SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT RESOURCES AUTHORIZED IN THE INTELLIGENCE REFORM AND TERRORISM PREVENTION ACT OF 2004
SUBCOMMITTEE ON IMMIGRATION,
BORDER SECURITY, AND CLAIMS
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED NINTH CONGRESS
MARCH 3, 2005
Serial No. 1094
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPrinted for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary
Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.house.gov/judiciary
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
ADAM SMITH, Washington
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, Maryland
PHILIP G. KIKO, Chief of Staff-General Counsel
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
JERROLD NADLER, New York
MAXINE WATERS, California
GEORGE FISHMAN, Chief Counsel
ART ARTHUR, Counsel
LUKE BELLOCCHI, Full Committee Counsel
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NOLAN RAPPAPORT, Minority Counsel
C O N T E N T S
MARCH 3, 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. Solomon P. Ortiz, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas
Mr. Peter Gadiel, 9/11 Families for a Secure America
Mr. T.J. Bonner, National President, National Border Patrol Council
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Mr. Robert Eggle, father of Kris Eggle, slain National Park Service Ranger
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Zoe Lofgren, a Representative in Congress from the State of California
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Steve King, a Representative in Congress from the State of Iowa
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Linda T. Sánchez a Representative in Congress from the State of California
News Articles Compiled by Congressman Solomon P. Ortiz submitted by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee
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News Articles submitted by Mr. Robert Eggle
IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT RESOURCES AUTHORIZED IN THE INTELLIGENCE REFORM AND TERRORISM PREVENTION ACT OF 2004
THURSDAY, MARCH 3, 2005
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Immigration,
Border Security, and Claims,
Committee on the Judiciary,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 11:37 a.m., in Room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John N. Hostettler (Chair of the Subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The Subcommittee will come to order.
At the end of last year, Congress passed the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 based on some of the recommendations of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States, known as the 9/11 Commission, which studied the nation's security lapses leading to the tragic terrorist attacks of September, 2001. Congress cannot simply pass that legislation and think we have done our job. 9/11 is a tragedy of the scale that we must never forget. Preventing it from happening again demands our eternal vigilance.
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While many members of the House of Representatives believe that the act omitted key recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, there was overwhelming bipartisan support for the act's recognition that the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security need greatly expanded resources if they are to successfully enforce the immigration laws of this nation and protect the American people.
Today and over the next several weeks, our Subcommittee will examine the provisions of the act designed to do just this. In our hearing today, the Subcommittee will examine the act's call for doubling the Border Patrol over 5 years. Next Thursday, the Subcommittee will examine the resources needed to ensure interior immigration enforcement. Finally, on March 16, the Subcommittee will hear from Assistant Secretaries Robert Bonner and Michael Garcia of the Department of Homeland Security regarding the Administration's proposed 2006 budget for these processes.
Although my home State of Indiana does not have Border Patrol agents stationed in it, the people of Indiana are grateful to those dedicated Border Patrol agents who are stationed at the nation's borders protecting all Americans from those who would enter the country surreptitiously and do us harm. As the 9/11 Commission found, ''It is elemental to border security to know who is coming into the country. . . . We must . . . be able to monitor and respond to entrances between our ports of entry. . . . The challenge for national security in an age of terrorism is to prevent the . . . people who may pose overwhelming risks from entering . . . the U.S. undetected.''
But Admiral James Loy, Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, testified just last month that, ''Entrenched human smuggling networks . . . in areas beyond our borders can be exploited by terrorist organizations. Recent information . . . strongly suggests that al-Qaeda has considered using the Southwest border to infiltrate the United States. Several al-Qaeda leaders believe operatives can pay their way into the country through Mexico and also believe illegal entry is more advantageous than legal entry for operational security reasons. . . . [Also] the long United States-Canada border, often rugged and remote, includes a variety of terrain and waterways, some suitable for illicit border crossings.''
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Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, reminded us that it is, ''al-Qaeda's stated intention to conduct an attack exceeding the destruction of 9/11.''
This testimony indicates the unwavering will of terrorists to exploit any weaknesses in our border security. However, the heavy burden of policing the nation's borders against terrorists is not all that is resting on the shoulders of the Border Patrol. The war on terrorism should not cause us to give pause in the war on drugs or the constant need to reaffirm our nation's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Border Patrol remains our first line of defense against the entry into the country of terrorists, drug smugglers, gangs, criminal aliens, and others who seek to break our laws.
I was very glad to hear the President say in his State of the Union Address this year that he supports an, ''immigration policy that . . . tells us who is entering and leaving our country, and that closes the border to drug dealers and terrorists.'' I was, therefore, deeply disappointed that his budget for 2006 calls for an increase in Border Patrol agents of barely 10 percent of that called for by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act.
The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act called for a 2,000-agent increase in Border Patrol strength for 2006. The witnesses at today's hearing will examine the need for this increase from each of their unique perspectives.
At this time, the chair recognizes the Ranking Member from Texas, Ms. Jackson Lee, for an opening statement.
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Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Let me also ask your indulgence. We are in two hearings at this time and I wanted to make sure that I gave a great deal of my attention to this very important issue.
Let me weome the witnesses and thank you so very much for your presence here today.
Mr. Chairman, I am going to make a statement that I have made through the years of my participation in this Subcommittee, but more importantly, since 9/11. I think it is particularly important today because I believe out of this hearing there will be a great deal of commonality and unity on the crisis that we face and the opportunity that we have if we act now and the opportunity that we will miss if we do not act.
First of all, I think it is important to note that immigration does not equate to terrorism, and I say it again. Immigration does not equate to terrorism. I hope in the future weeks and months to come we'll find common ground to address the concerns of Lou Dobbs, to address the concerns of hard-working tax-paying immigrants who are undocumented in this country, to respond to the concern where Americans have felt that the question of a driver's license really cures terrorism, and it does not. I hope we will work together on that, Mr. Chairman, and find our way to the Arizona border, the California border, the Mexico and Texas border, and really work on these issues.
But today, I think we have a more serious question and that question is glaring and I believe that we are moved to act, if not today, as soon as possible. Listen to these headlines. ''Texas Tops Nation in Illegal Migrant No-Shows. About 40 Percent Don't Go to Court Hearings. U.S. Figure is 23 Percent.'' Again, about 40 percent of the individuals with court hearings do not show up, and the phrase for those mostly are what we call OTM, Other-Than-Mexican individuals or citizens, and that means that they get paperwork, but yet they do not show up. ''Snipers Target Border Agents,'' law enforcement officers who are working every day to secure our borders.
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I hope today that we understand that in addition to this issue of Border Patrol agents, securing the border requires a lot moremonitoring, collaboration, but certainly it requires a kind of increased professionalism, increased compensation, and increased numbers.
Headlines, ''Bush Plan for Border Criticized in Congress,'' not because we don't want to work with the President, but because we realize that the disclosure that al-Qaeda operatives may try to sneak into the United States through Mexico is intensifying demands that we have the amount of numbers of Border Patrol agents.
News headline that is recently published, ''Outgoing Homeland Security Official Cautions Against Citizen Border Patrol Agents,'' a problem that we're facing in our States because people are frustrated. We need trained, professional Border Patrol agents.
Secretary, Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, Mr. Chairman, first, the threat is unclear but enduring. The condition is not expected to change. We continue to note attempted entry into the U.S. by aliens who, according to intelligence, pose a threat. This is the testimony of Admiral James Loy. It is real. It is serious.
The headlines speak to this continuously and there is headline after headline after headline that border control requires increased funding. ''Al Qaeda Threat Demands Border Funding,'' and that is an article recently published in Human Events. I can go on and on about the articles to be able to craft the problem.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But what I would suggest as we look and listen in this hearing is that we listen with an ear of solution. The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection is responsible for overall border enforcement. Within the Bureau, a distinction is made between border enforcement at and between points of entry.
This hearing is about funding for additional Border Patrol agents for the division within the Bureau that is responsible for border enforcement between points of entry the United States Border Patrol. The primary mission of the U.S. Border Patrol is to detect and prevent the entry of terrorists, weapons of mass destruction, unauthorized aliens into the country, and to interdict drug smugglers and other criminals between official points of entry.
The U.S. Border Patrols 8,000 miles of international borders with Mexico and Canada and the coastal waters around Florida and Puerto Rico. It is a daunting task. The Northern border with Canada touches 12 States and is more than 4,000 miles long. It has vast mountain ranges, such as the Rockies, the Great Lakes, and many different river systems, and in the winter, heavy snow and bitter cold temperatures. Reminded of the turn of the century, this last century, when the forces were able to thwart, along with local officials, the potential of a tragic terrorist incident that would have occurred at LAX, the Los Angeles airport. We know how important it is to secure both the Northern and Southern borders.
The U.S. Border Patrol also utilizes advanced technology to augment its agents' ability to patrol the borders. These technologies include light towers, mobile night vision scopes, remote video surveillance systems, directional listening devices, unmanned aerial vehicles, and database systems. These so-called force multipliers allow the U.S. Border Patrol to deploy sometimes fewer agents while still maintaining its ability to detect and counter intrusions.
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The Intelligence Reform Act contains a provision requiring the USBP to add 2,000 agents to its workforce each year for FY 2006 to 2010. Mr. Chairman, we have been talking about adding Border Patrol agents, I think, now for 6 years and we have not reached the goals that we need to reach. Notwithstanding that provision, the Administration's budget of FY 2006 only requests funding for 210 additional agent positions. We must amend that budget provision. We must add new numbers. We must ensure the professional development, and we must ensure the compensation.
At the hearing today, we will hear testimony on the need for additional agents authorized by the National Intelligence Reform Act. Might I say to those who have not yet been to the borders, dealing with the Southern border, California, Texas, and Arizona, you need simply go and see the closeness of the United States to our neighbor to the South, the easiness for individuals who intend to do harm to cross the border.
As I indicated, immigration does not equate to terrorism. Migration does not equate to terrorism. But lack of dutifulness, inattentive to a secure border to avoid those who intend to do us harm from meeting their court date, from being detained, is a crisis in and of itself.
Mr. Chairman, as you well know, I was able to include portions of the CASE Act in the intelligence bill, the bill that I offered last session that provided extra measures of punishment for those who would smuggle individuals into this country. Yet we have not completely answered that question and I believe there are other aspects of the CASE Act that we should includeoutreach programs, the educational programs that would avoid the tragedy of human trafficking.
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At the same time, I think we should take our instruction from the intelligence bill that was passed along with provisions from the Commercial Alien Smuggling Elimination Act of 2005. We need to act now. The 2,000 needed Border Patrol agents would be able to ensure or provide additional safety for the American people.
I think it is important and imperative, Mr. Chairman, that this hearing be the underpinnings for answering the concerns of all of these articles, article after article after article after article, that speaks to the question that we are not safe at our borders and we are not giving our Border Patrol agents sufficient staff to do so.
I thank the Chairman very much for this time.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I thank the gentlelady for her opening statement.
Without objection, all opening statements will be made a part of the record.
At this time, I will introduce our witnesses today. We are fortunate that testifying today will be Mr. Peter Gadiel, Director of the 9/11 Families for a Secure America. Peter and his wife, Jan, of Kent, Connecticut, lost their son, James, at age 23 in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Mr. Gadiel has worked tirelessly since that day to see that no other American families ever again have to experience the nightmare suffered by he and his wife.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Also testifying will be Mr. T.J. Bonner, head of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents thousands of Border Patrol agents. Mr. Bonner, a Border Patrol agent himself for many years, is in a unique position to tell us about the morale of Border Patrol agents, the difficult job those agents must perform every day, the dangers they face as they pursue smugglers with human and drug cargo, and their need for additional help to control our borders.
Likewise, former Army Airborne Ranger and wounded Vietnam Veteran Robert Eggle will be testifying. Bonnie and Bob Eggle's son, Kris, lost his life in the line of duty along the border at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument on August 9, 2002. From Cadillac, Michigan, Kris became an Eagle Scout, a National Honor Society student, and graduated from Cadillac High School as valedictorian in 1991. After graduation with honors from the University of Michigan, he took a job with the National Park Service. Kris was fatally shot while pursuing a drug cartel hit squad who escaped across the United States border after a spate of killings in Mexico. Kris was 28 years old.
Mr. Gadiel and Mr. Eggle, let me express the deepest sympathy to you from every member of this Subcommittee. As the father of two sons and two daughters, words cannot express my sadness for your loss. It is your courage and the courage of your family, demonstrated by your willingness to appear before the Subcommittee today, that gives us all the vision that out of great despair can come great hope. Likewise, it is my desire that your words do not fall on deaf ears but are the impetus for a renewed effort to give the men and women who valiantly defend our borders, and indeed our sovereignty, the aid they require to do their job.
Another witness will be the honorable gentleman from Texas, Mr. Solomon Ortiz. Out of courtesy to a fellow Member of Congress, I will ask the Ranking Member's witness, Mr. Ortiz, to speak first today. Mr. Ortiz has represented Texans in Congress since 1982. Prior to that, he served as Nueces County Sheriff. His district abuts the Rio Grande River and the Mexican border. His constituents witness every day the problems stemming from the lack of secure borders. He is co-chair of the bipartisan House Border Caucus, which examines issues that affect the communities along the U.S. borders, particularly the U.S.-Mexico border.
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Will the witnesses please rise to take the oath.
Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to give before this Committee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you, God?
Mr. ORTIZ. I do.
Mr. GADIEL. I do.
Mr. BONNER. I do.
Mr. EGGLE. I do.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you. You may be seated.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman, would you yield for just a point of personal privilege for Mr. Ortiz, Congressman Ortiz?
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Yes, I yield to the Ranking Member.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Let me just, point of personal privilege to indicate to my colleagues that Congressman Ortiz has been on this matter for an enormous amount of time and spent an enormous amount of time. This is aI don't want to put words in his mouth, but a crisis in his area. He has been a leader on this issue and has taken any number of members to the border area to show first-hand what is happening, and I want to particularly weome him and thank him for his leadership and for bringing this to our attention.
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This is an important issue, and I thank you for indulging. I may have to go to the Floor, and I thank you again for indulging.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Ms. Jackson Lee.
I would like the record to reflect that the witnesses responded in the affirmative to the oath.
Mr. Ortiz, you are recognized for 5 minutes.
TESTIMONY OF THE HONORABLE SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
Mr. ORTIZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. With your permission, my co-Chairman of the Border Caucus, Chairman Bonilla, couldn't be here because he has another meeting going on, but if I may, I would like to introduce one of the sheriffs, Sheriff D'Wayne Jernigan, who really understands the problem that Chairman Bonilla and myself and he is going through.
But if I may, with your permission, I would like to show two videos that we have. With your permission, I would like to do that.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Without objection. [Videotape shown.]
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ORTIZ. I think this is another tape of a member of a very vicious gang who was also arrested. I think it is coming up. [Videotape shown.]
Mr. ORTIZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for allowing us witnesses to appear before your Committee and for you and the Members of the Committee to have a little understanding and knowledge, and I know that you do because members of the minority and majority staff were there. They have seen the border problems, and I want to thank you for that, for them spending time at the border.
You know, I am not an immigrant basher. My mother was an immigrant and I am part of a rich tradition of immigrants in the United States. Before coming to Congress, I was a sheriff in South Texas, which keeps me in close touch with the people who protect our safety and property along the Southern border.
I want to address a growing dangerous national security problem originating on the Southern border with three major components: number one, the release of OTMs, which translates to Other-Than-Mexicans, by the United States Government. Border law enforcement officers routinely release illegal immigrants into the general population of the United States because they do not have sufficient funds and space to detain them at detention facilities.
Captured OTMs are released on their own recognizance and are ordered to appear at a deportation hearing weeks after their release. The number of absconders, those who never appear for deportation, varies very widely, but just recently when I checked, they said it is around 90 percent of those released, a number now approaching within the last fiscal year and the beginning of this fiscal year 75,000 individuals.
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The growing number, number two, of Mara Salvatruchans continues to grow. Now, these are members of the gangs, the bloody, violent Central American gangs that are now a serious criminal element in major cities and in States around the country. Some of these gangs are entering the country as OTMs and gaining easy release.
And number three, a recent warning to Americans by the United States Ambassador to Mexico illustrating the danger of narcotrafficking gangs along the United States border directed against Americans in the border area, including kidnapping of American citizens.
The Southern border is literally under siege and there is a real possibility that terrorists, particularly al-Qaeda forces, could exploit this series of holes in our law enforcement system along the Southern border. There has been a 137 percent increase in OTMs in this present fiscal year, alone translating to roughly 19,000 in one Border Patrol sector, which is the McAllen Sector in the district that I represent. However, this problem is not just in South Texas. Boston, Massachusetts, area police have arrested a number of MS13 gang members who are causing serious crime problems in the community, one of which was a reported OTM released by Border Patrol law enforcement.
Central American law enforcement and news reports note, and I have talked to some of them, that al-Qaeda is trying to get the ruthless M513 gangs to move high-value al-Qaeda agents or operators across the border for large sums of money, totaling up to $250,000 or more. Admiral Loy at DHS recently noted in testimony before the Intelligence Committee that al-Qaeda is attempting to exploit the Southern border to enter the United States.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The intelligence reform bill passed by Congress and signed by the President mandated 10,000 Border Patrol agents over 10 years, or 2,000 Border Patrol agents annually for the next 5 years. The budget received by Congress in early February only funded 210 Border Patrol agents. The Border Patrol will lose more than 210 agents due to attrition. And just this week, 24 more Border Patrol agents were mobilized with the National Guard to go and serve in Iraq.
Intelligence reform mandated an increase of 8,000 beds in detention facilities annually for the next 5 years, still not nearly enough to hold all those coming into the United States. Yet our budget proposal provides for only 1,900 new detention spaces, over 6,000 beds short of the Congressional mandate passed in December of last year.
This is a clear and present danger inside the United States and the number of released immigrants not returning for deportation grows by hundreds each week. This willfully ignores a complex problem undermining our national objective, to take the war to the enemy so we do not have to fight the war on terror inside our country. Yet, we could very well be letting people come into our backyard.
Not only do we not know who we are releasing, we don't know where they are going. The entire system depends upon the information given to us or to the Border Patrol by the immigrants. Without any sort of identification, agents simply have to trust that they are getting accurate information.
Local rangers in South Texas have found clothing that is native to the Middle East. They have found currency, Middle Eastern currency, of countries of special interest, and those OTMs are being released.
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The more OTMs we release, the more we encourage their crossing in the first place, and this is not the first experience we have had. About 15 years ago, I had 57,000 immigrants in my district, and this was when Attorney General Meese, when the Contra War was going on, when he said, if you fear for your life, all you have to do is ask for political asylum. I had 57,000 people in my district.
My friends, until we have the resources we need, the Border Patrol agents, the detention facilities, and the appropriate technology to screen those immigrants, they are going to continue to enter this country. And until we send that signal that if you come, you are going to be apprehended, you are going to be detained, and you are going to go through the normal process and be deported, if we don't do thatin fact, I just got an e-mail, three Palestinians were coming across. They arrested one and they are still looking for two others.
My friends, these are things that are happening on a daily basis, and I don't want to consume too much time because I know that we have other witnesses. We are desperate for help.
You might ask about the morale. The morale of our Border Patrol is low. They are confused. They ask, what is our mission? Some of them feel like they are taxicab drivers, Wal-Mart greeters. Those coming across, what they do is just turn themselves in to the Border Patrol and they ask, where are my walking papers? It wouldn't be so bad if we knew who they are or where they are coming from.
These are their walking papers, my friends. You don't see a picture. You don't see an address. You don't see fingerprints. And many times, an individual comes with a walking paper and then they find that the individual has identification with another name. He is rearrested. The old paper is thrown away and he is given a new one with a new name. This is what's happening at our border.
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This is very, very serious. I could go on and on, but I will allow later on for some questions and thank you for your indulgence. Thank you so much.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Mr. Ortiz.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Ortiz follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
Chairman Hostettler, Ranking Member Jackson Lee, and Members of the Committee.
Thank you for your timely hearing about dangers in U.S. border security.
Before I begin, let me state that I am not an immigrant-basher. My mother was an immigrant and I am part of a rich tradition of immigrants in the U.S.
Before coming to Congress, I was a sheriff in South Texas, which keeps me in close touch with the people who protect our safety and property along the southern border.
I want to address a growing, dangerous national security problem originating on the southern border with 3 major components:
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC1. The release of OTMs (other than Mexicans) by the U.S. government. Border law enforcement officers routinely release illegal immigrants into the general population of the U.S. because they do not have sufficient funds and space to detain them at detention facilities. Captured OTMs are released on their own recognizance and are ordered to appear at a deportation hearing weeks after their release. The number of ''absconders''those who never appear for deportationvaries widely, but is said to be 90% of those released, a number now approaching 75,000.
2. The growing number of Mara Salvatrucha (MS 13) gangs, the bloody, violent Central American gangs that are now a serious criminal element in major cities and in states around the country. These gangs are entering the country as OTMs, and gaining easy release.
3. A recent warning to Americans by the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico illustrating the danger of narcotrafficking gangs along the U.S. border directed against Americans in the border area, including kidnapping of American citizens.
The Southern Border is literally under siege, and there is a real possibility that terroristsparticularly al Qaida forcescould exploit this series of holes in our law enforcement system along the southern border.
There has been a 137% increase in OTMs in this fiscal year alonetranslating to roughly 6,000 OTMs. Of those, 40% pass through the McAllen Sector alone in south Texas.
However, this problem is not just in South Texas. Boston-area police have arrested a number of MS 13 gang members who are tearing through their community, one of which was reported to be an OTM, released by border law enforcement.
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Central American law enforcement and news reports note that al Qaida is trying to get the ruthless MS 13 gangs to move high value al Qaida operatives across the border for a large sum of money, we've heard about $250,000.
Admiral James Loy from the Department of Homeland Security recently noted in testimony before the Intelligence Committee that there is reason to believe al Qaida is attempting to exploit the southern border to enter the U.S.
This is what we know.
The Intelligence Reform bill passed by Congress, and signed by the President, mandated 10,000 Border Patrol agents over 10 years, 2,000 annually. The budget received by Congress in early February only funded 210 BP agents. The Border Patrol will lose more than 210 agents to attritionthe strength of the Border Patrol is dwindling. Just this week, 24 more Border Patrol agents were mobilized with the National Guard to the war in Iraq from the McAllen sector alone.
Intelligence Reform mandated an increase of 8,000 beds in detention facilities annually for the next 5 years, still not nearly enough to hold all those coming in to the U.S. Yet, our budget proposal provides for only about 1,900 new detention space bedsover 6,000 beds short of the congressional mandate passed in December 2004.
This is a clear and present danger inside the United States, and the number of released illegal immigrants not returning for deportation grows by the hundreds each week.
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This willfully ignores a complex problem undermining our national objective: to take the war to the enemy so we do not have to fight the war on terror inside our country, yet we could very well be letting people in our own backyard.
Not only do we not know who we are releasing, we don't know where they are going. The entire system depends upon the information given to us by the immigrants. Without ID, agents simply have to trust they are getting accurate information.
Local ranchers found clothing that is native to the Middle East and Sudanese moneycountries of special interestand those OTMs are being released. They are showing up in taxis at Border Patrol stations to get their walking papers.
The more OTMs we release, the more we encourage their crossing in the first place. Until we have the resources we needthe border patrol agents, the detention facilities and the appropriate technologyto accurately screen these immigrants, they are going to continue to enter the country. We must send a clear signal that they will be apprehended and put through the legal process in order for these OTMs to stop infiltrating our borders.
Our borders are crossed illegally in wavesthe first wave of 10 or so are captured, processed and nearly always released, but while the agents are processing the first wave, the next several waves come in uncontested.
Again, let's be clearthis is not anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Most immigrants crossing our borders merely seek a better life. In FY03, 95% of illegal immigrants were Mexicans; the remaining 5% (49,545) were OTMs.
Before 9/11, concerns about illegal immigrants focused entirely on the cost to local communities and the fear that Americans could lose jobs to immigrants willing to work cheaper. That is not the case today.
Once again, the OTM issue is not just a concern for border communities, but more importantly for all of us. It is a dire matter of our national security in this dangerous new age.
I am introducing a border security bill shortly that will address some of the issues we have discussed here today. I hope all of you will consider co-sponsoring it and I invite you to my district to see all this for yourselves.
My recommendationsmany of which are included in my billare on many levels:
Providing more security clearances to agents so more can access the databasepresently only a few have the abilitiesor providing more training for our agents
More piloted aircraft, fewer UAVsthose who utilize it say our air ops is outdated
In the McAllen sector, we need remote video camerasthey need cameras on both sides of the checkpoints
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More personnel to man the checkpoints and cameras
More immigration judges
Some type of roving collection facility to gather up illegal immigrants to keep agents on their post
Work with Mexico to prevent OTMs from crossing in the first place
Exchange criminal data with Central American countries to know who's crossing the border
Agencies need to talk to each other and stop denying the magnitude of this problem.
We can't just talk about it, or authorize it. We must fund every single penny of it now, in the supplemental coming before Congress in the next few weeks.
I asked those who stand on our front lines what they would want to say to the U.S. Congress; here's what they said:
''Our borders are not secure.''
''What's our mission here? We're spinning our wheels.''
''The whole system is broken.''
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''We're releasing OTMs without proper checks due to lack of time and info.''
I want to thank the Majority and the Minority members of the Subcommitteeand their stafffor their concern on this issue and for inviting me to testify.
I wish to submit for the record a number of new stories about these things, and I am happy to answer any questions you may have.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Mr. Gadiel, you are recognized.
TESTIMONY OF PETER GADIEL, 9/11 FAMILIES FOR A SECURE AMERICA
Mr. GADIEL. Speaking for many members, 9/11 family members, Mr. Chairman, Members of the Subcommittee, I am deeply appreciative of this opportunity to speak to you today to discuss the importance of fully funding the additional border security resources authorized by Congress last year in the Intelligence Reform Act.
The act was signed into law by the President on December 17, 2004, and was designed to respond to security weaknesses identified by the 9/11 Commission. The Congressional debate of the bill, as you know, was particularly contentious. Not once during that debate, however, did we hear any Member of Congress or the Administration question the need for 10,000 additional Border Patrol agents, 4,000 additional ICE agents, and 40,000 additional detention beds.
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In a December 6 letter to the House-Senate conferees negotiating the bill, President Bush said, ''I also believe the conference took an important step in strengthening our immigration laws by, among other things, increasing the number of Border Patrol agents and detention beds.'' The need for these extra resources is obvious. As the 9/11 Commission's staff put it in the opening line of their monograph on ''Terrorist Travel,''''Terrorists cannot plan and carry out attacks in the United States if they are unable to enter our country.''
Like the other 9/11 families, I was appalled to read that the President's budget proposal included funding for only 210 additional border agents, 143 ICE investigators, and 1,920 additional detention beds. Every 9/11 family member I have ever spoken with over the past 3 years understands that their loved ones died because the Government failed to live up to its most basic obligation to its citizens, to protect us from foreign attack.
We know there were intelligence failures leading up to 9/11. We know that complacent Government officials simply refused to believe that something like 9/11 could happen here. And more than anything else, we know that the Government failed to maintain control of our borders leading up to 9/11.
Those 19 mass murderers counted on lax scrutiny of their visa applications and overwhelmed inspectors at our ports of entry. Then once here, the terrorists counted on being able to hide in plain sight in an ocean of over ten million illegal aliens living in the United States. They benefitted from the fact that enforcement of immigration laws inside the United States is virtually nonexistent and Americans are so inured to this fact that no one, civilian or law officer, would notice them or interfere with them as they planned, rehearsed, financed, and then carried out their conspiracy over a period of almost 2 years.
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They were free to obtain U.S. identity documents, rent apartments, open bank accounts, sign up for flight lessons, and then board airplanes with the drivers' licenses so obligingly provided to them by Virginia, New Jersey, and Florida.
This failure to enforce existing immigration laws both at our borders and within the United States, along with the plethora of incentives, benefits, and services we offer to illegal aliens, led directly to the 9/11 attacks and the death of my son and 3,000 others.
We who lost so much on that day simply cannot understand why some in our Government are still questioning the need for adequate resources, especially manpower, to control who is permitted to enter our country. These Government officials tell us that truly securing our borders would endanger our freedom, as if having open borders where anyone, including terrorists, can freely enter our country somehow protects our freedom.
They tell us that they can protect us from terrorism without disrupting illegal immigration, as if terrorists somehow look different and thus stand out. They tell us we must accept amnesty in order to bring illegal aliens out of the shadows and register them, as if we didn't know with certainty that terrorist sleepers will take advantage of this, just as Mahmud Abouhalima did in 1986, after which, possessing a nice new green card, he continued to obtain terrorist training so he could drive a vanload of explosives into the World Trade Center in 1993.
Mr. Chairman, you mentioned before the testimony of Mr. Loy recently before the Select Committee on Intelligence. I won't repeat what he said, except to say that at the end, he said, ''there is no conclusive evidence that indicates operatives have made successful penetrations via this method.''
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We have learned that in the weeks prior to 9/11, there were many indications that al-Qaeda was planning terrorist attacks using commercial jetliners. It appears that many in our Government failed to act because they lacked conclusive proof as to the time, date, or place. For the 9/11 families, our conclusive proof was watching, along with the rest of our country, as our loved ones suffered hideous and often prolonged agonies before their deaths.
Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush stood on the ruins of the World Trade Center, the only tomb my son will ever know, and said, ''I hear you.'' I would sincerely like to believe that that's true, because time is not on our side and it is unlikely that we will have conclusive proof before the next attack, either. We can't afford to wait any longer before we take our borders seriously.
Our organization, 9/11 Families for a Secure America, fought last year in support of H.R. 10, with its border and identity security provisions. We were met in the Senate with the usual protests by opponents of real reform''Not this. Not now. Not here.'' As a result of that Senate opposition, most of the border and document security provisions we supported were stripped from the final bill, even though they were supported by the work of the 9/11 Commission. Thankfully, the bill did retain substantial increases in authorized Border Patrol agents, ICE agents, and detention beds. But now that it is time to fund these increases, we again hear, ''Not this. Not now. Not here.''
To those who oppose the increases, we who lost loved ones on 9/11 ask this. If not now, when? If not this, what? And if not here on our borders, where? How much more conclusive proof will it take? Thank you.
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Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Mr. Gadiel.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Gadiel follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF PETER GADIEL
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you to today to discuss the critical importance of fully funding the additional border security resources authorized by Congress last year in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act
This act, signed into law by the President on December 17, 2004, was designed to respond to security weaknesses identified by the 9/11 Commission. The congressional debate of the bill, as you know, was particularly contentious. Not once during that debate, however, did I hear any Member of Congress or the Administration question the need for the 10,000 additional Border Patrol agents, 4,000 additional ICE investigators, and 40,000 additional detention beds. In a December 6 letter to the House-Senate conferees negotiating the bill, President Bush said: ''I also believe the conference took an important step in strengthening our immigration laws by, among other items, increasing the number of border patrol agents and detention beds.'' The need for these extra resources is obvious. As the 9/11 Commission's staff put it in the opening line of their monograph on 9/11 and Terrorist Travel: ''terrorists cannot plan and carry out attacks in the United States if they are unable to enter the country.''
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Like the other 9/11 families, I was shocked to read that the President's budget proposal included funding for only 210 additional Border Patrol agents, 143 additional ICE investigators, and 1,920 additional detention beds. Every 9/11 family member I have spoken with over the past three years understands that their loved ones died because our government failed to live up to its most basic obligation to its citizens: to protect us from foreign attack.
We know there were intelligence failures leading up to 9/11. We know that complacent government officials simply refused to believe that something like 9/11 could happen here. More than anything else, though, we know that our government failed to maintain control of our borders leading up to 9/11.
Those 19 murderers counted on lax scrutiny of their visa applications and overwhelmed inspectors at our ports of entry. Once here, the terrorists counted on being able to hide in plain sight in the ocean of 10 million or more illegal aliens living in the United States.
They benefited from the fact that enforcement of immigration laws inside the United States is virtually nonexistent and that Americans are so inured to this fact that no onecivilian or law officerwould notice them or interfere as they planned, rehearsed, financed, and then carried out their conspiracy to commit mass murder.
They were free to obtain US identity documents, rent apartments and vehicles, open bank accounts, sign up for flight lessons, and then board airplanes with the drivers' licenses so obligingly issued to them in Virginia, Florida and New Jersey.
This failure to enforce existing immigration laws both at our borders and within the United States, along with the plethora of incentives, benefits and services we offer to illegal aliens, led directly to the 9/11 attacks and the death of my son and three thousand other innocents.
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We, who lost so much on that day, simply cannot understand why some in our government are still questioning the need for adequate resources, especially manpower, to control who is permitted to enter our country. These government officials tell us that truly securing our borders would endanger our freedom, as if having open borderswhere ANYONE, including terrorists, can freely enter our countrysomehow protects our freedom. They tell us that they can protect us from terrorism without disrupting illegal immigration, as if terrorists will somehow look different and so stand out. They tell us that we must accept amnesty in order to bring illegal aliens out of the shadows and register them, as if we didn't know with certainty that terrorist ''sleepers'' will take advantage, just as Mahmud Abouhalima did in 1986, after which he used his new green card to obtain terrorist training so he could drive a vanload of explosives into the World Trade Center in 1993.
At a hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on February 16, Adm. James Loy, Deputy DHS Secretary, testified that:
. . . entrenched human smuggling networks and corruption in areas beyond our borders can be exploited by terrorist organizations. Recent information . . . strongly suggests that al-Qaida has considered using the Southwest Border to infiltrate the United States. Several al-Qaida leaders believe operatives can pay their way into the country through Mexico and also believe illegal entry is more advantageous for operational security reasons. However, there is no conclusive evidence that indicates . . . operatives have made successful penetrations . . . via this method.
We have learned that in the weeks prior to 9/11 there were many indications that al-Qaida was planning terrorist attacks using commercial jetliners. It appears that many in our government failed to act because they lacked ''conclusive proof'' as to time, date, or place. For the 9/11 families, our ''conclusive proof'' was watching, along with the rest of the country, as our loved ones suffered hideous and often agonizing deaths.
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Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush stood on the ruins of the World Trade Center, the only tomb my son will ever know, and said: ''I hear you.'' I sincerely hope that's true, because time is not on our side and it is unlikely that we will have ''conclusive proof'' before the next attack either. We cannot afford to wait any longer before we take border security seriously.
9/11 FSA fought last year in support of H.R. 10 with its border and identity security provisions. We were met in the Senate with the usual protests by opponents of real reform: ''Not this. Not now. Not here.'' As a result of Senate opposition, most of the border and document security provisions we supported were stripped from the final bill, even though they were supported by the 9/11 Commission's work. Thankfully, the final bill did retain substantial increases in authorized Border Patrol agents, ICE agents, and detention beds. But now that it is time to fund those increases we again hear: ''Not this. Not now. Not here.''
To those who oppose the increases we ask: If not now, when? If not this, what? And if not here on our borders, where? How much more ''conclusive proof'' will it take?
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Mr. Bonner.
TESTIMONY OF T.J. BONNER, NATIONAL PRESIDENT, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL
Mr. BONNER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and other Members of the Subcommittee. I have been a Border Patrol agent for the past 27 years and have proudly served my country in this occupation and have thousands of colleagues who are also proud to have served, and I have to tell you, looking at that video earlier makes me ashamed, not because we are letting the country down but because of what is happening and we are being forced to carry out policies that are not in the interest of our country.
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Since its founding in 1924, the United States Border Patrol has lost 96 agents in the line of duty. Hundreds of other law enforcement officers have also given their lives guarding our nation's borders. One of those, Kris Eggle, was assisting U.S. Border Patrol officers to chase down some drug smugglers and he was ambushed and murdered in Arizona back in 2002. I would hope that the lives of all of these courageous agents have not been given in vain, that there is a purpose for this, that Congress is truly interested in protecting our country against the threats of criminals, and in this day and age, especially terrorists.
There should be no debate anymore about whether there is a link between border security and homeland security. There clearly is. The time for debating that should have passed long ago. We need to take measures to secure our borders, and one of the most important measures is to augment the personnel who are on our borders 24/7.
It is very disappointing to me that the President in his budget request has only requested 5 percent of the promised resources. While he says that he is requesting 210 positions, if you read the budget justification documents, it is only 105 full-time-equivalent positions. There are no part-time Border Patrol agents, which means that there are really only 105 positions out of 2,000 that are being requested. This is shameful. We need a lot of help and we need a lot of help now.
The people who oppose adding additional Border Patrol agents generally have two arguments, the first being that technology force multipliers will eliminate the need for more Border Patrol agents, and the second argument deals with the ability of the Border Patrol to add 2,000 people a year.
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Back in 1996, Congress called for a doubling of the Border Patrol's workforce at that time, hiring 1,000 agents a year. The naysayers said it couldn't be done. We did it. We can do it again, because the percentage of people that we would be adding this time would be actually even less than the percentage of people that we added before. A law enforcement agency can comfortably absorb 20 to 25 percent additional people per year. We need the additional resources. We beg you, as Members of Congress, to give us those additional resources.
I would like to talk a little bit about the technology. Technology gives you a snapshot of what happens at the border. It is cost-efficient technology. Now, you can get the fancy stuff like the unmanned aerial vehicles and those can track people as they go north of the border, although they crash 100 times more often than a piloted aircraft. And, in fact, during the pilot program last year in Arizona, to the tune of ten million taxpayer dollars, we were able to get three UAVs up in the air and we managed to crash three of them.
This is not a cost-effective use of taxpayer dollars. We need more agents on the ground. We need more ground sensors. We need more cameras. And we need more pilots and helicopters. But high-tech devices such as UAVs are not the answer. UAVs are great for combat areas in military operations where your aircraft are being shot down. That is not happening on our Southern borders and technology does not catch a single violator. Technology cannot swoop down and arrest anyone. That has to be done by Border Patrol agents.
We desperately need more Border Patrol agents in order to carry out our essential mission, which is stopping everyone from coming across the border, and we are not getting that done. Even though we apprehended 1.2 million violators last year alone, millions more got by us. Our agents estimate that for every person that we catch, two to three get by us. That is simply unacceptable, because even though the overwhelming majority of those people might be folks who are only looking to work in this country, there are sprinkled within that thousands of criminals, and yes, there are terrorists in that mix. We know that. Common sense tells us that terrorists want to come into the country.
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The easiest hole to exploit in our homeland security network at this point in time is the porosity of our Southwest border, and the Northern border is also very porous. We have at this time about 1,000 Border Patrol agents to patrol 4,000 miles of border between the Continential U.S. and Canada. You have to look at this not from a standpoint of 1,000 agents, but about 250 at any given time that you can put out there because you have to run three shifts a day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. So at any given point in time, we have at best 250 agents to patrol 4,000 miles of border. It is incredibly easy to slip across our borders, especially if you have the vast resources like a terrorist network like al-Qaeda.
We are also disappointed that some of the strategies that our agents are forced to utilize are counterproductive. The strategy of deterrence that has been in place for a number of years has always appeared ridiculous to the Border Patrol agentsthe notion that just sitting in one spot is going to deter people from coming into this country. Well, now it is downright dangerous because terrorists are not going to be deterred simply by looking at a Border Patrol agent in a fixed position. We need to be allowed to pursue people who are coming across the border, to actually patrol, as our name suggests.
The dedicated men and women who comprise the United States Border Patrol and the other parts of the Department of Homeland Security need a lot of support from Washington, D.C., in the form of additional resources and manpower, but they also need your support in telling the policy makers to allow us to do our job, to treat us fairly so that we can hang on to the best and the brightest so that we can at least try to protect America.
One of the pieces of legislation that was introduced on the first day of this Congress was H.R. 98, which would establish a counterfeit-proof employment eligibility card, which is our Social Security card. I believe that this is one of the most important things that this Congress can do to cut off the flow of illegal immigration coming into this country. As long as we have to deal with millions of people coming across the border every year in search of employment, we have no chance of picking off those few terrorists who are mingled into that mix. We have to go after the people who are hiring illegal aliens if we want to have any hope at all of gaining any semblance of control over our borders.
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I thank you very much for your time and attention and would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Mr. Bonner.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Bonner follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF T.J. BONNER
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Mr. Eggle.
TESTIMONY OF ROBERT EGGLE, FATHER OF KRIS EGGLE, SLAIN NATIONAL PARK SERVICE RANGER
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Mr. EGGLE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I request that simultaneous with my remarks, I be able to show a CD with some shots, and that I will have other documents to submit for the record.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Without objection, Mr. Eggle.
Mr. EGGLE. Chairman Hostettler, ladies and gentlemen, an honor it is to speak before this Committee. Thank you. Yes, on August 9, 2002, my son made that supreme sacrifice of defending our country at our border. That day was my personal 9/11.
You may be asking yourself why I am here testifying today since my son was a National Park Service Ranger, not a Border Patrol agent. The answer is this. Because the Government did not see fit to give the Border Patrol adequate resources to secure our borders, Kris and other law enforcement rangers at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument assisted the outmanned and out-gunned agents when they could. So, you see, if Congress had done its duty back then and had adequately funded and equipped our Border Patrol, my son, Kris, might well be alive today.
As a National Park Service volunteer for Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, I personally worked on the 32-mile barbed wire fence that constitutes our border with Mexico. I did this many days for 3 years preceding Kris's murder. Post his murder, I have returned six times to that same park. Our border was then, and still is, terribly broken.
Most importantly today, I project to you the magnitude of this illegal immigration. Border Patrol reported record illegal alien arrests and record drug seizes for 2004. Yet by the Border Patrol's and other experts' own admission, they apprehend only ten to 15 percent of the total smuggling of drugs and people. The magnitude is not what is interdicted, rather, the huge number that gets through. That is our challenge today. This 85 to 90 percent of successful smuggling represents thousands each day and unbelievable tons of dope.
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USA Today newspaper just last week, and Time magazine last fall, framed this magnitude. Also, dangers increase as more shootings and assaults continue against our Federal law enforcement officers. In the last 3 months alone, there have been 87 assaults just in the Tucson sector of our Arizona-Mexico border.
The number of so-called OTMs, Other-Than-Mexicans, apprehended by Border Patrol has more than doubled in the last 3 years, from 37,000 in 2002 to 75,000 in 2004. These numbers include aliens from Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, China, Iraq, Lebanon, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and virtually every other country on earth, and these are just the ones that were caught, and, in most cases, released into our communities because there were not enough detention beds to hold them.
Previous Border Patrol increases have been incremental and only token, without significant tactical analysis of what truly is necessary. The 2,000 Border Patrolmen per year increase in the recent intelligence bill reform last December will yet not be enough to control our out-of-control borders, both South and North.
Neither Border Patrol nor Homeland Security has ever quantified this illegal invasion, nor estimated the law enforcement that is truly necessary. To use military talk, I submit that overwhelming force is now necessary.
There is no silver bullet. Only hard police work and adequate resources from you Congressmen and Congresswomen will recover this deficit.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Matters are made worse by Mexican government encouragement, especially the recent ''How to Trespass Safely in the U.S.'' comic book. President Bush or Secretary Rice must speak very, very frankly to Vicente Fox about Mexico respecting our sovereignty and addressing its problems there rather than exporting them here.
Reinforcement of Immigration and Customs officers and major increases in detention facilities are imperative. An element of deterrence has too long been avoided, but is now vital. ICE reinforcement should include personnel and vehicles to enable pick-up and transport of illegals arrested by State and local authorities. One should never again hear of calls to Immigration where State and local law enforcement are told simply to release illegals because there is no one to come and pick them up.
Federal courts desperately need reinforcement to prosecute these drug and people smugglers. For example, the U.S. Attorney in Tucson cannot keep up. Magistrates specializing in immigration and smuggling should be added geographically.
Practically speaking, recruiting, training, and deployment of these new Border Patrolmen will take years, yet the need is now! Existing Federal law enforcement officers, such as National Park Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs, are doing magnificent work to hold our line as best they can. Immediate augmentation of these agencies already on the ground through Homeland Security would project corrective action much more quickly.
My son was murdered while defending our border. There were inadequate Border Patrolmen on the ground then. I was outraged that there was no anger expressed then by any Federal official that a Federal law enforcement officer, safely within our country, could be murdered and ambushed by a Mexican crime spillover.
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Two days before Christmas 2003, I attended a funeral in Yuma, Arizona, of a young Border Patrolman who drowned in the Colorado River while attempting to save illegals who should not have been there. This was tragic, so very tragic.
Gentlemen and ladies, I will make this very personal to you. I challenge each of you to view this proposal of more Border Patrolmen as if one of your sons or daughters would be so deployed. Each of you would, I am sure, want to deploy patrolmen sufficient to make that duty as safe as possible for your son or daughter.
I would not suffer any of you to feel the void, the loss, that I, my wife, and my daughter have felt or that which has been experienced by the 9/11 families. My wife, although not able to attend today, very much wanted to be here to tell you how a mother feels about the murder of her son.
In closing, I suggest that each of you who have not already been there need to see this problem up close to really understand it. I volunteer to help escort you to view our broken borders. Relentless acquiescence should no longer prevail. Let us work together on this problem before more lives are lost.
Thank you for allowing me to speak to you today. Good day.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Mr. Eggle.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Eggle follows:]
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PREPARED STATEMENT OF ROBERT EGGLE
Chairmen Hostettler, ladies, and gentlemen, it is an honor to speak before this Subcommittee todaythank you.
On August 9th, 2002, my son made that supreme sacrifice in defending our country at our border. That day was my personal 9/11.
You may be asking yourself why I am here testifying today since my son was a National Park Service Ranger and not a Border Patrol agent. The answer is this: Because his government did not see fit to give the Border Patrol adequate resources to secure our borders, Kris and the other Rangers at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument assisted the outmanned and outgunned agents when they could. So you see, if the government had done its duty back then and adequately funded and equipped the Border Patrol, my son might well be alive today.
As a National Park Service volunteer for Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, I personally worked on the 32-mile barbed-wire fence, our border with Mexico. I did this many days for three years preceding Kris' murder. After his murder, I have returned six times to that same area. I have seen with my own eyes and experienced first-hand through my grief, how our border was terribly broken then . . . and still is now.
Most importantly today, I illustrate to you the magnitude of illegal immigration through our border. Border Patrol reported record illegal alien arrests and record drug seizures in 2004. Yet, by Border Patrol's own admission, the apprehensions are only 10 to15 percent of the total smuggling of drugs and people. The magnitude is not what is interdicted, rather the huge number which gets through. That is our challenge!
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This 85 to 90 percent of successful smuggling represents thousands of illegal aliens each day and unbelievable tons of dope.
USA TODAY newspaper and TIME magazine, last week and last fall, respectively, framed the magnitude of this problem. Also, dangers increase as more shootings and assaults continue against our federal law enforcement officers. In the last three months alone, there have been 87 assaults in the Tucson sector of Arizona.
The number of so-called OTMs, or other than Mexicans, apprehended by Border Patrol has more than doubled in the last three yearsfrom 37,316 in 2002 to 75,389 in 2004. These numbers include illegal aliens from Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and virtually every other country on Earth. And these are just the ones who were caughtand, in most cases, released into our communities because there are not enough detention beds to hold them.
Previous Border Patrol increases have been incremental and only token, without tactical analysis of what is truly necessary.
Even the 2000 Border patrolmen per year increases in the Intel Reform bill signed into law last December will not be enough to properly manage our out-of-control borders, both south and north.
Neither Border Patrol nor Homeland Security has ever quantified this illegal invasion, nor estimated the law enforcement that is truly necessary. To use military talk, overwhelming force is now necessary.
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There is no silver bulletonly hard police work will recover this deficit.
Matters are made worse by Mexican government encouragement of illegal immigration, especially the recent ''How to Trespass Safely to the U.S.'' comic book. President Bush or Secretary Rice must speak very frankly to Mexican President Vicente Fox about respecting our sovereignty and addressing Mexico's problems rather than exporting them here.
Reinforcement of Immigration and Customs officers and major increases in detention facilities are imperative. An element of deterrence has too long been avoided, but is now vital. ICE reinforcement should include personnel and vehicles to enable pick up and transport of illegals arrested by state and local authorities. No one should ever again hear of calls to ICE where state and local law enforcement officials are told to release illegal aliens because no one can come to pick them up.
Federal Courts also desperately need reinforcement to prosecute the drug and people smugglers. For example, the U.S. Attorney in Tucson cannot keep up. Magistrates specializing in immigration and smuggling should be added on a geographic basis.
Practically speaking, recruiting, training, and deploying these new Border Patrolmen will take years. The need is now! Existing Federal Law Enforcement Officers, such as National Park Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs are doing magnificent work to hold the line the best they can. Immediate augmentation of these agencies through Homeland Security would provide corrective action much more quickly.
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The CLEAR Act should also be enacted immediately in order to achieve a great force multiplier from state and local law enforcement.
My son was murdered while defending our border because there was an inadequate number of Border Patrolmen. I was outraged that there was no real anger expressed by any Federal official that a Federal Law Enforcement Officer, safely within our border, could be ambushed and murdered in a Mexican crime spillover.
Two days before Christmas 2003, I attended the funeral in Yuma, AZ of a young Border Patrolman who drowned in the Colorado River while attempting to save illegals who should not have been there. Tragic, so very tragic.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I will make this personal to you. I challenge each of you to view this proposal of more Border Patrolmen as if one of your sons or daughters would be so deployed. Each of you would, I am sure, want to deploy patrolmen sufficient to make duty as safe as possible for your son or daughter.
I would not suffer any one of you to feel the voidthe tremendous lossthat I, my wife and daughter have felt, or that experienced by 9/11 families. My wife, although unable to attend, very much wanted to be here to tell you how a mother feels about the murder of her child.
In closing, I suggest that you each need to see this problem close up to really understand it. I volunteer to help escort you to view our Broken Borders. Relentless acquiescence should no longer prevail. Let us work together on this problem before more lives are lost.
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Thank you for allowing me to speak to you.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. At this time, the Subcommittee will turn to questions.
Mr. Gadiel, please tell us how most of the 9/11 families feel about the 9/11 act authorizations for more Border Patrol, and secondly, as a matter of priority, do you think border security takes precedence over other parts of the budget?
Mr. GADIEL. It doesn't seem possible to me that anything could be more important than defending the United States from foreign invasion. I mean, it's a basic first obligation of the Constitution. I can't imagine that there are no items in the Federal budget that couldn't be sacrificed for this purpose.
And as far as the families, I obviously can't speak for all of them, I've never met all of them, but as I said in my statement, without exception, every one I have ever spoken to says they feel let down by their Government and they recognize one of the failures, that of keeping these people out. I mean, the fact that these 19 mass murderers got into this country, often coming into and leaving the country on numerous occasions, many entrances and exits, is pretty clear proof that our borders are not secure.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. When you were advocating last year for the 9/11 bill, did anyone ever dispute the notion of significantly increasing our Border Patrol?
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GADIEL. I never heard anybody dispute that particular point. No, I can't say that I have.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you.
Mr. Eggle, as an experienced war veteran, can you tell us how you assess, in your experience at the border, can you assess the security situation at the Southwest border today?
Mr. EGGLE. It's terrible. As I indicated earlier, the border is tragically broken. When I first began working there, the 32 miles of border that I worked on consisted of a four-wire barbed wire fence. In Michigan, I and my family have a centennial farm where we have a small cow-calf operation and my absolutely worst fence to hold my cattle in was better than our national border.
To me, I only submit the word that it was obscene. It had terrible holes on it. The smugglers would just drive through it. They wouldn't even stop to take time to clip the wires. There was really no barrier. They just drove over it. Most of my time there was fixing these holes.
Security-wise, there were not sufficient Park Rangers to respond. There were, of course, no Border Patrolmen to respond.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Is it possible your son, Mr. Eggle, would not have been confronted by the drug gang had the border been enforced with proper resources?
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Mr. GADIEL. Absolutely, yes. My son's killers were fleeing and having a running gun battle with the Mexican authorities on a road right adjacent to our border, and as they neared the edge of the Mexican village, they just did a 90-degree turn, drove through a gaping hole into our desert. Had there been proper border and Border Patrolmen sufficient to have a controlled, tactical response, it would not have been necessary for my son, joining up with one single, solo Border Patrolman, to respond. That was the place for a tactical special response team of many members to engage. There simply at that time were not the people to respond properly.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, sir.
Mr. Bonner, you and other witnesses touched on this briefly, but could you elaborate on the overall morale of the Border Patrol?
Mr. BONNER. Sure. I've been an agent, as I mentioned earlier, for 27 years. I've never seen it lower. Agents are demoralized. The Congressman talked about how OTMs will show up at our stations in South Texas. They will take taxicabs there and they will demand to be processed quicker than our agents can keep up with that, saying, ''We know what your internal guidelines are. You have to get us out of here in a certain amount of time.''
Our agents signed up to be law enforcement officers, not Wal-Mart greeters, not social workers. We want to go out, enforce the laws, protect America, and our inability to do that because of policies that don't allow us to do that and lack of funding is a source of extreme frustration and demoralization.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you.
Mr. EGGLE. May I add a comment to that, please?
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Yes.
Mr. EGGLE. Our remarks here do not disparage at all the individual patrolmen or law enforcement officers like our National Park Service officers. These young men are of great quality and they are committed. They are very committed, just like our young soldiers in Iraq that you may have seen interviewed. They want to do good work. We just need to give them the tools to do it with.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, sir.
Mr. ORTIZ. Mr. Chairman, if I may, I think that we have time to correct what needs to be corrected. There is a supplemental coming up, and if we could work on that supplemental to give the Border Patrol what they need, and let me give you an example.
There are only three or four people in the McAllen Sector who have a top secret clearancefourand they are the only ones that can tap to the CIA, the FBI. You can't do it. They need reinforcement. They need the training. And until we do that, they just have to be released. They have to turn them loose. They cannot get into the system because they don't have authorized people to do that.
But with this coming supplemental, I hope that we can join together and correct what we need to correct. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Mr. Ortiz.
The chair now recognizes the gentlelady from California for 5 minutes, Ms. Lofgren.
Ms. LOFGREN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Before getting into my questions, I would like to especially thank Mr. Gadiel and Mr. Eggle for being here, having lost two sons. I just can't imagine how difficult that is. That you have turned that horrific loss into an effort to do something for your country is especially admirable. I thank you for your efforts and grieve with you for your loss.
Obviously, the situation we have here is completely unacceptable. Congressman Ortiz, I am glad you brought those tapes. I mean, it's just astonishing to look at that. And I'm mindful, in California, they say more walk than talk. I think in Texas, it's all hat, no cattle. There's been a lot of talk, but really, when you take a look at where the money is, I thought it was 200. But to hear that when you look at full-time-equivalent it's less than that, Mr. Bonner, in the President's budget, it's absurd. I mean, it's absurd. So I think we have a right to demand from the Administration a more aggressive approach, some cattle, not just a hat, and I think that this hearing may be part of that effort.
I want to talk about, just briefly, we focused on the Southern border, and that's appropriate, obviously. There are huge issues there. But I'm also extremely concerned about the Northern border, which is actually longer and less protected.
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I'm wondering, Mr. Bonner, obviously, you cannot replace Border Patrol agents with technology, and I hear what you are saying on the unmanned vehicles, but having seen some of the technology, if you have sufficient forces on the border, which clearly we do not now, the cameras and the like can be helpful, can they not, to an adequate force?
Mr. BONNER. Oh, absolutely. The cameras and the sensors are eyes and ears, but without hands
Ms. LOFGREN. Right.
Mr. BONNER.you won't catch a single violator.
Ms. LOFGREN. So I'm wondering if you know whether we have sufficientobviously, we don't have sufficient agents at either border, but to have 250 agents for 4,000 miles at the Northern border is, I mean, obviously deficient. In addition to that deficiency, do we have sufficient camera and technology deployed at the Northern border, do you know?
Mr. BONNER. No, we don't. It's my understanding that the Administration will be rolling out the new national Border Patrol strategy very shortly. I have not seen it, but I fear that they're going to be trying to sell the public a bill of goods that technology, the existing technology, is somehow a substitute for additional personnel, and it certainly is not. We need both, and one should not be at the expense of the other.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. LOFGREN. I serve also on the Homeland Security Committee and serve on the Border Subcommittee and we have seen no indication that there is any sensible plan that is coming forward from the Department, in all honesty. I hope that that changes, but we haven't seen anything yet that makes sense.
Just a final question on
Mr. EGGLE. Ma'am, may I
Ms. LOFGREN. I'm almost out of time, if I could, because I want to ask about the lists and the lack of any bio-indicator on those little sheets that you held up, Congressman Ortiz. We do have at the bordermaybe we don't have enough of them, but the ability to at least do fingerprints, and we were supposed to have the iris scans, as well. Do you know why those bio-indicators are not connected with the individuals who are being released? Obviously, we need additional space to hold people that should be held, but at least we should not ever have a confusion by name and person with the bio-indicator. Has there not been direction to the agents, or has there not been enough technology to do that, or time? Do you know what the answer to that is?
Mr. BONNER. The answer is I am not sure why they are not doing that. Obviously, it would be more costly to have some type of connection between the documents. We are fingerprinting everyone that we come in contact with
Ms. LOFGREN. With a digital fingerprint machine?
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BONNER. With a digital fingerprint machine, and it connects to the FBI's. The problem with that is that it will only tell us if someone has a criminal record, and, in fact, that system worked
Ms. LOFGREN. Well, the problem is that our system actually doesn'tisn't compatible with the FBI's system.
Mr. BONNER. Well, actually, we're making headway in that and the system actually worked when we nabbed one of the ringleaders of the Mara Salvatrucha gang from Honduras who was picked up by the police in Falfurrias, Texas, I believe. He was held and it turns out that he was the mastermind of the
Ms. LOFGREN. We had a hearing on this very subject in the Homeland Security Committee yesterday, actually, and there's really two reasons for bio-indicators. One is a positive I.D., and then two is to search the records to see if you've got a bad guy, and they're bothI mean, they can stand on their ownseparately as equally valuable.
I see my time is up, but if you know or if we could find out, Mr. Chairman, why this technology is not being utilized, it's just a mystery to me and I'm sureI don't blame the agents, but it's obviously a systematic problem that needs to be corrected, and I yield back.
Mr. BONNER. I would just like to add that the fingerprint system does not tell us if a person is a terrorist because terrorists typically do not have criminal records. What we have to do in that instance is dial an 800 number with the name that they give us, which is going to be a phony name if they're a terrorist
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Ms. LOFGREN. No, I
Mr. BONNER.to see if it matches a watch list, and that system really needs improvement.
Ms. LOFGREN. No, I understand that, but it would prevent the guy coming back a second or third time with a different name and being
Mr. BONNER. Yes, it would.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I thank the gentlelady.
The bells have rung for votes. The votes will last, according to our intelligence, about 45 minutes. We don't want to suspend this hearing for that long. I will recognize the gentleman from Iowa for 5 minutes for questions, and then we will suspend shortly and will come back and continue the hearing even during the votes.
The gentleman from Iowa will be recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. KING. I thank the Chairman.
My first observation is, I don't know when I've seen more cumulative conviction on the part of a panelist, four panelists, than I've seen here today, and I appreciate all your testimony.
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As I sit here and listen to it all across the board, I'm going to speak to some numbers here, and I think in the end, I'm probably going to direct my first question to Congressman Ortiz.
I recall the Ranking Member's opening remarks with regard to 40 percent not responding to appear that were OTMs. And then I recall testimony here by one of our panelists, and I believe it was Mr. Ortiz's, that 70 percent of the total immigrant population, illegal immigrant population, is not showing up. And I recall testimony in this same room from the Attorney General Ashcroft that of those adjudicated for deportation, 84 percent don't show up. I recall a broader numberI think your film, Mr. Ortiz, said was 70 percent, and I think that you said they are erratic numbers and they go as high as 90 percent that don't show up. And we're talking about numbers of maybe 15,000 in the McAllen Sector of OTMs.
I'm looking at some overall numbers. I believe, Mr. Eggle, you testified about 1.2 million overall apprehended, and out of thatthat's possibly ten to 15 percent. That's a hard number, I know, to nail that one down, and I don't want to stick with that one, but I do know that around 300,000 are ordered removed every year.
So you add all these numbers up and I'm going to propose this, that, first of all, I'm going to ask Mr. Ortiz to give a definition of the distinction between Other-Than-Mexicans and Mexicans with regard to national security within the context of this concept, and that is that if you regard terrorists as needles in this haystack of illegal immigrants, we have this massive haystack here that is at least 1.1 or 1.2 million and it may beit's probably several times that, and it may be ten times that. Wouldn't it be to our interest to reduce the overall size of that haystack dramatically without regard to whether it is OTMs or the general population of illegal immigrants?
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Mr. ORTIZ. Well, we have to obey the law, and if it requires that everybody be stopped, we have to do that, but let me give you an example. The figures that I have is 90 percent or more did not show up for deportation. This is a list one, two, three, and a half pages, 135 countries that these illegals represent135 countries. Now, I think that we do have a responsibility. We would probably be unable to stop every immigrant, but at least those that we stop, let's be sure that we know who they are.
Mr. KING. I thank you, Mr. Ortiz, and watching the clock tick, I direct my next question to Mr. Bonner quickly, and that is if we can reduce the size of this haystack, could you identify the needles a lot easier?
Mr. BONNER. Absolutely.
Mr. KING. And that's the point that I'd like to make in this. There are so many inequities. To define the difference between OTMs and the general population, I know there is a legal distinction there, how the deportation takes place and our agreements with those countries, but I'd also submit that those that come in our Southern border come through Mexico on the way to the United States and we have not leveraged our political pressure on our neighbors to the South in order to encourage them to slow that flow of illegals that are coming through. The most countries that you mentioned, I believe, were Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, et cetera.
So that's my point here, is that we need to leverage our foreign relations with Mexico and with all the countries south. We need to shrink the size of this haystack. We need to give these resources, and I'll tell you, I'll stand with those resources for the people that have put their lives on the line for the security of the American people.
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I thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I thank the gentleman. At this time, the Subcommittee will recess.
Mr. ORTIZ. Mr. Chairman, if I may, I know we have several votes. I have to go to a readiness hearing after.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Yes, sir.
Mr. ORTIZ. I would like to be excused.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Yes, sir. Thank you very much, Mr. Ortiz. You are excused.
Mr. ORTIZ. Thank you.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. If the remaining members of the panel will stay, I know that we have at least one other Member of the Subcommittee that would like to ask questions. We will be away for potentially ten to 20 minutes, and then we'll return for at least one more Member's questions. I thank you for your forbearance. We are recessed.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HOSTETTLER. The Subcommittee will come to order. I thank, once again, the witnesses for your indulgence and I apologize for the schedule of the House, but we have been voting. We are back, and I now yield to the gentlelady from Texas, the Ranking Member, Ms. Jackson Lee, for questions.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. I thank the Chairman for yielding and I thank him for his indulgence. In fact, we just, I think, completed voting on my amendment that I had to present on the floor of the House. It seems, Mr. Chairman, that we are discussing tragedy or terrorism in all areas of this Congress here today in this body, and then on the floor of the House, we were discussing the continuity resolution in case of the elimination of large numbers of members of this body.
But as we concern ourselves about the preservation of this body, meaning the Congress of the United States, I think the American people have sent us here to be concerned about their preservation. And so I hope, as I indicated at the beginning, that this hearing generates the answers for the Administration to reevaluate where they stand on this question. I, frankly, believe they have the opportunity to reevaluate. They can do so in the budget resolution. They can do so in the support of an amendment by members of the Budget Committee and/or by an altering of their position for the appropriations process.
Why don't I, Mr. Bonner, and let me thank you and your organization for its support of the CASE Act of 2004 and 2005. Portions of that bill were included in the intelligence reform legislation and I think it put us one step closer to addressing the question of human trafficking in its ugliest form. But I would ask the question, sort of the real dark side, if you will, of what would occur if we continue at these numbers of Border Patrol agents, if we continue at this pace of not filling or adding to slots of individuals who I've spoken to who simply want to be considered professional law enforcement officers, want to be able to have the kind of support system that allows them to do their job. What direction is this country going in if we fail to answer the call of 2,000 Border Patrol agents at this time in fiscal year '06?
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Mr. BONNER. I believe that we are just sticking our chin out and asking the terrorists to take another poke at us. We are asking for another 9/11 if we don't get serious about securing our borders.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. And what role do Border Patrol agents play in that, because, as you well know, there is a great deal of talk about the technology, of which I'm a strong advocate, technology that is in the hands of Border Patrol agents, but technology in generalscreening, video cameras, other kinds of sophisticated technology. But the real question I'm asking is, what if we don't move on increased numbers of Border Patrol agents?
Mr. BONNER. The technology that anyone speaks about can identify human forms coming across the border, so it can give you an idea of how many people are getting by you. But it is wholly incapable of apprehending even a single violator. So, for example, if you put out the most sophisticated technology, we might know with a certainty the number of people who are entering our country illegally and we might know how many are getting by us, but that would not make us any safer at all. The only way to ensure our safety is to apprehend everyone who comes across the border, because while the overwhelming majority of those people are otherwise law-abiding people who are simply looking for economic opportunity, sprinkled in that mix, we know are criminals, and we know terrorists are also in that mix.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. I am glad you raised that point, because the other aspect of the need is detention beds, and I'm very glad that this Committee led the fight to separate children that might have been previously detained in detention beds, put them under Health and Human Services. Unaccompanied minors have come in and we've been able to isolate that problem.
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But tell me what it means. I've held up a series of articles, a number of articles that accounted for stories about al-Qaeda's connection coming across. What does it mean if we don't have the sufficient number of detention beds? By the way, I spent some time, as you well know, looking at facilities at the border at certain areas in Texas, and for lack of a better word, it's skimpy. I mean, there's simplyit's skimpy. What does it mean when you don't have detention beds to handle what has been classified now as OTMs, and then we know there are a lot of gangs that are mixed in with that, and simply what you do is give a piece of paper and say, show up in court. What is the value of the detention bed that I think needs to be spoken to at this hearing very specifically?
Mr. BONNER. The value of detention beds is that when people from these countries other than Mexico come here, we can hang on to them for the amount of time that it takes, and it's generally from a few days to a few weeks, to generate the travel document necessary to convince their host nation that they are, indeed, a citizen of that country, and we have treaties with all these countries whereby they will accept their citizens back if they break our immigration laws.
Well, because these people do not have passports, we have to go through this process. We wouldn't want a bunch of Australians dumped on our shores by another country saying, these are U.S. citizens. We'd say, well, wait a second. No, they're not. So that's a common sense thing that says we have to prove to the country that they are actually from there, but that takes bed space and it takes money.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. All contributing to the bottom-line safety and security of America. And I'm very glad that you said in one of your sentences the distinguishing factor between those undocumented that do come across that we're working on that happen to be coming for economic opportunity. The question is that in the mix, is what you're saying, you are frustrated by the fact that al-Qaeda may be coming across the border and you are frustrated by being incapable, because of the resources and personnel, of determining whether that is happening.
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Mr. BONNER. The only way you can know with a certainty is if you actually apprehend someone. I am not sure if you were here when I made the pitch for H.R. 98, but I'll make it again. I think that the way that we cut off most of the traffic coming across our borders is to come up with a system of employer sanctions that really works, and that would enable us to have a guest worker program that would actually work in the interest of this country.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman, you have been very kind. I would ask for an additional minute just to pose a question to, is it Mr. Eggle? Eggle? Am I pronouncing it
Mr. EGGLE. Eggle.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Sir, if I might. Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Without objection.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Bonner, very much.
You heard the testimony, I believe, and you understand that we're here today hopefully to find some unity and consensus on being able to avoid the violence and tragedy that fell upon your son, and we thank you for his service and his willingness to step out of his role and become, as I understand it, a temporary Border Patrol agent. Would you just again very briefly give me that impact? He was in the Forestry Service, as I understand, and he got called to be a Border Patrol agent? Is that my understanding?
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Mr. EGGLE. He was in the National Park Service as a law enforcement ranger and they have 32 miles of Mexican border within the park. And so the Park Service Rangers interacted with the Border Patrol as a sister agency and developed personal relationships that they would support each other. These young men are of high caliber and quality that they want to do as much as they can, so they very often assisted the Border Patrol.
My son and other National Park Service Rangers, seeing the invasion of the park all along the 30 miles of border where the smugglers would drive through, or in many cases just walk through and walk 30 or 40 miles, took it upon themselves to acquire special operations skills and practiced themselves to develop the ability to track these people out of the desert. They interacted a lot with the Indian Shadow Wolves Native American tracker unit at Tohono O'Odham Indian Reservation next door and were under their tutelage a lot to acquire native tracking skills, so that my son and his coworkers and now the law enforcement rangers at Organ Pipe, as we speak, do a great deal of man tracking in the desert to apprehend the bands of illegals and also a great number of bands of people carrying backpacks of drugs.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you, and again, my sympathy.
Mr. Bonner, on that case, those facts, again, do you think we need the 10,000 Border Patrol agents, or more than that, that was in the intelligence bill, and as you recall, you testified on the CASE Smuggling Act. We talked about rewards for those who would give evidence about smugglers. Do you still adhere that that is an effective tool and do we need the 10,000 Border Patrol agents that the intelligence bill required or indicated?
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BONNER. The short answer is yes to both questions. I think that, at a minimum, we need 10,000 additional Border Patrol agents. For the first few years, that's probably all that we can reasonably absorb, but I believe that we should be adding as many as possible that the organization can absorb.
And as to your final point, that has worked well. Giving rewards has worked well in many other areas of law enforcement and there's no reason to believe that it would not also work well in the terrible tragedy of human trafficking.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you very much for your indulgence. Again, let me just conclude by offering that I hope that this year, we'll look at comprehensive immigration reform. Maybe you gentlemen, or one of you, may be before us on that issue. But as we do that, since we can't do it tomorrow, since we're moving in that direction, I know one thing that we can engage in right now is to restore the full request for Border Patrol agents in the budget resolution and ultimately in the appropriations to 2,000 for FY 2006 and then begin to look at the outlying years for the 10,000.
I think what we owe to Mr. Eggle and his family is, in tribute to his son, is to respond to that added need. We can put fences, and I guess it's my opinion we can putyou know, there's a cry for fences, but I think we've got some fences and some places no fences. The human factor of being able to be engaged in this law enforcement and to detain potentially dangerous individuals, I think is an important, important responsibility that is going undone, and Mr. Chairman, I hope that we can work together on encouraging the further providing of those Border Patrol agents. I yield back my time.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HOSTETTLER. I thank the gentlelady and I look forward to working with the gentlelady and the rest of the minority on supplying these resources to the men and women of the Border Patrol.
I would like to close this hearing, but before I do, I was just intrigued, Mr. Bonner, by a statement that you made with regard to employer sanctions, the need to have teeth in the area of employer sanctions. That is not necessarily always the jurisdiction of the Border Patrol, but you are suggestingI don't want to put words in your mouth. Why do you think we need to aggressively approach the issue of employer sanctions?
Mr. BONNER. Conservatively speaking, 98 percent of the people who cross our borders are looking for economic opportunity. Unless we deal with that, we are going to continue to be flooded with millions of people crossing our borders illegally every year, and I don't care how many Border Patrol agents you put out there on the line, we will be overwhelmed by that volume of traffic and we will be unable to have a good shot at picking off the terrorists and the criminals.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. That being said, do you support the inclusion of an additional 800 ICE agents per year for the next 5 years?
Mr. BONNER. Absolutely.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you. In conclusion, Mr. Eggle, you and I spoke on the way into the second part of this hearing about a phenomena that you observed when you were on the Southern border recently with the Native American tribes there. Could you share that with us?
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Mr. EGGLE. Yes, sir. Thank you. Just a month ago, I was at Organ Pipe Cactus to escort our Michigan Senator Stabenow for a visit, and while there, I visited the Tohono O'Odham Indian Reservation right adjacent to Organ Pipe. I mentioned the Shadow Wolves just a little earlier, and they had been really gracious with Kris. They taught and they continue to teach our rangers tracking skills.
But during my visit there, two of them, they introduced me to a delegation of Blackfeet Indians from the Blackfeet Reservation on the Montana-Canada border who were there to interact with the Shadow Wolves and get training on how to interdict the smuggling that was going through their Blackfeet Reservation, so that I just wanted to dramatize that our concerns are not just at the Southwest border, but on the North border, too.
I also mentioned Border Patrol agents that I personally know in Sioux St. Marie, Michigan, who talk of patrolling the St. Mary's River and the Great Lakes in deep draft boats that can't go into the shallows to chase the significant boat traffic that is coming across the Great Lakes on our Michigan border with Canada because they have not been updated with new equipment to do their jobs. They are frustrated. Thank you, sir.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Mr. Eggle, and I would like to thank all the witnesses for your appearance here today and your
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman?
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Yes?
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Ms. JACKSON LEE. May I just inquire. I'd like to submit for the record news articles compiled by Congressman Ortiz. I'm not sure whether it's been submitted, but I'd ask unanimous consent to submit these articles dated March 1, 2004, March 3, 2005, which is a compilation of all of the intrusions into our border. I think the focus is on the Southern border, but obviously the northern border too. And let me also add my appreciation to Congressman Ortiz for his work that he's done in this area.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Without objection, it can be added to the record.
[The information of Mr. Ortiz follows in the Appendix]
Mr. HOSTETTLER. All members will have seven legislative days to add remarks to the record.
The business before the Subcommittee being completed, we are adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 1:45 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
PREPARED STATEMENT OF CONGRESSWOMAN SHEILA JACKSON LEE
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The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection is responsible for overall border enforcement. Within the bureau, a distinction is made between border enforcement at and between points of entry. This hearing is about funding for additional border patrol agents for the division within the bureau that is responsible for border enforcement between points of entry, the United States Border Patrol (USBP). The primary mission of the USBP is to detect and prevent the entry of terrorists, weapons of mass destruction, and unauthorized aliens into the country, and to interdict drug smugglers and other criminals between official points of entry.
The USBP patrols 8,000 miles of international borders with Mexico and Canada and the coastal waters around Florida and Puerto Rico. The Northern Border with Canada touches 12 states and is more than 4,000 miles long. It has vast mountain ranges such as the Rockies, the Great Lakes, many different river systems, and, in the winter, heavy snow and bitter cold temperatures. The Southwestern border with Mexico touches only four states and is less than half as long as the Northern Border. The Southwestern border has large tracts of desert land where temperatures average well over 100 degrees for much of the year, mountain ranges, and the Rio Grande along the Texas border.
The Southwestern border accounts for more than 97% of the illegal alien apprehensions. Consequently, the USBP's main emphasis along the Southwestern border is to contain unauthorized immigration. Along the Northern border, the main concerns appear to be vulnerability to terrorist infiltration and the proliferation of cross-border smuggling.
The USBP also utilizes advanced technology to augment its agents' ability to patrol the borders. These technologies include light towers, mobile night vision scopes, remote video surveillance (RVS) systems, directional listening devices, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and various database systems. These so-called ''force multipliers'' allow the USBP to deploy fewer agents while still maintaining its ability to detect and counter intrusions.
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The National Intelligence Reform Act contains a provision requiring the USBP to add 2,000 agents to its workforce each year from FY2006-2010. Notwithstanding that provision, the administration's budget for FY2006 only requests funding for 210 additional agent positions. At the hearing today, we will hear testimony on the need for the additional agents authorized by the National Intelligence Reform Act.
One of the reasons for additional Border Patrol Agents is to reduce the number of deaths that occur as a result of reckless commercial alien smuggling operations. Last year, 325 people died trying to cross the border. The previous year, 340 died. The year before that, 320 died.
The most effective way to stop large scale illegal immigration would be to establish a sensible immigration program. Several bills have been introduced recently that would make the necessary changes in our immigration laws, such as my Comprehensive Immigration Fairness Reform Act, H.R. 257, but we can do other things while we are working on comprehensive immigration reform.
The increase in Border Patrol Agents that is called for by the National Intelligence Reform Act would help. Also, I have introduced a bill that would assist the USBP in obtaining information about commercial alien smuggling operations, the Commercial Alien Smuggling Elimination Act of 2005 (the CASE Act), H.R. 255.
The CASE Act would establish a program to facilitate the investigation and prosecution, or disruption, of reckless commercial smuggling operations. The first point in this program would be to provide incentives to encourage informants to step forward and assist the federal authorities who investigate alien smuggling operations. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) presently provides a nonimmigrant visa classification for aliens who assist the United States government with the investigation and prosecution of a criminal organization or a terrorist organization. The CASE Act would establish a new, third category for aliens who assist with the investigation, disruption, or prosecution of commercial alien smuggling operations.
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The CASE Act also would establish a rewards program to assist in the elimination or disruption of commercial alien smuggling operations in which aliens are transported in groups of 10 or more, and where either the aliens are transported in a manner that endangers their lives or the smuggled aliens present a life- threatening health risk to people in the United States.
In the end, security for our international borders will require all of these things. We will need comprehensive immigration reform, additional Border Patrol Agents, and new programs to assist the USBP in carrying out its responsibilities.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE ZOE LOFGREN
Chairman Hostettler and Ranking Member Jackson-Lee, thank you for holding this hearing to discuss the continuing lack of resources for the Border Patrol. I would also like to thank our witnesses for being here today to help us understand this problem that has long plagued the Border Patrol.
The issues addressed in today's written testimony are not unfamiliar. Since I joined the Immigration Subcommittee in 1995, I have heard these issues and Congress has responded by more than doubling the Border Patrol budget in the last decade. Along with that came the more than doubling of our Border Patrol force. Today, we are hearing that we need to again double the number of Border Patrol agents by 2010.
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The Border Patrol is overwhelmed and does not have enough resources to address its responsibilities today. Patrolling 6,000 miles of sometimes rugged terrain along our land borders with Canada and Mexico and thousands of miles along the coastline is no easy task. It seems that no matter how much we continue growing the Border Patrol, there is always a need for more. I worry that if we again double our Border Patrol force to more than 20,000 by 2010, we may still be hearing about the need for more.
It is time to take a step back and look at the big picture so that by 2010, we realize we have enough and do not need additional Border Patrol agents. After all, there are many other problems facing the Border Patrol that cannot be solved by additional Border Patrol agents, including the one presented here today by my friend and colleague Rep. Ortiz.
We must address the root causes of the need for additional resources at the Border Patrol and, frankly, at all the other agencies charged with immigration functions. We cannot keep using the band-aid approach while avoiding the realistic need for broad reform. We need a way to separate the mother and spouse of US citizens or the hard-working person who has lived and paid taxes in the US for years from the terrorist or drug and human smuggler intending to do this country harm. This will give our agencies in charge of immigration the time and space they need to address what this country should be worried about. As we have seen over the last decade, no reasonable amount of Border Patrol agents could ever handle this overwhelming mix and number of people and Congress has not been able to keep up with appropriations requests for more Border Patrol agents.
Today, we need to support the Border Patrol and fund the agents authorized in the intelligence reform bill. Also today, we need to work on broad immigration reform so that when we reach 2010, we can finally say the Border Patrol is fully funded with enough resources.
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PREPARED STATEMENT OF CONGRESSMAN STEVE KING
Thank you, Chairman Hostettler, for holding this hearing today. I agree that it is never enough just to pass legislation-we must make certain that our intent is carried out. Although-due to other concerns-I voted against S. 2845 last year, I strongly support increasing and funding our presence both on the border and in the interior.
I understand our current budget restraints-and I want as much as anyone to stop cashing checks on our children's accounts-but our national security is not the place to start cutting back. I don't think that any of us would dispute that our national security begins at our borders. The 9/11 Commission, on whom so many of us relied for information during consideration of S. 2845, found that ''it is elemental to border security to know who is coming into the country. We must be able to monitor and respond to entrances between our ports of entry. The challenge for national security in an age of terrorism is to prevent the people who may pose overwhelming risks from entering the U.S. undetected.'' To expect our Border Patrol to be able to control these risks without providing them the means to do so is simply irrational.
I appreciate our witnesses being here today to provide us with more information about our needs on the border. I especially want to thank Mr. Gadiel and Mr. Eggley for being willing to turn their losses into experiences our nation should learn from. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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PREPARED STATEMENT REPRESENTATIVE LINDA T. SÁNCHEZ
I want to thank Chairman Hostettler, Ranking Member Jackson Lee for conducting this extremely important oversight hearing to evaluate the need for resources for border enforcement activities.
The U.S. has always been a beacon of hope and we must continue to guard the light of liberty for those who are oppressed or displaced, or are coming here to seek new opportunities for their families.
Clearly, I know as, does the rest of America, something needs to be done about our broken immigration system.
One thing is certain and nobody will disagree with me, that we must crack down on illegal immigration and we must improve border security.
I heard a story two weeks ago that highlights my point. Recently, a crane operator at the Port of Los Angeles discovered 32 Chinese stowaways in a container just unloaded from a Panamanian freighter.
We were lucky that these people were discovered, and that they meant our country no harm. What if they had been terrorists? Are we going to depend on crane operators to protect us from terrorists entering this country? Situations like this are preventable if we commit more resources to this problem.
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The Bush Administration fails to recognize what resources are needed to secure our borders and ports.
The people at our ports and borders are our first-and best-line of defense.
That is why the Intelligence Reform bill included authorization for 10,000 new border guards, 40,000 new detention beds to hold people awaiting deportation, and 4,000 new immigration inspectors.
Yet the President's 2006 Budget did not include funding for any of these security improvements - he merely funds 210 new border patrol agents.
If we are going to get serious about border security, we need more resources, including more people on the border and more agents at our ports.
I look forward to hearing from the witnesses who will shed some light on how to effectively secure our borders and ports.
In addition, I'm hoping they can discuss how our enforcement goals are being pursued under the new homeland security bureaucracy and funding constraints.
I thank both the Ranking Member and Chairman for convening this hearing.
I yield back.
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