ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION -- (House of Representatives - May 23, 2007)
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Mr. CARTER. I thank my friend from California for recognizing me on this very important issue to the people of the United States of America, the opening of our borders and the pouring in of somewhere between 12- to 20 million people who have broken the laws of the United States of America.
I want to talk a little tonight about what's going on in my district and what's going on in Texas and what's going on in the country. But, first, I would like to respond to some talk that took place in the last hour, just for a second.
When we talk about gasoline prices, you know, all this talk about gasoline prices, I saw in this last hour, they kept trying to say all this was President Bush's fault. The Democrats are in charge of Congress. They have told us tomorrow that they are an equal branch of government, and that they are, in fact, in charge of this Nation at this time, and they are responsible for these gas prices. It's time to be responsible to go along with your rights. The Democrat majority has something they can do about gas prices, but, of course, let's look at what they have done.
The first thing they did in Six for '06 was take away the incentives to encourage domestic drilling and, in fact, place a tax on gas production, and, thus, decrease the availability of American petroleum to replace our burden on foreign petroleum. They proposed a cut-and-run theory on dealing with the issue in Iraq, which, if we cut and run, would turn over the second largest oil reserve in the world to Islamic terrorists.
They propose now, out of the Senate, to open our borders to the illegal aliens that are already here and to put together a policy which would encourage more illegal aliens to come across our borders and consume 20 million people's worth of oil and gas in this country. These are the things that they are criticizing the Republican minority for causing the gas prices to go up?
But that all just gives you a picture of where we are going right now. Now the Democrats have come out of the Senate, remember, they are the majority in the Senate, too, and they have come out with a proposal to, they say, solve our immigration crisis.
I want to say, and I have told this to the White House, and I have told it to my colleagues here in Congress, and I tell them again, the American people want a solution to the illegal immigrant problem. That's where they see and know the crisis is, and they are saying you have the tools and have had the tools to do something about this problem for a long time, over 20 years, and nothing has been done. The American people see this as a crisis, and they are right.
You know, for 20 years I sat on the bench as a district judge in Texas. When people broke the law, the people of our country, in Williamson County, Texas, they wanted the laws enforced. They called upon our sheriffs and our law enforcement officers to enforce the law, and they called upon our courts and our juries to enforce the law. I am proud to say we did.
This issue is a law enforcement issue as much as any other issue. There are between 12- and 20 million people in this country, we are told by some, came here to start a new life. You don't start a new life by breaking the law, and the American people know that. The American people want something done about it.
The American people want us to defend our sovereign borders of the United States and to tell these people, you cannot break the laws of the United States and then expect to come into this country and get the benefits and the privileges of being a United States citizen. They are unhappy.
When the Senate bill was announced, I believe it was last Friday, before the end of the day and into Monday, we had over 1,000 phone calls, an estimation. I know we had over 400, I think it was, right here in D.C. Then our other two offices were overwhelmed with phone calls, all from citizens who we, you know, who are people of our community, who live and work in our community, and every one of them said this is an outrage. Do not support this concept of amnesty for people who have broken our laws. They have to be responsible for their own behavior. We raise our children to be responsible for their behavior, and we expect them to be.
We tell the American citizens, we set up a series of laws, we call it the rule of law. It is a basic principle of the Republic of the United States that the people respect the rule of law. Without it, democracy and the Republic cannot function. Yet we have proposed a bill that will waive the rule of law for up to 20 million or possibly more than 20 million people that are in this country illegally.
That's just not right, that's just basically old country boy not right to the folks back in Texas and to the folks, I believe, across this Nation. They get up
every day, and they abide by the laws of the United States. They pay their taxes. They do the right thing for the right reasons because that's what Americans do. That's the kind of people we want in the country, people who abide by the law.
To just say that it's a good way to start a new part of our population by letting them break the law to become part of our Nation, it just flies in the face of everything America thinks is right. We hear the argument, we are sure they are good people. I am sure they are good people. They are hard-working people. I have lived in Texas all my life, and I have seen this phenomena all my life.
These are hard-working people. I have visited with many of them in my limited Spanish and find them to be people looking for a job and who are hard-working. But it doesn't change the fact that they are starting their life in the United States of America illegally. This is wrong, and the American people know it's wrong.
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Mr. CARTER. Absolutely. And you hit on a very good point, and I thank the gentleman for yielding. The point that you hit on is that there are people that are trying to do it the right way, that have been waiting patiently to do this the right way in countries around this world; not just from our neighbors to the south, but all over this world that have waited patiently to get the opportunity to come to the United States, following the rules in the effort to go to work, enjoying the freedom of the world we live in, and ultimately by doing the right thing, the right way, hopefully become American citizens.
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Mr. CARTER. And I thank the gentleman for yielding. And you mentioned that your wife came here as an immigrant, and my wife came here as an immigrant also. And I'd like to share just a little bit of our story because I think it gives us a good comparison to what's being proposed in the Senate today and what we used to operate under in this country when you do it right.
I am very blessed to the fact that my wife, Erica, fell in love with a law student from the University of Texas law school back in 1965. And I happen to humbly be that law student. And we married in 1968.
And to be very honest, I really never even thought about the fact that my wife might have to actually apply to come to the United States after she had married a red-blooded American. You know, I thought that was just the ticket, but quickly found out that wasn't the ticket.
We had to go down to the embassy, and we had to fill out all these papers. We had to have someone pledge $5,000 to ensure that she would have a sponsor who would take care of her when, if she was allowed to enter the United States and ultimately get a green card to be a resident alien of the United States.
She had to take a physical, and as she took a physical with several other women her age, one of whom looked very much like her, when they got the lung exams back, this is a personal thing that happened to us, they came to us and said, I'm sorry, but our exam of your wife's X-Rays shows that she's got tuberculosis, and she may not enter the United States, which we were newly married. We hadn't even been married a month at that time, maybe a month and a half. We were crushed. And then the doctor came back and said, I'm sorry, we got the wrong X-Ray. This is something we will never forget. And unfortunately, that X-Ray was for another redheaded girl who was in the same physical group that had their physicals, and so I felt very sorry for her, who was also marrying an American, but she was not going to be allowed to come to the United States because she had tuberculosis. But, praise God, it wasn't my wife.
So we paid our fee. We took our physical examination, we had the background check which is required for all people coming into the United States, and then when we arrived in the United States, in those days every year you had to register with the Federal Government. Every person who was not a citizen but had a green card, between January 1 and January 31 you went down to the post office and you filled out a form every year and told the United States Government where you were if you were a green card holder in the United States. We don't have that provision anymore. It went away.
We did all those things. My wife learned American history. She learned the English language. In the meantime, she had three American children, but she still met all the qualifications that you had to have to get to be an American citizen. And in 1976, I was very proud to see my wife raise her right hand and take the oath of allegiance to the United States of America and become a United States citizen. And I am proud of her for many, many reasons, and that's one of them today.
That's how you do it to do it right, to do it legally, and to become part of what this mysterious wonder that is America. It's not to sneak across a border in the middle of the night and hide out as a lawbreaker to make money. That's not the way you're supposed to come into the United States of America.
And as you pointed out, we have a procedure where people legally come here by the millions, and we welcome them.
And let me point one more thing out, and then I'm going to yield back, and that is here about a month ago we had about, I don't know, looked like several hundred people walking around this building with T shirts on that said ``Legalize the Irish.'' And I stopped some of them in the elevator and said, what in the world does that mean? And they said, well, we're all here illegally, and we want to be made legal.
This is not an Hispanic issue. This is an issue for the people who came to Disneyland and never went home. This is the people from all over the world that have overstayed their visas and are staying in the United States, as well as those who come across our borders. They are just as big starting life as a lawbreaker as people who swam the Rio Grande or walked across the desert of Arizona or California or New Mexico in the middle of the night. This is something that is not the right way to become an American citizen, and we can do better than this, and we must. And I yield back.
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Mr. CARTER. And I thank the gentleman for yielding. There are a lot of interesting things in this bill that common sense tells you that nobody's thinking about this. I'll just give one example. They have told us that there are people that have been waiting legally, and they're going to make sure that these illegals will get behind those people, and it will take approximately 8 years to process these people.
Now, I just sat down and looked at it. If you take the people that are in the pipeline right now, and I don't remember the number, but it's a couple of million, I think, and we're going to process them over 8 years to get them processed in doing it the right way, these are people doing it the right way, and I can tell you this, I know this for a fact. The last time I checked, which was about 3 months ago, those people we were helping who were doing it
right processed their papers through the San Antonio office, which is where, our part of Texas, I live just north of Austin, San Antonio office, they were still working on 1999 and 2000. They may be up to halfway to 2001 right now. So they're 7 or 8 years behind. So they got the number right.
Now they're going to tell us that they're going to take 12 million and instantly process them for a Z visa. About 18 months they say it'll take. So that tells you right off that the standards have got to be different. They have to be different.
And I was asking questions of someone who seemed to have some knowledge of the bill, and he said, well, you take a full handprint, you run it through all the criminal records, and you find out whether they've got a criminal record. Well, if that's so easy, why is the number one answer that we get from the Immigration and Naturalization Service when we call them, why are we delayed, FBI's got to do background checks? These things are extensive. They take a long time. Wait a minute. Take a full handprint and run it through the records. That's what we're told we're going to for these Z visas. That's not enough for the legal people, but it seems to be enough for the illegal people.
How about the fact that we've got diseases south of our southern border which are incurable, like a strain of tuberculosis? Shouldn't everybody that's here have a medical check? Where is it? Is it going to be there? It doesn't sound like it is.
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Mr. CARTER. Not even mentioned.
So, you know, I think there was some good-hearted people tried, but they tried miserably on this bill. The American people want to take our time and do this right. And right now their concern, if you ask them, you don't hear them say, I want new immigration policy. You hear them say, I want the illegal immigration problem stopped, which means pour the resources to the border, pour the resources to law enforcement, enforce the laws that are on the books. And then when the American people say, you know what, we can trust our government again to enforce the law, that's when they will be willing to say, now let's work with coming up with alternatives to make this whole thing work. And we can do it right the next time.
This is the wrong bill, the wrong time and, as Ms. Foxx pointed out, shoved down our throat by the Democrat majority.
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Mr. CARTER. If the gentleman would yield, I am very honored to appear here with you, Mr. Chairman, with all the great work you are doing on the Immigration Caucus trying to come up with a solution to this illegal immigration in this country. I salute you and all of our colleagues who join you in this effort to come up with reasonable solutions for a very difficult problem.
I want to join you in saying to the world, we are asking the rule of law to prevail. It's very simple. This Nation was built on the rule of law. Let the rule of law prevail. And the rule of law does show compassion on the poor and the downtrodden, but it has to exist or they have no protection. And if we start to tear down the rule of law, it is going to be as harmful to those who are downtrodden and poor as it is to the richest man in the world because the rule of law is the basis of our Republic.
So I reach out to the Hispanic community who feels like this is targeted to them and say, no, it is targeted to all who come into our country illegally. I reach out to those friends back home that say be compassionate, and say to them we can be compassionate. Let's get law and order back in our land and then let's show compassion. But law and order must come first. It is what this country was built on.
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