Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

The US-Mexican Border

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. CARTER. Madam Speaker, I've been coming up here on the first day of each week that we're back in session to talk about the rule of law and how the rule of law needs to apply to those of us who serve here in Congress, those who serve in the administration, and that it is the glue that holds our society together. And if we, in turn, are going to circumvent the rules of law, then we, in fact, are chipping away at the very foundation of the American culture.

Today we're going to shift gears a little bit because we've talked a lot about what's going on up here and some folks that have had some problems following the rules, but I don't think we've ever seen a more glaring example of a violation of the rule of law and the failure to enforce the law than what is happening on the southern borders of the United States.

You see right here on May 17, 2010, Real Clear Politics, Threat on the Border with Mexico: Possible Terrorists Entering the U.S., and it's a picture of people climbing over a barrier, a very strange-looking barrier, to be honest with you. It's got a big hole in the middle of it. I don't understand exactly what it is. But we've had an issue, and those of us who have been in this Congress for a while have been very concerned, and I, in particular, have been very concerned about this situation down on the Texas-Mexico border, the New Mexico-, Arizona-, and California-Mexico border.

So I want to go back with you for a while to when I first went with parts of the Homeland Security Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee to look at the border between Texas and Mexico. We've made trips. We've gone all up and down that border. I happen to have been on the one that was in my home State down on the border. I went with my colleague on the other side of the aisle, Henry Cuellar, down to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, and Laredo, Texas, across the border. And we talked with the Border Patrol about their issues, and that was way back in, I believe, 2004, maybe 2005.

I sat out in the dark with a Border Patrolman along the banks of the Rio Grande with his surveillance equipment, and it was in the wintertime, but it wasn't cold. It doesn't get real cold down in that part of Texas. ``Cool'' would be the word. It was not a whole lot colder than it is right now outside in Washington, D.C. And he and I watched, I think it was, 2 miles in either direction of the border. Right there, right next to what I would call the city, because right across the road was a housing project, were apartments, were hundreds of people walking in the streets. It was 10 o'clock at night, and there were people everywhere.

I talked to him about the illegal crossings coming into this country, the danger. And it was a dangerous place. In fact, while we were on the bridge between Nuevo Laredo and Laredo, John Culberson picked up a flattened bullet head slug, if you will, from probably a 9-millimeter or something like that, that had flattened out when it hit the bridge, the international bridge between Mexico and the United States. He carries it around in his pocket with him now to remind people that this is dangerous business that our Border Patrol is dealing with down there.

Well, since that time, international drug cartels have moved to the border of the United States, and they are fighting a border war just a stone's throw from the places where American citizens live up and down the border from Brownsville all the way across to San Diego, to Tijuana. The crime will take your breath away.

I spent 20 years in the judiciary. Many of my colleagues did the same. I have seen lots of crime. I have tried lots of cases involving horrible situations. But while we were down there on that trip with my friend Henry Cuellar, we saw pictures in the Nuevo Laredo newspaper of a woman who was the wife of a police official in Laredo who had been kidnapped and burned alive, and she had been set down in a business chair very much like these ladies sitting over here that are taking down the minutes or are recording the proceedings, sat in that chair, had three tires full of gasoline shoved down around her body, and she had been set on fire and burned up alive.

That was done as a threat to the police department in Laredo to either get in line with what the criminal element in Nuevo Laredo wanted to do or suffer the consequences. That was a shocking thing. I carried that back up here and showed it to our committee members. Some of them were ill from looking at it. And I pointed out that this is a lawless society we have created on this border.

Now I have a theory, and I think my theory is based on some pretty good police discoveries we have made over the last 25 years in police work. During the time when they cleaned up New York City and made it a safer place to be, they discovered, and this was the chief of police and the mayor, at that time it was Rudy Giuliani, that a bad criminal environment breeds crime. So if you have a neighborhood where there are old junk cars in the front yard, there is trash in the front yard, they haven't taken things off the stoop, broken windows, that is a neighborhood without pride, and the criminal element breeds in that neighborhood. But if you get the criminal element out of there, you get the criminality of that environment out of there, the neighborhood improves. And you put a beat cop there that allows them to know that law enforcement is there, law enforcement is involved, then the public can feel confident, and they start to take care of their neighborhood and in turn make the crime move elsewhere. And they cleaned up New York City with that basic theory. They went back to the old, walk-the-beat cop theory that came out of the 19th century.

Now, why do I mention that? Well, people say to me why do you think the cartels who were in Colombia and other parts of the country, why did they come and settle along the southern border of this country? I thought about it a lot. And it came to me that, you know what, lawlessness breeds lawlessness. So what were we creating on the border when we weren't enforcing some basic tenets of the law? We have laws that say you can't come into this country except legally. And millions of people, whether for good purpose or bad, and many, many for good purpose, I am not saying it is not, just for a job, but they were breaking our laws. And they were coming into this country. And where was this community of lawlessness? Along the Mexican border.

That community of lawlessness, which was just sneaking people into the country and people sneaking into the country so, as many will tell you, just so they can get a job to feed their families. Of course there was a little criminal element, and a little more criminal element, and all of a sudden we have estimates of four or five drug cartels from Central and South America fighting a drug war from Brownsville to Tijuana, from Matamoros to Tijuana on the other side of the border. Twenty-three thousand people have been killed in the last 18 months in that war across the border. Mexico has brought in every kind of resource that they can afford to bring in to try to stop this, but it is out of control and it is bleeding across the border into my State and the other States that border Mexico.

We are having a great conversation today in our country about a law that was passed by the State of Arizona. And I would argue that the State of Arizona, that law has a real clear message to the Federal Government: You know what, we have been waiting 10 to 15 years for anybody to realize how bad this is.

Now back in 2004 and 2005, we were beefing up the Border Patrol and pouring homeland security money into building fence. We had resources that were dedicated to trying to stop this flood, but the flood was still coming. But they were doing the best they could, and they were catching a million, million and a half a day, but the estimate was for every one that got caught, 10 got across. The flood was ongoing.

There are many reasons and faults you can lay upon that: employers were hiring these people and maybe they shouldn't; we didn't have a good identification system for people to know whether or not someone was an illegal alien in this country; and the argument goes on and on. But the reality was we were creating a lawless border from Matamoros to Tijuana. And that lawlessness drew in organized crime in the form of these cartels, and those cartels are slaughtering people, fighting it out on the streets. Sometimes gunfire is as prevalent on the border towns across the river from Texas as it is in Iraq or Afghanistan. Just recently, 35 people were killed in a shootout in Juarez, across the border from El Paso, in one day. Many of those were Federal officers of the Mexican federal police force and the army.

You say well, what does that have to do with us? Phoenix, Arizona, one of the places where a lot of folks up north go to get some warm weather in the wintertime, a really wonderful town. I have been there, it is a great town. It reminds you of a cross between the west of New Mexico and the west of California blending together there. It was a laid-back group of people. They enjoyed life. But now they are the kidnap capital of the United States. And it is not Americans kidnapping Americans, it is illegal people coming across our border and starting a big business of kidnapping people. They kidnap them and hold them for ransom, and if they don't get the ransom on time, they send them a hand or an arm, and ultimately maybe a head of their loved one to let them know that they didn't pay the money, and that is what happened to their loved one. We don't live with that kind of horror in this country, but there it is right there in Phoenix, Arizona. And that means that this lawlessness that exists on the border of this country, the southern border of this country, is bleeding over into the United States. We have got to do something about it.

So the Arizona folks, they wrote themselves a law. And they basically said, they basically defined some stuff that Federal officers have had the ability to do for a long time. And they talked about the fact that if Washington is not going to do something, we are going to do something to try to find out who these people are who are coming across our border illegally. We have international people talking about us. We have the United Nations talking about a law in Arizona.

Well, I want to throw something out, and I see the

gentleman from Utah (Mr. Bishop) is here. And I am happy to have my colleague and classmate to join me tonight. It pleases me to no end, but I want to start off this conversation by pointing out something. Mr. Lamar Smith, who serves on the Judiciary Committee, told to a group of us last week, a statistic that he produced, which is very eye opening. We are criticized by the United Nations. We are criticized by China. We are being criticized by Russia. We are being criticized by EU countries over there about our horrible immigration policy.

Over the past year, we have brought in legally through the legal process in this country over 1 million immigrants. By the way, that number and more has been going on for just about as far as you can look back in time and see in this country. More than 1 million came into this country last year. You say, why do I mention that? What is the big deal about that number? I have news for you, my colleagues, here it is: That number equals more immigration than all the rest of the world combined. So these people that are criticizing the United States and our citizens, who are acting like we should look to some others as example, there are no other great examples of people who welcome immigrants but the United States because the United States by itself welcomes more than all the rest of the world put together.

Now, that ought to make us stop looking at ourselves as evil people. We, through a legal process, bring in more immigrants to our country and welcome them to be law-abiding citizens and come here and help make our country what it's always been, the great melting pot of America; and we do it legally. And they wait their turn. They get in line. They fill out the paperwork. They pay the fees. They do all that it takes to get here legally, and they are legal immigrants, and there are more of them than all the rest of the world combined has in their countries, added together.

With that as our premise, that we are not evil people, we are people who care about immigrants, I'd like to yield such time as my friend, Rob Bishop from Utah, would like to spend in discussing this matter.

Mr. BISHOP of Utah. I thank the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Carter) for introducing this issue and yielding the time.

Madam Speaker and the gentleman from Texas, I think there are three terms I want to kind of emphasize over and over because it is the crux of the concern we have on our southern border: once again, it is illegal drugs. The bulk of the illegal drugs coming into this country are coming over on Federal lands in our southern border;

The second one is human trafficking. And all the violence, especially the violence against women that is assumed with that concept of human trafficking coming across our border;

And the fact that we have gaping holes in our border security, which is almost an open invitation for potential terrorists to come into this country.

Now, the same issue, I need to be very clear, of our southern border is a concern in our northern border. But for the purposes of discussion today, I want to talk about the southern border and those three concepts: illegal drugs, human trafficking, and potential terrorists coming into this country. Because the bottom line is, Madam Speaker, Border Patrol is working. They're doing a great job. They are successful in urban areas, which means that most of the illegal traffic, the drug cartels, the human traffickers, potential terrorists, are now coming in rural areas along our southern borders because simply it is much easier.

You can look at this map from California to El Paso, Texas. Everything that is colored is land owned by the Federal Government. Over 40 percent of the land along our southern border is Federal land. And 4.3 million acres of that Federal land is in wilderness category. This is the area in which we are having the illegal drugs and the human traffickers and potential terrorists coming because, flat out, it is easier to do that. And it's easier simply because our own Department of the Interior, which controls this land, to a lesser extent the Forest Service because they control lesser of the land, have simply placed as their number one policy for control of the land, realizing or protecting endangered species and wilderness categories, which simply means they are looking at the law very literally and, basically, hiding behind it.

And one of the documents sent by the Interior Department says, Federal agencies are mandated to comply with a variety of land use laws, and compliance with that law, meaning wilderness and endangered species, both insulates those entities and agencies from legal liability.

Now, what we're asking people to do is simply what I think should be common sense. But, unfortunately, the Interior Department and, to a lesser extent, the Forest Service, don't use common sense. They're hiding behind legal niceties.

We realize that Homeland Security, which is in charge of our Border Patrol, gets this point. I was reading in the paper just today of a farm in Vermont that is now under potential threat of eminent domain by Homeland Security to take it over to beef up our border security along the north, which is so ironic because in the south that same entity that wants to beef up the security in Vermont is prohibited by another agency of government to do so.

It is ironic because, as you see in this picture, this is part of the Federal land we have in the south, and you can there are vehicle barriers that are placed in this land. I want you to know those vehicle barriers are not to stop the drug cartels from coming in or the human traffickers. Those barriers are to protect against the Border Patrol driving into endangered species area and wilderness designation. It is to stop us from doing our job.

Now, once again, I'm trying to emphasize again, we're talking about the illegal drugs coming in here, the violence and human trafficking and the potential, once again, of terrorists coming into this land.

One of the eight entities along our southern border, and I read this in the paper on Sunday, it's the brown piece, if you can see it in Arizona--I hope I pronounce it properly--the Tohono O'odham tribe in Arizona, roughly about 70 miles of that border, recently participated for the first time, their tribal police and the FBI on Saturday of last week with the largest drug enforcement operation in tribal history.

What they said when they raided homes to stop illegal drugs from coming in is that no longer is the tribe satisfied with having a corridor for the drug cartel coming into this country through tribal lands. They were setting down a marker that the tribe was going to enforce the border against illegal drugs coming into this country, which is the exact same thing, the message that should be sent out, but unfortunately the Federal Government isn't. The Department of the Interior, Forest Service, are not sending that same message out. Instead, as was mentioned by the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Carter), Department of the Interior is holding Homeland Security for hostage, demanding money.

Now, this is one of those strange coincidences. The Congress appropriates money both to Interior and to Homeland Security; and then all of a sudden we find negotiations between the two. Interior is demanding mitigation fees from Homeland Security. It's all coming from the same pot. Common sense would say we work that

out ahead of time. But since 2007, at least $9 million have gone from Homeland Security over to Interior as mitigation fees. And apparently they have agreed to $50 million to do more than that, to try and protect these wilderness designations against incursion by Border Patrol because of all the damage they may do.

Look, this is where the irony takes place. This is the wilderness we are trying to protect by keeping Border Patrol out. The trash you see in here was not made by Americans visiting this wilderness area. It was not made by the Border Patrol trying to protect the border and security. It was made by the illegal drug cartels and, once again, the human traffickers coming through and leaving the litter behind. In our effort to protect the land, we are destroying the very land we are trying to protect. And once again, this is just, flat out, not common sense.

I could give you some quotes from Secretary Napolitano, a letter she sent out at one time. She said, One of the issues affecting the efficacy of the Border Patrol operations within wilderness is the prohibition against mechanical conveyance. The Border Patrol regularly depends upon these conveyances, and the removal of such advantage is detrimental to the ability to accomplish national security missions. While the Border Patrol recognizes the importance and value of wilderness area designations, they can have a significant impact on Border Patrol operations in border areas.

For example, it may be inadvisable for officers' safety to wait for the arrival of horses to pursue, for pursuit purposes.

One of the major challenges in deploying our SBInet technology to remote locations along the border is ensuring compliance with environmental regulations. Environmental regulations may be subject to varied interpretations, depending on what level of the agency or the organization is involved. The removal of cross-border violators from public lands is a value to the environment, as well as to the mission to land managers. That's what we should be doing.

Here is also where the human element comes in here.

2002, Park Ranger Kris Eggle was shot and killed while in the line of duty while pursuing a member of the drug cartel who had crossed into the U.S. border illegally through one of those areas.

In 2008, Border Patrol Agent Luis Aguilar killed in the line of duty after being intentionally hit by a vehicle that had illegally crossed into the United States through Federal lands again.

Rob Krentz, a long-time pioneer down in the Arizona area. This is an elderly gentleman who just had his back fused and had one hip replacement and was scheduled for another, so the ability to either fight or flee was not in his vocabulary. He was murdered along with his dog, once again by a member of the drug cartel who came across on Federal lands which prohibits the Border Patrol from going into those lands because of endangered species. And when the murder took place, he went a long, circuitous route to get back to Mexico, going once again through those exact same lands that are not open to the border security.

For example, I showed you the picture of the barricades. Well, this is the area in which the murderer entered this country and exited the country. Now, once again, those barricades are not to stop the drug cartels and the murderers from coming in. Those stop the Border Patrol from having mechanical access to these particular areas.

The Krentz family sent out a release that said, ``The disregard of our repeated pleas and warnings for impending violence towards our community fell on deaf ears that are shrouded in political correctness, and as a result we have paid the ultimate price for their negligence in credibly securing our border lands.''

Because this family came and testified before Congress in 2007, these are the words they told Congress at that time. ``The Border Patrol should not be excluded, nor should the national security of the United States be sacrificed, in order to create a wilderness area that is not even roadless, as required by law. It has almost produced a state of war on drugs. It is now too dangerous to hike. There are break-ins, high-speed chases, fatal and nonfatal shootings. The pristine areas of the proposed wilderness areas have already been trashed. Drug smugglers should not take precedence over honest, hardworking Americans who recreate and whose livelihood is damaged.'' They estimated $6.2 million in damage to their ranch and water lines because of illegal foot traffic.

And finally, they gave a plea that was not heard. ``We are in fear of our lives and safety and health of ourselves and that of our families and friends. Please defend the law and our rights. We live it. We have been refused legal protection for our property and our lives when dealing with border issues and illegals. We are the victims.''

Mr. Krentz is no longer here, once again, because we put a higher priority on the sacredness of the wilderness characteristic of land and endangered species than we did on simple common sense of controlling the border to stop the drug cartels, the human traffickers and the rape trees that go along with them, and the potential of terrorists.

A couple of weeks ago, once again, a deputy was wounded on wilderness land where he was forced to leave his vehicle and walk into the wilderness area, by the rules of how we handle this land, where he walked into an ambush, again by a drug cartel. He lives, but he was wounded for it.

We have an area down in Arizona called the Organ Pipe National Monument, one of those creations of executive fiat that we did so well with. Two-thirds of that national monument within the United States is off limits to Americans because we do not control it. The drug cartel controls that territory. We are talking about the sovereignty of the United States. We are giving it up along the southern border to the bad guys.

These are people who aren't picking tomatoes or milking cows. These are drug runners. These are human traffickers. These are people who create violence of unspeakable levels against women at all times. These are the potential terrorists. And we, because of our inaction, are giving up vast stretches of American property to the drug cartel so that not even Americans can go into these national monuments. There is no common sense. No rational person would ever say this should be our policy. But indeed, we have come to that particular policy.

I am very disgusted with our Secretary of the Interior who talks very good about this issue, but has yet to change the policies, and people are getting shot and killed down there. We mentioned the Arizona law. I think if the law that has been proposed by the ranking Republican on both Judiciary and Homeland Security and Natural Resources and myself, who is the ranking member on the Public Lands Subcommittee, if we were to have that policy, it would have eliminated a great deal of the fear and anxiety that was the primary motivation of this particular law.

If people realized the priority of this Congress and this Nation is to secure the border to stop the bad people from coming in, to stop the drug runners and the human traffickers and the terrorists, perhaps there wouldn't be the need to create some kind of State entity. But that's what we should be doing. And what is so sad in this Congress is during this past year both Houses of Congress have recognized that.

The Senate added language to an appropriations bill that said, despite our other rules, border security and the securing of our southern border will be the highest priority on our southern border. It was passed in the Senate, stripped in committee before it came to the floor, and therefore was not added to our law.

We here in the House took another bill, and on a motion to recommit, we added almost the exact same language; overwhelmingly passed here in the House in a bill that now sits in the Senate and is now going nowhere. Both Houses, bipartisan, have recognized that this is common sense, this should be our joint policy, but as of yet, we have yet to move forward on that.

Secretary Salazar at one time went to the southern border. We issued four challenges to him. I would like to reissue those challenges:

End the Interior Department's policy of having Homeland Security and Border Patrol having to gain permission for access to all territory;

Two, acknowledge that environmental damage and destruction is happening by all these illegal crossings;

Three, stop impeding the Border Patrol's access both electronically and on foot to these particular areas, and;

Number four, end the Interior Department's practice of extorting mitigation funds from Homeland Security.

Those are four things that could be done administratively and should be done administratively today. If we could do that, we would know that we would put a great dent on the illegal drugs that are destroying this country, the illegal violence that is taking place on that border, and the potential of terrorists, as we simply have gaping holes in our southern border--and, ironically enough, in our northern border--that need to be stopped simply by saying our number one goal in the southern border is to stop this illegal activity by securing the border. And after that, after that, then we can move on to other issues.

But if a nation is going to be sovereign, we must control all our lands and we must control our border. And there is nothing that should stop us from doing it. Common sense tells us that. Unfortunately, common sense is not the rule today. It must be the rule today.

I yield back to the gentleman from Texas.

Mr. CARTER. And I thank my friend. Reclaiming my time, I thank you very much for that explanation. And, in fact, I learned a lot from the explanation.

One of the questions that I was always curious about and should have asked is these vehicle barriers that they kept talking about were part of the fence, and they weren't really building a fence, but they were building vehicle barriers where the vehicles couldn't get back in there. And it was my impression from what I had learned from law enforcement that vehicles weren't their problem; it was foot traffic that was their problem. Now I learn the vehicles kept law enforcement's vehicles out.

Mr. BISHOP of Utah. If the gentleman would yield?

Mr. CARTER. I certainly do.

Mr. BISHOP of Utah. It is one of those peculiarities that has happened that some of the barriers that used to be used and are now surplus because a bigger fence is now in place have now been put into other areas. And indeed, it's been a barrier to stop Americans and the Border Patrol from going into road areas in these particular areas.

It is not necessary for us to have a fixed fence along the entire border. But where we do not have a fixed fence, we need to have the electronic devices necessary for monitoring that area, especially the hilly areas, the very mountainous areas along the southern border. That makes a whole lot more sense. The problem is, if once again you have identified wilderness characteristics in that land, you may not put the electronic recording devices on wilderness land. Therefore, the Border Patrol is forced to move their recording devices area, which once again creates these huge gaps in the security. That's what we are trying to say.

There is nothing wrong with trying to protect the wilderness, trying to protect endangered species, but first of all, we have to stop the drugs. We have to stop the human trafficking. We have to close these gaping holes for potential terrorists coming in here. If we can't do that, the wilderness characteristic has no meaning. It has no value to us. That has to be our number one priority. Common sense tells you that.

That's why I am proud that on the bill that we have, Representative King from Homeland Security, Representative Smith from Judiciary, Representative Hastings from Resources joined together, along with 40 other cosponsors, to try to push this through again and make clear that what we are doing is simply what common people would say is the right thing to do.

I yield back again

Mr. CARTER. I think common sense is more in short supply in this place than any place else on Earth. If we had more common sense that makes sense, and you know you mentioned something that--I don't like to use shock value when talking to the American citizens but they ought to know when we say lawlessness on the border, you mentioned something that is a horrible thing. The rape trees.

Now, with all of your imagination just think about this. These are like monuments to women who have been brought across the border from the other side of the border, and then the people who brought them rape them before they move on, and they hang their undergarments on the tree as a monument to that rape. And our folks who patrol the border call those ``rape trees.''

Now, if that doesn't get your attention about lawlessness, I don't know what's going to. But when I learned about that, you know--and then I talked to a man from Rock Springs--which is a pretty darned good ways from the border in Texas--and the interesting thing is, if you look at that map that Mr. Bishop laid up there, you didn't see any Federal lands in Texas. Texas is the only State that entered the Union retaining its public lands.

But it even makes for more problems for us, too, because all of the land along the Rio Grande River in Texas belongs to Texans--ranchers and farmers and so forth. And we start dealing with barriers. That even creates a bigger problem in some ways by--because these folks, it's their private land and you have to deal with them.

So whatever you do, the issues of our law, they stay in the way. But putting up barriers to interfere with the enforcement of the law I think is aiding and abetting criminal activity. But then I wouldn't mind taking it to a jury. I think it would be an interesting argument.

But the stories that you just related to me--John Culberson, also a Member from Texas, related that he had seen in New Mexico and Arizona lookout posts that are established on the Indian reservations and on the public lands where they sit up there and look for the Border Patrol so they can radio back and bring people across at various areas. It's like they own that. It's like that's their ranchero. That's their place on the border. We are having our country invaded. And it's bad enough to talk about people coming over, all of these poor people coming over to get a job. True. Absolutely. Some great folks coming over trying to get a job. But we could do better. We could figure out a way to get them over here without this lawlessness on the border, because if you're not going to defend your country, then what good are you? What good is this place if we're not going to defend our country?

And your description--in our land. They are invading our land that belongs to the United States of America. My Lord. We ought to be willing to defend that land.

I yield back to my friend

Mr. BISHOP of Utah. If I could just amplify that point in some small degree. And once again, as the gentleman from Texas recognized, as you notice, there's only one national park along the Texas side. Everything else--which is an added benefit because Texas now cooperates a whole lot easier than unfortunately some of the Federal agencies do that are from New Mexico through to the Pacific Coast. But you're right.

There are, within these drug cartels, they do have lookout spots with night vision, machine guns. They have all of the equipment that's necessary as they now are engaged in a war amongst themselves.

The deputy who was recently shot was the 12th shooting that took place in this area. The bulk of those shootings are not necessarily against Americans but cartel versus cartel. The difference was this is the first one that actually got hit with one of these shootings. And what is more illustrative of this situation, as this deputy was basically lulled into an ambush, and especially as our good friend, the rancher down there, who was doing nothing more than simply traveling on his land in a cart because he did not have the ability to move very freely, in the past drug cartels when approached would disappear. What we're finding out now is there's a change of attitude. All of a sudden now they are not running away. They stood their ground, and they shot the rancher, and they shot his dog. They stood their ground, and they lured the deputy into an ambush and shot him.

There is a change in the attitude that is taking place there. And as the gentleman from Texas said, this is a change that's not taking place in Mexico--which would be bad enough--this is taking place in the United States. And still the Federal Government does not change its policies and procedures to combat that.

We seem as if there are land managers who are satisfied with making sure that drug cartels control our territory.

In Oregon Pipe National Monument, indeed the land manager down there, Mr. Baiza, seemed to be more concerned about the fact that the Border Patrol, instead of doing a Y to back up and go around, was going in a circular pattern on his land than he was about the fact that two-thirds of his land is controlled by the drug cartel, and Americans cannot go there unless they are escorted with an armed escort. And even then--it is amazing that as part of our publicity to attract people to visit public lands, we tell them, You can't go here. That seems like a bizarre concept, and it certainly doesn't define sovereignty as I thought sovereignty was defined.

I yield back to the gentleman who was spot-on in that observation.

Mr. CARTER. Here's another thing. We're talking about the rural areas, which, you know, one time we were having a hearing in Homeland Security; we were talking about helicopters, and we were talking about drones. And many people were asking about it. So I asked them, Okay, Now, there's at least some people that--we had Duncan Hunter at that time who was saying we not only needed a double fence for the entire border, but we needed a high-speed highway in between it so that the Border Patrol could respond quickly.

And so I asked this guy about these helicopters. I said, Okay, what do you use these helicopters for? He said Well, we go out and we spot these large groups of immigrants that are crossing in Arizona and New Mexico and some in California. I said, Oh, so if our electronic equipment gives you a signal that there's something there, you go out there and you look at them from your helicopter and you swoop down. No, no, no. We don't swoop down. We check to see if they have adequate water and food supplies. And if they don't, we drop them water and food supplies so they don't die in the desert.

Well, that's very compassionate. But now I hear from my friend in Rock Springs who was talking about sitting on his back porch of his ranch looking down into sort of a drawdown behind his place, and his wife said, Look there. That looks like 20 illegals crossing our property. Get in the truck and go down and run them off. And he said, Mama, wait a minute. And he picked up his binoculars and looked, and he saw at least the two at the front of that line of folks had automatic weapons over their shoulder, and the two at the end of the line had automatic weapons over their shoulder. And all of them had large backpacks on their back, obviously carrying drugs.

And he said, Mama, you don't shoo those people off. They'll kill you. We'll call the Border Patrol. Hopefully they will do something about it. He called them. They didn't get there. They tried but they didn't get there. They were too far away.

But here's something from CNN. This was May 18, 2010. Tuesday, May 18. That's pretty current. Twenty-five people have been killed over this weekend in drug-related violence in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez. Among those slain were 30 Federal police personnel, including three officers who had been engaged in controlling the ever-increasing spate of violence in the north Mexican City. Ciudad Juarez in Tijuana state is now the world's murder capital with near a thousand murders occurring since January 2010.

This city lying close to the border with Texas of the United States has witnessed a surge of violence in recent times over control of the key drug smuggling routes to the U.S. between rival gangs of Sinaloa and Juarez cartels.

That's a clip out of the newspaper. That's day before yesterday, right? Or today. That's yesterday. Yeah. No, it's today. That's today. That's out of today's newspaper. But that's about this last weekend.

Now, we can't stand still and let this happen on our border. We are sending soldiers into harm's way in places around the world to stop violence and 23,000 people have died across the border in a place where, by the way, by Texas standpoint, many of us call--used to be one of the places that we dearly loved to visit. We have friends that we know of across the border. In my lifetime, I've been across that border more than a hundred times, probably 500 times.

So although there were places you didn't want to go over there, there still was--they were still a sister city. People forget that El Paso-Juarez is a city of I think almost 3 million people. It's a huge metropolitan area. That's a big city over there across the border. And look at the violence that took place this weekend.

We see the shows on television with the gangs shooting at each other. But they are happening across the border from major cities like El Paso.

I yield back.

Mr. BISHOP of Utah. I appreciate that, and I understand we do have some sensitivity to the issues that are taking place in Mexico, and I am proud that the Mexican government is starting to crack down on the illegal drug cartels on their side of the border. And it is a violence that is spilling over. And in some respects, we don't have the ability to control that.

But where we do have the ability to control--and once again I have to go back to the fact that our land policy is now the prime area in which the violence is taking place, in which the drug cartels are trying to go, where we do have the ability to control, it is simply wrong for us not to do that. It is wrong for us to have as our national policy--it's wrong for us to have any other national priority than securing our southern border for the safety of our people.

And once again, what we are talking about is the worst kinds of people we want to keep out of here. We're not talking about stopping, as you mentioned very early on, stopping all immigration in this country. There are certain kinds of entrepreneurial spirits we want to have in this Nation. The drug cartels are not that person. The human traffickers are not that person, are not that. Those who are bringing in potential prostitutes are not that. Those who are actually doing the rape trees with the monuments--just unthinkable violence--those are not the kind we're after. And the potential terrorists carrying a bomb or any other kind of device is now something that we must have as uppermost in our consideration.

And that's why when we have the opportunity at least to establish policy and procedures on the Federal level that deal specifically with Federal land, it is just flat out wrong of us not to insist that we do that.

Mr. CARTER. If the gentleman would yield for a moment. Question: When America retains or takes public land, aren't we as a body of Americans stewards of that land for this Nation? Isn't it our job to take care of the property that the Federal Government has? Isn't that the job of the Interior Department, to be a good steward of that land, to make sure that land thrives and it is safe and it is a part of the body politic of the whole country's ownership?

Now, how can they possible think that it is for the well-being of the American populace to have our land that we own as a body politic full of drug dealers, rapists, and prostitute smugglers? Why in the world won't they open the roads up to our law enforcement to go in there and stop this?

Mr. BISHOP of Utah. The gentleman, if I may, asks a pertinent question, a two-part question. First, I wish the Federal Government didn't own quite so much land; I would be happier with that. But if they are going to take control of that land, they have to take control of that land.

In deference to some within the Department of the Interior and Forest Service, because once again I think common sense would say if people were of like mind and people were of good purposes, they should be able to sit down and work these situations out. This is not rocket science. This should be common sense. But in deference to some of them, the law to which they look for guidance says they have to manage it for wilderness designation and endangered species aspects first. That is the way they are interpreting it. I personally think they could reinterpret that very easily administratively if they chose. But that is the interpretation, which is one of the other reasons I think the law that we have proposed, the law that passed in the Senate but didn't get over here, that we passed over here but didn't pass in the Senate, needs to be put in place so we make it very, very clear that on these public lands, indeed, public security is the number one priority, and that we want to stop the drugs and the violence from coming across here.

Mr. CARTER. And to yield to another question: Isn't it a fact that the kind of people that they are letting in there without any law enforcement being able to stop them are not what you would call good citizens for taking care of the wilderness nor good citizens for protecting endangered species?

Look at that picture you are holding up there: bottles, cans, clothing. It looks like the city dump outside of the city here. Now, is that protecting our wilderness?

Mr. BISHOP of Utah. That's the irony of the situation in which we find ourselves. The very land we are trying to protect is the land that is being destroyed by people who don't care about the quality and purpose of the land. And this is what we must stop. This is, unfortunately, what the reality of today is. And that is sad. And it should be one of the reasons why our policies should be very clear and very open, and why, when you talk to people, they shake their heads in amazement, because this just does not make common sense.

I think you may have some statistics about that.

Mr. CARTER. Just real quickly, we have this issue with the Arizona law. And I think everyone says that the Arizona law really is an outcry from Arizonans saying: if you are not going to do it, we are all going to get involved.

But maybe the administration is setting a policy or a mindset here that is causing some of these things, because public opinion versus the opinion of our Speaker and our President seem to go in opposite directions.

Public opinion, and I believe that after they heard what you said tonight, they would even say it louder, they would say: my Lord, if we are not enforcing our borders and all this horrible stuff is happening down there, somebody has got to. And I don't blame Arizona for saying we want to have the right to ask questions.

So look at these polls: 51 percent, Gallup 59 approved; McClatchy Newspaper 61 approved; Fox News 61 approve. And yet President Obama; Attorney General Eric Holder; the Secretary of State, Posner; and the Department spokeswoman, P.J. Crowley, all seem to take the position that this is some horrible infringement upon goodness and mercy and the Constitution of the United States.

Well, maybe we have got to get our minds set straight. We have got to start realizing that our job as Members of this Congress, this whole body, we take an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. And in that Constitution, it tells us one of our responsibilities is to defend our Nation against all enemies.

These are enemies of our country. If you don't believe it, I will be glad to take you down to places in Texas where the abuse of the drugs that are killing our children are clear to be seen on the streets, and you tell me if that's not an attack on our country for those drugs to come pouring in here. And you tell me the rapes are not an attack. Maybe it is happening to poor innocent people from foreign lands getting smuggled in here, but the rapes are taking place in the United States; and that aggravated sexual assault is taking place on those hundreds of women. That is a serious felony offense in every jurisdiction in this country. And we know it is going on, and we are using regulations to hold the hands of those who would protect those innocents. It drives you nuts to listen to this stuff.

Mr. BISHOP of Utah. I appreciate your emphasis on the public attitude there. I do not have a window into the hearts of what Arizona legislators may or may not have done. But in the back of my mind, I cannot keep telling myself, or I cannot keep wondering, that if we as a Federal Government had actually taken charge of our southern border and our northern border, if we as a Federal Government had stopped the most heinous of individuals who are freely coming in here now, perhaps the anxiety level or the anger level would not have made necessary the particular Arizona statute. Now, that's pure speculation on my part as well. But I cannot help thinking that if we were doing our jobs and getting all of the government agencies--Interior, Ag, Forest Service, and Homeland Security--to work together and do the right thing for people, just to take a commonsense approach, that we would lower at least the rhetoric of the discussion, and we would raise the security feeling of people, and maybe people like Rob Krentz would be alive today to be with his family.

Mr. CARTER. Well, I thank the gentleman for coming down here and actually enlightening me on some facts that I was not aware of because, like I say, we retain our public lands in Texas. So we look at Texas, the issues--it's just as serious on the Texas border, but it's a different issue on the Texas border. But they're all serious. The incursions into Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California are getting worse every time they occur, and it's time for us to unite and defend our borders.

We need an immigration policy that works. I'm for that. I think everyone is. But I'm not for rewarding criminal behavior. I will never be rewarding criminal behavior. We need to stop the border and seal it up and then come up with an immigration policy that is fair and takes into mind that the law has a purpose in this country. It is the glue that holds this society together.

I thank my friend for coming and joining me.

Skip to top

Help us stay free for all your Fellow Americans

Just $5 from everyone reading this would do it.

Back to top