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Public Statements

Comprehensive Immigration Reform--Continued

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. ROHRABACHER. Thank you very much.

First of all, I would like to make sure that those people who are reading the Congressional Record or those people who are watching this presentation on C-SPAN, or our colleagues who are in their offices, watching from their offices, should take note of the courage and the hard work that Congressman King has put into this issue. And it is not because Congressman King or those of us who have worked with him on this issue have any animosity towards anyone else. Congressman King is a strong Christian and knows that hatred and animosity is not a positive virtue.

But to the same degree, what is, then, Congressman King's motive? Why does he put up with this? Why does he work so hard? Because he loves the people of the United States of America. That's our job. We were elected by the people of the United States to watch out for them and to watch out for their families. That doesn't mean that we don't like people in other countries. That doesn't mean that we don't like or have some animosity towards someone who has come here from another country, and even those who come here illegally. But our first loyalty and our first consideration and our heart-felt support has to be for those people who are Americans, whether they were born here or whether they came here as legal immigrants and are now part of our American family.

There is nothing wrong with supporting your family. That doesn't mean you're being selfish by not selling your car or giving away your children's birthright to some other person down the block. No, you should be taking care of your family. And we Americans are a family that's made up of every race, every religion, and every ethnic group.

The people who are the real racists in this whole debate are the ones who want to, first of all, tie illegal immigration with legal immigration. The fact is that they say, well, look, the immigrants, this and that. The fact is, when you want to put those same groups together, that is not what this debate is all about.

Mr. King and I know full well that what's happening here today is an effort to take, not people who have come to our country legally, not to change their status legally, that's not my effort, that's not Mr. King's effort, but the effort that's going on is to take 11 million to 20 million people who are in our country illegally, whose presence oftentimes is a threat to the well-being of people that have elected us to watch out for their interests, meaning the American people in our country, that the only issue is what are we going to do with those 11 to 20 million people.

If we continue to take away from those American citizens, those seniors or those kids in school, with our very limited dollars right now, and we have 22 million people who are out of work, and we continue to take away from them and give benefits and jobs to people who come here illegally, who are not part of our family, we can expect even more and more and more people to come here until it is a disaster, which it already has been a disaster for many middle-income and lower-income Americans. It will be a disaster to them.

What we are trying to do is help secure the well-being of our people. As I say, I think that's done out of love. It's done out of the idea that you don't basically give away everything to somebody who is down the street when your own family needs some food. That's not being selfish.

I recently have been through some hardship in my family, in terms of medical hardship. I've been able to visit and see what our hospitals are like. Our hospital system in the United States and our health care system is stretched to the breaking point. We're stretched to the breaking point. We cannot afford, if we try, to take care of all of the people in the world who can come here, whether they come here illegally or not. If someone has come here illegally, we cannot afford to take care of all of their health needs without actually hurting our own people. That's what this whole debate is about.

I was down in El Salvador. Ask Congressman King. I was in El Salvador about 3 years ago. And I'll never forget, my wife and I were sitting there at the airport, and in about 20 minutes there's a direct flight between LAX, Los Angeles, and El Salvador and back. We were there in El Salvador waiting to go back to LAX. Twenty minutes before the flight took off, out come the wheelchairs, and about 20 infirm seniors are wheeled into that plane. None of them were Americans. They were, obviously, all El Salvadorans.

Now, no one can tell me today that those people, if they're still alive, are not consuming enormous amounts of health care dollars that should be going to take care of our own people. That doesn't mean that I have any animosity towards them. I wish the people of El Salvador well.

We need to make sure that we are watching out. The fundamental issue today is whose side are you on, or who's watching out for the people of the United States? And I would ask all of us to join Congressman King in making sure that the American people are not damaged by this irresponsibility that we have towards people from another country who have come here illegally.


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