Congressman Rohrabacher's Floor Speech on Senate passage of S. 2611
Washington, May 25, 2006 -
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Inglis of South Carolina). Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 4, 2005, the gentleman from California (Mr. Rohrabacher) is recognized for the remaining time until midnight.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleagues for opening up this discussion on illegal immigration.
We heard a few moments ago another one of our colleagues describe Federal spending that is basically out of control at this moment as the single greatest danger to our way of life. I would suggest that one of the reasons that Federal spending is out of control is because illegal immigration is out of control, and we will never have the spending of the Federal Government under control until we stop the massive influx of illegal immigrants into our country.
Yes, al Qaeda is a threat; yes, Communist China is a threat. But I would suggest that the greatest threat that is clear and present in its danger to the American people is that of the massive influx of illegal immigrants into our society, an invasion, if you will, of America by foreigners who are coming here against our will.
The Senate passed an immigration bill earlier today. The fact that they passed an immigration bill reflects the fact that the American people are now aware of the dangers posed by this incredible influx of illegal immigrants into our country. Yet, we have our government passing legislation like that of the United States Senate, which will in the end do nothing but make this situation worse.
The bill that passed the United States Senate is a travesty. It is a cruel hoax on the American people, using the title ``Immigration'' to let people think that something is being done that will in some way curb this massive influx of millions of foreigners into our country. It will not. It will make the situation worse, and any rational analysis of that bill will lead to that conclusion.
Sixty-one senators voted for that bill in the United States Senate; thirty-six voted against it. Of those who were opposing it, all but four of them were Democrats. Yes, four Democrats basically opposed the bill. All the rest were in favor. The majority of Republicans then actually opposed the bill coming out of the Republican-controlled Senate.
Well, Mr. Speaker, the massive influx of illegal immigrants into our country has been no accident. In fact, those people who passed the Senate bill today, many of them are personally responsible for this travesty, this horrible threat to America.
It is, instead, this massive influx of illegals into our country, not an accident but a result of an intentional strategy on the part ofAmerica's political elite like those in the United States Senate, to have illegals come into our country in this great number.
Why is that the policy of the United States Government not to do anything to stop this influx? That is their policy. It is because the business community wants cheap labor. It is also because the movers and shakers of the liberal left in this country, consistent with their Tammany Hall traditions want more political pawns who are dependent upon government programs, and a massive influx of illegals into this country fit that billet very well.
So you have very powerful economic interests wanting cheap labor, and so they want to exploit these poor immigrants pouring into our country. You have got the liberal left that is trying to exploit them politically. These are powerful forces which are reflected in the votes in this body and in the United States Senate.
Well, these people got what they wanted. These are people that over the years have been deciding what policies we would have or not have, and they got exactly what they wanted.
Bear Stearns estimates there are now between 15 and 20 million illegals in this country, in our country, 15 to 20 million people who should not be here and are not here legally. Well, the downside of this folly is becoming ever more evident.
In education, we hear about overcrowding. We hear about the decline of quality in our schools. Well, the States are spending $7.4 billion annually to provide a kindergarten through 12th grade education to illegal immigrants. Without school-age illegal immigrants and the children of illegal immigrants, school enrollment would not have risen at all in the past decade. Our limited education dollars are being expended not for our own children's benefit but for the children of foreigners who have come here illegally. That is a crime against our own youth, spending billions of dollars which should be spent for their education instead going to the children of people who have come here illegally.Our health care system is also under siege. Illegal immigrants account for 43 percent of those without health insurance in our country. So, at least $9 billion of our scarce health care dollars are being spent on foreigners who have come here illegally.
So business gets cheap labor, the rest of us end up picking up the hospital costs, and as well as bearing the burden of closed hospital emergency rooms, as well as the insurance health care that we have to pay for our own families. This skyrocketing health care can be traced right back to illegal immigrants because what happens is when they do not have insurance, when they are treated, their bill is simply added on to our bill and sent to the insurance companies who we have to pay for.
Almost 30 percent of all Federal prisoners are foreign born. So our criminal justice system is breaking at the seams. That is one out of every three Federal prisoners is foreign born, and the estimates are at cost estimates of $22,517 are necessary to incarcerate an illegal immigrant for 1 year, and that, by the way, is just a small part of the price Americans are paying.
What do you think about the other price we are paying? The property damage, the theft that is traced to criminal aliens who are not supposed to be here? Who can put a price tag on the violent attacks that our citizens are bearing, the murders, the rapes? All of these are perpetrated by foreign marauders who should not be here but are only here because of the incompetence and the cowardice and, yes, the will of America's political elite.
Yet, less easily recognized, of course, the price we are paying is the quality of life for millions of American families who are being robbed of higher standards of living because the wages of the working member of their family or of both working members of their family, those wages are being bid down by hordes of people who are not even supposed to be here.
A study by Harvard University professor George Boros shows immigration accounts for the entire decline of real wages in some sector of our economy, and this has affected so many of our countrymen, but others at the top, of course, do not feel that pain. They, in fact, are being helped by illegals even as those illegals bid down the wages of those lower 50 percent of our countrymen.
Competition from the growing number of illegal immigrant labor over these last 20 years means American workers are earning an average of $1,700 less than they would otherwise be earning. Well, who is getting hurt? Unemployment among Americans with less than a high school degree, unemployment among that group is at almost 15 percent. They have been bid right out of the market by illegal aliens coming here, and whether we are talking about education, health care, food stamps, housing assistance, school breakfast, school lunch programs, all intended for struggling Americans, all of these programs are being drained to one extent or another by people who have come here illegally and paid little or perhaps even nothing into the system before they begin consuming these services.
It is estimated that the average illegal alien uses $2,700 more in government services than he pays in taxes, and that is those people who have been here for a while as well. What about the people who have just come here and they have children with them who enrolled them in school and have not paid anything into the system? All of this is coming right out of the hide of America's least fortunate citizens. This is a crime that is being perpetrated by America's elites onto America's least fortunate citizens. It is a betrayal of their fellow Americans for whom these programs were intended.
So I would suggest that we take a close look at what is going on and what has caused this illegal immigration.
First of all, let us note this. Since 9/11, protecting America against terrorism, which is also being impacted, our ability to protect ourselves against terrorism is being affected by this out-of-control flow of illegals into our society. Supposedly since 9/11 for the last 3 or 4 years, this has been our highest priority. Yet, over these 3 years, millions, millions have crossed our borders illegally. Every night we see evidence on TV that that flow continues unabated.
Who are these people flowing across our border? What is this army of foreigners who are coming across the border every day? Who are they? Are al Qaeda terrorists part of these people? Well, certainly we know that thousands of the people who have been apprehended at the border have not been Mexicans, and many of them have not been Latin Americans. Many of them have been people from Arab countries, but we can assume that the fact that we have a border and that so many of the people are getting through and so few of them are being stopped that this just has not escaped the attention of those people in al Qaeda who want to kill 10s of thousands of Americans if they get their chance.
So we expect they didn't take advantage of this opportunity to get into America?
Well, I would suggest that we have permitted a monstrous threat to come into being by permitting our borders to continue to be open just like a spaghetti strainer and letting all kinds of people, millions of people in, in these last 3 years, and now these people have embedded themselves in America.
Now, how many of them hate America? How many of them are terrorists? We don't know. If even 1 percent of the Mexican illegals that are coming into this country subscribe to this reconquista theory, that the Mexicans have a right to reconquer the Southwest, and at some point when they get to the point where they can start committing acts of terrorism in order to push their agenda, we have bitten off more than our next generation is going to be able to chew. We have set up the future generations of Americans for a terrorist attack the threat of which will pale in comparison, will make the al Qaeda threat we face today pale in comparison.
So let us note that by not coming to grips with illegal immigration, we have not even come to grips with the number one threat we were supposed to be dealing with, which was al Qaeda, after the 9/11 attacks.
Let me note, before we go on with this discussion, that we are not just talking about a border problem when we discuss illegal immigration. I feel all too often that people are talking about the border, the border, the border; and the fact is that this only focuses on America's southern border. There is a northern border where there is a problem as well.
I happen to believe that we are talking not about a border problem, but an illegal immigration problem. And it is not a Mexican problem; it is an illegal immigration problem. We have a northern border.
We also have large numbers of people coming to this country with visas, and they just mingle right into the population after they get off those airplanes. You never hear or see from them again. And we have no idea how many people have received visas to come to this country that have just overstayed their visas. This, too, has been a long-term problem that has not been worked upon and that the decision-makers in this country have not moved to correct the system to prevent millions of people from coming to this country and just overstaying their visas and becoming illegal residents of our country.
What we are talking about here is probably 4 to 5 million people. My Subcommittee on International Relations, the Subcommittee on Investigation and Oversight, had a hearing where it was estimated that at least 4 million people have come here and overstayed their visas. And who they are, we don't know, because we don't know who returned and who didn't. All we know is there are Chinatowns and towns with huge Asian populations springing up all over America, and it is inconceivable that all of these people are coming here legally.
Well, even if you just look at weak border protection, and we cannot just look at that, we have to look at the visa situation, but even when looking at these two weaknesses, that is not what causes the flow of illegals into our country. There are many countries that have very weak border systems, very weak visa systems, but you don't see illegals flooding into their country. You know why? Because in many of those countries they will kick them out immediately when they are discovered. That is number one. But number two, those countries do not give jobs and benefits to illegal immigrants.The United States of America has offered any illegal that comes here the ability to receive a treasure-trove of benefits and a huge amount of money compared to what they would make in their own country, simply if they can make it across the border. And even if we fix all the holes in the border and make it strong, even if the President sends 6,000 National Guard troops to the border, which I think was just frankly not an offer that should be taken seriously, considering the jobs that the President suggested those National Guard troops would be doing. They wouldn't be carrying any weapons; so they are going to be basically driving people around and manning observation posts. Why don't we send a group of valets? Just hire valets from the private sector and send them down to the border.
The fact is that as long as we are giving jobs and benefits that so enrich the people from the Third World that hundreds of millions of them long to come to the United States, they will come. Just like there was the story of that baseball field. Build it and they will come. Well, give a treasure to people who can come here illegally, and they will come. There is no doubt.
Then, of course, what is another draw? Another draw is if they come, not only will they get jobs and benefits, but now, if the Senate has its way, they are going to have their status legalized. They can call it amnesty. You don't have to call it amnesty. The President seems to think he can talk to us and be taken seriously by defining amnesty as something that nobody in the world defines as amnesty: automatic citizenship. That is not amnesty. Amnesty is someone who is here illegally and we make their status legal. That is an amnesty.
And what will happen if we do that, as the Senate bill would have us do? Well, in 1986, we saw that it caused an influx of what we believe now to be at least 15 million illegals into our country. The amnesty as proposed by the Senate should bring another 20 or 40 million illegals into our country.
One other thing that really draws people from the Third World to the United States of America is that we give citizenship to the child of any woman who can make it across the border. There are illegal operations to bring women across the border who are about to have babies. Some of them are coming from Korea, some fromChina, and some from Mexico; and there are hundreds of thousands of babies being born in this country that will be granted automatic citizenship and have the rights of every one of our children. Then they go home and, do you know what, in about 15 to 18 years they are going to come back and they are going to demand to bring their families with them. So we will have another load of probably 10 to 20 million people demanding the right to come here.
We are destroying America's future by not coming to grips with this horrendous threat. At the very least, we have to cut off benefits, to make it hard for them to get a job. Do not, not, give automatic citizenship or an amnesty which will attract tens of millions to the United States.
Our government has failed us. The disastrous consequences of this massive illegal flow of foreigners into our country is becoming ever, ever more evident. And, of course, to add insult to injury, those elected officials who are supposed to be watching out for our interests have turned a blind eye to this fundamental threat to our way of life.
As I say, this invasion of foreigners into our country, this invasion of illegal immigrants into the United States has been no accident. A long time ago it was decided not to do what was necessary to stop it. Permitting a massive flow of illegal immigrants into our country, as I say, has been intentional on the part of America's elite. Yes, as I mentioned, the business community wants cheap labor and the movers and shakers on the left want political pawns. And they have got them.
But it is changing our way of life. It is not just giving these people power at the top of the scale and the political manipulators, it is changing the way of life for regular Americans. Middle-class Americans, as I say, are having their wages bid down. And many people right now can no longer afford to buy a home, people whose parents could afford to buy a home.
Young people, of course, don't mow the lawns any more. There was an L.A. Times reporter waiting on my front lawn saying, you know, who mows your lawn? Of course, I am gone 3 or 4 days a week, so I don't mow it all the time. But we rent, and the lady who rents her house to us, her brother actually does the lawn. So I explained that, and he was all frustrated because he wanted to try to catch me where I would have been using illegal immigrant help. And it is very hard not to. It is like trying to buy things not made in China.
But I said, well, I don't use illegal immigrant help. I try not to. And he said, well, what if I told you all your neighbors are using illegals to do their lawns? I said, you know, that would be really sad, because when I was a kid, I used to mow the lawns for pocket change. That is how I earned my spending money when I was a kid.
I think that we are changing our way of life now. We are changing our way of life. I used to work for a gardener that would go around and do landscaping for people. Those jobs now are all being taken up by illegals who have come into this country, and it is changing the way we live and the responsibilities that we give our children, and it is not good. This is not a good change.
Basically, people have been hiring nannies, foreigners to come in and take care of their children because it is cheap. Well, let me note, grandparents used to spend a lot of time taking care of people's children. I know in my household, my wife had triplets 2 years ago, and it has been a great hardship on us. But it has made my family so much more together as the grandparents, Grandpa Al and Grandma Gladys and Grandma Norma, have come in and helped our family.
But, of course, a lot of people just hire an illegal immigrant nanny. And by the way, they shouldn't be hiring illegal immigrant nannies. If they are going to hire nannies, they should hire American women.
I was on a program and there was a woman on that program who suggested that she couldn't find an American woman to do that job. Well, she was a very wealthy woman, and I will tell you what happened. There are lots of American women who would like to have helped her 5 hours a day to take care of her children for $20 an hour. But, no, she chose to hire an illegal for probably $50 a day. And who is worse off? That poor American woman who would love to supplement her family's income. And the illegal is a little bit better off. But who is really better off is this very wealthy American woman who saved $50 every day by hiring an illegal and then didn't have to even give them health insurance.
So this invasion of illegals is changing our way of life, and it is undermining the well-being of our people. And as I just mentioned, education, health care, and criminal justice all are under incredible pressure, incredible pressure, because of this flow.
Resources? Let's just put it this way: resources are being spent on foreigners rather than on our own people. And those who have been supposedly watching out for the interests of the American people have been turning a blind eye to this problem. Americans who are looking for help from their own elected officials have found no help from their elected officials, who are instead responding to these very powerful interest groups.
The United States Senate just answered the cry of the American people for help by passing a bill that will make the situation worse. That is right, make it worse. The core provision of the Senate bill, around which all the rest is organized and everything else is crammed in around it, but the core of the bill is a so-called guest workers program.
The guest workers program, as part of it, is a legalization of the status of those 15 to 20 million illegals who are now in the country. Yeah, they have to do this and they have to do that, but they end up immediately, if they are willing to do so, to sign up, they immediately have their status and their family's status legalized. The Senate bill changes the status of these intruders from illegal to legal.Whatever you call it, if we legalize the status for those who skipped the line and came here in violation of our law, we are telling the hundreds of millions of foreigners waiting to come to America, they are waiting in line to come here legally, we are telling them they are a bunch of saps. And if we do that, and we let these other people have their status changed to legal, we will start a stampede to America, as I say, just like what happened in 1986, only worse.
No matter what is done to strengthen the border, any benefit of doing that will be overwhelmed by dramatically increasing the pull that results from such legalization of illegal immigrants.So the Senate bill makes things worse. As I say, the core of it is the guest workers program and legalization.
What about the rest of the bill? The rest of the Senate bill is just as bad. It guarantees in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. Our kids may have to pay full price, full freight, if they cross State lines to go to school in another State. Illegal immigrants coming from another country do not have to pay that. They get in-state tuition. Now that is a way that we can deter people from coming here, give them a free college education.
All agricultural workers under this bill cannot be fired by their employers except for what the bill calls ``just cause.'' However, American agricultural workers can still be fired for any reason at all. We are giving more benefits to illegals than our own people. Who is the American Government watching out for? Ask the United States Senators that question, the Senators that voted for the Senate bill.
The Senate bill will make illegal immigrants eligible for Social Security. Let me repeat that. May I suggest that those people who are reading this in the Congressional Record or watching on C-SPAN pay close attention. Mr. and Mrs. America, the Senate bill makes illegal immigrants eligible for Social Security. Wake up America. What is that going to do to the Social Security system? The Senate voted to make illegal immigrants eligible for Social Security. Hundreds of millions of people who are living in poverty throughout the world with no pension that is available to them will now know that the United States Senate has voted to make illegal immigrants part of America's pension system; and if they can just get here, they can be part of America's pension system.
Oh, that is a good way to deter people from wanting to come here. We are talking about hundreds of millions of people are going to get this message: if they can make it here, they can get their hands on Social Security pension money. And let me note, Social Security is not just a pension system.
Social Security is also a survivor's benefit program. So when illegals come here and work, and if an illegal dies or an immigrant dies and he is part of the Social Security system, we are going to have to take care of that immigrant's children until they are 18. This is so easy to game this system. Mark my words, within 10 years if this becomes law, if the Senators have their way, we will be sending payments to people all over Latin America and Mexico and all over China to take care of the children who are the survivors of the people who are now dead who had worked in the Social Security system. This is a catastrophe in the making. It is mind-boggling that United StatesSenators who are supposed to be representing the interests of the American people have voted to give Social Security benefits to illegal immigrants. This is at a time when we are trying to keep the Social Security system solvent. We are struggling to keep it in existence so it can be used by our own people who have been putting money into it for their entire life.
Just as bizarre, the Senate bill makes any foreigner who is here as part of this guest worker program that they are setting up eligible for what they call the earned income tax credit. That means we are going to give them cash payments if they do not make a certain amount of money while they are here.
The final insult, the Senate bill also provides taxpayer grants to those nonprofit groups which are fighting against America's efforts to kick out illegals. It is going to pay money to these NGOs to help them legalize their status, which means fight our attempts to get the illegals out.
There are a number of other provisions to the bill. It also says all of these illegals that are going to be part of this guest worker program are going to have to be paid the prevailing wage. And of course government bureaucracy is going to determine what the prevailing wage is. Here we are talking about changing our way of life, we are going to have to set up a government bureaucracy of unelected officials to determine what the wages are to be paid for different provisions, for these various jobs.
This is not an immigration bill that has passed the Senate. It is a pro-illegal immigrant. It is a let us boost the number of foreigners coming into Americadramatically. In fact, the Senate bill would increase the legal immigration into our country so dramatically it has been estimated there might be as many as 200 million more legal immigrants coming into our country than if we do not pass the bill.
I am very, very proud that our country permits more than a million legal immigrants to come into our country. They should have every right of every American. I am 100 percent for that. We can absorb a million legal immigrants. But to quadruple that and bring in their families and have all of these new provisions so there are 200 million more after 20 years, it sounds like somebody is trying to replace the population of the United States.
Who is being represented? Our government is supposed to be watching out for our interests, the American people, the American people of every race, religion, and background. The only thing that we have that ties us together is we are citizens and are loyal to each other. The government is not being loyal to the people when it seeks to bring in so many foreigners to bring down wages and undercut our way of life.
The bill from the Senate would be a disaster if it becomes law. But we are told over and over again we have to have this law because it is a comprehensive bill. Americaneeds a comprehensive bill, we are told. Why? We do not need a comprehensive bill. We need things to go through Congress for which those people who vote for it can be held accountable. We do not need huge bills that can sneak things in and make things law that are bad for the people but hard for the people to understand because they are part of a comprehensive bill. No, let us pass several small bills.
The House has a great bill that we have passed. The bill strengthens the border and strengthens border enforcement and also makes employers, it holds them accountable and it enforces the law that employers cannot hire illegals because it forces them to check to see if the people they are hiring are here illegally or not, and it provides a system to help them check. That is what the House bill does.
The Senate bill on the other hand guts all of the enforcement provisions, guts those parts of the House bill that would strengthen the border and, instead, focuses on giving illegal immigrants Social Security, providing a guest worker program, and legalizing the status of those people, those 15 to 20 million people who are here illegally.
Why are they insistent in the Senate on this program which will so dramatically increase the number of foreigners coming into our country? We hear they say that they have to do this because there are jobs that Americans won't do. I suggest that Americans will do any job as long as he or she is being paid a decent wage. Yes, if you have to pay janitors more money, let us pay them more money. Is there any reason in the world why janitors shouldn't make a decent wage? Or why the people changing sheets in hotel rooms shouldn't be making a decent wage?
I worked as a janitor when I was young. Janitors are making the same amount of money now as when I was a janitor 40 years ago. Why? Because illegal immigrants have come into our society in great numbers and have bid down the salary that janitors can get.Why is it that American women who can work for 5 hours a day while their kids are in school, would be willing to change those sheets for a decent wage, why are they being denied those jobs? We are being told Americans won't do it. They are going to bring more and more foreigners in to do those kinds of jobs. It will mean that the 50 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 50 who are not working, they are just going to be left right out of the market. They cannot come back as we used to do and work part-time. They will not be lured into working because wages are higher. They are saying we cannot live without foreign labor. That is wrong. We can, but we have to pay our people a decent wage, and the American people deserve a decent wage. They do not deserve to have the market disrupted every time you have to pay more money to a worker, we just bring somebody in from the outside.
If it is free enterprise for the manufacturer, it should be free enterprise for the workers as well.
What about the crops? They say the crops are going to end up rotting in the field. That is not true. First of all, we will pay more. We will pay more, and you will get more people out there. But only 25 percent of all farm workers are foreigners anyway. So we have to come up with 25 percent who are foreigners. How about using prisoners to pick the crops? How about that? I kept saying that and people started laughing at me.
Well, I got visited by some people from the agricultural industry, and I asked, how would that work? We could have people who are in prison costing us tens of thousands of dollars to keep them in prison, they could earn their own way because they could go out and learn to pick fruits and vegetables, and they would be paid a market rate. They would be volunteers. This is not a chain gang. By the end of their incarceration, they may have earned $30,000 or $40,000, some money to pay restitution to their victim, some money to take care of the expense of taking care of them because they have committed a crime and maybe $10,000 or $20,000 to put in their pocket. That would be better for everybody than just bringing in tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of foreign workers.
Yes, we have a lot of people who can do those jobs, whether people in prisons or people who are disabled who could be trained if we didn't have a massive influx of people who can do it cheaper, but we have to be creative.
I am asked what is your solution. We keep hearing we are going to have to have legalization or normalization, or we are going to have mass deportation. There is no mass deportation. This is disingenuous. That is one of the things that has made me the angriest about the people on the other side of this argument, making these kinds of arguments that are totally irrelevant to reality. No one has ever suggested mass deportations.
But I can say if we simply cut off the jobs, cut off those jobs, make sure the employer has to check to verify that it is a legal that he is hiring, cut off the benefits so we do not have people having their children get free health care and education and housing, these people will go home if you cut off their jobs and benefits. It is called attrition. It will work. It does not need to work overnight, but if you sense the trend going in the right direction, attrition will work.
The Senate bill of legalization will cause a new massive flood into our society. We need to cut off the benefits, cut off the jobs. We need an ID card that makes sure that every American who goes to get his benefits, that the people know he is eligible because he or she is an American citizen. We need to make sure that the Social Security card is tamperproof, and that there is a way to check so employers can know if they are hiring an illegal or not. We can do that.
Mr. and Mrs. America, we can solve this problem. We can save our country. We can save our country for our children; but wake up,America. We are losing our country right now. We need all Americans to stand up right now and determine whether or not their elected representative is representing their interest or the powerful interests that have created this problem of a massive influx of illegals into our country.
Judge your representative, and if your representative is not watching out for America, is not watching out for you, kick him out. That is what democracy is all about. We have had too many people who have left it up to the elected officials.
In the next 3 months, America needs to be fired up and say we are going to watch out for our families and our country. That is not selfish. We care about people all over the world, but it is not wrong to take care of your family and countrymen first before you spend all of your resources on foreigners, and then bring down the standard of living of your own people.
I believe Americais at a crossroads. This is an important bill. This will determine whether or not the American way of life, where huge numbers of people can live decent standards of living, we will be determining that by whether or not we permit this massive influx of foreigners into our country.
So I ask the American people who are listening, get active. Judge your representative and make sure that your representative is watching out for you. The question to ask is: Whose side are you on? If your representative is not on your side, Mr. And Mrs. America, kick them out of their job.