MCCAIN STATEMENT ON BORDER SECURITY AND IMMIGRATION REFORM

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by martin97, May 3, 2006.


  1. martin97

    martin97 Fuel busted Trucker. Founding Member

    Washington D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) spoke on the United States Senate floor and submitted for the record the following statement on the Border Security Bill:

    Mr. President, the Senate is beginning debate on a very important and complex subject that is among the most difficult and divisive we face. Our nation's immigration system is broken. And without comprehensive immigration reform, our nation's security will remain vulnerable. That is why we must act.

    I want to begin by commending Chairman Specter and the members of the Judiciary Committee for the considerable effort they have taken to report a comprehensive immigration reform measure that could be considered during this debate. While I may not be in agreement with each and every provision in their bill-likely no one is- it offers a very good starting point for this debate.

    Those of us from border states witness every day the impact illegal immigration is having on our friends and neighbours, our county and city services, our economy and our environment. We deal with the degradation of our lands and the demands imposed on our hospitals and other public resources. Our current system doesn’t protect us from people who want to harm us. It does not meet the needs of our economy. And it leaves too many people vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

    Throughout this debate, we will be reminded that immigration is a national security issue, and it is. It is also a matter of life and death for many living along the border. We have hundreds of people flowing across our borders every day and an estimated 11-12 million people living in the shadows in every state in our country. While we believe that the majority are hard working people contributing to our economy and society, we can also assume there are some people who want to do us harm hiding among the millions who have come here only in search of better lives for themselves and their families. We need new policies that will allow us to concentrate our resources on finding those who have come here for purposes more dangerous than finding a job.

    Last year, when Senator Kennedy, Brownback, Lieberman, Graham, Martinez, Obama, Salazar and I worked together to develop a sensible bipartisan and comprehensive immigration reform measure, first and foremost among our priorities was to ensure our bill included strong border security and enforcement provisions. We need to ensure that the Department of Homeland Security has the resources it needs to secure our borders to the greatest extent possible. These include man power, vehicles, and detention facilities for those apprehended. But we also need to take a 21st century approach to this 21st century problem. We need to create virtual barriers as well, through the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, ground censors, cameras, vehicle barriers, advanced communications systems and the most up to date security technologies available to us.

    The Border Security provisions under the Leader’s bill and the Judiciary Committee’s bill provide sound proposals to promote strong enforcement and should be part of any final bill. However, I do not believe the Senate should or will pass an “enforcement only" bill. Our experiences with our current immigration system have proven that outdated or unrealistic laws will never be fully enforceable, regardless of every conceivable border security improvement we make. Despite an increase of border patrol agents from 3,600 to 10,000, despite quintupling the Border Patrol budget, and despite the employment of new technologies and tactics-all to enforce current immigration laws- illegal immigration drastically increased during the 1990s.

    While strengthening border security is an essential component of national security, it must also be accompanied by immigration reforms. We have seen time and again that as long as there are jobs available in this country for people who live in poverty and hopelessness in other countries, those people will risk their lives to cross our borders - no matter how formidable the barriers - and most will be successful.

    Our reforms need to reflect that reality, and help us separate economic immigrants from security risks. We need to establish a temporary worker program that permits workers from other countries - to the extent they are needed - to fill jobs that would otherwise go unfilled.


    Mr. President, we need workers in this country. There are certain jobs that Americans are simply not willing to do. For example, today in California and Arizona, fruit is rotting on the vine and lettuce is dying in the fields because farmers can’t find workers to harvest their crops. At the same time, resorts in my own state of Arizona cannot open to capacity because there aren’t enough workers to clean the rooms. Restaurants are locking their doors because there is no one to serve the food or clear the dishes. We are facing a situation whereby the U.S. population does not provide the workers that businesses desperately need, yet the demand for their services and products continues.

    The current immigration system does not adequately and lawfully address this problem. As long as this situation exists, without a legal path for essential workers to enter the country, we will have desperate people illegally crossing our borders and living in the shadows of our towns, cities and rural communities. That is not acceptable, particularly when we are fighting the war on terror. The vast majority of individuals attempting to cross our borders do not intend to harm our country; they are coming to meet our demand for labor and to earn money to feed their families. By the Border Patrol’s own estimates, 99% of those apprehended coming across the border are doing so for work. However, the Border Patrol is overwhelmed by these individuals. They cannot possibly apprehend every crosser being smuggled in, no matter how many resources we provide. That is why any immigration legislation that passes Congress must establish a legal channel for workers to enter the United States after they have passed background checks and have secured employment. Then we can free up federal officials to focus on those individuals intending to do harm through drug smuggling, human trafficking and terrorism.

    In addition to a temporary worker program for future immigrants, we have to address the fact that 11-12 million people are living in the United States illegally, most of them employed, many whose children were born here, and are, therefore, American citizens. Our economy has come to depend on people whose existence in our country is furtive, whose whereabouts and activities, in many cases, are unknown. I have listened to and understand the concerns of those who simply advocate sealing our borders and rounding up and deporting undocumented workers currently in residence here. But that=s easier said then done, Mr. President. Easier said than done. I have yet to hear a single proponent of this point of view offer one realistic proposal for locating, apprehending, and returning to their countries of origin over 11 million people. How do we do that? The columnist George Will quite accurately observed that it would take 200,000 buses extending along a 1700 mile long line to deport 11 million people. That's assuming we had the resources to locate and apprehend all 11 million, or even half that number, which we don=t have and, we all know, won't ever have. And even if we could exponentially increase the money and manpower dedicated to finding and arresting undocumented workers in this country, and inventing some deportation scheme on a scale that exceeds all reality, we would, by removing these people from their jobs, damage the American economy.

    Instead, what we have allowed to be in effect is a de facto amnesty, where, for all practical purposes, a permanent underclass of people live within our borders illegally, fearfully, subserviently, vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Most of these people aren't going anywhere. No matter how much we improve border security. No matter the penalties we impose on their employers. No matter how seriously they are threatened with punishment. We won't find most of them. We won't find most of their employers. There are jobs here that Americans aren't accepting, that people in other countries who have no future there will eagerly accept. They will find their way to those jobs, and employers who can't fill them any other way will employ them.

    And what of those we do apprehend? Do they have children who were born here? What shall we do with these Americans B and they are Americans by virtue of their birth here B when we deport their parents? Shall we build a lot of new orphanages? Find adoptive parents for them? Deny their citizenship and ship them back, too? No, Mr. President, we'll do none of these things. We'll simply continue our de facto amnesty program. Because we all know, we aren't going to find and deport so many millions and suffer the dislocation and agonizing moral dilemmas that such an impossible task would engender. So let's be honest about that, shall we?

    The opponents of our attempt to address undocumented workers in this country decry as amnesty our proposal to bring them out from their shadows and into compliance with our laws. No, Mr. President, it is not. Amnesty is, as I observed, for all practical purposes what exists today. We can pretend otherwise, but that doesn’t make it so. Amnesty is simply declaring people who entered the country illegally citizens of the United States, and imposing no other requirements on them. That is not what we do, Mr. President.


    Under the provisions of our legislation, undocumented workers will have incentives to declare their existence and comply with our laws. They may apply for a worker visa. They would be subjected to background checks. They must pay a substantial fine, pay their back taxes, learn English, and enroll in civic education, remain employed here for six years, and then, at the end of those six years, go to the back of the line to apply for legal permanent resident (LPR) status. I believe most undocumented workers will accept these requirements in order to escape the fear, uncertainty and vulnerability to exploitation they currently endure. And while those who have come here to do us harm won't come out of hiding to accept these conditions, we will at least be spared the Herculean task of finding and sorting through millions of people who came here simply to earn a living.

    What are our opponent's alternatives? Raid and shutter businesses in every city and state in the country? Clog our courts with millions of immigration cases? Offer illegal immigrants the not too appealing opportunity to Areport to deport? We propose a better solution that is consistent with our country's tradition of being a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.

    Mr. President, we are aware of the burdens illegal immigrants impose on our cities and counties and states. Those burdens, which are a federal responsibility, must be addressed. And we need also to face honestly the moral consequences of our current failed immigration system.

    As I mentioned previously, immigration reform is a matter of life and death for some. At this moment, someone may be dying in the Arizona desert. According to border patrol statistics, 330 people died in fiscal year 2004, and that figure increased by 43% B to 472 deaths in 2005. As temperatures in the deserts get higher and the desperation more tangible, we can only expect the death tolls to increase further this fiscal year.

    In October of 2003, the Arizona Republic ran a story entitled A205 Migrants Die Hard, Lonely Deaths. I would like to read an excerpt from that story. [Refer to article]

    “[In 2003] the bodies of 205 undocumented immigrants were found in Arizona. Official notations of their deaths are sketchy, contained in hundreds of pages of government reports.

    Beyond the official facts, there are sometimes little details, glimpses, of the people who died.

    Maria Hernandez Perez was No. 93. She was almost 2. She had thick brown hair and eyes the color of chocolate.

    Kelia Velazquez-Gonzalez, 16, carried a Bible in her backpack. She was No. 109.

    In some cases, stories of heroism or loyalty or love survive.

    Like the Border Patrol agent who performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on a dead man, hoping for a miracle. Or the group of migrants who, with law officers and paramedics, helped carry their dead companion out of the desert. Or the husband who sat with his dead wife through the night.

    Other stories are almost entirely lost in the desolate stretches that separate the United States and Mexico.

    Within weeks, the heat makes mummies out of men. Animals carry off their bones and belongings. Many say their last words to an empty sky.

    John Doe, No. 143, died with a rosary encircling his neck. His eyes were wide open.”

    Closing:

    I am hopeful that at the end of this debate in the weeks ahead, we can show the American people that we addressed a serious and urgent problem with sound judgment, honesty, common sense and compassion.

    There are over 11 million people in this country illegally. They harvest our crops, tend our gardens, work in our restaurants, care for our children, clean our homes. They came as others before them came, to grasp the lowest rung of the American ladder of opportunity, to work the jobs others won't, and by virtue of their own industry and desire, to rise and build better lives for their families and a better America. That is our history, Mr. President. We are not a tribe. We are not an ethnic conclave. We are a nation of immigrants, and that distinction has been essential to our greatness.

    Yes, in this post 9/11 era, America must enforce its borders. There are people who wish to come here to do us harm, and we must vigilantly guard against them, spend whatever it takes, devote as much manpower to the task as necessary. But we must also find some way to separate those who have come here for the same reasons every immigrant has come here from those who are driven here by their hate for us and our ideals. We must concentrate our resources on the latter and persuade the former to come out from the shadows. We won't be able to persuade them if all we offer is a guarded escort back to the place of hopelessness and injustice that they had fled.

    Why not say to those undocumented workers who are working the jobs that the rest of us refuse, come out from the shadows, earn your citizenship in this country? You broke the law to come here, so you must go to the back of the line, pay a fine, stay employed, learn our language, pay your taxes, obey our laws, and earn the right to be an American. Riayen Tejada immigrated to New York from the Dominican Republic. He came with two dreams, he said, to become an American citizen and to serve in the United States Marine Corps. He willingly accepted the obligations of American citizenship before he possessed all the rights of an American. Staff Sergeant Tejada, from Washington Heights by way of the Dominican Republic, the father of two young daughters, died in an ambush in Baghdad on May 14, 2004. He had never fulfilled his first dream to become a naturalized American citizen. But he loved this country so much that he gave his life to defend her. Right now, at this very moment, there are fighting for us in Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers who are not yet American citizens but who have dreamed that dream, and have risked their lives to defend it. They should make us proud, not selfish to be Americans.

    They came to grasp the lowest rung of the ladder, and they intend to rise. Let them rise. Let them rise. Let us take care to protect our country from harm, but let us not mistake the strengths of our greatness for weaknesses. We are blessed, bountiful, beautiful America - the land of hope and opportunity - the land of the immigrant's dreams. Long may she remain so.

    ~end~

    One of the longest strings of total BS I have ever read, he talks of "crops rotting in the field". Well, I live in a farming community, and I can tell you first hand what happens when a farmer loses money on a crop.. THEY PLANT A DIFFERENT CROP. how much lettuce do we need anyway? do we really need to grow the worlds supply? plant wheat, corn or whatever for biofuel.
    Anyway... his speech shows him for the fool he is... read and enjoy.
    martin97
     
  2. martin97

    martin97 Fuel busted Trucker. Founding Member

    Senator Jon Kyl

    The security of the United States and its citizens should be the first and foremost consideration in formulating border and immigration policies. Before the September 11 attacks, some people believed that it was not necessary to either effectively control our borders or collect important information about foreign visitors and other immigrants welcomed into our country. September 11 demonstrated the flaw in that thinking: Knowing whether terrorists are trying to enter the country, and whether visitors abide by their visas and respect our laws, are legitimate issues to be addressed in counterterrorism and immigration policies.

    Consider the profound effects that legal and illegal immigration can have. When people enter the country legally, they demonstrate their respect for our laws. We welcome foreign visitors to Arizona, who appreciate our wonderful climate, natural treasures, and southwestern hospitality, and support our local economy. When foreign workers enter legally, they can be matched with certain hard-to-fill or specialty jobs, offering skills to improve our communities, while earning a decent wage and having the chance to enjoy the American dream. Family reunification can be facilitated when people, in good faith, abide by our laws as they seek entry into our country.

    By contrast, illegal entry creates a series of problems. Our natural environment is damaged by many thousands of illegal border crossers, who trample sensitive lands and leave tons of trash behind them. Local governments are forced to devote an increasing share of scare resources to deal with illegal immigrants, as well as combating violent human traffickers and criminals who cross our border to take advantage of our open society – which in turn diminishes the ability of local governments to provide improved resources for their own citizens. Health care providers, who are obligated by Federal law to provide emergency care to illegal aliens regardless of their ability to pay, are compelled to cut back or eliminate emergency services, which impacts the ability of Arizonans to obtain care from hospitals and physicians.

    Turning a blind eye to illegal immigration, or sanctioning such behavior, undermines the rule of law in our country. It mocks those who wait patiently, sometimes for years, to enter the U.S. through legal channels. It encourages more people to immigrate illegally with the expectation that they, too, might benefit from some future amnesty. Any reform of our nation’s immigration laws should be careful to avoid amnesty by any name.

    Mitigating the Costs of Illegal Immigration to Local Communities

    When the federal government fails to secure the border, immigration-related costs to state and local governments, and American citizens, can skyrocket. For example, a study by the U.S.-Mexico Border Counties Coalition estimated that hospitals in Arizona were required to provide a whopping $100 million to $200 million a year in uncompensated health care for illegal aliens.

    Think what that means to health-care delivery in Arizona. A mother about to deliver her baby may encounter clogged emergency rooms and long wait times because hospitals must devote scarce resources to also treat illegal aliens. Since they are not compensated for the care they are required to provide, hospitals have only a few choices: pass on the costs to paying patients (usually American citizens); absorb the costs; or limit (or eliminate) services they provide to the community.

    Recognizing that health-care providers and state and local governments are required to bear these costs because of the federal government’s failure to secure the borders, Congress has begun to provide reimbursement. Before 2001, Congress reimbursed some of the states that were most affected by illegal immigration just $25 million a year; Arizona’s hospitals were unable to obtain a significant portion of that funding. That changed when, as a member of the Senate Finance Committee and a member of the House-Senate conference committee on the Medicare prescription-drug bill, I won passage of $1 billion through 2007 to reimburse hospitals for the federally mandated, but uncompensated, emergency medical care they provide to illegal immigrants. And I made sure Arizona is finally assured a fair allocation of those funds. I have continued to pressure the Mexican government to expeditiously accept the transfer of stabilized Mexican patients from Arizona hospitals when those Mexicans are illegally in the U.S. and unable to pay for their care.

    Aside from uncompensated health-care costs, communities are also required to bear the costs of arresting, prosecuting, and jailing illegal immigrants who commit other crimes. According to a study by the University of Arizona, those costs amounted to as much as $125 million per year – and that was just in the 28 southwestern border counties in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas. I have recently introduced legislation (described below) that would ensure the Federal government reimburses States and localities for the costs incurred in dealing with such criminals.

    Strengthening the Law

    As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, and chairman of its Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security, I have played an active role in improving security along the border. On July 20, 2005, I joined Senator John Cornyn in introducing the Comprehensive Enforcement and Immigration Reform Act (CEIRA). Our bill would authorize significant increases in personnel and funds needed to control our borders and to enforce the immigration laws in the interior of the U.S. CEIRA contains overdue fixes to numerous long-standing problems. Among other things, it would prevent the release of dangerous criminal aliens until they were removed from the U.S.; combat document fraud through increased training; enhance detention space to deter illegal migration; and reimburse Arizona for the funds expended enforcing Federal immigration laws. CEIRA would also ensure the immigration laws are enforced at the workplace, by requiring employers to accept only improved identity and work eligibility documents, increasing penalties and fines against non-compliant employers, and providing funding for a corps of worksite investigators. CEIRA contains a temporary worker program that would allow businesses to employ foreign laborers on a temporary basis after proving that no U.S. workers are available. It will also call on foreign governments to do their part by agreeing with the U.S. in bilateral agreements to quickly accept repatriation of their citizens who are illegally in the U.S., assisting in reducing criminal gangs and human trafficking, and controlling illegal immigration.

    CEIRA does not offer an amnesty to illegal aliens – they would have to depart the U.S. within 5 years, and are encouraged to depart earlier through a series of inducements. Like many Arizonans, I do not believe that foreign nationals should profit from having illegally entered the U.S. by converting their status to that of lawful permanent residents (which is the pathway to citizenship). If “amnesty” means anything, it means receiving an advantage for citizenship from illegal activity.

    CEIRA is one of the latest bills that I have cosponsored to solve our immigration problems; but I’ve been working to secure the borders and to ensure the integrity of the immigration system for years. Among other things, I wrote the provisions of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 that boosted the number of Border Patrol agents to protect our borders. I also secured over $200 million for the Customs Service to hire more inspectors and procure more high-tech equipment to help detect terrorists. I helped write the Border Security and Enhanced Visa Entry Reform Act with a bipartisan group of senators. The Act significantly overhauled visa-processing and border policies, and speeded the implementation of the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program. US-VISIT has now been implemented at all air, sea and land ports through which visitors to the U.S. are permitted to enter.

    I have worked every fiscal year from 1995 through 2006 to improve and increase U.S. assets on the southern border through a variety of appropriations bills. I have secured increased funding for Border Patrol vehicles, patrol stations, equipment, and infrastructure; border fences and vehicle barriers; detention facilities and bed space; SENTRI lanes; records modernization; interior enforcement; and additional legal staff to process criminal aliens.

    The latest appropriation for the Department of Homeland Security includes funding for a host of initiatives that I have long advocated for Arizona. These include a total of nearly $9 billion for securing the nation’s borders with increased personnel. Those monies include $1.7 billion for hiring of 1,000 new Border Patrol agents and $1.4 billion to increase detention capacity. The appropriation also funds a variety of other projects I have sponsored, dedicating $1.3 billion to DHS investigations and intelligence programs, adding 250 additional investigators to enforce worksite and other immigration laws, and supporting the $536 million expansion of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s air and marine capabilities. Further, $35 million is appropriated for the construction of tactical infrastructure along the Arizona border, such as roads, barriers and lights. These investments, known as “force multipliers,” will dramatically improve the Border Patrol’s ability to reach and provide coverage of the more remote sections of the desert. They will be augmented by the construction of new Border Patrol stations in Willcox and Sonoita, providing bases for operations as well as processing and detention facilities. A total of $3.3 billion is included for first responder grants and assistance; $40 million for grants to States to implement the REAL ID Act of 2005, which standardizes requirements for state-issued drivers’ licenses and makes them harder to counterfeit; $1.3 billion in grants to support state, local and urban governments’ efforts to equip, train and exercise personnel and assess their levels of emergency preparedness; $400 million for local law enforcement grants related to terrorism prevention; and $655 million in grants for upgrades and improvements for local firefighters, emergency medical personnel, and other first responders. Finally, the bill sets aside $340 million to continue the development of US Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US VISIT).
     
  3. Tango3

    Tango3 Aimless wanderer

    YADDA.. YADDDA..YADDDA ... Not enough workers to clean hotel rooms.... sounds like a necessary check on growth if you ask me (too many hotel rooms?)....
     
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