[Congressional Record: March 7, 2002 (House)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
The SPEAKER pro tempore. 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, recently a study was conducted by the GAO,
the General Accounting Office. It was to look into the degree of fraud
in the immigration benefits program. I have oftentimes, Mr. Speaker,
taken the microphone for the purpose of identifying what I believe to
be our serious concerns in this particular agency. There are, of
course, many people who work in this agency, many people who are
assigned especially on the border, assigned with the task of trying to
defend our borders, trying to actually make sure that people do not
come into the country illegally.
This is an overwhelming task. I commend those people for doing
everything they can to uphold the laws of the United States. But it is
something I have likened to trying to keep back a flood with a sieve
because of the variety of conflicting laws that have been passed by
this Congress, because of the culture within the INS which has
absolutely no support for upholding the laws, the immigration laws of
this land, and because they are just overwhelmed by the numbers. I have
often brought those things to the attention of the Congress. I have
personally been to the border. Several Members and I took a CODEL down
there just a month and a half ago or so. We observed firsthand the
problems that are confronted by our people there on the border. I know
and I sympathize and I understand their problems. They not only face
the daunting task of trying to deal with the hundreds of thousands of
people a day that come into the United States and determine whether or
not they are coming here legally, for what purpose, for how long and
that sort of thing, and they not only face the, as I say, conflicting
laws that have been passed by Congress, some designed to enhance border
security, others designed to degrade it, but they are also, it is
apparent now, working within a system that is broken beyond the ability
for us to fix it. In their own system, they realize that they cannot
look to anyone higher up on the ladder, those people that are there
today who, as I say, are in the trenches, either on the borders or the
people who work in customs, all of them recognize that the system in
which they are operating is broken.
Recently, I returned from overseas. As my wife and I were going
through customs at JFK in New York, the lady looked up and she said,
``I think I recognize you. I actually watch C-SPAN. I think I recognize
you. Aren't you on?'' I said, ``Yes, I have been on often talking about
She just hung her head the minute I said it, she said, ``Oh, yeah,
that's right, it is such a mess. Don't get me started on this. I don't
know where to start. It is a mess.'' Her brief response to the word
immigration, immigration policy, is I think probably the best analogy I
can give you to the whole system. It is a mess. That is the best
example I can give you, the best definition of the system I can give
you. It is a mess. This recent report of the GAO is just the most
recent example of the problem.
We have actually had over the course of the last 10 years several
reports done by a variety of different agencies all on the INS talking
about the inefficiency in the organization, their inability to get the
job done, even referencing their lack of a true desire to get the job
Mr. Speaker, the INS, as you know, is divided into two parts at the
present time. They have two different functions within the same
organization. Maybe that is part of the problem, because these
responsibilities conflict with one another. One part of the INS,
Immigration and Naturalization Service, is designed to be what I call
the immigration social work side, that is, to find benefits for people
coming to the United States, hopefully legally, help them get their
green card, help them get visas, all the things that are attendant to
people coming into the United States legally and then being able to
function when they get here. All of that stuff is part of their
Then on the other side, of course, is the enforcement arm. The INS is
supposed to be the agency to which we go when we say, look, we are
concerned about the number of people coming across the border
illegally; we are concerned about not knowing who is here, when they
are here and what they are doing here and we are supposed to rely on
them to do something about it.
But, as you know, as most of the Members of this body know, the INS
is completely incapable and to some extent it is not really desirous of
taking on that role. There are literally scores of examples to show
that. The fact that 19 of these hijackers on September 11 came here on
visas, some of them, of course, then expired, some people were here
illegally at the time that it happened and the inability of the INS to
control that process is a dramatic example, one dramatic event that
happened as a result of their inability to actually know who is in the
United States, know for what purpose they are here and know when they
have overstayed their visa, for instance, so that they can in fact be
deported. But the INS pays little, if any, attention; and they will
tell you when you call them and ask them, do you actually go out and
look for people who are here illegally. Their answer is, Well, of
course not. That's not our job.
I was on the radio not too long ago with a lady who is the
spokesperson for the INS in the Denver area and she said, really, that
is not what they do anymore. They do not go out on sites and look for
people who are here illegally. Really, our job is just to explain to
them why they are here illegally and then help them get benefits. That
was her statement. It was almost incredible, but that was what she
said. That is what they think, that it is not their job. They will say,
well, we do not have the resources, we do not have the time; but what
they actually should add to it is, we do not have the inclination. It
is really not in our makeup. It is not what we want to do. We want to
be the social work side of it. That is what we can do well. We do not
really do this very well, this sort of becoming a policeman. We do not
like that idea. So they shy away from it.
We have had calls in my office from incredibly frustrated INS
inspectors, from INS agents, sometimes who have been on board for 30
years. The caucus that I head, the Immigration Reform Caucus, has
actually held hearings bringing these people in so they can talk and
vent some of their frustration. It is incredible the stories they tell.
They have every reason to be frustrated, because they work for an
agency that is dysfunctional; and they are trying to do a job that is
not supported by the agency itself. It would drive you nuts. I can
certainly understand it.
We have had calls from judges who will tell us that they are
immigration law judges, and they are also frustrated by the fact that
day after day after day they see people in front of them who have
committed crimes in the United States besides, by the way, being here,
probably many of them, illegally but they have committed crimes and
they are aliens and so they are ordered to be deported by a judge. But
because they turn that function over to the INS right after the gavel
falls and the person is ordered to be deported, they turn that function
over to the INS and the INS simply looks the other way.
So at this point in time, we have at least, and I underline at least,
because when you ask the INS for specific information, they come back
with the same response. In fact, it is the logo that I have designed
for the INS. It
should be on their letterhead. It should be on their Web site. When you
click on INS, a little figure should pop up that looks like this, a guy
shrugging his shoulders going, ``I don't know, I'm not sure. Maybe.
Could be.'' Because when you ask them anything, that is exactly what
happens. They respond with, ``I don't know. I'm not sure. Could be.''
When you ask them how many people have actually been ordered to be
deported but have not in fact left the country, you get this: ``I'm not
sure. I don't know.'' Probably around 300,000, they will say, 300,000
Remember, Mr. Speaker, we are not talking about people who are just
here illegally. As we know, that is probably 10 or 11 million people
here illegally. We are not talking about people who have just
overstayed their visas. Certainly they number in the millions, also. We
are talking about people who have violated the law. They have robbed a
bank, they stole money from somebody on the street, they shot somebody,
they raped somebody and then they got arrested. And because of their
violation of an American law, they were ordered to be deported. But
they do not get deported. They walk away. No one has the slightest idea
where they are, 300,000 of them. But the INS says, well, that is not
really my thing, that is not really what I am too interested in. We are
really on the immigration social work side of things. That is where we
concentrate our efforts and that is certainly where we concentrate all
of our resources. We have quadrupled the budget for the INS over the
last several years. Quadrupled. It has gone almost entirely to the
social work side. Very little has gone into defending our borders.
Time and time again we have seen that the INS has absolutely no
concern about the people who are here illegally. If you call right now,
if a local policeman, for instance, picks somebody up on the street, it
may be a traffic violation, it may be disturbance of the peace,
whatever, and they find that that person is here illegally, they could,
although hardly anyone does anymore because they know it is futile,
they could call the INS and they could say, look, I have someone here
who has done X, Y and Z and they are here illegally. What do you want
me to do? The INS would say, well, go ahead, let them go. Get their
name, and we will try to get back to them. Sometimes even people that
have gone through this process and are ordered to be deported or who
are coming up for their deportation will get a letter, it is actually
called a ``run letter'' in the lexicon because it means the minute you
get it, it says something like, look, we know you have violated the law
so please report here in 2\1/2\ months for deportation.
Yes, right, thank you, of course I will be there with my bags all
packed. I do not think many people show up. It is called a run letter
for a purpose, because when they get it they run. It is idiotic. Why
should we even waste the stamp? The local law enforcement agency calls
up and says, these people are here illegally and they tell them, let
them go. We have had in Colorado instances where people have been
picked up on the highway for violating some traffic law, the van opens,
there are 15 people inside, they are all illegal. That is when they are
lucky, that is when they have not run off the road and had the van get
into an accident. We have had, of course, many people killed on the
highways. It ended up that they were being transported through the
State of Colorado. It is a big transportation hub, I am told, for
But, of course, we call the INS and nothing happens. They tell them,
we really have not got the time, we have not got the people, so just
forget about it. So at this time very few people actually even do
anything; very few law enforcement agencies do anything like, say, call
the INS because they have got somebody. They know it is futile. They
know there is absolutely no reason to do it. And even after September
11, even after that, we find very little happening inside the INS that
would lead us to believe there is a change of heart, a change of the
culture, an emphasis on trying to actually keep people out of the
country who are here illegally.
It is incredible that we can say that after the most horrific event
this country has ever experienced in terms of an act of terror, and, I
pray to God, the most horrific event it will ever experience. But, of
course, you and I know, Mr. Speaker, we have been told over and over
and over again by our Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence here
in the House, by members of that committee, we have been told by
members of the Armed Forces, we hear it from the Secretary of Defense
almost nightly that, in fact, we probably will be experiencing other
acts of violence of this nature, of terrorism.
Once again I pray to God that none of them would ever reach the level
of damage as that that occurred on the 11th of September, but we do not
know. We know, we believe, something will happen. We hear that all the
time. There are alerts that are being offered, issued all the time. Yet
even with all of that, we have not been able to get the INS, and this
Congress, as a matter of fact, we have not been able to get anything
out of this Congress that would force the INS to do a better job.
Amazing. We have responded to the President's call by increasing the
budget for the armed services and for the homeland defense, and I am
totally in favor of it. I vote in favor of very few budget increases on
this floor, but I certainly do vote for increases in the area of
defense for one reason: It is our single responsibility. It is the most
important thing we do here.
I know it is hard to believe, but I certainly think the Constitution
would back me up when I say it is more important; the defense of this
Nation is more important than health and human services. It is more
important than the education budget. It is more important than
transportation. It is more important than anything else we do. So I am
more than willing to increase the budget for those agencies through my
But what is amazing is that we have taken very specific and very
direct action in beefing up the military, and thank God we have. They
will, as the President said so eloquently when he addressed the Nation,
they will always make us proud, and they do. They are fighting overseas
today as we speak. American blood is being shed in foreign lands in
defense of this Nation, and it is the right and proper thing to do.
Who knows? We may soon be in other countries besides Afghanistan. I
would agree with the proposal that we need to do something wherever
terrorism raises its head or shows its tentacle, whether it is in Iran,
Iraq, Georgia, or the Philippines. Wherever it is, I am willing to say
we should try and go there and stamp it out.
But why is it, Mr. Speaker, that we are so willing and able as a body
to do that, while we are just as unwilling to do anything significant
to improve our own defenses here in this country? How is it that we can
ignore the fact that we still have people coming across the borders
illegally? We still have thousands of people coming across the border
every single day illegally. We have not really paid much attention to
that. We have paid mostly lip service to it.
It is, for one thing, a fact of political life that we are concerned
about raising the issue of immigration reform for fear of the political
fallout in the United States. But from whom, I ask, Mr. Speaker. From
whom should we be expecting opposition?
Yes, certainly from the Democratic Party, because they recognize that
massive immigration will eventually lead to what they believe will lead
to more voters for the Democrat candidate. So they will do anything
they can, and have done everything they can, to stop any sort of
immigration reform, and they want them essentially to come in, legally
or illegally, it does not matter. Eventually, they believe it will
accrue to their political benefit.
On our side, we, of course, hear from people who are business owners,
who say to us, I have to have these people because no one else will do
the job. So turn a blind eye to illegal immigration. Let them come in.
We need them.
We certainly do not want to be seen as a party that is anti-
immigration, or anti-ethnic group; and certainly, I guarantee my
colleagues, Mr. Speaker, I am not either of those two things. I am not
anti-immigration. I certainly have nothing against any ethnic group
coming into this country.
The issue is, how much, how many, for what purpose, and will we be
able to control it? That is the issue. Do we want open borders? Do we
want the elimination of our borders?
There are people who, in fact, do. President Vicente Fox has stated
very publicly that he expects in the next 20 years to not have a border
between the United States and Mexico. I have talked with members of his
cabinet who share that exact same vision: The head of a newly created
agency in Mexico that would translate into the Ministry for Mexicans
Living Outside of Mexico, an interesting cabinet level position, I
would certainly say.
I have talked to Mr. Hernandez, the newly appointed minister in this
particular cabinet level department, and he has stated clearly to me
that he does not believe that there are two countries. He says they are
just a region. That is all. It is not two countries, he says.
Well, now, this may be a very legitimate debate topic. There may very
well be people on the floor of the House and in the administration in
the United States, and certainly we know in Mexico, who believe that we
should not have borders, that we should meld ourselves into sort of a
United States of the North American continent and beyond, perhaps.
South America, too. A European Union model. I know all of these things
are actually in the sights of many people. That is what they think we
are going to do.
Well, okay, let us debate that issue, right here, a bill on the
floor. I would like a bill to go the committee of reference to
eliminate the borders and to join hands with all of the people on the
North American continent in some sort of confederation, with common
currency, all of the stuff that the European Union is doing.
I will vote no, I will tell my colleagues. I will vote no. But that
is okay. That is just my vote. If a majority of the Members of this
body and the President agree, that is the way it will be.
But what I do not like happening, Mr. Speaker, is that that is
exactly where we are heading, only without any sort of legal
justification, without an actual law being passed, without a decision
being made by this Congress or by this President. We will look at some
point in time in the future back and say, gee, how did all of this
happen? We sort of eliminated the borders. They do not really exist
Well, that may be true; and, as I say, it may be a good thing. I do
not think so, but let us debate. Let us at least have this issue come
to the floor. Let us not pretend that we are not just expanding
immigration for all of these altruistic reasons.
There are political reasons, both in the United States and in Mexico,
for massive immigration. It is the hope of a number of people in
Mexico, of the government of Mexico that enough people will be here to
eventually influence the policy of the United States vis-a-vis Mexico.
It is the hope of people in the United States that we can somehow
attract these people and get them involved. It is the hope of the labor
unions that they can get all of the newly arrived immigrants, whether
they are legal or illegal, into labor unions, so all of a sudden we
have labor in support of massive immigration.
And then there are certainly altruistic reasons why even the
President of the United States will support it.
I believe that the President is a man who does speak from his heart.
I believe that. I go to bed every single night thanking God that George
Bush is the President of the United States. Let me get that clear and
out here on the table. And especially not the alternative that we had
in the last election. So that is not an issue. I am a 100 percent solid
supporter. No, I am not 100 percent, because this issue is one with
which I disagree with the President. But I believe it comes from his
heart when he is saying that he wants to expand immigration. I just
think he is wrong.
I have a responsibility here to vote my conscience, and I certainly
will do that, and I will speak out against it. It is not being disloyal
to the President. It is simply an issue with which I disagree that he
brings up, his point of view.
I believe that there are massive implications for immigration in the
United States, especially in the numbers that we are talking about
today. It is something we are going to have to deal with politically,
economically, culturally. There are a whole raft of fascinating topics
that can be brought up when we begin to debate on immigration. But as
long as we are going to have borders, however, as long as there are
still lines on a map that actually divide the United States from other
places in the world, from other countries, then, of course, they should
What is the purpose of a border, we should ask ourselves, and what is
our responsibility as a national government to defend them?
It is again a unique position we find ourselves in at the Federal
level, establishing immigration policy. States cannot do it. States
have to deal with our decisions. With our decisions to abandon the
border comes a host of problems that confront every State in the
Nation, some more dramatically than others.
California, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Florida and other States that
face massive immigration, legal and illegal, are faced with building
schools as fast as they can, building highways, building hospitals,
their social service budgets are busting at the seams, all because they
are being inundated by people coming here, as they have come for many
years, to seek a better life.
There is one unique kind of situation that is developing, however,
Mr. Speaker, in that we are witnessing an interesting phenomenon with
the recent arrivals into the United States. Undeniably, they are coming
here because they want a better life, because they see job
opportunities that are not available to them in their homeland. That is
exactly why most of our relatives, most of our grandparents or great
grandparents or whatever, this is why they came. That is not different.
But, in the past, the vast majority of people coming into the United
States were seeking not only economic opportunity but they were seeking
a new life, a new experience, a new country that they could become a
part of, and they were anxious to cut the ties that bound them to the
country of their origin. They were willing to speak the language for a
while but very, very intent upon moving to the English language as
quickly as possible, because they recognized that it was the way they
could move up the economic ladder in this country. And it was also
because, as my grandparents used to say to each other, they would say
``speak America,'' not English, but ``speak America.'' They were the
immigrants of the late 1800s, early 1900s.
They would get into arguments. I remember Sunday drives, and they
would get in an argument in the back seat and my grandmother would yell
at my grandfather, ``speak America,'' because it meant more to her. She
knew that the word was ``English,'' but what she was conveying was
something else. She was intent, as was my grandfather, on making
themselves and their children and their grandchildren American in every
way that they could.
Mr. Speaker, I am a relatively new immigrant, in a way. That is to
say, I was born here, but my family is only third generation. I am only
third generation. My grandparents came here, as I said, in the late
1800s; and it is intriguing to me that in my life, the second
generation after that, there was absolutely no attachment to the
country of my grandparents' birth, other than I knew where it was. We
had the cuisine that represented Italian ancestry, and that was it,
really. That was it. There was certainly no political allegiance that
my or my grandparents or my parents held to the country from which they
Today, however, we are witnessing something quite different. We are
witnessing a flood of people into the United States who do not wish to
cut those ties. They wish to retain the political, cultural, and
linguistic ties of the country of their origin, and we encourage it in
the United States. Believe me, our own policies here, this radical,
what I would call radical, multiculturalism certainly encourages that
kind of separate status, the Balkanization of America.
I can tell my colleagues that this is the case. We can actually show
empirical evidence. This is not just theory. It is a different sort of
situation today because I think that has always been brought up
whenever immigration issues are discussed that, well, it is different
today than it was before. Well, it is different today. Today, there are
6 million people here in the United States, at least; this is our best
estimate so far, at least 6 million people in
the United States who claim dual citizenship. Now, this is an
interesting thing. It has never been this high.
Well, for the longest time one could not do that in the United
States, and one is not really supposed to now. You cannot really become
a citizen. You are supposed to swear allegiance to the United States
and no allegiance to any foreign dictator or potentate, I think the
word is. But, in fact, people do retain their citizenship, as a result
of Mexico allowing their citizens to retain their citizenship just a
few years ago, and the numbers shot up to 6 million people.
Now, I am stating, Mr. Speaker, that I do not believe that we would
have had this same phenomenon, not even the same percentage of
immigrants coming to the United States in the early 1900s, late 1800s.
I do not believe we would have had the same percentage of people
seeking to retain their citizenship of the country of origin. Because
they came for a different purpose.
Now, I am not suggesting that this is a nefarious thing, that these
are not people coming here with the intent to do us harm for the most
part. That is certainly true. But it does, in fact, bode ill for the
United States. It really puts the emphasis on pluribus and not on unum.
Out of many, one. It puts the emphasis on many, and we really do not
get to the one. And that is happening to us, and most people I think
understand it. I know that most Americans understand it.
Poll after poll after poll indicates a desire on the part of the
American people and, by the way, even recent immigrants to reduce the
number of people coming, to take a break, take a breather here, to not
let people come in illegally, and to not do something like give amnesty
for those people who are here illegally.
I will get to that in just a moment because, I am afraid to say it,
but I am disappointed that I have to say it, but the fact is we will
probably be once again facing this proposal. I know the White House is
pushing it. I understand the leadership of the Congress, at least the
House anyway, has agreed to bring it up, maybe even as soon as next
But let me go back for a moment to the INS and talk about my concerns
I have already discussed the incredible degree of dysfunctionality,
if you will, in that particular agency, especially on the enforcement
side. They are incapable or nondesirous of actually doing anything for
enforcement. I think that is blatantly clear. I cannot imagine anybody
here, no matter how supportive they are of immigration, I cannot
imagine anybody actually defending the INS and their ability to
actually accomplish anything.
And we must not think very much of it, Mr. Speaker. We must not think
very much of the agency itself, because we just appointed a guy to the
head of it, a good friend of the minority leader in the other body, a
good friend of a number of Members in the other body. This is a
gentleman that we appointed to head the INS. A nice man. I have met
Let me tell what you his qualifications are for the job. He was the
Sergeant at Arms of the other body. That is it. That is it. He had been
a staffer, I think, some many years back. He had been the Sergeant of
Arms for years. Of course, he knew many Members over there; and, lo and
behold, he is the new head of the INS. So we must not think very much
of the agency, I suppose. It is sort of a toss or a throwaway.
We should think more about it because it is charged with an
incredibly important function. It just does not carry it out, and it
really cannot because not only, as I say, is the problem with the
enforcement side but now comes that GAO report that I mentioned earlier
on. February 15 the report was issued, titled ``GAO Report Finds
`Pervasive and Serious Problems With Immigration Benefit Fraud' ''.
Now, remember, Mr. Speaker, this is the other side of what they do.
This is what they are supposed to do well. This is the social work
side, and this is what they tout. This is what they will state that
they are really all about.
The lady that I debated who was the spokesperson for the INS in
Denver, this is what she said they do. They help people. They are there
to get people their benefits. That is what she said.
Well, here is what the GAO report just found. ``Immigration benefit
fraud is a significant problem that threatens the integrity of the
legal immigration system. Aliens apply to the Immigration and
Naturalization Service for such benefits as naturalization, work
authorization and adjustment of status. Immigrants benefit fraud
involves attempts by aliens to obtain such benefits through illegal
Oh, my goodness. Could that be happening? Ask the INS, how much fraud
is there, and they give you the low go. I am not sure. Probably a lot.
``The report also details the Immigration and Naturalization Service
failure to root out fraud in the immigration benefits application
process.'' In other words, they know there is fraud. They do not care.
The Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary, the gentleman
from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner), stated, and I quote, ``This report
raises a whole host of troubling homeland security threats posed by an
immigration benefits process wrought with fraud. In fact, the GAO study
finds the INS does not know the extent of the problem.''
There we go again. Hey, who knows? Probably a lot.
The gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner) continues, ``Based
on this report I am not confident that the INS is not giving green
cards to al Qaeda operatives. We have a complete failure by the INS to
take the steps necessary to protect the people of the United States and
the immigration system itself from criminals manipulating the benefits
process. These findings support the urgent need for a comprehensive
legislative restructuring of the INS.''
Is that not the truth? Underline comprehensive, by the way. Underline
We know what will happen in this body, Mr. Speaker. I am sure you are
aware as much as anyone else how difficult it is to actually reform an
agency of the Federal government and do so quite significantly,
comprehensively, very difficult. We will take a stab at it. We will
introduce something. It will get watered down in both Houses, and we
will end up thinking, was this really what we were trying to do? Is
this really reform? Maybe we have changed a few names.
I am worried about it, but, nonetheless, we have got to try to do
something, again, as the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner)
Here are some of the findings from the GAO report. Now, please
understand that the GAO is not an agency with a given bias here. These
people, if anything, we would expect them to be more on the side of the
agency itself that they are investigating. But get this, Mr. Speaker. A
90 percent fraud rate. A 90 percent fraud rate was found in one review
of a targeted group of 5,000 petitions. A follow-up analysis of about
1,500 petitions found only one was not fraudulent.
Please let me repeat that. I just do not know if you got that. A 90
percent fraud rate was found in the review of the targeted group of
5,000 petitions. Follow-up analysis of about 1,500 found only that one
was not fraudulent.
This is what they are supposed to do well, remember. ``Benefit fraud
is a comparatively low priority within the INS,'' it went on to say.
``Without improvement in its benefit fraud investigations the INS's
inability to detect the number of ineligible aliens improperly applying
for benefits will be hampered.''
Next, ``A senior INS official has testified to Congress that criminal
aliens and terrorists manipulate the benefit application process to
facilitate expansion of their illegal activities, such as crimes of
violence, narcotic trafficking, terrorism and entitlement fraud. GAO
was told by an INS official that fraud is probably involved in about 20
to 30 percent of all applications filed.'' They wish it was that low.
``The INS approach to addressing benefit fraud is fragmented and
unfocused. There is no assurance that INS reviews are adequate for
detecting non-compliance or abuse during application processing.''
These are all findings of the GAO study. This is not my analysis.
This is the GAO policy of the part of the activity of the INS that they
are supposed to do well.
``Some adjudication officers had to sneak over to the operations unit
to discuss fraud-related issues because adjudication officers are
discouraged from taking the time to discuss questionable cases with
``INS officials said that fraud is rampant across the country and out
of control.'' That is the part they are probably sure of. I know there
is a lot of it, they would say. ``INS officials indicate that the
immigration benefit fraud problem will increase as smugglers and other
criminal enterprises use fraud as other means of bringing illegal
aliens, including criminal aliens, into the country.''
By the way, please understand we are not talking about Mexico here
for these types of problems. We are talking about Russia. We are
talking about China. We are talking about countries all over the world
who are perpetrating this fraud in order to advance certain illegal
``The INS fails to balance its responsibility to provide immigration
benefits with its duty to detect fraud in the immigration process. The
GAO concluded that emphasis has been placed on timely processing of
applications, allowing quality to suffer. This has contributed to the
increase in benefit fraud.''
Now, this is the GAO report; and it probably, as most reports of this
nature, only skims the surface. This is probably just the tip of the
iceberg. But even if it is the whole thing, for heaven's sake, why
would we not say we have a massive problem here?
Mr. Speaker, with this in mind, with this picture I have tried to
paint of an agency, dysfunctional in nature, incompetent, inefficiently
run, headed by a gentleman, again, nice enough fellow but who was the
Sergeant of Arms at the Senate, that is it. That is it. This is the
agency to which we entrust the sanctity of our border, maintaining
that, creating it, because that certainly is not a place with which you
can apply that term today.
This is to whom we turn in a time when terrorism poses enormous
threats to our very survival. This is the agency that we turn to.
Now, when we were on the border, Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned to you
not too long ago, several Members and I went down on a congressional
delegation. We talked to literally scores of people who were working on
the border at the time. We talked to our immigration officials. We
talked to people in the embassy, people who were important for visa
processing. We talked to people right on the border, border control
agents; and to a person they recognized that they were facing
unbelievable challenges and that they were not really doing all that
But what they said to us is, please do not do anything to make the
job worse. And we said, well, like what? They said, like this amnesty
issue. Do not do that again. Every time you start talking about amnesty
up there, meaning here, the flood turns into a tidal wave. Because, of
course, what do we think would happen?
Is it illogical to assume that if we allow everybody who is here
legally or even a large portion of them if they are here illegally, if
we allow them amnesty, would that not simply encourage a lot of people
to come across the border in hopes of obtaining exactly the same thing
in a short time and not going through the regular process, not doing
what millions of other people have to do, fill out the paperwork, go
through the process of immigration, wait in line and wait your turn?
Why would not they just simply come across?
Well, they do. Of course they do. And they said, please do not do
I got back here that night to find that, in fact, we were preparing
an amendment to do exactly that. The President had asked for it. The
leadership was preparing it. We had quite a little tussle in our
conference about that, and a decision was made shortly thereafter to
not pursue it. A wise decision, I think.
But because the President is going to Mexico in just a few weeks,
just a couple of weeks, there is strong desire on the part of the
administration to allow him to take with him this issue, an amnesty. So
I am told in a relatively short time, maybe next week, the House will
be once again debating whether or not we are going to give amnesty to
people here illegally.
Now, again, it is almost incredible that we have to say that this is
a bad idea. Again, I support the President in almost every single one
of his efforts, domestic and foreign policy combined. But on this he is
We should not reward people for breaking our laws. And whether we
call it a fine or just a revenue enhancement thing, having them pay a
little extra money to get in here, I am told that maybe the thinking is
having them pay $1,000 and that would be the fine for having broken our
laws. What does that mean to the whole world? Come up with a grand and
come on in.
That is all it means. It means do not go through the system. Do not
be a fool. Why would you actually go through the system? Why would you
wait in line? Why would you do it legally? There is an easier way. Come
across the border, get into the United States through a visa, by any
way you can, by ship, by plane, just get here, stay here, overstay your
visa, meld into the populace at large and forget about it. Because
pretty soon somebody will say ``Olly, Olly, Ox In Free,'' and we will
let them in.
This is a bad idea. It may be done for political reasons; it may be
done out of all truism. I do not know. It does not matter. It is a bad
idea. There is a security issue we must deal with.
Mr. SIMMONS. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. TANCREDO. I yield to the gentleman from Connecticut.
Mr. SIMMONS. Mr. Speaker, I simply wanted to congratulate the
gentleman on his brilliant articulation of the topic.
Mr. TANCREDO. Reclaiming my time, Mr. Speaker, I would say to the
gentleman that we will see how brilliant it is once we get a vote on
this issue and whether or not we are able to convince anybody, but I
thank the gentleman for those kind words.
Mr. Speaker, I know there is an agreement of political muscle being
applied on this. The Speaker of the House is going to bring it, the
President of the United States wants it, but most people in this
country do not. Even yesterday, Mr. Speaker, something very interesting
happened. I was told about this, I did not witness it myself; but I
understand the President was speaking to the National Hispanic Chamber
of Commerce and he was getting applause in all the right places for
everything he said and everything he was doing in talking about the
troops, talking about our war against terrorism; and then he said, and
by the way, I am going to push for 245(i) extension. There was not, as
I am told, there was not a single person in the audience who put their
hands together in applause.
This is not something that most people who came here legally want.
They understand the problem. They do not want to encourage illegal
immigration. They came here legally. They know that that is the right
way to do it. We should not be pandering to any other groups or
organizations, to the immigration lobbyists. We should not be doing
that. We are not going to benefit from it politically. Nothing we will
ever do will ever satisfy groups like La Raza and others, these
immigration advocacy groups. Nothing will ever satisfy them until the
complete elimination of the borders actually occurs.
It is not a good idea. Every time I go to Mexico and I talk to them
in Mexico, I ask them, what is it they are looking for? They always
talk to me about the circularity. They want people coming to the United
States, said the foreign minister, we want people coming to the United
States, we want them working, we want them sending money back to
Mexico, and then, as President Vincente Fox said, I want them coming
home to retire in Mexico. Well, I would say that I am all for the
circularity issue, but I would narrow the time frame quite dramatically
to something we call a ``guest worker program.''
People need a job, and people need workers. Great. We establish a
guest worker program, one that really and truly is viable. People come
in, they take the jobs that are available for them, and we protect
their rights as workers. We do not let them be abused by employers who
may want to take advantage of them because they would be here illegally
under other circumstances. So we can protect their
rights and also protect our own rights as a Nation by determining who
comes and how many and how long they stay by establishing a good guest
But they do not want that. They simply want us to abandon the border.
They do not want people just coming to the United States working and
then going home; they want them just coming to the United States. And,
as I say, there are political reasons for that in Mexico; there are
political reasons for that here in the United States. But we should at
least speak out on it. We should at least speak out against it.
For one thing, Mr. Speaker, we would be giving the task of
determining who is eligible for this amnesty to the Department of
Justice and, more specifically, to the, guess what, to the INS. Now,
Mr. Speaker, what more do I have to say about this organization that
could possibly convince the people here that this is not the right
organization to give such a responsibility to?
I cannot imagine that anybody thinks that fraud would not be rampant
in all of the applications, or at least a huge majority that would be
approved by this organization. Because, after a while, they just get
the stamp out. As the clock winds out, they just get the stamp out. I
would go back to this last comment that was made about the INS, about
their only real intent is to move the paperwork quickly and
efficiently. That is all they care about.
So they get the stamp out, they will let people in, and they will not
have gone through a background check that is the same kind of
background check they would have in the country from which they
originated. And, therefore, we become even more vulnerable to the kind
of terrorist activity that we have seen and that we anticipate.
Mr. Speaker, there are many, many battles that we will fight with
regard to this immigration issue, some very, very broad in nature, some
very specific. This is a specific one. Extension of 245(i). People
listening to this might hear that, but that is simply a euphemism for
the word ``amnesty.'' This is not a good thing for us to do. It is not
good public policy. Most people in the United States agree with that
Why are we doing it? What is the reason we are in such a rush to get
this in front of us? Why is there so much pressure being placed on us
to do something most people in the country are absolutely opposed to,
and in their heart of hearts, I think most Members are absolutely
opposed to it? How they will vote, I am not sure, because there is, of
course, this element of having the administration backing it. But I
assure my colleagues that whether this administration or any other
supports this kind of proposal, it is the wrong thing to do. And I for
one will speak out against it as loudly as I can, as vociferously as I
can, and as often as I can.
I recognize fully well that there are only two things I have in this
body, and that is my voice and my vote; and I will use both of them as
effectively as I possibly can to stop what I believe to be a tragedy in
the making, and that is the disuniting of America, as Arthur
Schlesinger, Jr., puts it in his brilliant essay, ``The Disuniting of
That is really what the issue is about here, whether this Nation will
actually sustain itself. And, therefore, it is my responsibility to
speak out against it regardless of who is pushing it, the President or
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