ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION -- (House of Representatives - March 12, 2007)
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Mr. JORDAN of Ohio. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
The gentleman mentioned his recent trip out to the Mexican border in the State of Arizona. I had the pleasure of accompanying you on that trip and found that very insightful.
As we begin to move into this debate this session of the Congress, I think it is important that we keep some principles in mind. And, hopefully, these principles, I think, if they are followed, will help us arrive at the right public policy decision. And I think there are just three key ones.
And the first one is and it has been mentioned by the previous speakers this hour, but the first one is we have to focus on security first. As we discovered down at the border with Secretary Chertoff, it is important that we secure the border and we do that first. I think the former Speaker of the House has made the statement, does an antiballistic missile defense system make a lot of sense when a terrorist can rent a truck and drive it across the border? That is an important thing. It is about security.
When we were down there on our visit, a few things stuck out in my mind, and the American people understand this. The first is how real this problem is. As the gentleman from Iowa knows, we were in a helicopter flying out along the border, and the pilot came over the intercom and said, Look out the window right there and you will see some aliens attempting to cross right now. And we literally saw approximately 20, 25 people coming across. We were flying right along the Mexican/United States border, and we saw 25 people trying to cross the border illegally, and they attempted to hide under a tree. There wasn't much cover out in the desert, as the gentleman remembers, but there they were. And they had the clothes on their backs and jugs of water in their hands and they took off running back to the border. But it just reinforced in my mind what the American people need understand about how real this problem is.
The second thing that I think I came away with from that visit is the fence is working. As the gentleman from Virginia pointed out, where they are constructing it right now is having an impact. And obviously the strategy of our Secretary of our government is to put the fence up first in those areas where it is going to have the best and greatest impact, and that is in the urban areas. And it is working, and it is a double fence, as the gentleman talked about. And it is making a difference.
The other thing that is making a difference out there is our National Guard, our good men and women in the National Guard who are helping build that same fence where I know you welded and we all had a chance to do a little welding there. They are providing more eyes to see the illegals as they attempt to cross, and they are helping with that fence. But security has to be priority number one, as we think about the policy that makes sense for our country.
The second principle that has to guide this debate, and, again, it has been highlighted already, is the idea that our country is great because we have a lot of great principles that were there at the founding and are still present today. One of those fundamental principles that makes America the greatest Nation ever is the concept that the rule of law matters. And when people willingly, knowingly violate the rule of law, there have to be serious consequences. And that is why amnesty as a policy makes no sense for people who willingly and knowingly violated the law.
And, finally, the third thing I would point out, and I think sometimes as we focus on making sure we are securing our borders and following the rule of law, one of the things that seems to get left out in the debate is we should welcome people, we should welcome immigrants who want to come here legally. I mean, immigrants have always been a great treasure to this country, have always added to the greatness of this country. And for those folks who want to come here and learn our culture, learn our language, learn English, we should welcome them.
And who can fault people who want to come to the freest, greatest Nation in history? So if they want to do it the right way, the legal way, we should work on a policy that also helps the bureaucracy work better to help those people who want to be a part of the American culture and want to be a part of this great country.
Madam Speaker, this is the greatest Nation in
history. And for people who want to come here for the right reasons, we should welcome them here. If these three principles drive our policy, I think we are going to get at the right policy and I hope we do, but it has to be driven by these three principles, and security has to be of paramount importance.
And I appreciate the gentleman from Iowa's leadership on this issue and others here in the United States Congress.
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