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Public Statements

Illegal Immigration and the Economy

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. GOHMERT. Well, I do appreciate so much the comments of my friend from Iowa, and we do appreciate the comments of our colleagues in the hour previous to this, about the wonderful Jewish heritage in this country.

It is Jewish Heritage Month, and it does mean so much to this Nation when you look at the contributions of the Jewish immigrants into this country. This country has benefited so immeasurably from immigration, but it has to be legal, and there are a number of different aspects.

First of all, we've got, basically, a Third World immigration service. It needs to be cleaned out from top to bottom and from side to side. It needs to be streamlined and made more efficient, more effective. That has got to be done. It wasn't done effectively in the previous administration. It has got to be done. It is not being done now by this administration, and it has got to be done. It has grieved me much, in my 5 1/2 years here, to hear people come down to the floor who talk about laws, who are spouting off things as facts, which are wrong, because they haven't read the bills.

My friend knows that, in our Republican Conferences, nobody had been more loud and emphatic than I in begging my colleagues, when we were going through the TARP bailout, to read the bill.

If you'll just read the bill, you'll see we don't do this in America. We don't give one person $700 billion.

We didn't have enough people read the bill. They didn't realize how much we were giving away the farm when the TARP bailout passed.

Likewise, we have people, including down Pennsylvania Avenue here, who have talked about this Arizona bill. I've got it here. It's 19 pages. That's with the amendments. It includes the amendments that were passed to make clear their position. I've gone through and, you know, I've highlighted different parts. It's what I do. I am not technically challenged. I love doing things on the Internet, finding things and doing good research on the Internet, but there is something about having a hard copy which I can go through and highlight, and that's what I've done here. This is not rocket science.

If you have read the law as it has come down from the Supreme Court and as passed by this Congress, you'll find out that this Arizona law is actually not as tough, as stringent as existing Federal law. You'll find out what this Arizona bill talks about in terms of what a law officer will do because it reads: For any lawful contact stop, detention or arrest made by a law enforcement official--well, a ``lawful contact stop'' means a law officer cannot stop you unless it is authorized under State or Federal law. In fact, if he were to violate someone's civil rights by unlawfully stopping someone, he has got a lawsuit. We've got a Federal law that allows you to go sue Arizona or the local law enforcement if they were to abuse their power. That's why the civil rights laws are there.

Any lawful contact.

There is a type of arrest that has been known since 1966 as a Terry Stop, and there is probably not a certified law officer in Iowa, in Texas, or in the country who has not had a class on what a lawful stop, a Terry Stop, is because under Terry vs. Ohio 1966, the Supreme Court discussed this. They said that you've got to have a reasonable suspicion that there has been some crime committed in order to have a detention stop. You can't just, you know, willy-nilly stop people.

Also, it could be a lawful stop if you see that somebody is violating the traffic laws. Sometimes officers will have a lawful stop, and they'll give you a warning. They could have given you a full ticket because they saw that you had violated a law or that maybe you had a taillight out or something, but it's a lawful stop. They stop you and wonder, perhaps, you know, are you carrying illegal drugs or something. Well, they're authorized to stop you for violating the traffic laws, and they're not bound to put on blinders when they do in order to see if you've violated something else while you're there, but not unreasonably.

If they've lawfully stopped a person for some purpose other than immigration and if they have a reasonable suspicion that the person is an alien, that a person is not lawfully present in the country, then this law allows them to make, as it says here, a reasonable attempt, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person.

Now, what Terry vs. Ohio made clear is a ``reasonable suspicion'' means you can't just say, Well, I suspected something. That's not good enough. In law school, when we studied Terry vs. Ohio, there was some terminology I had to practice saying before I got to class so that I could say it without, you know, stumbling and looking more ignorant than I might otherwise already look. The word was ``articulable.'' It rolls off pretty easily nowadays, but you can't just suspect. Well, I just had this suspicion. That's not good enough. It has to be a reasonable suspicion based upon articulable facts. If you cannot articulate facts that justify your suspicion, it's not reasonable. It's an unlawful stop, and it's probably a civil rights violation that's going to get the community or the State of Arizona sued successfully.

The Federal law allows even further stopping just to check to see if somebody may be legally present in the country. Federal law officers have the ability to do that if they think it appropriate. Arizona is just trying to deal with the fact that they have so many criminals in Arizona.

My friend mentioned a kidnapping. It is intolerable that one of our 50 States of these United States would have a beautiful, wonderful city like Phoenix and that that United States' city, here in the continental United States, would be the second most prolific kidnapping capital in the world. This isn't a Third World country where we have coups d'etat constantly and governments constantly changing hands so that you don't know who is going to enforce the law. This is the United States of America. Arizona is not some Wild West territory. To have Phoenix have the second most kidnappings in the world is intolerable, and it is an embarrassment for which this Federal Government owes an apology to border States like Arizona for allowing this kind of thing to go unstopped, unchecked.

This law is very reasonable. You know, basically, there is just one page--if people would bother to go check. On page 5, it talks about lawfully stopping someone who is operating a vehicle if he has a reasonable suspicion to believe the person is in violation of any civil traffic law. I mean, this is not an unreasonable law, but it does say repeatedly that a law enforcement official or agency of this State, county, city, town or other political subdivision may not consider race, color, or national origin in the enforcement of this section except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution. Well, the Arizona Constitution cannot allow it if it is forbidden by the United States Constitution. So this is not some horrific bill as the President and others, including our President, have made it sound.

That's why it is a little bit irritating to have the President of Mexico come into this body as an invited guest, as a guest in this House, and say: I strongly disagree with the recently adopted law in Arizona. It is a law that not only ignores a reality, that cannot be erased by decree but that also introduces a terrible idea, using racial profiling as a basis for law enforcement.

That is why I agree with President Obama, who said the new law ``carries a great amount of risk when core values that we all care about are breached.''

He comes in here as an invited guest and completely misrepresents the facts, and tells the world here in this body to our faces that the Arizona law ignores a reality that cannot be erased by decree, and introduces a terrible idea that racial profiling is a basis for law enforcement?

I am sure that he does not lie, but that statement is a lie; that is not true. He just needed to read the bill, and apparently no one, I don't know if the Attorney General has read it yet, he hadn't read it when he came before our Judiciary Committee. Secretary Napolitano, she owed the State of Arizona better than she gave it, and she had not read the bill, and she is out there condemning it. And then to have our invited guest come in here and condemn a law that he clearly had not read--I would be glad to give him a copy. It is not hard to get. But to come in here, that is just so outrageous.

But then he comes in and says, ``Because of your global leadership, we will need your support,'' this is President Calderon, ``to make the meeting in Cancun next November a success.'' And that is because he has come in and touted global warming.

For those that can't understand the politicalese that is used in here, what that statement means, and what all these 100 and some countries around the world have said, when they said we have got to have the United States' global leadership come into this global warming conference, what they mean is, if the United States doesn't come in as the patsy who is willing to pay all these other countries out of some guilt complex, then nobody else in the world is going to come in and start redistributing the wealth from America into all those other countries.

I appreciate President Calderon saying that, but the trouble is we are distributing plenty of wealth to Mexico. He mentioned it himself. The Merida Initiative, as I recall. This body passed a bill to give them $500 million, as I recall, to use to buy law enforcement equipment to help enforce their laws. We are pouring plenty of money into Mexico, so he doesn't need to try to go to some global warming meeting and try to construct some method of extorting more money out of the United States. We are giving them plenty.

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Mr. GOHMERT. Thank you. And the point is quite salient. And it brings to a point something I think my friend from Iowa and I can agree with part of the quote from our President that was quoted by President Calderon. And to give you the exact quote again, President Calderon, in talking about the Arizona law said that ``it introduces a terrible idea using racial profiling as a basis for law enforcement.'' Now, that is just blatantly not true, absolutely not true. Using racial profiling as a basis for law enforcement. That is, it flies in the face of the facts and the facts of this bill.

But then he goes on, and here's the part where I believe my friend would agree with me in congratulating the President, not on the first part of the quote, because he's applying this to the Arizona law, but he says the new law ``carries a great amount of risk when core values that we all care about are breached.'' But the part that is in there is so important to us in the United States, and that is that there is ``a great amount of risk when core values that we all care about are breached.''

Now, I grew up with my mother and dad telling me if I ever have an emergency, if I'm ever in trouble, look for someone in uniform because I can trust them. That's the way I grew up in Mount Pleasant, Texas, and that's the way I have taught our three girls growing up their whole lives, growing up in Tyler, Texas, that if there's a problem, even if you're worried you might have done something wrong, you go to somebody in uniform. You can trust them. And I've taught them the same thing.

You know, if somebody were ever kidnapped, no matter what the note said or whatever, you call the FBI. You can trust them. And I know so many FBI agents, and I do trust them. They're some wonderful agents. And I know they would lay down their lives in a second.

But what about when we come to the point when the Federal law enforcement is told by their commander in the White House that enforcing the law is a bad idea? That's problematic. And then that spills over until you have somebody who is charged and his whole job is enforcing the immigration laws, and he says, if Arizona sends somebody that they have detained because they're illegally in the country, he may not even enforce the law. See, that flies in the face, just like the President's quote says. There's a great amount of risk when the core values that we've taught our children, that we all care about, are breached.

And I'm telling you, when you have someone in the Federal Government charged with enforcing the law and they're being taught, and it's coming top down, ignore the law, don't enforce it, they're violating all the core values that we've tried to instill in our children and the things that we grew up believing, and this country is not the country we hoped for, that we dreamed for. It becomes like the country that so many immigrants flee illegally, because they're not based, their country does not have the rule of law that's in force. Too much graft and corruption.

You come to this country, don't ask us to ignore the rule of law. Some of us, like 4 years I had in the Army, time as a prosecutor, as a judge, as a chief justice, 5 1/2 years in Congress, taking that oath that was given by the Speaker to the new Congressman Djou from Hawaii, I mean, we took an oath to follow the law and we're supposed to support and defend the Constitution. This flies in the face of all those oaths when you say ignore the law, it means nothing; we'll get around to enforcing it some day down the road. It means I've spent most of my adult life for nothing because the rule of law means nothing.

So I would implore people, do not come to this country and ask me to say that my adult life has been for nothing, because the rule of law means something. It means nothing to them. It does mean something. It's meant something to me, and it always will, because I know, and I know my friend from Iowa knows, I know the Speaker knows, if we don't have the rule of law that's applied across the board, and I think better in this country than in any country in the history of the world, then we devolve into the ashes from which we rose, and we are just a historic memory and nothing more.

I yield back to my friend from Iowa.

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Mr. GOHMERT. Thank you. Some say, well, if you are a caring Nation then you ought to just welcome anybody that wants to come. The problem is because this Nation has been so richly blessed, and because we have been a Nation that believed in the rule of law and enforced it more fairly across the board than any nation in the history of the world, then opportunities have abounded here. And so it has been a draw.

And I know my friend from Iowa was chairman of the Immigration Subcommittee on which I was privileged to serve, and so I know he is aware of these statistics, but it's estimated that between out of the over 6 billion people in the world that 1 billion to 1.5 billion people in the world would like to come to America. And as most folks know, we have over 300 million in this country now.

But if we were to just say there are no borders, you want to come, come on, we are just giving up on our obligation to protect the economy and the people and the way of life in this country, so come on. One billion to 1.5 billion people would overwhelm this Nation. It could no longer be the greatest Nation in the world because you couldn't have an organized, sustained society with a government that functioned. It would be overwhelmed.

So in order to continue to be that light on the hill, that beacon that Reagan talked about, we have to make sure that we have managed immigration, that we continue to be a beacon so people want to come here, but that we control the immigration so it doesn't overwhelm the economy so that this becomes a matter of regret for those who have come here.

Now, I know, as my friend from Iowa has done, and I guess most of us, assist people who have immigration problems. And so we have some wonderful dear Hispanic friends, constituents whom we are helping to try to legally get in family because they want to abide by the law. They want to do the right thing because they know the law is important.

And some people that I love very dearly are Hispanic immigrants. And, you know, having been invited to come to family functions and back when I was a judge, one of the great honors of my time as a judge was to marry a couple. And her parents were immigrants. And it was just so moving. It brought tears to my eyes. But I look around at this Hispanic group of family, and what comes to my mind when I am with them, when I see them is they believe in the things that made America great.

This family, these dear friends, they believe in God, they have a love of family that's unrivaled, and they have a hard-work ethic like virtually nobody else can even aspire to. It's a beautiful thing. And I have great hopes that those three things that you find generally so often in Hispanic communities are what's going to reinvigorate this country and get us back on track and get us back to the very things George Washington prayed for this country when he resigned as commander in chief of the Revolutionary military. Those are good things.

But we owe it to all of the people, those who have immigrated legally, those who have been here, grandchildren, great grandchildren of immigrants, people that are Native Americans, we owe it to all of them to keep this country strong so it continues to be a land of opportunity.

I come back to that prayer that George Washington had when he wrote, himself, that was at the end of his resignation, and of course, it was the only time in human history where someone led a revolutionary military, won the revolution, and then resigned and went home. Never happened before, never happened since.

At the end, Washington's words were these, I now make it my earnest prayer that God would have you in the state over which you preside in his holy protection.

I know my friend had people, as an employer, providing paychecks, you probably had people resign. You may not have had people put prayers like this on the end of their resignation, but Washington goes on that he, God, would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and, get this, and obedience to government. To entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow citizens of the United States, and particularly for the brethren who have served in the field, and, finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice.

That's part of the prayer. How can you do justice? You follow the law. You are just. To the rich and the poor you are just to everyone. Race, creed, color, nationality, religion, prayer, that was part of Washington's prayer.

Then he goes on to love mercy, you can't have mercy unless you have justice in the first place.

Washington goes on: And to demean ourselves with a charity, humility, and pacific timbre of mind which were the characteristics of the divine author of our blessed religion, and without an humble limitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation.

He signed it, I have the honor to be, with great respect and esteem, your Excellency's most obedient and very humble servant, George Washington.

Now, that's a resignation, that's a prayer.

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Mr. GOHMERT. This resignation he did not, but, of course, we know that most things were signed in the year of our Lord, including our Constitution. So I find it remarkable when some people around here have said, well, it would be unconstitutional to sign things around here in the year of our Lord. I pointed out how can it be unconstitutional to sign things in the year of our Lord, whatever the year number is, when that is exactly how the Constitution itself is signed and dated.

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Mr. GOHMERT. I just want to say, the President said he would fundamentally transform America. And when the executive branch charged with enforcing the laws of the country won't read them, won't follow them, and won't enforce them, that's a fundamental transformation.

Our friend, Cynthia Lummis from Wyoming, prepared this chart. One final note on fundamental transformation: This chart, when you have the blue line, the private job sector hiring, shooting down like this and the red line, the public government hiring, shooting up like that, you have fundamentally transformed America.

With that, I yield.

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