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Public Statements

Immigration Reform

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. VARGAS. Mr. Speaker, I rise in favor of comprehensive immigration reform.

I would like to thank my colleague from Illinois, who spoke earlier about his experience, saying that he believes in comprehensive immigration reform. I do, too. I just wish that when he was asked, or when he asked the Border Patrol agent, ``If there was one thing you could bring back to Congress, one thing, what would it be?'' I wish that that gentleman would have said his Bible, because that's what he should have said, ``Bring your Bible. That will give you the best guidance. Bring your Bible.''

I believe, Mr. Speaker, I'm allowed to read from the Bible. Is that correct? No one will come and tackle me? I'm new at this. It's my first year here, and I hope I'm not violating any law. But if I am, I'm going to do it anyway.

I would like to read from Matthew 25, because Matthew 25 speaks to the judgment. I think it's very important for us to read this section.

It reads like this:

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, escorted by all the angels of Heaven, He will sit upon His royal throne and all the Nations will be assembled before Him, and then He will separate them into two groups as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. The sheep He will place on His right hand, the goats on His left. The King will say to those on His right, ``Come. You have my Father's blessing. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.

``I was a stranger and you welcomed me.'' Who is the stranger? Who is the stranger among us that we welcome? I'll tell you who the stranger is among us who we welcome. The stranger is the wife of the soldier that we spoke to 3 weeks ago here in Washington when he came and he testified and said:

I'm not afraid of dying in Afghanistan or Iraq. I've been on three tours of duty. What I'm afraid is that my wife will get deported because she's undocumented, and then who will take care of my children?

She is the stranger, the soldier's wife.

Who is the stranger? Who is the stranger among us? Who is this least among us? I'll tell you who it is. It's the child and the parents who are here, where the child is born here. He's an American citizen, but the parents weren't, so the parents can get deported and you break the family apart. We deport the parents and we don't know what happens to the children because they go to strangers. We break this family.

Who is the stranger? Those parents, that child. How we treat them is how we're going to be judged.

We have an opportunity here before us, and I'm very thankful now for the churches in this country. The Catholic Church for many years has been saying, We need humane, comprehensive immigration reform. They've said it loud and clear. And now the evangelical churches are out there saying the same thing. God bless them. And I know that they're praying, and I know that my parish is praying that we'll all open our hearts to this.

I have to tell you, I haven't been here long, but I do get the opportunity to pray with my colleagues on the Republican side, and they are great people with great heart, and I hope that God speaks to them at this point in time and says: The stranger is the soldier's wife; the stranger is the child whose parents are going to be ripped away from them. He is, in fact, the people
that died crossing the border because they want a better life for themselves. Those are the strangers. We are going to be judged on how we treat them. So we have an opportunity here.

But also, stepping apart from that, people say, But it's illegal, what they've done is illegal. You know, the law is interesting. I happen to be a lawyer. There are two ways to look at the law. There's the law that says it's malum per se--it's bad or evil in itself. Malum per se in itself. Murder is malum per se. It's always evil, it's always wrong to kill.

On the other side you have malum prohibitum. What is malum prohibitum? Malum prohibitum means it's bad or wrong or illegal because we prohibit it. For example, if you drive 56 miles an hour in a 55-mile-an-hour zone, you've broken the law. Have you done anything illegal? Yes, you have. Have you done anything immoral? No. The road was built to go faster than that, your car was, the brakes are good. You violated the law. What do we often do? In fact we change the law and we say 55 miles an hour doesn't make any sense. We change it to 60 or 65 or 70. I've been through Texas; now it's 75 there. I'm from California. We only have 70. Why? Because the law doesn't make any sense.

Our immigration law doesn't make any sense. So, yes, they've broken the law, but a law that doesn't make any sense. Let's change the law. Let's open our hearts. Let's take this Bible and let's take a look and see what it says to us. What it will say is this: that how we treat the stranger is how we are going to be judged as a Nation.

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