Immigration Senate Floor Statement

    Mr. President, before the Senator from North Dakota leaves, I have been paying attention to his comments and feel strongly that he has made very good points. I am going to zero in on areas he did not cover. I suspect he will agree with many.
   One point is there is an answer to stopping our perforated borders. There is a means of doing it a lot cheaper than people have talked about. And the other point is a requirement for English to be the official language. It is a rather complicated subject, but those two areas I think the Senator probably would agree with me, as I agree with most of the remarks he has made.
   First, Mr. President, for some reason, I have never been sure why it is, but I have been invited to speak at more naturalization ceremonies in my State of Oklahoma than any other Members, I believe. It is always a very touching event for me because these people go through the process, the legal process, of becoming a citizen of the United States, as my grandparents had to do. They learned the language. They learned more about the history of this country than the average person you will run into on the streets of Washington, DC. And these people are so proud.
   I recall one guy. He is from Vietnam. His name is Thi Van Nguyen. He is an outstanding young man, and he had worked hard to become a citizen. I happened to be a speaker at his naturalization ceremony that was taking place in one of the courthouses in Oklahoma.
   After the ceremony was over, he went down and changed his name to James Thi Nguyen, instead of Thi Van Nguyen, which was the highest honor one can pay because here is a person who wanted to go through the process of becoming a citizen the right way. It appears to me anything short of a slap in the face to all these people who came here legally and did it right.
   I would like to mention a couple of areas I am going to be offering in the way of amendments. One is what we call the National Border and Neighborhood Watch Program or the BRAVE Force. There is an acronym for everything. It stands for border regiment assisting in valuable enforcement.
   I think we have learned one thing that probably most of us knew already. I draw from a background of having been a developer in south Texas right on the Texas border. I have been there many times, and I have been down there actually working and developing for some 35, 40 years.
   It happens I am an aviator, so I would always fly my own plane down there and land at Cameron County Airport. It is adjacent to the immigration center. I would watch and see what was going on. Yes, we are taking good care of those people.
   I started getting interested in it. I said: What is the negative? What are these people facing should they be caught trying to come illegally over the border? They go into the center. So I looked over at the center and saw half were in brown jumpsuits and half were in orange jumpsuits. I said: What is the reason for that?
   They said: A football team brown versus the green and basketball and other activities.
   Probably the food--I went over and inspected it--is better than most people would eat in their country.
   I looked at that and thought: We aren't really offering much of a disincentive for people to come in illegally.
   This program we call the Brave Force Program recognizes that our borders can be closed, our borders can be strong borders, and we can stop people from coming in. I am sick and tired of people saying this can't be done or it can only be done with a certain kind of fence. There are areas with serious problems, but the answer is in numbers.
   The minutemen demonstrated very clearly that if you have enough people down there and take a 35-mile area, you can stop people from coming across. I recognize the criticism of that program. I don't agree with it. Certainly there is some authentic argument against it when they say these people are not law enforcement people. They are not trained that way.
   I found out something after 9/11 when we were dealing with the TSA, and that is that Federal law enforcement officers have a mandatory retirement age of 57. Since I have worked with them before, I started getting letters from them saying: Why can't we come in as sky marshals and other positions? We, as an organization, would be willing to do it just for cost, just to pay our expenses.
   If we had an army down there, as my amendment calls for, these people are available. It is virtually just for the cost of sustaining these people while they are on watch. There would be an army of law enforcement officers for each trained Border Patrol agent. Then we have the neighborhood watch people who are volunteers and are not trained properly, but they can help the second tier.
   There would be three tiers. We would have the trained Border Patrol people, then the retired law enforcement officers, and then, of course, the neighborhood watch people. It is a numbers game that has been very successful and has worked.
   Civilian volunteers, much like the minutemen, would be able to report to those who are in a higher level of training. I think this BRAVE Force would be effective. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see we can do something on the border. It is just we have not been able to do it.
   Let me interject that as one of the high-ranking members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I certainly don't want to get sucked into the point where we are going to have to use military people on these borders when they are already overworked. The OPTEMPO of our military right now is at an unacceptable rate. By ``military,'' I mean our standing forces, as well as the Reserve components--the Guard and Reserve. This wouldn't affect that. This would ensure we are not going to have to further dilute our military.
   That is one of the amendments I am going to offer. The second one has to do with the English language. I know people get all exercised about this issue. The language is taken almost verbatim from PETER KING's House Resolution 4408 by strengthening a very weak provision in the Judiciary Committee bill that will be under consideration here, that illegal immigrants currently in the United States must merely ``demonstrate an effort'' to learn English when applying for a green card.
   Anyone can demonstrate an effort to do anything. You don't have to do anything to do that. So that is a meaningless phrase. There is no requirement whatsoever. My amendment would require these immigrants to learn our language by making English the official language of the United States and making all official business of the United States conducted in English, including publications, tax forms, information material, and other items.
   As a matter of fact, my amendment follows what at least 26 other States already have at the State level. They have English as the official language. Half the States already have that, and there is nothing wrong with making that uniform throughout the United States.
   Making English the official language would eliminate about $1 billion to $2 billion annually that we spend on providing language assistance, including Federal agencies and funds recipients, according to the Office of Management and Budget.
   Studies show that those who know English get better jobs, earn more money, and are less likely to be uninsured. As a result, English decreases Government dependency.
   This will come as a shock to you, Mr. President, because they think--and I do speak Spanish. I have worked for many years in areas--I was a commercial pilot in some of the Latin American countries. I know the language fairly well, so I can communicate. But I do know this: There are a lot of immigrants in this country who support English as the language.
   In 1995, there was a poll--I talked about this once before on the floor--by Luntz Research, and it said that more than 80 percent of immigrants supported making English the official language.
   Eighty percent. These are the ones who are supposed to be against it. They are not against it, they are for it.
   The need for official English appears in our newspapers every day--injuries in the workplace, lawsuits over mistranslation in hospitals, people who are unable to support their families--all because they can't speak English. Making English the official language would also help immigrants assimilate, which is vitally important to becoming an American and preserving our rich heritage.
   As my colleague, Senator Alexander, said yesterday--and I thought so much of this, I got his quotes--he said:
   Becoming an American--
   This is very significant--
   Becoming an American is also a unique accomplishment because it has nothing to do with ancestry.
   In other countries, it has to do with ancestry. My family came from Germany, so we all come from different places.
   He said:
   America is an idea, not a race. We are united by principles expressed in our founding documents--the very principles that we are debating in this immigration legislation--not by our multiple ancestries.
   I am still quoting from Senator Alexander, who made this speech yesterday, which is well researched and well thought out.
   Some suggest that our diversity is what makes our country great. To be sure, diversity is one of our strengths, but diversity is not our greatest strength. Jerusalem is diverse. The Balkans are diverse. Iraq is diverse. The greatest accomplishment of the United States of America is that we have molded that magnificent diversity into one Nation based upon a set of common principles, language, and traditions. That is why the words above the desk--
   And the desks of many of us, including mine--
   say ``One from many,'' not ``Many from one.''
   Clearly, as Senator Alexander so eloquently stated, our Nation is unique among the nations of the world in that we welcome people from all countries and backgrounds to become Americans. By becoming Americans, they are saying they want to adopt our laws and our way of life, and this includes speaking English. It is very much like the case I just cited to you of Thi Van Nguyen coming in so emotionally wrapped up. It wasn't enough just to become a citizen of the United States, he wanted to adopt my name.
   Some of our colleagues as well as the people watching us may think this amendment is unnecessary because they mistakenly think English is our official language anyway, but it is not. I have received constituent letters insisting that the Senate do something about bilingual ballots, bilingual education, and driver's licenses in other languages.
   People in my State of Oklahoma are angry, and they have good reason to be so. It seems there are those who object to immigrants learning a single word of English. This is not an exaggeration. In the April 10, 2006, issue of The Nation magazine, an article called ``Strangers in the Land'' seriously asks:
   Why should linguistic competence be a factor--or acceptable as an item for democratic debate--in determining citizenship? As my comrade for a day in Los Angeles would attest, a nonEnglish speaker in the United States not only can get and hold down a job; she--
   Or he--
   can also turn out the vote. Why should a nonEnglish speaker be allowed to mobilize for American democracy, not to join it as a citizen?
   Learning the language and learning something about American history was something the ancestors of nearly everyone in this Chamber accomplished as a matter of course. All of a sudden, everything is changing, and we are told that it is unfair to expect today's immigrants to do likewise. Yet if people are not encouraged to learn English, they will be dependent upon translation services for the rest of their lives. There is nothing wrong with using a translator. I have done so on my trips to Africa quite often. But it is dangerous to rely entirely upon the accuracy of any translator, especially in one's own country. The competence of any given interpreter is all too often in the eye of the beholder.
   Judge Wayne Purdom told the National Law Review that once interpreters are in place, the arguments have only begun:
   Sometimes one interpreter is very critical of another's translation--right in the middle of the courtroom--and they will interrupt and contradict each other and say the other person's translation is inaccurate.
   We have seen it happen. We have documented cases. Even the translation currently required at the polls has failed to accomplish its intended purpose: helping people cast an informed ballot.
   Consider the 2000 election: In one community in
   New York, the Chinese bilingual ballot translated the ``Democratic'' label on all State races as ``Republican,'' while ``Republican'' was translated to be ``Democrat.'' Consequently, we know the results.
   In the 1983 case of People v. Diaz--and we have talked about this before--a California court confessed, and I am quoting now from the record:
   We recognize that frequently there is no single word in a foreign language which carries the identical meaning of a single word in the English language. We examined four different Spanish translations of the Miranda advisement at issue.
   That was the case going on at that time.
   We discovered that none of these translations was identical.
   If governments do not agree on the proper Spanish translation of the phrase ``You have the right to remain silent,'' how can they accurately translate the context of legal documents? And the short answer is, they cannot. But legal language is complex because it is meant to be exact. Translation may muddy that precision.
   I can see the day when someone will go to court claiming that the Spanish translation of some piece of legislation has a different meaning than the English version does. In the absence of an official language, there would be no way to resolve that dispute.
   For decades now, we have looked the other way while multilingual mandate was piled upon multilingual mandate. State and local taxpayers have shouldered much of the fiscal burden for our insistence upon welfare forms in Spanish and school documents in Cantonese. Immigrants, too, have suffered from this ``reign of multilingual micromanaging.''
   The National Review just this week put the problem in a very vivid perspective, and I will quote because I want this in the RECORD:
   I was reading Li Shaomin's account of being held in China over long months.
   Some of us will remember that.
   Li recounted how the Communist security thugs taunted him and tried to break him. Taking his passport, they said, ``This will do you no good. You may have an American passport, but you are not a real American, and never will be. You were born in China, and you will always be Chinese.
   Every bilingual ballot and every multilingual government document sends this same message to immigrants: You are not a real American, and you never will be. This is wrong.
   Thankfully, America's Hispanic immigrants are turning out this vile message that they need not bother to learn English.
   Hispanic Magazine recently carried a story, ``The Next Generation of Hispanic TV is in English.'' Allow me to read a paragraph from this news story:
   Most U.S. Latinos are bilingual, 54.7 percent, say Census data, and consume media in both Spanish and English. The 2002 National Survey of Latinos by the Pew Hispanic Center found that 46 percent of second-generation and 78 percent of third-generation adult Hispanics speak mostly English.
   The Pew Hispanic Center echoed these findings in 2004:
   In one key segment of the Hispanic population--likely voters in U.S. elections--the English language media is the dominant source of news. More than half of Latino voters, 53 percent, get all of their news in English and 40 percent get news from media in both languages, while only 6 percent of likely voters get all their news in Spanish.
   Statistics such as these are counter to what most people think. The idea that 80 percent of the immigrants want English to be the official language is really pretty incredible. Hispanics are learning English, they are willing to learn English and support the idea that immigrants should learn English. Only the groups which claim to represent the Hispanic people seem to have a problem with the English language. Of course, should Hispanic immigrants fail to learn English, these self-styled Hispanic leaders will benefit from their ignorance.
   John Miller of National Review told The Washington Post, correctly, on May 28, 1998:
   On the whole, there is an American national identity that immigrants ought to be encouraged to assimilate into.
   A recent Zogby poll confirmed that most Hispanic Americans still agree with Mr. Miller. Eighty-four percent of Americans, including 77 percent of Hispanics, believe English should be the official language. So there were two totally different polls taken at different times coming to the same conclusions. We are not doing them any favors.
   I think a lot of politicians are so afraid they are not going to get the Hispanic vote in some of these highly populated Hispanic States, and they are misinterpreting. To me, it is insulting to the Hispanic community to say: You cannot be a real American unless you learn--just by sitting on the side lines. I believe they are all capable of learning it and they are able to do it and they are willing to do it.
   The other polls have similar findings. Ninety-one percent of foreign-born Latino immigrants agree that learning English is essential to succeeding in the United States, according to a 2002 Kaiser Family Foundation poll. A 2002 Carnegie/Public Agenda poll found that by more than a 2-to-1 margin, immigrants themselves say the United States should expect new immigrants to learn English. These are immigrants saying that they expect to have to learn English.
   My official English amendment is the only popular thing to do, the right thing to do, and it is the fiscally necessary thing to do. Multilingual government is not cheap, and translation is not free. This Nation is at war with a relentless foe. Just as a family seeking to reduce expenditures will reexamine its budget to look for needless frills, so too must the U.S. Government.
   I also wish to mention the two pictures I brought with me today. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. There is nothing I could say that would be more telling than these pictures, taken of high school students in California raising the Mexican flag above an upside down American flag. This is not only disgraceful, it is disgusting and a slap in the face at everything for which this great country stands. These students are living here enjoying the benefits of the United States, not Mexico. But this is happening all over the country, it is not just California. I believe this picture demonstrates what I have been talking about--that we desperately need to seal our borders and instill ways of helping immigrants know and love this country and appreciate the sacrifices made for the liberties they would be enjoying.
   So there are two amendments that I have. One would go a long way to securing the border. I know it will work; it has been demonstrated by numbers. That is the name of the game. Secondly, making English the official language of the United States of America, to do away with this type of thing.
   Over 2 years ago, on January 7, 2004, after President Bush's press conference on Fair and Secure Immigration Reform, I announced my principles regarding immigration reform:
   I would oppose any program that would shortcut the current naturalization process;
   I would oppose any program that rewards illegal aliens for their illegal acts;
   I would oppose any program that does not further address the porous nature of our borders.
   I remain true to those principles today. Let me elaborate.
   I agree with the 1997 U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform which stated that measured, legal immigration has lead to create one of the world's greatest ``multiethnic nations.''
   I also agree with the commission that immigrants who are ``Americanized'' help cultivate a shared commitment to ``liberty, democracy and equal opportunity'' in our Nation.
   However, I cannot stand idly by and watch this great Nation collapse under the pressure of illegal immigration.
   Roy Beck, executive director of Numbers USA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to immigration reform, stated that:
   A presence of 8 to 11 million illegal aliens in this country is a sign that this country has lost control of its borders and the ability to determine who is a member of this national community ..... a country that has lost that ability increasingly loses its ability to determine the rules of its society--environmental protections, labor protections, health protections, safety protections.
   Beck goes on to say:
   In fact, a country that cannot keep illegal immigration to a low level quickly ceases to be a real country, or a real community. Rather than being self-governed, such a country begins to have its destiny largely determined by citizens of other countries who manage to move in illegally.
   Illegal immigrants continue to flood our borders and cause a myriad of problems for our country and law-abiding citizens like you and me.
   For example, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, CIS, a nonprofit immigration reform organization, some of the most violent criminals at-large today are illegal immigrants, not to mention the terrorists who have illegally entered our country or overstayed their visas.
   I would like to share a personal story regarding illegal aliens who commit crimes in the United States and then flee across the border to Mexico.
   Last May, my friend's son, Jeff Garrett, was tragically shot by an illegal alien while Jeff was turkey hunting in Colorado.
   After he shot Jeff, the alien fled to Mexico where he is hiding today.
   I know this story is just one among many about police officers and other innocent Americans murdered each year by illegal aliens who then find safe harbor in Mexico.
   We must prevent these criminals from coming across our borders.
   Not only are illegal immigrants increasing by crossing the border in droves, they are having ``anchor babies'' in rapid numbers.
   These babies are helping the immigration population grow more rapidly than the birth rate of American citizens.
   In fact, the Census Bureau estimates that at the time of the 2000 Census, the illegal immigration population reached approximately 8 million.
   Therefore, according to this estimate, the illegal-alien population grew by almost half a million a year in the 1990s.
   These numbers are derived from a draft report given to the House Immigration Subcommittee by the INS that estimated the illegal population was around 3.5 million in 1990.
   In order for the illegal population to have reached 8 million by 2000, the net increase would be around 400,000 to 500,000 per year during the 1990s.
   According to CIS, based on numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics, in 2002 there were about 8.4 million illegal aliens, which represent about 3.3 percent of the total U.S. population.
   That same year, there were about 383,000 babies born to illegal aliens, which represented about 9.5 percent of all U.S. births in 2002.
   Additionally, in the Spring 2005 issue of the American Physicians and Surgeons Journal, Dr. Madeleine Pelner Cosman says:
   American hospitals welcome anchor babies. Illegal alien women come to the hospital in labor and drop their little anchors, each of whom pulls its illegal alien mother, father, and siblings into permanent residency simply by being born within our borders.
   Anchor babies are, and instantly qualify for public welfare aid. Between--300,000 and 350,000 anchor babies annually become citizens because of the fourteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
   All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside.
   Dr. Cosman continues:
   In 2003 in Stockton, California, 70 percent of the 2,300 babies born in San Joaquin General Hospital's maternity ward were anchor babies, and 45 percent of Stockton children under age six are Latino (up from 30 percent in 1993). In 1994, 74,987 anchor babies in California hospital maternity units cost $215 million and constituted 36 percent of all Medi-Cal births. Now they account for substantially more than half.
   These anchor babies are being used to enable their parents to skirt the law, cross our borders, and bring in additional, illegal aliens.
   Furthermore, as the law currently stands, by allowing these children to be considered citizens, it is an incentive for more aliens to illegally cross into our country.
   I am very concerned about the cost these illegal immigrants have on the U.S. economy.
   Because illegal workers do not pay income taxes, it is estimated that the Federal Government could be spending $35 billion a year in unpaid taxes, according to Gear Stearns Asset Management.
   This figure does not include additional costs spent on illegal immigrants for welfare, healthcare, education, and imprisonment.
   In fact, according to Americans for Immigration Control, a nonpartisan, grassroots organization, the implications for these illegal immigrants in the future could cost upwards of $1,500 per year if these same illegal immigrants are granted amnesty because they would suddenly have access to many social
   programs for which they are not currently eligible.
   This means the government could spend an additional $6 billion in welfare expenditures alone.
   Taxpayers also pay for illegal immigrant's healthcare.
   According to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, illegal immigrant women living in my State gave birth to 2,600 babies in 2005. Delivery of these children cost $6.5 million, or 83 percent of all Medicaid money that is spent on healthcare for illegal immigrants in Oklahoma.
   Taxpayers also pay every time an illegal alien visits an emergency room; which they often use as their primary healthcare provider.
   Federal prisons are also feeling the strain from illegal immigrants.
   June 2003, criminal aliens comprised 34,456 of the prisoners held in Federal prisons.
   According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, holding criminal aliens in Federal prisons cost taxpayers $891 million in 2002.
   In Oklahoma alone, the estimated annual operating expenditure for Federal prisons was almost $12,000 per noncitizen inmate in 1999.
   Additionally, elementary and secondary education is often one of the most expensive programs funded by State and local governments.
   A 1982 Supreme Court ruling entitles children of illegal immigrants to taxpayer-funded government education.
   Today, according to the Urban Institute, an estimated 1.1 million school-aged children of illegal immigrants are living in our country.
   The cost of educating these illegal students is almost $2 billion per year and is projected to top $27 billion per year in the near future, according to Americans for Immigration Control.
   Considering the burden and risk of the current level of illegal immigration, I firmly believe it is vital to secure our borders first, before we address any other immigration issue.
   What the Judiciary Committee voted out is amnesty; it allows virtually anyone who is here illegally or who wants to come here to apply for citizenship.
   This is a reward for law-breakers. It is essentially an open flow for immigration.
   We have seen in the past that this approach does not work.    For instance, in 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act, IRCA, granted amnesty for illegal immigrants already here in return for strict prohibitions against future illegal entrants.
   In place of promised outcomes, however, the number of illegal aliens has more than tripled since IRCA was passed.
   Another problem with the Judiciary Committee bill has to do with college tuition for illegal aliens.
   While current law allows States to determine whether or not they will provide in-State tuition at colleges and universities for illegal aliens, the Judiciary Committee bill includes a provision whereby the Federal Government mandates that States provide in-State tuition for illegal aliens.
   This is unfair for the thousands of out-of -State students who must pay higher tuition costs than illegal immigrants who have broken the law and do not belong in our country.
   Some say we don't necessarily need as many guest workers as the Judiciary Committee bill allows.
   For example, economist Philip Martin of the University of California says that, when the ``Bracero'' program of the 1960s that brought in seasonal Mexican laborers was discontinued in 1964, the California tomato industry that had depended on these workers developed oblong tomatoes that could be picked by a machine--increasing California's tomato output five times more than what it was before the machines were used.
   In a recent Washington Post article, Robert Samuelson expresses his view that with a massive guest worker program, we are importing poverty.
   Referring to guest workers, Samuelson says:
   ..... they generally don't go home, assimilation is slow and the ranks of the poor are constantly replenished. Since 1980 the number of Hispanics with incomes below the government's poverty line (about $19,300 in 2004 for a family of four) has risen 162%. Over the same period, the number of non-Hispanic whites in poverty rose 3% and the number of blacks, 9.5%.
   He continues:
   What we have now--and would have with guest workers--is a conscious policy of creating poverty in the United States while relieving Mexico. By and large, this is a bad bargain for the United States. It stresses local schools, hospitals and housing; it feeds social tensions (the Minutemen have witnessed this) .....
   As a matter of fact, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, the illegal immigrants that are currently here only represent about 4.9 percent of the labor force; they represent 36 percent of insulation workers, 28 percent of drywall installers, and 20 percent of cooks.
   These illegal immigrants, while large in numbers, are not the majority of the workforce.
   I ask that we consider the Frist bill which, though not perfect, would increase enforcement and border security.
   I further ask that we not bring up the Judiciary Committee's amnesty bill.
   Mr. President, I yield the floor.