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[Congressional Record: September 9, 2002 (House)]
[Page H6122-H6125]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

                         DEFENDING OUR BORDERS

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Boozman). 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, I join my colleague from Colorado tonight 
in raising some concerns about the present situation in which the 
United States finds itself in terms of its relationships around the 
world, and as we all know, we are about to begin the debate on one of 
the most serious, perhaps more, in fact, the most serious topic that 
can ever confront this or any legislative body, and that is, whether or 
not we should commit the young men and women of this Nation who have 
valiantly volunteered their services to the defense of the Nation, 
whether we should commit them into harm's way in a far-off land in a 
war that could certainly become catastrophic in its dimensions.
  We do not know, of course, how to plan for its outcome except to say 
that we do know that it will be fought, if, in fact, we engage in this 
thing, it will be fought by brave men and women who have always, as the 
President said, made us proud. If we commit those precious resources to 
the task at hand, the task that was laid out by the gentleman from 
Colorado (Mr. McInnis), then it appears to me we must do everything 
humanly possible, everything humanly possible to protect and defend 
them in their duty and to protect and defend the people of the United 
States of America. That is, after all, our primary responsibility, our 
raison d'etre, our reason for being.
  The Federal Government has assumed many responsibilities over the 
years since the Constitution was written, and we have assumed those 
responsibilities sometimes, I think, without regard to what 
constitutional restraints were so clearly identified by the Founding 
Fathers. We are involved in innumerable activities, programs and 
sponsorships that were never, ever contemplated by the Framers of the 
Constitution, but the one thing that we must carefully consider is the 
responsibility that we were given to protect and defend the people and 
the property of the United States of America.
  I can be persuaded by the gentleman from Colorado's (Mr. McInnis) 
arguments that our interests, our vital interests do, in fact, demand 
that we take a preemptive strike. I should say that we take preemptive 
action in Iraq. I can be persuaded that that is possibly the case. I 
must admit, however, that I need more information personally to cast a 
vote about which I have absolutely no misgivings if I am going to be 
voting to send sons and daughters off to war because I, I am sure like 
hopefully most of our colleagues in this body, will consider this in 
the following fashion.
  Do I believe personally that this problem we face, that the threat 
that we face in the United States is so great that I am willing to send 
my son off to war, not just vote to send someone else's son or 
daughter, but am I willing to do so myself? This is a very high 
standard, and it is one that I believe every single Member must 
establish for themselves, and I can be persuaded that it is necessary 
to do so.
  I must say that in this deliberation, there is something that is 
being left out. When people, even the President of the United States, 
says things like we will do everything necessary to defend the 
interests of this country, I like

[[Page H6123]]

hearing it. I want to believe it. I want to believe that we will, in 
fact, do everything necessary to protect country, and while that might 
very well be to send men and women to Iraq, or places far flung all 
over the world, it is also completely logical, self-evident, that what 
we must do even before we do that in order to protect and defend the 
people of this country, what we must do is to defend our own borders, 
and this, I suggest, has not been done and is not being contemplated.
  Over my August district work period I went to the borders and went to 
the southern and northern borders of the country. I first went to 
Arizona and then on to California where I observed firsthand the 
problems that we face on those borders, and let me say, Mr. Speaker, 
that the face of illegal immigration into this country, people coming 
across our borders without our permission or without our knowledge, the 
face of illegal immigration in my district, in Littleton, Colorado, 
perhaps the Chair's in Arkansas, but the face of illegal immigration in 
my district is one of a benign activity for the most part, people 
working menial jobs, for the most part in restaurants and landscaping 
activities, and people we say to ourselves, well, yes, they are here 
illegally, but after all, they are just trying to make a living.
  The face of illegal immigration on the border, on our borders with 
Mexico and on our borders with Canada, that face is much, much uglier. 
That is the face of drug smuggling, of murder and of people coming into 
this country for the purposes of doing us great harm. That is what we 
see when we actually go to the border before it becomes diffuse 
throughout the land.

  I visited the Tohono O'odham Indian reservation where they are under 
siege, and I mean that in the most literal definition of the term. They 
are under siege. The Tohono O'odham Indians have a 76-mile border 
coterminous with Mexico. Across that 76-mile border come 1,500 illegal 
aliens a day, and they are not just people coming for the good life. 
They are not just people coming to work at some sort of menial task in 
the United States, a task that ``no American will take'' and send their 
money back home, in this case to Mexico for the most part.
  They are coming into the United States, many, in fact, perhaps even a 
majority, of the people coming across that border a day, 1,500 a day, 
it is estimated that well over 1,000 are involved with the drug trade 
and they are bringing with them literally tons of illegal drugs every 
single day. They have, in fact, put this Indian reservation into the 
status of being a captive nation. They have taken over two of the small 
communities in this reservation. When I say taken over, what I mean by 
that, I mean that they have threatened or coerced or bribed or addicted 
so many people in these two communities that they are essentially now 
nothing more than extensions of the drug trafficking of several Mexican 

                              {time}  2145

  I met with people who told me that they are afraid to go out on their 
street at night; that they cannot let their children out. I saw 5-year-
olds who were stoned, who had been given drugs. Their parents had been 
given drugs in order to coerce them and/or entice them, is perhaps the 
better word in this case, into becoming part of the drug trafficking 
network established by these cartels.
  I saw the devastation to this particular Indian reservation. They are 
begging for help. As they say, their way of life is being destroyed. 
The vandalism, the robbery, the rapes, the incidence of all these 
things has gone up dramatically. Just one aspect, the trash alone that 
is hauled in and discarded by 1,500 people a day coming into their 
reservation is enormous. Where, may I ask, is the Sierra Club when we 
need them? Where are the Friends of the Earth? Where are all of the 
people who decry the devastation of our, of the natural habitats around 
the country and around the world? This Nation's natural habitat, their 
ecology is being destroyed by illegal immigrants coming across that 
  Hundreds of thousands of plastic water bottles, clothing, trash of 
every kind and description, discarded everywhere along their path. 
People racing through their communities, either trying to escape the 
border patrol agents or simply trying to make their way north have 
endangered the lives of their children so that they do not allow their 
kids to go outside and play. What I have just described, Mr. Speaker, 
is the face of illegal immigration on the border.
  One of the things that they told us when we were down there is that 
it is not just Mexican nationals coming across now, but a dramatic 
increase, they have witnessed, in what they refer to as OTMs, or other 
than Mexicans. A dramatic increase in the number of Chinese coming 
through, a dramatic increase in the number of Asians from countries all 
over that part of the world, a dramatic number of Middle Easterners 
coming through. For what purpose, I would ask?
  Does anyone think these people are coming across in order to get 
landscaping jobs? Are the Middle Easterners that are coming across that 
border illegally looking to work in restaurants as dishwashers, cooks 
and servers? In my own State, and in my own city, the biggest gang 
element is Asian. And they are quite predominantly illegals. But beyond 
that, what, we may ask, I think, are the Middle Easterners coming in 
for? What are they doing here? Why are they coming in illegally through 
  Now, I suggest that there is a great possibility that they are coming 
in for purposes that are heinous. I do not know that. I have not been 
able to interview them because, of course, they come through without 
the slightest bit of intervention on our part. We do not stop them. We 
cannot stop them because we have no resources in place to do so. And 
even when we do stop them, even when they are interdicted farther 
inland, farther up into the United States, and when the INS is called 
and told we have a lot of people here in a van, in a truck, in a house, 
we have a lot of people here who are here illegally, the INS tells the 
local law enforcement agents, let them go, we do not have time. We do 
not have time.
  Twenty-five illegal aliens were caught in a tractor-trailer truck in 
Dallas on July 27. The INS initially detained several, then released 
even these and ``paroled them'' into the United States. They have an 
automatic parole process. The INS can do this. The INS can say we will 
parole these people we have just caught, let them go, and then we will 
send them a letter later on telling them to report for their 
deportation hearing.
  Now, this would be laughable, of course, if it were not so dangerous. 
This is a Saturday Night Live skit. ``Here is your letter. We know you 
have snuck into the United States, so please report in 6 months to the 
following location for your deportation hearing.'' Right. ``Thank you. 
Of course, I will.'' They actually call these letters ``run letters.'' 
What they mean by that is that when the people receive them, of course 
they run. They go away. They do not go back to their country of origin, 
they run into American society.
  Now, if we are so concerned about the possibility of a terrorist 
attack on the United States, which is the only thing we have heard 
again and again and again from the leadership, from Members of Congress 
who support our efforts, support the President in his desire to depose 
Saddam Hussein, if we are so concerned about that, and believe me, I 
am, then why would we not take just as much, no, not just as much, why 
would we not take even more care and concern about our own national 
  On August 4 in Rogers County, Oklahoma, State troopers caught seven 
aliens who admitted they were illegally present in the country. The INS 
again would not pick them up and remove them.
  During the Memorial Day weekend in New York the INS reportedly ``did 
not want to be bothered,'' so they refused to take custody of several 
Mid Eastern illegal aliens. Local police officers had caught them at 
the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel during a terror alert. I remember this 
incident, Mr. Speaker. They actually had these people in custody. These 
were Mid Eastern illegal aliens. They called the INS. It was Memorial 
Day weekend, and so the called was routed from New York, because no one 
was at their workstation, it was routed to Vermont, where the person 
answering said to the police in New York City, ``let them go.''
  These are just a few of the literally hundreds, if not thousands, of 
cases like this that I could relate to the body

[[Page H6124]]

tonight. With all of the talk about the need to increase our efforts of 
vigilance and be careful about things we see and things we hear, with 
all of that, and with all of the efforts being made now to extend the 
war against terrorism beyond Afghanistan and into other parts of the 
Middle East, it is amazing to me, it is incredible to me, and it should 
be to every single Member of this body, that we leave our own borders 
  Does anyone believe for even a second that should we prosecute this 
war in a more aggressive fashion than is presently the situation that 
there will not be some reaction on the part of the people, specifically 
Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda and fundamentalist Islam? We are told that 
if we go into Iraq, we must be concerned about the ramifications 
throughout the Middle East; that perhaps other countries with 
governments more friendly to the United States may fall as a result of 
having internal dissent because the phenomenon of fundamentalist Islam 
is so pervasive in these countries. We are told that that is what we 
must watch out for, what we must be careful of. But we are not told, 
and there is no precaution being made right now, for our own security 
within this Nation. We know there will be a reaction. What will that 
reaction be? Does anybody think it will simply be confined to the 
Middle East?
  Now, everyone knows, certainly Saddam Hussein knows, that he cannot 
win in a conventional war against the United States. He can make it 
bloody. He can make it ugly. But he cannot win. He knows that. The 
world knows that. What makes us think for a moment that we will be left 
unscathed in the United States if we embark upon this path of action in 
the Middle East? Certainly the possibility exists that al Qaeda agents, 
that fundamentalist Islam will react in a way so as to increase the 
number of people that they already have in the United States, the cells 
that are operating here, that we are told by our Justice Department are 
operating, that are here in the United States and are ready to go into 
action at a moment's notice.
  We know there are cells operating in Canada. We know there are cells 
operating in Mexico. Why is it not the most logical thing for us to 
say, well, we have to be careful here. Before we even go into Iraq, we 
must secure our borders. The reason, I fear, Mr. Speaker, that we do 
not do that is because, as Governor Ridge said, right there in the well 
of the House, to a question posed to him from, I think, this microphone 
about his reluctance and the reluctance on the part of the 
administration, and in fact most of the Congress, I suppose. No, I 
should qualify that, because the House has in fact passed an amendment 
to the defense authorization bill allowing for the military to be used 
on the border, and we have done that year after year after year, but it 
has failed in the other body. But when asked why we have not used all 
of our resources to defend our borders, including the military, 
Governor Ridge said there are political and cultural reasons why we 
cannot do so.
  Well, there may be political and cultural prices to pay. I do not 
even know what he meant by cultural reasons. I do know what he meant by 
political reasons. We are concerned that if we in fact secure our 
borders and prevent people from coming into the United States 
illegally, we will in some way or other jeopardize our relationship 
with the government of Mexico and that we will simultaneously lose 
votes from Mexican Americans who somehow feel that this is a personal 
affront if we try to defend our own borders.

                              {time}  2200

  Mr. Speaker, I do not believe that for a moment. I do not believe 
Mexican-Americans are any less concerned about the safety of themselves 
and their families than any other group of Americans. I believe that a 
case can be made to them and to every single person in the United 
States as to why it is imperative that we secure our own borders. I 
believe we can do that. I believe that we will benefit as a result in 
terms of the politics, but whether we do or do not benefit politically, 
who cares. Is it not our absolute and total responsibility to do so?
  There are cultural and political reasons why we cannot defend our own 
borders. I wonder how if there is another event of some great 
magnitude, which we all anticipate, which we hear every single day is a 
distinct not just possibility but probability, and if this is 
perpetuated by someone who has entered this country illegally, and/or 
people who have been recruited into a terrorist network by people who 
have come here illegally, I wonder what we will tell the spouses, the 
sons, the daughters of those people who are killed in that event.
  We will make many, many speeches about how heroic their loved ones 
were, how heroic the efforts were of the people who tried to save them. 
Will we also say, I wonder, that there were political and cultural 
reasons why we could not protect them? I do not know how anyone could 
look into the faces of the people whose loved ones have been lost in an 
event of that nature and say those words. But say them we would have to 
if we follow the path we are on today.
  The President has just submitted an action plan in which he calls for 
smart borders, and there is quite a lengthy list of things the 
administration has proposed: biometric identifiers, permanent resident 
cards, single alternative inspection systems, refugee and asylum 
processing reforms, handling of refugee asylum claims, visa policy 
coordination, air preclearance, advanced passenger information, joint 
passenger analysis, a lot of stuff about customs and how to bring goods 
into the United States; and I applaud them all.
  I do not for a moment suggest that these are not good and salutary 
measures to take; but I look in here, I look in vain for the most 
important measure we can take to create a smart border, and that is to 
put the military in place to defend that border. Right now we cannot do 
that. We cannot do it with the Border Patrol. They are inhibited from 
actually achieving the goals of securing our borders by the fact the 
administration, the INS, is incompetent and completely unmotivated to 
act in this particular capacity. They are restricted by a myriad of 
laws we have passed here, confusing, conflicting laws, allowing for 
people to be retained in this country even after they have been found 
to be here illegally. We have refused to provide the resources 
necessary to actually secure the borders for one reason and one reason 
only: because it is politically and culturally unacceptable.
  Well, I do not know who it is culturally unacceptable to. I do not 
know who it is politically unacceptable to, but those are not 
legitimate reasons for abandoning our own defenses. And no matter how 
much we do in the Middle East, no matter how many resources we put into 
accomplishing the goal of deposing Saddam Hussein, no matter what we do 
around the world to increase the number of countries that would be 
categorized as democracies rather than dictatorships, we will be at 
every step of the way in that process putting our own people in greater 
and greater danger if we do not do everything possible to secure our 
  I, of course, cannot promise even if we do everything I have asked 
for, even if we completely reform the INS, even if we give Border 
Patrol agents greater authority and ability to actually do their job, 
even if we put military on the border, I cannot promise that someone 
with malicious intent cannot or will not get through; but at least I 
can say we did everything we can do, which is living up to the 
President's admonition to us, that we must do everything that we can 
do. That includes defending our own border.
  What an amazing world we live in. What an interesting and incredible 
dilemma we face. We are told every day that it is a war that we are in, 
a war for our own survival, that America's way of life is at stake. 
What nation can we think of in history that knowing that that is the 
situation they face, have not in fact done the most obvious thing to 
try to protect themselves? What this demands is leadership. It demands 
that the President of the United States tell the people of the United 
States what needs to be done, even if there is a political price to 
  Mr. Speaker, I suggest that it would not be a negative reaction 
politically. I suggest that the people of this country are yearning for 
and desiring him to establish the exact nature of the conflict and also 
the exact way in which we are going to defend against it. They are 
hoping that he will say to them that

[[Page H6125]]

we will in fact secure our borders, and this may mean that we will not 
have the opportunity to hire cheap labor or recruit people into a 
political party as new voters. But nonetheless, it has to be done, 
along with all of the other things that have been outlined by the 
President, with which I agree and for which I commend him. The border 
must be secured.
  I ask, no, I beg the President of the United States to use his power, 
to use his executive authority to do just that: protect our borders; 
order the military to the border, allow us to use the expertise and the 
technology and the manpower we have available to us on our first line 
of defense.
  I mentioned that I went recently to the Mexican border, but I also 
shortly thereafter went to the Canadian border, a little town called 
Bonner's Ferry, Idaho, where I witnessed a very interesting activity. 
At the time I got there, there were 100 Marines stationed there just to 
see whether or not they could in fact coordinate their activities and 
help the Border Patrol and the U.S. Forest Service and the customs 
agency control the northern border because I assure Members, although I 
have spent a great deal of time talking about the southern borders, I 
assure Members that the problems are just as large on the northern 
  There are over 20,000 Muslims living in Calgary, Canada, which brings 
into the United States component parts of methamphetamines. They are 
sold and the proceeds go back to the Muslim groups in Canada, and the 
money is used to finance terrorist activities throughout the world.
  Osama bin Laden, because of Canada's peculiar process of establishing 
who is or is not a refugee, Osama bin Laden could land in Ontario, 
claim he is Omar the tent maker, not show any identification, and walk 
immediately into Canadian society, and, of course, shortly thereafter 
walk unfettered probably into the United States.
  The problems up there are significant. So there are 100 Marines, and 
I do not know the genesis of the stationing of these people on that 
border. I do not know if it was part of a larger strategy or not, but 
they were using three UAVs, unmanned aerial vehicles, more often 
commonly referred to as drones, and a couple of radar stations that 
were to help identify people coming across that border illegally. It 
worked. The Marines told me that it was the best training they had ever 
received because it was real time, real bad guys, and very difficult 
  We need the resources of the military. We do not have to put people 
arm in arm along 4,000 or 5,000 miles of border. We have the technology 
to aid in this. I saw it with my own eyes. It can work. We can make our 
borders very secure, not perfect but much more difficult to cross 
illegally than is presently the case. We can do it. The only thing we 
do not have is the will to do it.

                              {time}  2215

  We unfortunately create a facade, a Potemkin Village. Prince Potemkin 
used to put up facades along the villages in his area and when 
Catherine the Great would sail down the river, she would see these 
beautiful villages. But behind these facades, of course, it was abject 
poverty. That is where the phrase Potemkin Village comes from. In a way 
that is what we have created or we have tried to create on the borders. 
We have increased the number of border patrol. We have established 
something called smart borders. We have told Americans that we are 
doing what is necessary to defend our borders, but it is nothing more 
than the creation of a Potemkin Village along the borders. They are 
just facades. They are not true defense mechanisms. Because what we are 
trying to do is to pretend to the American people that we are taking 
our responsibility of border defense seriously while at the same time 
assuring that people can come through illegally in order to, quote, 
take the jobs that no one else will take and in order to increase the 
ranks of political parties in the United States that benefit as a 
result of massive immigration, one particular political party, of 
course, the Democratic party, and the fear that if we actually got 
tough on the borders, there would be a political reaction. And there 
would be certainly outcries by immigration advocacy groups, especially 
immigration lawyers. They would raise Cain.
  But is our responsibility here to pander to those political 
extremists? Or is our responsibility to protect and defend the people 
and the property of the United States of America? Again what a strange 
world we live in, whereby we can be talking about going off to war, 
recognizing all of the danger that that entails for the people we are 
sending but also for the people who are here, the people who remain, 
and not do anything to protect us. What an amazing situation.
  Mr. Speaker, I hope and pray that our words, our admonitions, our 
concerns will be heeded by our other colleagues and by the 
administration. The stakes are so high, the risks are so great that we 
cannot possibly avoid doing what is right even at our own political 
peril should that be the case which, as I say, I do not believe for a 
moment would happen, but even if it did, that is what is required of us 
here, to do the right thing, even if it is politically or culturally