Garrett Gazette - September 25, 2006
Last week, I was proud to support four bills to enforce border security. It is essential that we seal our borders. First of all, it is an urgent matter of homeland security. Simply put, we must enforce the integrity of our borders to keep America safe. In addition, until we have sealed our borders, any talk about tinkering with U.S. immigration policy is premature. We cannot proceed with the debate on illegal immigration until we have stemmed the tide of illegal immigrants over our borders.
In December 2005, I supported the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act. H.R. 4437, which passed the House, includes provisions to:
* Dry up job opportunities that attract illegal immigrants by giving employers a reliable method for determining if an employee is legally eligible to work and making it mandatory.
* End the Border Patrol's current practice of "catch and release" by requiring mandatory detention for all aliens until removal from the U.S.
* Seal the border with physical barriers and state-of-the-art surveillance technology, such as cameras, sensors, radar, satellite, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
* Increase penalties for alien smuggling with mandatory minimum sentences and more, as recommended by a panel of border area U.S. Attorneys.
* Crack down on alien gang members by making them inadmissible and deportable and barring them from receiving humanitarian benefits.
* Stiffen penalties for aliens who reenter the U.S. after having been removed.
* Bar aliens who are terrorists or security risks from becoming U.S. citizens.
* Require the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and Defense to develop a joint strategy to supplement Border Patrol agents with military support.
* Authorize an additional 1,000 new, full-time port of entry inspectors over the next four years and the training of 1,500 additional K-9 units over the next five years.
This comprehensive border security bill, however, has been held up in the Senate, where Senators are pushing a complicated three-tier scheme that is little more than amnesty for people who have broken the law. The fundamental principle that the Senate failed to address is that the immigration we need to confront is that which is contrary to the law. By focusing on the word immigration and not the word illegal, the Senate missed the point.
To move the debate forward, the House passed these four individual border security bills. The Secure Fence Act, H.R. 6061, authorizes construction of a 700-mile reinforced fence along the Southwest border and mandates that the Department of Homeland Security achieve operational control over the entire border with a "virtual fence" that employs cameras, ground sensors, and unmanned aerial vehicles.
In addition, the House passed the Community Protection Act, H.R. 6094, which will expedite the removal of alien criminals and detain and deport alien gang members. The House also passed the Immigration Law Enforcement Act, H.R. 6095, which replaces the failed policy of "catch and release" with "catch and return" and increases prosecutions of alien smugglers. And, the House passed the Border Tunnel Prevention Act, H.R. 4830, which criminalizes the construction and financing of border tunnels. These tunnels serve as conduits for mass illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and other criminal activities.
I am hopeful that these more focused border security bills will get swift attention by the Senate. Our nation was settled and founded by immigrants, and they have enhanced our national culture tremendously. But, we are also a nation of laws; in fact, it is our rich history of justice and fairness that attracts many of the immigrants who lawfully come to our nation each year. We must preserve that heritage.
Member of Congress
ISSUE OF THE WEEK: UNITED NATIONS FAILS TO ENSURE SAFE RETURN OF KIDNAPPED ISRAELI SOLDIERS
On July 12th, Hezbollah guerillas killed three Israeli soldiers and kidnapped another two, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. All the while Hezbollah continued to launch rockets at civilian targets in Northern Israel. These acts against Israel's sovereignty sparked Israel's defensive measures and the subsequent escalation of the conflict. In the end, as a direct consequence of Hezbollah's belligerence, more than 1,000 Lebanese and Israeli civilians lay dead and the infrastructure of Lebanon lay in ruins.
When the cease-fire was brokered by the United Nations, it was with the understanding of all parties, particularly Israel, that the UN would work toward the release of Israel's kidnapped soldiers. Today, seventy-six days later, those two brave young men remain in captivity and their families remain uncertain of their future. Furthermore, Hezbollah remains armed with as many as 20,000 rockets aimed at Israel - according to the terrorist group's own claims. Just this past Friday, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah threw a victory rally in Lebanon taunting Israel, the peace-seeking government of Lebanon, and the United Nations with the probability that no one will ever see these two soldiers alive again. In fact, not only did Nasrallah note that these soldiers would only be returned in exchange for some of its jailed terrorist foot soldiers, Nasrallah also vowed that UN and Lebanese troops would not be allowed to disarm Hezbollah guerilla troops in Southern Israel and threatened the Western-friendly Lebanese government of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora.
There can be no doubt that Nasrallah and Hezbollah have become bolder, more dangerous, and a graver threat to peace in the Middle East.
And yet, Israel has honorably abided by the terms of the cease-fire, as a sign of good faith and its commitment to peace in the region. It leaves one to wonder at the effectiveness of the UN to rectify the still unresolved injustice. This situation brings to light, yet one more example of the dramatic short-comings of the United Nations in its ability to carry out the good for which it was originally created. In fact, at the very time the United Nations was seeking to implement this cease-fire in Lebanon, it was entertaining Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who surprised no one with a tirade before the UN General Assembly alternating between anti-American vitriol and ad hominem attacks against Israel.
Of course, if the United Nations is going to be an effective broker for peace and conduit for diplomacy, it must itself be above reproach. The United Nation's track record with regard to Israel, specifically, is unbalanced at best; anti-Semitic at worst. In just a single session of the UN General Assembly, it passed 21 individual resolutions criticizing Israel. And, over a 30-year period of time, the UN has actually funded three organizations that disseminate anti-Israel propaganda. Furthermore, only Israel has been called upon to defend itself as an individual agenda item for the UN Commission on Human Rights.
Even on a more general level, it's little wonder that the UN has lacked the credibility to broker international agreements, let alone enforce them. With its current track record of internal corruption and its roster of greedy little machine bosses, the UN is hardly able to claim the moral high ground necessary to occupy that position. Consider just the Oil-for-Food scandal that facilitated as much as $17 billion in grants, scams, and smuggling, keeping Saddam Hussein living the lap of luxury while the people of Iraq starved and also paying for the rewards for the families of suicide bombers. Even now that the first conviction of a central figure to that scandal has been served and dates have been set for the trails of several other co-conspirators, the UN continues to protect some of the most egregious offenders.
It's been long enough. I urge the United Nations to do what is right - to defend the sovereignty of the State of Israel and take the necessary measures to insure the soldiers' immediate and safe return to their families and to give evidence of its credibility as a true broker of peace in the Middle East.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT