed
the system, no one here will come to this body influenced by
contributions. If they think that, and if we pass this piece of
legislation and then a year from now, two years from now we will read
accounts of millions of dollars being spent, hundreds of thousands, we
will say, ``Gee whiz, I thought they took care of that. Wasn't that
called Shays-Meehan campaign finance reform? Wasn't that supposed to
have taken care of it?'' Lo and behold, it did not.
If you want to make people cynical, Mr. Speaker, then pretend that we
are going to be doing something incredibly significant here tomorrow,
eliminating the influence of money in this body. You and I, and I think
even Members of the other side, well, both sides who support this
certainly know in their heart of hearts that really things are not
going to change that much except they can claim some sort of
rationalization later on and say, ``Well, we voted for Shays-Meehan.''
In a couple of years, Common Cause, other organizations, whatever,
other Members of the body will be up here saying we have to stop this
hole that this mole's head is coming out of; and there will be a great
hue and cry, there will be a big battle between both sides and the
press will get into this because, remember, in any way, shape or form
could we ever stop them. Of course the press is all in favor of
reducing our ability or the ability of other people to have an
influence and have their say in government; but you never hear them
talking about reducing their own freedoms. And I do not want to. There
is the first amendment which, of course, is going to make most of
Shays-Meehan unconstitutional, anyway. But the reality is this, that we
should not be so focused, we should not get carried away, we should not
place more emphasis on all this than it warrants, and it warrants very
little, because it really, really and truly will not change much except
it very well may do exactly what the proponents suggest is the problem
today, it may exacerbate that and make people even more cynical about
But I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, that I will be a ``no'' vote on
that bill, as I was the last time around. Maybe I should not be,
because as an incumbent, maybe we should support this kind of
legislation, because it does put more of a burden on somebody else to
raise money. After all, I have got the advantage of incumbency, I have
got the advantage of name recognition and all the things that come with
it; and so maybe I should just vote for this bill because it puts us in
a better situation, vis-a-vis some opponent who comes and tries to get
elected without the benefit of personal money. Because if you are not
personally wealthy, it may be harder for you to get your name out, to
get known, to get people to understand your position on issues under
this kind of legislation. That is true.
If you are wealthy enough, of course, you cannot be stopped. There is
a provision in this that says something like if you put more than a
certain amount of your own money in, the other limits are raised or
whatever; but the reality is, Mr. Speaker, that the Supreme Court has
ruled over and over again, you cannot limit someone's ability to put
their own money into their own campaign. It is impossible.
There are Senators who, of course, as we know put 30 million or more
dollars in; but there are other people who put in millions of dollars
and lost. I am not personally a wealthy person. I could never fund my
own campaigns out of my pocket. No way. Impossible. I cannot do it. So
I have to rely on contributions from other people. Every time I have
run, I have run against someone far more wealthy than I, and God bless
them for it. That is not a crime. I wish I were in that situation. But
I am not. And so I have to rely on the contributions of others to help
me level that playing field. That is never going to change. If you want
to turn this place into a body of the wealthiest of us, who have the
ability to fund their own campaigns, who are not the slightest bit
concerned about corporate or political or any other kind of PAC, then
fine, Shays-Meehan helps you accomplish that goal. But it does not
improve this process, and it does not improve the body as a whole. I
worry, because I do think people become cynical. Undeniably, they
As I mentioned, Mr. Speaker, that was not the original purpose of my
requesting this hour, but as often happens while I sit here and wait
for my turn at the plate, I do have the desire to respond to some of
the things that I have heard. I am sure there will be others tomorrow
who will be more articulate in their observations, in expressing their
observations about this bill; but this is the opportunity I have
selected for tonight.
Let me get on for a few more minutes and discuss another topic. Here
we are 5 months and 1 day from the tragic events of September 11, 5
months and 1 day in which an enormous amount of activity has occurred.
The Nation has gone through a gut-wrenching experience. We have
responded in ways and as a result of the leadership of our President;
we have really risen to the challenge in many respects. In a little
over 5 months, we have deployed American forces halfway around the
world, we have stopped and defeated a terrorist regime in Afghanistan,
we have probably identified terrorists and stopped actions that would
have been taken up to this point in time.
We are on the way to the next series of steps in that particular war,
although I hesitate to call it war. We have not actually declared war.
I wish we had done that. But the fact is that we have done an enormous
number of things and to our credit, to the credit of this Nation, to
the people of this Nation, to the President of the United States, to
the men and women in our Armed Forces, God bless them all. I am proud
of them, I am sure, as almost every American is in their heart of
hearts. They are proud of what we have been able to accomplish in a
relatively short time, with such little bloodshed, especially on our
part, on the part of American servicemen and women, but even, quite
frankly, on the part of the aggressors in Afghanistan. The reality is
that far fewer of them were injured or killed than would have been the
case in almost any other conflict of this nature, because our
technology and our will is such that we are able to confine the damage
to a relatively small area and identify our targets carefully and that
sort of thing.
So again, I am proud, I am happy that we have accomplished what we
have accomplished. But, Mr. Speaker, we could in fact bomb Afghanistan
into dust, into rubble. We could do the same thing in a variety of
other countries. We can use our military might and that of our allies
to help stop aggression, to help stop terrorism in other countries
around the world, and I expect that we may be doing that.
It is covertly now, overtly in some time to come, and I am completely
supportive of those efforts. But one thing we have failed to do, one
horrible, terrible failure, is that we have failed as of this point in
time, 5 months and 1 day, we have failed to secure our own borders.
Mr. Speaker, as I have said on this floor so many times, the defense
of this Nation begins at the defense of our borders. We can do
everything we are doing all around the world to try and protect
American citizens from the threat of terrorism, but, in reality, we
must deal with the issue of the defense of our borders, securing our
borders, because everything we do externally, everything we do around
the world, will never actually work to stop that one ultimate threat,
and that is of somebody coming across our borders for the purpose of
doing us harm; coming across our borders without us knowing it, without
us knowing exactly who they are, what they are intent on doing here,
how long they are going to stay here, what they do or are doing while
they are here. We have done nothing really to change that. It is
We have, even in this House, attempted to pass one piece of
legislation to address this issue specifically, and that is a bill
called the Feinstein-Kyl bill, a Senate bill we passed on the House
side, which has been bottled up in the Senate by one Member from West
Virginia, one Member of the Senate over there.
They have these strange rules in the other body, as you know, Mr.
Speaker, that allows this person to work his or her will over that of
the majority, and because this one Member of the Senate has chosen to
put a hold on that bill, we have not even been able to pass a piece of
legislation that deals with the issue of student visas and tightening
up the regulations and requirements on student visas. For heaven's
sake, that one thing has not been able to pass.
Needless to say, we have not been able to do an even more important
thing. We have not been able to reform the Immigration and
Naturalization Service, referred to as the INS. This is the body in
which we entrust the responsibility of protecting our borders and
determining who is, in fact, here illegally and removing them from this
Nation. We have not done that.
We have entrusted that body, but, unfortunately, that organization,
the INS, is absolutely incompetent, incapable of doing what we ask of
them in the area of enforcement of immigration law. They are both
incapable and unwilling, and that is a problem that is very difficult
to deal with, because if they had the heart for it, then we could
address the issue with resources. If they wanted to do it, then it
would be up to us to say, let us see what can we do in this body to
make sure you can get the job done. How many dollars will it take? How
many field agents will you need? How many people will you need? Tell
us, and we will try to address the issue.
But, unfortunately, that is not the real problem. Money is not the
problem. In fact, Mr. Speaker, the INS budget from 1993 to the year
2002 went from $1.5 billion to $5.6 billion. It almost quadrupled. The
President's budget for 2003 has another $1.2 billion increase, to a
total of $6.8 billion.
In all that time and with all that amount of resources available to
it, the INS has been incapable and unwilling to defend our borders and
to secure internally in the United States our system and our people
against the activities of people who come here, terrorists who come
here illegally, and also they have not been able to do even the
minimum, and that is to actually stop the flow of illegal immigrants
across the borders, both north and south, and that is a shame. That is
not just a shame, it is a travesty, because, of course, we gave them
the money. They chose to use it someplace else.
Now, there are two sides to INS. It is divided into two parts. One is
what I call the immigration social worker side, and this is the side
that is supposed to help people get their green cards; help people come
here and immigrate into the country legally and make sure that they are
provided with benefits and that sort of thing and show them how the
system works and help them get through it. They do not do that very
well either. That is where their heart is and where almost all of their
The other thing they are supposed to be involved with is enforcement,
the actual enforcement of immigration law. But, of course, we know that
they turn a blind eye to people coming across this border illegally, so
much so that to this point in time we now believe there are at least 11
million, I think it is even higher than that, but at least 11 million
people here in this country illegally. They did not come through the
process, we do not know who they are, we do not know what they are
doing here, and we certainly do not know if they ever go back to
wherever they came from. We do not know anything about it.
In fact, when we ask the INS, that is the answer we get for almost
every single question; when we pose a question to them, they say, ``I
am not sure.''
I have suggested on more than one occasion a new logo for the INS, on
their Web site, printed on all their stationary, a new logo, just a
person going like this, Mr. Speaker, a shrug of the shoulders. ``I do
not know.'' Because that is all you get from them. ``I am not sure.''
``I do not know.'' ``How many people? We are not positive.'' ``Where
are they? We do not know.'' Let me ask you, do you know how many people
are here in the United States who have overstayed their visa? ``Oh, a
lot. Millions.'' ``I am not sure.''
After a while you just realize there is not really any purpose to
ask, because this the answer you get: ``I do not know.'' ``I am not
sure.'' ``I have no idea.''
We think so little of this agency, and it really and truly has been
sort of one of those stepchildren that you just go, you know, let us
not really pay a lot of attention to it, to the point where we have
actually appointed someone as the new Director.
Now, this is a time when, as I say, we are facing an enormous,
enormous challenge, not just from the possibility of terrorists coming
across the border that we do not know about and we do not know who they
are and that sort of thing, coming in here illegally, but we are, of
course, in the middle of a flood of illegal immigrants, and that has
incredible implications for our society. Infrastructure costs,
political, economic, you name it, there are going to be massive
implications as a result of the huge numbers of people coming into the
United States, both legally and illegally. Yet the INS we know to be
incapable of dealing with it, and we have known for some time.
In many ways there are many people in this body who really and truly
do not care. They want to kind of cast a blind eye to it, to say, ``Oh,
well, that is true. Millions are coming across, but we need the help,
we need the labor, we need the people to work in certain areas.'' Plus,
of course, there are political issues on the Democratic side of the
aisle. They recognize that massive immigration eventually translates
into votes for them. On our side of the aisle we believe that massive
numbers of low-wage earners and low-skill workers will, of course, keep
wages down, supply employers with a large pool of potential workers.
So everybody wants to turn a blind eye, and everybody wants the vote.
They want the vote of these people coming in. And so we are afraid. We
are very, very uptight about this. It makes us very skittish to talk
about immigration reform, about reducing the numbers of illegal
immigrants. To talk about trying to do something about illegal
immigration makes people skittish, let alone reduce the number of legal
immigrants, which I believe firmly we should do.
But, nonetheless, we have chosen to ignore it, to pretend it does not
exist, to look the other way for political reasons, and so, therefore,
we have not paid much attention to the INS, and we really do not care
that they are as incompetent as they are and unwilling to do their job,
and we keep giving them money, and they keep, of course, misusing it or
transferring it to activities that have nothing to do with enforcement.
We have even gotten to the point, Mr. Speaker, if you can believe
this, but we just appointed a new Director, a new Director of the INS.
This agency, of course, oversees a budget of $6.8 billion. Thousands of
people work for it. It has the responsibility of one of the most
serious activities of the Federal Government, one of the few
responsibilities that is uniquely Federal Government. We debate
here and welfare issues here, none of which is truly a Federal
responsibility, but this area of immigration, that is uniquely Federal.
We take an organization like that, an organization to which we give
$6.8 billion, and we appointed an individual as head of it whose only
experience in this particular arena in terms of identifying who is
coming and going across borders and that sort of thing is who is coming
and going in the door of the other body, because it was the Sergeant at
Arms for a lot of years. A nice guy, I am sure. He is the head of the
Maybe we should not be too surprised when people in the INS say
things like Fred Alexander, Deputy Director for the Immigration and
Naturalization Service, publicly told a group of ``undocumented day
laborers,'' this is the Deputy Director for INS, talking to a group of
illegal aliens, right, who he should, of course, have had arrested,
but, no, he is speaking to them, like at a rally. But, of course, they
had nothing to worry about. They were, I am sure, all applauding and
having a great time, because he said to them, Mr. Speaker, believe it
or not, this is on the list we have on our Web site, we have a list
called unbelievable but true immigration stories, and some of them I
will go through, because they are astounding. Fred Alexander publicly
told a group of ``undocumented day laborers'' that ``it is not a crime
to be in the U.S. illegally.'' It is not a crime to be in the U.S.
illegally. ``It is a violation,'' he says, ``of civil law.''
Oh, heck. Well, gee, you know, I do not know why I was so confused by
the words ``law'' and ``legal'' and stuff like that. Here he is, ``Hey,
do not worry. It is not against the law. Come on in.'' This is the
Deputy Director of the INS.
I mean, this would be a joke. It would be a Saturday Night Live skit.
It would be great, wonderful. There are lots of them, believe me. If
the producers of Saturday Night Live are looking for any sort of
material, just go to our Web site, the immigration reform Web site on
our Tancredo Web site, and you will see we have, what have I got here,
54 little vignettes so far, and, believe me, they keep coming in every
single day, things just as bizarre as that.
The INS spent $31.2 million on a computer system to track down
whether visa holders overstayed their visa. The system does not work.
They say they need an additional $57 million for the system. Believe
me, if we gave them $570 million, or $5 billion, they could not make it
work. It is not the hardware that is the problem here.
So I guess again it would not be surprising that we take the Sergeant
at Arms from the other body and make him the head of the INS. Who
cares, he is a nice guy, a friend of a lot of people in the other body,
and, why not? He probably wanted to be appointed to something. Why not
the INS? Certainly we do not care. It is no big issue, no big deal.
Well, Mr. Speaker, it is a big deal. It is a very big deal. And it is
incredible almost to me that we treat it with such, I do not know,
disdain is not the word, I treat it with disdain because it deserves
it, but we treat it in a way that it does not reflect its importance to
It should be completely reformed. When I say reformed, Mr. Speaker, I
do not mean just some cosmetic attempt to pretend like we have actually
separated the two sides out, and now we will have one guy that is just
the head of enforcement and one guy the head of the social services.
No, we need something far more than that. Right now, Mr. Speaker, we
have to actually reform the INS in a way that means abolishing that
part of the INS that does any work in immigration enforcement. We have
to take its responsibility away from INS; we have to take the
responsibility away from the Coast Guard, from Agriculture, from DEA,
from all of the other agencies that presently have some role to play.
By the way, I have been on the border, and I have witnessed firsthand
the work that our border folks do, that the Border Patrol does; and to
them I give all the credit in the world. They work as hard as they can.
It is not their fault. Please do not get me wrong in that there are
people listening tonight, Mr. Speaker, that have friends, relatives or
are themselves employed by the INS. For the most part, they are doing
everything they can. We hear from them every day. People call my office
every day. INS, people who are agents and have been agents for 30
years, some of them want to speak without going on the record, some of
them are willing to become whistleblowers; but almost to a person, they
talk about their frustration in trying to do a job that they are
incapable of doing as a result of an incompetent administration, as a
result of a whole bunch of stupid rules that this Congress has passed.
Come to think of it, and I am sure it is on here in our list of
``Amazing But True,'' and it goes to show you it is not all entirely
the INS that is goofball in this area, as I have described, but other
groups play a role. On the INS Web site, one can go to it today,
tonight, and one can pull up a temporary visa application form. About
the third or fourth question that one has to fill out if one is trying
to come into the country is one that says, and I am paraphrasing
because I do not have it in front of me, it says, are you a terrorist?
Have you ever belonged to an organization that has expressed a desire
to commit acts of terror in the United States? Are you a member of the
Nazi Party? Did you ever do anything in the concentration camps? Answer
yes or no. There is this little box that one checks. And one thinks to
themselves, well, okay, goofy as that sounds, maybe we are using that
if somebody checked no, but then comes in and does something wrong, we
can say, we caught you because you lied on your form. We can make the
case that is necessary.
But get this: as a result of a member of the other body, a gentleman
from Massachusetts who has been around a long time, and he happens to
be also the chairman of the immigration committee in the Senate today,
he added a provision in 1990 to this that said, by the way, if you
check ``yes'' up here to that question, do not worry, because that is
not a reason to keep you out of the United States.
So, as I say, they are confronted with a lot of very, very difficult,
the INS, even the people who are trying to do their job, are confronted
with a variety of mixed messages. Strange, but true, as I say.
Incredible, but true. Please believe me, there are so many stories like
that, I do not even know where to begin. But they are all metaphors, in
a way. I use them as a metaphor for the whole problem, the whole
situation we face.
That one form, that front page of that temporary visitor visa; and
here is another one, Mr. Speaker. We were down on the border in El Paso
about a month and a half ago, I guess; and we were watching people come
through, and we have now set up, and we have paid a lot of money to
have a card given to all of the people coming through, especially for
just day trips or something like that, and we paid a lot of money for
these machines so that the border agent can swipe the card through the
machine, and on the screen it will come up and say who this person is,
whether or not we know something about them that we do not like. It
gives some information and background. Logical. Good idea.
Well, of course, there are so many people coming across, the line
goes up over the bridge and into Mexico, and there are literally
thousands; I cannot even imagine how many thousands of people were
waiting to come across. There are like four or five stations with a
Border Patrol agent there. But the crush of humanity is so great that
they simply do not swipe the card. The person coming in holds the card
up next to their face and walks by, and the agent is like this saying,
I am sure that face goes with that card, oh, yes, absolutely. Of
course, it is a joke. It is ridiculous. But again, that is a metaphor
for the whole system. I am not even saying that this is a bad idea; I
am just saying it is another one of those kind of amazing but true
But they showed us a door frame. Now, that is all it was, Mr.
Speaker, a door frame on wheels. And periodically they would wheel this
thing out, and on it in Spanish it is written ``drug-sniffing door
frame.'' And they wheel this thing out, and they wait to see if anybody
sort of balks at going through it. Excuse me, but the picture always
does make me laugh; it is sort of humorous. In a way, listen, they are
trying anything. If it works, it works, okay. But it is a metaphor for
whole system. It is completely and totally shot. This thing does not
work, Mr. Speaker. It does not work. The best thing we got going for us
is a door frame that says ``automatic drug-sniffing door frame.'' Oh,
But the people do try. They are overwhelmed. They are overwhelmed.
One of the things they told us while we were down there, the people
were really working as hard as they could. They knew that the task
ahead of them was incredible. They said, you know, the only thing we
ask is please do not do something up there that is going to make this
job even more difficult. I said, well, like what? And they said, well,
for instance, every time you guys start talking about amnesty for all
of the people who are here illegally, they said. Do you know what that
does here? I mean, the numbers swell. We are trying to hold back a
flood; and if you give amnesty again like we did in 1986, telling
everybody who came here illegally, oh, that is all right, all is
forgiven, of course the flood turns into a tidal wave. Why would we
think anything else? Why would we imagine that that would not be the
case? That is exactly what would happen. Yet, we still talk about it
The night before we adjourned in the last session, we almost passed
an amendment to that visa bill I mentioned earlier, the Feinstein-Kyle
bill, that would have been an extension of 245(i), which is legalese
for amnesty. We almost did it. Thanks to an outcry by literally
thousands of people across this country who e-mailed their Congressman
or Congresswoman and told them that they really and truly were not
excited about that possibility, thanks to doing that, it was pulled;
and we did not, in fact, pass an extension of 245(i).
But, Mr. Speaker, I will tell my colleagues what that is. It is
another game. I assure my colleagues that it is going to come up again.
I assure my colleagues that there are people here in this body,
certainly even in the administration, who are trying to figure out a
way, along with the President of Mexico and the Government of Mexico,
they are trying to figure out a way to bring back 245(i) extension.
This is wrongheaded for a wide variety of reasons, of course, not the
least of which is the fact that we could not possibly in a million
years, the agency we presently have that we call the INS, could not
begin to handle the flood of applications that they would get almost
immediately from people that they will not be able to tell; now, the
applications will come in and it will say, yes, I have been here a long
time and here are some receipts from my rent and whatever, but of
course they could be fake; and we will never know exactly who these
people are, because we will not have time to do any background checks.
Just like the last time around, we let so many people in and then the
last administration, the Clinton administration, pushed to get as many
as they could made citizens as quickly as they could; and we ended up
making thousands, if memory serves me right, it was something like
60,000 people became citizens of the United States under that process
who were felons, because we did not know about it. We could not find
out. We did not have time.
So that is one problem, saying, for instance, that within the next 4
months, everybody who is here illegally, come in, get some paperwork in
and we will verify it, quote, ``verify it,'' and if we do, you will be
given amnesty and on the road to becoming a citizen.
Mr. Speaker, I believe that citizenship in this country is more
important and it means more than simply stepping over a line that
separates two countries. There is much more to it than that. We should
be much more concerned about who we let in, how many we let in, and
what they are coming here for. Like every other country on the planet
who understands that it is their sovereign right to actually determine
who comes into the country and when, how many, and what for. We have
abandoned that for a variety of reasons, some political, some
idealistic in terms of what people think the world should look like, a
place without borders.
But I can assure my colleagues that the consequences of a borderless
society are significant and dramatic. Some of them can be characterized
by the kind of events we experienced on September 11. But that is,
nonetheless, the elimination of the borders, that is exactly where many
people want to go; people here in this body, some people in the
administration, certainly people in the administrations of other
countries for their own reasons and for their own purposes.
Mr. Speaker, there are many, there are legitimate reasons, there are
legitimate debates that can be held about whether or not borders should
be eliminated; and I have many times suggested that that be the basis
of any debate on the issue of immigration; that everyone, everyone
should ask themselves, everyone here, everyone in the United States
should ask themselves this question, and try to answer it as honestly
as they possibly can: Do you believe that borders are necessary in the
Nation? Is there a reason for it? Now, some may say, oh, well, that is
silly, of course. No, no, listen. Believe me, there are people who
would suggest that borders are not necessary, that they are
anachronisms, that they prohibit the free flow of trade, of money, and
of people, and therefore should simply be eliminated, as is happening.
Frankly, the European Union is based on this model that will
essentially eliminate borders and all the things that separate
countries, establish a common currency, a new governmental system, a
European Parliament, and who knows how far that will go; but that is
the new world order. And again, it is a legitimate debate topic, but I
just want to have the debate.
I want us in this body to actually enter into a debate on that one
very basic idea: Do we need borders or not? If Members come down on the
side of wanting borders, needing borders, believing that they are
necessary, then, of course, we must decide what that means. If we have
a border between a country, what do we do about that? Do we actually
defend it? Do we actually try to stop people from coming across without
permission? Do we provide resources to make sure that the border is
meaningful or not? Because if we do not, then of course we should
simply side with the group that says eliminate them. After all, we are
spending $6.8 billion in just the INS, let alone all the other agencies
that have some responsibility for border enforcement. Let us stop this
wasteful expenditure. Let us go ahead and say we do not need borders,
we do not want them, we just want people to come and go as they please
and not spend the money on borders.
Now, I happen to be totally opposed to that concept, but there are
people in this body who believe in it. The people at the Cato
Institute, a very influential think tank here in this town, who believe
There are, as I said before, there are members of the administration,
there are people we have spoken in other countries, specifically
Mexico, who absolutely believe in it. One member of the Mexican
Government, a gentleman by the name of Juan Hernandez, he is appointed
to the newest agency, just been created, and it is a cabinet level
agency in Mexico, and his title translates into something like Minister
in Charge of Mexicans Living Outside of Mexico.
Interesting job. Interesting job title.
Mr. Hernandez happens to be, by the way, an American citizen and also
a Mexican citizen. He lives part of the time in Texas and part of the
time in Mexico City. He was a teacher at a college in Mexico and a
very, very interesting gentleman. Very pleasant individual to speak to,
very intelligent. He has a great command of the language. He is a good
representative of his particular point of view.
In our discussions when we were in Mexico, several Members and I were
meeting with him, and he kept using the word ``migration'' to describe
this process of people coming across the border. By the way, that is
typical. Many, many people today have chosen to use the word
``migration'' to explain the phenomena of people coming across the
border into the United States at their will. And so I always stop
people when they are doing that, and I stopped this gentleman at the
time and I said, you are like many people who talk about this, but you
are really incorrectly using the word ``migration.'' It is not
migration. Migration is when
people move through a country, but when they reach the border of that
country and cross it, it is called immigration, and when they do so
without the permission of the host country to which they are coming, it
is called illegal immigration.
Mr. Hernandez turned to me and the other two Members that were with
me and said, Congressman, we are really not talking about two countries
here. It is just a region. It is just a region. That was a very, very
interesting statement, and a very candid one on his part. And that is
what I appreciate about Mr. Hernandez. He was up front with us the
whole time. He essentially agreed with the proposition that the United
States public policy is. He understands it is made as a result of
voting blocs. He wants public policy in the United States to change
vis-a-vis Mexico. How do you do that?
Well, you have millions of people here in the United States who have
cultural and linguistic ties to Mexico and who will vote for a policy
shift in the United States. I mean, he was absolutely clear about it.
This is not just some sort of, I do not know, hypothetical that he was
talking about. It is not a conspiracy with deep, dark secrets. He was
explaining exactly. It is a very logical political strategy if you
think about it.
There was a time especially in Mexico that people leaving Mexico were
thought of in derogatory and spoken of derogatorily as people who were
abandoning their homes, but that has changed. But now they are
encouraged, in fact, to do so, but remain connected somehow
linguistically, politically to Mexico.
These are interesting facets of the problem we face, and they are
part of what should be the debate that goes on in this body and
throughout the country over whether or not we should eliminate borders.
But if we are going to maintain borders, or at least the facade of a
border, then it behooves us, I think, Mr. Speaker, to try and do
everything we can to provide integrity to the process.
The first thing we need to do is abolish the INS or that portion of
it that deals with enforcement. The first thing we need to do is create
a brand new, a brand new agency. We can call it a lot of things. I
would suggest that it would be something that would be attached to
Governor Ridge's Office of Homeland Security. But whatever we do, we
need a brand new structure, one that has a clear line of authority,
that has a singleness of purpose, that is given the resources
We should take away the responsibility from Customs and from the
Agricultural Department and all the other agencies that now get in each
other's way essentially at the border trying to do their job which
sometimes conflicts with the other agencies' jobs and makes it easier
for people to come across the border here.
Here is another one of those amazing but true things I was telling
you about earlier, Mr. Speaker, another interesting point. Because we
have so many different agencies handling our border security, they are
assigned each one of stations that people are coming through in their
cars. One may be run by Customs. One may be run by Agriculture. One may
be run by INS, but each of them have different responsibilities, and
different ways of dealing with the issue, and different questions they
ask and different things they are looking for.
So people actually will sit on the hills observing this situation
down on the border, people coming through; and they will watch through
binoculars to see which line is being managed by which agencies. And if
you are smuggling people in, you will want to come in through this
line. And if you are smuggling drugs through, you will want to come
through that line because they have a different sort of emphasis.
Amazing, but true.
We have to stop that. We have to combine the agencies, take the
responsibilities away and create a brand new one. That is not easy to
do here. As you know, Mr. Speaker, this body and the government is not
set up to allow tough issues to advance very far. Everybody gets very
jealous, very, very guarded about their little kingdom, their little
piece of the action here. So when recently Governor Ridge and his staff
developed a white paper on border security, and it said that we needed
to do exactly what I have just described, it said we must take all of
these responsibilities away from the other agencies, we must create one
new agency with a singleness of purpose, a clear line of authority and
all the rest of it, it set off a firestorm of protest. I think that is
the way the article characterized it, a firestorm of protests within
the administration, within all the agencies that would be affected.
So we called over there. My office called the Office of Homeland
Security; and we said, we were reading an article in the New York Times
about this white paper. They said, we do not know what you are talking
about. They are taking on the INS logo. I do not know. I am not sure.
And we do not know. We said we are reading, we have a white paper that
talks about how we should create the new border control agency. They
said, no, no, it is all theoretical. Nothing is on paper. Of course,
that is not true.
As a matter of fact, maybe I am breaking the news here to the Office
of Homeland Security, but the paper is out. The media has it. The one
you say does not exist exists. So you might as well 'fess up to it and
let us get on with it. Let us try to do it regardless of whether or not
the INS gets mad, regardless of whether or not the Department of
Agriculture gets mad, regardless of whether or not Treasury gets upset
because some sort of their little bailiwick will be affected. Who
cares? Who cares?
The job of this body is not to protect any particular agency. The job
of this body is to protect the United States of America. And it is
impossible to do in this way on the particular system we have created
and it is being maintained.
So now we are seeing one or two bills that will come to the floor,
and we will try to tinker with it and pretend the rest of it is not a
problem. And if we separate the agency into the two parts, enforcement
and social services, everything will be okay. But it will not, Mr.
Speaker. It will not be okay at all.
The problems will remain, and what we will have done here so many
times is create an illusion, created an illusion. We have fixed the
problem with INS, we will say. It will not be fixed. People will still
stream across the border illegally. Thousands upon thousands of people
will be here. Right now there are at least 300,000 people who are here
in this country who have been ordered deported. They have actually
somehow gotten arrested.
Now, be sure and understand, Mr. Speaker, we are not talking about
people who overstayed their visa and we somehow found out about it. I
mean, the INS was out there doing their job and said, you know what? I
think so-and-so may have overstayed their visa. Let us go find them.
No. No. That is not what happened, of course.
What happened was so-and-so violated a law, broke a law, broke some
other law. They violated one law because they overstayed their visa,
but then many times they also robbed somebody, they raped somebody,
they murdered somebody, whatever, but they have been found. They have
been brought to trial.
Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to once again consider the
importance of this issue of immigration reform and treat it with the
respect that it deserves and do not just create another illusion.
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