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Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. NELSON. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.


Mr. NELSON. Mr. President, I would like to speak about the immigration bill, but first I wish to make a comment about this international drama that is going on from Hong Kong to--well, I guess it started in Hawaii--from Hawaii to Hong Kong, now Hong Kong to Moscow. Then the question is, Where does the fugitive go from there?

I think we ought to face facts that the Government of China would not have let him go without making the decision with regard to Hong Kong. I would not have been surprised if they did not get certain information from him if, in fact, he has anything. But the fact that he is now in Moscow and did not get on the airplane for Cuba tells me that the old KGB officer--now President of Russia--Putin is directing the show. I would not be surprised if the President of Russia is giving the orders to milk him for every piece of information he has. If he does not have anything, then I think the President of Russia is going to decide whether he wants to have a good relationship with the United States and might allow him to be extradited to the United States.

It may well be that since he was released from Hong Kong--which is under the direction, in this case, of President Xi of China--that he may not have all the information he is claiming to have.

Presumably, he is carrying a bunch of laptops. One would have thought they would have taken them into custody, and maybe that is what is happening right now in Moscow.

However it plays out, as I have said from the beginning, I think his behavior is treasonous behavior and that the full extent of the law ought to be applied and those countries that have a formal legal relationship with the United States ought to obey the law and have him extradited to the United States so he can face the charges.

By virtue of his escapades all over the globe, I think it is clearly indicative that he does not want to face the full extent of the law. I think all the more that would justify the Department of Justice in the charge they have brought already on espionage.

I wish to say a word or two about the immigration bill. Clearly, on the first day of the debate I came out here and embraced it. Clearly, we need comprehensive immigration reform.

When I was a young Congressman back in the 1980s, I voted for it then. The big difference back then was that we only had about 2 million illegal folks in the country. Now the new term is ``undocumented.'' Of course, that has swelled now to over 11 million undocumented.

In large part, the law that was passed back in the 1980s was never observed. Businesses did not obey the law, and that is one of the things we are looking at in this comprehensive immigration package--that businesses will have to obey the law and still will be able to get the labor source they need in order to conduct business and that through a series of E-Verify and other provisions they can then have the security of knowing that the individual they have hired is in legal status.

I think it is clearly the right thing to do. There are 11 million people here. These folks who are saying, oh, well, deport them, that is not common sense. We cannot deport 11 million people; the economy would collapse. Just look at the agricultural community. We have to have the source of labor to pick the crops when the crops are ripe; otherwise, the whole crop is lost. So too as we go through so many of the nuances of this bill--it is all put together, and I think they have done a good job.

I have one bone of contention. I came to the floor today absolutely shocked that the amendment Senator Wicker, Republican of Mississippi, and I have offered is--it is questionable whether, with all this falderal that is going on about not accepting any additional amendments, if it is going to be accepted.

This amendment says that in addition to the land border security, which has been the story for the last week, laboring over how do we increase border security--and the estimate on this new amendment we are going to vote on today is that it is costing an additional $20 to $46 billion; that will really tighten up border security--but if you have made the land border almost foolproof, what do you think is going to happen? How are the smugglers going to get the illegal immigrants across? How are the smugglers going to continue to try to get across all the illegal drugs?

Similar to water, if you dam it up in one place, it is going to try to go around. Where is ``going around''? The maritime border. If you make the land border on the southern United States foolproof, where do you think the smugglers and the illegal immigrants are going to go? They are going to go to a very porous border that is from Texas to Louisiana, to Mississippi, to Alabama, to my State of Florida, which has the longest coastline of the continental United States, and then up the eastern seaboard: Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, et cetera. They are going to do it also by going in through some of the Caribbean Islands, including U.S. territories--Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands--because if they get there, then they are on U.S. territory.

So if we are spending--this is where the common sense comes in--if we are spending $46 billion additional to secure the land border, why wouldn't we want to spend an additional $1 billion to help secure the maritime border? California would be another one. You can come up the coast of Central America into California. It, perhaps, is a more daunting task because of the waters of the Pacific. But look at all the opportunities on the coast of a State such as mine, Florida, of bringing in smugglers. Of course, we have seen this over the years. So what do we do? What is the $1 billion for? Simple, real simple. We already have an unmanned aerial vehicle like a drone, such as we read about over in Afghanistan--a Predator or some version thereof, unarmed.

Today, it is flying out of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. But that is one. When it is down for maintenance, there is zero. So why wouldn't we enhance one UAV with more stationed strategically around the coastal maritime border to stop what is supposedly going to happen if this impregnable land border is there?

No. 2, the U.S. Navy is experimenting with a stable platform that is very cheap to operate called a blimp. I have flown in this blimp. You can station blimps with a long dwell time because the amount of fuel that is used in a blimp from start to finish for upward of a 24-hour mission, if you had two crews on board--that amount of fuel is the same that it takes to crank up an F-16 just to get it out there on the runway. It is a huge cost savings, and it gives us a lot of dwell time. So why wouldn't we enhance for the U.S. Navy the blimp that is being tested for the 4th Fleet headquartered at Mayport Naval Station? We should.

Thirdly, the U.S. Coast Guard. Why wouldn't we enhance the Coast Guard's ability to patrol not just for drugs, but for some of those who are trying to come into the United States illegally now through the maritime border, so why wouldn't we enhance the Coast Guard?

With $20 billion to $46 billion extra for this amendment that we are going to vote on this afternoon, why wouldn't we add another $1 billion to stop the illegal immigration and drug smuggling that is going to occur on the maritime border? Just think about it. Just think, when you try to stop water from rushing forward and you put some kind of dam that stops it, if there is any break or leak or hole, where is that water going to go? It is going to go in the place of least resistance. So, too, smuggling of illegal aliens and drugs. If they do not get across the land border because of my friends insisting that it become impregnable, why would they want to block Senator Wicker's and my amendment that says we are going to enhance modestly because we can handle it with overhead and on-the-sea assets through the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy?

It is common sense. Common sense ought to rule.

I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.


Mr. NELSON. Would the Senator yield. The Senator--the esteemed chairman whose leadership has brought us to this point, that we are on the brink of passing a major immigration reform bill--the Senator heard my comments earlier. Does it not make common sense that if we are making as secure as possible the southern land border of the United States for illegal immigration--which also includes drugs, by the way--would it not make sense that we would want to increase the maritime border security?


Mr. NELSON. I thank the Senator, the esteemed chairman of the Judiciary Committee. It is common sense. I appreciate him underscoring that. I hope our brethren and sistren on the other side who are questioning whether they are going to allow my and Senator Wicker's amendment to be considered will reconsider their decisions.


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