BORDER PROTECTION, ANTITERRORISM, AND ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION CONTROL ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - December 15, 2005)
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Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding, and I want to commend her for her tremendous leadership on keeping our borders safe and strong and secure and for moving toward a comprehensive immigration policy.
I also want to thank the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Conyers; and the ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee, Mr. BENNIE THOMPSON, for their outstanding work in keeping America secure.
Mr. Chairman, the previous speaker said in his opening remarks, When are we going to take this issue seriously, the issue of borders and the issue of immigration?
That is exactly what I would like to know. For a long time now, there have been Members on both sides of the aisle, led by Mr. Kolbe on the Republican side, who have called for comprehensive immigration reform. That would be taking this issue seriously.
We ask the same question of the President. When, Mr. President, are we going to take this issue seriously? And instead of having one bad bill after another come to the floor, we can have comprehensive bipartisan reform. It does exist now in the Kolbe-Gutierrez legislation that is also sponsored in the Senate by Senator McCain and Senator Kennedy. I want to commend Mr. Gutierrez on our side of the aisle for his leadership as well.
Broken borders, that is an oxymoron, something we cannot tolerate. Borders, by their nature, are our definition as a Nation and our protection as a country. Broken borders, they do not exist. We cannot tolerate them.
So let us say from the start that we all in this body, and I know I can speak very firmly for the Democrats, support strong border control, and it must be part and the first part of any comprehensive immigration reform. Our obligation as elected officials is to keep the American people safe, and our borders are one of our early lines of defense to do that. It used to be our first and only line of defense, but in this age of technology, more is possible.
In our caucus, we have a true expert on the issue of border security, the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Reyes, who just recently spoke on the floor. He is ready to further these efforts. Over and over, Democratic initiatives to make our borders more secure have been soundly rejected by the majority of the Republicans and the Republican leadership.
Democrats also support enforcing laws, current laws, against those who came here illegally and those who hire illegal immigrants; yet the Bush administration has refused to do just this. There is all of this talk about illegal immigration to the United States and going after those workers who are working here illegally, and we should, but we also must have employer sanctions. Where are these people working? Why are we not enforcing the law against employers who hire illegal, undocumented people here?
The Bush administration has prosecuted only three employer sanctioned cases in the last fiscal year; only three cases. When, yes, when, are we going to take this issue seriously? That is my question, my colleagues.
The point employer clarification provision in this bill, however, would have a big percentage of error built into it because it is so unwise and would put enormous financial burdens on American businesses, again unwisely. It would be discriminatory in questioning the legal status of not only every newcomer to our country but anyone who looked like a newcomer to our country.
Democrats have led the way to meet our urgent homeland security needs as well, not only at our borders but in all aspects identified by the 9/11 Commission; at our ports, at our nuclear facilities, at our chemical plants and rail yards. But Republicans have not done so, even 4 years after 9/11. So if we want to talk about broken borders, as I said earlier, those borders as they define our country geographically, we can also be invaded in ways that go well beyond our borders, and that is why the 9/11 Commission has given the President and the Republican Congress a failing grade.
For the first time in our history, this bill would make it a Federal crime instead of a civil offense to be in the United States in violation of immigration laws or regulations. This provision would turn millions of immigrants currently here into criminals, hindering their ability to acquire any legal status, and would effectively frustrate the proposals that would provide real immigration reform.
Under the guise of an expansive definition of smuggling, it could make criminals out of Catholic priests and nuns, ministers, rabbis and social service workers who provide assistance and acts of charity to those in need. It would impose prison sentences of up to 5 years on those who answer God's call and provide assistance to those in need. This is from the party who claims to promote religious and family values.
I will submit for the record, Mr. Chairman, a list of organizations that are opposing this bill. From the Jewish community, from the Methodist community, from the Presbyterian community, from the Catholic community, from the Lutheran community, from the Arab community, from almost every denomination that you can name; the list goes on and on of religious people of faith who are opposing this legislation.
Mr. Chairman, it simply does not take the immigration and broken borders issue seriously. It does not. It misses the mark completely by its arbitrary provisions, and, again, it misses an opportunity for comprehensive immigration reform.
Mr. Chairman, we all know what we must do. Democrats have long called for strong border security, effective law enforcement and for comprehensive immigration reform, not this punitive, mean-spirited legislation that does nothing to weed out terrorists.
This Republican bill before us is an attempt to belatedly address some border security needs but fails to provide real security, as I said, as envisioned by the 9/11 Commission. It is not comprehensive immigration reform, and that is what we need. Instead, Republicans have proposed a bill that is an abomination of the worst kind. It calls upon the worst political and most craven impulses. It is a failure of leadership. It is a failure of moral leadership.
All in all, what we must do as elected officials, we have the responsibility to make the American people safer and to make America stronger. We can make America stronger, not only at our borders but in upholding our values and our principles.
I want to commend, again, Mr. Kolbe and others who have worked with Mr. Gutierrez and others on our side of the aisle to make America safe and strong, because I know that, together, America can do better.
Mr. Chairman, I include for the RECORD the list of organizations opposing this legislation.
List of Groups Opposed to Border Security Bill
LEAD NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), National Council of La Raza--NCLR, National Immigration Forum, American Civil Liberties Union, National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, National League of Cities, People For the American Way, NALEO--National Association of Latino, Elected and Appointed Officials, American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, Catholic Charities USA, Episcopal Churc h, Episcopal Migration Ministries, Leadership Conference for Civil Rights, American Jewish Community, National Immigration Forum, ACOR N, and US Action.
American Jewish Committee (AJC), Amnesty International USA, Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, Arizona Interfaith Network (AIN), Episcopal Migration Ministries, FaithAction, Jesuit Refugee Services, Jesuit Conference of the United States, Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Justice for Immigrants--Catholic Coalition, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), Presbyterian Church USA, National Catholic Association of Diocesan, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Church World Service/Immigration, Refugee Program, Catholic Charities of Dallas, Inc., Catholic Charities of Des Moines--Iowa, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa, and Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Stockton.
AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union, American Federation of Teachers, and United-Here.
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Polish American Association, Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fun d, Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center, Asian Pacific American Community, and Organization of Chinese Americans.
Alliance for Worker Freedom, American Council on International Personnel and Society for Human Resource Management (Joint Letter), American Hotel & Lodging Association, American Nursery & Landscape Association, American Road and Transportati on Builders Association, American Trucking Associations, Americans for Tax Reform, Associated Builders and Contractors, Associated General Contractor s, Essential Worker Immigration Coalition (EWIC) , HR Policy Association, International Foodservice Distributor s Association, International Franchise Association, National Association of Home Builders, National Association of Manufacturers, National Club Association, National Council of Chain Restaurants, National Restaurant Association, National Retail Federation , National Roofing Contractors Association, National Utility Contractors Association, Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors-- National Association, Retail Industry Leaders Association, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, Society of American Florists, T he Associated General Contractors of America, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, U.S. African American Chamber of C ommerce, and US-Mexico Chamber of Commerce.
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