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Public Statements

Border Security

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. QUAYLE. I thank the gentleman for yielding. I really want to thank him for his leadership on this issue and for working with me to put in similar provisions within the Homeland Security Reauthorization, which we hope will come to the floor in August because it's a serious issue. As the gentleman from Utah was talking about, the amount of destruction, both on the environmental side and just on the human side, from these drug smugglers and human smugglers in very environmentally sensitive areas in the Sonoran Desert is devastating.

If you think about the amount of carnage that has happened just south of the border--you have over 30,000 people that have been killed by drug cartel violence in the last 5 years. Last year, I was with other members of our Arizona delegation. We were going down to the border and seeing what was going on, and we were at the Douglas point of entry. And the night before they had videos of this, which was about 70 yards from the border, where a fake police cruiser that was disguised by the drug cartels stopped just south of the port of entry, entered into an establishment, unloaded hundreds of rounds of ammunition in there, killing a handful and wounding dozens of people.

Now these are the same types of people who are taking advantage of the weak spots within our border. If you look at Arizona specifically, the Arizona border, there are about 305 miles of Federal lands in Arizona. About 83 percent of the 370-mile Arizona-Mexico border is Federal lands.

Right now, the Border Patrol agents do not have the ability to actually go onto those Federal lands unless they abide by the Memorandum of Understanding, which says they have different definitions of when they can actually go and apprehend somebody. But the fact of the matter is that these drug cartels, these human smuggling operations, are nimble. They are watching every move that our Border Patrol agents are making. They are noting where the weak spots are and where the surveillance equipment is. And for our Border Patrol

agents to actually go and move it to areas where the traffic has increased, they have to go to the Department of the Interior to get prior permission. There's a GAO study that said at one point in some instances that could take up to 4 months--4 months for our Border Patrol agents to actually move a piece of surveillance equipment or to move motorized vehicles onto various areas of Federal lands.

Now, I understand the need to protect the delicate Sonoran Desert, but it is getting decimated--absolutely decimated--by these human traffickers and drug traffickers, who do not care about it. I personally believe that our Border Patrol agents and customs officials will do a much better job in actually being sensitive to these areas while trying to actually protect the citizens of this country from the violence that's going to be streaming across the border.

This is such a big and serious issue that not that many people know about, and Mr. Bishop of Utah has really taken the lead on this, and I commend him for it. I look forward to working with you on these issues going forward because we need to get a handle on our border, and the violence is going to spill over. In order to do that, we have to allow our agents the ability to have the unfettered access to our Federal lands so they can actually do their job and protect the borders.

Again, Mr. Bishop, thank you very much.


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