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

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, I join my friend from New York in stating that I am aware that the Department of Defense has a number of concerns with section 1103 and some ideas on how to address those concerns while allowing us to take the necessary steps to ensure the security of our southern border. I would also tell my friend from Michigan, with whom I have served for many years on the Armed Services Committee, that I would be willing, at the appropriate point, to consider ideas to address the Defense Department's concerns.


Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, I thank Senator Durbin for his compelling remarks and his deep and abiding concern for many years for the so-called DREAMers. I thank my other my six colleagues for their involvement, and I also thank Senator Corker and Senator Hoeven for their effort on this bill. I thank my colleague Senator Flake for his outstanding work. I would like to also mention Senator Lindsey Graham, who gave his own unique perspective, as well as my friend from Colorado Senator Bennet and also Senator Schumer, who has played such an important and valuable leadership role.

The word ``friend'' is tossed around this body quite often, perhaps with not as much sincerity as we would like, but these seven individuals are my friends. More importantly, they are friends of America. They are friends who realize that we were sent here by our constituents to achieve results, and I don't know at this particular time of a greater issue in which we should be involved.

We have heard a lot of personal stories here today, and I am deeply moved by all of them. There is another human story. In fact, there are millions of them. I would like to tell a few of them.

Over the last week the Arizona newspapers have reported that eight bodies were found in the Arizona desert. The Arizona desert today, my friends, is in triple-digit temperatures.

On June 21 the Arizona Republic reported:

Four men may have been dead three days before their bodies were found in the Arizona desert by U.S. Border Patrol agents ..... Two men had Mexican identifications, and the other two didn't have identification.

On June 24 the Associated Press reported:

Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies found another dead body in the Arizona desert near Gila Bend ..... just days after four bodies were found in the same area ..... No identification was found on the body and there were no signs of trauma or foul play.

On June 27, today, the Arizona Daily Star reported:

Three decomposing bodies were found by Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents in the desert in two separate incidents over the weekend.

The Yuma Sun reported yesterday:

There have been 12 people rescued from the desert by Yuma Sector agents. Six others were not located and died in the wilderness.

The list goes on and on.

Since 2007--the last time we tried to pass this legislation--more than 2,425 immigrants have died trying to cross our southwest border. These are people who wanted to come to this country because they wanted to realize the American dream. That is what they wanted. That is what they risked their lives and, in fact, gave their lives for--and, yes, they did so illegally. They were willing to pay a penalty for crossing our border illegally. Shouldn't we give them the same chance we have given generation after generation of immigrants who have come to this country? There has been wave after wave of Irish, Italians, Jews, Poles, and now people from all over the world who want to come to this country. Shouldn't we do that? Isn't it in us to bring 11 million people out of the shadows who are now being exploited and have none of the protections of citizenship?

Well, how do we address that? This legislation does secure the border, and I can tell everyone, from 30 years of being on the border, this bill secures the border, and anyone who says it doesn't does not understand our security needs. I have been there, and I have seen the technology. This is technology that was developed in Iraq and Afghanistan, which will give us surveillance. Yes, there is a bill with 20,000 new Border Patrol agents, but the fact is that the technology that is there now will give us the ability for 100 percent situational awareness and the ability to intercept. I guarantee it to my friends because I saw it work. There are 700 miles of total fencing that will be added--700 miles. As we all know, we will also have additional Border Patrol agents.

What is the key to this bill? The key to this bill is not only that we have the fencing on the border and the Border Patrol, but it is the 40 percent of the people who are here illegally who came here and overstayed their visas. They didn't cross the southwest border. What do we do about that? We dry up the magnet, and that is the E-Verify program, which makes sure that every person who wants to come to this country illegally will know they cannot get a job here. Within 5 years we will have an E-Verify system that I am confident--and more importantly, so are the people who are really knowledgeable about this--will be a full-proof system with 95 percent effectiveness.

This legislation will not only give us a secure border, but it will address the key element because people who now want to come here illegally will know they cannot. Employers will know that if they hire someone who is here illegally, they will pay a severe penalty for doing so. We have to dry up the magnet.

So today there are 11 million people who are in violation, and they don't have the protection of our laws. I would like to mention again the people who are coming across our borders. There is a thing called coyotes. Does anyone know what coyotes are? They are drug cartel people. They are the most evil people on Earth. They take these people in groups, and they bring them across the border. Many times, the reason we find these bodies in the desert is because they say: We are leaving you here. Tucson is right over the hill.

Thousands have died in the desert. Do my colleagues know what they do sometimes when they get them all the way up to Phoenix? They keep them in drop houses jammed together and they hold them for ransom under the most unspeakable conditions. Do my colleagues know what else they do? They abuse the people they bring up. I won't go into the details of how they do that. It is an unacceptable situation.

Fifty thousand Mexican citizens have been killed by the drug cartels. Last year, hundreds of migrants were missing or killed in Mexico, more than 20,000 were kidnapped, and many are regularly beaten. The Mexican Government doesn't know exactly how to handle this situation, and it is all complicated by drugs which we are creating the demand for.

I have had the great opportunity in my life to have many experiences, and the one I will never forget was on July 4 of 2007. Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Joe Lieberman, my beloved friend, and I were in Baghdad for the Fourth of July. General Petraeus had requested that we speak at a reenlistment ceremony where about 800 brave young men and women serving in the military were reenlisting to stay and fight. There was another group of some 80-some who were green card holders who, because they had joined the military, had an accelerated path to citizenship. I was honored to be there. I was honored to speak to them. In the front row, there were four empty seats with boots on them representing men who were green card holders who had lost their lives in combat in the previous 48 hours, men who had been willing to risk their lives and serve our country in order to be citizens of this country. I have never been so deeply moved.

Let's give these 11 million people a chance to do the same.

I yield the floor.


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