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

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Location: Washington, DC

PROVIDING FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 4437, BORDER PROTECTION, ANTITERRORISM, AND ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION CONTROL ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - December 16, 2005)

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Mr. FLAKE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.

Today is not a red letter day for this great and storied institution. Rather than doing what we know has to be done regarding immigration reform, we are simply punting the ball to the Senate, hoping that they will have the courage to act in ways that we cannot.

Many of us here wanted an amendment that would be made in order that would allow for a temporary worker program to be established. That was not allowed. In doing so, in not allowing that, we are simply ensuring that we play a diminished role in the eventual bill that will pass this body.

If the denial of this amendment was unfortunate, the removal of language in the manager's amendment that simply references the role that a temporary worker program would play in enhancing border security is simply baffling. Every member of the Republican leadership and virtually every Member of this institution has expressed the need to have a temporary worker program at some point in order to secure the border. Yet some said they would vote against the legislation if it was included here. Gratefully, the Senate will not need a ``sense of the Congress'' resolution to understand what they have to do, and that is to include a temporary worker program.

The elephant in the middle of the room, of course, is the 11 million illegals who are here. Without a temporary worker program, we will continue to turn a blind eye to their existence, to pretend that they are not here. Nobody in this body, not one, is advocating that we round up and deport those who are here illegally now, but unless we have a program for them to go into, we simply will not enforce the law. And that is the dirty little secret here. We ought to at least be honest with our constituents in this regard.

There are some who will vote against the rule and underlying legislation with the hope that we will later do something more comprehensive. Some will vote for the rule and underlying legislation with resignation that all we are capable of doing is to send this legislative vehicle, however flawed, to the Senate with the hope that they will act with the maturity that we lack.

One would be justified in either approach.

Mr. Speaker, today is not a red-letter day for this great and storied institution. Rather than do what we know must be done regarding immigration reform, we are punting the ball to the Senate--hoping that they will have the courage to act in ways that we cannot.

Many of us in this body asked for an amendment made in order that would make this legislation comprehensive, in other words, an amendment that would provide for enhanced border security, increased interior enforcement, and would provide a legal framework for foreign workers to enter the country and then return home.

It is unfortunate that this amendment was not made in order. In doing so we ensured that this body will play a diminished role, at best, moving ahead immigration reform.

If the denial of this amendment was unfortunate, the removal of language in the manager's amendment that references the role that a temporary worker program will play in enhancing border security, is simply baffling. Every member of the Republican leadership has expressed support for a temporary worker program, as has an overwhelming majority of this body, yet the language was removed after threats from a few that the inclusion of any reference to a temporary worker program would guarantee their ``no'' vote against this legislation.

Gratefully, the Senate doesn't need to see ``sense of the Congress'' language on a temporary worker plan from the House to add such a provision to their legislation. They know that such a plan is a necessary part of securing the border.

The elephant in the middle of the room is the 11 million illegal aliens who have already entered the country. Without a temporary worker program we will continue to turn a blind eye to their existence. We'll pretend they aren't here.

Nobody in this body is advocating that we round up and deport all of those who are here illegally. It's no wonder. It would be the equivalent to rounding up the entire population of the State of Ohio and sending them back to their home country. Yet that is what ``enforcing the current law'' would require.

We in this body know that, Mr. Speaker. But unfortunately we don't want to admit it to our constituents. George Washington once famously said ``If to please the people we do what we ourselves disprove, how will we then defend our work?'' That is the question for us today.

There are some who will vote against this rule and underlying legislation in the hope that we will later do something more comprehensive. Some will vote for this rule and underlying legislation with resignation that all we are capable of is to send a legislative vehicle, however flawed, to the Senate with the hope that they will act with the maturity we lack.

One would be justified in either approach.

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