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


[Congressional Record: June 4, 2002 (House)]
[Page H3153-H3157]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr04jn02-83]                         



 
       CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES AND SPENDING HABITS OF THE CONGRESS

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Flake). Under the Speaker's announced 
policy of January 3, 2001, the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Tancredo) 
is recognized for 60 minutes.
  Mr. TANCREDO. Mr. Speaker, there are a number of issues, of course, 
that come to mind today for purposes of a discussion for a period of 
time here. Something brought to mind when I was listening to my 
colleague, the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. McInnis), and he was 
talking about the propensity of this body especially to spend money in 
ways that I think we could call profligate.
  It is true, unfortunately, whether one party is in charge or the 
other, it seems like it hardly matters, we do spend a great deal of 
money, sometimes without benefit, I think, of enough analysis and 
enough debate. And a constituent of mine e-mailed us a couple of days 
ago concerned about everything he had been hearing with regard to the 
proposals on both sides of the aisle for support of a new program for 
Medicare, a program that provides for insurance and/or some subsidy in 
some way or other for prescription drugs. As my colleague from Colorado 
said, it is a compelling argument.
  We have all heard from constituents who over and over again explain 
to us the need for some help in procuring their prescription drugs, and 
our heart goes out to them because we recognize, just as I do with my 
own parents, and certainly I think everybody has someone who they can 
think of who is in desperate need for medication, the cost of which is 
skyrocketing. It seems like almost every week it goes up again and it 
becomes an incredible burden. And,

[[Page H3154]]

naturally, that kind of thing happening out there will result in 
pressure here on this floor and in this body to do something about it 
to respond.
  The reaction that most of us have is to say, well, what is it that 
the Federal Government can do. But unfortunately I think the reaction 
that most of us should have, but do not, is what is it that the Federal 
Government is empowered to do, empowered by the Constitution. Day in 
and day out we confront issues here on this floor that are severe, they 
are significant, they matter to millions of people in this country, and 
because they matter and because people are interested in them and there 
are pressure groups that develop, we find ourselves responding over and 
over again to the political pressure that boils up.
  People say, well, is that not the purpose of a democracy? But, of 
course, this is a republic and not a democracy. This is a republic. And 
what that means is that we elect people to represent the interests of 
our constituents. We do not have a majority rule of the population of 
the country, which is what a true democracy is; everybody meeting all 
over the country on every issue and deciding the fate of that issue on 
an up-or-down vote. That is not what the Framers of the Constitution 
gave us and that is not what we should be about. It is mobocracy, 
perhaps would be a better way of describing it.
  A republican form of government charges us, the people who are 
elected, to come here and analyze the issue and cast our vote in the 
best way we think that will fit our constituency and our 
responsibilities as a Member of this Congress. And this is always a 
challenging experience because we are torn, every human being on this 
floor, every human being in the Congress of the United States is torn 
between doing what political pressure pushes them toward doing on the 
one hand, and on the other what the Constitution prevents them from 
doing.
  The Constitution cannot speak for itself. It has no voice here except 
that given to it by those of us who are concerned about it. It is just 
words. It is just words on a piece of paper, on a piece of parchment, 
actually, and, therefore, it can be interpreted, broadly, widely, 
liberally to say that everything we do here in this body is 
constitutionally approved. Well, of course, I think that if that were 
the case, we would not need a Constitution. We would not need a written 
document.
  Britain has, for centuries now, existed without a written 
constitution. Everybody sort of understands what the parameters are and 
tries to deal with it. But, of course, Britain is a far more 
socialistic economy than ours and far more down the path towards 
socialism than we are, thank goodness. And that is inevitable. Without 
the constraints of a constitution, it is inevitable that it will lead 
to a government that will respond to all political pressures by taking 
away someone's hard-earned money and giving it to someone else that we 
deem appropriate.
  This e-mail that I received had such a logical way of approaching it 
that I thought I would bring it to the floor for our edification. I 
received this from Randal Morgan, who lives in Aurora, Colorado. And he 
said, ``Are you willing to insert the Boortz amendment, the Boortz 
resolution in all legislation you introduce and/or support? It is as 
follows:'' And I must admit to you, Mr. Speaker, I had not heard of 
this particular resolution, that has evidently come up in the past, but 
I just did not know of it. It says: ``Every sponsor or cosponsor over 
this legislation hereby affirms his or her belief that the need for the 
Federal Government of the United States to spend taxpayer funds on the 
purposes outlined herein is of greater importance and urgency than the 
spending needs which the party or parties who actually earned these 
funds may have. Such needs being, but not necessarily limited to, 
spending for medical care, child care, housing, food, clothing, 
transportation, education, insurance, savings and retirement 
planning.''
  Well, I think that is a great amendment to add to any bill that is 
passed by this House or introduced by any Member. Certainly I will be 
happy to do so if I am ever in the position of actually introducing 
legislation that spends money. So far, in my tenure in this Congress, I 
have been able to avoid that particular distinction. But should I ever 
find myself in that situation, I will be happy to add this particular 
resolution as an amendment.
  I think it is a great statement. It is saying what we all are in fact 
doing. It is saying, clearly, that we are making a decision, we as a 
body, that everyone here believes and understands that whatever we 
decide is the important cause for which we are on the floor imploring 
our colleagues to support is more important than the concerns and the 
needs of the people from whom we are taking the money. I mean that is 
exactly what we do here time and time again.
  Now, if we use the constraints of the Constitution as our guideline, 
then we will say that, yes, there are some things that we will take 
money away from all people in this republic to fund. Because we are 
charged with the responsibility of doing such. We are charged with the 
responsibility of maintaining the republic intact. And that is just my 
interpretation, now. I mean, I recognize that there are 534 other 
Members of the Congress who make their interpretation, but what it 
means to me is this; that the primary responsibility of the Federal 
Government is not education, it is not health and human services, it is 
not transportation, it is not energy policy. None of those things are 
the primary responsibility, yet we have committees and we have 
appropriation bills for all of these. We have 13 appropriation bills 
for 13 separate activities, and they encompass every imaginable 
activity, by the way, and some unimaginable, I should say.
  But if we were to analyze the Constitution and think of that as the 
template over which we overlay the proposal that we use to determine 
how we should vote on any particular issue, I think that we would all 
walk away from here after having voted no on about 99 percent of the 
things that confront us. Because if our primary responsibility is, as I 
believe it to be, the preservation of the republic, then the defense 
appropriation bill that comes before us every year is of primary 
concern to me.

                              {time}  2115

  It is my responsibility to make a determination as to whether or not 
it is enough, but not whether or not it is the appropriate thing for 
the Federal Government to do. Of course it is. That is understood. It 
is understood that an agency like the Federal Government needs to be 
there for the coinage of money and for the regulation of the 
transportation of goods and services across State lines. There are a 
lot of things that the Federal Government has a responsibility for that 
the States do not.
  Mr. Speaker, I am more than willing to vote to take money away from 
people in this Republic and give it to others for the purpose of 
meeting the constitutional requirements placed upon us. Individuals 
cannot defend the country. They may hopefully be able to defend 
themselves if we let them keep their firearms, but they cannot defend 
the country. We have to organize for that, and that is the purpose of 
the appropriations bill for defense. So our only question at that point 
in time is: Is it right, is it enough, is it too much, and should we 
support it on that basis? But really not whether it is appropriate. But 
all of the other things we do here that do not fit into the 
constitutional framework can be called into question and they are, I 
think, by the e-mail to us from Mr. Morgan. I agree we do far, far too 
much. I also believe, Mr. Speaker, that we have gone far too far in the 
direction of federalizing crimes.
  The Constitution again gives us certain responsibilities, and we can 
interpret them in various ways, but it is difficult for me to 
understand how or why we can impose Federal statutory limitations on 
certain actions throughout the Nation that are not directly related to 
our role as the Federal Government and the Congress of the United 
States.
  I think that we have so strained the resources available to us, 
especially in the FBI, for instance, giving them now over 3,000 laws 
that they have to enforce, 3,000 criminal laws that they have to 
enforce. We have so overstrained their resources they find themselves 
in the position of not being able to do their primary job, and that is 
to protect the United States from

[[Page H3155]]

those who will do us harm from internal or external threats as a 
Nation, not a bank robber, someone who has taken a hostage, taken a 
drug, something that they are now responsible for getting involved with 
because we have passed laws here forcing them to do so.
  And then we say how is it that we could have possibly missed so many 
clues, so many signs that there were people in the United States of 
America that were here to do us harm, and we should have known and done 
better. The FBI got information from the CIA. Did they not interpret it 
right?
  Frankly, they are doing a million things, and I am glad to see that 
the Attorney General has determined that there is going to be a 
priority for the Federal Government, especially FBI involvement, and it 
is going to start with threats to the Nation. That is where it should 
end. That is where it should end because we have this thing called 
States rights. We have this thing called the federalist system of 
government which delegates to States all of the responsibilities for 
law enforcement of other activities.
  Yet people come to us constantly and ask us, and it is hard to turn 
down a request to make a law against certain activities, to make a law 
against pedophilia and child molestation. I do not know anyone who 
supports that activity. But is that our role? Is that what the 
Constitution says the Federal Government should be doing?
  I suggest that because there have been so many attempts to federalize 
criminal statutes and federalize certain crimes, I should say, that we 
have now become bogged down in that quagmire of activity that could 
frankly take all of the resources that we could possibly devote and 
would never, ever solve the problem.
  We all need to know what our role is. What is the job of the Federal 
Government when it comes to enforcement of criminal statutes? What is 
the job of the counties and the cities? When each one knows what they 
are supposed to do, they can devote their resources to accomplishing 
that goal. But we have done far, far too much because we have 
responded, as is natural, to the requests, the demands, the political 
pressure, to make certain things a Federal crime.
  Guns, guns. Now, I happen to represent a constituency that has 
suffered through one of the most traumatic events that can possibly be 
described. Columbine High School haunts our memories. It is replayed 
even today on television stations, in the newspaper with charges of 
malfeasance, with charges of ineptness on the part of various officials 
who were responsible for dealing with the issue.
  Parents will actually never, ever feel the healing salve of 
forgiveness when it comes to this issue, and when it comes to what 
happened to their children, both those killed at Columbine High School 
and those who remain or were injured, both physically and mentally. The 
tragedy is horrendous. So what happens then is political pressure 
develops. People come to the Congress of the United States and demand 
action. Certainly I felt that pressure. People demanded that we take 
dramatic steps in trying to restrict someone's ability to own firearms.

  Mr. Speaker, I believe, let me say first of all and clearly, I 
believe there are people in this country that should not be able to own 
a firearm. Maybe that puts me in direct confrontation with those who 
say the second amendment says everyone should be able to own firearms. 
I disagree. We do not go through the penitentiary system in this 
country offering catalogues for people to order firearms. We restrict a 
lot of people from being able to own firearms, and logically so. We do 
not want felons, criminals, especially violent criminals, to be able to 
easily access a firearm. And I must tell Members that seems completely 
logical to me. We do not allow people who have certain mental 
instabilities to obtain firearms. That seems logical to me.
  But what is the Federal role? That is the question that one must ask 
themselves. What is the Federal Government's role in this prohibition? 
Now, there are people who are federally licensed to sell firearms, and 
because they have chosen individually and voluntarily to in fact make 
that determination as a federally licensed dealer, then they must be 
regulated by the Federal Government. They must accept that regulation. 
That is their decision. They chose to be federally licensed. That gives 
them certain responsibilities and certain abilities that other people 
do not have. It is a privilege, in a way. So we regulate it. I can 
understand that, and I can even support it.
  And I understand the desire of many, even here, to go far beyond that 
and regulate the ownership of firearms to anyone, regulate the 
ownership of various kinds of firearms and number, all those things 
that we are able to do. Where in the Constitution does it give us that 
responsibility?
  That is just one example; and as I say, believe me, I want to keep 
firearms out of the possession of people who should not get them to the 
extent we are able. We cannot create a perfect society. We cannot 
guarantee against every kind of risk, yet that is the constant pressure 
we face in the United States Congress. People want a risk-free society, 
and they expect us to deliver it.
  All of this comes about as a result of a misunderstanding of the form 
of government that we have, and the blame can be placed at least 
partially, if not squarely on the shoulders of our public education 
system that does not do a very good job of telling children who we are, 
what we are, and what this Nation was founded on, what principles we 
were founded on.
  Without that knowledge, Mr. Speaker, we are at a loss to understand 
what we should be doing here and what State legislatures and county and 
local governments should be doing. We would think, without the 
knowledge of the Constitution, we would think that we here should be 
doing everything. That we are the ultimate authority, and I suggest 
that it is a misinterpretation. It is a lack of knowledge of the 
Constitution and of basic American history that has placed us in that 
situation, along with just the dynamics of human nature that when they 
see a problem look to a legislative body for resolution of that 
problem.
  But we have to tell people that we have certain responsibilities, and 
those responsibilities are limited, limited by this thing we call the 
Constitution of the United States; and there is an important reason why 
we have such a document: it is to curtail power of the Federal 
Government. The Constitution is not something that is designed to 
broaden the power of the Federal Government; it is designed to limit 
the power of the Federal Government. And we should understand and 
appreciate that, and we should teach our children about that to the 
extent we are able, both as parents and as schools. Schools should be 
the reflection of these values and attitudes and ideas about our system 
of government. After all, although there are a lot of reasons why we 
should argue about what should be taught in a public school system with 
regard to morality and everything else, the fact is we are talking 
about a system of government that we all share, that we all have a 
responsibility for looking into and voting, and a variety of other 
things that demand our participation.
  When we do that, we should demand the participation of intelligent 
voters, people who understand what this process is all about. If we do 
that, Mr. Speaker, it would come naturally to mind the next, I guess, 
topic of my Special Order tonight, the issue of what is the proper 
Federal role in the government of this country.
  I will suggest that there is one area that is uniquely Federal in 
responsibility, and that is of course the area of determining who comes 
into this country, how many, for what purpose, from what countries, and 
how long they stay.

                              {time}  2130

  We call that an immigration policy and no State can adopt one. The 
State of Ohio cannot determine who comes or goes across its borders, 
but the Federal Government can and should and has an absolute right to 
do so. There is a philosophy of government referred to often as 
libertarianism that suggests that borders are meaningless and that they 
should be erased for the purpose of advancing economic activity, that 
borders are anachronisms, that they do not in fact reflect today's 
reality and should be erased. This philosophy would suggest that the 
European Union is a good example of the elimination of borders, at 
least partially, and that everything that comes about as a result

[[Page H3156]]

of that is good and that is a way of looking at life through strictly 
economic lenses, and there is something to be said for that. I mean 
certainly the philosophy has merit. The gentleman who wrote to us, who 
I referred to earlier, Mr. Morgan, tells me later on in this e-mail 
that he is in fact a libertarian. I guess I would challenge a 
libertarian's view of this particular issue. I would suggest that 
although an ideal world is one in which all movement of goods and 
services can flow without interdiction, the real world in which we live 
requires the existence of borders and there are a lot of good reasons 
why borders should exist, not the least of which is the fact that 
people coming across borders without permission of the country they are 
entering can do nasty things, do do nasty things if they do not like 
that country's government, if they do not like what that nation stands 
for. So of course we have seen this happen on September 11. We know 
that 19 people, actually several more came into the United States for 
the purposes of destroying as much of the country's governmental 
infrastructure as they possibly could, killing us here, killing 
civilians in the World Trade towers, crashing their planes into the 
Pentagon, hoping to crash them into the White House and, as I say, the 
Capitol.
  We face that dilemma. Libertarians face that dilemma. How do they 
rationalize their desire for a borderless world with a world in which 
people exist for the sole purpose of destroying others, in this case 
us? And that the economic system, whatever grows out of this dismantled 
world that would be the result of the elimination of borders, would not 
be one in which free enterprise would thrive, in which capitalist 
ideals would be upheld. It would be one, if it were democratic at all, 
in which the masses of people would vote if they had the opportunity to 
vote, for some sort of world government. I assure my colleagues that 
right now, knowing what we know about human nature and the lack of 
information and understanding we have in our own country about what a 
republic is designed to do, can we imagine what would happen if we 
overlaid that template across the world and said everyone is to vote 
for some sort of world government to control various aspects of human 
behavior which would, of course, be necessary? Even if we eliminated 
borders, there would be a world government that would be necessary.
  Does anyone think for a moment, Mr. Speaker, that that world 
government would be one that would advance the concepts of liberal, 
small L, democracy? And of private enterprise? And of capitalism? Does 
anybody believe for a moment that it would be that, as opposed to a 
world government in which everything would be taken from those who have 
and given to those who have not?
  I think it is simple and pure and it is again an ideal, but it is an 
ideal to which I do not aspire. Therefore, I say, Mr. Speaker, we need 
borders. This country, all countries, need borders. We need borders to 
distinguish who we are, where we are and why we are. It is true, I 
think, Mr. Speaker, that there are distinctions among countries, among 
governments. I believe with all my heart that there are differences 
among cultures and among political philosophies, and I believe some are 
better than others. I know that that is a frightening thing to say to 
some people, and they would see that as very chauvinistic. But the 
reality is if we raised all of the gates all over the world, where 
would people come? To what country would they come?
  How many people, do you think, Mr. Speaker, if all of the gates in 
the world were raised, would go to China? How many would go to Russia? 
How many would go to Mexico? That is a test of this theory that all 
cultures are the same, essentially, all systems are essentially the 
same, no real difference and, therefore, why should we worry about 
things called borders? I suggest that we should worry about it because 
we are different. The United States of America is different. It is, in 
fact, unique, and I will say unequivocally it is better. Because if we 
raised those gates, Mr. Speaker, they would all come here. There is, I 
think, no question about it. Millions of people every year attempt to 
come to the United States legally. Millions more come into the United 
States illegally. We for the most part have abandoned our borders at 
the present time. We have abandoned the borders for a variety of 
reasons, some of them purely cynical and purely political, some of them 
quite philosophical in nature, as I say, a libertarianesque attitude 
about the need for and importance of borders. But regardless of the 
reason we have done it, we have done it. For all intents and purposes, 
we really do not have borders.

  I was recently in Arizona in the Coronado National Forest that has a 
60-mile coterminous border with Mexico. The forest manager there had 
asked for help because he has a total of four people to patrol that 
border of his forest, a 60-mile border with Mexico, and we are now 
getting hundreds of thousands of people coming across, some looking 
just for jobs, some looking for a better way of life that would be 
provided them even if they did not work because of the welfare system 
in the United States, and some of them coming across to carry the 
illegal drugs that are provided them by the cartels in Mexico. 
Regardless of their purpose or intent, they are coming in illegally and 
they are essentially destroying the forest. In a microcosm, what is 
happening in the Coronado forest could be said to be happening 
throughout the country, to our Nation in a way. We are essentially 
destroying the forest, the Coronado forest, because the human traffic 
through there is at such a level as to actually negatively affect the 
ecology. There are thousands of footpaths that have been worn into the 
ground by people coming across in a very fragile environment. There are 
thousands and thousands of water bottles that have been strewn. There 
are clothes. There are other aspects of human movement through there, 
human participation in the movement through that forest and it is 
degrading to the forest itself. People coming through there illegally 
at night start campfires to stay warm and in the daytime walk away from 
them and now over 50,000 acres this year have been destroyed through 
fire. If this were happening in any other forest in the Nation, the 
Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, a variety of other environmental 
organizations, would be up in arms. Well, they do not like arms. They 
would be irate. They would be chaining themselves to the scrub oak that 
comprise the forest. But there is not a word said about this forest 
degradation because, of course, it is a result of illegal immigration 
and something that many of these organizations, the Sierra Club, 
Friends of the Earth and the rest, are averse to trying to criticize, 
essentially because of political correctness.
  So States look to us, the forest manager in the Coronado looks to the 
Federal Government and says, ``Help me do something about this.'' We 
turn a blind eye to it. I used to say all the time that the logo for 
the INS, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, should be a guy 
who simply is shrugging his shoulders. That should be on the top of the 
page, a guy going, ``I don't know. Don't ask me. I have no idea,'' 
because every time we ask the INS about anything, any questions you 
have of them, no matter what it is, they give you that kind of an 
answer. But now there is another way I would like to describe the 
reaction of the Congress of the United States, the President of the 
United States to the issues of massive immigration, illegal and legal, 
and that is the classic see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, the 
three-monkey sort of statue we have seen before. That is the logo we 
should have here. No one wants to talk about this because it gets a 
little antsy. Are we actually talking about racial issues? Are we 
talking about just one country? Plus there are all those votes that are 
here in the United States. If we talk about trying to secure our 
borders, which is a Federal role, a uniquely Federal role as opposed to 
all the other things we do that I mentioned earlier in my discussion 
here tonight, the uniquely Federal role of immigration is disregarded 
because of the fear of the political backlash that would occur in this 
country from voters, from certainly minority groups and the desire on 
the part of the Democrats to enhance their numbers by a large pool of 
immigrants into the country. They recognize that they vote often for 
the Democratic party, so they are averse to doing anything that would 
stop the flow.

[[Page H3157]]

  We, on the other hand, are averse to doing anything because we are 
afraid of the economic ramifications of businesses coming to us and 
saying, ``I need cheap labor and I don't care if they are coming here 
legally or illegally.'' And there is that libertarian flow through the 
body that says we should just simply open the borders. So we have all 
of those converging pressures here that stops us from doing anything 
about this tragedy.

                              {time}  2145

  It is a tragedy in the Coronado. It is a tragedy also for the United 
States. Any country that cannot define its own borders and cannot 
actually protect and defend them is not a nation. Any country that says 
we recognize that there is massive violation of our laws, of our 
immigration laws, but we choose not to do anything about it, does not 
deserve to be called a country, and one wonders for how long it can be 
called a country.
  Interestingly, this issue of elimination of borders and sort of a 
world economic system, or at least in this case a North and South 
American economic and political system that converges, this is not 
something that is a hidden agenda. There used to be people that I know, 
and the Speaker knows of many people, who would confront us at various 
meetings, town meetings and the like, with this world economic order, a 
new world order, and it is all very conspiratorial; and they feel that 
it is all in the hands of certain people who have economic interests. 
Well, this is not conspiratorial. This is out in the open. It is 
absolutely clear for anyone to see and hear.
  For instance, not too long ago, less than a week ago, I think, the 
President of Mexico, Vincente Fox, was speaking in Spain, and he said 
that all of his efforts, all of the government's efforts to try and 
liberalize immigration policy, were really devoted to one goal. This 
was incredibly insightful, hearing what he had to say. This is the 
President of Mexico, and he has said something similar on many 
occasions, but he said just the other day that his goal is to end up 
with a system that allows for the free flow of goods, of services, and 
he stopped for a minute, and he said of people, not inhibited by 
borders. He has said in the past that he believes in a relatively short 
time there will be no borders between the United States and Mexico.
  The gentleman who is the head of an agency of the Mexican Government 
that is called the Ministry for Mexicans Living Outside of Mexico said 
earlier, told me personally in Mexico, that there were, when I was 
questioning him about the use of his term of ``migration,'' and I said 
it is really immigration, and when they cross the border illegally it 
is called illegal immigration, and this is Mr. Juan Hernandez, who is, 
by the way, both a Mexican and an American citizen, he said to me, 
``Congressman, it is not two countries; it is just a region.''
  This, I suggest, Mr. Speaker, is the end goal of this game we are 
playing. It is debatable as to whether it is good or bad. I think it is 
bad. At least it deserves a debate, a national debate. Should we 
eliminate our borders, or not? That is where we are going. I want it to 
happen in a de jure way as opposed to a de facto way. Actually, I do 
not want it to happen at all, but, if it does, it has to be through a 
legal process and not one where we just several years from now look 
around and say, how did this happen to us? We lost our sovereignty as a 
Nation. I do not want to say I was responsible or had no part to play 
in that process.

                          ____________________






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