The principal problem with our immigration laws is that they are not being enforced. We already have a “pathway to citizenship” that is taken by millions of LEGAL immigrants who have obeyed our laws, respected our nation’s sovereignty, waited patiently in line and done everything our nation has asked of them, while 15 million ILLEGAL immigrants attempt to cut in line in front of them.
Our nation of immigrants is only possible because of assimilation: as immigrants come to America, they come with a sincere desire to be Americans – to acquire a common culture, a common language and a devotion to American constitutional principles. Our immigration laws were written to assure assimilation. ILLEGAL immigration undermines assimilation and makes a mockery of the rule of law.
I favor the strict enforcement of our current immigration law as a prerequisite for any other reform.
Response to President Calderon
House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. – May 20, 2010
I rise to take strong exception to the speech of the President of Mexico while in this chamber today.
The Mexican government has made it very clear for many years that it holds American sovereignty in contempt and President Calderon’s behavior as a guest of the Congress confirms and underscores this attitude.
It is highly inappropriate for the President of Mexico to lecture Americans on American immigration policy, just as it would be for Americans to lecture Mexico on its laws.
It is obvious that President Calderon does not understand the nature of America or the purpose of our immigration law.
Unlike Mexico’s immigration law — which is brutally exclusionary — the purpose of America’s law is not to keep people out. It is to assure that as people come to the United States, they do so with the intention of becoming Americans and of raising their children as Americans.
Unlike Mexico, our nation embraces immigration and what makes that possible is assimilation.
A century ago President Teddy Roosevelt put it this way. He said:
“In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American…There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag… We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language … and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”
That is how we have built one great nation from the people of all the nations of the world.
The largest group of immigrants now comes from Mexico. A recent RAND discovered that during most of the 20th Century, while our immigration laws were actually enforced, assimilation worked and made possible the swift attainment of the American dream for millions of immigrants seeking to escape conditions in Mexico.
That is the broader meaning of our nation’s motto, “e pluribus unum” – from many people, one people, the American people.
But there is now an element in our political structure that seeks to undermine that concept of “E Pluribus Unum.” It seeks to hyphenate Americans, to develop linguistic divisions, to assign rights and preferences based on race and ethnicity, and to elevate devotion to foreign ideologies and traditions, while at the same time denigrating American culture, American values and American founding principles.
In order to do so, they know that they have to stop the process of assimilation. In order to do that, they must undermine our immigration laws.
It is an outrage that a foreign head of state would appear in this chamber and actively seek to do so. And it is a disgrace that he would be cheered on from the left wing of the White House and by many Democrats in this Congress.
Arizona has not adopted a new immigration law. All it has done is to enforce existing law that President Obama refuses to enforce. It is hardly a radical policy to suggest that if an officer on a routine traffic stop encounters a driver with no driver’s license, no passport, and who doesn’t speak English, that maybe that individual might be here illegally.
And to those who say we must reform our immigration laws – I reply that we don’t need to reform them – we need to enforce them. Just as every other government does. Just as Mexico does.
Above all, this is a debate of, by and for the American people. If President Calderon wishes to participate in that debate, I invite him to obey our immigration laws, apply for citizenship, do what 600,000 LEGAL immigrants to our nation are doing right now, learn our history and our customs, and become an American. And then he will have every right to participate in that debate.
Until then, I would politely invite him to have the courtesy while a guest of this Congress to abide by the fundamental rules of diplomacy between civilized nations not to meddle in each other’s domestic debates.
From Many, One
North Coast Education Forum – Redding Republican Women – October 10, 2007
Let us begin by recognizing the unique foundation of the American Republic. Our country was built on immigration. We are a nation of immigrants. We have founded that nation upon a concept enshrined in our nation’s motto, E Pluribus Unum:
From many nations, one nation – the American Nation
From many creeds, one creed – Freedom.
From many races, one race – the American race.
We have built one great nation from all the nations of the world because of a simple concept called assimilation: that process by which one acquires a common language, a common culture, and a common appreciation of AMERICAN legal traditions and AMERICAN constitutional principles. Assimilation is made possible by our immigration laws.
Those laws are not there to keep people out. They are there to assure the orderly assimilation of immigrants from around the world. It has served the nation well. It has served immigrants well.
The largest group of immigrants now comes from Mexico. A recent RAND study pointed out that in the 20th Century, while our immigration laws were enforced, assimilation worked and made possible the swift attainment of the American dream for those immigrants.
But there is now an element in our political structure that seeks to undermine that concept of E Pluribus Unum. It seeks to hyphenate Americans, to develop linguistic divisions, to assign rights and preferences based on race and ethnicity, and to elevate devotion to foreign ideologies and traditions, while denigrating American culture, American values and American founding principles. In order to do so, they know that they have to stop the process of assimilation. In order to do that, they must undermine our immigration laws.
During the debate on the federal amnesty bill a few months ago, I was struck by something that George Bush said. He said, “If you want to scare the American people, what you say is the bill’s an amnesty bill. That’s empty political rhetoric trying to frighten our citizens.” He went on to say, “If you want to kill the bill, if you don’t want to do what’s right for America, you can pick one little aspect out of it. You can use it to frighten people.”
“Frighten people?” What frightens people is that between 12 and 20 million foreign nationals – many of whom are manifestly hostile to American sovereignty and American constitutional principles – have illegally crossed our borders while our nation’s President has done nothing to defend our nation. We remember the chants of “reconquista” from millions of Mexican loyalists in America’s major cities last year.
“One little aspect?” That “one little aspect” would have legalized and legitimized the presence of those foreign nationals, it would have tied the hands of future administrations, and it would have made the presence of a large and openly hostile population within our borders permanent and irreversible.
It was precisely that “one little aspect” in the 1986 immigration act – along with Bush’s surrender of our southern border – that have produced today’s crisis.
The most fundamental responsibility of the federal government is to defend the sanctity of our nation’s borders. If it can’t do that – then what good is it?
The Attorney General at the time of the 1986 amnesty was Ed Meese. He said the only difference between the amnesty in the 1986 bill and Bush’s bill today is that in 1986, they were honest and called it an amnesty. And it didn’t work.
Fortunately, Bush’s amnesty bill re-ignited public awareness and anger over this issue. The smarmy assurance that the amnesty will be accompanied by genuine reform of immigration screening and vigorous enforcement of our nation’s border rings utterly hollow. If the federal government isn’t willing to enforce our EXISTING immigration law, why should we have any confidence that it would enforce a future law?
When the same promise was made during the amnesty of 1986, there were three million illegal aliens in the United States. That law literally cut the illegal immigrant population to zero by legalizing every one then in the country. And that was supposed to be the end of illegal immigration, because henceforth, the federal government promised to tightly control the nation’s borders, to immediately deport those who violated those borders, and to vigorously prosecute anyone who employed them.
Today, twenty years later, there are between 12 and 20 million illegal aliens in the United States, they are employed with impunity (except for an occasional show-case raid), and border patrol officers who are actually doing their jobs now fear the prospect of federal imprisonment in the wake of the Ramos and Compean prosecutions.
But according to our nation’s President there’s no reason to worry. Although we can’t possibly enforce our current laws, we’ll have no problem enforcing a tougher one after we’ve legitimized, rewarded and sanctioned the 20 million people who thumbed their noses at the old laws.
Here in California, a Republican governor is actively seeking one of the biggest tax increases in our state’s history in order to provide free health insurance for every illegal alien in this state — a proposal well to the left of the one by the Senate Democrats.
The governor’s argument is that federal law already requires them to be treated in emergency rooms.
Now, let me ask you something. Why is it that a federal law that says illegal aliens must be treated in our hospitals must be rigorously enforced – while a federal law that says that once we’ve treated them, we’re supposed to return them to their own country MUST BE RIGOROUSLY IGNORED. I asked the governor that very question earlier this year. He didn’t have an answer.
Meanwhile, California already provides taxpayer financed in-state tuition subsidies for illegal aliens to attend our taxpayer supported colleges and universities, and a measure now on the governor’s desk would provide them taxpayer funded financial grants as well.
To put it simply, an illegal alien pays around $7,000 per year to attend the University of California. An American citizen from Nevada pays $24,000.
The total cost to California taxpayers of just providing the in-state tuition subsidies to illegals is as much as $75 million per year.
There is a bill now sitting on the Governor’s desk — SB 1 – that would greatly increase this figure by adding taxpayer financed cash grants to those same illegal aliens.
The argument for this is that these students were innocent children when their parents illegally brought them to this country and had no choice in the matter. This may be true. But they are no longer children. They are of legal age. And as responsible adults, they have an obligation to obey the laws of this nation and that begins by establishing legal residency – as millions of legal immigrants have done.
And until they have established legal residency and agreed to abide by the laws of our nation, they have no claim on taxpayer funds.
We’re also told that these are largely disadvantaged young people who require a college education so that they can seek skilled jobs. But under federal law it is illegal to employ them in those jobs. It is an obvious admission that the proponents of this legislation have no intention to enforce these laws.
In addition to costs of up to $75 million per year, this law creates absolutely indefensible inequities for legal immigrants to this country, and for out-of-state American citizens.
Consider two students from Mexico. One obeys every immigration law to come here legally. He files for the appropriate visas, he runs the gauntlet of the application process and he meets every requirement for legal status in the United States. The other has broken every immigration law for the last three years and is in the United States illegally.
The only difference is this: the LEGAL immigrant – who obeyed our laws — will be charged nearly $24,000 to attend the University of California; the ILLEGAL immigrant will pay $7,000 with California taxpayers contributing the remaining $17,000.
Or consider an American citizen who just moved here LEGALLY from Arizona. She will also be charged the out-of state tuition. And while she is waiting tables to pay her tuition costs, her taxes will be used to subsidize the illegal alien.
I was struck by an appeal letter brought to my attention a few years ago from the Department of the Navy protesting the University of California’s decision to charge the non resident tuition of $24,000 for a student of Hispanic descent named Lou-Anthony Palomique Limon.
He is the son of Chief Petty Officer Anthony Limon, stationed in Sigonella, Italy. Lou-Anthony graduated as valedictorian of his class from a DOD high school in Sigonella. The only American residence he has ever had is in California. But he was turned down for resident tuition, while thousands of illegal aliens were granted millions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies.
I do not think that it is unreasonable to ask that grown adults who are seeking thousands of dollars of taxpayer subsidies should be first asked to comply with our nation’s laws, starting with our immigration laws.
The left will go out of its way to blur the distinction between legal and illegal immigration. But they are two absolutely opposite concepts. In fact, I have found that the people who are angriest about ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION are LEGAL immigrants who have obeyed all of our laws, who have waited in line, have done everything our nation has asked of them – while millions of ILLEGAL immigrants have cut in line in front of them.
And think about it: You cannot support illegal immigration and LEGAL IMMIGRATION at the same time. If you are going to ignore our immigration laws – much less provide a full range of benefits to illegal aliens – then there really is no point to legal immigration. Why would anybody go to all the trouble of complying with our laws if those very laws are being ignored?
The argument we keep hearing is, “well what are you going to do. We can’t possibly deport 12 to 20 million people.” Nobody has suggested that – the fact is that we can secure our borders without mass deportations and without making the presence of 12 to 20 million illegal aliens within our borders permanent and irreversible.
We can start by expediting completion of the 700 miles of border fence that Congress authorized last October, and that the Bush administration has dawdled on ever since. According to Congressman Duncan Hunter, who co-authored the “Secure Fence Act,” just ten miles of security fencing in San Diego reduced the county’s crime rate dramatically.
Imagine what 700 miles would do.
Second, there have been hundreds of documented instances of armed Mexican military units crossing our borders in support of drug runners. If that’s not justification for deploying our national guard on our Southern Border, I don’t know what is. Even the limited deployment of a few hundred unarmed National Guard troops last year had a significant impact on the sections that were patrolled.
Third, the government must at least demonstrate a determined, sustained effort to deport those illegal aliens it actually encounters through law enforcement or social service agencies. No immigration law is going to be taken seriously if an illegal alien can receive government-funded benefits while the government cheerfully ignores the fact that he is not legally entitled to be here in the first place.
Fourth, sanctions against employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants need to be just as rigorously enforced as all of our other labor laws. There is no excuse for those who would shortchange American citizens and legal immigrants in order to employ those who violate our nation’s sovereignty.
If our state and federal labor agencies can audit every scrap of employment minutia down to lunch and bathroom breaks, they should certainly be able to determine the legal residency requirements that were supposed to be the cornerstone of the 1986 immigration act.
This modest effort to enforce existing law would not only stop the immediate demand on services that is overwhelming our schools, our hospitals and our prisons, it would also produce the voluntary departure of that portion of the illegal population drawn here by public handouts or the underground economy, and reduce it to levels that can be assimilated.
Citizenship should be reserved for those who obey our laws – starting with our immigration laws – as millions of legal immigrants are doing right now to fulfill their dream of becoming loyal Americans. Genuine amnesty for illegals means forgiving their past violation of our laws – not sanctioning their continued violation.
It means leaving, being forgiven and then re-entering legally, under the same laws as apply to every other legal immigrant.
Together, these steps – which require nothing more than the faithful enforcement of existing law — would preserve our nation as a melting pot for many future generations of legal immigrants from around the world who sincerely seek to become Americans and “to secure the blessings of liberty” to themselves and their posterity.
The Border Crisis
House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. – July 24, 2014
Wherever I go, people express a growing anger over the illegal immigration that is overwhelming our southern border. People ask me:
“How can we talk about securing the border in the Ukraine or Iraq while our own border is wide open?”
“How can we talk about supporting the population of Central America when we’re $18 trillion in debt?”
“How can we talk about giving jobs to millions of illegal immigrants when fewer Americans are working today than when the so-called recovery began?”
“If the federal government can’t defend our own border, what good is it?”
Mr. Speaker, I cannot answer them.
The fact is, our southern border IS wide open; it is practically undefended and everybody knows it. The many thousands streaming across it know that if they break our laws and enter the country illegally, they will be rewarded with free food, clothing, housing, medical care, transportation, legal representation and relocation, all at the expense of struggling American families. Ninety five percent of them believe they’ll get “permisso” to stay – and at the moment, they’re right.
Until we fundamentally change that reality, the mass incursion of our borders will continue and our nation’s sovereignty will slowly fade away.
The American people are awakening to the danger that illegal immigration poses to our country. It is crowding out millions of jobs desperately needed by American workers. It is overwhelming our schools, our hospitals, our courts, law enforcement, prisons and our local and state budgets. Perhaps worst of all, it is undermining the process of legal immigration upon which our country is founded. Why should anyone go to the expense and trouble of obeying our immigration laws when they can reap rich rewards simply by defying them?
This administration has actively encouraged this crisis with its promises of amnesty, and it now needs another $4 billion to feed, clothe and house this new surge. Conspicuously lacking from the President’s proposal is any serious effort at enforcement or deportation.
The advocates of illegal immigration tell us we need comprehensive immigration reform, but what they really mean is extending some form of amnesty to those now illegally in our country. Yet it is precisely these promises of amnesty that are causing and encouraging the mass migration we now are seeing.
Any short-term measure this House approves must include provisions:
- First, to rescind the President’s unlawful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals order that has clearly encouraged the current surge;
- Second, to detain all of these new arrivals while expedited deportation hearings proceed;
- Third, to provide unrestricted access for law enforcement to all federal lands at the border; and
- Fourth, to activate the National Guard in whatever numbers are necessary to secure our southern border now.
Once the immediate tide has been turned back, it is imperative that existing law are enforced before any new laws are considered, including:
- Rigorous enforcement of sanctions against any employer who hires an illegal immigrant;
- Completion of the border fence authorized in 2006;
- Deportation of any illegal immigrant who comes in contact with law enforcement or who illegally applies for government assistance; and
- Resumption of federal cooperation with local and state law enforcement agencies to assure enforcement of immigration law.
If we are not willing to enforce our current laws, there is no reason to believe that any future laws will be enforced. And until we enforce them, we really can’t accurately assess what changes may be needed.
The people with whom I talk are tired of excuses and tired of promises of future reforms. They want to see our current laws enforced and our border secured and every act of this House should be focused on pressuring the President to do so.
History is shouting its warning at us: nations that either cannot or will not defend their borders aren’t around very long.
Let that not be the legacy of this administration and let it not be the epitaph of the American Republic.