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Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, the amendment would fund the immediate deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to provide additional security since the situation on the border has greatly deteriorated during the last 18 months. The National Guard troops would remain on the border until the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Governors of Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas, determines that the Federal Government has achieved ``operational control'' of the border.
Since I put this amendment together, we have been informed that the President will be asking for an additional $500 million to support border security and up to 1,200 National Guard to be sent to the border. I appreciate that. I think it is a recognition of the violence on the border which has been really beyond description in some respects, particularly on the Mexico side.
I appreciate the additional 1,200 Guard being sent, as well as an additional $500 million, but it is simply not enough. We need 6,000. We need 3,000 across the border and an additional 3,000 National Guard troops on the Arizona-Mexico border. I say that because of my many visits to the border, my conversations with the Border Patrol, and the time it will take to train an additional 3,000 troops just for the Arizona-Mexico border.
I have colleagues waiting with other amendments, but I hope my colleagues appreciate the extent of the violence on the Mexican border and the dramatic increase in that violence that has taken place over the last several years. There was a time not that long ago that someone who wanted to come across our border illegally could do so if they were fortunate and would come across by themselves. That is no longer possible. We now have highly organized human smuggling rings and drug cartels that are working together. They are using the same routes, and unfortunately the so-called central corridor, the Arizona-Mexico border, has been where a great degree of violence and certainly a preponderance or a majority of human smuggling and drug smuggling has taken place.
I would refer two numbers to my colleagues. Last year, in the Tucson sector of the Arizona-Mexico border, there were over 1.2 million pounds of marijuana intercepted on that border, to the point where I was told that the U.S. attorney didn't prosecute anything less than 500 pounds of marijuana intercepted. One other number: Last year on the Tucson sector of the Arizona-Mexico border, 241,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended trying to cross the Mexico-Arizona border. If you figure we catch one out of four, one out of five illegal immigrants who are coming across, that is about a million people, a million illegal immigrants coming across the Tucson sector, destroying people's property, destroying our wildlife refuges, and causing an environment of total insecurity amongst the citizens who live in the southern part of my State.
I understand the controversy associated with the legislation that was passed by the Arizona Legislature and signed by the Governor. By the way, that legislation is less severe than Federal law--certainly nothing like the Mexican law regarding treatment of illegal immigrants--and it has been badly mischaracterized by administration officials who have admitted they haven't even read the bill. But the important aspect here is that I support that legislation because the Arizona Governor and Legislature acted in frustration because of the Federal Government's failure to carry out its responsibilities to secure our border.
Again, 1.2 million pounds of marijuana, 241,000 illegal immigrants, and then the situation is compounded by the incredible violence--22,000 Mexican citizens have been murdered on the Mexican side of the border in the last 3 years in the struggle between the Mexican Government and the drug cartels. It was predicted by many of us, as we saw this violence increase, that sooner or later it was going to spill over the border or affect American citizens. Three American citizens were killed on the Mexican side of the border as they made their way home to the United States. In March, a third-generation Arizona rancher was found dead on his property near the Mexican border, reportedly shot by a suspect who may have illegally entered our country. So the point is, this violence is at such a level that it makes a compelling argument for us to secure our border.
I understand the liberal media and the mainstream media who have talked about our situation in Arizona. Most of them have never been within about 100 miles of the border. But the point is that the citizens in my State deserve the right to live a secure existence--not to be threatened, not to have their property overrun, not to have their homes broken into. A mother came to me at a townhall meeting and said: I am afraid to drop my children off at the school bus stop.
This violence on the border is unspeakable. It is one of the least reported aspects of this whole issue, and I still am puzzled as to why. People are beheaded and their bodies hung at the overpass in Tijuana. A wedding took place not long ago, and the drug people came in and took the groom, his brother, and a nephew, and their bodies were found a few hours later. A young man who was part of the capture of one of these drug lords was lionized by the Mexican Government, and his whole family was murdered. This is a degree of brutality that threatens the very existence of the Mexican Government.
I am proud we are working with the Mexican Government. I hope all of our colleagues understand we have spent over $1 billion. The corruption level that exists in Mexico today reaches to the highest levels of government. So really the only institution the government can rely on is the army.
When we send the Guard to the border, we are told the presence of the Guard has an effect on these drug cartels. By the way, the drug cartels are watching everything on the border. They have the most sophisticated communications. They have sophisticated intelligence capability, and they are very efficient in their organization. So the Guard troops on the border in the past have had a very salutary effect. That is why we need 6,000 of them until such time as we can train additional Border Patrol and customs people to address this issue.
So I wish to emphasize to my colleagues that we should not forget, to start with, that it is the United States of America that is creating the demand for these drugs, and at some point we have to address that issue too. But in the meantime, this violence that is taking place in Mexico on the Mexican side of the border, which has spilled over on our side, can only get worse until these drug cartels are brought under control and the human smugglers are brought under control, and that will only take place when our border is secure.
We can secure the border. The Yuma sector, as my colleague from Arizona has pointed out, has taken measures, including incarceration of illegal immigrants, including increased fencing and surveillance. By the way, UAVs are a very important part of this equation. So we have been able to drastically reduce the illegal activity, both drug and human smuggling, in the Yuma sector of the border. My colleague from Texas will testify that in, I believe it is the McAllen sector of Texas, there has been significant and dramatic improvement. In San Diego, there is dramatic improvement. So those who feel we can't secure our border, there are great examples of our ability to do so with people, with fences, and with technology. We can do these things.
We have to get an additional 6,000 troops to the border before there are more tragedies such as happened with Rob Prince, the rancher from Arizona, or the deputy all the way up in Pinal County, some 50 miles from the border, who was shot in the stomach, in pursuit of one of these drug people, with an AK-47.
So I urge my colleagues and I urge all Americans to understand that we in Arizona didn't want to have this law passed by the legislature. It was done out of frustration because of the Federal Government's failure to exercise its responsibility. It is a Federal responsibility, something that the Secretary of Homeland Security emphasized in a letter, when she was Governor of the State of Arizona, on March 11, 2008. It says: Clearly, Operation Jump Start has been highly effective--on and on about how important the help in insuring the border and bringing the Guard to the border has been. That is true today.
So the Arizona Legislature and Governor did not wish to pass this legislation. It was enacted because the people of Arizona had an insecure border and live, in many cases, in an insecure environment. An obligation we have to all of our citizens is to allow them to live in a secure environment.
By the way, this law the Arizona Legislature passed is far less severe in many respects than the Federal law and certainly far different from the law in Mexico, which is very stringent in its provisions and penalties for illegal immigration.
So we need relief in our State. We need relief in many places across the border. The drug cartels have to be stopped. Working with Mexico, I believe we can, over time, bring the border under control and rid the scourge of these drug cartels and these human smugglers.
Let me finally say, because I know my colleagues are waiting, that the treatment of human beings by these coyotes, these human smugglers, is atrocious, unspeakable. They take them and they pack them into--well, the other day, a U-Haul rental truck was apprehended. Sixty-seven human beings were packed inside. They take them to these drop houses. They hold them for ransom, and then after they are ransomed, sometimes they mistreat them even further. The human rights abuses that are taking place in these human smuggling rings is atrocious beyond description. That alone should compel us to get our borders secure and to provide for a legal system of immigration into our country.
We welcome immigrants. We welcome our Hispanic heritage. We cherish it. Spanish was spoken in our State of Arizona before English. But we have to get the human smuggling and drug cartels under control because the security of our citizens and our Nation depends on it. So I urge my colleagues to support the amendment.
I yield the floor.
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