Victims' Rights Caucus



Mr. Speaker, last week I got to go down to the west Texas town of El Paso, that town that Marty Robbins sang that famous ballad about. It was one of my several trips to the Texas/Mexico border since I've been in Congress, now almost a dozen times down along the Rio Grande River.

   The Texas border with Mexico, the river border, is 1,248 miles long. That doesn't mean much, but it's the same distance from New York City to Kansas City. And I spent last week in two of those counties, the furthest west county, El Paso County, and the second county to the east, Hudspeth County.

   I met with the Sheriff's Department in El Paso County, and Sheriff Leo Samaniego and his chief deputy, Jimmy Apodaca and Public Information Officer Rick Clancy, all El Paso natives, took me around the area of El Paso city and the County of El Paso. I'd like to describe the scene that I saw there.

   El Paso is a community of about 500,000 people. Across the Rio Grande River is Juarez, Mexico, a community of over 2 million individuals. Juarez, unlike some border towns, is a thriving area. The economy is booming. And across the city of El Paso, on the Rio Grande River, there is an 18-mile fence. And let me describe that fence between Mexico and the United States. The Rio Grande River is to the south. The next thing you see is green space, it's primarily dirt, for about 200 yards. And then there is a fence, a fence that protects the canal that runs on the northern side of the Rio Grande River. You see, the canal has more water in it sometimes than the Rio Grande River does. And it's a manmade canal. It's full of water most of the time. So there's a fence on each side of the canal.

   Then there is a road that the Border Patrol patrols, and then there is yet one more fence before the highway there in the city of El Paso. And this fence has been there for some time. And along that 18-mile stretch in the city of El Paso about every quarter of a mile on the road, the Border Patrol road, there is a Border Patrol vehicle. And we saw numerous of those vehicles while I was there those several days. And it seems to me that area is very well protected, and no one crosses into the United States because of those three fences, the canal, and the presence of the Border Patrol.

   Before the fence was there, the border was basically wide open and people came right across into El Paso and dodged traffic there on the main streets. According to the sheriff's department, since the fence has been built in the city of El Paso, crime in El Paso has dropped 60 percent. So the Border Patrol, working with the local law enforcement, seems to do a good job of keeping people, especially criminals who want to come in and commit crime in El Paso city and flee back to Juarez, from coming into the town. The situation is somewhat different as you move on further down the river.

   Before I mention that, I would like to mention a couple of things that I did observe. In the mornings we went out to the several crossings into the United States, the legal crossings, and observed people coming in from Mexico to the United States. At about 6:15 in the morning, very early, was when these photographs were taken. Now, these photographs were taken by the Rio Grande River, and turning around, these photographs are taken of students going into El Paso city. And you will notice they have on school uniforms. This individual is even carrying a set of golf clubs that he brought from home, I suspect, to go to school. Here are some