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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 4437, Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005

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Location: Washington, DC


PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 4437, BORDER PROTECTION, ANTITERRORISM, AND ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION CONTROL ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - December 15, 2005)

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Ms. MATSUI. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Florida for yielding me this time.

Mr. Speaker, today the House will debate legislation attempting to address immigration in our country, the challenges of which are extremely complex. Unfortunately, this legislation focuses entirely on border security and cracking down on illegal immigration. It fails to truly address the underlying issue of why people risk long boat rides in cargo containers, open rafts, extreme temperatures crossing deserts and risking death to come to the United States. This legislation overlooks the multifaceted nature of immigration and sadly ignores the fact the immigration system is broken.

Individuals waiting years to receive a visa is not an uncommon occurrence, nor is it rare for someone who came to the United States legally for work or to study to wait years at a time to bring their spouses, children, and loved ones to this country to join them.

What we cannot forget is that these are real people. My grandparents were immigrants. So many people from California, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, New York, I could go on and on, are immigrants. We should take a breath and hold for a moment before we rush this. What we do to address our broken immigration system must be thoughtful.

Like many of our districts, my hometown of Sacramento has an immigrant population, and in Sacramento that population includes many from Russia and the former Soviet Union. I am currently helping some of my constituents to bring their 13-year-old son back to the United States. Seven years ago, this constituent legally came to our country. This past June, the family traveled to Russia for vacation and on return was shocked to learn that their son's eligibility had been canceled. Their son was barred from reentering this country with his parents. We are working as fast as we can to correct what seems to be a mistake and reunite this family. Until then, this young boy must remain in Russia.

As a mother and grandmother, I cannot fathom what this family must be going through, nor can I understand how we have not reformed a system that would allow this separation. We must not put families in a situation where they feel they must make a decision to enter legally or illegally or separate their families. We must reform our immigration system to end backlogs and to help reunite families.

As I said before, this is a multifaceted issue of which family unification is only one component. There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. They came here illegally in search of a better opportunity, to work on farms and restaurants, hotels, and hundreds of other service jobs. Whether we like it or not, they are part of our economy and fill a needed gap in our labor force.

That is why the chamber of commerce, the business community, the immigrant community, and the President all support a guest worker program. That is the only way to end the incentive to enter the United States illegally to find work, and bring out of shadows the illegal immigrants already here.

This legislation, however, ignores these issues. That is not to say it is without some needed provisions. I support increasing the number of border patrol agents and port inspectors as well as adding radiation detection equipment at all of our maritime ports. However, on the whole, it is filled with ill-considered provisions. What makes this worse is that there is no reason why we need to rush this through in the last days of the session.

It is clear there are many questions surrounding this legislation. The action we take on immigration will reverberate across the country and affect people's lives. We need to know its full implications before we proceed. It is not clear that we need to do this now. The American people deserve clarity now.

I urge my colleagues to vote against this rule.

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