Victims' Rights Caucus



Oct 20 2005

Mr. Speaker, as a former judge and prosecutor in Texas, I spent most of my life enforcing the law. I know firsthand the cost of having laws on the books that are not enforced. To make law, whether it is on the State level or the Federal level, and then wink and ignore those who break the law is to live a lie. A government that tolerates law breaking surrenders its integrity, it surrenders its credibility, and it surrenders its self-respect. And right now, Mr. Speaker, America's immigration laws are not working. They are not even enforced.

We must secure the borders and reduce the number of people residing in the Nation illegally. And, of course, amnesty is not the answer to this. Those people here illegally have violated the law, and giving them amnesty is rewarding them for breaking the law. As a judge for 22 years, I never once gave a person amnesty because they got away with breaking the law for a long time. Those who have broken our laws must find themselves penalized, not rewarded, for the disregard for the rule of law.

Mr. Speaker, we have anywhere between 11 and 14 million people here in the United States that are here illegally, and we cannot reward them for breaking the law. Many of them are here because several years ago this country adopted a plan, a plan that has not worked, and that is the plan of amnesty: Tell those people that are here it is okay, you can stay. And now we have encouraged people from all over the world to come to the United States illegally.

Mr. Speaker, I want to make it clear that I am a supporter of immigration, a supporter of legal immigration. I am proud of the fact that my heritage is from Scotland and from Germany. But in this country we have now taken the policy of discriminating against people who want to come here legally to the benefit of lawless illegals. I will give you an example.

In my southeast district in Texas I represent numerous individuals who have come to the United States legally, obtained citizenship, and I recently talked to an individual who was from the nation of Mexico and became a citizen of the United States, and he has been trying to bring the rest of his family to the United States legally. He has a son that he has been trying to bring to this country legally for the last 15 years, Mr. Speaker. And yet because of bureaucracy, red tape, and incompetence, that has not been granted. He wants to do the things the right way, the legal way, and he has discouraged his son from just merely crossing the border illegally like 5,000 people a day do on the southern Texas border, come into the United States illegally by walking across our border.

We have developed a policy that is no policy. We expect our border agents to patrol the vast thousands of miles from Texas to California. And when they actually capture someone coming into the United States, here is what happens, Mr. Speaker: They are arrested, they are taken to a Federal magistrate, they are told that they are going to have a deportation hearing eventually. But the detention facilities are so crowded that over 90 percent of them are released on their word to show up for their deportation hearing 6 months away.

This defies common sense, the idea of this catch and release policy. Capture the people illegally coming into the United States, take them to court, and tell them: If you promise to come back for your deportation hearing, we will have a hearing in 6 months to determine whether you get to stay or you must leave. Are we not surprised that most of them do not come back for their hearings? This defies common sense, it wastes time, and it does not work to solve any problem with our immigration, or, shall I say, our lack of immigration policy.

And just so it is clear, Mr. Speaker, we now know that over 50 percent of the people illegally coming into the United States from the southern borders are not from Mexico. They are from all over the world. They are from