ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION AND BORDER STATES
Mr. CARTER. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate being recognized and the ability to have the chance to address the House this night on the issue we all know is the most critical issue our Nation faces today, that is the security of the American borders and the sovereignty of our Nation.
I rise because I am from Texas, and I grew up crossing the Mexican border with our neighbors from Mexico all of my life. I have even been several times to the great international celebration in Nuevo Laredo for George Washington's birthday, a time in which thousands and thousands of Texans joined their neighbors in Mexico for a great fiesta. I consider Mexico, my entire life, I have considered them my friend and our neighbor to the south. I actually went to school in Mexico. I am very familiar with the country, and I have a warm regard for the people of Mexico.
However, the world we live in today is not the world I grew up in. I have had the occasion in the last 6 months to visit Nuevo Laredo with Congressman Cuellar on two occasions. I have been down there with Congressional delegations that have visited the border to talk about the incursions into the United States by literally hundreds of thousands and millions of people coming out of Mexico across our southern borders from San Diego to Brownsville.
But the world I know is Texas, and I am going to talk about the Texas border that I am familiar with. I want to tell you that I sat out in a pickup truck on the side of the Rio Grande in a mesquite thicket in the dark with one lone border patrolman and his electronic equipment, which was a camera that scanned 2.5 miles in either direction, a stretch of the river, right in the city limits or on the edge of the city limits of Laredo, Texas.
I got to sit out there on that lonely job with that young man for a pretty good while and talk to him about what he has experienced. He says what every rancher and farmer and homeowner that lives on the border of Texas today repeats: This is not the same bunch of people that used to come across our border.
They are coming in waves, and they are doing damage and breaking into homes, and they are stealing things. Whereas they used to come by a pepper's house with their hat in their hands and the rancher wife would put dinner out on the back porch for them, today they break into the house; they have no regard for private property. They have no regard for anything that is going on in Texas. They just think it is their right to come into Texas, and they are acting that way.
This young man told me, he said, I asked him, I said, how many people? The first time I visited was in the wintertime. I said, how many people will come across? He said, well, it is winter. Maybe a couple of hundred tonight. But in the summer, maybe a couple of thousand in my sector that I will turn back on some given nights.
This is a number that way surpasses anything we have ever experienced in our State, and all the other States along the border are experiencing this problem.
But, you know, I have been thinking about this, and this is not a problem that just started last week. I firmly believe that we enhanced the problem of the Mexican border, especially our southern border, with the amnesty bill that we passed in 1986. We gave a message, and in that message, it was clear: Come on in, boys, you are welcome, and in they came.
Their thoughts were, I can go, most of them came for jobs. But I used to be able to say, when I was a young man and a teenager, the people who came over here are coming to work. I am telling you, you can't say that today. You can't say that every person that crosses that border comes to work. That border patrolman told me a tale that will chill your soul. In the El Paso sector in December, they stopped 15 illegal immigrants, all of whom claimed to be from Mexico, all of whom voluntarily agreed to return.
So they fingerprinted them and processed them and took them back to Mexico. They ran those fingerprints through, I think it is NCI or whatever it is that they use with the Border Patrol, and about five of those finger prints had previously been recorded by the United States Government. Those prints came from a cave in Afghanistan. Now those were not people coming across our border from Mexico to get a job. But they were blending in with those who were.
We live in the world of 9/11. We live in a time when an enemy has launched and successfully accomplished the worst attack on the United States in the history of the United States. We have people we don't know coming across our border.
We are doing a lot of talk about enforcement. We are doing a lot of talk about writing new laws. We go, oh, my gosh, let us rush out, and we have got to come up and figure out how we get a work program. We have got to come up with citizenship for these people. We have got to know what to do with these people. Sure, these are problems that we have to address sometime, and I am sure soon.
But my concern is, we are not analyzing this problem the way the problems should be analyzed. The legislation we are hearing that is coming this way from the Senate, and my way of thinking, is a totally improper way to analyze a problem of the United States.
I spent almost 21 years as a district judge in Texas. I had many, many, times, where I had a multiple-issue case that I had to choose. But a jury would use the same analysis to try to figure out a solution to a problem. So I will use that example. But the same example could be used for a surgeon in an emergency room.
You have a problem, and you look at that problem, and you say, well, this problem has multiple issues we have to deal with. We have evidence to cover these issues. We need to examine those issues, that evidence closely and come up with a solution to these problems.
But first where is the ongoing harm? Where is the bleeding? You have got to stop the damage that is there right now today before you move on to the damage that may be coming down the road or to work on other issues to determine the solution. I would say the bleeding is at the border. We have got to stop the bleeding.
The surgeon that is at the emergency room when they are bringing someone, if there is arterial blood flowing, he is not worried about a CAT scan or an X-ray or whether this man might have cancer or diabetes. He wants to stop the bleeding.
If we don't go and address the issues on the border as the House bill has done to stop the bleeding, if we don't do that, we are analyzing this problem wrong.
You know, we could stand around in this House, and we can talk about whose fault is it. You know, hindsight is 2020, but the truth is, the fault lies across the board, and we ought to step up and say so.
From 1986 until the present, we have had both Republican and Democratic administrations. We can all point the finger and say, you did it. But as you point that finger, point it back to you. The fact is, we have not met our duty to the American people.
But now we see a crisis. Ask any American, where is the crisis in immigration, and something like 90 percent of them will say, at the border. Before we deal with anything, we have got to stop the flow. That is why the House bill is so very important that we go forward on it.
You know, we took an oath in this House. The President of the United States took an oath. That oath was that we would, to the best of our ability, perform the duties of the office to which we had been elected and preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. We took an oath to do our job. Those people we hire to work for us assist us in doing that job.
Mr. Speaker, I am very concerned that as we rush to judgment on the issue of immigration, that we start talking about amnesty and we start talking about creating a program where people who have broken the laws of the United States are going to be given special privileges that even people who are born here don't get. There are things now being proposed in the Senate bill as to collecting back Social Security, having the Davis-Bacon Act apply to all of your wages, and unbelievable things where even every American doesn't have those benefits. Talk to my teachers back in Texas about some of their missing Social Security benefits they have been trying to get for, Lord, it has got to be 50 years. And yet we are looking at this and putting patches on it, and the patches are getting worse and the tire is going flatter.
Mr. Speaker, the executive and those on both sides of the aisle have failed. When we wrote the law in 1986, we had laws that pertained to crossing our borders and we didn't enforce them. We had laws that pertained to employers and we didn't enforce them, and the Congress failed in its duty to do that also.
I would argue the worst offender of all are the bureaucrats. But all that is beside us now. We cannot continue on with a system that doesn't work at the border, where some nights 16,000 people come across that border.
I went out and pulled up some of the old law books just to find a few things, because you hear people say well, they are not really breaking any laws. Shame on you. Somebody wants to make this a felony. I don't think anybody has ever looked to see what it is. It is a civil, not a criminal file for the first crossing. But it continues on. Illegal entry carries a punishment of fine and imprisonment of up to 6 months. Harboring undocumented aliens carries a fine and imprisonment of up to 5 years. Alien smuggling carries a fine and imprisonment up to 10 years. Those are felonies, 5 and 10 year sentences, in my opinion.
A crime that causes a serious bodily injury to any person, the penalty is a fine and a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. Reentry into the United States is a felony charge punishable with fines and/or imprisonment for 2 or more years. If reentry is after a previous non-aggravated felony, it is up to 10 years. If it is after an aggravated felony, it is up to 20 years.
Now, I would like to know, are we enforcing those laws? I used to sit in the courtroom and do a jail call every Monday morning. I would call the jail and we would bring people over and find out who was in jail. Inevitably, once, twice, three times a month, we would have anywhere from two to 20 illegal aliens in the jail. Inevitably.
We would call INS and tell them, we got some of your people here. You need to pick them up. They would say if they are there on Thursday, we will get them. They would all bond out on Tuesday and be gone.
Now, is the Immigration and Naturalization Service doing the duty that our laws gave them to do? No. We have failed to enforce the laws that are on the books today. So we are not in a panic to create laws to prevent these people from coming in here. We have laws we are not enforcing. Now the tide has become overwhelming for law enforcement. This overwhelming of us is what we are talking about. This is where the bleeding is. This is where the bleeding has got to be stopped.
The bill that we passed through this House, I would like to add things to it, were I given the opportunity. Hopefully there will be more resources for our Border Patrol, resources on the border, electronic surveillance, unmanned drones and all of the other things that technology provides for us today, to help us stop this invasion.
I use the term ``invasion,'' and I don't take that hesitantly. While I was there, I saw a film of what now we are being told were drug dealers coming across the border in what looked like to everybody there Mexican military uniforms, carrying satchels of drugs with automatic weapons and vehicles. Now, it has not been resolved as to exactly who those people are, but, you know, if it looks like the Mexican army, I wonder if it is? I think we ought to know that. I think we ought to have an answer to that.
Most of Europe went to war over an invasion in 1939 and it ended up being World War II. I am concerned about the invasion across our southern border. I am concerned we are not enforcing the laws.
I am convinced that the solution to this problem is to do our job, and if we do our job and enforce the laws that are in place and make a conscientious effort to study the best possible solution for every one of the multiple problems that exist in this immigration and border security issue, let's stop the bleeding at the border and then let's put the good minds in this House on both sides of the aisle to work in cooperating to come up with real lasting solutions, and not forgetting that we have laws we can enforce now as we come up with solutions for these other things.
That is basically the way I view this thing.
I want to yield to the gentleman from California (Mr. Rohrabacher), who also would like to address this House on this important issue.
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Mr. CARTER. Reclaiming my time, I want to thank my colleague for joining us here tonight. He is always a very calming influence when he addresses the House, and I am always fascinated to listen to him speak.
This is my whole premise that I was talking about, Mr. Speaker, is that it is time that we take a deep breath and address one of the biggest issues that this House has had to deal with in a long time and an issue that actually can be, as has been explained here tonight, a nation-changing issue.
I personally have a great, as I started out saying, have a great compassion for our neighbors to the south. And I welcome good, honest legal citizens of this country as does everyone. And no one in this House is talking about the Trail of Tears massive deportation to the border. We have issues that have to be addressed. But the problem, the hemorrhaging, the bleeding is at the border today. That is where we have got to go and get this slowed down and get it ready. And then you know I would like to hear quite honestly from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. We have never really.
The Democrats' plan for immigration does not seem to be out there today. I would like to hear their solution to the problem. I would like for both sides of the aisle to sit down and say, let's work this thing out intelligently. And I will give you just one example, a couple examples not being addressed. One right now, there is a tremendous backlog on background investigations of people who are coming and have come into this country illegally to get their visas extended. They have to have a background check or to get into this country with a background check. That thing could take anywhere from 18 months and the backlog just once they start processing it, it can take up to 18 months or longer.
Right now in my part of Texas, our San Antonio office is working on the years 1998, 1999 and 2000. We are going to take that system in its present condition and dump 15 million-plus people into that system for background checks? Or do they get to miss that part that the legal immigrants have to take?
Health exams have to be done for everyone that comes in the United States. What are we going to do to examine the health of 15 million people in this country to make sure that there are not communicable diseases in this country? This is an issue that is part of our law. It is required by law. If we are going to process them, that needs to be here.
Then a question I do not hear anybody addressing is what do we do to the people who do not join our program? We love America and we think everybody comes here to be an American citizen. But I can tell you from personal conversations with people who have come here, I have worked building fences side by side with folks that, I never asked them, but since they did not speak any
English and they told me they were from Mexico, I kind of figured they were illegal aliens. I can tell you, they didn't come here to be American citizens. They came here to work. And their families were back in Mexico, and they really wanted to go back there. And they sent 80 percent of their paycheck home because they were able to live on social services over here so they can afford to do that.
Now, what about the guy who says, well, that is great, but I do not want to pay back taxes and I do not want to pay a $200 fine, and I do not want to get a health check, and I do not want to get a background check; I will just stay in the shadows. Are we addressing that issue? Are there going to be consequences to those people who continue to stay in the shadows? If you care about the people that come in here, do we want anybody in this country starting their life on American soil under the cloud of criminal behavior?
But we know that 15 million people crossed our borders and broke the law. I did not say felony. I did not give a classification. I said broke the law. We have laws in this country, and it was broken. Let's be intelligent. Let's be smart. Let's seal the borders, put our resources there and then study this program and get a system that we can administer and we can work and we can pay for.