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

[Congressional Record: March 27, 2003 (House)]
[Page H2463-H2467]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr27mr03-126]                         



 
              THE COSTS OF IMMIGRATION, ILLEGAL AND LEGAL

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Bradley of New Hampshire). Under the 
Speaker's announced policy of January 7, 2003, the gentleman from 
Colorado (Mr. Tancredo) is recognized for 60 minutes.
  Mr. TANCREDO. Mr. Speaker, I want to talk tonight about another 
aspect of the immigration issue that I so often come to the floor to 
discuss, and what I have decided to do is over the course of the next 
several weeks is to break this issue down into several of its component 
parts. Because it really is a fascinating issue, immigration and 
immigration control, the impact of massive immigration into this 
country, uncontrolled immigration, the impact of having porous borders.
  It really does matter. It is not just something that we can observe 
and think about as being really not involved with and not important to 
our Nation's future. It will affect every single aspect of our lives. 
It will affect us socially and economically and politically. It really 
does have enormous implications, the whole idea of massive immigration 
into the United States, both legal and illegal.
  So as I say, tonight I want to go into one specific aspect of this 
and focus on it for a while, and that is the costs of illegal 
immigration and even to a large extent massive legal immigration to our 
social service systems in this country, to our States and to the 
Federal Government. Especially we are going to focus again a little 
more narrowly in that area on health care.

                              {time}  1645

  Mr. Speaker, there is probably no issue that is brought to our 
attention here more often and with more concern on the part of our 
constituents than the issue of health care, its unaffordability, its 
inaccessibility, and the fact is that it is a very, very serious 
problem. The costs are rising so dramatically, such as in order to pay 
for new technologies.
  There are a lot of reasons for the costs to increase. One reason is 
because, of course, our health care system is being accessed by a lot 
of people who are here illegally, they are not citizens of the United 
States, but also because in fact legal immigrants to the United States 
access social services to a higher extent than native citizens. So the 
impact of massive immigration, both legal and illegal, on the system is 
enormous.
  This map is a condensed picture of our problem with regard to the 
health care costs that are being incurred by States, by taxpayers in 
the various States, and by, of course, all taxpayers in the Nation as 
Federal taxpayers. I say ``condensed,'' because this particular map 
only takes a look at the uncompensated medical costs along our border, 
in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
  This is an annual expenditure. It says these costs represent only 
hospital costs. By the way, it is condensed again into just hospital 
costs in those four States. This is the emergency medical services 
costs. This, again, is condensed. It is not for all immigrants; it is 
just for illegal immigration.
  These costs that we are going to talk about here are not the Nation's 
costs, just for four States. They are not all medical costs, just 
hospitals. They are not the costs of all immigration, just the cost of 
illegal immigration.
  One in four dollars of uncompensated emergency medical costs for 
Southwest and border hospitals can be attributed to ``undocumented 
immigrants.'' That is a way of saying illegal immigration. In 
California, $295 million; in Arizona, $97 million; in New Mexico, $45 
million; in Texas, $393 million in the Year 2000. Somebody does pay for 
this. Of course, it is primarily the taxpayers of those States that 
have to pick up the tab.
  But think about the real costs. Let us go ahead and just extrapolate 
out what the real costs to the Nation are in all States, because, I 
guarantee you, my State of Colorado has an enormous cost for both legal 
and illegal immigrants accessing the welfare system and specifically, 
again, the health care system. These costs are absorbed by hospitals, 
by the doctors and, eventually, of course, are paid for by the 
taxpayer.
  One extensive study of the cost of illegal immigration is the one we 
are pointing to here. It determined that care provided to illegal 
aliens costs border hospitals $189.6 million in uncompensated medical 
emergency costs in the year 2000. Total reported uncompensated costs at 
these same hospitals was $831 million.
  In other words, uncompensated costs to illegal aliens, this is all 
costs, emergency care to illegal aliens comprised 23 percent of the 
total uncompensated costs incurred by those hospitals in the year 2000.
  This, as I say, is just the tip of the iceberg. It does not, as I 
mentioned, include non-emergency services provided by doctors or 
hospitals. Furthermore, the study only covers the counties that are 
along the border, the counties directly along that border. Total costs 
throughout the United States for all counties are unknown. However, if 
the numbers for these southern border counties are a sample for the 
whole Nation, the true costs of medical care is in really the hundreds 
of billions of dollars.
  Part of the problem is, of course, self-induced. That is to say, the 
Federal Government has passed legislation that

[[Page H2464]]

has exacerbated this problem. The Emergency Medical Treatment Act and 
Active Labor Act enacted in the Congress in 1996 made it illegal to ask 
immigrant status prior to rendering services in emergency rooms. As a 
result of this, hospitals have no way of tracking information that 
would be helpful in identifying the actual costs of care to illegal 
immigrants. A lot of this, of course, is estimated.
  Being able to track this information in a consistent manner would not 
only help in developing a policy to deal with this problem but also 
assist in measuring how much medical services illegal aliens were 
really obtaining.
  This brings me to another point here that I think is worthy of 
mention. Let us go to the legal immigrant in the United States, 
somebody who has arrived here, let us say, in the last 5 years.
  In 1996, this Congress passed another law; and it said that anyone 
coming into the United States under what was called the Family 
Reunification Act would have to identify a sponsor here in the United 
States and that sponsor had to agree to become financially liable for 
the person they were bringing into the country. If that person were to 
go onto some sort of social service, onto welfare or access hospitals 
and be unable to pay themselves for doctor bills, food banks, anything 
that was provided to this person coming in here under the Family 
Reunification Act, you had to have a sponsor.
  By the way, we have had that law generally on our books for 100 
years. For 100 years an immigrant coming into the United States had to 
have a sponsor, and that sponsor took on some responsibility. The 
language is very plain on the documentation they have to fill out, 
that, in fact, you are accepting financial responsibility for that 
person that you are bringing in.
  Now, that was the way it was for everybody. But in 1976 we reduced 
the scope, the field, I suppose, to say, no, we will just do it for 
people who are coming in under the Family Reunification Act. People who 
are coming in under H-1B visas or any of the other work visas and all 
that sort of thing, not to worry, that is not going to matter.
  Well, as it turns out, about 75 to 80 percent of all immigration into 
the United States is under the Family Reunification Act, so almost 
everybody here today, the recent immigrant in the last 5 years, let us 
say, 10 years, came under that particular provision of our immigration 
law. It says, if that is the case, you need this sponsor.

  Now, here is another one of those little interesting aspects of law 
and the way we treat law around here, especially immigration law. It is 
ignored. It is ignored by States and the Federal Government, because, 
you see, it says if a person accesses any of this and they are not a 
citizen of the United States, somebody else is liable. But that means 
somebody has to go after them.
  So about a year and a half ago, I think it was, the chairman of the 
Committee on the Judiciary, the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. 
Sensenbrenner), wrote a letter to the Department of Justice and asked 
the Attorney General what they were going to do to enforce this 
particular part of the law that says, if you come here and access a 
social service, somebody else is supposed to pay for that. It is 
supposed to be your sponsor.
  Not one person to this date, to my knowledge, not one person in the 
past 30 years has ever been held to account by either the Federal 
Government or any State agency.
  But that is something that we should focus on and let people 
understand, Mr. Speaker, and that is it is not just the Federal 
Government that could in fact go after the sponsor and get them to live 
up to the obligation they signed on to if their person goes on to the 
welfare roles or has to access medical services. But any aspect, any 
level of government that delivers the service can in fact seek that 
payment or repayment from the sponsor, any county that has its social 
services accessed by a person who is here as a recent immigrant.
  Of course, illegal immigrants are not supposed to be eligible for 
anything; and yet, of course, we know that they do access all of these 
services; and they have become quite adept at it.
  The costs are enormous. But, at least for the legal immigrants who 
are here, we could recoup a lot of these costs, because, as I say, 
statistically, it is shown that legal immigrants into the United States 
do access social services to a greater extent than non-immigrants. It 
is just a fact of life.
  Many people, of course, come to the United States for the purpose of 
obtaining health care to begin with. On our borders you can see it any 
day that you go down there. We have had reports at hospitals near the 
border, some of these States, where a bus load of individuals, a bus 
load of young women about ready to give birth, will pull up and 
disembark and go into the hospital for the purpose of giving birth in 
the United States, because we have something we call the Anchor Baby 
Program. If you have your baby here, right now the law says that child 
is a citizen, regardless of whether or not its parents are legally 
here. That is something also we need to address as a body. We are one 
of the only countries, and maybe the only country in the world, that 
has such a liberal policy about allowing someone to become a citizen.
  But because of that and because of the various benefits that a person 
can obtain as a result of having your child here, the social services, 
the WIC program, a whole bunch of other things, people will come here 
for just the purpose of having a child, so much so that many of these 
hospitals along the border are saying they are closing down their 
neonatal wards and delivery rooms because they cannot afford it any 
more. They have been inundated with people that come across the border 
to have children, and they cannot pay for it, and, of course, that 
service is provided to them.
  There are multiple reports that women come to the border just to wait 
until they go into labor and then be rushed not to Mexican hospitals 
but American hospitals. One hospital in California reported that near-
term pregnant women will sit in cars in the parking lot and enter the 
emergency room when they go into labor.
  In the instances where these women arrive at the border crossings, 
the Border Patrol, instead of returning them to Mexico to be taken to 
Mexican medical facilities, they allow them into the United States. 
When I asked the Customs officials about this, they say, ``You know, we 
are not medical people. We don't have that kind of expertise. We don't 
know. Somebody says they are sick, we wave them on in.''
  We have been down there on our border. You will see ambulances coming 
up to the border, coming up to the Customs agent at the port of entry, 
and saying, ``You know, I have got this really sick person here, and I 
need to get through.'' And they wave them on through. Ambulances are 
delivering sick people to our hospitals, sick people from Mexico, 
because the treatment is better, and it is free.
  Now, I am sympathetic to the needs of the people who are in dire 
straits. I will tell you, this country can never be the health care 
provider to the Third World. It is impossible. There is not that much 
money in America, let alone in the health care system. And yet that is 
what is happening.
  The issue here is one that does affect everyone, and that is what I 
really want to try to point out when we talk about these separate 
issues in migration. They do have an effect far beyond what one might 
think of to be an immigration-related issue.
  So when we talk about costs at our hospitals, when we talk about 
health care in general, it is important to understand the impact of 
immigration, both legal and illegal immigration, on the system and on 
every single tax-paying American.
  I have to ask you if that is fair? I just would like to know, Mr. 
Speaker, is that fair? Is it fair that American taxpayers are being 
asked to pay for the health care benefits of people who are not legal 
residents of this Nation?

                              {time}  1700

  There is just no way that we can do that and hope to maintain some 
quality in that system.
  I visited, as I said, not too long ago, near Douglas, Arizona; and I 
was talking to a nurse at a hospital in Douglas, and she was telling me 
of the situation that exists in that hospital. It is on the verge of 
bankruptcy. I believe it has already. If I remember correctly, it has 
already claimed Chapter VII, I think it is, and may go out altogether, 
and

[[Page H2465]]

there is one reason, and it is because of this: they cannot afford to 
provide the services to people who come across that border from Mexico 
and access them. They cannot afford to do it anymore. The county is not 
that wealthy that they can keep it open. And when this hospital closes, 
the nurse told me, there will not be another hospital. There will be no 
hospitals available within a 100-mile radius of Douglas, Arizona.
  So it does matter. It only matters, I guess, if one is in Douglas. 
You can say, that is their problem, really. Too bad. Those poor people 
in Douglas, Arizona, should probably move someplace else and get better 
health care. I assure my colleagues that the problem is not unique to 
Arizona, as more and more people enter the United States. And by the 
way, we have to understand that Mexico contributes about 40 percent of 
all of the illegal immigration into the country. About 40 percent come 
from Mexico, and we have another 40 percent of the people coming into 
this country illegally from places other than Mexico, and they are 
simply overstays. They come into our ports, to our airports, with 
visas; they come into the country legally, and they simply overstay the 
visa. And 20 percent, another 20 percent from along our northern border 
enter the country illegally. At least that is the estimates we have 
been given.
  My State, Colorado, is having a very difficult time, as most States 
are, trying to meet their responsibilities, given the sad state of the 
economy in many areas, the many problems we have had with both drought 
and fire and now a massive storm that actually has caused the Governor 
to request emergency aid. The problems that the State faces are not 
unique; most States in the Nation, to some extent or another, are in 
the same sort of fiscal dilemma.
  One of the things that they chose to do was to look at one category; 
it was called Medicaid services for noncitizens. Now, this is something 
many States do. They provide Medicaid services. Now, Medicaid, of 
course, is a program that is designed to provide services for people 
who are financially unable to provide services for themselves. And the 
States, many of them, decided to embark upon this very altruistic path 
and establish Medicaid for noncitizens. And guess what? The use of that 
particular program grew dramatically. I will be darned. They can get a 
50 percent match from the Federal Government. So they thought, let us 
do it, it is, again, an altruistic thing to do. Even though, as I said 
earlier, anyone who is here legally has a sponsor, and that sponsor can 
be made to pay for the person that they sponsored if they do access 
these services, if someone wants to do it. So Colorado axed that 
particular program. And there is a human cry about it. Almost every 
day, there is something in the paper about the fact that Colorado has 
eliminated Medicaid for noncitizens, and how heartless and how cruel.
  I suggest that one of the things the State of Colorado could do, Mr. 
Speaker, and every other State and every county, as a matter of fact, 
is begin to total up the costs for the provision of services to 
noncitizens and then, all they have to do is communicate with the 
Department of Justice, because by law, the Federal Department of 
Justice has to look at the names that it has provided and match them up 
against the documents that were prepared and filled out for that person 
to come into the United States.
  So all that the hospitals have to do, all that any State has to do, 
all that any county has to do, if they want to recoup some of the costs 
that they have been forced to lay out for the provision of services to 
noncitizens legally here, is to actually take that step. Send the 
Department of Justice the names, obtain them from your hospitals, from 
your clinics, from your Department of Social Services, obtain the names 
of the people who are here as immigrants, send that to the Department 
of Justice, they will identify those people and who the sponsors are 
for each individual, and then each of those entities can go to the 
sponsors and ask them to live up to their responsibility that they said 
they would live up to when they signed the document.
  As I say, it does not happen. I know that people are thinking, well, 
of course, that is there, but nobody really does it. So what. They 
access it. We will pay for it. Nobody should do it. Well then, we 
should eliminate the law. We should repeal that law. If we are not 
going to enforce it, like every other immigration law on the books 
almost, we should repeal all immigration laws if we are not going to 
enforce them. If we do not mean it when we pass the law, what is the 
purpose of all of the debate we have here taking up the time of the 
stenographer? It just does not matter, if we are not going to enforce 
the law. So let us repeal that portion that says, if you come into this 
country, you have to get a sponsor. Let us pull it back and say, you 
know what, we were just joking. It really does not matter. You will get 
all of the services you want and the taxpayers of the country will pay 
for it. Let us be honest.

  But we go through this charade: well, if you are going to come into 
the country, you have to get a sponsor and fill this out right here and 
show us that you are a fiscally responsible person. You have to 
actually show that you can take on that responsibility financially, so 
that you can do it. So people sign it, and then they know it is 
forgotten about; nobody is going to actually force them to do it.
  As I mentioned to my colleagues, the chairman of the Committee on the 
Judiciary wrote the letter to the Justice Department; and we got a 
letter back saying, essentially, yes, we do collect the names, but that 
is about it. And, yes, we will give them out if somebody wants them; 
but, no, we are not going to go enforce this stuff. We have a lot of 
other things to do. We are chasing terrorists and whatever. And we 
certainly do not want them to stop chasing terrorists, but they can 
simply give the names to any county or any hospital or any Department 
of Social Services in this Nation that has had a cost that they have 
incurred in providing the services, and I suggest that somebody in fact 
do that. It is the law.
  And if one does not like the law, do as Colorado does: repeal 
Medicaid for noncitizens.
  The other part of this picture, of course, is just welfare in 
general, and not just health care. As I said earlier on, it is a fact 
that immigrants into the country will access social services to a 
greater extent than nonimmigrants. This may have always been the case; 
but, Mr. Speaker, we never really had the ability to determine that 
when my grandparents came or, for the most part, most of the Members 
here that serve in this body, I should say, would say when their 
grandparents came, we could not really have this kind of statistic. We 
would not know, because there was nothing to access. When my 
grandparents came here, they had two choices: work or starve. That was 
it. There was nothing like a social service agency to provide any sort 
of relief. So we do not know what would have happened in 1900, but we 
do know what is happening today.
  In 1996, 22 percent of immigrant-headed households used at least one 
major welfare program, compared to 15 percent of native households. 
After a decline in the 1990s, welfare use rebounded with 23 percent of 
immigrant households using welfare compared to 15 percent of native 
households. The presently high rate of welfare used by immigrant 
households stems from their heavy reliance on Medicaid, I mentioned 
that earlier, which has actually risen modestly. In contrast, immigrant 
use of TANF funds has fallen significantly from a little under 6 
percent to slightly over 2 percent, and food stamp use has also 
declined significantly. Now, these rates are only slightly above those 
for native Americans. The average value of benefits and payments 
received by immigrant households has changed little and remains at 
about 50 percent above that which is the average for native Americans.
  So what we see is that again, there is a cost attributed to massive 
immigration into this country, and our social service systems are 
overburdened, our health care system is, of course, overburdened, and 
our Social Security system is challenged. And I will add Social 
Security here for a moment, because to a large extent, it does fall, I 
think, into the category of a social service.
  Social Security, there is always a debate on this floor as to how 
long it is

[[Page H2466]]

going to last. And the trustees of the Social Security fund will give 
us dates maybe 20 years out, sometimes 30 or 40 years out; but 
everybody said it is coming to a screeching halt, at least mid-century. 
And the reason is simple: there are relatively few people working to 
support the number of people who are retired, and because, of course, 
demographic profiles in this country now are such that we see this 
increase, significant increase in the number of people who are living 
passed that magical age of 62. So the costs are rising dramatically.
  The United States of America is engaged in negotiations with the 
Government of Mexico to do something that is referred to as 
``totalizing,'' and what that means is this: that along with about 20 
other countries, we have agreements that say, if you work for a 
company, if you are an American working in Sweden for a Swedish 
company, that the time that you spend there will be counted in your 
Social Security eligibility and, likewise, a person from Sweden working 
in the United States for a Swedish company could count it for their 
Social Security. That is just a reciprocal arrangement that we have 
with about 20 countries. It is called totalization. It is not really a 
very big deal.
  But now with Mexico, we are now talking with them about providing 
that same benefit, providing American Social Security benefits to 
illegal immigrants in the United States who are working here illegally.
  Now, people will say, well, you know what, it is really right. Even 
if they are illegally here, that is okay, because they are working and 
maybe paying into the system. Well, think again. A large number of 
people who come to this country illegally and seek low-pay, low-skilled 
jobs are people who are not getting paid quote, ``on the books.'' That 
is one reason why they are sought after by employers. Employers keep 
telling us, I just do not know where to go. I have no place else to go. 
I have jobs that no American citizen will take. Well, what they are 
saying is, yes, no jobs that an American citizen will take for what I 
want to pay, and I want to pay under the table and avoid all the other 
kinds of taxes. I can get somebody who will work here and who is 
illegal.

                              {time}  1715

  What are they going to do about it? Who are they going to squeal to?
  So there is a large amount or there are a great number of people who 
are working here under those conditions who are simply not paying 
taxes. There are many others working here, and if they are paying 
taxes, they are working at low-skill, low-wage jobs. The amount of 
taxes being collected from them would be certainly nothing in income 
tax, very little in Social Security, and never enough to pay for what 
they are going to, in fact, claim, because they will work some time in 
Mexico.
  If this agreement goes through that will allow them to claim the time 
they work in the United States for United States Social Security 
benefits, then, of course, I assure the Members that the amount of 
money they will be collecting is far, far greater than the amount of 
money they put into that system.
  Mr. Speaker, there is a certain degree of concern we should all have 
about the Social Security system and the impact of illegal immigration 
on the Social Security system.
  By the way, just a little tidbit, kind of a strange story emanating 
out of San Louis, a town in Arizona on the border with Mexico. San Luis 
is a town of 2,000 residents. It has 6,000 mailboxes. Everything has 
been turned into one of those little mailbox centers, where it is a 
rented mailbox. Everything in the town, all the old 7-11 stores and 
everything, are simply turned into a mailbox place because of the 
number of people who rent mailboxes. But these people who live in 
Mexico, they are Mexican citizens who once a month come across in the 
United States to San Luis, collect their Social Security checks, SSI 
money, various other kinds of social services. This was on a program 
called ``20/20'' not too long ago.
  It is not unique. The town is not unique. That happens all across the 
border. The Social Security system is being jeopardized by the actions 
of people who are trying to commit fraud and by the reluctance of our 
government to protect the Social Security system and to defend those 
borders.
  There are sites that are located throughout the Southwest. They are 
called pick-up sites. They are just places where massive numbers of 
people have come through the border, walked into the United States, and 
gathered at certain places near a road, sometimes a highway but more 
often than not just a dirt road, because at a point in time a truck 
will come and pick them up and take them into the interior.
  Sometimes these places are mammoth. They are 50 or 100 acres of 
accumulated trash, where literally thousands of people have accumulated 
on ranchlands, pristine desert environments. They have become 
essentially trash dumps. They have ruined the land. They have destroyed 
the property. They are places of enormous amounts of trash, paper, 
plastic, human waste; because everybody has to discard everything, 
their coats, backpacks and everything when they get onto these trucks 
in order to make more room to get more people packed into them.
  They are told by the ``coyote,'' people bringing them across, they 
have to discard everything, and they do. They throw everything down, 
and there are all kinds of pharmaceutical drugs, health care products, 
just tons of trash.
  By the way, where is the Sierra Club? This is an environmental 
disaster. It is all over. I am not talking about one little thing here. 
This is all over the country. The Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, 
I call it the Organ Pipe Cactus National Dump because of what has 
happened there.
  The fact is, we were walking through one of these places 2 or 3 weeks 
ago. I was with several other Members of Congress and with a group of 
people from the area who live in that area, some of the ranchers down 
around Douglas. They took us to one of these pick-up sites on one 
rancher's land. His cattle cannot drink the water anymore. The water 
has been polluted by human waste that has drained into their system. 
Cattle eat the plastic bags and die.
  All their fences are torn down constantly. So many people have gone 
across the land, they have created paths that will never, ever, or for 
a hundred years, if they are left in pristine condition, from now on it 
would take 100 years to get the land back to where it was. There are 
car tracks all over the place.
  Again, the Sierra Club does not say a word about it. Imagine if this 
would happen anywhere else. Imagine if that would not be done by 
illegal immigrants into the United States, imagine what the 
environmental community would do about these kinds of things. They 
would go ballistic. We do not hear a word about it from them down 
there.
  At any rate, we were walking through one of these pick-up sites. I 
looked down, and there is a tax form. It struck me because, of course, 
along with all this trash it was a strange place to have a U.S. 
revenue, Department of Revenue tax form, IRS form.
  I picked it up. It was for a gentleman, a Mr. Delgado. At any rate, 
he had filled this out using, if I remember correctly, an ID number 
that the IRS will give you simply by asking for one. You can have a 
taxpayer ID number. You fill it out with that. He claimed that he made 
$9,000 some last year and paid about $1,800 in taxes and claimed about 
a $2,700 Earned Income Tax Credit. So when they do come and they do in 
fact pay taxes, believe me, we are not getting the benefit of those tax 
dollars. They actually become a responsibility, a social service 
responsibility through the Tax Code.
  We have had estimates of literally hundreds of millions of dollars in 
fraud going to people in this particular one program, the Earned Income 
Tax Credit program. But this I could not even say would be fraudulent, 
because I think the fellow did what he was supposed to do: He got a tax 
ID number.
  The fact that he was in the country illegally, the IRS does not care 
about that. They do not check it. They do not know. They do not care. 
They will send a check. The Social Security system will send a 
check. All one has to do is have a mailing address inside the United 
States. Go to San Luis, get a box. Go to any town along that border. 
They do. They come across.

[[Page H2467]]

  They were interviewing them on television, all these people the first 
of the month coming across from Mexico. They were interviewing them and 
saying, do you not know this is illegal, that you should not be doing 
it? And they say, yes, but as long as you are going to hand out the 
dough, are we not going to take it?
  We cannot argue the logic. But do not tell me that immigration and 
porous borders, that these things do not have an impact on a wide 
variety of activities in the United States. Do not tell me it does not 
have an impact far beyond such those borders. These people are 
receiving the brunt of it now, but I assure the Members, it moves 
northward. All of us pay the price. Our social security system is 
jeopardized, our health care system is jeopardized, our welfare system 
is overtaxed.
  Immigration is something this Nation has thrived on since its 
existence, of course. Everybody here is an immigrant or a son or a 
grandson or a great grandson, as far as we want to go, a granddaughter 
of an immigrant. I do not care if people call themselves Native 
Americans, but if we go back far enough, their people came across a 
land bridge from Asia.
  There was no one here. There is no indigenous population, at least 
that we can identify, so everyone, everyone in this country is an 
immigrant by background. That is great. However, that is totally 
irrelevant as to what we should be doing now about immigration.
  As I said earlier, when my grandparents came, they did not have TANF 
programs, they did not have Earned Income Tax Credit, they had no 
social service benefits. You worked or you starved. That was it.
  Now, we can debate whether we are attracting people just for the 
benefits. Certainly, it is an attraction when we consider the fact that 
our benefits are certainly relatively rich, considering the benefits 
that would be available to them in their country of origin, especially 
Mexico. It does impact America, and this is an issue with which we must 
deal.
  I talked about the issue of border security and national security 
last time. I talked about the fact that, because we have porous 
borders, our Nation is more at risk than it would otherwise be, 
especially in this time, a time of war. That is only one part of the 
picture. It is a very significant part, it is a scary part, but it is 
only one part.
  We talked about social services tonight. We talked about the 
environment, the impact on the environment. We talked about drugs, 
about a variety of other things that are attributable to massive 
immigration, legal and illegal, and do in fact matter. Mr. Speaker, I 
believe they matter to a majority of the people in this country.
  I do not think that there is a bigger divide between what the people 
of this country want and what this government is willing to give them 
other than the area of immigration, immigration reform. Poll after poll 
after poll says that the people of this country want reform of this 
program. They want to reduce immigration to a manageable level.
  I have a bill to reduce immigration to 300,000 people a year down 
from the present a little over 1 million people a year. I think that is 
a goal that we could achieve. I think we can still benefit by the 
diversity and the value, the added value that immigration can bring to 
the country, but we can begin to operate our social services system and 
we can begin to recover if we reduce the number of illegal immigrants 
coming into the country by securing our borders and reducing legal 
immigration, at least for 5 years while we try to catch our breath.

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