SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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HOW ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION IMPACTS CONSTITUENCIES: PERSPECTIVES FROM MEMBERS OF CONGRESS (PART I)
SUBCOMMITTEE ON IMMIGRATION,
BORDER SECURITY, AND CLAIMS
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED NINTH CONGRESS
NOVEMBER 10, 2005
Serial No. 10976
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Available via the World Wide Web: http://judiciary.house.gov
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr., Wisconsin, Chairman
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
LAMAR SMITH, Texas
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio
DANIEL E. LUNGREN, California
WILLIAM L. JENKINS, Tennessee
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
SPENCER BACHUS, Alabama
BOB INGLIS, South Carolina
JOHN N. HOSTETTLER, Indiana
MARK GREEN, Wisconsin
RIC KELLER, Florida
DARRELL ISSA, California
JEFF FLAKE, Arizona
MIKE PENCE, Indiana
J. RANDY FORBES, Virginia
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTEVE KING, Iowa
TOM FEENEY, Florida
TRENT FRANKS, Arizona
LOUIE GOHMERT, Texas
JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
RICK BOUCHER, Virginia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
ROBERT C. SCOTT, Virginia
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
ZOE LOFGREN, California
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
MAXINE WATERS, California
MARTIN T. MEEHAN, Massachusetts
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
ANTHONY D. WEINER, New York
ADAM B. SCHIFF, California
LINDA T. SÁNCHEZ, California
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, Maryland
DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, Florida
PHILIP G. KIKO, General Counsel-Chief of Staff
PERRY H. APELBAUM, Minority Chief Counsel
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Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
JOHN N. HOSTETTLER, Indiana, Chairman
STEVE KING, Iowa
LOUIE GOHMERT, Texas
LAMAR SMITH, Texas
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
DANIEL E. LUNGREN, California
JEFF FLAKE, Arizona
BOB INGLIS, South Carolina
DARRELL ISSA, California
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
ZOE LOFGREN, California
LINDA T. SÁNCHEZ, California
MAXINE WATERS, California
MARTIN T. MEEHAN, Massachusetts
GEORGE FISHMAN, Chief Counsel
ART ARTHUR, Counsel
ALLISON BEACH, Counsel
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCLUKE BELLOCCHI, Full Committee Counsel
CINDY BLACKSTON, Professional Staff
NOLAN RAPPAPORT, Minority Counsel
C O N T E N T S
NOVEMBER 10, 2005
The Honorable John N. Hostettler, a Representative in Congress from the State of Indiana, and Chairman, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
The Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas, and Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
The Honorable Linda Sánchez, a Representative in Congress from the State of California, and Member, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
The Honorable Stevan Pearce, a Representative in Congress from the State of New Mexico
The Honorable Henry Bonilla, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas
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The Honorable Luis Gutierrez, a Representative in Congress from the State of Illinois
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
Prepared Statement of the Honorable John Abner Culberson, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas
Editorials Supporting Comprehensive Immigration Reform and the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act of 2005, submitted by the Honorable Luis V. Gutierrez
HOW ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION IMPACTS CONSTITUENCIES: PERSPECTIVES FROM MEMBERS OF CONGRESS (PART I)
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2005
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Immigration,
Border Security, and Claims,
Committee on the Judiciary,
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The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 2:09 p.m., in Room 2237, Rayburn House Office Building, the Honorable John N. Hostettler (Chair of the Subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The Subcommittee will come to order. As a result of the necessity to accommodate schedules for members of the panel that will be leaving, we'll start at this time.
This hearing is the first in a series of hearings concerning the impact of illegal immigration on local constituencies, and who better to explain what is going on around the country than Members of Congress from impacted areas.
Today, we have three Members whose districts are actually on or near the border with Mexico and New Mexico and Texas, and we also have our colleague from Chicago.
It is appropriate to begin this hearing series with an examination mainly of those border districts because they bear the brunt of much illegal alien traffic, even for illegal aliens who settle elsewhere.
Next week, we plan to have Members from North Carolina, California, and New York, Georgia, and other parts of the country. Each of these Members and their districts have been heavily impacted by the flow and settlement of illegal aliens. Cities and towns around the country are negatively impacted by the heavy toll on infrastructure, the costs of emergency and non-emergency health care, primary and secondary education, and, of course, the loss of jobs to our American population.
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In addition, there is social impact in the form of additional crime, high populations, and damage to the environment.
We should also not forget the national security danger to the country of having an estimated 10 million illegal aliens in the country, when no one knows who they are and what their intent is.
Surely, for most of them, they intend to work and perhaps settle here. But a small handful of undocumented illegal aliens may pose the danger of terrorists attacking our country once again.
If there is something Members of Congress can agree on, it is perhaps that illegal alien situations should be brought under control.
Before Congress decides on legislation to gain control over those illegal aliens who are here to work, we must look at the overall impact to our constituents so that any problems can be addressed in that legislation and not be ignored.
Do illegal aliens lower wages for Americans? We examined this at a hearing on this issue earlier this year. If they arguably provide cheaper goods for consumers, is the cost of their work here worth the benefit? Will the taxes collected from illegal workers cover the cost in public subsidies and benefits that American taxpayers have been paying? What is the cost for infrastructure? What is the cost for emergency care for illegal aliens? What is the cost of increased crime and population? Do counties that border Mexico bear the lion's share of these costs?
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For the border States, the cost of even legal traffic on infrastructure is enormous. Please look at the chart on the wall to my left, your right, and you will see that last year 121 million passenger vehicles and 11 million trucks legally crossed land borders with 326 million passengers.
The Department of Transportation reported in 2003 that the number of persons entering the U.S. legally was 33.7 million at the Arizona border; 90.5 million at the California border; 1.8 million at the New Mexico border; and 119.9 million at the Texas border.
In FY 2000, Border Patrol agents apprehended almost 1.7 million persons for illegally entering the country.
Last year, the Border Patrol apprehended 1.16 million. The Border Patrol in the Tucson Sector alone apprehended 230,000 illegal aliens in 2004.
The cost of emergency care is likewise enormous for border States as well. The U.S.-Mexico Border Counties Coalition estimates that more than $200 million in 2000 was spent by border counties for undocumented alien health care.
And for the Members of the Committee, a chart showing those counties affected is to our right.
The American Hospital Association reported that Southwest border hospitals reported uncompensated care totaling nearly $832 million in the year 2000.
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Any increased crime rates due to illegal immigration is both a social and an economic cost. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas conducted a study in March of 2003 entitled ''The Impact of Illegal Immigration and Enforcement on Border Crime Rates.''
As you can see from these projected charts, it found that border enforcement is significantly negatively correlated to violent crime rates and poverty crime rates in Southwest border counties. My chart to the right shows.
Instead of going over many statistics myself, let me allow the witness Members to tell the story of their own districts in their own words since they know the local conditions better.
At this time, I yield now to the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, Ms. Jackson Lee, for purposes of an opening statement.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. You're very kind, and I thank the witnesses, my colleagues, for their presence. I notice that Texas is quite well represented this morningor this afternoon. Let me thank them and let me also thank Mr. Gutierrez for his time. He serves in a very important capacity, and we welcome his insight on this very important issue.
I want us to discern the truth, and I hope as my colleagues make their presentation in the backdrop of their minds will be the longstanding principle that we are a nation of laws, and we are a nation of immigrants.
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I can't imagine that anyone could testify to their absolute presence in the United States, short of Native Americans. And so as we proceed on the question of how illegal immigration impacts constituencies, let us walk gingerly, because I'm reminded of the 1800's and the early 1900's, when large migration of immigrants came to the United Statesand I would venture to challenge my Chairman and my colleagues to be able to document that every single one of those individuals came here in legal status.
But what we do know is that those individuals providedwere provided an opportunity to access legalization, and ultimately provided the contributions necessary to build a great and powerful and wonderful America.
It's important to maintain a proper perspective on this subject. We must not lose sight of the fact that we are talking about people, although some undocumented immigrants come to the United States for untoward purposes, illegal immigration consists primarily of people who are coming to the United States to seek a better life.
As I make that comment, let me say that I join my colleagues in accepting the responsibility and the challenge of border security. It must be done in a manner that shows the American people that we mean business, and that we are working with our allies and neighbors to mean business.
And so, strengthening our Border Patrol agents, providing them with the equipment that they need, ensuring that their necessary resourcesdetention bedsto protect the Nation in the instance of OTMs that come and do not then meet their requirements in terms of going to their court appointment is an absolute imperative.
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But at the same time, we must find a way to reach America so that they can understand the balance, the prosperity, and the generosity that has occurred in the United States because of immigrants.
This point is illustrated by an observation that Stanley Mailman and Steve Yaylov made recently on the term ''illegal alien.'' They said an undocumented alien performing construction work is not an outlaw engaged in illegal activity such as bookmaking or burglary. Rather, the work is lawful and legitimate. It simply happens to be work for which the alien is ineligible or disqualified.
That is cited in undocumented workers seeking personal injury compensation.
America was founded by immigrants seeking freedom and opportunity. It created new jobs by establishing new businesses, spending their incomes on American goods and services, paying taxes, and raising the productivity of the United States businesses.
Throughout American history, immigrants have helped build American cities, towns, farms, businesses, and cultural institutions. Unfortunately, the presence of millions of undocumented workers in our communities also has had in the past negative consequences.
Our failed immigration policies have encouraged employers who use foreign workers to lower labor standards and working conditions for all who labor in the United Statescitizens and lawful permanent of the United States, as well as undocumented workers.
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We need an increase in the minimum wage. We need to ensure that the prevailing wages are paid. We also need to find out how we can fix our broken health system, and I can assure you that there are immigrants in my community, some undocumented, who are willing to pay for their health care. We've just got to put a system in place.
Our current legal framework also makes it nearly impossible for many immigrant workers, particularly the undocumented to exercise their legal rights. Fear of deportation, fear of losing their livelihoods is enough to silence workers. This encourages such unscrupulous employers to hire and exploit undocumented workers instead of hiring American workers.
We must reinforce the value of American workers, and we must break the cartels' backs who bring in unsuspecting and victimized individuals who are attempting to cross the border utilized by mules and others who are bringing them in in dangerous conditions. We must stop the devastation of Victoria, Texas. It must not happen again.
We must also recognize the U.S. Department of Labor has determined that the poultry industry, nearly half of which consists of immigrant workers, has been as much as 100 percent out of compliance with Federal wage and hour laws. Also the Labor Department estimates that more than half of the country's garment factories violate wage and hour laws and more than 75 percent have violated health and safety laws.
Workplaces that are dangerous for immigrant workers are equally dangerous for those in the United States.
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Let me also say that collectively we recognize this problem. Mr. Chairman, I am hoping that, as we listen to the testimony, it will be balanced.
I am gratified for the teamwork that many of us have engaged with our other colleagues, particularly, for example, in the area of Katrina, when we saw that there were some conflicts between American workers and undocumented, it was the combination of Members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Hispanic Caucus to come to work together to ensure that the laws are not broken and that we address those issues and that American workers are protected.
We can work together, but we cannot work together in a manner that scapegoats us and does not, if you will, Mr. Chairman, balance the good and the bad and the call to the United States to address the question of comprehensive immigration reform.
With that I yield back, and welcome the panelists this afternoon.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I thank the gentlelady. Without objection, all Members' opening statements will be made a part of the record. We generally have opening statements by Members of the Subcommittee, but given the time constraints of our panel members, we will move into introduction of the panel members.
First of all, Congressman Henry Bonilla represents the 23rd District of Texas, which spans close to 800 miles of the international border with Mexico.
Congressman Bonilla was elected to Congress in 1992, which marked the first time a Hispanic Republican was elected to Congress from Texas. As Member of the House Appropriations Committee, he chairs the Subcommittee on Agriculture, and sits on the Subcommittees on Foreign Operations and Defense.
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Prior to his election to Congress, most of the Congressman's career was in television news. He started as a reporter in San Antonio, Texas, and then became a producer for several stations throughout the country. Most recently, he was executive producer for public affairs at KENS in San Antonio.
Congressman Bonilla earned a bachelor of journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin.
Congressman John Culberson has represented the Seventh District of Texas since 2000. Congressman Culberson serves on the House Appropriations Committee. He is a Member of the Subcommittee on Transportation and the Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice, and NASA. He is also a part of the Republican Whip Team.
Prior to his election to Congress, John Culberson served in the Texas House of Representatives for 14 years. He was elected to the legislature while he was a law student. During that period, he practiced law as a civil defense attorney. He has worked in political consulting and advertising.
Congressman Culberson earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Southern Methodist University, and his J.D. degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston.
Congressman Stevan Pearce is serving his second term in Congress, representing the Second District of New Mexico. He serves on the Homeland Security, Financial Services, and Resources Committees.
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Formerly, Congressman Pearce was elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives in 1996, and reelected in 1998.
While in the legislature, he served as Republican Caucus Chairman. He and his wife owned and operated Lee Fishing Tools, an oilfield services firm. They were honored by the Association of Commerce and Industry with an award for outstanding business in New Mexico. Additionally, the Congressman served as a pilot in the United States Air Force, where he received the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal.
Congressman Pearce graduated from New Mexico State University with a B.B.A. degree in Economics, where he was also elected student body president. He holds an M.B.A. from Eastern New Mexico University as well.
Congressman Luis Gutierrez has represented the Fourth District of Illinois since 1992. He currently serves on the Veterans Affairs Committee and the Financial Services Committee, where he is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. During his time in Congress, Congressman Gutierrez has focused his efforts on immigration issues, and he is Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Task Force on Immigration.
Prior to being elected to Congress, the Congressman worked as a teacher, social worker, community activist, and city official.
He was elected in 1986 as Alderman for Chicago's 26th Ward. Congressman Gutierrez graduated from Northeastern Illinois University.
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Gentlemen, thank you very much for your time today. I knowI understand that a couple of you will have to be leaving early and so as a result of that, Congressman Pearce if you would give your opening statement. Without objection, your written statement will be a part of the record.
We have 5-minute lights, as you are all aware, sitting generally on this side of the dais, and if you could stick to those as nearly as possible, I'd appreciate it.
TESTIMONY OF THE HONORABLE STEVAN PEARCE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO
Mr. PEARCE. Thank you, Chairman Hostettler and Ranking Member Jackson Lee.
I really feel the need to convey this idea that Jackson Lee suggested that we walk gingerly in this area. I represent a border district, 47 percent Hispanic, that recognizes the need for immigration. But we also have to recognize that immigration discussions must be broken into two halveslegal immigration and illegal immigration.
The legal immigration we all know creates vitality, vibrancy, and brings us new ideas and new entrepreneurships.
In August, I conducted 18 town hall meetings in my district on immigration. Where possible, I allowed the Hispano Chambers to moderate those discussions, to host the discussions, and we had very productive talks about what must be done.
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There is great consensus among all cultures that we should increase border security, but we also need to recognize that coming across to better one's life should not be a crime.
Mr. Chairman, the entire U.S. border with Mexico in the State of New Mexico is in my congressional district. It's about 180 miles long. There are three counties providing almost 10,000 square miles for circumventing Border Patrol authorities, with 80 agents per shift. There's only one agent per 25 square miles in my district.
To compound the problem, we had the Border Patrol reissue and reassign agents away from our district into Arizona and California, and it has caused then a funneling of activity to the southern border of New Mexico, with increases in detentions growing from 61,000 to over 76,000.
The graphic that is up on slide two, if we get that up, shows the yellow school bus right there, which routinely brings people right to the border and then drops them off for staging to cross the border at night. We took the Homeland Security Department Committee to see this section of the border, and we watched that bus in operation bringing people in to deliver them for the illegal crossings.
The Border Patrol has a lack of necessary surveillance capabilities, but unfortunately they also squandered, the Border Patrol has squandered apparently $239 million designated for the Integrated Surveillance Intelligence System, the ISIS system.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The problem is four-fold. Basically, we have a problem with constituents. One of my constituents living in a border area recently was quoted, before you didn't call and report illegal immigrants on a property. You simply made them a sandwich, gave them a jug of water, and sent them on their way. But you did not fear for you life.
Now, when they knock, you don't dare answer the door. The residents who live right on the border, in the area of that yellow bus, they have built their own fences. There's the one barricadeif we move back one slidethere's the one barricade, but then that won't stop the cattle and so our ranchers have built their own barbed wire fences on Government easement property and still theythe properties haveor the people on the other side of the border have stolen that fence. It's impossible for the ranchers to rebuild. The Border Patrol simply says you should stay away from your fence; that it's that dangerous, and, yet, they're then faced with losing their livestock.
The impact on law enforcement officers is the second thing. Many times our local law enforcement officers have supplemented Border Patrol agencies, but I will tell you that many of our departments are two and three people, and Border Patrol has their expressed desire of driving the illegals away from the major thoroughfares onto the country roads and to be interdicted in rural areas, and that is putting an extreme strain on our particular sheriff's departments and police departments.
The criminal activity that is being conducted by the illegal immigrants is also straining to capacity our ability to respond. The detention costs are left to the local providers. Fifty dollars per day. One county applied last year for over $60,000 in alien assistance program funding. Drug smuggling counter intelligence is so sophisticated the stakes have become so high for smugglers that they find out who the sheriffs are and who the deputies are, and they tell them simply if you get in our way, we're going to kill you first, and then we're going to kill your families. So we've had young people who are in the law enforcement business in this area who've packed up and left, and they've gone somewhere else to be in law enforcement.
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Theanother impact that we face in the district is the extraordinary cost of Federal mandates to provide emergency care to illegal immigrants. Each year, thousands of immigrants require care for heat exhaustion and for the different problems that they've experienced, so we find those to be severely impacting us. Crushing caseloads for our judgeships. Three hundred and sixty-six cases per judgeship is what we experienced in our district; 89 is the national average.
We have an additional problem that affects usthe inability to search intoto look at the long stretches of the border.
Eventually, we must also, in addition to border security, Mr. Chairman, we must address the desire and reasons for people coming here. That tells us that we, at some point, are going to have to have a common sense guest worker program to deal with both the needs of workers, but also the reasons that people come here.
Our policies have been somewhat hypocritical, indicating that we need you to come and work, but we're going to make it as difficult for you to do so as possible.
And, Mr. Chairman, I also speak for a balanced comprehensive reform legislation, but also the need to reform immigration, where we have some commonsense guest worker program.
I thank the Chairman and yield back the balance of my time.
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PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE STEVAN E. PEARCE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO
[Note: Image(s) not available in this format. See PDF version of this file.]
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Congressman Pearce.
TESTIMONY OF THE HONORABLE HENRY BONILLA, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
Mr. BONILLA. Thank you, Chairman. As you pointed out in your introduction, Chairman, no Member of Congress represents a longer portion of the Mexican border than I do.
It spans over 700 miles, and, Chairman, there is an invasion going on as we speak of OTMs, which is the primary concern that we have now. As you know, the Border Patrol categorizes other than Mexicans, OTMs, in a different category as they do Mexican illegals that come across the border. And while the Mexican illegal immigrant is a separate issue, and one that's been with us for a long time, the new invasion, of OTMs, is something that every American needs to be alarmed about.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So far this year, almost 150,000 OTMs have come across the Southwest border. They come from the Mideast. They come from Asia. They come from South and Central America, which is where a lot of the gang problems are rooted now in our country. And in many cases, Mr. Chairman, the culture is such now because of the catch and release program that the Department of Homeland Security has undertaken where they come across the border, and they're given court papers, and it's a joke. They're asked to appear, and everyone has documented now that between 85 and 90 percent never show up in court; and they use that as a free ticket to go into whatever city they need to go.
And the culture now is pathetic, Mr. Chairman, with the fact that these OTMs, now the cultural message out there is that they come across the border looking for the Border Patrol agents. They don't even run from them anymore. We have this documented on photographs. In the last several months, we have actually had people out there with cameras, where they come across the Rio Grande, and they look for the Border Patrol; throw their hands up, knowing full well they're going to get a meal. They're going to get a place to sleep. They're going to get medical care. They're going to get asked a couple of questions. In many cases, they do not have the manpower to debrief any of these people, and then they set them free with court papers, claiming that they don't have the detention space.
Now, there are lot of issues involved that present a danger to communities, and again let me also emphasize that that this is not an Hispanic issue or an Anglo issue or a Republican or Democrat issue. My colleague, Mr. Culberson, for example, who was just here a moment ago, has had many one-on-one conversations with border sheriffs, many of which are Members of the other party. They are members of the Latino ethnic groups, county commissioners and mayors. My mayor of Eagle Pass, for example, is right on the border, which is a 95 percent plus Hispanic community, they're outraged at what our country is now allowing in terms of the OTM invasion in this country. And it's embarrassing as a federally elected representative to go down there and ride in a car with my sheriff in a border county or the mayor of a border town that look at us and say, ''why is our policy now allowing this to happen, and you're watching the OTMs walking down the street? And they're headed who knows where?''
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That's why this is not just an issue for those of us right on the border, it's an issue for Americans who live in New York and Colorado and California, because they've seen this incredible influx of OTMs now with the catch and release program.
I've told every word of this to Secretary Chertoff on a couple of occasions, one in an official hearing in another Committee just a couple of weeks ago, and I asked him point blank: ''If I'm not mistaken, Congressman Sylvestre Reyes, who used to be a Border Patrol chief in El Paso once used tents to properly shut down the border in that community of El Paso. And he was a hero when he did that.''
And again, myour understanding is that he used temporary tents to humanely house illegals that were coming across the border, and it had an incredible impact not just on the influx of illegals at the time, but it also did several other things that helped the morale of the Border Patrol. It alsothe cultural word on the street started to reverse itself, and the illegal immigration rate dramatically dropped, and it just worked all the way around.
And I'm suggesting to Secretary Chertoff and I'm suggesting to any Member of Congress who has any say in this that we need to look at temporarily housing OTMs in tents, humanely.
We're not talking about treating anybody inhumanely. But and quite frankly, if they had to spend some time in these tents, it would be probably better, a better facility than they would have slept in for the weeks on end that they spent coming across those dangerous mountainous and desert terrains that they had to traverse.
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So we're talking about doing this the right way, and also forcing, using the State Department, to try to force some of these countries who are not cooperative. You know a lot of people in this country talk about how we're not sensitive enough to illegal aliens.
You know how inhumane and how much the Mexican Government tries to shut down illegal immigration on its southern border. It's an embarrassment. And then sometimes for these consuls to come across the border and say, hey, you're not doing enough to pander to illegal aliens. It is an absolute outrage.
So anyone who researches the immigration policy of Mexico, for examplehow do you think they're getting in here in the first place? They're coming from their southern border and coming up through our border. And they put absolutely no priority into stopping the flow of illegal aliens or in trying to help us get them back to their original countries where they come from.
So, again, it's a complicated issue, and if we're able to do something to provide more detention beds, detention space, and more beds to house these OTMs, then we're going to have to talk about the legal system because that's overly taxed right now as well. And so we're going to be able to process them. So we're trying to be creative in looking at ways to do this.
And as I have said in letters to the President, in letters to former Secretary Ridge, to people like that, if this was theif the OTMs were being released in your neighborhood, you'd be doing something about it now. If they were walking through your neighborhood, you don't know what they're up to. The background checks are shallow at best, and to watch them come through, I just don't know how to put it more clearly, Mr. Chairman. It is an absolute outrage.
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[The prepared statement of Mr. Bonilla follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE HENRY BONILLA, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
I represent more than 700 miles of the Texas/Mexico border. A few years ago the only people worried about border security were those living on the border. Times have changed. If you live in America and you're not worried about border security, you should be.
It takes only one terrorist to slip into our country and increase the risk of a terrorist catastrophe. The threat is real. Hundreds of illegal aliens invade our border communities each day. Recent intelligence gives frightening insight into terrorist plans on the U.S./Mexico border. The Washington Post reported this month that Abu Ali, a man indicted in a plot to assassinate President George W. Bush, admitted his plan to bring members of an al Qaeda cell into the U.S. through Mexico. Just this spring U.S. officials revealed that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, mastermind of several Iraq terrorist attacks, may be planning U.S. attacks and entering through the southern border. As long as our nation's borders are porous, we have an increased chance of terrorism on our own soil. Known terrorists, ruthless members of drug cartels and free loaders from around the world now use the southwest border as a revolving door.
While many crossing the border are seeking work and a new life, many are also bringing violent crime and drugs into these small towns that are ill equipped to deal with the problem. Analysis of the latest Census data indicates Texas' illegal immigrant population is costing the state's taxpayers more than $4.7 billion per year for education, medical care and incarceration. Even if the estimated tax contributions of illegal immigrant workers are subtracted, net outlays still amount to more than $3.7 billion per year.
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Approximately 11.9% of children in the Texas public school system are illegal aliens.
Texan taxpayers pay approximately $520 million a year for health care of illegal aliens.
Finally, the uncompensated cost of incarcerating illegal aliens in Texas state and county prisons amounts to about $150 million a year. This figure does not include local jail detention costs, related law enforcement and judicial expenditures, nor the monetary costs of the crimes that led to their incarceration in the first place.
The problem is very immediate and personal to border communities. My proximity to the border gives me a first-hand appreciation of the problem. My border communities are small and rely on cross border commerce. Some of my constituents have family and friends on both sides of the border. Efficient LEGAL border crossings are essential to this region, but illegal border crossing have become an excessive burden.
As of last month, an estimated 146,000 Non-Mexican Illegal Aliens (NMIAs) illegally crossed the US-Mexico border so far this year. Gangs and drug traffickers can easily overwhelm small, local law enforcement departments. Increased crime rates require the diversion of limited local funds from other important local needs impacting these communities economically and overburdening other social services. Imagine if this was happening in your town. You might feel under siege.
I recognize there is no quick-fix. The issue must be addressed from several angles. That's exactly what I have been championing for years, and is the basis for a series of legislative initiatives that I been rolling out over the summer and this fall.
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The first step toward a safer, more secure border is basic preparedness. You can't secure a border without man-power, equipment and facilities. We've made great advances in this arena. Over the last year our Congress has added 1500 Border Patrol agents and 568 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to the force. We've also funded $61 million for border security technology, including surveillance and unmanned aerial vehicles. I can't deny that these are fantastic advances, but we cannot stop here.
One of the border's largest pitfalls has been the amount of detention bed space. Border Patrol agents are doing their job by capturing illegal immigrants. But once captured they are almost immediately set free because there is not room for detention. Additional bed space allows our immigration system to do its job by keeping illegal immigrants behind bars and holding them until they can be properly deported. A major accomplishment occurred this past year when Congress funded 3870 detention beds for the U.S./Mexico border. This is a tremendous step toward filling a gaping hole in our system.
However, 3,870 new detention beds will not fix the problem, and we need help now. Until your expedited removal program is fully implemented, DHS could erect temporary detention facilities using tents, and stop releasing illegal NIMAs immediately. This is not an untested idea either. Tents were used for temporary detention facilities in the mid-1980's in Southern Texas (McAllen Sector) and it was a huge success. Three things happened as soon as the tents went up.
1) The morale of the Border Patrol officers improved.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC2) Assurance of detention had a dramatic deterrent effect and attempted illegal border crossings went way down.
3) There was a resulting back-up of NIMAs on the Mexican side of the border which caused the government of Mexico to take action to reduce the number of NIMAs that they allowed into their country. The bottom line is that the number of illegal NIMAs reduced so much that the temporary detention facilities could be removed in just over a year.
Once the enforcement infrastructure is in place, the next step is reducing the backlog of illegal immigrants awaiting trial. This will be accomplished by streamlining the justice system for adjudication and removal of the illegal immigrants. Part of my legislative package will include funding for additional immigration trial attorneys and judges. The shortage of attorneys and judges is appalling. By filling these slots and making more available we can expedite the adjudication process and eliminate a log jam that has existed for years.
The final phase of my border security proposal is to facilitate the deportation of illegal immigrants. Secretary Chertoff has pledged to implement an expedited removal program in all Border Patrol sectors. Expedited removal would allow the vast majority of illegal immigrants to be repatriated within days, rather than months and reduce judicial back-log. Although an expedited removal system was authorized last year, only three Border Patrol sectors have been approved by DHS to use the program so far. This simply is not enough. The Department of Homeland Security must make it a priority to implement an expedited removal program in every sector. Additionally, Secretary Chertoff recently wrote me a letter expressing concern over what he calls, ''an overstuffed removal pipeline.'' Delays in country clearances and related repatriation issues must be fixed to ensure the success of the expedited removal programs.
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The bottom line is that we live in an age where a porous border is a danger not only to border states, but to our entire nation. Every day that our border security is ignored, gangs, criminals and terrorists are finding new ways to exploit the weaknesses of our security systems. Terrorists are no longer playing by the same rules and neither should we.
Ignoring this problem is like ignoring the war against terrorism. Those of us who live near the border cannot fight this war on our own. We must stand together as a nation to regain control of our border.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Congressman Bonilla.
TESTIMONY OF THE HONORABLE LUIS GUTIERREZ, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ILLINOIS
Mr. GUTIERREZ. Good afternoon, Chairman Hostettler and Ranking Member Jackson Lee and Members of the Committee. It's a pleasure to be here this afternoon.
I hope to use my time to try to debunk some of the myths and misinformation about the issue of our broken immigration system.
I'll start with the following quote: ''Foreign immigration, which, in the past has added so much to the wealth, development of resources, and increase of power to the Nation, as the asylum of the oppressed of all nations should be fostered and encouraged by a liberal and just policy.''
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I couldn't agree more. Where did I read that? Was it in some policy papers produced by some progressive think tank? No.
Was it in the editorial pages of a liberal leaning newspaper? No.
Actually, those eloquent and forward looking words were the Republican platform of 1864, and I think we would be wise to pay close attention to that vision.
While much has changed, the fundamental point of that statement rings true today. But if you want a more modern quote on the subject, Grover Norquist said just yesterday: ''Immigration bashing is not a vote winner.''
Look, I'm the first to agree that the immigration system in this nation is badly broken, but how did we get there? Is the answer that we deport 8 to 11 million undocumented individuals who are working and contributing to their communities? How much would that cost?
According to a recent study for the Center for American Progress, it would cost more than $41 billion a year, and would exceed the entire budget of the Department of Homeland Security for fiscal year 2006 to begin to deport 10 to 12 million people.
But don't trust my numbers or the numbers of that institution. Secretary Chertoff recently testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that it would cost ''billions and billions and billions,'' adding that it would not be a feasible idea.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC More importantly, what would happen to our workforce and to our economy? In the factories of Chicago, immigrants today make up more than one out of every four workers. And without their labor, these factories might need to move elsewhere to find available workers, even overseas.
And similar trends across our country's industries exist.
Mexican immigrants today fill almost half of the blue collar, service-related and unskilled jobs in my city. It is not an exaggeration to say that our cities would grind to a halt without these workers.
In fact, the Department of Labor, our own Department of Labor, President Bush's Department of Labor, estimates that the total number of jobs requiring short-term training will increase from 53 million in 2000 to 60 million in 2010, a net increase of 7.7 million jobslow-skilled, very little training, low paying jobs. We're going to create 7.7 million.
And the fact is Americans are simply unwilling to do these jobs. I don't blame them. Who would want these arduous, back breaking, dead end, low-paying jobs? I think President Reagan probably summed the issue up best when he described apples rotting on a tree.
President Reagan said: ''It makes one wonder about the illegal alien fuss. Are great numbers of our unemployed really victims of the illegal alien invasion, or are those illegal tourists actually working, doing work that our own people won't do? One thing is certain in this hungry world. No regulation or law should be allowed if it results in crops rotting in our country, in our fields, for lack of harvesters.''
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And that's President Reagan, describing rotting apples on a tree.
It is probably important to note today that more than 80 percent of the apple pickers in Washington State are immigrants, and half of them, according to our Justice and Labor Departments, are illegally in the United States.
Look at other industries, and you'll arrive at the same conclusion.
Today, there are more than 700,000 undocumented restaurant workers; more than 250,000 undocumented household employees, and one million undocumented farm workers.
So what should we do to ensure that we create an immigration policy that, as President Bush said, ''match willing foreign workers with willing employers when no American can be found to fill the job.'' I think the answer is comprehensive immigration reform, because our current policies are simply not working.
A recent study by Princeton Professor Douglas Massey on the U.S. Border Patrol budget shows that its budget, the Border Patrol budget, has increased 10-fold since 1986. But as we all know, the number of illegal immigrants to the United States continues to increase.
So I think we need to do more than simply throw money at the problem. We need to look more comprehensively and more strategically about this issue, because building a giant fence or sending more unfunded mandates to our States will not solve this problem. And the hard reality is these policies will only drive millions of undocumented workers further into our nation's underground.
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If we want to solve the challenges of immigrant health care and education, we need to bring these people out of the shadows so that they can be fully functioning and fully taxed members of our society, paying their fair share.
I believe the solution lies in the fact that we must stop targeting Windex-wielding cleaning ladies, and start focusing our limited resources on targeting real terrorists and criminals.
However, none of this will be successful unless we deal directly with the 8 to 11 million undocumented workers who are already here, living and working and contributing.
And let me be clear here. These people should be penalized, but the punishment should fit the crime. They should be fined. They should be fingerprinted, and they should be thoroughly vetted so that we can have a more secure America.
In terms of health care, a recent Harvard-Columbia University study showed that health care expenditures are substantially lower for immigrants than it is for U.S.-born persons. Just as undocumented workersand I want to make this clear; these are not myspecifically, these are Social Security Department statistics. Just as undocumented workers help sustain our Social Security System with a subsidy of as much as $7 billion a year, these individuals are also helping to subsidize our nation's health care system through taxes they pay.
Since the late 1980's, more than $189 billion in wages ended up recorded in the Social Security Administration's earnings suspense file. This file has grown by more than $50 billion a year in the current decade, generating more than $6 to $7 billion in Social Security tax revenue and $1.5 billion in Medicare taxes.
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In addition to these taxes, no storekeeper in Chicago has ever said, oh, you're undocumented. You don't have to pay a sales tax on your purchase. You don't have to pay gas tax, cigarette tax, property tax. They pay each and every one of these taxes, and I think that we as a Congress would be wise to take these factors into consideration as we carefully consider proposals such as those of Representative Jackson Lee and the one I introduced with Representatives Kolbe, Flake, and Senators McCain and Kennedy.
And I would like to just wind up, Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member, by having to introduce to the record 153 editorials supporting comprehensive immigration reform, and the Secure America Orderly Immigration Act in 74 publications in 31 States.
The country is ready for comprehensive immigration reform.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The statement Mr. Gutierrez follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE LUIS V. GUTIERREZ, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ILLINOIS
Good afternoon, Chairman Hostettler and Ranking Member Jackson Lee, and members of the committee.
It is with great pleasure that I appear before this subcommittee today to share my views on how our immigrant community impacts the City of Chicago, where my Congressional District resides.
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I hope to use my time to try to debunk some of the myths and misinformation about the issue of immigration and to explain why we desperately need to reform our broken immigration system.
I thought I'd start today by quoting something I recently read.
And I quote . . . ''[F]oreign immigration, which in the past has added so much to the wealth, development of resources and increase of power to the nation, the asylum of the oppressed of all nations, should be fostered and encouraged by a liberal and just policy.''
I could not agree more.
But where did I read that? Was it in the policy papers produced by some progressive think tank? No. Was it in the editorial pages of a liberal-leaning newspaper? No.
Actually, those eloquent and forward-looking words were from the Republican Party Platform in 1864 and I think we would be wise to pay close attention to those sentiments.
But if you want a more modern, timely quote on the subject, Grover Norquist said yesterday, ''immigrant bashing is not a vote winner.''
Look, I am the first to agree that our immigration system in this nation is badly broken and fixing it must be a top priority of Congress.
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But how do we get there?
Is the answer that we deport the 8 to 11 million undocumented individuals in this nation who are working and contributing to their communities? What would a mass deportation even look like? How much would it cost?
According to a recent study by the Center for American Progress, it would cost more than 41 billion dollars a yearand would exceed the entire budget of the Department of Homeland Security for Fiscal Year 2006. And if you don't trust those numbers, Secretary Chertoff recently told the Senate Judiciary Committee that it would cost ''billions and billions and billions,'' adding that it would not be a feasible idea.
And what if we were to spend these billions and billions of dollars, what would happen to our workforce and to our economy?
In the factories of Chicago, immigrants today make up more than one out of every four workers, and without their labor these factories might need to move elsewhere to find available workers.
And similar trends cut across various industries. Mexican immigrants today fill almost half of the blue-collar, service-related and unskilled jobs in our city. It is not an exaggeration to say that our city would grind to a halt without these workers.
In fact, the Labor Department estimates that the total number of jobs requiring only short-term training will increase from 53.2 million in 2000 to 60.9 million by 2010, a net increase of 7.7 million jobs.
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And the fact is Americans are simply unwilling to do these jobs. I don't blame them. It is truly arduous labor. But these jobs need to get done to keep our economy growing and our communities thriving.
I think President Reagan probably summed this issue up best back in 1977, when he saw apples rotting on a tree because there were no local workers to pick them.
He said, ''It makes one wonder about the illegal alien fuss. Are great numbers of our unemployed really victims of the illegal alien invasion or are those illegal tourists actually doing work our own people won't do? One thing is certain in this hungry world; no regulation or law should be allowed if it results in crops rotting in the fields for lack of harvesters.''
It is probably important to note that today more than 80 percent of all apple pickers in Washington State are immigrant farm workers and over half of them are undocumented.
So what should we do to ensure that we create an immigration system that, as President Bush said, can ''match willing foreign workers with willing employers when no Americans can be found to fill the job?''
I think the answer is comprehensive immigration reform.
I know there is a lot of talk about enforcement and border security provisions. Anddon't get me wrongit is extremely important, but it is only one part of the immigration equation.
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A recent study by Princeton Professor Douglas Massey on the U.S. Border Patrol Budget shows that its budget has increased tenfold since 1986. And, as you know, this rapidly rising budget has done very little to stem the rapid rise in undocumented immigration.
So I think we need to do more than simply throw more money at the problem. We need to abandon the same old, tired, narrow and failed policies of the past. And we need to think more comprehensively and more strategically about the issuebecause building a giant fence or sending more unfunded mandates to our states will not solve this problem. And the hard reality is that these policies would only drive millions of undocumented workers further into our nation's shadows. And all the challenges that my colleagues talk aboutfrom health care costs to other factorswill remain if we have millions of people operating in the shadows.
I believe the solution lies in the fact that we must stop targeting Windex-wielding cleaning ladies and start focusing our limited resources on better targeting the real terrorists and criminals and smugglers who wish to do our nation harm.
And I think that goal is achievable if we combine smart enforcement with a sensible and pragmatic path for new workers to come to this countryin a legal, safe and humane wayto fill shortfalls in our workforce.
However, none of this will be successful unless we deal directly with the 8 to 11 million undocumented workers who are already hereliving and working and contributing to a better, more dynamic America.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And let me be clear here: I believe that these people should be penalized. But the punishment should fit the crime. They should be fined and fingerprinted and thoroughly vetted. But they should not have their families destroyed for decades because they came here to support them. They should be allowed to be full and productive members of our society. So they can pay all their taxes and not have to rely on costly emergency medical care.
But just attacking them will not solve the problemwe need real solutions.
When I recently asked Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan about immigration, he stated:
''As I've said before, I'm always supportive of expanding our immigration policies. I think that immigration has been very important to the success of this country. And I fully support it.''
And personally I think expanding our policies should be along the lines of President Reagan's views of immigrants to our country as people who ''posses a determination that with hard work and freedom, they would live a better life and their children even more so.''
Or President Bush who stated: ''they're willing to walk across miles of desert to do work that some Americans won't do. And we've got to respect that, it seems like to me, and treat those people with respect.''
So I think that it is important that we as a Congress and, in particular the work of this committee, focus on creating an immigration system that takes into account the important contributions immigration makeand will continue to makeif we encourage them to come out of the shadows.
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I know many blame immigrants for all of our nation's ills, but the statistics I see and the people I meet in Chicago and across the nation reflect an entirely different perspective. And it seems to me that these individuals who scapegoat our immigrant community ignore the very obvious, documented and specific benefits of immigration to the U.S. economy and society.
In terms of health care, a recent Harvard/Columbia University study showed that health care expenditures are substantially lower for immigrants than for U.S.-born persons.
Similar to how undocumented workers help sustain our Social Security System with a subsidy of as much as $7 billion a year, these individuals are also helping to subsidize our nation's health care system through the taxes they pay.
Immigrants also pay billion of dollars a year in taxes. One study showed that the undocumented in New York pay more than one billion dollars a year in taxes. Whether that is sales tax, payroll tax, cigarette tax, they are making enormous contributions.
And they are helping ensure the flow of the most important type of capitalhuman capitalback into our cities.
According to Crain's Chicago Business, ''Immigrants are moving into and bringing new life to many blue-collar areas of Chicago that had previously been losing population. These new residents contributed to the city's net gain in population during the 1990s.''
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And I think that we, as a Congress, would be wise to take these factors into account.
And that is why I believe it is so urgent for Congress to tackle the issue of comprehensive immigration reform. And why I think it is important to hard look at legislative proposals like Rep. Jackson Lee's and the one I introduced with Representatives Kolbe and Flake and Senators McCain and Kennedy.
Because each day that goes by with silence and inaction means the potential for another dead body turning up in the desert, another child separated from her parent, another worker exploited and another dream denied.
Thank you again, Chairman Hostettler and Ranking Member Jackson Lee, for giving me this great opportunity to be here today. I welcome any questions you and the other members may have.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Without objection, the gentleman's editorials will bethe material will be entered into the record.
Mr. GUTIERREZ. Thank you very much, Mr. Hostettler.
[The information referred to is available in the Appendix.]
Mr. HOSTETTLER. At this time, I'd like to turn to the gentlelady from California for purposes of an opening statement.
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Ms. SÁNCHEZ. Thank you, Chairman Hostettler and Ranking Member Jackson Lee for conducting this oversight hearing.
Throughout American history, immigrants have helped build America's cities, towns, farms, businesses, economies, and civic and cultural institutions.
Now, I don't know about where everybody else lives, but I know first hand the benefits that immigrants contribute to my local community in the 39th Congressional District.
Immigrants are a vital part of my community, and by immigrants, I mean immigrants of every ethnic makeup. They are the very same people who take care of our children and the elderly, educate our youth, clean our hotel rooms, pick and cook the food that we eat. They revitalize blighted areas and are successful entrepreneurs who pay taxes.
If we deported every single immigrant in the country, I am told it would mean removing 12 to 15 million individuals. This is approximately the same as removing everybody from the States of Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and give or take all of Kentucky.
What do you suppose the economic and social implications would be of removing this many people? I frankly find the debate very disingenuous; that the very same people who oppose any realistic solution to the immigration problem are the same people who are enjoying the benefits of immigrants and immigrant labor in this country.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC People need to wake up, and people need to get real and drop the rhetoric.
This weekend, for example, I was walking around the Capitol grounds, and I saw immigrants washing the windows of a certain political party's office building. This is the same theme that I see every day in my district and all around Washington, D.C. repeated over and over and over again.
Now, just for the record, I want to get one thing straight here: I don't disagree with some of my colleagues who testified that our immigration system is broken and that we need to get a better grip on our borders. But while enhanced enforcement is an integral part of improving our nation's security, enforcement alone, without other reforms, simply will not achieve the control that the American people want and quite frankly deserve.
The past decade has taught us a hard lesson. The border build up doesn't stop the flow. It merely shifts it to more dangerous areas, where apprehensions are more difficult, and death is more likely.
So it's my hope that any immigration reform proposal that this Committee reviews is a comprehensive solution that doesn't just focus on trying to enforce our broken system.
And I might remind my colleague that in the Book of Matthew, Jesus tells us for whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me. And I would yield back.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I thank the gentlelady. The Chair now recognizes the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Smith, for the purposes of an opening statement.
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Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
What I'd like to do is use my time to comment on some of the things that Congressman Gutierrez has just mentioned because I do think he, in his opening statement, touched a number of issues that do need to be addressed.
First of all, I'd like to thank him for quoting from the 1864 Republican Platform. That was when President Lincoln was renominated, and the quote, to mention it again, was, ''Foreign immigration, which, in the past, has added so much to the wealth, development of resources, and increase of power to the Nation'' and so forth.
And I just want to say I don't know that there's anyone who would disagree with that statement or with that platform today. And, in fact, as long as I've been in Congress, the Republican National Platform has included words that are very similar to that.
But, of course, we make a distinction between legal immigration and illegal immigration. And we recognize that our country is great today because of the contributions of legal immigrants, who have been coming for generations. And we know that we would not have the inventions. We would not have the strong economy that we're enjoying today, and many of the other benefits that we taken for granted, were it not for generations of immigrants in the past.
But there is a distinction between those who come to our country legally and play by the rules and come in the right way and individuals who cut to the front of the line, who disregard the rules and laws, and who come in the wrong way.
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And that is a distinction we ought not to forget. I want to mention that the we had a law that we passed overwhelmingly in Congress back in 1996 that included an entry-exit system, which I think is the key to any reasonable determination of who's in the country legally and illegally. And what this entry-exit system simply did was to say we're going to find out who's coming into the country, why they're coming into the country, how long they're going to stay if they're coming temporarily, and whether they leave the country or not.
You simply have to know that if you're going to protect our homeland security.
And unfortunately, a lot of people coming into the country illegally are coming in for the wrong reason, and one absolutely astounding figure that demonstrates that is the fact that now today over 20 percent of all Federal prisoners are illegal immigrantsover 20 percent of all Federal prisoners are illegal immigrants.
Clearly, not everyone is coming into the country for the right reasons.
Furthermore, I think most of us also know that at least 40 percent of the millions who are in the country illegally actually came in on short-term tourist visas or business visas and overstayed those visas, and then simply failed to return home.
So it wasn't a situation where individuals came into the country illegally. They came into the country and then overstayed their visas, which puts them in illegal status, and, of course, makes them violators of our immigration laws.
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But those are the individuals who, along with those who blatantly cross our borders illegally, we ought to be able to determine who they are and encourage them or help them return to their home countries if necessary.
A couple of other issues that were mentioned, and I've heard it at least twice today, is that the only thing that those of us who believe in border security failure is the immediate deportation of 8 to 11 or more million illegal immigrants. I don't know of a single Member of Congress who today would deport the 10 or 20 million illegal immigrants who are in the country today en masse, which is the implication of what we've heard.
What we do think ought to be done is to enforce our current immigration laws. If we were to do just that alone, there would be enough disincentive for people that come to the country illegally, and there would be enough incentive for those who are already here illegally to return home to dramatically reduce the number of illegal immigrants who are in the country.
So the other thing is when it comes to jobs, again to make blanket statements that all of certain types of occupations are occupied by illegal immigrants is simply not accurate. Every occupation that we can think of has many times illegal, but most often legal immigrants who are working those jobs. And we ought to put American workers first. If we need, in my judgment, to increase the minimum wage, maybe we should do that. If we retrain American citizens and legal immigrants who are, in fact, here for the right reason and legally, we ought to do that.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There are a lot of things that we can do to try to fill those jobs that are now being filled by illegal immigrants, including mechanizing the growing of crops, for example. But let's put Americans first when it comes to the scarce jobs that we have in America.
Another subject that is often brought up is that the current system is not working. We're throwing a lot of money at the problem. Well, the reason the current system is not working is because we're not enforcing current laws. If we, for example, were to enforce laws that say you cannot hire someone who's in the country illegally, that would be the kind of disincentive that I was talking about a few minutes ago to even arrive in America at the beginning. But we are not enforcing current laws, and so we shouldn't be surprised that we're not having as much success as we should be having in reducing illegal immigration.
Also today, the Social Security system was mentioned. Is there somehow illegal aliens paying into the Social Security system are going to save it or help it? At the wages that the typical illegal immigrant makes, the Social Security system is actually going to pay that individual $100,000 or more over their lifetimes than they ever put into the system.
So for their participation in the Social Security system, the result is simply do you make the Social Security system bankrupt sooner. It's not going to help it or save it.
Finally, and I see my time is up, Mr. Chairman, so I will stop. I would ask those who speak so eloquently in favor of various immigration reform programs, what specific border security measures they support, because that's really what we need to learn if we're going to try to help our immigration system and reduce the number of illegal immigrants in the country today.
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Now, Mr. Chairman, thank you for the time, and I'll yield back.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I thank the gentleman from Texas.
Mr. GUTIERREZ. Mr. Chairman, if I might inquire through the Chair, if there's not going to be any questions, then might I leave? I'll be happy to stay, but if there are not going to be any questions
Mr. ISSA. There's only one more opening statement?
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Yes, one more opening statement. And we will have questions.
Mr. GUTIERREZ. Oh, okay.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. And, of course, you'll be the target of those questions.
Mr. GUTIERREZ. As I said again, I don't want to leave. You know I'll stay.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. We expect a Member or two to return. The Appropriations Committee is doing some work.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GUTIERREZ. It's important.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you. Thank you. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from California for purposes of an opening statement.
Mr. ISSA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And perhaps I can move the process of opening a dialogue along.
I have to tell you, I believe that much of what you said was absolutely right. I also believe that all of what Chairman Smith said was absolutely right.
The challenge we have is in the Chairman's very question or very statement is what are we going to do about it. We do have a challenge and that is that, and I know that one of the representatives of Border Patrol is here. The border today, the border enforcement policy is like the French Maginot Line.
Now, for those who didn't study the failure of the French to win a warexcept perhaps the French Revolutionever, I'll switch it to baseball.
Imagine a baseball game in which the players, the outfielders, the short stop and each of the basemen must stand in one position and may not move. And if a ball happens to come to them, they can catch it. But they can't move. And they certainly cannot run over to another base to cover somebody.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC That's our present border situation.
The Border Patroland I am within the Border Patrol envelope in my district, my entire districtwhat you discover is it's a silly game. It's a game of can you get over the border, and sure, you don't get over the border every time. But you don't have to. As Chairman Smith said, 40 percent of the people that are here illegally are overstays.
More importantly, if you don't get caught the first time, or if you get caught the first time, there's no penalty. Do it again. Do it again. Do it again.
In my district, we don't even have the ability to prosecute criminal alien coyotes, people who repeatedly bring over and sometimes lead to the death of people trying to come here illegally, albeit. But the people, the human traffickers that do it, aren't even being prosecuted.
I've called for a zero tolerance on coyotes. It doesn't seem like a big request. Guess what? It's left unanswered by this Administration, by the Justice Department, by the U.S. Attorney.
And repeatedly, we've had to call on county sheriffs to hold a repeat offender, a criminal alien who's come back yet again, because the Border Patrol is having to release them because the U.S. Attorney will not prosecute somebody who has committed crimes, been deported, and is back in the country.
So do we have problems? Absolutely.
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But as Chairman Smith said, we must begin enforcing the border or all of us, including Chairman Smith, who do believe that a guest worker program similar to Bracero, some real guest worker, something where you're a guest, is not simply another name for permanent immigration is in order.
But the only way we're going to get it is if we have the cooperation of this Administration, if we have enforcement of laws.
That's a problem on both sides.
So for all of those who want to move the immigration issue along, absolutely we need to have a discussion on how we're going to deal with our need for labor and, Luis as you said, in all the sectors. It's not just about crops being picked in Imperial County or in San Diego County or in Riverside County, where I represent. It's about all these jobs.
However, for all of us represented, and I represent an approaching half Hispanic District, we have to recognize that we are doing no favors for all of our citizens, all the people who vote for us, all the people who pay taxes, all the people who played by the rules to get here, if we do not protect them from simply having their job taken by the next person willing to work for less; and as you said, sometimes for minimum wage or less.
So I hope that from these hearings will come a cooperation on a bipartisan basis. From these hearings, I hope that your bill, which is often known as the McCain bill or the Flake bill, my bill, other people's bills will be rolled together. But at the same time, on behalf of the American people, we all have to insist that there be prosecution of criminal aliens, rounding up of gangs terrorizing our cities, zero tolerance for people who return who've been previously deported, zero tolerance for coyotes.
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Only with that kind of enforcement are we going to get the kind of support by our constituents for a broad bipartisan overhaul of the system and some fairness, both for people who want to come here legally and work, and that's all they want to do, and for my constituents who are tired of the crime rates, tired of all of the negative sides that really do exist aligned with criminal alien and illegal aliens coming to this country.
So hopefully, from this hearing and from your statement and the other Members', we can recognize every one of you was right substantially on what you were saying, but we have to quit talking past each other. We have to talk about agreeing to the common solutions that are allowing us to move the legislation along, but also, on behalf of the Border Patrol, which operates literally in my district, we have to make it very clear that they have to be unshackled and allowed to do their job. It is insane to have them standing at first base hoping the ball comes to them and being able to do nothing if it doesn't.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I thank the gentleman.
The Chair will now entertain questions from Members of the Subcommittee, and, Mr. Gutierrez, we appreciate your being here.
Mr. GUTIERREZ. And staying.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. That's right.
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The subject of the meeting is the impact of illegal immigration on congressional districts, on our constituencies.
Do you believe that illegal immigration has had a negative impact on America with regard to crime, and especially with regard to crime that is committed on immigrant populations, and especially illegal immigrant populations, as a result of the concentration of, in some cases, illegal immigrant populations and the fact that many of these illegal aliens do not wish to interact with law enforcement. And so, the minority of illegal aliens that come to do ill in America, not necessarily ill to American citizens, but do ill to immigrant populations that ultimately has a spillover effect, do you believe that illegal immigration has led to an increase in violent crime as a result of the explosion in illegal immigration?
Mr. GUTIERREZ. I bet that you and I, Mr. Hostettler, can find statistics and actual reality of illegal immigrants being part of crime in our neighborhoods, as we can find that among any other sector of our population in the human race unfortunately.
What I have called for, Mr. Chairman, is to fingerprint, to bring those out of the darkness and out of the shadows and say we want your fingerprints. You're going to pay to have your fingerprints. And if you've violated any law, we want an expedited, immediate removal from the United States of America of those elements.
So in that sense, it would make the broader community. But what we have, Mr. Hostettler, is no system in place for, as Mr. Chertoff said, it would cost billions upon billions, upon billions of dollars to deport them all, and it would be an unfeasible thing to do. So if that's true, where is the political will, and where are the requisite resources to deport them all so that we can challenge those criminal elements within our community that live among the millions and millions of hard-working undocumented workers in our country, because I think we could both agree that, as we go to the vineyards of California or the apple orchards of Washington State, or the orange growers in Florida, what we find is hard-working immigrants, many of whom, hundreds of thousands of whom in the agricultural industry, a million of whom work really hard in pesticide-ridden, with no bathrooms, no educational system, very poor housing, doing work that I don't know I could find anyone in my district would challenge me and say, Congressman, how could you let those people do that work? Yet, we eat their apples. Eat their oranges. Eat their grapes. Drink the wine that's derived from them. And we benefit from their work.
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So I want to see us clean up our security systemthe criminal element, the terrorist element.
And I think the best way we could do thatone of the ways, not the best wayone of the ways we could do that is by offering them an opportunity.
And I'll end with this. You know President Reagan, in 1984, I've talked about Abraham Lincoln, in 1864, but in 1984, President Reagan, when running for reelection, debated the Democratic nominee, Mondale, and he was for immigration reform and for having a new system of legalization.
Indeed, they did that in 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act. And my point is if you look at the 3 million people that took advantage of that legalization program in 1986, they're better educated today. They have better salaries today. They're more productive today, and the vast majority of them speak English, and have sworn to the Constitution of the United States of America by becoming citizens of this country. So it worked.
Let's see if we can't revisit that future immigrants to the United States of America that want to come here to work, I would say they would come here to work. Their visa has expired. They would go back to their country.
We have to figure out a waywhat we do with the 10 to 12 million that are already here.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HOSTETTLER. You bring up an excellent point about visas that expire.
I believe three of the 19 9/11 hijackers had visas that expired, and, according to the 9/11 Commission, two of those individuals, Mr. Alghamdi and Mr. Almihdhar, would havethe veryI think the 9/11 Commission said they could have been picked up on immigration violations.
But just as today, back then we did not enforce the immigration laws, so we didn't pick them up. And the 9/11 Commission said as a result of their detention, the 9/11 plan could have been derailed. Those are the 9/11 Commission's conclusions.
Without objection, I will allow myself an additional minute for an additional question.
And so what I guess what I'm hearing you say isand this will only require a yes or nothere's no contribution of violent crime disproportionate to the numbers of illegal aliens to the demographic addition to the country? You do not believe so?
Mr. GUTIERREZ. I don't believe so. I believe that there is a criminal element, as there are in all sectors of our society, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Secondmy other question for the minute would be, earlier this year we held a hearing where representatives from the Center for Labor Market Studies of Northeastern University testified before this Subcommittee that between 2000 and 2004, there was a loss of jobs held by native-born American citizens of over 500,000, meaning that in 2004, there were 500,000, over 500,000, fewer jobs held by native-born Americans than there were in 2000.
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However, they went on to testify that there were actually 2.3 million foreign-born workers, more foreign-born workers, employed than there were in 2000, for a net increase of about $1.7 million to $1.8 million (sic).
They went on to conclude that there is little empirical evidence to substantiate the notion, and I'm paraphrasing what they said, there is little empirical evidence to substantiate the notion that immigrants are doing large numbers of jobs that Americans will not do.
Do you believe thatdo you believe thatand they went on to say something I'll ask you a question regarding their conclusiondo you believe that large numbers of native-born American citizens are being displaced by foreign-born workers, at least half of which we know are here illegally?
Mr. GUTIERREZ. I guess you and I would have to have a conversation about if we're talking about legal immigrants to the United States displacing American-born citizens or undocumented workers displacing American citizens.
I do know that as youforeign-born American citizens
Mr. HOSTETTLER. No. No. No.
And that'sthey were actually immigrants, foreign-born
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GUTIERREZ. Americans. Yeah, but foreign-born legal permanent residents and citizens
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Well, not citizensthey weren't citizens.
Mr. GUTIERREZ. Well, they could be eitherwell, foreign
Mr. HOSTETTLER. According to these statistics, they weren't.
Mr. GUTIERREZ. Legally in the United States?
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Yes.
Mr. GUTIERREZ. Legally in the United States. Here's what I do know about
Mr. HOSTETTLER. No. No. No. Let me just say there were 1.7the net thatone hundred percent of the net increase in jobs between 2000 and 2004 was contributed by foreign-born workersimmigrants
Mr. GUTIERREZ. Legally in the United States?
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Immigrants, illegal aliensthe folks don't say on here illegally when they do the census necessarily.
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But they're not born in America.
Mr. GUTIERREZ. Okay.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. So there are 500,000 fewer Americans, and, for example, between that 20002004, there are moremillions more of foreign-born workers, not all of themmost of them aren't citizens. Some of them are legal immigrants, but over half of them, according to the testimony, were here illegally.
Mr. GUTIERREZ. Let me try, Mr. Chairman. And I'd love to have a conversation, a broader conversation.
If they didn't define who they were, here's how I can answer the question truthfully.
I do know that those that are here legally tend to have a higher education, get paid more, go to school, participate in our electoral system; that is, Americansthose of us that are here, not born in the United States, foreign-born, and
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I guess my question, Mr. Gutierrez, is
Mr. GUTIERREZ. I understand the immigration, but it is
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Mr. HOSTETTLER. I havewell, let me ask you a question.
Mr. GUTIERREZ. Okay.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I probably need to make this very clear.
Mr. GUTIERREZ. Okay.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I have constituents that come up to me in Southwestern Indiana, and they say, Congressman, I can take you to a job site today, where there are illegal aliens working for my boss's competitor, and they are being paid wages lower than I am being paid. My boss's company cannot compete; therefore, my job is in peril. That's what they say.
Mr. GUTIERREZ. Right.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. And indeedand so my question is, do you think that those people are
Mr. GUTIERREZ. And, again, Ithen I'll try to answer your question in 15 seconds. Americans said that about the Irish as they were arriving, about Italians as they were arriving, about the Polish as they were arriving, about every immigrant group as they were arriving if you were here ahead of them, number one.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But number two, if they're here illegally, if they're here undocumented, then let's figure out a way that we define what jobs they can be in so that they do not compete in a market with Americans. I will be the first to join you in putting American citizens and those that are legally here and born in this country ahead of any foreigner coming here.
I believe that foreigners coming here should fill the jobs that no one else wants, and should work their way up the system as past immigrants have done in this nation.
And I will join you in making sure that those abuses are ended.
Let's figure out a way to get that done.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you. The Chair recognizes the gentlelady from Texas.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I'm sorry that our colleague, Mr. Issa, had to step out for a moment, but I do want to associate myself with his call.
Mr. Pearce, you were not here when he said that we needed to combine all of the issues dealing with immigration and really sit down breaching the partisanship and do it in a bipartisan manner.
Might I just simply say to my Chairman, we have talked on many occasions, but frankly the agenda of this Congress is set by your leadership, and we will not get to where you would like to go. As you well know, I joined you in your State, with your constituents, and saw thevisually, the realism and the descriptions of what you have just said here today, and associated myself not only with you during that time, but also with your constituents.
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Frankly, I believe that Mr. Issa has an idea that many of us have already spoken to, and that is a working session that looks to the Secure America legislation, and might I say I have the Save America Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill that specifically speaks to the issue of ensuring that employers make a substantial effort to hire American workers before turning to foreign workers.
And then, at the same time, in being moved by the visit to the border in your region have authored the Rapid Response Border Protection Act, which I think must go hand in hand. It deals with not ignoring the Border Patrol agents and agency, but it deals with giving them every single skill and equipment piece that they need, from night goggles to computers, to helicopters, to speed boats, to training, to scholarships, to improving their health benefits, and improving their personnel status among others. And it responds to the issue of detention beds.
I only say this to follow up with both you and Mr. Gutierrez on the question that the Chairman has asked. And I'm going to go back to this citation dealing with the 500,000 jobs and 2.3 million and look at it in a different perspective.
He is saying all foreign workers. So first of all, let us look to how many of those are in corporate entities, how many fall under the H-1B, where the numbers are going up and up and up, which results in some of the overstays. And these are people who are educated and primarily they are overstays or they are undocumented because and the H-1Bs, of course, require you to be employed, and they don't want to leave.
So you have this gap of educated individuals who fall into this sort of, if you will, ever ending hole. And they fall into the lack of a comprehensive reform, because there's no place to put those individuals as well.
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So we talk about the numbers. Let us make sure that we look atthat these are foreign workers and the last time I heard Governor Schwarzenegger was a foreign worker. I assume that he is documented as the Governor of the State of California.
But that is all of the individuals who may be foreign workers fall under this particular category.
Mr. Gutierrez, we come at it from a different perspective, but let me ask you this: Is there value to the idea of allowing people to earn access to legalization, whether they do it, as I have offereda 5-year period, community service vetting, or to guest work and then transition. Doesn't that go to the question of the Chairman's that when you have people documentedand documented individuals can be hired and fired; that it means they won't be deported out of the country. Documented individuals can be paid the wages of the private company that decides to pay them that. To add to the solution, I would also suggest that we all support prevailing wages, so no one will under compete in American companies.
But do you see the value in that some vehicle called earned access to legalization as opposed to what you have just indicated to us would be a long journey of deportation? And when you answer that question, would you provide that number for me again. You cited twothe billions and billions, but you also cited another number of how costly it would be for deportation.
Might I ask, Mr. Pearce, as well to answer the question, could you look comprehensively at immigration reform that would include, since you have so eloquently noted that your constituency is diverse, that would include strong border enforcement and resources that would empower our Border Patrol agents, because, as we stood at that border line, we heard the tale of woeif I could only have resources; if I could only have 25,000 more Border Patrol agents. I happen toand we may agree and disagreetwo panelists may agree and disagree on thatbut I believe that training professionals versus volunteers or Minutemenand that's a conversation that I'm not really asking you to pursue as much as I am talking about the importance of reinforcing our resources at the border that helps to stem the tide somewhat of illegal immigration, because, as you well know, people fighting for economic survival sometimes are much more mightier than we might be.
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But, Mr. Gutierrez, can you speak to the issue of the value of earned access to legalization and the whole concept of working on a comprehensive reform package?
Mr. GUTIERREZ. Sure.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. And without objection, the gentleman will have a minute to answer the question.
The subject of the hearing is not about a guest worker program, earned access, so the Chair will show great latitude in allowing the answers to questions that have no basis in the meeting for the hearing.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. But if the Chairman would yield, I would suggest that in the question of impact, we might be weaving into a cure.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The law is the law. Reclaiming my time. The law is the law today with regard to illegal aliens and their presence in the United States. It is the law today. That is the subject of this hearing. We will have hearings on changing the law, to repealing the law or whatever in the future, but really the subject of the hearing today is the impact of illegal immigration as the law today defines illegal immigration on particular districts. And so but, given that, still, without objection, you can answer the question.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. We thank you for your latitude and the ability of the witnesses to answer.
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Mr. HOSTETTLER. Sure. Thank you.
Mr. GUTIERREZ. It has worked. In 1986, a Republican President, Ronald Reagan, signed the last legalization, earned legalization bill, the 1986 Immigration Reform Control Act.
It was a bipartisan bill. There was a majority of Republicans in the Senate; a majority of Democrats in the House of Representatives.
Today, there are 3 million people who successfully went through that process. They're better educated. They're more productive. The vast majority of them are American citizens, and, as we see, they have a higher participation rate in our electoral system than those of us who were born in the United States. They strengthen our nation. So it has worked.
I think bringing people out of the shadows and the darkness today is the only way. Mr. Chertoff said it would cost billions and billions and billions of dollars, and an estimate by a study made by a private think tank said it would cost $42 billion a year for 5 years to attempt to deport the $10 to $12 billion. So it's unfeasible. So you need to incentivize them to come out of the darkness, as we did in 1986, and make people Americans, permanent residents of the United States and give them the ability to do that; and I think, Madam Jackson Lee, Congresswoman, I think the way we do it is we penalize them. Let's fine them a thousand five hundred bucks. Let's figure out what the fine is. Let's talk about their contributions to Social Security, and whether they're entitled to them, because they were here undocumented while they were working. We can figure it out. Let's put them into a program for 7 years and say, well, you don't get anything for 7 years unless you work, you pay taxes, you follow all the laws. Let's put them into indentured servitude programs, but let's give them hope at the end of the day that after they've proven to us, they already are hard-working, committed people to America, that we say at the end of the day, okay, you've earned it. You get to join the rest of us, as our history has always allowed us to do in our immigration policy.
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So I join the Congresswoman in seeking that earned legalization.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Pearce?
Mr. PEARCE. Yes. Mr. Chair and Madam Jackson Lee, your question is right on point.
We have a very diverse population. We're a majority minority State, and I will tell you that at our 18 town hall meetings, there was unanimous consent that we should enforce the border strictly. It should be done fairly. It should not be done heavily handed against those people who've come illegally, but it should be strict.
There is also consensus that it should be done by the trained professionals. I think you're exactly right on that.
But two comments really stood out in the comments by the Hispanic community and many of the illegals come through our district. One was a young Hispanic gentleman in Dona Ana County, the southernmost county up against the border, saying that we should not go at this piecemeal like we've done it before; that we need this time to fix all the parameters in one fashion. That's the comprehensive bill.
The other one, her, she lived up in the northern part of the district, in fact, in the southern part of Heather Wilson's district, and she, her father had come over as an illegal, had become legalized. But he had been here less than 20 years, and he was beginning to say we must stop the flow of illegals into this country, and he's in a predominantly Latino area in Southern Albuquerque, and she was coming up saying please we must begin to address this question of illegal immigration.
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I think that in the end, the consensus also was deeply among Hispanics, African Americans, Anglos, whoever, the consensus was do not give these illegals, even if you let them work, don't give them amnesty. Don't let them become citizens, because most of them have friends and family on the other side of the border who are trying to come here legally, and we've had testimony that it has taken up to 20 years to get the right to come here and get a green card, permanent status, then citizenship. And they're saying you should have a different pipeline for guest workers; that they should not get de facto citizenship, should not get ahead of those people who have been willing to wait and follow the law.
And that was a very strong stand on the part of the Hispanics: please don't compromise our standards. Let those people chose to go back and get in line if they want to come here and become citizens or let them chose to stay here and be guest workers, but don't give them citizenship ahead of those people who have been willing to stand in their country's in line and do it legally.
Mr. GUTIERREZ. If I could just quickly. Our proposal says they have to go to the end of the line. We don't put anybody in the middle of the line, and, true, in the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control bill, they did move to the head of the line. We do not propose that.
We simply propose that they get in line, but while they're in line, they continue to work. They continue to raise their families. They continue to contribute, and maybe they don't move to citizenship; maybe they don't move to bring their relatives to this country ahead of the others that are already in line from all different countries of the world until that other line that exists is already exhausted.
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So we'll put them at the end of the line. I agree with you.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you. The Chair recognizes the gentlelady from California for 5 minutes.
Ms. WATERS. Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member Congresswoman Jackson Lee.
We had some discussions just yesterday, where I said to Congresswoman Jackson that I think the Members of Congress either we were talking in the Black Caucus, and I think all of the Members of Congress really need what she refers to as a tutorial. You know people are all over the place, and they understand this issue differently.
I think that there are real concerns about people who work for lesser wages and the question really becomes whether or not they're undermining other people's ability to work or whether they are doing jobs that others don't want to do.
And I think these issues are not understood, because I don't think the proper study has gone into these issues, and I know this. I mean people are coming to this country and looking for opportunity, looking for a chance to have a decent quality of life. I support having closeI mean having strong border controls, and I don't support people coming across the border, illegal immigration. I don't support any of that.
But I do support some kind of effort to provide for people the opportunity to have citizenship, particularly people who have been in this country for long periods of time. I've got people in my district who have been there for 30 and 40 and 50 years. They don't have anyplace to go back to. This is their country.
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And I think that that has to be recognized. There are some people that I would like to see deported. I'd like to see them deported whether they're Latino, Black, or anything else. They're wreaking havoc, and the gangs and that kind of thing, and I've said this once, and I'll say it again: The gang members really bother me. I'm very upset about all gang membersBlack, Latino, what have you. But I'm concerned that there are gang members who come across the border, and they commit crimes or get involved with some of this violence, and then they slip back. And I understand that there are some that are coming back and forth.
And I think, you know, I can be very, very comfortable with dealing with that as an issue that, you know, I understand very well.
The issues that I don't understand very well are these: I hear some of our more conservative Members talking about this problem and talking about, you know, deportation, but what I don't really hear is an honest discussion about the division among the conservatives in this Congress, where I think the Chamber of Commerce and those who are very much interested in labor are willing to take some very, very big steps in order to maintain this workforce.
As a matter of fact, the last time I was in Palm Springs, California, it was very clear to me. If you deport folks in Palm Springs, that closes the city down. I mean it would just close down. All of the work is being done by a combination of legal and illegal immigrants in Palm Springs, and I have to tell you the hotels and the chambers of commerce, et cetera, are not willing to give that up. And they're not going to give it up. I mean we could fight all day and talk all day about deportation and whether or not, you know, we're going to have a guest worker program or whether we're going to have some kind of earned legalization, what you have. But I am convincedand I feel pretty comfortable that the moneyed interests of America, the real capitalists, the major corporations of America will see to it that there will be no massive deportation of the people who are making them rich. I'm convinced of that.
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I mean Iwe can just sit back, and we can watch it happen, because that is the truth of the matter.
So having said all of that, I do there's room for the tutorials or the education, the information sharing, the real facts about all of this that we need to have in this Congress, and not just in the caucuses where we're talking about them.
I think that theI would really like to see my friends on the opposite side of the aisle and the more conservative voices have a real discussion among themselves about this issue, because, for the most part, thewell, there are those who are really, really, really supporting border patrols and talking about deportation, et cetera, et cetera, but in that same caucus, we have the voices that are emerging in a very strong way about preserving the workforce, because it'sif the workforce is not preserved, then the country won't be able to operate. It just won't be able to carry out many of the services that are being provided, and that discussion has not really taken place yet.
So I am looking forward to that.
Having said all of that, I'm interested in Sheila Jackson Lee's earned programwhat do you call it?
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Earned Access to Legalization.
Ms. WATERS. Yeah. Earned Access to Legalization program. I'm interested in how we can honor some of the people who have been here for many, many years, and deportation is not realistic, and it's not going to happen, and again the only people I'm interested in deporting are the gang members who cause me problems in my district.
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Mr. HOSTETTLER. I thank the gentlelady. We're going to go to a second round of questions, and I want to askand I want to assure the gentlelady from California that I can speak from fairly good experience that conservatives are talking about this, and it is an interesting dialogue, an interesting discussion.
Mr. GUTIERREZ. Mr. Chairman? I need toI'd like to be excused.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Yes.
Mr. GUTIERREZ. Thank you. I hope you have a good day.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Mr. Gutierrez.
Mr. GUTIERREZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Mr. Pearce. Thank you, Members of
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I willI had a question, but I would just make a statement. A lot of discussion is being had today about this idea of mass deportation, like that's necessary if we're going to enforce the immigration laws.
In 1986, workforce enforcement became the law. That's the law of the land. It is illegal in the United States of America to hire and employ an illegal alien. That is the law, just as it is the law in the United States of America to pay Federal income tax.
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Now, my question would be, Mr. Gutierrez, and it might be for Mr. Pearce, that if we had the IRS in place, and there was no possibilitythe purpose for the Internal Revenue Code is to acquire revenues for the operation of the Federal Government.
If the IRS was in place, and everyone that made out a 1040 form that supposedly paid taxes realized there was never ever any possibility of being audited at all, my question is, what would happen to revenue levels?
I would say they would probably drop off. And, therefore, the law would be moot. The law would not be enforced.
Likewise, if there's not ever a chance of enforcing the immigration law with regard to worksite compliance, then you're going to have the law flouted, and you're going to have illegal aliens flood across the border and be employed in America.
But going back to the IRS, the knowledge that there is going to be an audit causes most of us to be pretty honest. I'm a 100 percent honest with our taxes.
Likewise, the knowledge that you are going to be investigated with regard to violating Federal law and Federal immigration law, will cause a lot of people to aggressively adhere to the law. That would potentially remove what Barbara Jordan referred to in her commission as the jobs magnet. If you eliminate the jobs magnet, and there are no jobs, theoretically at an extreme for illegal aliens in America, the question hypothetically, rhetorically, how many, then, do you have to deport?
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And so that is the question.
And the question that I haveand so, the discussion of deportation is really a red herring. If the worksite enforcement laws are enforced by the Administration, as article II of the Constitution requires them to do, then we have the same situation with the adherence to the immigration law that we do with the Internal Revenue Code.
Now, a lot of discussion, Mr. Pearce, has been had on this idea of earned access, and I'll couch it in these terms: First of all, the people violate the law by their presence, their coming into the country. When they step across that border, for better or for worse, a Democratically-controlled Congress in 1986 said that if they are also hired, they're violating Federal law, as well, not only their presence here, but if they're violating the Federal law.
The discussion was had that we will fine them. We will send them back to the back of the line. We will do this to them. We will do all these things to them. That's going to require oddly enough, enforcement of an immigration law, and not only that but the Border Patrol is going to allow these people to come through because they're coming through legally to work in our districts and work on border districts. But if the past experience informs of us anything, they're going to come to Southwestern Indiana, among other places, and they're going to come and acquire work and do other things not necessarily as virtuous as work, and impact our communities.
And so my question, Mr. Pearce, is this: Why should our constituents believe you or me when we say if you give us a guest worker program, we're going to enforce the law, when, in fact, history indicates that we have the tools today; for example, for worksite enforcement, for a lot of the expedited removal to fill in the blank. All these tools areand the Department of Homeland Security has decided recently to actually to begin to enforce these laws that are already in place.
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Why should they trust us this second time to say this time we're going to actually enforce the immigration law?
Mr. PEARCE. Sure. It's a great question, Mr. Chairman, and there are two elements to an answer that need to be discussed in my opinion. The first is as process I don't think that when we set up the original law, that there was a very good process to distinguish between who had a legitimate presence here as a legal alien and who didn't.
So I've got employers in my district telling me in my hometown that they're going to shut down their second business. They've gotthis Hispanic lady has two restaurants. She can oversee one personally, and has to hire a manager. She said, I can't tell by myself which green cards are green enough, and which are not green enough.
So there's that process of enforcement that never was set up. And it puts people in an extremely awkward position trying to find the work.
But the second, more compelling answer I think that applies exactly to what you're talking about is the imbalance between needed workers and available workers.
I will tell you everywhere I go in the country, I'm always talking to employers because I myself had to go out and find employees, and we had to find qualified employees. We generally pad in the $30,000 to $80,000 range, so it wasn't like we're feeding off of people here with no skills.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And I will tell you that always the answer among employersand it's what I found to be true: that we just need two things in employees. We need employees that can pass a drug screen and that will show up for work tomorrow. If they don't know English, we'll teach it to them.
Right now, you have a tremendous imbalance without available workers, and that imbalance is going to accelerate in the next years. If we have a guest worker programand the imbalance is going to accelerate, because 40 million Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age, so the pressure is even going to be greater.
Now, what I would tell anyone who's asking why should we believe you is that that imbalance is going to be cured. It's either going to be cured legally or illegally.
And in partial answer to Maxine's question that is it exploitation. These are not exploitation wages. I will tell you over the weekend that one dairyman has put in $250,000 of houses because the law says if you bring them here to work as immigrants, you got to provide housing and utilities. So $250,000 to where he can bring people in. It says he also has to pay at least a wage above minimum wage of $7.78 or he can't bring them here. He's paying over $10, plus $10 for the housing and utilities. So he's now at twenty something dollars.
That's in the dairy industry. The imbalance is so great that people will either come here illegally or legally because they're going to get paid better than they can at home.
Now, in the oil industry, which I made my living in, right now jobs as a drillerdrilling rigs are kind of the basic of the oil industrya driller is making over $100,000, with no high school education, no college education generally, and people are makingthat are working on that crew anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000 annually.
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So these are not exploitation wages.
It's that the labor supply is so short, and the employer so desperate that right now we don't have a way for these people to come into the country.
I testified earlier that it's a 20-year wait sometimes to get here legally, so people are scooting away from the borders and coming through illegally to satisfy this need for employees that's going to be satisfied or we're going to send the jobs out to where they are. We're either going to bring workers in or send the jobs out.
So if we have a guest worker program to where people come throughand I suggested on my tours, and everybody thought it was a good ideaall cultures thought it was a good idea, a biometric scan. You have a retina, fingerprint, and then your picture comes up. Your employer, the potential employer looks and says that's you. Here is your Social Security number, so they take out Social Security pay. You pay taxes.
Those things would take that pressure off the illegal part and allow it to become legal, with that credit card lookingjust like our voting card here in Congressthat voting card giving you access to come into the country. You go to your job. If you don't report within 2 weeks that you're working, now you go into illegal status, and there's a far smaller pool.
So we take the pressure off the border. Our agents, then, have more access and more resources to direct into those unmonitored uses of the border, because you take so much pressure off if you give legal status and legal entry to the people who are just coming here to make a better way for their family and in addition satisfying a great need for employees that we in the country have.
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Mr. HOSTETTLER. Would your competitor hire a $100,000 a year legal driller if he knew that he could hire a $20,000 a year illegal driller, and he would never face any consequences, as is the case today.
Mr. PEARCE. I will tell you that you can't answer for every single person.
I will tell you that there are people out there who will beat any system, but the dairyman that I talked to, a long-time acquaintance, go to Sunday school together, and he could be hiring illegals right now. I guarantee that the people are there and available. But he's trying to follow the law. He's trying to findfollow the letter of the law, so he's out $250,000 in order to go get these legal immigrants who are allowed to come in under the Agricultural Work Program. He can only hire them for 10 months, and so that is a piece that we should attend to.
But I think his answer is that, no, he wouldn't hire that $4 an hour cash employee. If he would do that, he wouldn't have put in the $250,000 set up to put people into housing, which the law requires.
I think that most businesses would jump at the chance to operate legally. There are some who would not frankly if we were to give legal recourse to the employers who will do things right, I will guarantee you, the market itself will begin to discriminate against those people who are law breakers and who would exploit.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I just think most people just want to be out of the shadows operating correctly.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The gentlelady from Texas.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
As I listen to the discourse between you and the distinguished gentleman from New Mexico and I listen to my colleague, the distinguished gentlelady from California, mention I think a very now evident concept that were discussing, a tutorial, and the reason why I say that is because I think if we are realistic, we know that leadership is talking about potentially post the Christmas holiday for serious consideration some of these very important issues.
I would be surprised if we were pre-holiday that this would occur, but surprises do happen.
The reason why I say that, Steven, is because as I listen to you in New Mexico, what the Chairman is saying is that he will have a Midwesterner, if I might say the Rust Belt, look in great frustration and consternation about the job loss. You, on the other hand, can live with strong border security and the recognition that you have substantial industries, businesses that really would welcome that population.
Now, let me wear another hat. I confront in urban population with African Americans, who will raise the question that even if we are discussing the issue of immigration, that they may be impacted negatively.
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What is the basis of that? Unemployment. Poverty. The lack of jobs. Our social societal ills that we have not responded to. Job creation.
So I would say to my Chairman, he's discussing the issues that I would be discussing. He's discussing the lack of job opportunity, poverty, the lack of an economic engine, alongside of employer sanctions. The difficulty with employer sanction is, of course, we're talking about them now. They've been in place. But we have beenand I would admit I'm not the enforcer. I wasn't in Congress as these laws were started, but I can certainly look back and say, yep, they have not been enforced.
So I think the challenge that we have is that we will not move past first base if we cannot convince the Chairman that the answer to his constituents' question may not be totally, if you will, infused, invested in the immigration issue. It may be partly so, but it may be a variety of economic issues. And maybe we can have a consensus around employer sanctions, but I don't think we can get away from the comprehensive immigration reform.
With respect to the African American community, I think it's important for me to say to them, I support increasing the minimum wage, and this is I saying it, and those will join in increasing the minimum wage. I think that would impact the constituents of the Chairman in Indiana. I support the idea of prevailing wages. I support employer sanctions, and might I say, though this hearing does not relate to trade bills. I certainly oppose the lifting of American jobs and sending them elsewhere, which has been a decidedhas a decided impact on our economy.
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I say this because Barbara Jordan was a predecessorone of the predecessors of the office that I hold. Now deceased, I know that the climate was very different when she wrote this report. There were elements in it that we could agree with and some not. I think we failed in not pursuing at least the question of employer sanctions. But on the other hand, you'll speak to the Chamber of Commerce, and they will beabhor employer sanctions because they will say to you what do you expect people to do.
So my question to you isit looks like I'm doing a tutorial or a philosophical dialogue or discourse, but my frustration is that if weand these are good hearings, Mr. Chairman, by the waybut it does evidence the frustration that we have and probably the divide of ever coming to sit down and try to iron out what we need to do, supporting the Border Patrol on illegal immigration, if we keep that terminology in that they would help us on that, providing the workforce, but, yet, saying to the American workerand, by the way, legislation that I have works to recruit American workers, protect American jobs, does outreach in minority communities, trains minorities who may not have jobsbut the point is what you've seen from your town hall meetings, can we get away with the horse being out of the barn, the chicken and egg concept? Are we not going to have to look at this comprehensively, because the Southern border States we can get together. We might even be able to get together, Dems and Republicans, because we're facing the same issue, short of my unique issue dealing with the African American population, which I think we need to address.
But where are we going to get that consensus from our Rust BeltI don't know if you would include the Western Statesto be able to understand that we cannot go without doing anything. We cannot go with only dealing with border security, which I think we have some meeting of the minds. Mr. Pearce, would you?
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Mr. PEARCE. Thank you, and I always appreciate the gentlelady's approach. It makes me realize that we are much closer to consensus in the Congress and in the country than what many of ourselves believe. As the Chairman mentioned, we have been having deep discussions on the conservative side talking about enforcement and the guest worker program, and I think that there is such significant movement among our conference and I suspect the same is true in the Democrats' side that the people are realizing we must do something.
I think Americans across the country agree that it should not be the same sort of illegal act to come here and try to make a better way for your family. In other words, that should not be as illegal as importing drugs or humanssex trafficking. Theback to your point about the problems in the African American country and
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Community.
Mr. PEARCE. communities in the large cities. It breaks my heart. We're about 5 percent unemployment, and I will tell you as an employer who has tried to hire people, at 5 percent, you're not getting people who will walk through the door that really have the skill sets to really work. And my wife and I committed early on that we're going to reach out into the community that does not get hired much, and we're going to work ourselves, and we're going to just solve one or two cases. With 50 employees, you're not going to solve.
We had one guy that was working for us when I had sold the company after coming here. He was forty-something years old. He was tattooed from head to toe, and on every part of himself. We hired him, and he was the firstit was the first full-time job he ever had.
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Now, he has stuck, but so many didn't. We hired one young man that was about 5 years younger than myself. I knew his familywell respected; had been in prison most of his life for doing drugs. We hired him. I gotI called to the penitentiary and said if you let him out, I'll hire him. We brought him in and said, we'll get you counseling, whatever we can do. It did not take in his case, and in many cases it did not take.
We have arrived at such a point that many of the people who are not working today don't have the skill sets and the discipline, and that is up to us as a nation to solve that problem. My wife and I right now arewe have a small effort to try to provide mentors for people in the State, because if we don't catch this next population, this group of junior high and high school students that are just wondering if they can be a productive part of society, if we don't provide the help to bridge them back in and literally take that mantra that has grown offensive to some of not leaving any child behind, if we don't solve that, this country has such deep problems exactly from the part that you're talking about, weI see almost unanimous consent that once we begin to solve in some way the availability of workers in a legal fashion, that sanctions to those people or those employers who will break the law and go out and hire people and keep them under the shadows, keep them off the tax rolls, and keep them away from the protection of the labor departments, those people need sanctions, and I would find unanimous consent among my Mexican constituents as saying yes, once we help them solve their problem, then there's no going back.
Again, that would answer some of Chairman Hostettler's questionhow should the American people believe us. And your points are very, very well made and, I just think that the future of our country is at stake, because the international competition now is such that when I grew up, it was those cheap Japanese imports that were threatening to take our jobs. I have been to China, and I will tell you they are not cheap imitations. These are great, great replacements, knock offs of the intellectual property that we worked here to create, and they steal. North Face jackets$150 bucks in the stores here$13, and they're exact replicas, maybe even better. And when we allow our intellectual properties to be counterfeited and stolen like that, we're at the risk of losing our entire economic base.
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But India is providing really strong competition in the technology sectors. We must in this country be aware of the threats to our overall economy and the hope and opportunity for all of us.
But I appreciate your reminder about those people who we'd have difficulty discussing this in that constituency, and I appreciate that.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I thank the gentlelady.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman, would the gentlelady and the Chairman just indulge me for 1 minute. I know there's a second round to the gentlelady. I just wanted to thank Mr. Pearce for the charitable approach that he has taken with respect to the constituents in a State that has probably a very low African American population, and, therefore, some of the ills that face society are magnified.
But I do want to just get for the record that when we talk about this problem, that's why the Chambers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce should be engaged because they are very supportive, as the gentlelady has said, of this question of reform.
She had mentioned that Palm Springs would close down, and I'm sure there's some diversity there, but included in my points, of course, were the future college graduates of historically Black colleges and other institutionsengineers who are unemployed, which I think tracks the Chairman's point of his constituency that may be an Anglo, may be a White population saying they don't have jobs, but we have populations trained that don't have jobs for us to realistically be able to answer the question of the impact of illicit immigration, but also the impact of it on certain segments. We need to deal with being able to say to these individuals you will have work, too, and tell them that the reform of the immigration system will enhance them getting workwe have to make it workand at the same time be true to our words that they will have work, because I'm talking about college graduates and others who still suffer unemployment, and it happened to be in this instance African American, and though I don't step away from immigration reform, they complain, rightly so that they're without work.
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Mr. PEARCE. The gentlelady is correct, and I will tell that rather than finding less competition of that sort, an amazing thing happened back before the dot com collapse and that is that we pretty well put fiber optics all the way across India. Now, India is the source of many of our very highest caliber scientists and mathematicians in this country. They are such a small percent of the U.S. population, but the Indians who have come here and lived as citizens are less than 1 percent of the population, yet they provide 10 percent of the graduates every year from the Ivy League schools.
But now, then, with India being wired with fiber optics, those scientists and those great brains can stay at home and do the same thing over the Internet. I think that we have a challenge to come together as Democrats, Republicans, and Independents and look at the challenges that face us, to gird our loins and to fight the fight to preserve what we have in this nation. Any guest worker program I think should always recognize that Americans, if they will fill the jobs, should get the first job at it. And I think we're all seeing the same specter and the same thing that we should be afraid of, and the same really things that we should solve, and I appreciate the viewpoint.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The gentlelady from California.
Ms. WATERS. Thank you very much.
I'd like to ask a little bit more about the guest worker program that you described somewhat or alluded to where you have an identification card, and if you're working, you're gainfully employed, you may be in this country. How does it work? I mean are you here forever if you work forever? Do you get citizenship if you work for 10 years, 20 years? How does your idea of a guest worker program work?
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Mr. PEARCE. The difficulty if we allow the guest worker to gain citizenship while they're here is that we don't take any of the pressure off the border, and you have to understand that the onlyI think the only solution to our border problem is to take the pressure off of those untended portions. My district is 180 miles. And if you put enough pressure at the point of entry, they're simply going to scoot over. And we can build that fence that someone has suggested, but until we put an agent every mile along that fence, they're going to come through.
So my impression of a guest worker program is that people really will have to determine if they want to come here for citizenship or if they're simply satisfied to come here as workers. And I will you that we had illegals show up at our town hall meetings saying, I don't ever want to be a citizen. I just want to come here and make enough so that I can go home and be self sufficient.
And we have people who have lived here 40 years legally, working and saying, you ask them where they're from. I'm from Chihuahua. I'll go home when I retire.
And so there is a mentality that says we love coming here. It's the same mentality that you and I have. I was
Ms. WATERS. So the guest worker would be free to travel back and forth across the border?
Mr. PEARCE. Free travel back and forthjust access.
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And these same people said if you give us that access, we're probably not going to bring our families, because they want their kids to grow up in the same high school where they graduated, the same as I wanted my daughter to graduate where I did.
The said if we leave our families, then we don't have so much pressure on the social systems. We'll go back and forth. That's pretty much how it used to work in the Bracero Program, and I have a lot of Hispanics who were here as Braceros and said, why did we stop that program? It seemed to work pretty well.
And I think that it's up to all of us to determine what we want
Ms. WATERS. So you're talking about the possibility of a guest worker program with strong employer enforcement?
Mr. PEARCE. Mm hmm.
Ms. WATERS. That would eliminate the possibility of employers having illegal immigrants without the documentation, without the paying into the system, all of thatthat's what you are describing?
Mr. PEARCE. Absolutely. And, again, right now, we require enforcement by the employer. That one Hispanic lady says I got to shut down a restaurant, because I can'tthe people I hire can't tell if those green cards are green enough. Those were her words.
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Ms. WATERS. So you would couple this with strong enforcement on the border, and for those people who are in the system standing line in their correct places to apply for citizenship? That would be kind of your general program?
Now, let meI like the idea that you understand the need for education and training. And you talk about, you know, those individuals, be they Black or what have you, who are underemployed or don't have skill sets, et cetera, and this country appears to ignore that, while we are chasing people from other places to fill these jobs like the citizens of India who have become very popular in Silicon Valley and other places where they were providing the skill sets and like you said, because of fiber optics they are doing more and more because they can do those jobs from wherever they are.
Now, wouldn't it be interesting if we could convince the Congress of the United States, Democrats and Republicans, to really invest in human potential, and invest in job training, invest in getting people trained for jobs that are otherwise going to India or other places? It costs money, and I've not seen a willingness on the other side of the aisle to do that. I can recall a job training program that I just had a good fight on the floor, and some years ago, following the problems of South Los Angeles and trying to encourage this Congress to do a job training program for what I called 17- to 30-year-olds with what I consider supports the training while they're in training, et cetera, et cetera, and you kind of mentioned people who are coming out of penal institutions and on and on and on.
Well, I like your idea that we should be supportive of that. It costs money to do this. It costs money to train, but I'm prepared to do tax breaks and to give tax incentives to businesses that are willing to do some real training. I don't want the paper training. I don't want what happened with the Private Industry Councils and other kinds of so-called training programs. But I do want real training by industry, and I'm prepared to dosupport tax incentivesall of that.
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But I guess the big question is, do you think that your side of the aisle would be prepared to couple kind of your idea with job training that costs money, because I tell you if you come up with something like that, and there may be a lot of people who would be willing to look closer at your guest worker program.
Right now, I'm not there on the guest worker program, because I still think we'll getand I could be dated on thisbut I still think of it as kind of exploitation. Let them come and work, but don't try to stay here. We want youand I still think of it as cheap labor. I'm very impressed with your industry and the amount of money you pay, but that's not most of our undocumenteds. It's not most of those who come across the border seeking better opportunity. You know, I'm just a, if I may, I'm just outraged by what's happening in New Orleans and on the Gulf where major contractors are exploiting workers from Guatemala and places.
There was one story that it has brought tears to my eyes where Guatemalans were sleeping on the ground. They had inadequate clothing. Not only were they employed to do some of the work that these big contractors who got no bid contracts to do this work, some of the exploited workers were thrown off the job and they didn't even pay them for what they worked for.
So I mean it's great to hear about hundred dollar an hour jobs or whatever, but the fact of the matter is most are in low-wage jobs, the very low-wage jobs.
However, having said all of that, if there was a real willingness to invest in job training so that we eliminate the argument about people who feel that thethe undocumenteds who are taking jobs and but people feel that they don't have the opportunity to get trained for jobs so they can get the skill sets. They'll never get the experience without the training or somebody taking a chance, as you described.
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If we could figure some of that out, and couple that with a guest worker program, I mayyou know I may not only be supportive of some that, but would encourage some other people to be supportive of it.
So what do you think about some real investment in human potential for job training and for people who have been kind of dropped off of America's agenda, some of them who dropped out of school that shouldn't have, but, you know, we could find their way back in with some support. What about supporting people while they're in job training. If you have to be in job training for 6 months, you got to eat. You got to have transportation. You've got to, you know, be able to stay there to be trained.
What about that kind of support?
Mr. HOSTETTLER. At this point, job training is a fantastically stimulating issue. It just doesn't happen to be the prerogative of this Committee. And in the future, we will be taking up the issue of guest worker programs and earned access and every other discussion of allowing more people into the country to work from outside the country.
Ms. WATERS. Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. But at this point
Ms. WATERS. Will the Chairman yield?
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HOSTETTLER. I will yield.
Ms. WATERS. Mr. Chairman, I thought this was about the impact on our districts today.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Of illegal aliens.
Ms. WATERS. Okay. Of undocumented.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Are you going to be training illegal aliens in your job training bill?
Ms. WATERS. No. The question becomes, yes, we have undocumenteds in my district, many of whom are working in very low paying jobs, being exploited, and we have people, African Americans and others, in the same district who complain about the undocumenteds, but they wish to be able to have access to jobs, which would require job training.
So I think it fits your subject matter.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Yielding
Ms. WATERS. Yes.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. regaining my time.
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. WATERS. Sure.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. And so my question to the gentlelady is so it is your experience that illegal aliens are displacing significant numbers in the workforce of your constituents?
Ms. WATERS. No, that is not my experience.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Reclaiming my time
Ms. WATERS. My experience
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Then who needs job retraining?
Ms. WATERS. I think that there is a need for job training if there were no illegals or undocumented
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Okay. Very good. But that being the case, that isn't the subject of
Ms. WATERS. And
Mr. HOSTETTLER. this hearing. In fact, we will now return to the subject of the hearing, which was the impact of illegal immigration.
Page 91 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I appreciate the gentlelady's insight. We will be taking up a bill that doesI mean we will be taking up hearings that do discuss this issue, and in that context, but the gentlelady's statement is that illegal aliens are not displacing constituents in
Ms. WATERS. No, I didn't say that either. So you keep saying what the gentlelady said, but you're not framing it correctly. I think I first started out by saying you don't know and I don't know, because we don't have the information. We don't have the studies that have been done. People are
Mr. HOSTETTLER. And the answer is
Ms. WATERS. alluding to it.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. the gentlelady does not know about these.
Ms. WATERS. No. The answer is that the Chairman does not know.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. No. I know.
Ms. WATERS. Along with the gentlelady.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. No. I know wholeheartedly.
Ms. WATERS. Okay. I yield
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Mr. HOSTETTLER. Come on back to my district
Ms. WATERS. Okay. All right.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Tonight.
Ms. WATERS. Thanks for the time.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. So at this point, I want to thank the gentleman from New Mexico for his input in this very important subject. All Members will have 5 legislative days to make additions to the record. The business before the Subcommittee being completed
Ms. JACKSON LEE. And may I, Mr. Chairmanif I would add my appreciation for the sticktoitness of the gentleman from New Mexico, and certainly appreciate the other Members that you have stuck it out. And we appreciate your testimony. It will be valued in this process, and we're going to get some jobs for the people that Congressman Waters and myself are talking about and the jobs for the Chairman and comprehensive immigration reform.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Without objection, we're adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 4:09 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
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A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE JOHN ABNER CULBERSON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
Good afternoon, Chairman Hostettler, Ranking Member Ms. Jackson Lee, and members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to appear before you to discuss the problem of illegal immigration and its effect on my congressional district and the State of Texas.
I represent the 7th District of Texas, an area roughly 200 square miles that covers suburban west and northwest Houston. The problems that my district and Texas face are not unique to border States, but they are unique compared with other parts of the country. Roughly 1.5 million illegal immigrants live in Texas. These illegal immigrants work in Texas, their children attend our schools, they use our public hospitals, and if they commit crimesthey are detained in our jails.
What makes Texas unique to the rest of the country is the size of our border with Mexico; Texas borders Mexico for 1,240 miles along the Rio Grande. The length of the border presents unique challenges for communities and law enforcement along the border. In the past year, the numbers of Mexicans and OTMs has surged along with substantial increases in the quantity of drugs being moved across our southern border. The increases in human and drug trafficking are due, in part, to the fact that organized gangs and cartels now control the movement of people and drugs into the U.S. We have an obligation to address the problem now before the violence on the other side of the border spills over into our country, and irreparably damages the special relationship that Texas and Mexico have enjoyed for over a century. Congress must work to ensure that legislation is passed to secure our borders.
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I became particularly concerned with the issue of illegal immigration after a town hall meeting was held on April 25, 2004 by CIS and ICE officials in Houston to assure illegal immigrants that federal immigration laws would not be enforced. Hearing law enforcement officers assuage law breakers that our laws would not be enforced is completely unacceptable. After this meeting was held, I voiced my serious concerns to the Bush Administration, the leadership in Congress, and the committees of jurisdiction. Broadcasting the fact that Houston is a safe haven for illegal immigrants only encourages more illegals to come to Houston.
The following month I visited the Houston CIS office and was shocked to find the policies and procedures employed in that office were contrary to the intent of immigration laws passed by Congress. I discovered that adjudicators do not have the tools needed to conduct background checks on immigration benefit applicants. I learned that not one adjudicator had been trained to detect a potential terrorist. I learned that adjudicators were granted time off and other incentives for rapidly processing applicants instead of being rewarded for conducting thorough background checks on applicants. I learned that marriage fraud was rampant. In general, I found that immigrants applying for legal status were treated as customers. The American taxpayer was not the customer, and in fact, the taxpayer was not even considered by CIS officials. Awarding the greatest privilege in the history of the worldAmerican citizenshipwithout proper vetting and background checks cheapens that privilege. Therefore, I included report language in the FY2005 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill that sought to correct these policies:
IMPLEMENTATION OF CONGRESSIONAL INTENT
Page 95 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCThe Committee is concerned that agencies of the Department are not complying with Congressional intent, particularly in carrying out homeland security missions and priorities. The Committee directs that neither the Secretary nor any other employee of the Department prescribe any policy, procedure or regulation that would be contrary to or frustrate the intent of Congress as expressed in law.
HOMELAND SECURITY MISSION PRIORITY
The Committee is concerned that DHS agencies are not placing top priority on their homeland security missions set forth in the Homeland Security Act, but are in some cases giving more weight to less urgent, legacy activities. It is the duty of each officer and employee of each element of the Department to protect the homeland of the United States, including by ensuring that potential terrorist and criminal aliens do not enter the United States. The Committee therefore directs the Secretary to ensure that the policies and procedures of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and every other element of the Department of Homeland Security are consistent with this duty, and that such requirements are made clear to each officer and employee of the Department.
After my visit to the Houston CIS office, I posed questions to the Homeland Security Inspector General Clark Kent Ervin. He began an investigation into the policies and procedures in the Houston office, but I have been unable to obtain a copy of the report. The two officials in Houston CIS and ICE who participated in the townhall meeting have been replaced. My goal is to continue working with federal immigration officials in Houston to fix the obvious security risks that are exacerbated by lax enforcement policies.
Page 96 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCBorder Security:
Since the April town hall meeting, I have learned that Special Interest Aliens (SIAs)aliens from countries where al-Qaeda is known to operatehave entered the United States illegally. I am particularly concerned that aliens from countries such as Iraq, Iran, Syria, Indonesia, and the Sudan are entering our country illegally. On March 8, 2005 I questioned FBI Director Robert Mueller during a hearing before the House Science, State, Justice, Commerce Appropriations Subcommittee about SIAs entering the United States across the southern border and he testified under oath that this was in fact occurring. Specifically, he stated that ''[t]he FBI has received reports that individuals from countries with known al-Qaeda connections have attempted to enter the U.S. illegally using alien smuggling rings and assuming Hispanic appearances. An FBI investigation into these reports continues.'' SIAs are changing their Arabic surnames to Hispanic surnames to elude detection and blend into the flood of illegal immigrants coming across the southern border. I am convinced that our porous borders present the most serious national security threat that America faces.
To gain a better understanding of the problems for communities and law enforcement on the border, I visited several cities along the Texas-Mexico border in October 2005. During my visit, I met with a number of sheriffs from the counties along the border. They briefed me in detail on several cases involving terrorist activity, narco-terrorist activity, violent gangs such as MS13, and the increased violence in their counties. I was very concerned to learn about the growing influence of drug cartels in Mexico and their hired guns, the Zetas. I also learned about the violence that is spilling over into U.S. cities like Laredo, Texas. In the last year, more than 40 American citizens have been killed or kidnapped in Laredo. In early 2005, Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza issued a travel warning for all Americans visiting or working in Mexican border towns. This warning demonstrates the need for an increased number of Border Patrol agents and local law enforcement officers on the southern border. The presence and constant activity of narco-terrorists and human smugglers are directly related to the kidnappings and the travel warning, and they signify the lawlessness along the border.
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During my visit I also learned about the special status given to OTMs who enter the United States illegally. The number of OTMs apprehended along the Texas border has doubled in the last year and tripled since three years ago. Along the entire U.S.-Mexico border, the number of OTMs apprehended has increased 175 percent in the last year. The OTM problem is compounded by current policies that allow them to walk free after being detained and processed by the Border Patrol. OTMs are released because there is not enough jail space to detain them. Last week, Secretary Chertoff announced his intention to detain and deport every OTM apprehended at the border. Congress must ensure that DHS has adequate detention space and manpower to accomplish this task. The OTM problem can be fixed, but it will take additional resources, policy changes, and effective deterrence.
Since returning to Washington from my trip to the border, I have spoken with many Members of Congress and shared the stories and pictures from my trip. I was not surprised to hear that many of them said they felt safer during trips to Iraq than they would have in a pickup truck on our southern border. The increased violence in towns such as Laredo is frightening. Business centers are closing down, tourism is declining, and the general population is demoralized by the level of lawlessness. I am now convinced that you do not need to go to Baghdad to see the war on terroryou can go to Laredo.
Costs of Illegal Immigration:
According to a Federation for American Immigration Reform report issued earlier this year, illegal immigrants in Texas cost the State's taxpayers more than $4.7 billion per year for education, medical care and incarceration. The annual fiscal burden amounts to roughly $725 per Texas household.
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Texas public schools, like many schools around the country are overcrowded. After Hurricane Katrina, the citizens of Houston opened their doors to our neighbors in New Orleans. School districts in Harris County have taken in 14,000 students who were displaced because of the storm. Our schools are simply drowning in the number of students, and the burden on teachers and administrators is overwhelming. There are currently an estimated 319,000 children of illegal immigrants in Texas schools. This figure represents 10 percent of the total K12 public school enrollment in Texas and the costs of educating these children has increased every year over the last ten years. In 1994 the Urban Institute estimated the per student cost of a K12 education in Texas was $4,461. A 2000 report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) estimated that the cost of educating the children of illegal immigrants was $6,288 per child. Since public school outlays have increased at least 10 percent since 2000, using the NCES data, it is reasonable to assume that the cost of educating a child of an illegal immigrant is $7,450 for this year. Education is paid for by property taxes in Texas. These taxes have reached an artificially high level and the Texas Legislature is looking for a solution to lower property taxes while continuing to provide public education that meets the standards set by No Child Left Behind. A solution can be found to the education crisis in Texas, but we cannot continue to bear the burden of educating the children of illegal immigrants.
In March 2005, the Houston Chronicle reported that ''Over the past 10 years, the [Harris county hospital] district has provided $510 million in unreimbursed care to illegal immigrants.'' In the last three years alone, the Harris County hospital district has spent $330 million on care to illegal immigrants. Providing these services places a huge and unnecessary strain on taxpayers and creates an incentive for illegal aliens to come to this country and take advantage of the world's best hospitals. These costs are staggering and are only going to increase. In order to remove the burden from local taxpayers, Congress must continue to reimburse hospitals for this care, but to receive reimbursement for illegal immigrant carehospitals must prove they have treated these aliens. In contrast to their unwillingness to provide information to federal immigration officials about illegal aliens for immigration purposes, states and localities have been willing to provide that information when seeking reimbursement from the federal government for the cost of medical care to illegal immigrants. Since hospitals are already asking the citizenship status of patients when they receive care, it seems reasonable that they contact federal immigration officials to alert them to the presence of these aliens. A program can easily be implemented that places no undue burden on hospitals and only requires cooperation with federal officials to be eligible for reimbursement.
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I am also concerned that ''sanctuary'' policies implemented by local law enforcement that harbors criminals and makes immigrant communities much more susceptible to violence and crime. The City of Houston has such a policy:
HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT GENERAL ORDER 50005
Officers shall not make inquires as the citizenship status of any person, nor will officers detain or arrest persons solely on the belief that they are in this country illegally. Officers will contact the Immigration and Naturalization Service regarding a person only if that person is arrested on a separate criminal charge other than a class C misdemeanor and the officer knows the prisoner is an illegal alien.
General Order 50005 provides a safe haven for criminals to hide among immigrants. In 1998, Dr. Claudia Benton was beaten, raped, and fatally stabbed in Houston by Angel Maturion Resendiz. Resendiz, also known as the Railway Killer, entered the U.S. illegally at least seven times in 1998 and had been deported seven times prior to the murder. On January 26, 2004, 18 year old Virginia Garcia was raped and murdered by David Diaz Morales in Austin, which has a police policy similar to the one in Houston. Morales, an illegal immigrant, had been previously arrested for child molestation. Many who support sanctuary policies claim that immigrants would be unwilling to contact local police if they were the victims of a crime out of fear that they themselves would be deported. That fear is nothing compared to the fear and resentment the families of Dr. Benton and Ms. Garcia have knowing that the murders of their loved ones could have been prevented simply by removing another barrier of communication between local and Federal law enforcement. Every community would benefit from taking criminals off the streets, and immigrant communities would benefit from not having criminals hiding among them. If Houston, or any other city, continues to receive Federal money for detaining illegal aliens, they should also be required to report illegal immigrants to DHS.
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I have heard an overwhelming plea from my constituents demanding that the federal government secure our borders and enforce immigration laws. My constituents feel the pressures of illegal immigration on their pocketbooks. They are tired of paying high property taxes to fund the education of illegal immigrants' children. They are tired of increased county taxes to provide health care to people who are not in this country legally. They are tired of criminals wandering their streets with no fear of prosecution because of policies established by police that allow them to hide among the population. Fortunately, my constituents have not experienced the level of violence that I witnessed in Laredo. The southern border is truly the frontlines of the war on terror because of the threat posed by al-Qaeda and criminal organizations. Mr. Chairman, with your help and the help of this Subcommittee, I hope that we can find a solution that will protect our borders and provide reasonable reimbursements to communities that are suffocating from the costs associated with illegal immigration.
Thank you very much and I would be happy to answer any questions.
EDITORIALS SUPPORTING COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM AND THE SECURE AMERICA AND ORDERLY IMMIGRATION ACT OF 2005, SUBMITTED BY THE HONORABLE LUIS V. GUTIERREZ
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