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Public Statements

Illegal Immigration

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, as is well known by my colleagues and most Americans, over the last several days, the Governor of Arizona signed legislation, which is controversial, which is designed to affect the issue of illegal immigrants into the country across the Arizona border. That legislation was enacted by the Arizona legislature and signed by the Governor because of the frustration the Governor and the legislation and, indeed, the majority of my constituents have over the Federal Government's failure to carry out its responsibility to secure our border. Many viewed this as a civil rights issue. There is no intention whatsoever to violate anyone's civil rights, but this is a national security issue. This is a national security issue where the United States has an unsecured border between Arizona and Mexico which has led to violence, the worst I have ever seen, and numbers that stagger those who are unfamiliar with the issue--such as 241,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended on the Tucson sector border of Arizona in the last year. Do the math. You have three to five times that number who actually cross, so we are talking about a million people crossing the border illegally.

This is not just a human smuggling issue. This is a drug issue. Our borders are unsecured, and the flow of drugs across the border is staggering. Last year in the Tucson sector alone, there were over 1.3 million pounds of marijuana apprehended, 1.3 million pounds on the Arizona border. The numbers of methamphetamine, cocaine, and other drugs crossing the border by the drug cartels is staggering. The Los Angeles Times reported last week that over 22,000 Mexican citizens have been killed in drug wars against the cartels. Have no doubt, this is an existential government between the Government of Mexico, the drug cartels, and the human smugglers who work together, and the security of the United States.

The violence has already spilled across our borders, and unless we get it under control, it will get worse. Three American citizens were murdered in Juarez, Mexico as they were trying to find their way home. A rancher in southern Arizona was murdered as he was out patrolling his own property. The people in southern Arizona have had their rights violated by the unending and constant flow of drug smugglers and human traffickers across their property. Their homes are being broken into. Their rights are being violated, their rights as American citizens to live in a safe and secure environment, as most of the pundits who are criticizing this legislation enjoy.

The fact is, our borders are broken. They are not secure. It is a Federal responsibility to secure our borders. It is not being done. Senator Kyl and I have a 10-point plan that can be enacted immediately in order to secure the borders and secure them quickly.

Before I ask my colleague to comment, there is a question about whether we can secure our borders. Of course, we can. We have seen in the Yuma sector of Arizona a dramatic decrease in illegal crossings and drug smuggling. Again, I want to mention to my friend from Arizona, have no doubt that this is not just a human smuggling problem and people trying to cross the border illegally to find work. This is a human smuggling cartel aligned with the drug cartels that are sending drugs across our border and killing our citizens. The cartels and the human smugglers are a direct threat to the security of this Nation. Two weeks ago a highly organized syndicate that takes people who are coming across our border illegally to Tucson, puts them in vans, taking them to Phoenix and distributing them all over the country. These individuals come from as far away as China.

Have no doubt of the extent of the problem, the organization, the cruelty, the barbarity of the challenge we face, of the drug cartels and the human smugglers that are just south of our border, and the State of Arizona has been bearing the brunt of it. The administration has failed to act. We need 33,000 Border Patrol agents down on the border. We need the National Guard, 3,000 troops. We need to take a number of other steps Senator Kyl and I will describe. This situation is the worst I have ever seen. It is time for the Federal Government to act. If you don't like the bill the legislature passed and the Governor signed in Arizona, then carry out the Federal responsibility to secure the border. You probably wouldn't have had this problem.

The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Arizona.

Mr. KYL. May I ask my colleague, who has been down on the border fairly recently. He went to the Tucson sector which is a sector that has about half of all of the illegal immigration in the entire United States coming across; is that correct?

Mr. McCAIN. I have. If it was 241,000 last year that were apprehended, there are estimates that as many as five to one are not apprehended. So that could have been over a million people who crossed the Arizona border illegally in 1 year. That is staggering in itself.


Mr. McCAIN. May I ask unanimous consent, with the indulgence of my friend from Hawaii, for 3 additional minutes.

The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. KYL. Mr. President, I have made my point here. Senator McCain is absolutely right. If you want to do it, you can do it. You just have to apply the will and the resources. What worked in the Yuma sector could work in the Tucson sector, and almost all of those things are included in the 10-point proposal Senator McCain and I have made.

Mr. McCAIN. Could I also emphasize that the violence is worse than it has ever been. Mr. President, 22,000 Mexicans have been murdered on the Mexican border. American citizens have been murdered on our border. This is no longer a situation where someone from Mexico or some other country decides they want to cross our borders. These are highly organized, highly sophisticated, well-equipped, well-trained, armed cartels. Drug and human smuggling cartels coordinate with each other through these corridors. They have better communication than our enforcement agencies due to our lack of interoperability. They have sophisticated equipment. They are even sending drugs over using ultralights.

This is a struggle for the existence of the Government of Mexico. This is a struggle on our side of the border for the fundamental obligation any government has; that is, to provide its citizens with secure borders. Right now, our citizens are not safe, and therefore the Federal Government should be fulfilling its responsibilities to provide the necessary equipment and manpower to secure our borders. As my colleague from Arizona just pointed out, it can be achieved. It is now a massive failure on the part of the Federal Government. They should also fund it.

I thank my friend from Arizona, and I thank my colleague from Hawaii for his indulgence.

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