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Immigration Reform

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KING of Iowa. Mr. Speaker, it's my privilege to be recognized to address you here on the floor of the House of Representatives.

I've listened to the dialogue over the last, oh, 30 to 60 minutes and I'm a little bit surprised that some of the advocates for the comprehensive immigration reform bill wouldn't simply look at the impact on a lot of their friends and neighbors. We see the highest unemployment in the African American community. That's the direct competition that comes in if they grant amnesty on the Senate side. I ask the gentleman to reconsider that. The best thing that would be would be more jobs for people that are here that are Americans.

I see the gentleman from Texas has arrived. Generally, there is a pretty good narrative that comes forth from the gentleman from the Beaumont area, so I would be very pleased to yield to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Poe).


Mr. KING of Iowa. I thank the gentleman from Texas for his message. It's one that I hope, Mr. Speaker, is well heard across America: You don't have to pay them to hate us. They hate us for free. They hate us for our ideology and for our success, for all of those reasons.

Mr. Speaker, I came here to the floor tonight to talk about the immigration issue here in the United States Congress, primarily that has emerged in the United States Senate out of the Gang of Eight.

We know that there are some of these policies that are being worked through in meetings behind closed doors in the House of Representatives. They seem to admit to those meetings, but they're not very public and we don't know very much about what they're talking about. I just get nervous when I see bills written in secret.

The Gang of Eight wrote their bill in secret and popped it out last week or so, a little more, and we began to look through 844 pages. Surprise. Well, shortly after the bill was dropped, then the chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the Senate calls hearings and begins to do the fastest process that they can legitimately get done to try to move an immigration amnesty bill out of the Senate before it gets so many holes poked in it that it sinks of its own weight.

I take you back, Mr. Speaker, to: How did we get here? What was the scenario? What's the path of immigration? I will go through the fast-forward version, backing this up to 1986.

In 1986, it became a political issue that we had too many people in the United States illegally. There was an effort made to resolve the issue and the effort was this:

Part of the people in the argument said they wanted better border security and they wanted better immigration enforcement. The other side of the argument said we've got to do something to legalize people that are here that--I don't know if they used the language then if they were in the shadows or not. Those two arguments came together here in this Congress. And with Ronald Reagan sitting in the White House, he received significant pressure from the people around him that urged him to sign the 1986 Amnesty Act. Now, that was one of only two times that Ronald Reagan let me down in 8 years. But he accepted the arguments that the only way to get agreement on enforcement and to be able to respect and restore the rule of law was to make the people that were here illegally legal. The tradeoff was amnesty in exchange for enforcement.

So, Mr. Speaker, the projection originally was 800,000 people in this country illegally that would get instantaneous legalization status, and then that number of course grew to 1 million. Roughly, that was the projected amount at the time that the bill was debated in Congress. We know that, instead, there wasn't 1 million people. It was 3 million people that ended up receiving amnesty from the deliberations in this Congress, the tug-of-war that came together, and it's a product of compromise. I would point out that compromise isn't always a good thing. This would be one of those examples.

The compromise was, in exchange for the promise of future enforcement, Ronald Reagan would sign the bill to instantaneously start the process to legalize the people that were illegally in the United States. Sounds familiar. Well, he signed the bill in '86. What we got was instantaneous legalization of the people that were here--triple the number that was projected--and the effort to get law enforcement was undermined continually. It was undermined in a number of ways: through litigation, through lack of will. As it ground forward, the respect for the rule of law, especially with regard to immigration law, diminished in each year.

As we've seen, the enforcement of our immigration laws has diminished in each administration, from Ronald Reagan through Bush 41, to Bill Clinton, to Bush 43, and now to Barack Obama. That's the path that has taken place.

Just a year ago, the debate was: Would Congress pass the DREAM Act, the DREAM Act being the legislation that I'll say the chief advocate for it in the Senate has been Senator Durbin of Illinois. He has identified with it more than anyone else. But the DREAM Act is: those kids that came here, say, before their 18th birthday--and that goes up and down to 16, or on up to a little older than that. Those that came here when they were relatively young, maybe due to no fault of their own--theoretically, someone who was born 5 minutes before in a foreign country that was brought in by their parents as a little baby would get a legal status. And, by the way, in-State tuition discounts so they can go to college, get legal status, and be able to work in the country.

In other words, it was amnesty for those young people who presumably came into this country not of their own will or perhaps not of their own knowledge that it was against the law to enter the United States illegally, or those that might have been brought into the country under a visa of one kind or another, overstayed their visa and didn't have a legal status anymore. In any case, the younger people given a path to a legal status and a legal green card here in the United States, that's the DREAM Act.

A year ago, Mr. Speaker, it was not something that could pass the United States Congress. They long wanted to get the DREAM Act passed, but they could not because we stood on the rule of law and we said we are not going to reward people who break the law with, let's just say, a de facto scholarship to a university--and in California, it would be a free ride. I made the argument that how can you legalize people that are here illegally, refuse to enforce the law, the clear directive of the law, and have people sitting in a classroom in, say, California with a free ride while someone who has lost their husband or wife in battle in Iraq or Afghanistan, who finds themselves the sole breadwinner for their family, wants to go to California--I'll use as the example--and have to pay out-of-State tuition in a California institution, who is a widow or a widower of someone who has given their life for our country, they're sitting there next to someone who is in the United States illegally that gets a free ride because they've been declared a California resident.

I could never reconcile the huge inequity, the injustice of that idea, and neither could a majority of Americans or a majority of the United States Congress. That's why the DREAM Act wasn't passed. Just a year ago that couldn't be done.

The President said on March 28 of 2010, when he was speaking to a high school group here in the Washington, D.C. area, they asked him: Why don't you just pass the DREAM Act by executive order, implement that? And the President's answer was: No, I don't have the constitutional authority to do so. That is a legislative branch activity. And he said: You're smart, you're educated, you know that in the three branches of government Congress' job is to pass the laws, my job as President, the head of the executive branch, is to carry those laws out and see to it that they are enacted and enforced, and the judicial branch is to rule on their constitutionality to tell us what the laws are understood to mean.

That was the description that the President gave March 28, 2010. He said he didn't have the authority to implement a DREAM Act by executive authority. Congress wouldn't pass it a year ago; the President said he couldn't do such a thing constitutionally, March 28, 2010. And here we've come so far that in June or July--and I don't have those dates in front of me, nor committed to memory, Mr. Speaker--the President went back on his own advice, word, oath of office and counsel when they issued an executive memorandum.

He held a press conference at the White House within a couple hours of the executive memorandum and said: We are going to legalize all of these people that are here within these age groups that fit the definition of the DREAM Act--an executive edict, not exactly an executive order, because it was only a memorandum between the Department of Homeland Security that they put out--and that they would follow this guideline. They created four classes of people that were defined by age and by status, but four separate classes of people created in this memorandum.

And the President manufactured a work permit out of thin air, Mr. Speaker, just simply made it up. All of the visas that exist in law, of course, are a product of Congress. And it's our exclusive authority to define immigration law. It's the President's job to enforce the laws that are on the books.

Now, the previous President had the opportunity to veto immigration law. It's all signed into law and it is the law of the land. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The President violated the Constitution and his own definition of congressional executive and judicial authority when he issued this executive memorandum that granted this legal status under the DREAM Act principles. That happened, I would say, June or July of last year.

Now we've come a quantum leap. As we go forward, we put together a meeting and organized the effort to take the President to court on that issue. You cannot have a President that's going to legislate by executive edict. But he did do that; and that case, Mr. Speaker, has worked its way through the courts. And I'm here to announce in the Congressional Record the results.

The name of the case is Crane v. Napolitano. This references the lead plaintiff as Christopher Crane, who is the president of the ICE union, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement union. He has been a stellar individual on this. He stood boldly and strongly, and he's taken the threats and the buffeting that comes from all sides of this argument. He's testified before Congress. He has stood at a press conference and asked to be recognized to ask questions of Senators over on the

Senate side. And he has flawlessly walked his way down through this thing by standing for the rule of law and for the Constitution and his own oath to uphold the law, as we have taken that oath here in this Congress to uphold the Constitution.

This decision that came down yesterday from a Federal District Court in Houston in the case of Crane v. Napolitano, there were 10 points that were made in this litigation, Mr. Speaker. Nine of the 10, the judge found clearly down on the side of those who support the Constitution and the rule of law and rejected the executive branch's argument that they had prosecutorial discretion to decide who to prosecute and who not to prosecute.

Time after time the judge wrote: When Congress writes in statute the word ``shall,'' shall means shall. It doesn't mean may; it means shall. That means that when an ICE officer picks someone up and identifies them as likely to be in violation of immigration laws, they shall be placed in deportation proceedings. That's a ``shall'' that's in the law that was upheld by the Court yesterday in their decision on this multiple-page decision. So nine of the 10 components of the argument, several of which I made early on after that issuing of the executive edict last year, nine of 10 were upheld.

The 10th argument was one that the President sent it back to the executive branch and said: your argument is so illogical and baseless and convoluted and tied to footnotes, go back and rewrite your argument. But the implication or the tone of that is once that's rewritten, he's probably going to find it. I guess I don't want to put words in a judge's mouth. I'm optimistic about how that final component of the ruling will be.

In any case, it's almost a 100 percent resounding decision that says: Barack Obama and his appointees cannot write immigration law out of thin air. They can't do so by executive memorandum, they cannot do so by edict, they cannot do so by executive order. Congress writes immigration laws, Mr. Speaker, and the President's job is to take care that those laws be faithfully executed. He has not done that. He's defied his own oath of office. The Federal Court has ruled on the side of article I, legislative branch of Congress. We will see the impact of this decision.

I think, Mr. Speaker, that now it's time for the Gang of Eight to reassess as a result of this lawsuit. It's time for the open-border advocates in this Congress to reassess as a result of this lawsuit. They had concluded, the people on my side of the aisle, Mr. Speaker, appear to have concluded that Republicans didn't win the elections they anticipated winning last November. On the morning after the election, some of our otherwise wise folks on our side of the aisle concluded that Mitt Romney would have been President-elect if he just hadn't said two words, ``self-deport,'' and so now there has to be an effort to try to, let's say, start the conversation with select groups of people across the country that would require that amnesty be passed to ``start the conversation.''

Mr. Speaker, I would urge all of those to reassess the situation and think about this. They were seeking to conform to the President's edict on his DREAM Act life. They were seeking to adjust U.S. law under the premise that the President refused to enforce existing law, and the only way that we could get law enforcement would be to conform to the President's wishes and rewrite the law and conform it to the President's political agenda.

I thought from the beginning it was a ludicrous position to take, to accept an idea that the President can, first, write a law by executive edict; and, second, Congress has to conform. Now, I've seen it happen and participated in it in this Congress, Mr. Speaker, when we have a piece of legislation and it finds its way over to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court comes down with a ruling, and then Congress takes a look at the language of that Supreme Court's ruling, and we will bring a piece of legislation to conform with a directive from the Supreme Court. I think that's an appropriate thing for us to do, provided we agree with the Supreme Court's decision and it's clear, logical legal analysis. When we have done that, I've agreed.

An example would be the language on partial-birth abortion that banned it. The first time it went to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court ruled that the definition of ``partial-birth abortion'' was too vague. So we went back and fine-tuned that language, passed it out of the Judiciary Committee, passed it out of the House and the Senate, President Bush signed it, and it was upheld when it found its way back again before the Supreme Court.

That's okay, and it's an appropriate and proper thing for this Congress to do--to conform our legislation to a Supreme Court decision when it's a proper one. But when the President defies the law and the policy established by the United States Congress and makes up his own as he goes along by executive edict and press conference and for Congress to accept the idea that the President of the United States directs us, either implied or literally, to conform the law to the President's wishes, I would remind all of those people who happen to think that, Mr. Speaker, that we each have our own franchise.

Our oath is to uphold the Constitution. It's not to conform to the President's whims or wishes. It's to represent the best decisions for this country and to represent the people in the districts that we represent. We owe them our best judgment and our best effort, but we don't owe anybody an obligation to conform to the President's wishes, will, or whim. That has to only conform with our best judgment, individual best judgment, collectively measured here in this Congress--House and Senate.

So I think that a Congress that would be willing to give up its legislative authority and let that power go over to the executive branch by conforming the idea of amnesty that the President has brought forward in his edict I think our Founding Fathers did not imagine. They did not imagine that this branch of government would be so willing to give up this power. Our Founding Fathers imagined that each branch of government would jealously guard the power that's granted it within the Constitution in the three separate branches of government. They expected that Congress would assert its authority in competition with and in a static tension with the President and with the courts. The courts, by the way, were designed to be the weakest of the three branches of government. That's a longer discussion.

The Gang of Eight, though, brought their bill out. What is it, Mr. Speaker? It is this:

It is amnesty first. It instantaneously legalizes everybody that's in the country illegally with a few tiny, little exceptions, and that's if we run across them randomly and if they happen to have committed a felony or three misdemeanors. Other than that, it instantaneously legalizes everybody who's here illegally whether they committed a crime of illegally crossing the border or whether they overstayed their visa or whether they committed the crime of document fraud. Those kinds of things are just simply not enforced by this administration. They are treating immigration law as if it's a secondary crime.

An example of that would be, if you've got States that say that you can't pull somebody over for not wearing their seatbelt, but if they're speeding and if it happens to be they're not wearing their seatbelt, you can write the ticket for that. That's kind of the equivalent of what's going on here.

The President essentially issued this edict that, if somebody is guilty of a felony and if they're unlawfully in the United States, then we will go ahead and deport them; but otherwise they would get similar treatment as, oh, let's say, the President's aunt, who was adjudicated for deportation and who lived in the country illegally for years after that. Finally, she surfaced again, and they granted her asylum status. If they'd sent her back to Kenya, she would have apparently been subject to kidnap and ransom, so they gave her asylum. I guess it's an undecided case with the President's Uncle Omar, who was picked up for drunken driving. He had already been adjudicated for deportation. We would know if he were anyplace other than still in the United States of America.

The law didn't apply to the President's relations, and I guess in order to conform with that, the President would like to exempt everybody from the same law that his family has been exempted from. I disagree. Congress writes the laws, and the President's job is to carry them out.

In this Gang of Eight's legislation, it's instantaneous amnesty for almost everybody, and that is breathtaking in the magnitude of it. They say 11 million. I say 11 million, 12 million, more likely 20 million. Here is what I would guarantee you, Mr. Speaker: if they move legislation out of the Senate and if it does come to the House, along the way, if any of us introduce an amendment that would cap the legalization number at their estimated number, they will never support such an amendment because they know it's a lot more than 11 million people. It's instantaneous amnesty for 11 to 20-or-more million people, but that's not good enough for them.

They also had to write into the bill that, if you have previously been deported and if you find yourself waking up in a country that you're legal to live in, we still send an invitation through this bill that you should apply to come back into the United States because we really didn't mean it, Mr. Speaker. We didn't really mean it, the idea that people were deported for violating immigration law. If they'd like to reapply, unless they have a felony conviction or three misdemeanor convictions, they're going to give them a path to come back to the United States. So this isn't just amnesty for those who are here now. This is amnesty for those who have been sent home as well--an absolute open-door policy.

And the trade off is--what?--amnesty first for the promise of enforcement. It's the same thing that came along in 1986 and multiple times since then--amnesty for the promise of enforcement.

The promise of enforcement is that Janet Napolitano is to produce within 5 years a plan to get 90 percent operational control of the critical sectors of the border that she designates, the 90 percent of those that we see, of course, because you can't count those that you can't see. So they want to be able to catch 90 percent of those that you can see. We don't know if they're going to turn their eyes the other way, but here is what I know: we are never going to see the enforcement side of this. It's amnesty first, a promise of enforcement second. That has never worked.

If they were serious, they would go to work and secure the border, shut off the jobs magnet, restore the respect for the rule of law. We would know in this country if there were respect for the rule of law restored, and at that point, I'm ready to sit down and talk. I'm ready to have that conversation but not absent the reestablishment of the rule of law, and that means border control, serious border control. We've got the resources to do it, Mr. Speaker. It's not that we don't have it.

We're spending over $6 million a mile on the southern border. You can build a four-lane interstate across Iowa cornfields for $4 million a mile. You can buy the right-of-way; you can engineer it; you can design it; you can do the archeological and the environmental; you can grade it; you can put the drainage in; you can pave it; you can paint it; you can shoulder it; you can seed it; and you can put fences on it--all of that for $4 million a mile through Iowa cornfields. You cannot convince me that we couldn't take about a third of that $6 million a mile and in a few years build the finest, most sophisticated barrier along our southern border.

We can take some lessons from the Israelis, for example, who get a 99.9 percent efficiency rate at their border barrier. They do that because their lives depend on it. So do ours in a lot of ways, Mr. Speaker. It's not that hard to build infrastructure and add to that infrastructure the sensory devices so that we can actually get the warning signals when people do get across such a barrier. We can do all of that. We can do it with the resources that we have. We can do it well up into the 90-some percentile of efficiency with the money that we have, and we can shut off the jobs magnet.

All we need to do is pass the New IDEA Act. IDEA, the Illegal Deduction Elimination Act. It clarifies that wages and benefits paid to illegals are not tax deductible. It lets the IRS come in. Under their normal auditing process, they would run the employees through E-Verify. When they'd run the employees through E-Verify, then we would give the employer safe harbor if they'd use E-Verify. That's a nice, comforting thing. Each employer would want to have that. If the IRS concludes that you've knowingly, willingly, or neglectfully been employing illegals, they would rule that wages and benefits paid to them are not a business expense. That means, out of your Schedule C, that money comes out and goes over into the gross receipts again and shows up in the bottom line as taxable income, and your $10-an-hour illegal employee turns into a $16-an-hour illegal employee, and it becomes a prudent business decision on the part of the employer to use E-Verify to clean up his workforce.

So there are two simple things, Mr. Speaker:

We can provide that border security with the resources that we have by adding infrastructure, by adding and utilizing technology in addition to--and I have not said 2,000 miles of border fence--a fence, a wall and a fence. We just build it according to the directives of the Secure Fence Act and keep building it until they stop going around the end. We shut off the jobs magnet and restore the rule of law. Then let's have a conversation, Mr. Speaker; but until then, I'm going to stand on defending the rule of law.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

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