Congressman Rohrabacher's Speech to the American People on Illegal Immigration
Washington, May 23, 2006 -
I thank you very much, and associate myself with your remarks. I think what is really important at this point is that every American understands that the massive influx of illegal immigrants into our country has not been an accident. It is, instead, the result of an intentional strategy on the part of America's political elite.
Yes, the laws are not being enforced, just as you said. That is an intentional decision by someone that those laws are not enforced. The business community wants cheap labor. The movers and shakers of the liberal left, consistent with their Tammany Hall traditions want more political pawns who are dependent on government programs. They got what they wanted. Bear Stearns estimates that are there are between 15 and 20 million illegals now in our country.
By the way, one area I might disagree a little bit with my friend, although it is really not a disagreement, it is just not the border. Of the 15 to 20 million illegals, 4 to 5 million of them are visa overstayers, people who have come into our country on a visa and just overstayed their visa and melded right into the population. Many, many are from Mainland China, for example. And the decision of not having a visa system in which we check to see if anybody returns once they have come to the United States has been a conscious decision. We are not going to correct this problem.
Well, my own subcommittee held a hearing on that, and it was demonstrable that over the last two decades we have had a huge influx of people just overstaying their visa and becoming illegally part of our country.
The downside of all of this, 15 to 20 million illegals in our country, is becoming increasingly evident. In education we hear about overcrowding and the declining quality of our schools. The States are spending $7.4 billion annually to provide K through 12 education to people who aren't supposed to be here in the first place.
Without school age illegal immigrants or the children of illegal immigrants, school enrollment would not have risen at all during the past decade. So when you hear about overcrowding or the decline of our education, that is where it starts. Our limited education dollars are being expended not for our children's benefit, but for children of foreigners who have come here illegally. That is a crime against America's youth. Our children are being denied a quality education because of our cowardice or incompetence to deal with this issue.
Similarly, our health care system is under siege. Illegal aliens account for 43 percent of those without health insurance in our country. At least $9 billion then of our scarce health care dollars are being spent on foreigners who have come here illegally.
Yes, business gets their cheap labor. The rest of us end up with closed hospital emergency rooms and skyrocketing health insurance costs, which can be traced, among other things, to the care that is given to illegal aliens, which is then simply added on to our bill and sent to our insurance companies.
The effect on our criminal justice system has been no less catastrophic. Almost 30 percent of Federal prisoners are now foreign born. That is one out of every three Federal prisoners. In California, for example, about one out of every four persons in our prisons are illegal. The estimated cost, of course, of incarcerating an illegal for a year is $22,517 per year.
And that is only a small price that the American people are paying. Think of the other price, the price of the theft and property damage that is traced to these criminal aliens. And who can put a price tag on the violent attacks, the murders, the rapes, perpetrated by these foreign marauders?
And less easily recognized, millions of American families are being robbed of a higher quality of life and a higher standard of living as wages are bid down by hordes of job seekers who are not even supposed to be here in our country. A study by Harvard University professor George Boris shows immigration accounts for the entire decline of real wages that has affected so many of our countrymen in the past two decades. Competition from the growing number of illegal immigrant laborers in the past 20 years means American workers are earning, get this, an average of $1,700 less every year than they would have otherwise been earning.
Now, who gets hurt? Well, unemployment among Americans with less than a high school education is at 14 percent. Fourteen percent of those Americans who don't have a high school education are out of work, with no hope. And who is taking their jobs?
Many of our citizens find they have a decline in pay in terms of real dollars. And who are these people who are mainly finding that their pay level is going down? It is the people on the bottom end of the scale. The less fortunate Americans we are trying to help are the ones who are being hurt the most by illegal immigrants.
So whether we are talking about education, health care, food stamps, housing assistance, school breakfast and lunch programs, all of which were intended for struggling Americans, all of these are being drained to one extent or another by people who have come here illegally, and in many cases these people have paid little or nothing into the system.
It is estimated that the average illegal alien uses $2,700 or more in government services more than he pays in taxes. That is coming right out of the hide of America's least fortunate citizens. This is a crime perpetrated by America's elite on America's least fortunate people. It is a betrayal of our fellow Americans for whom these programs were intended.
Now, we keep hearing we need these illegals. We need people coming in to do jobs that Americans won't do. Well, that is so much baloney. Americans will do these jobs. If Americans are paid a decent wage, Americans will do the jobs.
I was on a TV show recently where a woman said she couldn't find an American woman to help take care of her children. This was a very wealthy person who ended up hiring an illegal Mexican woman. Yes, she hired her probably at about $50. She wouldn't hire the American woman down the road who would be glad to work for her for $20 an hour while her own kids are going to school, thus paying her $100 a day.
Who was worse off? The worse off person is the American woman who would have loved to have worked for that job. Yes, the illegal got a little money, 50 bucks. Who is really better off? The rich lady who got that illegal at half the price she would have had to pay an American. This goes right down the line to so many other jobs.
We say now there are a lot of jobs, for example, in hotels. Yes, hotels, they say they need illegals to change the sheets in the hotel rooms. There are lots of American women who would love so help us with child care and help with changing the sheets in the motel room if we would pay them a decent wage. But we have hordes of illegals coming into this country bidding down those prices so those American women stay at home and have no job at all. Who is being hurt? Regular Americans are being hurt by this.
The open-borders crowd are now throwing their weight behind the current Senate bill. Wake up America. This is the same gang that brought this crisis upon us, and the Senate bill will make the situation worse.
Even the bill before us from the United States Senate is not an anti-illegal immigration bill. It is a pro-immigration, a pro-illegal immigration bill, because that will be the impact.
The core provisions of the Senate bill around which everything else orbits is the so-called guest worker program, and the legalization status of those 15 to 20 million illegals who are now in our country. The Senate bill changes the status of these millions of intruders from illegal to legal.
The President does not want to call that amnesty. I call that amnesty, and there is no other definition I know for it. You are changing the status from illegal to legal of people who have come here in violation of our law.
Whatever you call it, if you legalize the status of those who skipped the line and came here in violation of our country's law, we are telling hundreds of millions of foreigners who are waiting to come to this country legally, they are waiting in line overseas, we are telling them they are a bunch of saps.
We will start a stampede towards America, just like what happened the last time we legalized the status of people who were here illegally back in 1986. No matter what is done to strengthen the border, any benefit from strengthening the border will be overwhelmed by the dramatically increased pull which is a result of legalizing the status of these millions of illegals who are in our country.
Now, the rest of the Senate bill. What does it include? It guarantees in-state tuition for illegals. Your kid has to pay full tuition if he crosses a border of a State line. These illegals do not. Now that is a way not to give anybody incentive to come here to our country.
And agricultural guest workers under this bill cannot be fired by their employers except for what the bill calls ``just cause''. However, American agricultural workers can be fired for any reason. Oh, well, that is going to keep them away from our country, isn't it?
The Senate bill will make illegal aliens eligible for Social Security. Get that, America. Wake up, America. The Senate has voted to give illegal immigrants Social Security. Hundreds of millions of desperate people living in poverty throughout the world who have no pension system available to them now know that the United States Senate has voted to make them part of America's pension system if they can just get here.
This is beyond absurd. This is bizarre. This is horrible. We are including people who have come here illegally in America's pension system and expecting that not to attract tens of millions of other desperate people from around the world. And, of course, Social Security is not just a pension system for people. It is also a survivor's benefit program.
So when an illegal works here and then dies, we will take care of his or her children until they are 18 years old. The potential for corruption and the gaming of such a system boggles the mind. I can assure you right now, if this is put in place as the Senate has voted to do, we will be taking care and there will be payments from our Social Security system to millions of kids in China, and in Mexico, as people go back and their coroners claim they have died and their dependents are waiting for their check to be delivered.
And of course all of this is happening at a time when we are trying to keep Social Security solvent. Oh, yes, the Senate bill, of course, gives all employers amnesty too. So now employers are not going to worry about enforcing the law. Who cares if Americans are being denied the jobs? Who cares? Because actually employers now can hire people and these employers are now no longer held accountable for the illegals that they have hired.
And what is the final result? The insult, of course, is the Senate bill is providing money for those organizations that are helping illegals adjust their status. We are actually paying them to help fight our Government and our efforts to clear up the illegal immigration situation by sending illegals home.
There are a number of other provisions in the bill that should alarm small business. For example, this bill, the Senate bill, requires us to pay illegals the prevailing wage. And then, of course, we are setting up an entire bureaucracy to determine what that prevailing wage is for various different professions.
No, this will massively increase the bureaucratic power over our people and our country, and the private sector already. Illegal immigration has had a horrible, horrible impact on our way of life. Kids in my neighborhood do not cut the lawn any more. I used to cut the lawn. That is what I did for pocket change when I was a kid. Kids do not do that any more. Kids do not wash the cars any more.
No. What we have done is our values have changed because illegals have come in and changed our way of life. And we are told we have to bring them in because, for example, the fruit and the vegetables will rot in the fields without illegals.
Well, if we pay our American people they will do the job. And if they do not, we can be creative enough. For example, let us use prisoners to pick fruit, and pay them so that when they get out of prison, they will have $10,000 or $20,000 in their pocket and they will have contributed money to their own incarceration, or for restitution to their victims.
We can come through this without importing millions and millions of people from foreign countries to come here and do this kind of work. We can. We can run the United States of America without a massive flow of illegals or a massive new flow of immigrants into our country.
Now, I support legal immigration. I think legal immigrants, legal immigrants deserve every right as every American citizen. We have the most generous legal immigration system in the world. We permit more legal immigration into America than any other country in the world.
The Senate wants to up that by so much, that if the Senate bill passed, we are talking about 100 million to 200 million more immigrants coming into our country over the next 20 years. Read that correctly.
If you put illegal immigration on top of that, we are talking about hundreds of millions, perhaps 300 million people coming into the United States of America. Wake up, America. We are losing our country. We cannot permit this massive flow of illegals to continue.
And we cannot just dramatically increase the number of legal immigrants coming into our country, which would then overwhelm our ability to assimilate them. We can be proud of legal immigration. We should keep it at the level it has been at.
But, no, we have people who are not watching out for the interests of the American people. That is what we need to talk about right now as we close this presentation. The American people need to pay attention. This vote that is coming up on the Senate bill versus the House bill, which is based on enforcement and trying to stop illegal immigration, the Senate bill is a pro-illegal immigration bill. The American people need to look very closely who is watching out for their interests and who is against them.
Who is on their side and who is on the side of foreigners who wish to come here? Again, these people who want to came here are wonderful people. Even the illegal immigrants who come here are wonderful people. 95 percent of them are wonderful people.
Our job is not to take care of every wonderful person in the world, providing them a pension, providing them health care, providing their children with education. Our job is to watch out for the American people.
We accept no apologies for that. We should have no apologies that we put the American people's interests first. But that is not what has been happening. There has been some very powerful special interests, as I say, in business who want cheap labor, and on the left wing and liberal left wing of the Democratic Party who want political pawns out of illegals who come here and other people who immigrate here who are dependent on Government programs.
The American people have the power in their hands to control the destiny of this country. They must pay attention if we are to succeed in thwarting this threat to our freedom and to our prosperity. Wake up, America. It is time to hold accountable your elected representatives. Study the issues. See who is supporting this program in the Senate to give away our Social Security, and destroy that system. See who is supporting actual border enforcement and changing our visa laws so they can be enforced and protecting us from an overwhelming flow of illegals into our country, which lowers wages and threatens our way of life.
Hold those elected officials accountable, and kick them out of office if they are not representing your interests. They are supposed to be working for you. And with that I yield back.