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Public Statements

Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 (1)

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


BORDER PROTECTION, ANTITERRORISM, AND ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION CONTROL ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - December 15, 2005)

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Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005.

The bill before us today incorporates both border security and immigration enforcement provisions and is the result of a strong collaborative effort by the Committee on Homeland Security and the Committee on the Judiciary to address these important issues.

The Committee on Homeland Security began this process last month when we introduced the bill, H.R. 4312, entitled the Border Security and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2005. This measure focused on border security provisions and reflected a truly bipartisan effort among members of my committee to solve lingering problems in our border defenses. I particularly appreciate the strong and able leadership of the gentleman from Mississippi (Mr. Thompson), our ranking member, in achieving important goals in this bill. I also want to commend the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Loretta Sanchez). Thanks to their cooperation, we were able to pass H.R. 4312 on a voice vote with absolutely no opposition.

I also want to thank my friend, Chairman Sensenbrenner, and his staff for their diligence and willingness to cooperate with us in expanding and improving this legislation.

Mr. Chairman, I will focus in my remarks on the border security aspects of the bill because, since September 11, it has become more and more apparent that our borders are in crisis. In addition to whatever social issues there are with immigration or whatever criminal issues there are with immigration, there are now, since September 11 brought home to us dramatically, the terrorism aspects of illegal immigration.

The homeland security provisions of this bill try to, and I believe do, very effectively address the issue of terrorism that must be confronted if we are to survive as a people.

This legislation requires 100 percent coverage of our land and maritime borders, including physical infrastructure, border patrol personnel and the use of all available technology.

It also requires a joint and collaborative effort between the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense to use all available military technology to ensure that our borders are controlled and sealed. Most importantly, I believe, and as importantly as any other provision, it ends the policy of catch and release, which has been discussed in the previous hour; and it mandates expedited removal. We no longer have the luxury; and if we are talking about, I know the gentleman from Michigan before was talking about, who has been in control and who has not been in control, I would be the first to say that we are dealing with a bipartisan problem which is why it requires a bipartisan effort. That was the bill that we attempted to pass out of the Homeland Security Committee, because we have to end such policies as catch and release and expedited removal.

I would hope that, as the debate goes forward, both sides acknowledge the good faith of the others. This is too serious an issue to be trivialized or demagogued. It is too serious an issue to be looked at in any kind of casual way. I listened very carefully to the gentleman from California (Mr. Radanovich). I understand his concerns about there not being guest worker provisions in this bill; but I believe that if the American people are to take us seriously, they want to see us address the issue of border control before we go on to any other expansion of rights or any other legalization of those who are here already or even setting in process a motion where we make it easier for workers to come into this country. We have to show we can control the borders before we go further, and that is the purpose of this bill.

Mr. Chairman, let me just say that as the grandson of immigrants who grew up in an immigrant neighborhood in New York City, I yield to no one in my admiration of what immigrants have contributed, are contributing, and must continue to contribute to our country; but it has to be legal immigration. I say that. Some of the things that maybe were looked at or not looked at prior to September 11 can not longer be ignored. They have to be addressed. We have to address head on the issue of illegal immigration because of its ties to international terrorism.

So while I grew up in a neighborhood of immigrants as a child, I also saw many of my neighbors killed on September 11. So neighborhoods have changed; things have changed. What was tolerated before September 11 maybe in some quarters can no longer be tolerated now. We no longer have the luxury of looking the other way. We have to address head on this issue of illegal immigration. That is what this bill is about. Certainly the aspects passed from the Homeland Security Committee, that is what they were about, combating illegal immigration and thereby also undercutting international terrorism.

I would ask the debate go forward in a reasonable way where we can exchange ideas, confront the issues that are confronting our Nation on this issue of illegal immigration.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I, once again, admire the passion of the gentleman from New Jersey and assure the gentleman that I hold in high esteem the contributions immigrants have made, are making and will continue to make to this country. I believe, however, that it is essential that we put it on a legal basis in fairness to those who are coming here legally and also because of the situation that developed after 9/11. Having said that, I have the greatest respect for the gentleman from New Jersey, and he and I, in our own way, will be able to resolve some of our differences.

Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Dent).

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Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume and yield to the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. LoBiondo), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard Maritime Transportation, for the purposes of a colloquy.

Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding this time, and I thank him for engaging in a colloquy to clarify the intent of this bill regarding our Nation's seaports.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask you if it is the sentiment of the chairman that this bill does not intend to duplicate or supersede existing policies and strategies that have been developed specifically for the maritime domain as part of the Strategy for Maritime Security or the National Maritime Transportation Security Plan, because these strategies provide a comprehensive framework to enhance maritime domain awareness including activities that may affect or threaten our maritime border security.

Mr. KING of New York. I would say to the gentleman that it is my intent that maritime border security strategies called for in H.R. 4437 should be developed under the framework of the Strategy for Maritime Security and in a way that complements the maritime security strategies that are being implemented under that plan

Mr. LoBIONDO. As the chairman knows, the Coast Guard has been identified as the lead Federal agency with responsibilities over maritime domain awareness. The Coast Guard's efforts to enhance awareness of activities in the maritime domain, in addition to the services role as the lead law enforcement agency in the maritime environment, enhance the Nation's capabilities to maintain security along our maritime borders. The Coast Guard carries out missions every day to interdict illegal immigrants, drugs, and suspect cargo and crew before each reaches the United States.

I ask the chairman if it is his intent to continue this House's support of the Coast Guard's efforts to maintain heightened border security and that this act would not hinder these critical Coast Guard missions.

Mr. KING of New York. Nothing in this act should be understood to divert existing responsibilities for maritime border security or more generally any component of security in the maritime domain from the Coast Guard to any other entities in the Department of Homeland Security.

Mr. LoBIONDO. I thank the chairman for clarifying these very critically important issues regarding our maritime homeland security and the Coast Guard.

Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time.

Mr. Chairman, this has been a very lively and interesting debate. I would hope that as we go through the amendments and into tomorrow, we would keep focusing on the fact that everyone here is well-intentioned.

We face a crisis on our borders. We face a national crisis. We face a crisis involving international terrorism, and we must fix it. We must take significant first steps. That is what this bill is.

We can have honest disagreements, but it is wrong, I believe, to be impugning motives, to be suggesting someone is anti-immigrant.

For instance, the gentlewoman from California is talking about section 404. What that does is give the Secretary of Homeland Security the right, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to take action if the Secretary deems it necessary.

That to me is an appropriate power, an appropriate discretionary power to be given to the Secretary of Homeland Security at a time when our homeland security is being threatened. It is irresponsible to not give the Secretary that power, and that is what this is about. It is a power, by the way, which the Secretary of State has had for many years.

As we go forward, let us keep in mind that this country was built by immigrants, that immigrants are essential. They are the life's blood of our Nation. All of us are descendents of immigrants. At the same time, for our country to survive, for our country to be secure, for our country to be safe we must be as certain as we can be that the immigrants entering this country deserve to be in this country, that they are no threat to this country.

As long as we have this mass entrance of millions and millions of illegal immigrants, we do not have that security that we need. We do not have the sense of safety that we need, and we are not protecting ourselves to the extent we must if we are going to avoid having another September 11.

I lost many people in my district on September 11. I do not want another 9/11 commission to come back in several years and say why did you not close the borders, why did you not allow another 9/11 to go forward, to happen? Why could you not stop another 9/11? Because you did not have the guts to take the tough action.

We are being confronted here by many forces including big business. Big business does not want this. We also have advocacy groups that do not want it. We cannot yield our responsibility to any outside pressure groups, whether they be big business or advocacy groups. I urge the adoption of this legislation as we go through this process.

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PART B AMENDMENT NO. 1 OFFERED BY MR. CARTER

Mr. CARTER. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

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Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Chairman, let me commend the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Carter) for this very fine amendment. It is important to the bill. It is a well-intentioned and well-drawn amendment. I am willing to accept the amendment.

I thank the gentleman for his thoughtful consideration and for all that he does on this very, very vital issue.

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PART B AMENDMENT NO. 2 OFFERED BY MR. GOHMERT

Mr. GOHMERT. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

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Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me time, and let me express my strong support for this amendment and thank the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Gohmert) for the contribution he has made, for the dedication he brings to this issue.

I also would say, parenthetically, if someone with his accent and my accent are supporting this bill, it shows how extensive and wide-ranging the support is for this bill. It shows that all Americans, from one end of the country to the other, one accent to the other, stand behind a bill which is good, an amendment which really adds substantially to the bill and does provide the level of integrity and honesty and interaction that we need.

With that, I express my strong support for the gentleman's amendment.

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PART B AMENDMENT NO. 3 OFFERED BY MR. SAM JOHNSON OF TEXAS

Mr. SAM JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

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Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.

Mr. Chairman, I just want to emphasize that I stand in strong support of his amendment. This is just one more example of the outstanding contributions to public service made by the gentleman from Texas. I support it and urge its adoption.

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PART B AMENDMENT NO. 4 OFFERED BY MR. RENZI

Mr. RENZI. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

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Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time, and there is no one who is not on the committee who has done more work than the gentleman from Arizona to really work on the issue of terrorism in the intelligence area, in the homeland security area, and I strongly support this amendment.

It is in keeping with the spirit of the law. It is in keeping in the spirit that we should be searching for as we try to stop illegal immigration, stand behind those on the borders who are protecting us against this massive increase of illegal immigrants.

So I am proud to stand by and endorse the amendment of the gentleman from Arizona.

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PART B AMENDMENT NO. 5 OFFERED BY MR. CASTLE

Mr. CASTLE. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

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Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Chairman, the Castle amendment is extremely well written. I am proud to endorse it.

I also would emphasize that the points raised in the amendment do refer to points that we have been asking DHS to provide us information on. This amendment will give us more of the muscle that we need to ensure DHS is in compliance. I thank the gentleman for his amendment and urge its adoption.

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