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Public Statements

Immigraton Reform

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. KING of Iowa. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It's my privilege and honor to be recognized to address you here on the floor of the House tonight and to pick up on some subject matter. I think my colleagues that spoke on the previous hour covered that subject matter pretty clearly and very well, the matter of global finances and the broader picture that we're working with. For me, I come here tonight with a number of things on my mind and things that are fresh on my mind, Mr. Speaker. They have to do with the immigration situation here in the United States.

Having had a long history with this subject matter, when I first came to this Congress, I recall listening to Congressman Tom Tancredo here on the floor. I actually was in my office and watching on C-SPAN and I thought, Well, this is a piece of history in the making. And so I walked over here and into the Capitol Chamber and sat here to listen to him speak. Tom, knowing the rhythm of the place here, saw me in the Chamber and concluded I came over because I had some things to say. He recognized me to speak on the subject matter of immigration. I was not preparing to do so, although I happen to have been prepared because of the issues in mind. From those days on forward, I have been active on this issue in my time here in Congress.

I happen to have had the privilege of sharing the stage with Congressman Tancredo Saturday night in Phoenix. It was the same good man with a passion and a great heart; a man that understands America, the need to have a sovereign Nation, a need to control our borders, a need to have a network across this country of all levels of law enforcement working together to enforce the law, the rule of law--I should say, reestablish the rule of law here in the United States--and build a greater country than we are today, Mr. Speaker.

It was a refreshing thing for me to hear those words again come out of the mouth of my good friend Congressman Tom Tancredo and to share some time on that microphone with Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County in Arizona, who has a national reputation for enforcing immigration law, for establishing and building Tent City. And when Sheriff Joe, when he asked me if I had been to visit--and actually I had. He had sent a guide to take me to Tent City last year and presented me with a pair of his autographed underwear. When he found out I have that in my office in safekeeping, I was his good friend, Mr. Speaker. That tent city was built because a judge ordered that the prisons provide more space; and the choice was, apparently, to turn some people loose, spend a lot of millions of dollars to put up a structure, or set up a tent city. They did what they needed to do to enforce the law, especially down in that climate, Mr. Speaker.

I also was able to share a microphone with State Senator Russell Pearce, who is the principal author of Arizona immigration law S. 1070, and to spend several hours probing his intellect, his sense of history, and his patriotism that runs so deep for America, and his dedication to the United States of America, the rule of law, the State of Arizona. Put those pieces together, and I looked across at the faces that filled the park grounds there next to the State Capitol in Phoenix, Arizona. A lot of red, white, and blue. A lot of the yellow Gadsden flags; the Don't Tread on Me flags, flying in the light breeze that we had there.

It was an event to remember, with people just clear out to the outside edges of the park; a good, respectable crowd that was there. People came from many of the States of the Union. This time, I don't know that it's all the States but many of the States. A lot from Florida came all the way to Arizona to express their support for S. 1070, for the law that was principally drafted and pushed through into legislation by State Senator Russell Pearce. And he went out to bounce his legislation off of the best experts he could find in America.

And I do give great credit to Governor Jan Brewer for signing and supporting Arizona's immigration law. It is a law that has been misinterpreted, I think willfully, by people on the other side of the aisle. But here's what it is. It is a mirror of Federal legislation. It doesn't go beyond the limits of Federal legislation. It's written within the limits that are there. And it simply says that Arizona law enforcement is going to enforce Federal immigration law.

Now, if you remember, Mr. Speaker, there seemed to have been a grudge match or something going on between now Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, former Governor of Arizona, and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County. But when Janet Napolitano became the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, shortly after that she announced an initiative to look at how they were going to make some changes in the 287(g) law. The 287(g) law is the Federal law that provides Federal assistance to train local law enforcement officers so that they are well trained and certified to enforce Federal immigration law. And then it makes a commitment for ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to work in cooperation with the local law enforcement that has a memorandum of understanding that is the 287(g)--that's the section in the Federal code--that is an understanding that they now have reached an agreement where they're going to work and cooperate together.

There are a lot of jurisdictions in America that had 287(g) agreements. What it is, it's a commitment for the local law enforcement to enforce and support Federal immigration law. It's that simple.

Now, you don't have to have a 287(g) agreement in order to have local law enforcement enforce Federal immigration law. In fact, there's an Attorney General's opinion that was written under John Ashcroft that makes it clear that local law enforcement can enforce Federal immigration law. There are a number of pieces of Federal case law out there that address this. One of them would be a 2001 case, the 10th Circuit, and it's U.S. v. Santana-Garcia.

In case you want to look that up tonight, Mr. Speaker, if you're having trouble sleeping, I just will tell you simply what that says is that the Federal court, the 10th Circuit, has concluded that it is implicit that local law enforcement has the authority to enforce Federal immigration law, that it wasn't contemplated otherwise. And I would go further and say that if there's something implicit that local law enforcement can't enforce Federal law, does that mean then that if there is a Federal officer that's being assaulted or that is murdered by someone that we can't have local law enforcement pick them up, that it's a Federal crime so, therefore, only Federal officers can enforce Federal crime? If it's a national bank that would be robbed, could the county sheriffs pick up those bank robbers and support the violation of the Federal law against robbing Federal banks or would you have to wait until the FBI showed up to be able to pick up the robbers of the Federal banks?

By the same token, if it's a city ordinance that's being violated, can the State highway patrol enforce a city ordinance? I will suggest that yes, they should do that. They should do that when that becomes an obligation of their job. When there's a law being broken in front of them, they should enforce that law. If the speed limits are written by either the State or the city or perhaps county on county roads, if those are the speed limits set, does that mean the county sheriffs and deputies and people can enforce speed limit laws only on county highways but they can't do so on city streets or State highways?

I mean, it borders on ludicrous to make the argument that immigration law has been, up until this time, Federal. Therefore, the only people that can enforce it are Federal officials, and they only would be the ones who were trained within ICE and Border Patrol and Customs and border protection to enforce immigration law. It's ludicrous to believe that. There has to be a network of law enforcement working in conjunction, from city police to county sheriffs to highway patrol, departments of criminal investigation, all of our Federal officers working in cooperation with each other with great profound respect for the Constitution of the United States, for the laws that are duly passed here in the United States Congress and those laws that are passed in the State legislatures, the ordinances that come from the cities, and the list goes on.

So it is a cooperative effort. It always has been a cooperative effort for law enforcement to work together, and it cannot be such a thing as we are going to separate statutes by the jurisdiction of the entity that passed the law. If we do that, then we will have law enforcement officers who watch crimes before their very eyes but don't enforce the law.

Mr. Speaker, that would be the circumstances that take place in sanctuary cities now, sanctuary cities across the country that number by name, places like Houston or Denver or San Francisco. Many other cities have established sanctuary city ordinances that would tell their local law enforcement, Do not work or cooperate in the Federal immigration law. And even though the 1996 Immigration Reform Act that was passed into law, and much of that work was done by now the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Smith), who deserves a lot of credit for language that is there, there is language in that 1996 Immigration Reform Act that prohibits the cities from establishing sanctuary cities.

I don't have the language in front of me, Mr. Speaker, but it is language that says to the effect that you cannot prohibit your officers from enforcing Federal immigration law or working in cooperation with. But the problem is that those cities got together that wanted to have a sanctuary policy, and apparently, they found out the same lawyer or lawyers, or sent out a memo to the League of Cities or whatever ties these larger cities together. And they found a way to write an ordinance around the Federal language, and they prohibited their officers from gathering information. And because they were prohibited from gathering, they didn't have any information to pass on and share with ICE and the other law enforcement officers when it came to immigration.

It created this thing called sanctuary cities. And so they have said that they are not going to enforce the immigration law within these cities. And what would happen? Of course, you create a magnet for illegals to go to those cities where they are sheltered by the sanctuary city language.

And we have, out of the House of Representatives, several times passed amendments on appropriations bills that prohibited any of those dollars coming out of those bills from being distributed to the cities that have jurisdictions where they passed sanctuary language and made sanctuary cities. But it never made it through the Senate, and it never made it into law.

So we have city after city that protects illegals within them because there is a political base already there for illegals. And in Arizona, what they have done is, S. 1070, in effect, it invalidates any city that wants to provide a sanctuary city, and simply requires them to enforce immigration law by their local law enforcement. And if they refuse or fail to do so, it allows a citizen to have standing to bring a lawsuit against that entity, against that city or county that is not enforcing the immigration law, not inquiring as to the legal status of the people that they encounter in the course of their normal law enforcement duties. I think that is a good thing.

Once 1070 is implemented into law, which I think will be on the last day of July of this year, then you will see the sanctuary cities that happen to exist in Arizona, that will shut down, and they will be compelled to enforce the law, or they are going to be brought into court by the people of Arizona.

But the uproar, the objection hasn't been about shutting off sanctuary cities in Arizona; it has been about whether there would be a boycott of Arizona because some claim that the Arizona law will bring about racial discrimination profiling.

Well, first, let me say, Mr. Speaker, that profiling has always been an important component of legitimate law enforcement. If you can't profile someone, you can't use those commonsense indicators that are before your very eyes.

Now, I think it is wrong to use racial profiling for the reasons of discriminating against people, but it is not wrong to use race or other indicators for the sake of identifying people that are violating the law.

Now we all get profiled. I had a moment of irony this morning when I stepped out of the USDA building down here several blocks west of the Capitol. I was wearing a suit, and I had just stepped out to the sidewalk. I hadn't even looked for a cab. I started to walk down the street thinking I would go to the corner. There was a cab going the other direction on the opposite side of the street. He tapped his horn. I looked up, and he swung around the street and picked me up. I asked, How did you identify me as someone who needed a cab ride? I hadn't indicated I wanted one. I was walking down the street.

He said, Well, you were wearing a suit and you stepped out the USDA office. There wasn't a car there to pick you up; I knew you needed a cab. He profiled me.

He said, I don't stop for people wearing shorts and sneakers because they are not looking for a ride. People in suits coming out of that building are. There I was, profiled because I was a guy in a suit at a time of day when it would be logical I would be looking for a ride somewhere.

It is just a commonsense thing. Law enforcement needs to use commonsense indicators. Those commonsense indicators are all kinds of things, from what kind of clothes people wear, the suit in my case, what kind of shoes people wear, what kind of accent they have, the type of grooming that they might have. There are all kinds of indicators there, and sometimes it is just a sixth sense, and they can't put their finger on it.

But these law enforcement officers, if they were going to be discriminating against people on the sole basis of race, singling people out, that would be going on already. And we would have already the files of the objections that are taking place.

But this is about a political argument. It is not about Arizona's law being unconstitutional or preempted by Federal law or somehow had stretched the bounds that have been set by case law that is out there. It is not about any of that. They would like to say it is; in fact, they have said that it is.

But what it is about, Mr. Speaker, is about making a political argument that would like to brand Republicans as being anti-people because of race.

Now, could this happen? Could anyone start an agenda here to try to brand people and try to scare the American people on the subject of race or the subject of immigration? My answer to that is, You bet. I have seen it happen. It started here on this floor right over here, in 2006, when in the early summer, if I remember my dates correctly, we passed immigration reform legislation out of here headed up by at that time chairman of the Judiciary Committee JIM SENSENBRENNER of Wisconsin. Of the things that it did, it was enforcement of immigration law. In the original bill, it made it a felony to cross into the United States illegally. To sneak into the United States, it made it a felony. The gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner) sensed that that would be a highly contested issue if it became law, and so he offered an amendment to strike the language that made it a felony to enter the United States illegally.

Now, had Mr. Sensenbrenner's amendment passed, then it would have eliminated the language that made it a felony to enter the United States illegally. Jim Sensenbrenner argued vociferously in favor of his amendment. He didn't actually convince me, by the way, but he understood what was going on. And when the vote went up on the board, 194 Democrats voted "no'' on the Sensenbrenner amendment, which can only be concluded that they wanted it to be a felony to enter the United States illegally. And it is a crime, but it is not a felony. So 194 Democrats voted to make it a felony when they voted "no'' on the Sensenbrenner amendment. And that Sensenbrenner amendment failed. And when it failed, brought down by Democrats, the streets filled up with protesters protesting that Republicans wanted to make it a felony to enter the United States illegally; 194 Democrats wanted to, and almost all of them demagogued Republicans for the language that was in the bill when they had voted to keep the language in the bill.

It was completely cynical. They knew it. You all knew it, and there isn't anybody in this Congress that can challenge this statement. And I would be happy to yield to anybody who has a different perspective on this. I watched it happen. I was in the middle of it. And I watched the streets fill up with people that were storming in the streets, first with Mexican flags and then with white T-shirts and carrying American flags. And as they lined up for the protest, the organizers were taking their Mexican flags out of their hands, handing them an American flag, saying put on this white T-shirt, come out here and protest against these evil Republicans that want to make it a felony to enter the United States illegally.

It doesn't bother me that there is a little upset and turmoil in the streets if that's the case. We need tighter immigration laws. We need more tools to work with, not less. But my point, Mr. Speaker, is the very cynicism of voting one way and arguing the other way: 194 Democrats, and they turned and pointed their fingers at Republicans and said, You wanted to make it a felony. They brought down the amendment. It is a fact. It's a fact in the Congressional Record, Mr. Speaker.

So here we are now in 2010. No legislation of significance on immigration has been passed since then. It didn't happen in 2006 or 2007. The switchboards of the United States Senate were shut down at two different times during those years because the American people reject the idea of amnesty.

And I have watched immigration at the Federal level be enforced less with each administration since Ronald Reagan signed the 1986 amnesty act. But he was straight up and honest enough to declare it to be an amnesty act, Mr. Speaker. The 1986 amnesty act was the last amnesty. It was the amnesty to end all amnesties, and President Reagan signed it because he believed that there wouldn't be another amnesty.

It was supposed to be amnesty for about a million people. Turned out to be amnesty for about 3 million people by the time the system was gamed and the fraudulent documents and the people came out of the shadows. And 3 million people went through to receive the amnesty in '86, three times the number that they anticipated.

And we have had six lesser amnesties since then that aren't published very much. So we have had a continuous series of amnesties. And it's going to continue until such time as either nobody wants to come to the United States, or until such time as we simply give up on the idea that we can control our borders, or until we establish that we are going to enforce immigration law and we are going to stand by the rule of law and we are not going to equivocate and we are not going to compromise.

And that, Mr. Speaker, is where I stand. I refuse to equivocate, I refuse to compromise on the rule of law, I refuse to grant amnesty. And we should talk about what amnesty is. To grant amnesty is to pardon immigration law-breakers and reward them with the objective of their crimes.

Now, I don't know necessarily what their objectives are. It may be a path to citizenship. It might be a job. They might want to have access to the United States to do philanthropic good things. Or they might want to have access to the United States so they can travel back and forth into the United States hauling illegal drugs into America. And that happens a lot.

A couple of nights ago on Sean Hannity's program you could see the video that he ran, and you could see the backpackers coming into the United States with roughly 50 pounds of marijuana bound in a burlap bundle on their back with straps that might be woolen scarves used for straps, makeshift backpacks. And you might see 10 or 15 or 20 or more all in a row each carrying their 50 or more pounds of marijuana on their back. And this goes on night after night after night, Mr. Speaker. It goes on every night.

And I have gone down and sat on the border in the dark, sat there quietly, didn't have night vision equipment, and just listened, and just listened as the vehicles came down, they let people off, they would set their pack out on the ground. You could hear the packs thump when they set them on the ground. They would get out of the vehicle. They would talk a little bit. Somebody would hush them up. They would close the doors on the vehicle. You could hear that. They would hoist their packs up, put them on their back, and they would march through the mesquite, come across the border.

And when you sit by a barbed wire fence that's got four or five barbs on it and a steel post, you can listen to the posts and you can hear the wire when it stretches. And you can tell each time somebody crosses the fence, and you can count them. And at night I never trust my eyes to be able to actually give an accurate count. I see the shadows, but shadows are not clear enough for me to tell you how many. I can tell you I have heard the noise, I have seen the shadows, I have listened to the same rhythm come over and over again.

I have gone up through the stream beds that are in the desert and there seen where they have dropped off many of their clothes that are unnecessary, empty water jugs. When they unload the packs, the burlap bags that they are in will be dropped there. There will be food that's dropped off, some that's been eaten, some that's been left partially eaten, and some of it left. The desert is full of smugglers' litter.

And if one would go down to the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument down there where Kris Eggle was killed by an illegal, and he was a National Park Officer ranger,

there is a monument to him at the headquarters at Organ Pipe Cactus, but there is a large percentage of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, and that's a national park called a monument that's off limits to Americans. And I am guessing at the area. I know it's the southern side of it. And it seems to me that as I looked at the map, about 40 percent of Organ Pipe Cactus is off limits to Americans because it's full of litter, it's full of drug smugglers' litter. It's drug smugglers gulch there. And it is too dangerous for people that are out just enjoying the desert to walk down into. And it's too full of litter. And we don't have the labor to go pick up the mess. And if we did, the mess is accumulating day by day, every day, every night.

And the numbers of people that have been crossing the border illegally, we could take the information that comes from Secretary Napolitano, I suppose, and accept it at face value. They would argue that their interdictions on the border have gone down significantly over the last year. And they claim that because they are arresting fewer people on the border that there is fewer border crossings. Now, that may be true. I don't know what's true.

But to use the data that shows that there are fewer interdictions of illegal border crossers to conclude that there are fewer crossing attempts isn't necessarily a logical or rational approach. It could also be that they are just simply not enforcing the law as aggressively as they were a couple of years ago when the numbers were higher. I don't know the answer to that question.

But when the Bush administration used the same argument, I had the same questions. Just because you arrest fewer people doesn't mean there are fewer people crossing. It might mean you are just not arresting as many people. But here are the numbers that came before the Immigration Subcommittee in testimony from witnesses that had represented our Federal Government. And I am including Border Patrol officers. The number of interdictions they believed turned out to be they were stopping about one out of four. Twenty-five percent of border crossing attempts were being stopped.

If you do the math on the stops that they had, that means that there were 11,000 a night on average every night. Not during the day so much. At night 11,000. And that turns out to be four million illegal border crossings a year. And when I go to the border and talk to the people that are enforcing the border and I tell them, so you are stopping about one out of four, you are getting 25 percent of those that attempt. And they look at me and laugh. It's not 25 percent. The most consistent number I get from the people that are hands-on is maybe they stop 10 percent.


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