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Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act--Continued--

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CARPER. I wish to say thank you to Senator Manchin, former Governor Manchin, for his willingness to let me slip ahead of him for a few minutes. He is going to talk about the birthday of the State in which both of us were born, West Virginia. I am happy to be here to cheer him on and to applaud all the good work that goes on in my native State and the great work he is doing.

The Presiding Officer has a baseball team up there in Massachusetts, those Red Sox, and every now and then there is a pitcher who telegraphs a pitch. I wish to telegraph a pitch this afternoon.

I was surprised to find out last month from the chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, when I was down at the Mexican border of South Texas, that three out of every five people who come into our country illegally in Texas come not from Mexico, but they come from Central American countries. They come from Guatemala, they come from Honduras, and they come from El Salvador--3 out of 5, 6 out of 10.

For the most part, they don't realize what they are getting into. They don't realize the risks they face on their way to the north to go to the border of Mexico and even when they get across the border into the United States. The dangers they face are of getting robbed,raped, beaten, drown in the river, and die of starvation and dehydration in the desert. Finally, they get to this country at a time when employers are tightening up in terms of whom they actually hire. They are not hiring those who are here and undocumented.

There is the prospect of detention, not a very pleasant experience, followed shortly thereafter by literally being transported back to their native countries. Most of the people who are trying to get here from those three countries, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, don't know what they are getting into.

They need to know what they are getting into. When I was Governor, as part of the 50-State deal negotiated by the States' attorneys general, you may recall, with the tobacco industry, we created a foundation out of that and called it the American Legacy Foundation. We ran something called a truth campaign. The idea was to convince people, such as these pages, not to start smoking and, if they were smoking, to stop. It was hugely successful.

What we need is something similar to that, particularly in those Central American countries, where the majority of people are now coming from in order to get into Texas and to the United States.

The other thing I would have us keep in mind, we have spent a fair amount of resources in this country trying to help the Mexicans go after the drug lords and to quash the drug trade. What is happening is it is akin to squeezing a balloon. The bad guys in Mexico have worked their way down to El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and created mischief there, setting up a drug trade, creating a lot of violence, and making life very unpleasant.

What you have in those countries is not a good situation. One can understand why people want to get out of it: for jobs, hope, and for personal safety.

One of the things we have done to help in Mexico--and we are part of the problem. Our country's consumption of illegal drugs has created this problem for Mexico. This deal where drugs come north and guns go south--we are part of that problem, and we need to acknowledge that. But we want to be part of the solution in Mexico, and I think we are playing a constructive role.

We need to be part of the solution in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala and do a similar kind of thing we are doing in Mexico. Part of that is to help a little on their own public safety, the law enforcement efforts in those three countries. Part of it is helping on economic development, job creation, so people don't feel the need to leave those countries and try to flee to our country. The last piece is to actually work with Mexico so they can do a better job of controlling their own borders, to make sure folks don't get, from south of them, into Mexico and eventually work their way into Texas and into the United States.

I will be offering an amendment--not tonight but I suspect tomorrow--that tries to say: Let's put together a truth campaign, convey what is really facing the people, particularly from those three Central American countries, who are trying to get to the United States and to also see, while we are doing that, if we can't help a little on the economic development and job creation side in those countries and in terms of helping them face lawlessness and crime. We can do a little to help there as well. I call this going after the underlying causes--not just treating the symptoms of the problem but going after the underlying cause--and I think we should do this. So I will offer this tomorrow, and I hope my colleagues will agree.

I want to say again to my fellow native West Virginian, thank you for the chance to go ahead. Thank you most of all for the great job you are doing here and for being here to tell us a little bit of the good coming out of the Mountain State.

I yield the floor.


Mr. CARPER. Madam President, if the Senator will yield, that was wonderful. I am sorry more of us weren't hear to hear those words.

The Senator holds the seat once held for many, many year by Robert Byrd, who until maybe this month was the longest serving person in the history of our country to serve in Congress. I think the record was just eclipsed by John Dingell from Michigan--a most worthy successor.

The Senator from West Virginia knows there is another notable West Virginian who is rising now to national prominence to serve our country as the new Director of the Office of Management and Budget. She grew up in Hinton, WV, graduated from Hinton High School, played on the girls basketball team, and her name is Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

So West Virginia is a State that has produced certainly a lot of coal, a lot of natural resources, but also a lot of good people and a lot of good leaders. And this Senator came to us from West Virginia having been a two-term Governor and chairman of the National Governors Association, and I know he is marked maybe for greatness--maybe for greatness. And I think his wife has a birthday tomorrow; West Virginia has a birthday the day after tomorrow.


Mr. CARPER. The fact is that West Virginia sort of separated itself from Virginia, and about 237 years ago this past Saturday, the State of Delaware gave Pennsylvania its independence. It is quite common to talk about what is Delaware and what is not Delaware--Pennsylvania and Delaware were joined at the hip--but as I said, on June 15, 1776, Delaware gave Pennsylvania its independence and also declared our independence from the tyranny of the British throne. But here we are 5 days later celebrating West Virginia giving Virginia its independence, and now they are on their own and making us all proud.


Mr. CARPER. If I could add, Madam President, every Sunday night I turn on the radio to WNCN to hear simulcast across the country West Virginia Mountain State--it is great music, eclectic music that is wonderful and reminds me of home.

I thank the Senator for enabling us to help him celebrate West Virginia's birthday as well.


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